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Whose In Charge Here…

https://youtu.be/74g7haOb66o

 

June 18, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Father’s Day!

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Power”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 100

Mark 10:35-45 MSG

Mark 9:30; 10:13-16; 20:16

 

 

“Who’s In Charge Here Anyway…!”

 

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 10, verses 35-45 Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)

 

Hope was a little nervous about seeing her friends but there was something about nurse Faith that gave her a sense of ease. She knew that this was going to be hard…letting go the rock, but it was something she needed to do. She didn’t realize how much she was going to need this new found thought pattern. But it was going to be a turning point in her life that she never expected.

 

When she entered the room, she was shocked to see her friend Grace. She was all hooked up to tubes and the sound of the heart monitor shook her to her core. “How could this have happened? I was only trying to introduce Grace and Joy to my friends so that they could see that they were nice, just like me. Why God are you doing this to me? What did I ever do to deserve this? I only wanted friends and now you have taken that away from me too…” Hope thought. As if she could read Hope’s mind, nurse Faith put her arm around Hope and said “it looks worse than it really is. She is going to be OK. It is just going to take some time for her to heal.” With these words, Hope relaxed a little. She knew her friend was going to be ok.

 

“What do you want” Joy asked as she sat by graces bed side. “I just wanted to check to see how Grace was doing and to apologize again for what happened at the river front. I had no idea any of this was going to happen. I am so happy to have people care about me. And of course, I messed it all up. I hope you will forgive me one day.” Hope said through tear filled eyes. “We will see about that…maybe in time” Joy said. “I told you not to say that. We talked about what God would want us to do. And if I can forgive about what happened, so should you. Besides, I really don’t think she brought us there to hurt us…she too was in danger.” Grace said from her bed.

 

Hope almost fell to the floor when she heard Grace’s voice and what she had to say about forgiveness. “I am so sorry Grace. I will never forgive myself for this” Hope said. “Now hope…as I said to Joy…if I can forgive what has happened…” Grace said, “and another thing. Next time when someone tells you a situation looks bad…listen to them please…” Grace laughed.

 

“Ok…I think that is enough excitement for one day. Grace needs to get some rest. She has a long road to travel but with friends like you, it will be made easier” Faith said to the girls. “Ok…well I will see you tomorrow” Joy said to her friend “Me too” said Hope.

 

As the two girls left the room and walked down the hall together, Hope said to Joy, “How can she do that? How can she forgive and move on? I would never talk to me again if I was in her shoes.” “That’s why she is named Grace. She is the most Christ-like person I know. She showers people with the grace of Jesus even when they don’t deserve it. Just like we aren’t worthy of Jesus’ grace…we are offered it anyway because of His love. It is out of that same love that Grace can do what she does so well…let go and let God be the ruler and King of her life…to give God all the power that is due Him” Joy explained.” “wow…now that’s something I would love to be able to do.” Hope exclaimed. “So, would I” Joy agreed, “so would I. Hey…let’s go somewhere where we can talk.” “Yah…I think we really need to do that” Hope said “I think Grace would like that too…”

 

Good morning. Happy Father’s Day. We celebrate the fathers and like-fathers in our lives as we celebrate their ministry of parenthood within our lives. And yes…Parenthood is a ministry…not for the faint at heart…

For weeks now we have been talking about what ails us. We have had a lot of good conversation over our ailments as we have been interactive with one another during our sermon time…so, I need audience participation. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is

 

I truly believe that we as Christ church…followers of the Way…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 heal what ails us to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back our streets…the places where we are called to share the Gospel of Grace, Hope, Joy, and Faith. Without healing, what ails us we can’t call ourselves Christ followers because we can’t follow His example in the world. We want to be those Resurrected people. We can spend the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …not leaving those things behind that bind us… But we need to put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

 

Today I want us to continue 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. Now, 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. 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 may be not so helpful. 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.

 

Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear immobilizes us and keeps us stuck in the mud…unable to move forward for Christ and the Good News. 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…

 

There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things… Now being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. But there are times when our pride gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.

