Maundy Thursday

Disclaimer: The video quality of this video is not the greatest because it was shot in lowlight in our fellowship hall. You wont be able to see the screen but you will get the basic outline of the service.

April 1, 2021 at 6:30pm

Instructions: sit in your quarantine groups. These are people you’re comfortable sharing food with, hugging, and sharing conversation. We will participate in the Maundy Thursday story together not only in action but in conversation. To get us started, I invite you to go around your table (introduce yourself if needed) and share:

Table Talk: Describe the last supper scene in your mind

  1. My favorite last supper painting. Accurate lamps, women & children involved. Everyone dressed like Jews.

Tell The Story: Matthew 26:17–29; Mark 14:12–25; Luke 22:7–38; John 13: 1-17 (I Corinthians 11:23–25)

Each of the Gospel accounts tell the story of Jesus’ last 48 hours a little differently. This is no surprise, since they have told the story of his ministry differently. John does not tell the story of the Last Supper. Instead, John tells the story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet.  Even the remaining three gospels tell the story different from each other.

Jesus and his disciples prepare to celebrate the Passover. As Jewish men, they would have celebrated this every year as a child through adulthood.

When they were young, they took part in asking the questions about the special meal they ate and would hunt for the “afikomen” that the father would break and hide. The Passover reminds the Jewish people of God’s provision through the exodus from Egypt.

Jesus would have been involved in 30+ Passover meals as a Jewish man. Jesus and his disciples would have had 2 other Passover meals together from the previous years of ministry. This Passover meal was different. Jesus was teaching, like the “father” would normally do, but this time, he was changing the meaning of some of the items.

Though John’s gospel doesn’t specify the Passover meal in the Last Supper format that the other three did, John does say that “after the meal” Jesus got up from the table and took off his outer garments and took the place of a servant who washes feet.

During Jesus’ time, it was customary for the host to offer a foot washing to their guests to clean their feet from the dusty roads. It was an act of hospitality. A servant of the house would wash your feet as you were invited to get comfortable. I often wonder, why Jesus waited to wash their feet until this point?

Table Talk:  Here are a few more discussion questions for you and your table.

  1. If Jesus “knew” what Judas would do, why did he invite judas to be a disciple?
  2. What are ways we could be “washing feet” today?

The Practice: Now that we have discussed the story and considered different angles, we are going to engage in our own version of the washing and last supper. We will be doing these out of order for a more practical approach.

  1. Washing Ceremony:
    1. Instructions: Wash the hands of your family/table members.
      1. During the season of COVID, we have been less self-conscious about the dirt on our feet and more focused on the germs on our hands. So, our washing ceremony will look different this year to fit our life experiences.
      1. We will go around the table and rub hand sanitizer onto our neighbor’s hands. Squirt it into their palm and gently rub it into their hands.
  2. Communion:
    1. The last supper was an evening meal, but not a late-night snack. After the meal and lesson, Jesus and the disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
    1. If you are anything like me, you may have pictured Jesus’ arrest on Friday morning. But as we dive into the passage, we see that Jesus was arrested on Thursday night, after the last Supper.
    1. Bless the elements together
      1. Pass the loaf of bread around and tear off a piece for yourself. Pass the juice around and pour a cup for yourself. As a table, say: “We do this in remembrance of Jesus.”

