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.

Out Goes Y.O.U….

 

May 28, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Division”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 66:8-20

Mark 9:38-50 MSG

1Corinthians 1:10-13a (TLB)

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (NLT)

 

 

“Out Goes Y.O.U.…”

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

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

 

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 9, verses 38-50. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)

 

As Hope walked away, Joy did the only thing she knew to do…she went back to the diner to talk with her friends there. “I know that they meet tonight,” she thought, “I just hope they are not too mad at me.” As she walked down the street she thought about all that Hope had said. “How dare she call me prideful,” she thought, “a girl can’t be proud of her accomplishments and her church. Really. The nerve of some people.” Nope…Joy wasn’t joyful at all.

 

Joy was so consumed with her thoughts that she almost walked right into Grace, one of her study friends. “Whoa…slow down there Joy. What’s the matter? Why are you hurrying so?” asked Grace. “Oh Grace” Joy said,” I am so glad to see you. I need some help here. You know that person I went after during the study the other day?” Joy asked. “Yah…that was real cool how you went after her even though everyone else was making fun of her. I just kept quiet. I wish I had your courage.” Grace exclaimed. “Well…hold on to your hat…she had the nerve to call me prideful! Am I prideful Grace?”

 

Grace was quiet for a moment. Then she said, “well…truthfully…you are prideful. We all are. I have been trying to work on that in my life and I have gotten better. I have decided to give God all the glory. It is because of His grace…no pun intended…that I have anything in life. All am I owe to Him.” “Awe man” Joy cried… “She was right… Hope was right…I am prideful…I thought I was just being proud of who I am but that was what I was basing my life on…not on God and what He has done for me. Oh, my gosh…I gotta find Hope. I have to apologize.” “I’ll help you find Hope. I would like to make friends with her too.” Grace said.

 

As they rounded the corner together there before their eyes…like an answer from heaven, was Hope. She was sat on the bench of the bus stop just crying. “Hope I am sorry. You were right…I am prideful and I hurt your feelings and I am sorry.” Joy said as she sat down next to Hope. “I thought you were different. You seemed to be real nice…you actually came after me but then you acted just like the rest.” Hope cried.

 

 “Well we all make mistakes but it is what we do to fix them…or not fix them…is what matters,” Grace explained, “by the way, Hi, I am Grace. I am sorry about the other night with my “bible study group.” They can be such idiot’s sometimes.” “Hi Grace, I am Hope. What you said was right. I forgive you Joy. Can we start over?” “Sure, I would like that” Joy was so happy she almost couldn’t contain herself… “You know Hope…I really needed to hear what you had to say. I never realized how prideful I was. Thank you so much for opening my eyes.” “Well you know…pride cometh before fall” Grace quoted. “Oh, you just had to say that didn’t you” Joy laughed. “Yup…sure did. Hey, can I hang with you guys. Those other nerds give me a headache” Grace asked. “Sure” Hope and Joy said simultaneously… “The three amigos” they all laughed.

 

The three 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?

 

Good morning. 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 for me is how Grace came in to help Joy and Hope give each other grace…

 

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. It is like a cancer that grows quicker and kills faster than any other disease that the church can catch. Why do you think division happens in the church as a whole? Now I am talking about the church in general…Christ’s body…give time to answer. Do you know that this whole breakup of the followers of The Way began back in Paul’s time? Listen to what he describes in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9…I am reading from the NLT Bible:

 

1 Corinthians 3:1-9New Living Translation (NLT)

Paul and Apollos, Servants of Christ

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

 

They were fighting over who was following the “true Way” but they got it all wrong. They were not following what Christ began in Acts. They were following what their leader was teaching. How do I know this? They were fighting. If they were all following what Jesus did there would be no fighting at all. It was when they began to follow their rules that the problem began… and still exists… Paul called them immature in the faith…how are you and I being immature in the faith…would Paul admonish you and I in the same way?

 

You know…I made a mistake about when division began. It began in Jesus’ day…with His own disciples. They were all upset and wanted to stop those people who were doing good but were not part of their “group”. We are all one body of Christ. It is the denominational things that get in the way. We are all here to fulfill our purpose as Christ has called us not as man has called us. Which is pretty much what Jesus told His disciples…

 

What causes division in the church…the different parts of Christ’s body? Give time to answer… Ok… Now the hard question…what about our church…is there division and why? I told you this is was going to be a hard question…give time to answer…

 

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13a, Paul begins his first letter to the church in Corinth… yup, more than 1 letter…addresses the fighting within the church itself. He talks about what happens when we begin to fight amongst ourselves. Listen to what Paul has to say on the subject…

 

1 Corinthians 1:10-13a Living Bible (TLB)

“10 But, dear brothers, I beg you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so that there won’t be splits in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some of those who live at Chloe’s house have told me of your arguments and quarrels, dear brothers. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul”; and others say that they are for Apollos or for Peter; and some that they alone are the true followers of Christ. 13 And so, in effect, you have broken Christ into many pieces.”

 

The scripture is clear. We break Christ into pieces… How does that make you feel? I know how it makes me feel. I am just as guilty as the next…those times I may think that a denomination is wrong in how they do things. I am a firm believer of “The Way” … either you follow Christ or you don’t…that simple. But those times when I get angry about what others do and how they divide instead if work together…am I judging or lamenting that we don’t get along?

 

We need to bring our ailments…our division…into the light of Christ to be healed. Ok…visual time…you have this rock here…let’s call it humanity…and this other rock we will call God. Now humanity and God were once together but because of the sin of disobedience they were separated. We needed a bridge …(bring out the long rock)…so that the gap could be filled. That bridge is Jesus (put a rock on top of the bridge). Now there is a renewed relationship with God and humanity. The same principle works with God’s people. When we have division, we need to bring it to the light of Christ and in and through Christ the relationship can be healed and renewed…I may be making it sound simple but to me it really is that simple…if we all want to play along that is…

 

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 should we let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively? What if hope came through our door? Would she see a church divided or a church bonded in love? 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 so that she too can receive the goodness and grace and be healed and loved. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

Amen.

Pride Commeth Before…

 

May 21, 2017

 

Stetson Memorial UMC

 

Sermon Series:

 

 “Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

 

“Healing Pride”

 

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

 

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

 

Psalm 66:8-20

 

Mark 9:30-37

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

“Pride Cometh Before…”

 

 

 

The Lord be with you

 

And also with you

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

What does god say about pride?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Amen.

 

There Is Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself

 

May 14, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Fear”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

Mark 8:27-38

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

 

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

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

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

 

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

 

(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Amen.

 

Live Life Abandoned!

May 7, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Live Life Abandoned!”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 23

Mark 7:24-37

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

 

“Live Life Abandoned! …”

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

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

 

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

 

(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The definition of inhibition is:

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

something that forbids, debars, or restricts

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Amen.

 

Why did I Say…

April 30, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“A Season of Healing”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 116:1-4;12-19

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

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

 

“Why Did I Say…”

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

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

 

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

 

(Read Scripture from the Good News Bible)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Amen.

Where is the Love…

March 1, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Ash Wednesday

Sermon Series:

“God Shaped Hole…”

“Where Is the Love”

Inspired by Marcia McPhee’s

Looking For Love…

Joel 2:12-17

Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21

 

“Where is the Love”

 

Prayer of illumination….

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Amen.