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July 2, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Rain”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 89:1-4; 15-18

Matthew 28:18-20

Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23

 John 14:12-14

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

 

“The Voice of Truth’s Healing Rain…!”

 

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 Mathew, chapter 28, verses 18-20 Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you, and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)

 

As the girls walked together to visit Grace, neither of them knew what was in store for them and their friendship. They had more to learn as the journeyed together to a place much bigger than themselves.

 

“I don’t know Joy; do you really think that it really is all that easy. You that forgiving thing,” Hope asked as they talked on the way to visit Grace. “Well…no it’s not quite that easy. It takes work but if we think about all that God forgives us for, we surely can forgive what others do to us.” Joy said as she pondered Hope’s question. “Um about that God thing. I am not really all that sure if I truly believe. With all the things that have happened in my life, I have a hard time believing in a God that would allow that.” Hope said as she looked at the floor. “Well…look at Grace. She should have died but she didn’t. There is no way that she could have if God hadn’t stepped in and intervened in her life. And now she is coming home in a couple of days…now that’s a miracle.” Joy said through tears of joy.

 

“Ok but why did it have to happen in the first place. Grace didn’t deserve that happening to her but it did. She is a good person and if there is a God and He allowed it, I just don’t know Joy…” Hope said through her own tears of doubt. “I don’t have all the answers Hope but the one thing I do have is faith…faith that I serve a God of love and hope, faith that God will work all things out, even faith that you and I have met for a reason much higher than either of us can imagine…” “Do you really think so Joy? I have not figured out yet why either of you would want me around but I am glad you do” “Hope…you have no idea of what you do to those around you. You see…you give hope. When I finally got to know you I had hope for the future…you gave me hope as I had my own questions. Hope…if there was no Hope…there would be no hope.” “Ok…now you made me cry…” as both Joy and hope kind of laughed together.

 

“What’s so funny” Grace asked as the girls entered her room, “did I miss something?” “If you only knew…” Hope laughed. “Yah if you only knew” Joy said still laughing. “Well…I have plenty of time. Come on…spill it” Grace said with a smile. Both Hope and Joy sat in a chair beside the bed and began to tell her the story of all that had happened in the past few days.

 

But that part of the story is for another day…

 

Good morning. Well here we are together again. We have been walking this road of healing with each other for 10 weeks now and we now have reached a place of decision. We have heard Hope’s story…as I have said, this is not all of hopes story…I have more for her. I am not finished writing her story, much more about her journey and the people she encounters on it…

 

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, please participate as the Spirit leads you. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is Hope wasn’t sure she believed. She was lost and was searching for answers. I thought that she was more set in her faith. She had been trying to find a place to be accepted but I think she was also trying to find a place to encounter God…

 

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 the what next as we have discovered and understood our ailments we, as humanity, are plagued with…that stop us from living that life in Christ. We need mending…we are all broken. If we say we are not we lie. We live in a fallen world…we live in a world of chaos…we live in a place where everything is turned upside down. But praise Jesus, He can turn it all right-side up for us again as we travel the road of healing and are mended from the inside out. What in us needs mending? My hope is that as we continue to have that conversation it will lead to healing. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

So, some of the ailments we have talked about are…

  1. Our intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…
  4. There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride is not a bad thing unless it gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.
  5. 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 and as we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.
  6. 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.
  7. “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…
  8. Power struggles-the ones who have a need to control. This one began with the first twelve disciples and continues today.
  9. Blindness- we are blind to what is around us. We are needing to have our eyes opened and receive new sight… It is all about faith…

 

So here we are at the “what next” part of our journey together. After all that we have heard and contemplated, what do you think the next step should be and why? Give time to answer. Do we walk alone…are we doing this within our own power? Give time to answer. The Matthew I read this morning tells us the answer to that. As a matter of fact, Jesus even prayed for us…but we will talk more on that next week as we prepare to walk in our calling to make disciples.

 

John 14:12-14, Jesus tells His Disciples and us: 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Jesus is with us always and whatever we ask in His name will happen. That includes healing our ailments so that we can go out and make disciples of all nations.

 

Isaiah 40:3 states, “A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.”
As well John 1:23, “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” We are that voice calling in the desert.

We are the “John’s” of this world. We are God’s prophet declaring His word.

 

Beloved children of the Most High God. Are we going to listen to Jesus as He calls us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed? What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can webe 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. This is a process. It would be awesome if we were all done with the healing like we are with this sermon series. But just like with Hope, it is a process that takes time and courage.

 

But, but, we cannot and will not fail. We are the only safe harbor for our community and beyond. We have been told that we will remain…we are relevant in this community. In fact, Jesus is counting on us to be His image in our little part of the world and beyond. Think about the Hope’s of this world.