Closing Prayer

Matthew 26: 17-2917 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” 18 He replied, “Go into the city, to a certain man, and say, ‘The teacher says, “My time is near. I’m going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’” 19 The disciples did just as Jesus instructed them. They prepared the Passover. 20 That evening he took his place at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 As they were eating he said, “I assure you that one of you will betray me.” 22 Deeply saddened, each one said to him, “I’m not the one, am I, Lord?” 23 He replied, “The one who will betray me is the one who dips his hand with me into this bowl. 24 The Human One[b] goes to his death just as it is written about him. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays the Human One![c] It would have been better for him if he had never been born.” 25 Now Judas, who would betray him, replied, “It’s not me, is it, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You said it.” 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take and eat. This is my body.” 27 He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from this, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven. 29 I tell you, I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 Then, after singing songs of praise, they went to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:12-25 10 Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to give Jesus up to them. 11 When they heard it, they were delighted and promised to give him money. So he started looking for an opportunity to turn him in. 12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, the disciples said to Jesus, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jar will meet you. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks, “Where is my guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?”’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs already furnished. Prepare for us there.” 16 The disciples left, came into the city, found everything just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal. 17 That evening, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 During the meal, Jesus said, “I assure you that one of you will betray me—someone eating with me.” 19 Deeply saddened, they asked him, one by one, “It’s not me, is it?” 20 Jesus answered, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who is dipping bread with me into this bowl. 21 The Human One[b] goes to his death just as it is written about him. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays the Human One![c] It would have been better for him if he had never been born.” 22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 I assure you that I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way in God’s kingdom.” 26 After singing songs of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Luke 22: 7-38

The Day of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John with this task: “Go and prepare for us to eat the Passover meal.” They said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare it?” 10 Jesus replied, “When you go into the city, a man carrying a water jar will meet you. Follow him to the house he enters. 11 Say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher says to you, “Where is the guestroom where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?” ’ 12 He will show you a large upstairs room, already furnished. Make preparations there.” 13 They went and found everything just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal.  14 When the time came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the apostles joined him. 15 He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 I tell you, I won’t eat it until it is fulfilled in God’s kingdom.” 17 After taking a cup and giving thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 I tell you that from now on I won’t drink from the fruit of the vine until God’s kingdom has come.” 19 After taking the bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 “But look! My betrayer is with me; his hand is on this table. 22 The Human One[a] goes just as it has been determined. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays him.” 23 They began to argue among themselves about which of them it could possibly be who would do this. 24 An argument broke out among the disciples over which one of them should be regarded as the greatest. 25 But Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles rule over their subjects, and those in authority over them are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But that’s not the way it will be with you. Instead, the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. 27 So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 “You are the ones who have continued with me in my trials. 29 And I confer royal power on you just as my Father granted royal power to me. 30 Thus you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones overseeing the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 “Simon, Simon, look! Satan has asserted the right to sift you all like wheat. 32 However, I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. When you have returned, strengthen your brothers and sisters.” 33 Peter responded, “Lord, I’m ready to go with you, both to prison and to death!” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster won’t crow today before you have denied three times that you know me.” 35 Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out without a wallet, bag, or sandals, you didn’t lack anything, did you?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 Then he said to them, “But now, whoever has a wallet must take it, and likewise a bag. And those who don’t own a sword must sell their clothes and buy one. 37  I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in relation to me: And he was counted among criminals.[b]Indeed, what’s written about me is nearing completion.” 38 They said to him, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” He replied, “Enough of that!” 39 Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. 40 When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” 41 He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. 42 He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” 43 Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. 45 When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. 46 He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation.”

John 13:1-17 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Good Friday: Campfire Conversations of Grief

April 2nd, 2021 at 6:30pm

Focus: Telling stories of grief, loss, and survival in many forms to connect to the Good Friday story. 

Function: To know that God understands our grief and loss and find comfort in sharing our stories with the ones we love. (That people feel space to grieve and know that God loves them in the midst of their grief)

Setting: Front stage looks like a campground with trees, a fake fire, tent and camp chairs.  Participants are invited to bring their camp chair & dress as if you’re going camping. I have 5 chairs that i’ll be bringing. I may find the sound of crackling fire to go over the speakers, or perhaps nature sounds.

The group is sitting around the campfire talking about 2020 and different forms of grief or loss. Occasionally, a hymn verse or two is sung in between their stories. We create a gentle storytelling and worshipful space. 

Goal: I would like this to feel conversational rather than scripted. Each person will have a person to ask a question that will start their story.

Introduction to the audience: Welcome to our campground! This may seem like an unusual way to celebrate the story of Good Friday, but we ask you to play along with us. We will engage in authentic stories of grief and loss tonight and sing some songs together. 

