Sunday, July 19, 2020

We're On A Mission From God

Sunday, July 19, 2020
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
Lakeview UMC (St. Albans WV)
and Humphreys Memorial UMC (Tornado WV)

Scripture Reading    
Romans 8:18-25   CEB
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory
that is going to be revealed to us. 19 The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. 23 And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

Sermon title: “We’re On A Mission From God”
This sermon outline was used for the worship service at each church.
Each church’s worship service was live cast on Facebook:
Lakeview UMC:
Humphrey’s Memorial UMC:

  There were five planets visible this morning!
Three years ago on a visit to my hometown I was having breakfast with my father, who had turned 75 a few months earlier. He told me he’d ridden his bicycle at least twenty miles in every state he’d been in, and he just didn’t think he was ever going to get to Alaska. He had a route planned, though, if he were ever to make the trip: Anchorage’s Coastal Trail.
Well I conspired with my brothers and several months later, we four were riding on Anchorage’s Coastal Trail.
The Coastal Trail also hosts the Anchorage Light Speed Planetary Trail, which mimics a scale model of the solar system, with a leisurely walk being equivalent to the speed of light. It takes 8 min for sunlight to reach earth, therefore the model of earth was an 8 min walk from the model of the sun. Four blocks away.
Jupiter was 45 minutes away. Saturn 80 minutes. Uranus 160 minutes.
At a leisurely light-speed pace, it would take 5½ hrs to walk to Pluto. 10.3 miles. This was our bike ride.
• Interesting but why?
Paul writes the suffering we know now does not compare to the glory to come.
20000 seconds (5 and a half hours) for light to get from sun to Pluto.
• Creation groans, frustrated, awaiting the revelation of God’s kids.
Aspects of our world are broken.
Some things we can fix. Some we can’t.
But God who makes all things new, who made it all to begin with,
CAN fix, WANTS to fix, CHOOSES to fix. And INVITES us to participate.
• 1995 Toy Story Buzz Lightyear. On a secret mission in uncharted space.
defend the galaxy against the evil emperor zurg, sworn enemy of the galactic alliance.
Identified problem, commissioned address.
• Same. Again, we can’t fix, but God can, and God invites us to participate
God is more interested in our response (willingness) than our ability to fix.
• The response that glorifies God: Trust. Hope. Bear.
Scatter the seed.

• Hymn 382 (Lakeview) Have Thine Own Way
Hymn 421 (Humphreys) Make Me A Captive

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Let's EAT

Sunday, July 12, 2020
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Sermon title: “Let’s EAT”

Gospel Reading    Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23     NRSV
The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
The Parable of the Sower Explained
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” ò
                                 The Word of God for the people of God, thanks be to God.

Sermon: Let’s EAT
This sermon outline was used for the worship service at each church.
Each church’s worship service was live cast on Facebook:
Lakeview UMC:
Humphrey’s Memorial UMC:

•  The parable of the sower is a familiar parable.
I need to caution against the natural question
“What’s the meaning of this parable?”
Parables are not so cut-and-dried.
Often something unexpected or disturbing.
Not simply a moral tale.
Understanding a parable requires three things: gift, effort, humility...
And the result of wrestling with Jesus' parables:
you're drawn into relationship with God.
• Nevertheless, let me tell you a few things that the parable of the Sower is “about”

• This is a parable about God. God who wants a harvest and who goes about it the old-fashioned way: scattering seeds. (familiar) (today might be planting a garden or growing a lawn) (not the kind of effort as in Creation when God spoke and it happened)
By the way, in scattering seeds, God is taking risks. God does not carefully choose where to plant... and remembering that the seed is the word, this word is going OUT... on the path, among the rocks, among the weeds, in the good soil... I might be picky about where to plant seeds, I might decide not to scatter seed in a place I don’t think will produce… God is generous.
God is also willing to get God's feet dirty. (different effort than Creation). Which leads to:

• This is a parable about Christ. Literally about the incarnation, God not only sowing the seed but BEING the seed... the seed is the word, and Jesus the Christ is the Word. Interacting with the world in its settings, again, not just the good soil, but a message IN the world to ALL the world.