 

I think the most vicious and viral disease in and to the body of Christ is the disease of division. As we work together…and not just give up and leave…the most important thing to remember is we need to take our division to the Way Maker, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, He will stand in gap for us as we work our way back to unity. As we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.

 

Another thing that ails us as people and as a church is Miss-Trust. Lady Ms. Trust loves to come in and stir up a whole lot of nothing and sit back as we begin to come unglued together because we are suspicious and untrusting each other. And there are still others that are “holdouts”… holding on to things that should be released to God. They keep pushing the bolder up the hill and not letting the Creator of all make rubble out of it…

 

What about those who like to be in power…the ones who have a need to control? How many of you have been in a power struggle? How did that make you feel? Give time to answer. Did that struggle get you anywhere? Give time to answer. You know this whole power struggle thing, has always been in play. In the Garden of Eden…Adam and Eve felt that they wanted to be like God and the snake made Eve think that God was holding out on her. She wanted the power…to be like God. I imagine it was the same for Adam because he ate too… So…do you think there is a problem with power within Christ’s church? Give time to answer. What about our own little corner of the world…right here within our own walls? Give time to answer.

 

From the Mark scripture this morning, we hear how the disciples are continuing that road of not understanding. They still weren’t getting it. They had that whole power struggle thing right down to a science. They had heard what Jesus told the rich young ruler from Mark 10:17-22…to get rid of his wealth and follow Him. But this ruler had a lot of possessions and of course power probably came with that and he refused to give up the powerJesus was telling him to give it up and give Him the power. Nope couldn’t do it…To follow Jesus we must give up the power to Him…to be His hands and feet, we must give up our own in place of His… These men…these disciples of Christ…were complaining that others, who were not part of them…part of their power group, were casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Remember Mark 9:38 “John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.” Pride rear’s it’s ugly head here as well. We are proud and we have the power…

 

Within this scripture from Mark 10:35-45, we hear about what Jesus says what real power looks like.

“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

 

Jesus came to set the hostage free…not to Lord it over them…as He could have. He put on the stance of a servant in order to show humanity a more excellent way of life. It is this stance He is calling us to adopt as our own…not power our way into and for what we want but being humble as He was…thinking of others above ourselves and power as not something we want to ascertain for ourselves but to empower others in and through the Gospel of grace. Mark 10:13-16 tells us that we are to come with the trust and humility of a child in order to gain the Kingdom of God…

 

Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed of our ailments. 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 we cannot/will not let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively.

 

So, who really is in charge here? Are we taking matters into our own hands, our own strength? Or is there a power far above us that we cling too? We live in a world where power and prestige are at the top of the list for living a “perfect life”. If you don’t have it you are weak. On the road to Damascus, the Apostille Paul had a “come to Jesus” meeting. He was had power and prestige as Saul. But in his encounter, he realized that it is when he was weak…he was stronger than he had ever been…his eyes were open to this truth. Are we ready…are you and I ready…to have our eyes and hearts open to the real power that is offered to us in and through Jesus Christ? Or will we grab all the power we think we can to live a life of leisure? The choice is ours to make.

 

Think about the Hope’s of this world. Would we over power her with our own strength or over power her with kindness, love and servitude? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. I passionately want us to be that church that Hope would hear about the goodness of God and feel the oneness of our church as we work through our faith journey together trusting in the One who knows us best.

 

Maybe…just maybe…Hope will come through our doors. What will she find here?

 

Amen.

 

 

 

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Beloved

 

December 25, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Christmas Day

“A Sacred Moment”

Sermon Series

Psalm 98

Luke 2:1-20

John 1:1-14

 

 

“Beloved…”

 

A prayer of illumination so that God will speak through me or in-spite of me…

 

I would ask that you would stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel according to the apostle Luke Chapter 2, verses 1-20. Listen to the word of God for His people…you and I… (Read the gospel from the NIV Bible)

 

Merry Christmas. I don’t know about you but I have been waiting all year to say those words. Those two words shatter what the world around us and bring the sacred near. These two words change our lives. These two words are words of love and redemption. With these two words God shatters the strong holds of the enemy. Without these two words, there is no happy Easter…no day of atonement. Without these two words, there is no hope or light in the darkness… Merry Christmas to you all.