What is it about the sounds of nature and the smell of a campfire that helps us break down our guards and share our stories? 

Opening prayer

Stories & Songs– instructions: Each person who tells their story will invite another person to share their story (by asking a question) or we will start singing a song.

  1. Chris Kelley and farming 2019
    1. To be a farmer is to struggle with the land and the weather, Chris, how did 2019’s rainy year impact you? 
  2. HYMN: Amazing Grace #487
  3. Abby Johnson – hymn story ‘It Is Well’
    1. Abby, I know that most hymns have a story behind them. Can you think of a hymn that is connected to loss? 
  4. Johnson Kids- surviving (& thriving) school in 2020
    1. What was something new you did for school in 2020? 
    2. What was something you missed for school? 
    3. What is a new thing you have loved? 
  5. HYMN: It is well #73
  6. Josh – Losing my faith
    1. Hypocrisy of Christians
    2. Embracing our differences
    3. The beauty of creation
  7. Jack Lake – losing vision 
    1. Jack, over the years your macular degeneration has progressed and your eyesight has decreased. What do you miss about your sight? 
    2. What do you still enjoy or have you found new things to enjoy? 
  8. HYMN: Come Thou Fount #17
  9. Meriah – 
    1. Does the Bible talk about loss? 
      1. Example: story of Lazarus, the story of the cross (darkness at the cross)
    2. Is it bad if we are sad? Shouldn’t we just accept everything as “God’s plan?”
      1. OT stories & Psalms of feeling in too deep over our head and needing God’s help

Transition: Each of us has had a loss in our life, and especially since 2020. Perhaps it was a loss of our sense of   or maybe you lost a job. Perhaps you lost a loved one from COVID or simply old age. Perhaps you are grieving normalcy. As we have shared our grief stories with you we invite you to reflect on your own loss. 

Invitation to light a candle: up front here we have candles (with hand sanitizer too) we invite you to come up and light a candle to acknowledge your grief. We’ll sing a song to leave space for participation. If you aren’t able to get up or maybe aren’t ready to light a candle, you are welcome to sing with us. 

HYMN: Old Rugged Cross #317 

Point to Sunday: At the end of Friday, Jesus’ followers felt quite hopeless. Officials had executed their teacher, and it seems their hope was executed with him. There seemed to be no way out of the darkness. 

You are not alone, no matter what pain you are experiencing. Fellow believers know the struggle of loss. God’s people throughout scripture knew the struggle of loss. God grieved Jesus on the Cross. 

Conclusion: It’s normal on Good Friday to end the service sitting in our grief. I’ve had seminary professors tell students “don’t jump to Sunday too quick.” It’s easy to rush to hope when we’re in the presence of pain. Most of us don’t like to experience loss, grief, or inconvenience longer than necessary. 

Grief is a lifelong journey. We know through the story of Jesus specifically, and the scriptures entirely, that God understands what it means to feel grief. This knowledge may not take the pain away, but hopefully we can find comfort in knowing we aren’t the only ones who have felt this way, and the pain doesn’t last forever. 

God knows our grief and won’t leave us there. God isn’t just looking to heal our broken hearts or sick bodies. God has a bigger redemption plan in mind. Easter is coming along with the promise of God fulfilling God’s promises to set things right again. 

It is Friday; we are full of grief, but Sunday’s coming. Sunday doesn’t immediately remove the pain of today, but it gives us a glimmer of hope that the pain will end. 