• This is also a parable about the Evil One. Jesus speaks of The Evil One in the world, and this isn't the only place. We learn a few things about TEO, the one opposed to the sower and the harvest. And knowledge of TEO is vital for those who wish to stand against TEO.
1. TEO seeks to snatch the word.
He doesn't want people to receive Jesus.
(path/birds/lack of understanding)
2. TEO seeks to frighten or sap those who do receive the word.
He doesn't want people to be disciples.
(rocky soil, no roots, no strength)
3. TEO seeks to mislead those who receive the word, to distract them, to nurture a false word. (worries and false appeal of wealth)

• When we gain knowledge of TEO, we can learn about resisting and countering TEO, and this is a parable about people. btw, our baptismal vows include resist evil and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves, and I daresay in these times that includes taking a public stand on current issues. Also, you know who likes it when Christians fight with each other? TEO.
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22)
• So the seed on the path with the birds, snatched away?
Let us accompany the hearer.
• The seed on the rocky soil, with no strength?
Let us encourage the hearer.
• The seed among the weeds, choked out by other things?
Let us teach the hearer.
• Remember it by “Let's EAT” (encourage, accompany, teach)... 
because God has a harvest

• How great is God who chooses all of this, who chooses us...

• Hymn 140 Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Who Is This Guy?

Sunday, July 5, 2020

First Sunday at my new appointment
serving Lakeview UMC (St. Albans WV)
and Humphreys Memorial UMC (Tornado WV)

Sermon title: “Who Is This Guy?”

Scripture Reading    Romans 7:15-25a    NRSV
15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ò

Gospel Reading       Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30    NRSV
16 “But to what will I compare this generation?
It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ò

Sermon: Who Is This Guy?
This sermon outline was used for the worship service at each church.
Each church’s worship service was live cast on Facebook:
Lakeview UMC:
Humphrey’s Memorial UMC:

 I am generally lousy with coming up with sermon titles before a bulletin is printed. But sometimes I’ll tell you what it is. “Who Is This Guy?”
• So a church was interviewing for a pastor. This guy’s credentials were very good. Good school, graduated at the top of his class while young even. They call him in.
What’ve you done with your training? Consultant for a while, then I had a fall and stopped what I was doing.
Can you tell us anything about this 14-year gap in your employment history?
No. If it makes you feel better you can say I was ‘figuring out who I am.’
Mmhmm. And now you’re a laborer? – I go from town to town, see what kind of work I can get.
Well. What’s this about your record, you’ve been jailed several times?
Disturbing the peace, but that’s really in the eye of the beholder, know what I mean?
Well your resume looked great, Mr. Saul (You can call me Paul) but I’m afraid we’re looking for someone a little more stable than you.
• The apostle Paul, author of the book of Romans – his magnum opus – never met the man Jesus, at least not before Jesus’ crucifixion resurrection and ascension. But Paul’s fingerprints are all over Christianity as he guided fledgling church communities in “the Way”.
• A little bit about Who Is This Guy (Paul.)
A preacher could talk for weeks about Paul but I’m just going to bring up one thing: Paul, learned teacher and apostle, shared the Gospel by admitting and talking about his own weakness. Who does that? Not culture, not then not now.
“I do not do the thing I want to do but instead I do the very thing I don’t want to do.”
I’m a wreck, Paul says. I’m a mess.
But there’s good news there. Great news. God can do great things with messes. Because God is not a mess. God is more than able to handle any situation and there is no mess we can make that God can’t right. That’s good news. Even better, God WANTS to make things right with us and for us. Not because of our credentials but because of the name on our label. God’s name is on our labels.
• How about a little bit about Who Is This Guy (Jesus).
• Jesus talks about it in Matthew 11, not subtly poking at the religious leaders. What do you want? We played joyful music for you and you said it’s wrong to dance. We played a dirge and you wondered why we weren’t joyful.
Jesus will not be put in a box. They tried putting him in a box, dead, but we all know how that turned out.
Jesus is savior Lord redeemer, SO THAT we might have life to the full.
Healing and wholeness and forgiveness. SO THAT we might know rest.
• Who Is This Guy? PK
• Lover and hoper. Lover of God, life, Melissa, Lexi, you.
Runner, biker, cobbler (do what you can with what you have), transplant (Midwesterner who’s lived in the east for 20 years).
I am not Christian FOR you, but WITH you.
My hope is you will take my words as invitation.

• into the Apostles’ Creed (UMH35)