Pride Commeth Before…

 

May 21, 2017

 

Stetson Memorial UMC

 

Sermon Series:

 

 “Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

 

“Healing Pride”

 

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

 

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

 

Psalm 66:8-20

 

Mark 9:30-37

 

Proverbs 16:18-19; Philippians 2:1-4; James 4:6-10

 

 

 

 

 

“Pride Cometh Before…”

 

 

 

The Lord be with you

 

And also with you

 

Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

 

 

 

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 9, verses 30-37. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

 

 

(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)

 

 

 

As Hope and Joy walked their way to Joy’s house, they began to talk with one another. This is really the first time they had since they met and they were both nervous, not wanting to offend the other. “So, Hope, where do you come from?” Joy asked. “Oh, from here, there and everywhere. We never settle into one place when I was a kid. Always moving around, never knowing where we would wind up next.” Hope answered. “Oh, that sounds like so much fun. My family is very rich and we always had to make plans when we went places. We never just went and just moved like you did. We went to places like Spain, Rome, China, we even went on a safari in Africa… It was fun but I think what you got to do was more adventurous.” Joy explained. “You must have enjoyed it very much.” “Not really” Hope explained, “We moved because my dad couldn’t hold a job so we had to keep moving. We would lose our home and had to find a new one when my dad got a new job.” “Oh wow, too bad.” Joy went on, “I had the perfect life, so to speak, I got to go anywhere and do anything I wanted to do. We always had a beautiful home and never went without eating like some people do… How about church? Do you go to church?” Joy asked. “Well I haven’t found a place yet that accepts…well me for me…” Hope answered.

 

 

 

Hope was starting to worry about her new-found friend. She seemed to be talking a lot about herself and how perfect her life was. But, Hope decided not to judge her friend…she had been on the wrong side of that equation too many times. Joy continued “Well you haven’t tried my church. It is perfect. We accept everyone. We have many ministries that reach out to those people on the street. We feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We have 3 services on Sunday, 1 on Wednesday, a prayer meeting on Thursday and…”

 

 

 

 Hope started to walk away… “where are you going” Joy asked. “Away from you” Hope answered, “You are too “perfect” for me. For the past 30 minutes, all I have heard about is what you have done and where you have been, how perfect your church is and all those “people” you reach out to on the streets… Guess what, I am one of those people and I think you talk a good talk but you are not walking the walk. You think that you do soooo much but what I need is someone who cares about me not for me…I can care for myself thank you very much.” Joy was appalled, “What do you mean all I do is talk about myself. I am very proud of who I am and my church and what we do. There is nothing wrong with that.” Joy said through tearful eyes. “Maybe you are a little too proud. So proud that you don’t even see the ones you claim you are trying to help. Maybe if you thought about where your gifts come from, where your security comes from…your real security and gifts come from…maybe you might just think and see differently…” Hope turned and continued to walk away…

 

 

 

Good morning. This morning I want us to continue to be interactive with each other as we have been. It has been wonderful the past few weeks sharing as we have with teach other… I need audience participation. So please play along as the Spirit leads…In the story I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is Joy and what she was proud of. It is not bad to take pride in things but when you lose sight of where it all comes from we can tend to be “pride-full”.

 

 

 

As I have said, we as Christ church need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. We need to give our whole life over to Christ…everything that ails us…in order to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take hold of the land. If we don’t, then why do we even call ourselves Christ followers if we can’t follow His example in the world because of what is ailing us? If we are to live our lives as Resurrection people we need to act as if we have risen from the grave of the world around us. All too often we are stuck in the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …leaving those things behind that bind us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

 

 

 

We are continuing to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart As I have said, there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that, but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation… There will be a week that my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

 

 

We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions …our good intentions…may be not so helpful. At times that our “religious laws” keep us and others away from the blessings and peace that God intends for us to have.

 

 

 

We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves. Jesus us is calling us to be “open” …our eyes our ears, our hearts, our hands…to those around us who may feel closed off from others.

 

 

 

Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear of the future, fear of finances, fear of those who may come through this door…Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…

 

 

 

Another thing that at times keeps us from being the light we are called to be is the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things…even making ourselves lord of others… We at times can think that…well to coin a phrase…our “poop don’t stink.” Being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. What are you proud of in your life? Give time to answer. I am proud of my daughters but do I believe they are perfect and above reproach? No, we are all broken and imperfect. I am proud of how God has made them who they are and that I got the chance to help God, with His leading, bring these girls up… I give God the praise for it all.

 

 

 

In the Mark scripture, we hear the problem of pride. The disciples were arguing over who was the greatest of them. Jesus waste no time in correcting them on their emphasis on self. He brought in a child…pretty lowly…nothing special…children were seen and not really heard back then. The farther was the one who spoke for the whole family. So why do you think He chose a child? Give time to answer… A child is the last rung on the ladder. Pride really got in their way and Jesus had to make sure they understood the ways of heaven verses the ways of man.