 

Over the past few of weeks, we have been talking about the sacred. We have talked about the sacredness of the season we are in…the season of Advent when we expectantly wait to celebrate Jesus’ birth and wait expectantly for His return. But at times we can get so busy that we lose that sense of wonder we had and everything becomes a chore…a box to be checked off…

 

We have talked about the fact that if we don’t find a way to slow down, we are going to miss the best part of this season of giving that we call Advent. We are going to miss the best gift that we could ever receive. The gift of God’s own Son in the form of a baby on a cold and silent night. When we slow down, we will see the sacredness all around us.

 

We know that the sacredness of something should be revered and respected but awe and wonder of this season seems to get lost in the lights and glamor. If we want to see…to feel…to touch the sacred, we need to slow down our pace and just be for the moment…lest we miss the awe and wonder of the manger.

 

This Advent season, we have slowed down…even if for but a moment…to see what might be missed in the hustle and bustle of the season. I pray that you and I have been able to see this season through the kaleidoscope, the display of beauty within the sacred space of Advent…

 

 

I would ask that we again would stop for a moment and just breath in the sacredness of the space we are in right now…this sanctuary where God shows up to meet us each Sunday… I have asked that each of us would continue to spend some time each day…even just five minutes and focus on…meditate upon the Sacredness we talk about each week… Let each build upon each other until we embrace genuine purpose within this sacred moment…

 

We rediscovered that Advent is a sacred time. The time of heaven intersecting the time of the then and now. We have even talked about sacred people within the Christmas Adventure…remember…sacred people…set apart by and for God. We heard Mary and Joseph’s stories and discovered they were just ordinary people who “showed up” and God did the extraordinary in and through them…and we too have the same chance of the extraordinary…but we need to show up…that is when the extraordinary things happen…we heard the story of Mary and Elizabeth and how when they showed up hope was birthed within that sacred place.

 

And so here we are today…the day of Christmas…the day that we have waited for…the day that we celebrated the that Sacred Moment that love came down and the Sacred lived among us. What joy there was in heaven. Listen again to the angels greeting to the shepherds…

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

And what happened next…

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 

 

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

They knew that had happened to and for humanity and they celebrated. Now I am going out on a limb here but it seems to me that they were more over joy not so much about the birth of Christ but what that birth would mean to you and to me…

 

I think my favorite piece of scripture about Christ’s birth is found in John 1, verses 1-14. Let me read this account for you…

The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is Christmas…this is the meaning behind the sacred moments…this is the joy of season. Immanuel…God with us. This is the story we, as Christians, should be telling instead of Santa Clause and his 8-tiny reindeer. This is the hope beyond all hope. This is the reason for the season…This is the greatest gift of all that we sang about just a few minutes ago, love wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. The sacred among us…

 

I continue to challenge you and I to take a road far different than the highway that leads to the Bethlehem Stable and continue to go back as we begin a New Year. I continue to dare us…you and I…to allow God to make something sacred out of our ordinary lives. The Sacred still walks among us, living in you and in me. We need to take that light into a world in need of light in the darkness. We have much to tell for we are the beloved of God for He loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son and whoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life… You Are Loved! We are not loved because of something we can do or earn, we are simply beloved, first born of God. The proof…God took on flesh and lived among us…that’s all the proof we need…

 

I continue to challenge you and I to slow ourselves down and sit within the Sacredness of the manger where we can see and feel the sacredness of space not only in our sanctuary but as we take our “tent of the Meeting” out into a world that is in need of a “sacred, safe place” to be…to see the sacredness of the ordinary…and bring what we find there to the world through the sacredness of our lives, within the sacred space…the witness of what we find there…in and through the manger to the cross of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas…may you have a God-inspired New Year!

