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A Day Prayer

 

“Loving,Gracious, Awesome, Compassionate, Righteous, Ever Present, Creator, Sustainer, Great God, thank You for this beautiful new day that You have created for me. Thank You for Your unending love for me. Thank You for Your Spirit within me. Speak to me, through that same Spirit, in ways You know that I will understand. Thank You for Your Word. I ask…I pray…I implore You…to speak to me in and through it so that I may walk closer to whom You would have me be. I give You my life for it is within You that I find my purpose and have my being. Thank You for Your presence with me today and always.

Thank You for the wisdom of Your Word. It is the light on my journey of faith, hope, peace, grace and love. Without Your Word of Truth I don’t know where I would be or how to live a life that is pleasing in Your sight. Thank You for Your forgiveness and mercy in those times that I may stray from You and Your path that You have created specifically for me. No one else can walk it for me. I am so awestruck that I don’t walk it alone and that You…the Creator of the universe…walk with me and carry me when I am to weak to stand. Holy and Awesome are You and Your ways.

Lord of all, as we begin a new day, May Your will be done in and through me. I ask that if I should begin to stray, You would gently guide me back to the Way…the Truth…and the Life that is only found in and through Your Son and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You for making away in the dessert for me. I pray that when the storms of Life blow, that You would hold my hand ever tighter…giving me the assurance that we are in this together and it is all to and for Your glory. May my life be pleasing in Your sight.

AMEN!!’

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.

A Thankful Prayer

Eternal, Awesome, Holy, Compassionate, Righteous, Redeemer, Recreating, Lord of my life, Lover of my soul, Giver of all that is good, Jehovah Jirah my Provider, Great God, thank You for this beautiful new day that I may praise You for Your unending grace and love for me. Thank You for the way You nurture me and help me grow. Thank You for Your presence with me today and always for I will never walk alone. Thank You for Your unending grace that You pour down from heaven upon my life.

Thank You for the wisdom You give me as I walk in the calling You have placed upon my life. Forgive me for the times that I doubt my call and let man try and take away what You have gifted me with. Forgive me for the times that I fail to see Your unending grace and purposes in my life. Forgive me when I listen to the lies of the enemy as he whispers fear and condemnation in my ear. May I listen more to Your voice and less to the voice of the enemy as You whisper love, hope, purpose and joy deep within my soul.

Lord, as I step out in faith and trust, hold my hand so that I will not trip over the edge of the boat as I step out onto the waters of my life. Speak words of hope into my life as I focus on You and not the world or circumstances around me. Draw me so close to You that not only do I hear but will feel Your heartbeat. Hide me so that I may find rest beneath Your wings of Love.

On this Thanksgiving day…I am truly Thankful for the Giving You have done in and through my life. I am Thankful for the Giving of the gifts and graces that You have given me that make me uniquely qualified for Your purposes in my life. I am Thankful for the Giving of the family You have given me as we sit around Your table where every we may be. Most of all, I am Thankful for the Giving of Salvation found only in and through my Risen Lord, Jesus Christ in Who’s Name I pray.

Amen, amen and AMEN!

A Thanks Giving

November 20, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Christ the King Sunday

Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Luke 1:68-79

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/messiah

 

 

“A Thanks-Giving”

 

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. We will be reading Luke 1 verses 68-79. Listen to the word of God for His people…you and I…(Read the gospel from the NIV  Bible translation)

 

What are you thankful for? This is a question that we usually ask this time of year as we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. So…what are you thankful for? (Give people a chance to answer) It’s seems as the business world…the secular world…kind of just jumps right over this holiday and right into the next one… Well the next one is the one that they make most of their money…Christmas. I don’t know about you but it kind of bugs me that they jump right into Christmas even before Halloween…I think they should be celebrating Thanksgiving because they should give thanks for our giving…

 

What are we thankful for? I love the fact that today is Christ the King Sunday in the Church calendar and the next Sunday is the beginning of Advent. Thanksgiving is sandwiched right in the middle. We truly have much to be thankful for. We truly can thank God for giving….

 

In ancient times, the people were looking for a messiah. Merriam Webster tells us that a messiah is:

a person who is expected to save people from a very bad situation

Many saw the king as the messiah, They wanted their king to save them from the tyranny of their oppressor. They wanted to be set free from the enemy. But God knew what they really needed to be set free. The people were looking for a small “m” messiah but God knew they needed the big “M” type of a messiah…

the Messiah Judaism : a king who will be sent by God to save the Jews

Christianity : Jesus Christ

 

From the Luke passage this morning we can see some of the attributes of God’s Messiah

  1. salvation for us, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—
  2. to show mercy, to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
  3. to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Christ truly is the King…the Messiah…of world.

 

What are we thankful for? As I read the Psalm that was chosen for this morning I could not help but feel thankful. I had many images came to mind. Images of God opening the gate for us through which we can enter in…that gate being our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…for He is the gate of the Lord through which all must enter in to be saved. The image of being a sheep and having God watch over me, ever so lovingly, as I grazed in the grass of His Word, resting by the Living water He offers us. This is just a couple of images that came to mind. There are many images in this scripture and I challenge you to read these words and contemplate the season that we will be entering next Sunday…the season of Advent.

 

We have so much to be thankful for. We can be thankful to God for all that He has done…is doing…and will do in the future in our lives. We can be thankful to the saints that have gone before us who have showed us the way to live. We can be thankful of their gift of faith that they shared in a world full of chaos and hopelessness. And we can show our thankfulness by taking their example in life and live it out in our own.

 

The prophet Jeremiah had much to say…many people didn’t like what he said but there are those times when people need to hear the truth… There is one truth that I rely on…it is about God and His Messiah…His Savior of the with world (all beginning a capital letter).Jeremiah 23:1-6 states:

The Righteous Branch

23 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,

    “when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch,

a King who will reign wisely

    and do what is just and right in the land.

6 In his days Judah will be saved

    and Israel will live in safety.

This is the name by which he will be called:

    The LORD Our Righteous Savior.

And His Name shall be called “The Lord Our Righteous Savior”. It is in and through God’s Savior…not mankind’s savior/messiah…that we are saved and made righteous…not by our filthy rags we try to be righteous with but His Righteousness.

 

We have a lot to be thankful for. What are you thankful for? Let us put God at the head of our “Thanks Giving” table as we give thanks for His goodness and mercy found in and through our Risen Lord, the Savoir of the world, Jesus Christ. We truly have much to be thankful for. Why are you thankful for are you more thankful for the “giving” or the “receiving” of this Holiday of thanks…

 

Amen.