 

 

 

You can see pride…the sickness of pride that is…just about everywhere you look these days. My question is this, do you see pride in the church? In other words, do you think it has a problem with pride and why?  Give time to answer… Ok…how about the church here…our church…do you think it has a problem of pride…? Give time to answer… How about the people within…? Give time to answer.

 

 

 

What does god say about pride?

 

ü Proverbs 16:18-19-18 Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.19 Better poor and humble than proud and rich.

 

ü Philippians 2:1-4-Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? 2 Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose.

 

3 Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.

 

ü James 4:6-10-6 But he gives us more and more strength to stand against all such evil longings. As the Scripture says, God gives strength to the humble but sets himself against the proud and haughty.

 

7 So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him. 9 Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and sincere grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, he will lift you up, encourage and help you.

 

 

 

God’s word is clear about pride and what it can lead to. What do you think the cure is for this sickness that ails us? Give time to answer…

 

 

 

Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs of what ails us in to His Glorious Light and be healed. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But should we let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively? What if hope came through our door? Would we boast about our accomplishments of lift up God’s name and what He has done? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group…that people…that the Hope would hear about the goodness of God and what He blesses us with so that she too can receive the goodness and grace and be healed and loved. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

 

 

Amen.

 

There Is Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself

 

May 14, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Fear”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

Mark 8:27-38

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inhibition

 

“There Is Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself! …”

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

 

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 8, verses 27-38. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)

 

As Hope and Joy walked down to the diner together Hope thought ”maybe this one is different.” Joy thought “maybe this one is different”… Neither knew how much they really needed each other…

 

As they entered the diner a hush came to the room. There was a sign that said “please wait to be seated.” They waited to be seated but no one came to seat them. “Maybe we should just go” Hope thought, “I have been in this situation before”. Joy flagged over a waitress that was walking by. “Read the sign…someone will be right with you” the waitress said. “But we have been waiting for a while and no one has even acknowledged that we are standing here waiting”, Joy said, “is there some kind of problem?” “No problem for you…” the waitress answered “but your friend…well let’s say we don’t serve her kind.” “What do you mean “her kind” asked Joy…she was beginning to see this was not really a good pace for them to have a bite to eat…not the right place at all.

 

“Look…I don’t make the rules here, I just follow them” she said, “We have dealt with her kind before, those pierced, tattooed, head banging, thugs. We don’t want any trouble here. Besides, have you noticed she has a “year-round tan. Those dirty people need to go back to where they came from.” Joy was appalled… “I have been coming here for a long time and now you want to tell me who I can and who I cannot bring for a bite to eat?”

 

Hope stood there waiting for what to come next…it always came next…it is why she had been afraid of trying to make friends…trying to be a part of something great than herself…. rejection! Everyone was afraid of her. She was different. She lived her life different, looked different, talked different. She knew that people were afraid of her. This truth made Hope feel hopeless. But what happened next almost made her crumble to the ground…”You know what,” Joy said “I don’t think I will be coming here anymore…and guess what, all those people that have been coming here with me won’t be coming either. Hope began to weep, “and another thing…if you think there is something wrong with my friend Hope, you need to look in the mirror to see the real ugly, repulsive thing in your life…yourself”.

 

At this point, Hope was sitting on the floor, “why would she do that for me? Why would Joy tell them that they were the one with the issue and not her? What is going on here? Is this really happening? Has my prayers really been heard and answered? Thank you, God, even for this one moment of being accepted.” Hope thought and prayed to herself. Joy helped Hope to her feet, “Come on Hope,” she said, “we know when we are not wanted…” Hope stood and clung to Joy… “could this really be happening” she thought. “Let’s go to y place and I will make us something to eat. At least we won’t have the stench of bigotry and fear as our dinner guest.”

 

Good morning. Over the past couple of weeks, we have had a of conversation. This morning I want us to continue to be interactive with each other as we have been. I need audience participation. So please play along as the Spirit leads…In the story I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is how fearless Joy was. She not only left her friends at the bible study to think about what “WWJD” meant but she stood up for someone that she really didn’t even know…

 

This is what I mean when I use the phrase “Fearless Christian”, willing to stand up for other and for the Gospel of Christ. Also what stood out for me is the waitress and her attitude. They were running on fear of the past and didn’t want to see the possibilities of the present and future… Fear is a sickness I think we all face at times but it is what we do with it that counts…

 

As I have said, we as Christ church need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. If we are to live life abandoned to Christ, we need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take hold of the land. If we don’t we are like the Israelites wandering in the desert…not seeing the promised land. All too often, we sound a lot like this “group” of people. If we are to live our lives as Resurrection people we need to act as if we have been resurrected. All too often we are stuck in the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” on not wanting to come out being seen naked…leaving those things behind that bind us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

 

We are continuing to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart As I have said, there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation…living room conversation with each other in the green room. There will be a week that my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions …our good intentions…may be not so helpful. We all bring something to the table and it may be that very thing that keeps us from being the people god has called us to be. At times that our “religious laws” keep us and others away from the blessings and peace that God intends for us to have. We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves.