 

Birthing Room

December 11, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

3rd Sunday of Advent

“A Sacred Moment”

Sermon Series

Psalm 146

Psalm 47:2a

Luke 1:39-56

 

 “Birthing Room…”

 

A prayer of illumination so that God will speak through me or in-spite of me…

 

I would ask that you would stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel according to Luke Chapter 1, verses 39-56. Listen to the word of God for His people…you and I… (Read the gospel from the Common English Bible)

 

Have you ever been somewhere and just standing in the place just feels so holy…almost as if you reached out…you could touch the hand of God…?

  • Talk about Rolling Ridge and the sacredness of the it…

What makes a place sacred…and not so sacred? Is there some kind of formula that you can follow…like a bunch of boxes to be checked off…to know this is the genuine real deal…?

 

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been talking about the sacred. We have talked about the sacredness of the season we are in…the season of Advent when we expectantly wait to celebrate Jesus’ birth and wait expectantly for His return. But at times we can get so busy that we lose that sense of wonder we had and everything becomes a chore…a box to be checked off…

 

We, as people, as Christians need to find a way to slow down, otherwise we are going to miss the best part of this season of giving that we call Advent. We are going to miss the best gift that we could ever receive. The gift of God’s own Son in the form of a baby on a cold and silent night. As we slow down, we will see the sacredness all around us.

 

The word sacred itself means set apart and holy. The sacredness of something should be revered and respected but the time of reverence and awe of this season seems to get lost in the lights and glamor. In order for us to see…to feel…to touch the sacred, we need to slow down our pace and just be for the moment…lest we miss the awe and wonder of the manger.

 

This Advent season, we have begun slowing down…even if for but a moment…to see what might be missed in the hustle and bustle of the season. I would challenge us…you and I…to take a spiritual journey to see all things through the kaleidoscope…the display of beauty within the sacred space of Advent…

 

Ok…so the places of Sacredness…the moments that can tend to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season are:

  • Sacred Time
  • Sacred People
  • Sacred Space
  • Sacred Knowing
  • Sacred Being
  • Sacred Doing

 

I would ask that we again would stop for a moment and just breath in the sacredness of the space we are in right now…this sanctuary where God shows up to meet us each Sunday…And as I have said…in order to really enter into the Sacredness of Advent…we need to do it more than just on Sunday’s so I would ask that each of us would continue to spend some time each day…even just five minutes and focus on…meditate upon the Sacredness we talk about each week… Let each build upon each other until we embrace genuine purpose within this sacred moment…

 

We rediscovered that Advent is a sacred time. The time of heaven intersecting the time of the then and now. The time had come for a heart and life change. We have even talked about sacred people within the Christmas Adventure…remember…sacred people…set apart by and for God. We heard Mary and Joseph’s stories and discovered they were just ordinary people who “showed up” and God did the extraordinary in and through them…and we too have the same chance of the extraordinary…but we need to show up…that is when the extraordinary things happen…

 

In today scripture we hear about two women who “showed up” for God, Mary, and Elizabeth. Their bodies became the sacred places where hope was birthed. This hope was going to move and transform the world. Both Mary and Elizabeth were filled with the Holy Spirit…in fact, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit as Mary…who made the space for the hope of the world as she was set apart to be sacred within that sacred moment in time spent with Elizabeth. Within that sacred space…within our sacred space new hope is birthed. As we go out into the world we can affect the ordinary with our extraordinary lives for God and joy is birthed, peace is birthed, hope is birthed. We should be vessels, set apart for Gods purposes and sent out to be pour out over a world without hope, without peace, without joy, without love, without a Savior. The world is one big “birthing room” but we need to choose to be midwifes of the Master Physician who heals all that is broken.

 

There was a sacred knowing within that moment that was shared. Elizabeth shouted glory to God…she knew that the child Mary was carrying was the Holy One of Israel. As deep calls out to deep (Psalm 47:2a) sacred calls out to sacred… And Mary sang a song of praise that is probably the most beautiful awe inspiring, glory to God song I have ever heard…in fact I have kind of adopted it for my own as I sing that you to God within and with my whole being.