Closing Prayer

Easter Sunday: Unlikely Voices

Message Title: Unlikely Voices
Theme: Even the Rocks Will Cry Out
Season: EASTER!
Main Text: John 20:1-18
Scripture Reading: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18; Mark 16:1-8
Focus: Women were the first to witness the resurrection
Function: To realize that God can use me and join the celebration of hope.
Other Notes: (Josh’s birthday) EASTER

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever. 2Let Israel say it: “God’s faithful love lasts forever!” 14The Lord was my strength and protection; he was my saving help! 15The sounds of joyful songs and deliverance are heard in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s strong hand is victorious! 16The Lord’s strong hand is ready to strike! The Lord’s strong hand is victorious!” 17I won’t die—no, I will live and declare what the Lord has done. 18Yes, the Lord definitely disciplined me, but he didn’t hand me over to death. 19Open the gates of righteousness for me so I can come in and give thanks to the Lord! 20This is the Lord’s gate; those who are righteous enter through it. 21I thank you because you answered me, because you were my saving help. 22The stone rejected by the builders is now the main foundation stone! 23This has happened because of the Lord; it is astounding in our sight! 24This is the day the Lord acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it!

THE ROCKS CRY OUT- series introduction– Last week was Palm Sunday and we celebrated the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Today is Easter Sunday and HE IS RISEN! (He is risen indeed!)

Easter is a season lasting longer than one holy Sunday. WE will be in “Eastertide” through April until May 23rd (Pentecost).

As we journey through Easter, we are going to use Jesus’ very own words as our inspiration. In Luke 19: 39-40, there is a conversation recorded between Jesus and a some pharisees. They told Jesus to tell his disciples to stop praising him. His response? “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.”

As we look at Jesus’ story through the season of easter we will also explore the beauty of American National Parks.

ENGAGE AUDIENCE Have you been to a national park? Which one?

  1. Has anyone been to Yellowstone?

The Rocks: (Nature sings of God’s glory)

  1. Yellow Stone and Old Faithful
    1. Beautiful nature:
      1. Grand Prismatic Hot spring
      2. Morning Glory hot spring – changed over time because people kept throwing money in for “good luck” potentially forever changed by people’s litter.
    2. Old Faithful geyser
      1. This geyser is dependable. It is predicted to shoot off 20 times a day and can erupt for 1 minute to 5 minutes.
    3. A painter, Thomas Moran, & photographer, William Henry Jackson, were able to capture the beauty of this mysterious land that most thought was a myth.
      1. First national park in 1972 by Congress & President Ulysses Grant
      2. (https://www.yellowstonepark.com/park/history/

TRANSITION: It is difficult to not celebrate our great Creator when you see beautiful wonders like Old Faithful or the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring.Jesus had said, even the rocks will cry out praises.

God’s plans will be accomplished, even if we aren’t wanting to participate.

In our text for today, an unexpected thing happens and an unlikely candidate becomes the bearer of good news. Will this unexpected voice be heard?

SCRIPTURE: John 20:1-18 Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” 3Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. 4They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. 5Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. 7He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. 8Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying. 11Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

EXPLAINATION: Women were the first to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

  1. Setting the scene from Thursday to Sunday: Jesus on Maundy Thursday had given his disciples teachings in tandem with the Seder meal for Passover. Then they went to the garden to pray. Jesus was arrested just as Thursday was turning into Friday. Now, each of the Gospel accounts tell the next chain of events a little differently.
    1. Per Matthew & Mark, all the disciples left. One even ran away naked. (Mark 14:52)
    2. Per Luke & John say that a disciple (John names Peter) cuts off the ear of a soldier with a sword and Jesus tells him to stop.
    3. Per Luke, Peter followed Jesus after he was arrested, but at a distance. Then Peter denied being Jesus’ disciple 3 times, for fear of also being arrested an executed out of association with Jesus.
    4. (Per John, John was near the cross, because Jesus asked him to care for his mother.)
    5. Per Luke, the women followed Jesus as he carried his cross to Golgotha and were present when his body was laid in the tomb Joseph of Arimathea gave.
    6. Per Matthew & Mark, the women were following from a distance.