 

One of the biggest inhibitions we have is the inhibition of “fear.” When we are afraid…for whatever reason…we become infected with the sickness of fear. Let’s talk about fear. How many of you feel fear? Give time to answer. Do you think the church is afraid and what do you think it is afraid of? Give time to answer. Ok…here’s the hard one, what do you think this church’s fear is and why? Give time to answer.

 

In the scripture I read this morning, we hear Peter…the rock…rebuking Jesus. Why do you think he did that? Give time to answer. A think Peter was afraid. He didn’t want to lose his teacher and friend. He did want his friend to keep talking about His death…that kind of talk just wouldn’t work for Peter. Peter didn’t understand that Jesus dying on the cross was Him following what His purpose was, why He came. Peter also didn’t understand that there is a price to follow God’s leading…leaving our fear behind…leaving or hang ups behind…leaving our prejudices, our biases…our preconceptions behind…and follow where ever He leads.

 

This fact was solidified…this was proven…by the second part of the scripture of Mark. Deny ourselves and take up our cross…we need to lose our life…lose our fears…to save our lives (and the lives of others). If we let the sickness of fear continue to keep its grips around our throats…personally and collectively, we will die… If we let fear take control of our lives and not move out of our death cloths into the robe of righteousness then Jesus’ victory over sin and death is sort of made null and void in our lives. If we are afraid of the price of the cross…our cross…then how can we fulfill our call to make disciples for Christ? If we let fear control and we not move out into our calling…are we denying Jesus?

 

Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs of what ails us in to His glorious Light and be healed. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But should we let fear stop us from being Fearless Christians? What if hope came through our door? Would we fear her or even worse…would she ear us? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group that the Hope would be to set her fears at the foot of the cross and be healed and loved. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

Amen.

 

Live Life Abandoned!

May 7, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Live Life Abandoned!”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 23

Mark 7:24-37

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inhibition

 

“Live Life Abandoned! …”

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

 

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 7, verses 24-37. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)

 

Hope wandered through the streets. Where was she to go on this cold December day. It was below freezing but she hardly felt it at all. It didn’t seem to matter to her. She had become numb to the cold and numb to those around her. She had been through so much and she decided that there was no one that she could trust and nowhere to go. She had tried before and failed…failed miserably. She decided that she was just going to live her life alone…the alternative was not too appetizing for her.

 

As she entered the coffee shop, she walked by a group of people that seemed to be have some sort of study together. They looked up at her and quickly looked away. They didn’t want to make eye contact with her so they pretended to be reading their bibles. Hope went up to the counter, ordered her coffee and left. She thought that if only someone would actually look past her exterior they would finally see her for who she was…but what exactly was that?

 

“Thank God that woman left. She looked as if she was going come over to our table” one of the bible study participants said. “Awkward” said another. “That’s not very nice” another said, “maybe she just wanted to say Hi”. “Awe come on, you really think that is all she wanted? She looked like some druggy or something…you don’t know what those people will do…she probably would have pick pocketed our something,” said another. “Ok…we are sitting here in bible study and you are all talking like she is a leper or something. I am going to go see if I can find her while you guys figure out what W.W.J.D. really means.”

 

“Hey wait up” she said to Hope. Hope turned around to see who was talking but turned right back around and kept walking. “Hey you …yah you…wait up.” Hope stopped in her tacks. “What do you want…to make fun of me or something? Why don’t you just go back to your study buddies and leave me alone.” The girls said “ I am sorry for my so called friends. Are you ok…you look like you could use a friend to talk to.” “Wait…you…a so called Christian want to talk with me? What’s the bottom line? What do you really want?” “Nothing” the girl said “ I just thought you looked like you needed a friend. My name is Joy. What’s yours”? “My name is Hope” she said. “You wanna go somewhere and catch a bite to eat?” “I don’t think I could afford that” Hope said. “My treat” said Joy. As they walked down to the dinner together Hope thought ”maybe this one is different.” Joy thought “maybe this one is different”… Neither knew how much they really needed each other…

 

Good morning. This morning I want us to continue to be interactive with each other as we were last week. I need audience participation. So please play along as the Spirit leads…In the story I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is the people in the “bible study”. How closed off they were to Hope…

 

Beloved, we as Christ church need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. If we are to live life abandoned to Christ, we need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take hold of the land. If we don’t we are like the Israelites wandering in the desert…not seeing the promised land. All too often, we sound a lot like this “group” of people. If we are to live our lives as Resurrection people we need to act as if we have been resurrected. All too often we are stuck in the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” on not wanting to come out being seen naked…leaving those things behind that binds us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

 

Over the next few weeks we will be talking about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ. We will be mending fences and healing the heart with one another. And there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation…living room conversation with each other in the green room with a little coffee…a little snack and I hope a whole lot of conversation and mending. There will be a week that my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

Last week we talked about intentions and the fact that there are times that our intentions…our good intentions…may be not so helpful. Our attitudes, at times, can be seen as exclusive instead of being inclusive as we are called to be. We all bring something to the table and it may be that very thing that keeps us from being the people god has called us to be. There are times that our “religious laws” keep us and others away from the blessings and peace that God intends for us to have.