 

Sacred place…I said earlier…the place we are sitting right now is a sacred place. We have set apart this place as a holy place, a place that is sacred because this is where we come to meet with God each Sunday. This is a place that we have set aside for God…much like the tabernacle in the wilderness that the Israelite’s had…where they met God. But here is where there is a difference. Their place to me God…sometimes called the Tent of the Meeting…was portable. When they moved…God moved with them…God went before them and they stopped where God stopped.

 

I want you to think about this fact for a moment. God went before them as they traveled with their tabernacle. What if…and I am going out on a limb here…what if we too took our tabernacle with us…? What if we too followed where God wanted us to go and brought our sacred place with us. That would mean that where ever we went it would be a sacred place…where sacred and set apart people would invite others to enter into the journey…as we enter into a sacred time with and for God…remember God is Immanuel…God with us… If this is so…If we believe this mind blowing fact…Every place we go is sacred…we are always sacred people set apart…and our lives would be spent in the awe and reverence of God…within the veil of time.

 

As I have asked before…how are we going to spend this “holiday season”? Are you and I going for the superficial…or is there something more…is there a better way? I continue to challenge you and I to take a road far different than the highway that leads to the Bethlehem Stable. I dare us…you and I…to allow God to make something sacred out of our ordinary lives. We can live within the veil of a scared space knowing the time has come to seek what really matters.

 

Perhaps as we contemplate of the sacredness of space this week that we would walk in our own call to be sacred as we usher in the presence of peace. You were all given a safety pin this morning. The symbolism is this. While we were creating this beautiful vision, we have in the sanctuary this morning, Sara Hill was wearing a safety pin. When I asked her about it she said “it was on Facebook. There are so many people who don’t feel safe anymore in the country they live. The pin is a symbol we wear to let them know they are safe with us.” I challenge you to wear it and be that sacred place others can run to.

 

I challenge you and I to slow ourselves down and sit within the Sacredness of the manger where we can see and feel the sacredness of space not only in our sanctuary but as we take our “tent of the Meeting” out into a world that is in need of a “sacred, safe place” to be…to see the sacredness of the ordinary…and bring what we find there to the world through the sacredness of our lives, within the sacred space…the witness of what we find there…in and through the manger to the cross of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

 

Amen.

In the Ordinary

December 4, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

2nd Sunday of Advent

“A Sacred Moment”

Sermon Series

Psalm 72:1-7; 18-19

Matthew 1:1-25

Luke 1:26-38

 

 

“In the Ordinary…”

 

A prayer of illumination so that God will speak through me or in-spite of me…

 

I would ask that you would stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel according to Matthew and Luke. We will be reading chapter 1, verses 1-25 and from Luke Chapter 1, verses 26-38. Listen to the word of God for His people…you and I… (Read the gospel from the Message translation)

 

Good morning. Ok show of hands, how many of you think that you are ordinary? Why do you think that (give time for people to answer. Also, answer that question for myself)? We see and hear about these people who do these extraordinary things and we think that are so awesome and exceptional, we want to be just like them. Why can’t we just be special for even just a moment? You can be…I will tell you the secret later in my sermon and how to take your ordinary life and turn it into something that is extraordinary…it is going to blow your mind…

 

We started talking last week about how we, as people, as Christians need to find a way to slow down, otherwise we are going to miss the best part of this season of giving that we call Advent. We are going to miss the best gift that we could ever receive. The gift of God’s own Son in the form of a baby on a cold and silent night. As we slow down, we will see the sacredness all around us.

 

This Advent time, is the season we expectantly await the celebration of His birth and wait expectantly for his return. Unfortunately, this time of sacredness, gets drowned out by the secular business. The word sacred itself means set apart and holy. This sacredness of something is to be revered and respected but this time of reverence and awe seems to get lost in the lights and glamor.

 

You see for us to see…to feel…to touch the sacred, we need to slow down our pace and just be for the moment…lest we miss the awe and wonder of the manger. How did it go this week with my challenge to take even just 5 minutes a day to just sit and be…contemplating on the sacredness of the time we are in at this very moment?