INTERPRETATION: Women were the first to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

  1. Can you picture being Mary?
    1. From Mary’s perspective, the men have all abandoned Jesus during his arrest, trial, beating, and crucifixion. The movement they had been part of for the last three years was falling apart. The one man who saw her and valued her as an equal, was dead.
      1. They watched their teacher be unjustly arrested. Brutally beaten. AND given a criminals death.
    2. NOW, Mary goes to Jesus’ tomb and it’s empty. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH JESUS?!
      1. Are they going to take away our dignity to properly care for his body and mourn his death?!?!
      2. She goes and gets two of the male disciples to show them what she has found. AND THEY WALK AWAY!?!
      3. They don’t even stay to figure out what happened.
    3. No wonder Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus right away, her world has been rocked. How many of us have been nonsensical in moments of grief or loss?
  2. Can you imagine the relief she would feel realizing that it wasn’t the gardener but Jesus speaking?
    1. He’s alive?! I KNOW he was dead, I helped take care of his body. HE’S ALIVE!?!
    2. Everything he said has come true!!!
  3. AND THEN Jesus tells her to go and share the news!
    1. The first person to witness the resurrection and be commissioned to share the story is a woman.
      1. A woman, who couldn’t even testify in a court of law because she was considered property.
      2. A woman, whose primary role was to get married, have children, and care for the homestead.
      3. A woman, who couldn’t even own property and if her husband died she would be at the mercy of her other relatives to survive.
    2. Jesus told a woman, the most unlikely of candidates, to share the good news.

APPLICATION:

  1. God can use the most unlikely characters or corners of creation for God’s purpose. Our God is the Redeemer of Stories and the Restorer of Lives.
    1. But sometimes, in the midst of our grief, it can be hard to hear those words or to see God’s hope.
    2. Sometimes we can be Mary crying in the garden, yelling at the gardener.
  2. Engage the audience in a litany reading- I want us to share in a reading. Sometimes to hear the words coming out of our own mouth can help us believe the truth.

Our God is the Great Redeemer and Creator.

No matter the choices you have made in your life.

All: God can use you

No matter the pains of my past

All: God can use me

No matter the differences between us

All: God can use us

God intends for the good of all creation

All: The rocks will sing of God’s glory

We are all invited to join with creation

All: All of God’s creation declare God’s glory

Our hope is placed in Jesus

All: He has Risen! Our Hope has risen!

He is risen indeed!

COMMUNION: As we celebrated on Thursday, Jesus gathered his disciples and broke bread and shared a cup. He changed the Seder meal forever. Today we celebrate our God who keeps his promises.

Communion is a reminder that there is still one promise left to be fulfilled. Christ will return and set the world right again. As we celebrate Easter and communion, we also remember that our job isn’t done and God still has one promise to fulfill.

Bless the bread & cup

CONCLUSION: Throughout time God has broken down social barriers and used unlikely people for his purpose. If God can use Hagar, Moses, or Deborah, God can use you too! We can join in with Old Faithful and the Great Prismatic in singing God’s praises and pointing towards the hope of Christ.

Is Christianity Stuck in the Past?

originally preached on 3/21/2021

Message Title: Is Christianity stuck in the Past?
Theme: Record Breakers & Redemption
Season: Lent
Main Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34;
Scripture Reading: John 12:20-33
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33
Focus: God establishes a new covenant with his people.
Function: To see the complexity of our faith and In the midst of our convictions, we can have space for differences of opinion.
Other Notes: Guinness Records in Indiana https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/

SCRIPTURE READING: John 12:20-33 20 Some Greeks were among those who had come up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and made a request: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22 Philip told Andrew, and Andrew and Philip told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Human One[e] to be glorified. 24 I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me. 27 “Now I am deeply troubled.[f] What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this time’? No, for this is the reason I have come to this time. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard and said, “It’s thunder.” Others said, “An angel spoke to him.” 30 Jesus replied, “This voice wasn’t for my benefit but for yours. 31 Now is the time for judgment of this world. Now this world’s ruler will be thrown out. 32 When I am lifted up[g] from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (33 He said this to show how he was going to die.)