 

What do you think about inhibitions? Do you think that they can cause us to actually need healing in order to live life abandoned to God and our “co-inhabitants” in the world in which we live? Give time for people to answer…

 

The definition of inhibition is:

  1. the act of inhibiting:  the state of being inhibited

something that forbids, debars, or restricts

  1. an inner impediment to free activity, expression, or functioning

 

From the scripture I read this morning, we see two types of people…one with no inhibitions and one that was being inhibited. The woman knew who Jesus was and that being a woman in that day and time you didn’t just walk up to a man and star talking to them…let alone a Rabbi…unless it was your husband. But Jesus was different and she knew that. She had a daughter who needed healing and she was going to stop at nothing to get it. Even when Jesus told her…well pretty much to go away…she was uninhibited and was not going anywhere until this healer called Jesus healed her child. Now know that Jesus was pretty radical I think that He was actually testing her faith…how much did she really believe in Jesus…would she walk away or would she trust in His mercy as she pleaded the case for her child… And what happened for her because being uninhibited? She was able to live life abandoned to the one who brought healing. We too need to come to the throne of grace…uninhibited…recklessly abandoned to and for the One who says be healed…then we see the miracle…

 

Then we have the man who was deaf in the scripture this morning. This man was closed off from the world. He had no place and no stature in the culture he lived in. He was shut out and held back from living a life with meaning. We too can be like this deaf-mute man. WE shut things out and hold things in. WE don’t speak when we should. There are times we are afraid to speak because of things that have happened in the past and we are afraid to speak and become deaf to the cries around us… Why do you think we shut things out and are unable to speak…we become inhibited? Give time to answer… So, what do you think will bring healing? Give time to answer… Sometimes healing means facing difficult things…those things we find hard to talk about. What are some of the things that you think are causing Christ’s church to be like that deaf-mute man? Give time to answer. What happened when the healer of our souls “opened” him up to the possibility of life abandoned? Give time to answer… He lived abandoned tell everyone about the miracle of Jesus… We too are able to live life abandoned to Christ as we heal what ails us…talk about those closed off things as Jesus tells us to be “open”.

 

Beloved children of the Most High God. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But does that mean we turn a deaf ear and become mute? What would it take for you and me to be “open” to the possibilities that God is placing before us? Shutting things out and holding things in is dangerous to our personal, spiritual and church life. What if hope came through our door? Do you think that she would be open to us…or would we be open to her? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group that the Hope would be to talk about the tough things and be healed of her own deafness as our ears are opened to the cries of those around us and our mouths opened for justice and mercy. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

Amen.

 

Why did I Say…

April 30, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“A Season of Healing”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 116:1-4;12-19

Mark 5:1-8;14-15; 21-23

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/intentions?s=t

 

“Why Did I Say…”

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

 

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 5, verses 1-8;14-15; 21-23. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the Good News Bible)

 

She sat and listened to all that was being said. She thought to herself “Why did I even ask? All I wanted was a little direction for my life and now…this. I knew I should have just kept my mouth shut.” She didn’t want to be rude and leave but it was getting to be a little too much for her. Finally, when they were done, she smiled and said, “it still doesn’t make sense. I am not sure of this really is a place…the place…for me…” got up and left…and never to returned.

 

They all thought to themselves how rude this girl was. “We were only trying to help. Besides, she asked what our opinion was. She seemed to want to know things that really should concern her. She’s just one of those “trouble makers” who want to “change the world”.” They were dumbfounded…how could this person disrespect them.  They were the ones who had the answers to all her questions. They were older and so much wiser than she was. Their opinion…their wisdom…was wasted on the younger generation. If they aren’t going to listen, why do they ask? Why do they have to make life so complicated for everyone else…

 

Earlier that evening, this girl (we will call her Hope) had gone to the group she had always gone to. It was just what she did. Hope had these questions in her mind from day one about the group but she was too afraid to ask. On this night, she decided to ask those questions that burned within her.