 

We are ready to reach out to Hope and hold to her for dear life. Hope is ready to come in now…Maybe…just maybe…we too will find hope in Hope, we to will be joyful as we find our Joy in the world…and be changed forever by Grace…because we have Faith and an enhanced view of the world around us because we have chosen to understand…through the Eyes of Love… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. …

 

Amen.

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The Eyes of God

 

 

June 25, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Vision”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 86:1-10

Mark 10:46-52NLT

Matthew 8:5-8; 13 NIV

 

 

“The Eyes of God…!”

 

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 46-52 Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you, and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the NLT Bible)

 

As Hope and Joy went down the hallway to the coffee shop, they both thought about what had happened that day. They thought about Grace and how she could forgive, how she was able to put things into perspective. They both wanted that for their lives. They were at the threshold of something bigger than themselves. What would they do with this new-found way of thinking?

 

“It really has been a rough few day,” Joy said with a sigh. “It sure has” said Hope, “look, I am really sorry for what happened. If I had known what was going to happen I would have never…” “It’s ok Hope. I know it wasn’t your fault. I was just upset I couldn’t see the truth. Will you forgive me Hope?” Joy asked. Hope was taken back by these words…”me forgive you…I the one who needs forgiveness. I would have felt the same way if I was you,” Hope explained to Joy. “I acted so un-Christ-like…I wish I could take it all back.” Joy said as she took hopes hand, “Please forgive me for that much at least.” “How about we forgive each other” Hope said with a smile. “Yes…let’s do that.”

 

As they shared coffee and more conversation nurse Faith came into the Coffee Shop at the hospital. “I have been looking everywhere for you two. I have some great news to share. Your friend Grace, is going to be all right and can go home the day after tomorrow. I told you everything was going to be all right…you just have to have a little faith,” Faith explained. At this news, the two friends began to cry as they both stood to hug Faith.

 

“I am so sorry I judged you Hope. I never realized who you really are until we took time to talk with one another.” Joy said as they watched nurse Faith walk away. “Well Joy I also did the same to you and I am sorry. You really do love like Jesus. You are human too and have times when your feelings get the best of you.” Hope said as she and Joy walked towards the door of the Coffee Shop”. “Thanks for being there when Grace needed us. I admit that at first, I was afraid of you but you truly are a good friend. I didn’t trust you because you were different. I am glad we got to know each other and I realize we are a lot a like you and I.” Joy said as they began to laugh.

 

“Laughter…it heals the soul,” Hope said, “Let’s go see if we can share that healing laughter with Grace. Oh, by the way, sorry that I judged you as one of those “would be Christians”. I was holding on to what happened in my past that I couldn’t see the present of the present. Thanks for opening my eyes to the truth. You truly are a good friend.”

 

As the girls walked together by the hallway they could feel this sort of light heatedness about them. Neither knew what was in store for them and their friendship. They had more to learn as the journeyed together to a place much bigger than themselves.

 

But that part of the story is for another day…

 

Good morning. Well here we are together again. WE have been walking this road of healing with each other for 9 weeks now. It doesn’t seem that long. We have heard Hope’s story…and by the way…this is not all of hopes story…I have more for her and I am writing a “Hope’s Story” sort of book with much more about her journey and the people she encounters on it…

 

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 the growth they have had in this story. They both thought they knew what life was about and judged people they met but they both now have had an “eye opening experience” that has probably changed their lives forever…

 

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 another ailment we, as humanity, get plagued with…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart. We need mending…we are all broken. If we say we are not we lie. We live in a fallen world…we live in a world of chaos…we live in a place where everything is turned upside down. But praise Jesus, He can turn it all right-side up for us again as we travel the road of healing and are mended from the inside out. What in us needs mending? My hope is that as we continue to have that conversation it will lead to healing. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

So, some of the ailments we have talked about are…

  1. Our intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…
  4. There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride is not a bad thing unless it gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.
  5. 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 and as we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.
  6. 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.
  7. “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…
  8. Power struggles-the ones who have a need to control. This one began with the first twelve disciples and continues today.

There are times when we are blind and we just can’t see. Blindness is another one of the things that ails us. How do you think we, as Christ’s church…on a whole? Give time to answer. What about our church? What do you think we are blinded to or by? Give time to answer. How do you think we can receive our sight again? Give time to answer.

 

There are many healing stories in the bible. I think that one of the most frequent types of healing that Jesus gave was vision. Why do you think that it was and is important to Jesus for our vision to be healed? Give time to answer. In the healing account from the scripture I read this morning, one thing really stands out for me. All the man did was ask and it was given. Jesus didn’t spit on his eyes or make mud and put it on his eyes. All Jesus did was say your faith has healed you…that’s it…nothing else.