WORLD RECORD: Batman Memorabilia-

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Do you collect anything? What do you collect? What started the collection?
  2. A few weeks ago we had heard about Indiana’s temporary world record for longest high five chain, Today’s world record is another one of the past.
  3. Largest collection of Batman memorabilia from 2013-2015
    1. Set: Oct. 25, 2013. (surpassed in 2015 by Brad Ladner of Roswell Georgia with 8226 items)
    2. About the record: Kevin Silva of Indianapolis has 2,501 pieces of Batman memorabilia. Silva’s collection includes a lunch box he carried to kindergarten and a child’s black, felt cowl paired to a purple satin cape. Sorry, no Batmobile.
  4. Sources:
    1. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2015/10/record-holder-profile-video-welcome-to-kevin-silva%e2%80%99s-bat-cave-of-memorabilia-399999
    2. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/99621-largest-collection-of-batman-memorabilia

TRANSITION: It’s easy to live off of our former glories or cling to memorabilia from the past rather than living in the present or planning for the future. But continually focusing on the past without considering the present or the future leads to painting the past with a biased lens.

In our text for today, we will hear about God doing something new. God establishes a new covenant in Jeremiah 31. As we dive into this *new* covenant from the *old* testament, I want us to consider the preconceived ideas we carry with us about scripture specifically and Christianity as a whole.

SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 31:31-34 31The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the Lord!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Background: I want to take a moment to zoom out from this passage and discover the context for these words.
    1. Audience: (northern or southern kingdom?)
      1. is speaking to the southern Kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed about a hundred years ago.Only the kingdom of Judah remains, yet they still struggle to be faithful to God. King Josiah (at the beginning of Jeremiah) tried to turn the people back to God but that was short lived.
    2. Chart of Prophets & Kings – 2
  2. Jeremiah told them exile was coming as a consequence of their actions (and he wasn’t the only prophet at that time saying the same thing: Zephaniah, Nahum, Joel, Ezekiel, Daniel, Obadiah, and Habakkuk All have timelines that overlap Jeremiah.). But that didn’t stop them.
    1. Even though they were experiencing consequences and exile, God was promising them that redemption & restoration were coming.
    2. The covenant God started with Moses & the Israelites on Mount Sinai wasn’t working. Israel had broken that covenant so many times, God acknowledged that covenant was broken. But God’s intention of keeping God’s promises wasn’t over.
    3. God says, I’m going to establish a new covenant to fulfill my promises.
  3. The New Thing: God is looking back and maintaining promises to be fulfilled in a new way.
    1. “I will put my instructions within them”
      1. Connection to Deut 6—the Shema was a prayer & instruction for Israel to write God’s word on their hearts, now God is the one doing it.
    2. “I will be their God”
      1. Repeating the words of the covenant in the 10 commandments.
      2. God is still maintaining God’s promises.
      3. God claims them first.
    3. “No longer need to teach…”
      1. No need for priests as mediators? (different than the conversation between Moses, God and the Israelites where they begged for a mediator for fear that God would smite them)
      2. God will be present with you God will be the priest.
    4. “I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.”
      1. No longer need to sacrifice or be made “pure” to meet God.
      2. God is changing the way the measure of righteousness will be fulfilled.

INTERPRETATION: To see the complexity of our faith and In the midst of our convictions, we can have space for differences of opinion.