 

“Why do you only let just a few in? Why do think the way you do? Why is it that you do what you do? Well what if we…?” she asked as she poured out her heart to them. “You are so young, you wouldn’t understand why we do what we do. We have been this way since the beginning. We are an elite group and you need to understand…we don’t want “rabble rouser” coming in…you never know what “they” will do. We have tried before and well let’s just say that it didn’t go well for them…” as they laughed with almost a delight… “Are you one of those kinds of people or are you one of our kind of people”? This is the point that she got up and left…this rude little girl called Hope…

 

Good morning. This morning I want us to be interactive with each other as we were last week. I need audience participation. So please play along as the Spirit leads…In the story I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is the fact that she left with her questions still not addressed. All she was given was pretty much data…

 

Beloved, we as Christ church need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. All too often, we sound a lot like this “group” of people. If we are to live our lives as Resurrection people we need to act as if we have been resurrected. All too often we are stuck in the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” on not want to come out first being seen naked…leaving those things behind that binds us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

 

As I stated last week, over the next few weeks we will be talking about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ. We will be mending fences and healing the heart with one another. And there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation…living room conversation with each other in the green room with a little coffee…a little snack and I hope a whole lot of conversation and mending. We will put ourselves in front of Jesus where we can be healed. There will be a week that my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

So, to begin with one word…intentions…what are our intentions in life?

Definition: purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct. In Short…why do we do what we do…why do we say what we say…why do we act as we act. Let’s try to figure out what this “group” of people from the story may be all about…

 

Were they inclusive or exclusive? Give time to answer… What do you think that their underlying factor…their motivation was? Again, time to answer…

 

Jesus was presented with the whole intentions thing a lot in his ministry and daily life. When Jesus started His ministry, He caused a lot of fear in the lives of the Pharisees. Jesus practiced “radical hospitality” when He took pity on others and loved them where they were. This shook the whole world, especially that of the Religious leaders. They we seen as wrong in their ways and they just couldn’t stand it or let it continue… So, they planned and executed their plan of getting rid of that outsider to their theology.

 

One of the instances was in the scripture I read this morning… Now the teachers of the law and Religious leaders lived and breathed their traditions. There were none better at that then they were and they enjoyed pointing that out. They wanted to show Jesus how He should act. They said that “His” disciples were not doing what was right…and of course they were what was right…right? What do you think their intentions were?

 

Well Jesus’ answer really did rock their world… As our president might say they were “wrong.” They were more concerned about what was on the outside…a showy faith…than the…real faith. They needed to get rid of this Jesus…He made them look bad…they feared that if He continued they would be seen as the frauds they really were…So they thought up and executed their plan to get rid of the thing…the one person…that caused them the most fear…Jesus… It is what is on the inside that God is concerned with…that is why we have this hope that no matter what our outward appearance shall be…race, gender, challenged, pierced, tattooed, sex, nationality, economically challenged… (fill in the blank)…God sees the inward appearance of a repentant heart…God sees the inward potential that can move mountains and bring Him glory…the kind of heart that not only brings Him glory but a smile to His face…

 

We as the body of Christ try to be inclusive…or at least I hope that we would be. Unfortunately, we can fall a little short of being that inclusive church…in other words…we are no Sandals vacation. There are many factors that make for an “exclusive group”…that needs to become inclusive:

 

  • Underlying factor – why do we do what we do. Is there something in the history of the group that would cause them…cause us not to want other to be part of the group. What is the motivation? Is it not wanting “outsiders” …” those people” or is much more than that? Is it power and prestige that is being “threatened”?
  • Trying to be help but not quite so helpful – There are times when we say the wrong thing unknowingly… We can only go from what we know.
  • How about tradition – those “we have always done it this way”. It will shatter all we know if we break that tradition. We will also have to admit we are wrong.
  • That leads into fear – sometimes it is things from our past, individually, and corporately, that causes us to fear…we don’t want (fill in the blank) to happen again. It can even be a displaced fear of… We are bombarded daily fear situations. Fear of the unknown. That whole shattering of tradition can lead to fear… The only fear is fear itself…
  • And there are times that we really do have the best intentions and somehow, it all just goes off the rails… We don’t know what others bring to the table…we don’t know what others life experiences have been…but when we begin to hear them we begin to heal…

Beloved children of the Most High God. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that a lot of times we have good intentions, but what we need to ask ourselves why we act or say what we do. Is there some kind of underlying situation or belief that shouldn’t be there and if there is…how can we have conversation to heal ourselves and each other? Are we more like the Pharisees and their legalism or more like Jesus who loved and included all. As a side note…Jesus fulfilled the law so you and I can live under grace…grace received should be grace given. Also it is only because of His inclusiveness that we are grafted into the family of God…just sayin… I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group that the Hope would be able to ask questions and receive thoughtful God inspired answers and if we are wrong in our beliefs may we admit it and heal beyond our vision. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

Amen.

