An Invitation to Hope

December 3, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

1st Sunday of Advent

Sermon Series: “The Invitation”

The Lord Be Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Isaiah 57:7-12, 17-19 (The Voice)

Isaiah 9:1-3 (The Voice)

Romans 5:1-5 (The Voice)

 

“An Invitation to Hope…”

 

The Lord Be with you

and also with you

Let us pray…Pray for the Spirit’s Leading…

 

A reading from the Prophet Isaiah from chapter 57, verses 7-12 and 17-19. Listen and take heed the words spoken by the prophet, through the Spirit of God, to the children of Israel and to the children of God throughout the centuries…

 

“I can see no one has ever helped you understand what this whole invitation to Jesus is all about. Let’s get some more coffee. I will try to explain it to you,” Esther said over her shoulder as she went to the coffee station. “Cream and sugar Hun?”, she asked. “Yes please,” Hope answered… “Ok…let’s get started…”

 

Good morning and welcome to “The Invitation…”  The invitation you might ask? What invitation? Well the invitation of Advent of course. Today is the we celebrate the invitation of the manger. We begin our “Advent”ure to the feeding tough the Bread of Life, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ was laid in. It is the moment that God sent the invitation to all of humanity to come and see the babe in the manger and return forever changed. Without this invitation, you and I would not be here today. Without this invitation there is no Hope, no Peace, no Joy, and no Love…there is no invitation to Christ.

 

Why is this invitation important to you…or is it even of any significance to you? Give time to answer. What do you think this invitation consist of…do you what know what actually laid in that manger when love came down? Give time to answer. Do you think that we “Christians”, in general, are more like Hope in the story than her friend Esther? Giver time to answer. This season, I ask that you join me on an “Advent”ure. Let’s really look at what we are invited to. My prayer is as we do this…we are going to be changed. My prayer is as we journey together and discover or rediscover the excitement of “The Invitation.”

 

But to do this, I am going to ask you to do something truly radical. This is going to be hard, but I believe it is necessary for our journey. Most of humanity has things we carry…baggage as some call it. Most of us have stresses that we hold on to. I am asking that we empty our baggage right here, right now, pick up our empty suitcases and begin the journey. Now I am asking we leave with an empty suitcase for this reason, to fill it with the invitation. Now some of us go on vacation with and empty bag or almost empty. Why? So that we can fill it with things we gather on the journey. I am inviting us to gather all that we can to be able to bring it on our new journey of the New Year in the end. Let’s do this now…in this place…leaving on the altar…(Visualization)

 

So…let’s begin…the first invitation of the “The Invitation” is “an invitation to Hope.” OK…don’t be rolling your eyes at me…we have been talking about Hope for a while now and you are probably thinking…here we go again with hope…we get it already. Well I am talking about a different Hope…the Hope of the invitation…

 

Now in the Isaiah from the Isaiah we just read, we hear about a hopeless situation. They had made their bed and now they had to lay in it…so to speak. They had turned away from God, again, and now they were reaping the rewards. They were doing the whole “lip service” to God but behind the scenes they were completely the opposite. Where is the hope of restoration? They walked away from God and turned to the god’s, the deities, of the culture around them… Even today we do the same thing. We, the children of Go, still tend to lead a double life.”  Where do we find hope?

 

Even as we enter the story of hope, peace, joy, and love, we find it hard to believe. But there is hope found in the manger. Even when there was no light at the end of the tunnel God was work on a “restoration project” for all who believed then and now. Listen for the hope in Isaiah 9:1-3…

When God’s people haven’t seen a hint of light or hope of day, God will do something new.

But there will be no more gloom for those who knew such hardship. In times past, God humbled the land of Zebulun and Naphtali; later, He will restore the honor and glory to the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee, home of the nations.

The people who had been living in darkness
have seen a great light.
The light of life has shined on those who dwelt
in the shadowy darkness of death.
And You, God, will make it happen. You bolstered the nation,
making it great again. You have saturated it with joy.
Everyone in it is full of delight in Your presence,
like the joy they experience at the harvest,
like the thrill of dividing up the spoils of war.

The people would suffer for what they had done…we had suffered for what we ad done in the past…but God was working on a “restoration project” on the other side… An Invitation to Hope…real hope…

 

Hear the Good News in Romans 5:1-5:

In God’s plan to restore a fallen and disfigured world, Abraham became the father of all of us, the agent of blessing to everyone. Jesus completes what God started centuries before when He established Abraham’s covenant family. Those who put faith in Jesus and call Him “Lord” become part of Abraham’s faith family. Because God is gracious, loving, and merciful, men and women from every corner of the earth are not only declared right, but ultimately are made right as well. It happens through God’s actions—not our efforts—in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus who was crucified for our misdeeds and raised to repair what has been wrong all along. So the promises of God made long years ago are being realized in men and women who hear the call of faith and answer “yes” to it.

Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.

 

Within “The Invitation” was and is “An Invitation to Hope…”. Within “The Invitation” of Advent, God worked out His plan of the restoration of humanity to Himself. Within “The Invitation” is “an invitation” to all the promises of long ago were offered to all of humanity. Within “The Invitation” we are set free to hope once more.

 

Have you accepted “The Invitation” to “An Invitation of Hope”? If you have accepted it, are you living it out in your daily life or is it just for show and you have your own deities you hope in? The plea of the Psalmist is clear and it was answered in the form of a babe in a manger…

Restore us, God Almighty;

    make your face shine on us,

    that we may be saved.

Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,

    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.

 

Then we will not turn away from you;

    revive us, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, Lord God Almighty;

    make your face shine on us,

    that we may be saved.

Amen!

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An Invitation to Peace

December 10, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

2nd Sunday of Advent

Sermon Series: “The Invitation”

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 (The Voice)

Isaiah 9:6-7 (The Voice)

Isaiah 11:1-9 (The Voice)

Romans 14:17-19 (The Voice)

 

“An Invitation to Peace…”

 

The Lord Be with you

and also with you

Let us pray…Pray for the Spirit’s Leading…

 

A reading from the Prophet Isaiah from chapter 9, verses 6-7. Listen and take heed the words spoken by the prophet, through the Spirit of God, to the children of Israel and to the children of God throughout the centuries…

 

“I think I understand the first part of what the manger offers. I am offered Hope that I can have a relationship with God because of the invitation that Jesus gives me…right?” Hope explained to her new friend Esther. “Right. But, we are also offered even more than that,” Esther explained. “we are offered peace.” Now Hope couldn’t remember having true peace in her life so this intrigued. I know all about not having peace. I don’t think I ever had it in my life. So, this peace. What do I need to do to get it? I really could use some in my life. I am tired of stressing everything.” Hope asked.

 

“Well first, you need to ask for it. Second, you need to trust Jesus for your peace. Third, give your worries to Jesus and He will take care of the rest. You see, this peace has nothing to do with your situation and everything to do with the One who is offering it.” Esther excitedly explained.  “Oh boy this is going to be hard” Hope lamented. “Well it really is very simple and once you decide you are going to accept the invitation to an invitation of peace, it gets much easier.” Esther explained. “I really wish someone had explained all this to me before. My life may have been different” Hope said. “But it can now be different beginning today” Ester said as she put her had on Hope’s shoulder.

Good morning and welcome to “The Invitation…”  The invitation of Advent. We have begun our “Advent”ure to the feeding tough the Bread of Life, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ was laid in. It is the moment that God sent the invitation to all of humanity to come and see the babe in the manger and return forever changed. Without this invitation there is no Hope, no Peace, no Joy, and no Love…there is no invitation to Christ. Without “The Invitation”, there is no Resurrection Sunday morning.

 

We have pondered the questions why is this invitation important to you and I? What does this invitation consist of…do we know what actually laid in that manger when love came down? We have even asked the hard question if we “Christians”, are even aware of the joyous gift we are given and if we even accept the whole gift not just part. This season, I ask that you join me on an “Advent”ure. Let’s really look at what we are invited to. My prayer is as we do this…we are going to be changed. My prayer is as we journey together and discover or rediscover the excitement of “The Invitation.”

 

Last week, I asked you…and I… to do something truly radical. Something I feel is necessary for our journey. To empty our baggage, we carry at the door of Advent and walk through the door with empty suitcases. Now I am asking we leave with an empty suitcase for this reason, to fill it with the invitation. Now some of us go on vacation with and empty bag or almost empty. Why? So that we can fill it with things we gather on the journey. I am inviting us to gather all that we can to be able to bring it on our new journey of the New Year in the end. Even as we enter the story of hope, peace, joy, and love, we find it hard to believe at times.

 

Last week we began with the first invitation of the “The Invitation” which is “an invitation to Hope.” Now I am talking about the Hope of the invitation… it is a hope of restoration with and to God. We talked about how the Israelites were leading a double life, giving God “lip service” instead of “life service”. They talked a great talk about God but behind the scenes they were bowing down to idols of the culture. Sounds familiar to us…praise God for His restoration project that began in the manger…we now have hope in ad through Jesus Christ…

 

So here we are a little closer to the manger, yet it can be unsettling. We know who Jesus is, but, we may be a little afraid because of who Jesus is. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. And as we come closer the Angels tell us “do not be afraid for I bring you good news.” Fear can keep us from some of the awesome things in life because we are afraid to take the first step. Fear of the unknown… But as we approach we are offered “An Invitation to Peace”.