 

This Advent season, we have begun slowing down…even if for but a moment…to see what might be missed in the hustle and bustle of the season. I would challenge us…you and I…to take a spiritual journey to see all things through the kaleidoscope…the display of beauty within the sacred space of Advent…I would even suggest that we might even journal through this journey. It would be something that we could turn back to when the hustle of life gets in the way of the rustle of angel wings around us.

 

Ok…so the places of Sacredness…the moments that can tend to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season are:

©     Sacred Time

©     Sacred People

©     Sacred Space

©     Sacred Knowing

©     Sacred Being

©     Sacred Doing

 

I would ask that we again would stop for a moment and just breath in the sacredness of the space we are in right now…this sanctuary where God shows up to meet us each Sunday…And as I have said…in order to really enter into the Sacredness of Advent…we need to do it more than just on Sunday’s so I would ask that each of us would continue to spend some time each day…even just five minutes and focus on…meditate upon the Sacredness we talk about each week… Let each build upon each other until we embrace genuine purpose within this sacred moment…

 

Last week we rediscovered that Advent is a sacred time and how John the Baptist spoke about time. The time of heaven intersecting the time of the then and now. The time had come for a heart and life change. The time had come…and continue today…to prepare the way of the Lord. We are that thunder in the desert. We are that message of sacredness. We are the voice calling out in the desert “make way for the kingdom of God…it is right before us…do you not perceive it?”

 

This week it is all about sacred people…set apart by and for God. We heard two stories of the ordinary becoming extraordinary… Mary and Joseph.

Come on Pastor Ruth…these were Jesus’ parents, of course they were and are Holy. Ok…you are right they were God incarnates parents but what is the definition of sacred we talked about? Sacred itself means set apart and holy. We too can lead the life of sacred as we set ourselves apart for God…we become holy as the Holy One of Israel uses us for His glory. What did Mary answer when called by God? “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” What did Joseph do after the dream? When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

 

Those people we talked about earlier…live ordinary lives…just as you and I live ordinary lives…but something is and was different about them. What made Mary and Joseph so special…even though ordinary like you and me? Here we go…here is the answer I promised you…it came to me when Rebecca Gallis was with us…I am forever grateful for her giving me this one extremely important insight to my life…the ordinary turned into something so much more…because they showed up…they said yes…God used them and continues to use them…use us. We sometimes forget those in the background and not think much of them…we too have been in the background. But those in the background humbling themselves are the ones that God will use for His glory…we too become…”sacred”, set apart for and by God… (do mind blown thing). Told yah it would blow your mind…

 

How are we going to spend this “holiday season”? Are you and I going for the superficial…or is there something more…is there a better way? I challenge you and I to take a road far different than the highway that leads to the Bethlehem Stable. I dare us…you and I…to allow God to make something sacred out of our ordinary lives.

 

Perhaps as we contemplate of the sacredness of people this week that we would walk in our own call to sacred as we usher in the presence of peace. You were all given a safety pin this morning. The symbolism is this. On Saturday, while we were creating this beautiful vision we have in the sanctuary this morning, Sara Hill was wearing a safety pin. When I asked her about it she said “it was on Facebook. There are so many people who don’t feel safe anymore in the country they live. The pin is a symbol we wear to let them know they are safe with us.” I challenge you to wear it and be that sacred place others can run to. I challenge you and I to slow ourselves down and sit within the Sacredness of the manger where we can see the sacredness of the time…the sacredness of the ordinary…and bring what we find there to the world through the sacredness of our lives…the witness of what we find there…in and through the manger to the cross of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

 

Amen.

Sacred Prayer 1

Awesome, Loving, Eternal, Righteous, Holy, Mighty, Redeeming, Great God, thank You for another day that I can worship You in Spirit and in Truth. Thank You for a day that I can reflect Your love and grace to others. Thank You for the newness of each day as it dawns on the horizon.

Thank You for Your presence with me as I enter into the Pilgrimage to the manger. Thank You for the sacredness of the season. As I sit and ponder the thought of this fact I am awestruck by the immensity of Your love for me. In this time of sacredness, may I draw closer to You, may I truly understand the importance of this season. May I live within the sacredness of this time not only during this season but every day of my walk with You.