Where is the Love…

March 1, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Ash Wednesday

Sermon Series:

“God Shaped Hole…”

“Where Is the Love”

Inspired by Marcia McPhee’s

Looking For Love…

Joel 2:12-17

Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21

 

“Where is the Love”

 

Prayer of illumination….

 

How fitting it is that we begin our Lenten journey in ashes…the thought brings us back to the reality it’s not about us…Titus tells us that it is not by what we do that we are saved but by God’s grace we are redeemed. As we enter this time of Lent, we remember that it is a time of self-reflection, a time when our hearts turn towards the journey to the cross, a time when we ponder on the gift that God so freely gives to you and to me…the gift of redemption and forgiveness wrapped in a cross on top of a hill from so long ago. As I reflect on my life and walk with God I am reminded by the reading from Joel that it is not the outside that God is concerned with, it is not my outward appearance but the appearance of my heart…how is it really with my soul. God is waiting for the day when all of His creation turns back to Him as He had planned for it to be from the very beginning.

 

It is hard at times toknow exactly what to do and what not to do during the Lenten season. Do I fast? Do I decide to give up something or do I not…? Should I tell all my friends or do I not tell them? Even though how hard it may be…I think that Matthew has something to tell us about this whole fasting thing. It is found in Matthew 6 verses 1-6 and 16 through 21 that I read tonight. During Lent we are not sure if we should add something to our “daily walk” with God…it is always a daily walk but during this season we seem to concentrate more on it… There is a danger of adding too much and we want to show how religious we are to those who are around us…all this addition and subtraction can make our heads explode…but then you have to add in the multiplying that we may feel we need to do…take on more projects, do more than our share of different new and improved things that will make us super Lenten warriors , and the like, only to wind up frustrated and overtired and not even sure what this whole Lent thing is about…It becomes all about us and what we do and less about what God did, has done and continues to do…

 

This journey of Lent is a journey of repentance…we are turning around so that we might bin in a right relationship with God. We are turning back to a love that we once had…returning to our first love. As we turn back to our first love…that God shaped hole is filled once again.

 

But at times it is hard. We get so lost that we just keep grabbing onto what feels like a good fit only to realize that we are trying to fit a square shape into a God shaped…heart shaped hole. What is it that we are really looking for? Are we looking for love in all the wrong places and failing miserably?

 

As we share this Lenten journey with one another, I would like to invite all of you on a journey to the heart of the matter…finding that perfectly, God shaped thing we are missing. I would like to invite you to a time of looking at what will fill that hole so that we can help others find their way to the place of turning around so that they too will be on the road to God’s own heart.

 

The Lenten journey is our journey of reflection and hope…it’s the road…our means of access…we travel to the destination at the end of our 40 day journey. The place where God showed His greatest compassion and mercy…the place where He gave His Son to die in our stead so that we may have life renewed and redeemed…the foot of the Cross of Calvary. It is good that we begin in ashes for it is by ashes we were made and to ashes we will return. Wednesday’s ashes…God transformed into the beauty of the cross for me and for you.

Amen.

Shiney and New

February 26, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

“Transformative Praise”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 99

Exodus 24:12; 34:29-35

Matthew 17:1-5

“Who are you” by The Who

 

“Shiny and New…”

 

Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand for the reading of the Gospel St. Matthew, chapter 17, verses 1-5. Listen to the Word of God, His Love Letter to His beloved, you and I…

“Who are you” theme song…

Good Morning. Today is the last Sunday before we begin our Lenten journey to the cross. How appropriate that is it called Transfiguration Sunday in the church calendar. It is a celebration of when Jesus and a few of His disciples, Peter, James, and John, went up onto a mountain top. Here Jesus’ form is transfigured…transformed…right before the Disciples eyes. Now the reason why I feel that is so appropriate that we celebrate THIS Sunday just before our Lenten journey is this, In Lent we travel to the cross where our biggest transformation happens…where the biggest part of us becoming the you God wants us to be takes place…

 

We are at our last week of talking about how God’s promises and truths, can be very hard to understand if we don’t realize who we are in Christ Jesus. It has been interesting and enlightening journey. We have asked who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? Who are we in Christ…? I continue to truly believe that we all want to become the “you” God wants us to be. What transformation has happened to you as we looked at who we are in Christ…or should I say Whose we are.

 

On our journey, we have discovered one fact…you and I are God’s beloved. You and I are cherished, favored, and loved by God…there is One who never reject us…flaws and all… We went to the river with Jesus and remembered our baptism and the promise found there. We are striving to live that life of acceptance and grace so that we in turn will accept others and offer them the same grace we have received.

 

We talked about the different names that we go by, how we are identified.

Not only are we God’s beloved we also carry Christ’s name when we call ourselves “Christ”ians…what a thought that is… God has called us to an extraordinary purpose that only you or I can fulfill. As we find our niche…we become an example for those who are looking for a better way…

 

We know that when we noble…act with integrity, we honor God and embody the life we are called to live…one of trustworthiness and honesty.  As we show this character trait, we can begin living relationally with those around us…creating a three-fold cord that just can’t…no won’t be broken. We have realized we need to the methodically…purposefully…compassionate with ourselves and those around us.