 

There is one thing from this healing that jumps out for me. As blind Bartimaeus got up…he threw aside his coat, jumped up and came to Jesus. He knew he was in for a heling. Because Jesus bid him come he knew that Jesus was going to heal him. So, he threw off his death cloths…the clothes of a beggar… jumped up and ran to Jesus… He ran to the healer of all that was ailing him. Now my question is this… Are we willing to throw aside our death clothes and run out of our tombs to the only one who can heal our brokenness? I think that is or main ailment…brokenness…

 

Do we have the faith to heal our eyesight? Give time to answer. As we bring what ails us to Jesus He will heal us. As we bring our sorrow and struggles to Jesus he says, “be healed…your faith has healed you.” Jesus say the word and we will be healed. The faith of the centurion healed his servant in Matthew 8 verses 5-8 and 13:

5 “When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

 

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.”

 

It is all about faith… It really is as simple as faith. In just one word, Jesus can heal us. As we bring our sicknesses to Jesus it is our faith in Him and His ability to heal that heals us. If we did not believe we would not be healed… Talks about my knee

 

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, how’s your eye sight? Are you and I…is Christ’s church…our church…in need of some vision revision? Are we walking around blindly trying to see the least and lost only being that our selves…least and lost? Or…are we ready for a new set of eyes, God’s eyes? Without His eye sight and love vision we cannot see the sacred around us. We live in a world that is dark and it is afraid of the light. How will we see in the dark if we are not looking through the eyes of the Light of the World? Are we ready…are you and I ready…to have our eyes and hearts open By the One who can give us 20/20 vision? Or will we continue to grope around in the dark? The choice is ours to make.

 

Think about the Hope’s of this world. Would she see the eyes of kindness, love, and servitude if she walked through our doors? 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.

 

I think Hope is ready to come in now…Maybe…just maybe…we will find hope in Hope, we will be joyful as we find our Joy in the world…and be changed forever by Grace…that is if we have Faith…

 

Amen.

Step into the eye

 

Matthew 14:22-32New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus Walks on Water

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

Jesus went away to pray. this was not something that was out of the ordinary. The scriptures give several instances that Jesus went away in seclusion to spend time with God alone.  It was within that time that He was strengthen for the path ahead of Him. He knew that the path ahead was going to be difficult and He would need the Fathers strength to endure all that was going to happen.

and so now we have the scene of the disciples in the boat. It was be tossed too and fro and they we more than likely afraid. Who wouldn’t be. When we are at the brink of our Red Sea…when we are in the fire storm we too are in need of strength…a place of calmness…a quiet place… But Jesus walked to the disciples within the storm that was raging all around them… Within their storm…within our storm Jesus is saying do not be afraid for I am here… We may not be able to recognize Him within the chaos but He is there (I will never leave you or forsake you…I will be with you until the end of age)

Jesus walked on the water at 3 am (there is a sacredness about this time during the night watch). We read how Peter did the same. But it all occurred in the midst of the storm… It wasn’t until they got back in the boat that the storm subsided. It was quieted by Jesus’ presence…

Jesus comes to us in the midst of the storm and  invites us to step out of the boat being tossed to and fro…out of our fear…out of our chaos…out of our doubt…and walk with Him above it all. When we focus on Him, we enter the eye of the storm.,,where we find peace in the midst of the storms raging in our lives…in the midst of the fire storm…

Take that leap and fall into the arms of the One who can calm even the strongest tempest…

Trust

June 4, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Pentecost Sunday!

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Trust”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 104:24-35

Mark 10:13-16 MSG

Luke 24:44-53 MSG

Acts 2:1-13; 38-42 The Message (MSG)

 

 

“Trust.…”

 

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 13-16. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)

 

 

As Hope, Joy and Grace went off arm in arm, laughing and getting to know each other better. No one could have known what was going to happen next. Would their new-found friendship stand the test it was in for?

 

Hey guys, let’s go down by the river and see what’s going on” Joy suggested. “I don’t know about that” Hope exclaimed, “I was always told never to go there, especially at night. You never know what could be down there…or should I say who.” “/come on Hope. Where is your sense of adventure?” Joy asked. “She may be right” Grace interjected “ I have heard that strange things happen there at night.” “Well if you two stick in the muds don’t want to go, I guess I will just go myself.” Joy said as she started to walk off. “Wait up” both Hope and Grace said, “We will go with you. You should never go alone.” “Yes!”

 

When they got to the river there were several people standing around and it looked like they were up to no good. “I don’t know about this” Grace said “It looks like they are up to no good to me. I think we should get out of here before they see us.” “I know these guys” Hope said “there ok. They are friends of mine. Trust me.” “If you say so” Joy and Grace said, a little uneasy.