 

Now some of us say we love a good piece of pie but I am talking about an0ther kind of piece…a piece of peace. The invitation is “An Invitation to Peace.”   The Isaiah scripture from this morning talks about who Jesus is… God’s promised child from the lineage of David. He will bring peace and it will not be shaken. This ‘living gift” is given to and for all who believe in Mary’s boy child.  My favorite piece of scripture about the “peace” f this boy child is found in Isaiah 11:1-9…The Peaceable Kingdom…

Isaiah 11:1-9The Voice (VOICE)

11 But on this humbled ground, a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising,
will sprout from Jesse’s stump;
A branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit.
And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will alight and rest.
By the Spirit of wisdom and discernment
He will shine like the dew.
By the Spirit of counsel and strength
He will judge fairly and act courageously.
By the Spirit of knowledge and reverence of the Eternal One,
    He will take pleasure in honoring the Eternal.
He will determine fairness and equity;
He will consider more than what meets the eye,
And weigh in more than what he’s told.

So that even those who can’t afford a good defense
will nevertheless get a fair and equitable judgment.
With just a word, He will end wickedness and abolish oppression.
With nothing more than the breath of His mouth, He will destroy evil.
He will clothe himself with righteousness and truth;
the impulse to right wrongs will be in his blood.

With unwavering steps and integrity uncompromised, He will establish peace.

A day will come when the wolf will live peacefully beside the wobbly-kneed lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
The calf and yearling, newborn and slow, will rest secure with the lion;
and a little child will tend them all.
Bears will graze with the cows they used to attack;
even their young will rest together,
and the lion will eat hay, like gentle oxen.
8-9 Neither will a baby who plays next to a cobra’s hole
nor a toddler who sticks his hand into a nest of vipers suffer harm.
All my holy mountain will be free of anything hurtful or destructive,
for as the waters fill the sea,
The entire earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Eternal.

Now that’s real Peace that He will bring. That is an invitation from the invitation…to have real peace…not based on the world and our feelings but based on God’s unfailing love and the ability of the Prince of Peace to bring order out of chaos.

 

We are told not to worry in life and to have peace because of the Prince of Peace. God’s kingdom has nothing to do with our worry and everything to do with our trust and faith. Let me read what it tells us in Romans chapter 14, verses 17-19…

Romans 14:17-19The Voice (VOICE)

17 because the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking. When God reigns, the order of the day is redeeming justice, true peace, and joy made possible by the Holy Spirit. 18 You see, those who serve the Anointed in this way will be welcomed into the whole acceptance of God and valued by all men. 19 Join us, and pursue a life that creates peace and builds up our brothers and sisters.

As we trust and have peace within us, we don’t tend to worry and that peace we bring into our lives and we are able to live peaceably with our neighbors…kind of like a for-taste of the Peaceable Kingdom.

 

Within “The Invitation” was and is “An Invitation to Hope…”. Within “The Invitation” of Advent, God worked out His plan of the restoration of humanity to Himself. Within “The Invitation” is “an invitation” to all the promises of long ago were offered to all of humanity. Within “The Invitation” we are set free to hope once more. Found within “The Invitation” we have “An Invitation to Peace”, the peace beyond all understanding. This peace has nothing to do with you or I and how we are feeling but it has to do exclusively with the One who offers it who says, “Come near the manger and be set free…Come and accept the offer of the invitation to come and see…Come and have life eternally…Come without fear and trust in Me.” Maybe…just maybe…as we cast the cares of or lives aside we truly can have the peace that goes beyond understanding… Maybe…just maybe we can give peace a chance and watch what happens… You never know…perhaps we may start a new trend that ushers God’s peace to the world in which we live.

You never know…

Amen…

Healing Rain

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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…

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!!’

I Can Do All Things

I Can do All Things through Christ who strengthens me!

Pastor, you are going to live an incredible life!

You are going to make history. You are true to yourself and you follow your curiosity. You are open-minded, talented and will create something that will last forever. You will be able to influence people with your words, your way of life and good vibes.

Thank You God for the call You have placed upon my life.May I bring You Honor as I seek Your Face and Your will for my life!

Let It Go…

 

 

June 11, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Trinity Sunday!

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Hold-Out’s”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 8

Mark 10:17-31 MSG

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

 

 

 

“Let It Go…!”

 

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 17-31 Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)

 

As Nurse Faith sat next to Hope she began to pray. Now Hope had never had anyone do this for her before. She sort of had this sense that Faith was praying for her. As a matter of fact, she didn’t even realize that she had stopped crying and began to have a feeling of peace about her. What was it that this nurse had…this woman called Faith…that she didn’t, Hope thought to herself.