 

The final piece in the becoming who we are is that when we realize who we are…when that Truth transforms us…we proclaim to others of the transformative power found in Jesus Christ. We just can’t keep it in that we are made “shiny and new” …we shine with the Shakina of God…the brilliance of God shines through us…because of the hope…the grace…the love that God pours out into and upon our lives to be poured out onto a world in need of a tidal wave of God’s presence.

 

We are kind of like Moses when he came down from the mountain… Let me share with you the story from Exodus 24”:12 and 34:25-39:

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

 

33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.

 

Now…the people were afraid of the “glory of God” the Shakina of God, and so they stood afar from Moses…until it was explained to them…then they came near. In the world, we live in today, many are afraid of who we are because they don’t understand, or they have had a bad experience”, or they …fill in the blank. We need to share our testimony with our mouths and our lives as a way of explaining who God is so that those who are afraid will understand and come near…

 

My question is this, after Moses explained why he glowed and people came near, why did he have to cover his face? No one was going to be afraid of him… This is my theory…this was before the Holy Spirit was given. Moses would shine whenever he came back from talking with God. Could it be that over time the shine would kind of wear off and he wouldn’t shine again until he was with God. He didn’t want the people to know and be discouraged so he hid his face until he would shine again…be all shiny and new.

 

Fortunately we have the Holy Spirit within us and God has come to dwell within you and me. We can always have that Shakina of God about us…that is if we choose to have that shine upon our lives. We have hope and that is more than enough to make us shine for God. WE are transformed and it is that transformation that others see…the transformation is our witness to the world of God’s saving grace.

 

Now I would like to talk a little about a word that is not just a verb but a noun. The word is hope…we have hope and we hope in Hope. In proclaiming the transformation that we have in Christ, I think that one of the biggest pieces within that transformation is hope…not as the world gives it because the world is fickle…but God’s hope which endures forever. When we realize who and whose we are, we totally cling to that hope because it will not disappoint us…or will it ever fail us. It is hard to hope as Christians do…we cannot see our hope but believe…the world hopes because it hopes in what is seen…The Christian hope endures and the world’s only until the next thing…. or until they get what they see…

 

Humanity seems to be always looking for hope. As we try to find that hope we can tend not to see it right before our eyes. Hebrews 11 is called the “Faith Hall of Fame”. All of the people in this chapter have been remembered because of their great faith. But in reading this chapter, one thing keeps coming to my mind. These “hero’s of faith” had one thing in common. Their hope was not in themselves but was in God.

 

Abraham never saw the promises of descendants too numerous to count but had faith and hope in God to fulfilled His promises. Noah built an ark to be able to escape the wrath of God. Even though there had never rain before this time, Noah believed and put his hope in God to deliver him and his family from the consuming waters. He chose to trust God and through his faith in God, he found hope.

 

There are so many facets to salvation. There is the grace that we receive from God within salvation. The grace freely given to us even though we don’t deserve it but it is through the blood of Jesus that we receive this incredible gift. We are chosen by God and are adopted by Him through the blood that was poured down a wooden cross on a hill for you and for me. We are delivered from sin and death through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. There is love and mercy, joy and there is HOPE…Not just your everyday hope that you feel but hope that is not defined by our circumstances but is defined by our great and loving God…through the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

In the world we live in we are taught to have hope in things we see. But as Beloved of God we have a hope in things unseen. It is foolishness to the world but we hope in greater things that the world just can’t understand.

We have hope in eternal and not temporal trappings of this world. In whom shall you place your hope?

 

 

Who are you…who am I…who are we  I’ll tell you who we are. We are beloved, cherished, favored, flawless, loved, accepted, Name carrying, trustworthy, honest to goodness, relationally living, purposefully compassionate, transformed, children of God with an extraordinary purpose. That’s who we are and that’s what we exclaim in the name of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. What else could we be?

 

Amen

“The Methodically, Compassionate Life…”

February 19, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

“Go Beyond the Ordinary”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 119:33-40 AMP

Deuteronomy 24:19-22 NLT

Leviticus 19:9-10 NLT

Ruth 2:17-22 NLT

Matthew 5:40-46 NLT

“Who are you” by The Who

 

“The Methodically, Compassionate Life…”

 

Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand for the reading of the Gospel St. Matthew, chapter 5, verses 40 through 46. Listen to the Word of God, His Love Letter to His beloved, you and I…Read Matthew from the Message Bible.