 

“Hi guys. What ya up to?” hope asked. “Not much Hope. Who are these people you brought with you? You know how we don’t like strangers around here.” “there cool. This is Joy and Grace” Hope told them. “Grace and Joy huh. Well they don’t look so graceful and leaping for joy to meet us “ they laughed. Joy and Grace were getting nervous and decided it was time to go. “Come on Hope. Let’s just go.” They were pulling her away from them and all of the sudden there was gun fire. “everyone get down….” Their “new found friends exclaimed. But it was too late, Grace had been hit.

 

“I knew that we shouldn’t have come here. I trusted you and look what happened. I will never trust anyone like you ever again.” Joy screamed. “Someone call 911.” But the only people there were Hope, Joy and Grace now on the ground bleeding.

 

When they finally got to the hospital they were pretty shacken up. As they sat there waiting to hear news about Grace, the head nurse came to speak to them. She wore a name tag that just said “faith” on it. “Hi girls, my name is Faith and I am the nurse in charge of your friend Grace. Can you tell me what happened?” asked Faith. “It’s al her fault, I should have never trusted someone like her.” Joy blurted out. “My fault. Why is it my fault. I didn’t know that was going to happen. I wasn’t the one who shot her and you didn’t have to go with me either” “That’s enough girls. This is not helping your friend any. I believe she will be OK. She might have to be here for a while but she is going to be ok.” Faith explained. “How do you know that?” both of the girls asked. I just know it will…this is not what God would have planned for her…”.

 

As Faith walked away, Hope tried to talk to her hurting friend, “I am so sorry. I would never have gone there if I know this was going to happen.” “Well you can just keep you apology. My friends were right. People like you should never be trusted.” Joy screamed at her friend. After saying that she stormed off to try and find out more information on her friend. Hope just sat there and cried… “It’s all my fault. I really am one of those people. How could I ever think I could be part of them.” Hearing this, nurse Faith came over and sat next to Hope. She didn’t say a word, just sat there with her… I wonder what was going to happen next…

 

Good morning. Happy Pentecost Sunday…the birthday of the church! This morning can we continue to be interactive with each other as. I really have enjoyed the way we have conversed with one another over the past few weeks… 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 to me was the way that Joy reacted to Hope after her friend had been shot.…I really don’t know if Hope is ever going to earn Joy’s trust back. I think that I may have felt the same if I had been in that position.

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 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 back the land of our forefathers. 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 Resurrection people so we need to rise from the grave of the world around us. 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. Not only that, but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation… On the 11th of June, 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 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 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. How many of you have ever had an incident in their lives that they lost trust in something or someone? How did that make you feel? Give time to answer. Do you think you will ever trust that person or that thing again? Give time to answer. Trust is something I like to give people…that is until they prove me wrong. Then it is hard for me to totally trust that person…or thing…again. What or who do you trust the most…that you put your trust in? Give time to answer.

 

From the Scripture this morning, we hear how we are to enter into the Kingdom of God…with childlike trust. Why do you think it is so hard to have that childlike trust? Give time to answer? In the world we live in, it seems that most people live for themselves and trust no one. If they trusted then that person could do …fill in the blank… and we can’t have that happening…

 

Why do you think that it is so important for us, as Christ’s Church, to have trust? Give time to answer. The church began in faith and trust. Listen to the story of the first Pentecost Sunday and see if you can see why we as a church need to trust not only God…but one another.

 

Acts 2:1-13The Message (MSG)

A Sound Like a Strong Wind

1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!

“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

Acts 2:38-42The Message (MSG)

38-39 Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.”

40 He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”

41-42 That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

 

Wow…what pieces of trust do you see here? Do you think without that there would have been a growth of the church? Give time to answer. But the trust thing began before this day. Luke 24:44-53 is where it began. Listen to what the scripture tells us:

Luke 24:44-53The Message (MSG)

You’re the Witnesses

44 Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”

45-49 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”

50-51 He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.

52-53 And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.

It began with the disciples trust in what Jesus told them. If they had not trusted in what Jesus had told them they never would have gone back to the city. They would not have been altogether in one place. They would not have been His witnesses all over the world. We cannot be His witnesses if we are not trusting and having divisions with one another church…

 

If we do not believe Jesus when He tells us to bring what is broken and He will fix it wat is the point of believing at all? If we don’t believe that God can heal anything, what is the point of believing? If we don’t believe the promises, what is the point of believing? If we don’t come with childlike faith, with each other, and believe Jesus can fix us then… Without childlike faith…childlike trust how can we enter the throne room and be healed? It all begins with trust… They say “time can heal the broken heart” but I believe it is trust in the One who created us that heals the broken heart…

 

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 let cannot/will not fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively.

 

It is Pentecost Sunday, are we willing to trust and receive the Holy Spirit? Remember…it began and begins in trust. Without trust, there is no miracle or power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the church. Can we be like Faith and trust in the One who is working in and through our lives and the lives of others?

 

Think about the Hope’s of this world. She needs a place of trust and if we are not trusting then why would she want to come near? 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…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

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.