AMEN

In The Business

 

November 27, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

1st Sunday of Advent

“A Sacred Moment”

Sermon Series

Psalm 130

Matthew 3:1-12 MSG

Romans 13:11-12 NIV

 

 

“In The Business…”

 

A prayer of illumination so that God will speak through me or in-spite of me…

 

I would ask that you would stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel according to Matthew. We will be reading chapter 3, verses 1-12. Listen to the word of God for His people…you and I… (Read the gospel from the Message translation)

 

Good morning. I can’t believe that next week is December. Where has the year gone? It seems that I have been so busy with life that time has just slipped away. Now here we are at the end and not quite sure how I got here. There have been so many things to do and see that I think that I feel as if I need a vacation from life. I need a time to just slow down and take a breath. But this is not the right time to be doing that either.

 

We have begun the Christmas season which I am the business. Even society is ramping up on the business. Last Friday was Black Friday…the busiest shopping day of the year. In fact, it is so busy that many places have started their Holiday season on Thanksgiving Thursday…even before the turkey is cold…

 

We, as people, as Christians need to find a way to slow down, otherwise we are going to miss the best part of this season of giving. We are going to miss the best gift that we could ever receive. The gift of God’s own Son in the form of a baby on a cold and silent night. As we slow down, we will see the sacredness all around us.

 

Today we begin the season of Advent in the church calendar. It is the season we expectantly await the celebration of His birth and wait expectantly for his return. The Christmas season is a time where the sacredness of it all gets drowned out by the secular business. The word sacred itself means set apart and holy. The sacredness of something is revered and respected but this time of reverence and awe seems to get lost in the lights and glamor. In order to see…to feel…to touch the sacred, we need to slow down our pace and just be for the moment…lest we miss the awe and wonder of the manger.

 

This Advent season we are going to do just that. We are going to slow down…even if for but a moment…to see what might be missed in the hustle and bustle of the season. I would invite us…you and I…on a spiritual journey to see all things through the kaleidoscope…the display of beauty within the sacred space of Advent…

©     Sacred Time

©     Sacred People

©     Sacred Space

©     Sacred Knowing

©     Sacred Being

©     Sacred Doing

 

I would ask that we would stop for a moment and just breath in the sacredness of the space we are in right now…this sanctuary where God shows up to meet us each Sunday…By the way…in order to really enter into the Sacredness of Advent…we need to do it more than just on Sunday’s so I would ask that each of us spend some time each day…even just five minutes and focus on…meditate upon the Sacredness we talk about each week… Let each build upon each other until we embrace genuine purpose within this sacred moment…

 

So, Advent is a sacred time. John the Baptist spoke about time. The time of heaven intersecting the time of the then and now. The time had come for a heart and life change. The time had come…and continue today…to prepare the way of the Lord. We are that thunder in the desert. We are that message of sacredness. We are the voice calling out in the desert “make way for the kingdom of God…it is right before us…do you not perceive it?”

 

We, at times, let the busy-ness of the holiday season overrun the sense of sacred. In fact, setting apart time for God…for the real reason for the season…God incarnate…gets set aside to create trappings of the holiday in which we celebrate the Holy.

 

We are given the gift of now from God. Within this gift of now…this sacred time of now…is given to God…to family…to friends…and those who need help. Within the sacred time, we are the gift given to others in which God can be seen within the mask that we, as society, have created to hide what is sacred beneath the “sensationalism” of the season.

 

The Word became flesh and lived among us…that is the message of the season. Speak through the Spirit of this one truth. How are you going to spend this “holiday season”? Are you and I going for the superficial…or is there something more…is there a better way? I challenge you and I to take a road far different than the highway that leads to the Bethlehem Stable. I challenge you and I to slow ourselves down and sit within the Sacredness of the manger.

 

“11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12 NIV)

 

Amen.