  1. The prophecy of Jeremiah is a book with famous passages in the Christian faith. However, we frequently take these famous passages out of context or misconstrue their meaning with our bias.
    1. Example: Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you…” (big quote people use about hope or for graduates to say that there is a purpose you are on this earth and God will bless you with those plans.) We write this passage to say God has a great plan or purpose four our life.
      1. HOWEVER: God was sending them into exile but God wasn’t going to abandon them. Nor was God going to leave them in exile forever.
      2. God tells them to not put their life on hold waiting to return to the Promise Land. Live, work, marry, have babies. Get settled in, you’ll be here a while. (verse reference)
      3. This passage is about comfort in the midst of consequences.
  2. Nostalgia, Memories, & Memorabilia and twist our interpretation of scripture.
  3. Our interpretation of Jeremiah 31:31-34 follows that of Jeremiah 29:11. We take that passage out of context and point only to Jesus. We see the hope of the messiah in this passage, and it leads us to what we’ve been taught about salvation. This thought or reading impacts our answers to different questions:
    1. Questions about salvation:
      1. Who is saved?
      2. What is the path to salvation?
      3. What about the Jews? Does God give up on them?
    1. THOUGHT EXERCISE: I want to take a moment to reflect on the implications of reading this passage this way (and ignoring the rest of ch 31). Here are some questions that popped up:
      1. Can God change God’s mind about the plan for salvation & sin? (God doesn’t compromise God’s goals, God modifies the route to get to those goals for humans).
      2. Can we change God’s mind the plan for salvation & sin? (scripture suggests yes, Abraham & Moses talk to God and God changes the plan. However more frequently than not, prayer is about us aligning with God’s desires rather than God aligning with our desires.)
      3. Did God give up on the Israelites/Jews(God’s promise to Abraham) and look for a new people( to be Abraham’s offspring)? (If you read all of Jeremiah 31, you will quickly see that God repeatedly says, he will not give up or abandon Israel. Even though the northern Kingdom of Israel is already wiped off the earth).
        1. Would God be a merciful, just, loving God if God transferred his commitment from the Jews to Christians? What about the people that lived before Jesus or the people who live their entire lives never hearing the name of Jesus?—answers to these questions speak about God’s character not about the character of humanity.
      4. Do we have a choice in God’s love(salvation)? –theological answer different depending on the denomination
        1. Depending on your faith family tree, your answers to these questions will be different.
          1. Calvinists & Arminians/Free Evangelicals
          2. Perhaps you can be a rebel and say, maybe there is space for both of these schools of thought to happen?
      5. Christians don’t agree on the details of salvation apart from the connection to Jesus.
  4. Jeremiah knew nothing of Jesus when this passage was written. Jeremiah wasn’t speaking about a Christian hope, but a Jewish hope. God would fulfill God’s covenantal promises to Abraham, Moses, and Israel.
    1. This time, God says, “I’m gonna do a new thing.”—these promises are old but the path may be different.
    2. God doesn’t ditch the Jews nor is God saying to ditch the Old Testament when Jesus shows up on the scene. Jesus even says he doesn’t come to abolish the law(10 commandments/Torah) but to fulfill the law. God maintains God’s expectations and God brings about the fulfillment of those expectations through Jesus.
    3. God is fulfilling God’s promises through Jesus. Jesus is God keeping the promises of the OT.
  5. How we read scripture impacts the teachings of the Church.

APPLICATION: To see the complexity of our faith and In the midst of our convictions, we can have space for differences of opinion.

  1. As I look at this very familiar passage and my mind goes into default mode when interpreting. I have to recognize that the scope of Christian belief about salvation is wide and complex.
    1. Clinging to nostalgia teachings without analyzing them in the Spirit, can be detrimental.
      1. When I think I’ve got God all figured out, God teaches me a new lesson.
    2. Israel spent centuries ignoring the teachings and instructions of God and only listening to the voices of generations past. They experienced the consequences of their actions through exile.
  2. Salvation Gatekeeping: Christian Selective nostalgia is a real problem when looking back at Christian history and scripture.
    1. We pick and choose what we like
      1. OT Laws (some) & Judgement
      2. Ditch the jews (except to defend their right to the land of Israel)
      3. Jesus represents love, mercy, and salvation (but only for the repentant who have prayed a salvation prayer).
    2. We do salvation gate keeping.
  3. America has this problem with our selective memory about our history: “good ole days” for who?
    1. Asian Americans building railways or in internment camps during WWII. All Asians getting lumped into one category, disregarding their different cultures, languages, and ethnic roots. (this also led to them all being treated poorly during WWII)
    2. Native Americans lost their land to settlers and a government who continually breaks promises to them. “reservations” are the worst land.
      1. SD boarding schools- Shaved heads & beat their language out of them
    3. African Americans -slavery, segregation, “separate but equal,” civil rights movement, BLM
    4. Mexican Americans & Tejanos- you can be here only if you speak our language and work the jobs we don’t like. Yes, I know we moved the border of Mexico on you but get with the program.
  4. The Good Ole days is a biased interpretation of the past.
    1. Do I love the Andy Griffith Show? Of course! Mayberry is great. Bu tit also isn’t a full picture of America.
    2. Not saying we cancel our favorite things of the past but to look at them with a bigger understanding of the story.