“Who are you” theme song…

 

I have question. Should we go the extra mile when we do things or do you think just doing what is called for good enough? I mean seriously, when we are asked to do something, we have that invitation…from the Holy Spirit within us…to go one step further. Should we live a mediocre, average or runoff the mill life or an extraordinary life…a life of intension and resolve? Which do you think would be more fulfilling? What and who do you think we are called to be when we answered the call of Jesus in, on and through our life? Random acts of kindness…compassion…not only brightens someone else’s day but also our own.

The story of the bathroom…

 

We have been talking about how God’s promises and truths, can be very hard to understand if we don’t realize who we are in Christ Jesus. Who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? We have begun to look at who we are in Christ… I continue to truly believe that we all want to become the “you” God wants us to be. Let’s see what transformation happens as we become who God says we are and not who the world thinks we are.

 

On our journey, we have discovered one fact…you and I are God’s beloved. You and I are cherished, favored, and loved by God…there is One who never reject us…flaws and all… We went to the river with Jesus and remembered our baptism and the promise found there. We are striving to live that life of acceptance and grace so that we in turn will accept others ab= d offer them the same grace we have received.

 

We talked about the different names that we go by, how we are identified.

Not only are we God’s beloved we also carry Christ’s name when we call ourselves “Christ”ians…what a thought that is… God has called us to an extraordinary purpose that only you or I can fulfill. As we find our niche…we become an example for those who are looking for a better way…

 

We know that when we noble…act with integrity, we honor God and embody the life we are called to live…one of trustworthiness and honesty.  As we show this character trait, we can begin living relationally with those around us…creating a three-fold cord that just can’t…no won’t be broken.

 

Today I have two words for you “Methodical Compassion” …being intentional in our lives as we live with others who are just as broken as we are. We need to be deliberate with how we live out our life here in a foreign country…remember that we are not of this world, only in it to exemplify our homeland in the way we live and love one another. Now we are Methodist and we know how to live by a method…so to speak. There is truly a method to our madness…to reach the least, lost and forgotten with the Gospel of peace, love, joy, acceptance, forgiveness, and new life.

 

But what if we…you and I…decided that we were going to live how God would have me live? What if we took to heart the Psalm read this morning? Asking the Lord to teach us and give us understanding…to live life with abandon to the will of God…letting God have control and rule over everything and anything pertaining to our life journey.

 

The Matthew scripture tells us what that life would look like… we would go beyond what is called and love even those who would harm us. Pretty much what Jesus modeled for us in His life and death. What would it take for you and I to live that life of abandon to and for God?

 

OK…so let’s look at a couple more examples of methodically, intentionally, showing compassion for others that may open our mind to the possibilities that are there for us…The first is from Leviticus chapter 19 verses 9-10:

9 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. 10 It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.

 

Instead of grabbing everything for ourselves, instead of keeping the whole harvest that God has given us, we are to share with those who are less fortunate. We are blessed to be a blessing and when we are Methodically Compassionate, we care for others and their needs…sometimes even before our own.

The next sounds a lot like the first but there is a “little twist” to it in the end. This one comes from Deuteronomy chapter 24, verses 19-22. Listen and see if you can find that little twist I talked about…

19 “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do. 20 When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 21 When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 22 Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command.

 

Did you hear the twist I this scripture? It tells us to remember the time of our slavery…remember when we were in want…in need. Now I don’t think that this remembering has do with just our physical needs…I believe it includes us remembering when we were Spiritually in bondage. When we are engaging others, they may have a greater need than what can be seen. They may be spiritually hungry and thirst for more in their lives.

I think my favorite example about caring for others is the story of Ruth. Not only did she care for her mother-in-law after her husband’s death but she went the extra mile and left all she knew for a better way of life and followed her all the way back to her people. I want to share Ruth chapter 2 verses 17-22 of this love story with you this morning. This is just one of the many pieces of this story that you see the compassion for others:

17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket. 18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”

So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”

21 Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”

22 “Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”

 

Boaz showed caring for her by letting her glean in his fields and letting her stay with his own workers for safety. Ruth showed compassion by sharing her meal with her mother-in-law Naomi and gleaning for barley in the first place.

 

So…what are some ways we can be methodical…to be Methodist…in our lives and in the lives of those around us? Give people a chance to respond. OK…how do you think we as a church…not just as Methodist or even as the whole body but we, here…you and I…Stetson Memorial UMC…can give/go that extra mile? Remember…methodically with purpose and intention…

 

Who are you…who am I? Are you and I showing compassion to those around us or are we putting on blinders and seeing only what we want out of life? Are you and I being intentional with caring for others or are we just halfheartedly caring about the needs of others…? Are you and I acting in ways that show’s God’s love and compassion or are we living selfishly? We are called to be the mirror image of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. How are we doing with that? My prayer is that we would live lives that are Methodically Compassionate as we look for ways to feed both the physical and the Spiritual needs of others…to share the greatest gift of all…the gift of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ to a world in need of compassion and love.

 

Amen