“I Will Choose Joy…”

December 13, 2015

Stetson Memorial UMC

Third Sunday of Advent

Inspired by Marcia McPhee

Sermon Series “Awed and Odd”

Joy in the Midst of Despair

Luke 1:46-55

Isaiah 61:1-3

(All Scripture is taken from the NIV Bible)

 

“I Will Choose Joy…”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

Read “Mary’s Song” found in Luke 1 verse 46-55…

 

In the world in which we live it is kind of hard finding joy in any off it. How many of you feel the same way? It seems where ever you look there is despair and suffering of some sort. We may even be here in the midst of Advent, when we should be joyful, wondering “why can’t I feel that feeling…you know that feeling that we get each and every other Advent? I know it’s there, I just can’t seem to find it…” It is hard to have joy in the midst of despair whether it be in our lives or in the lives of others.

 

This advent, we are journeying to the cross by another road than what we may usually travel. We have been traveling a road that at times may have made us squirm a little. We have been inspired by Marcia McPhee’s “Awed & Odd” Sermon series where she states:

“We Christians believe in “folly”–that there is peace, love, joy and hope in the midst of the good and difficult times. This makes us “odd”–according to those who proclaim the victory of decline and death all around. It is especially in this season of expectant hope that we can instead proclaim the awe-inspiring presence of God’s reign that continually makes all things new. This is a season of odd “union”–swords into plowshares, wolves and lambs resting peacefully together, and the “speechless” singing for joy!”

 

So here we are at the third Sunday of Advent…I don’t know about you but the past couple of weeks has inspired me to open my eyes, take off the blinders and see God in world still working even though broken. We have We talked about seeing peace in the midst of conflict and have decided that even though the world around us may be that God is always working out His plan even if I don’t perceive it. We know because we have seen the light of God working within situations that others might deem hopeless.

 

We also decided that we are a little “odd” because we are “awed” by God who even in the darkness is there creating order out of chaos. And we decided that we would rather be awed for God even though the world calls us odd.

 

Last week we talked about…were stretched a little further as we talked about “Love In the Midst Of Hate”. We decided that Jesus, our Risen Lord, is the One to show us the way by the example that He set. With all the despair He saw, He answered with love and healing giving hope to those around Him. We also decided that as Jesus judges and reigns there will be peace in the midst of conflict and no more hate because all there will be love.

 

 

So let’s stretch a little further…how about “Joy in the Midst of Despair?” Now I don’t know about you but I find it hard…extremely hard to find anything close to joy in the midst of despair. Now raise your hand if you like being in the midst of despair, either your own or someone else’s? Ok…not so much… This is the odd and awed thing about having joy. It is a choice. That’s right…joy is more of a choice than a feeling that we get. Don’t get me wrong, we do feel but we choose to feel it. Example… we have been waiting for that new job opening to happen and it does. Not only does it open but you are offered the job which means more money, more benefits and more time off…Pretty awesome huh? Now here’s the fun part…how do you react? Audience participation time…

 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a choice to make. She was now pregnant and unwed. Joseph didn’t even know at this point in time. This was not the thing a proper young woman would want. As a matter of fact…who the heck was going to believe that she was “divinely pregnant”? But let’s look at her song…break apart the song stanza by stanza…

 

We too have our own song for we are the children of God through the grafting that took place on the cross…you know, the cross that the baby we celebrate will climb 33 years later… It is found in Isaiah 61 verses 1-3. Listen to the joy we have because of the love came down from heaven.

Read the scripture…let the Spirit lead in words after.

 

We really do need eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart that is open to what God is doing in the world around us. Then we will be able to see the peace and love that is evident to all who seek love. We will have joy even though there is despair around us. But it begins here (touch chest) and here (touch eyes). As we have an open Heart and lead by the Spirit of God we will use eyes of love and grace as we seek the love of God in the world around us. We will know the joy of our salvation and share that joy with others so that they too will see the light of day at the end of the tunnel that is created by the world. We will help them…and ourselves…take off those blinders that keep us only looking forward and be open to the surprise of God around us. We will have that unspeakable joy in the midst of despair…

 

Let us pray…pray for us to awaken and experience and see the joy of the Lord in the midst of despair…

 

Amen