 

And as if her thoughts were heard nurse Faith looked at her and said, “It’s going to be OK. I just know it is. You and your friends will be ok too. It may take some time but it will happen.” “How do you know that?” Hope asked. “Well” Faith said, “you have to have a little faith…no pun intended…” They both laughed a little. “It is good to hear you laugh” Faith told her “too many people don’t know how to laugh. They can only concentrate on what has happened in their lives…or not happened in their lives. They go through their life bitter and resentful, unable to see the beauty of the day.”

 

“Well doesn’t everyone live like that?” Hope asked, “life is tough and there are so many things that happen in your life it just begins to add up and you kind of get crushed by the weight of it all.” “Oh, dear Hope, you have it all wrong…it not the life you have that matters. It’s what you do with that life that does. You can live your life being crushed by the rock you are pushing up a hill or…you can let that rock go and roll into the hands of God who can fix anything” Faith explained. “I wish I knew that for sure. I have pushing a heavy rock and being crushed in so many ways. I have lived alone so long I don’t think I can give up and trust anyone…let alone someone or something I can’t see” Hope explained to Faith. “Well my dear, that’s where faith comes in…again…no pun intended…”

 

 “How can I know for sure?” Hope asked. “Well try this…little by little…let something go to God. Maybe only one thing a day, Eventually I think you are going to just give everything all at once to God and that rock you’ve been pushing will suddenly become a pebble you can just walk right over. It won’t happen overnight. But God is able and ready to take our burdens…if we choose to believe and trust.” Faith told her. Faith put her arm around Hopes shoulder and said “Give it a shot. What do you have to lose other than the rock your pushing up hill…” “You have a point” Hope smiled. “Now let’s go check on your friend. There should be more news about her condition by now” As they walked down the hall, Hope wondered what was going to happen. She 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.

 

Good morning. Happy Trinity Sunday. We celebrate the Trinity …. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit…our God head three in one. This is what we believe as Christ followers. This is one of the foundations of our faith. Praise Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…Amen.

 

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 Nurse Faith and how she wanted to help Hope with her inner issues. Now we have heard a lot about Hope, Joy, and Grace but we need to realize that it’s not just the situations around Hope but there are also situations within Hope herself that need a little mending. She too carries a lot to the table of friendship… Faith had no issue about talking about her faith…no matter where she was. I consider that being a bold Christian. You never know what will happen when we talk about God and our faith outside our church walls…It is what we do with our faith that helps us make a mole hill out of a mountain…so to speak…

 

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.

 

What about holdouts? Merriam Webster gives us this definition of holdout:

: a person who refuses to reach an agreement until certain terms are met: a person who holds out

: an act of holding out for something

: a person who continues to do or use something after others have stopped doing or using it

We can all tend to be holdouts at times. Sort of like that rock analogy that Faith used with Hope. Pushing a rock and being crushed by it because it continues to roll back on us as we try to push it up a hill…and the hill is usually pretty steep…  Why do you think we holdout…hold on to things that do nothing but crush us? Give time to answer. Do you think that the church is a “holdout” at times and why? Give time to answer. What about our church here in Patten…what are we holding out or holding on to? Give time to answer. Do you think we can be used as fully as God wants to use us if we continue, why or why not? Give time to answer.

 

Being a holdout is a worldly way of living not a Christ centered way of living. In the scripture this morning, the young man did everything perfect as he followed all the rules and laws given…but…when asked to give up something that he was holding onto…his worldly possessions…he refused to do it. He kept holding out on the life he could have had. A life free of worry…a life of abundance…a life of joy. We too have those times when we hold on to things that just don’t really matter in the big scheme of things…those things that matter most to God. We hold on to grudges, we hold onto narrow thinking…we hold onto judgment …we hold on to prejudges…we hold onto…fill in the blank. We become sort of invalid because we are holding onto things that stop us from being the body of Christ…that stop us from being not only relevant but actually usable by God. The rich man walked away dejected…how many times do we walk away because we refuse to heal in the Light of Christ?

 

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.

 

What are we being holdout’s about? Do we want to be healed or just continue on the road we are on? I we choose not to heal… there is no miracle or power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the church. Are we, you and I ready and willing to take Faith’s advice and bring our things we hold on to…those boulders we are trying to push up a hill…and little by little give them to God who will make rubble out of them…allowing us to step into His Glorious light of healing and grace?

 

Think about the Hope’s of this world. Do you think we are a place that she would come and find us letting go instead of holding onto things that stop us from being the Light of Christ? We call ourselves a Hope Giving Church. Would Hope find the giving of mercy, of grace, of joy? 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.

 

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.