CONCLUSION:

  1. Lent Season Wrap up: Today is the last Sunday in Lent proper. Next week is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy week. Though we are wrapping up this season of Lent, we aren’t our commitment to live intentionally.
    1. Perhaps you started a new practice for the season of lent. what is the next step of diving deeper into your walk with God?
      1. Traditional practices: Fasting , Charitable giving, Confession & Repentance, Incorporate a new spiritual practice
      2. Unconventional practices: Joy Jar
    2. Perhaps you are still considering your commitment card or lost it and need a new one. No worries, we’ve got some in the foyer. What are your next steps for fulfilling this commitment?
  2. Though this official season of reflection is ending, we are still called to grow deeper with God. As we look forward to Easter, we can also look forward to what God is doing new in our lives and in this world. God is keeping God’s promises.
  3. If we let ourselves only stick to the familiar nostalgic things, we may never grow deeper into who God built us to be. Nostalgia can prevent growth. However, nostalgia can also be a gift to help us remember God’s faithfulness and give us strength to step into something new.
    1. It’s time to ask God: Where to next?

Promise Breakers & Weird Record Makers

originally preached 3/14/2021

Message Title: Promise Breakers & Weird Record Makers
Theme: Record Breakers & Redemption
Season: Lent
Main Text: Numbers 21:4-9
Scripture Reading: John 3:14-21
RCL Scripture: Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21
Focus: God keeps God’s promises
Function: To stop wishing for Egypt and look forward to breaking cycles by stepping forward with God
Other Notes: Guinness Records in Indiana https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/

SCRIPTURE READING: John 3:14-21 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up 15so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 16God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. 17God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son. 19“This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil. 20All who do wicked things hate the light and don’t come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light. 21Whoever does the truth comes to the light so that it can be seen that their actions were done in God.”

INDIANA/WORLD RECORD: most “rump jumps”

David Fisher from Westfield, In holds the world record for the most “rump jumps” in a minute.

If you have neve seen a “rump jump” … you aren’t alone. Here’s a photo from Indy Star of David in action.

  1. Set: July 8, 1998.
  2. About the record: David Fisher, who recently moved to Indianapolis, set the record for the most revolutions turned while pushing off and landing only on his backside in one minute. Fisher rump jumped 56 times.
  3. Sources:
    1. https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2016/01/08/ever-wonder-what-rump-jumps-let-rope-warrior-explain/76942898/
    2. https://champaign.org/event/the-rope-warrior-1795942
    3. https://www.rocknropewarrior.com/story
    4. https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/

TRANSITION: Yes, this is a strange type of world record to establish. Unlike the longest high-five chain, I don’t think many are attempting to break this record.

In our text for today we will see an equally weird interaction between God and the Israelites. Much time has passed since our passage from last week. In fact, this is a completely new generation. Could this generation be more faithful to the covenant with God than the last? Let’s see…

SCRIPTURE READING: Numbers 21:4-9 4They marched from Mount Hor on the Reed Sea road around the land of Edom. The people became impatient on the road. 5The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why did you bring us up from Egypt to kill us in the desert, where there is no food or water. And we detest this miserable bread!” 6So the Lord sent poisonoussnakes among the people and they bit the people. Many of the Israelites died. 7The people went to Moses and said, “We’ve sinned, for we spoke against the Lord and you. Pray to the Lord so that he will send the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8The Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous snake and place it on a pole. Whoever is bitten can look at it and live.” 9Moses made a bronze snake and placed it on a pole. If a snake bit someone, that person could look at the bronze snake and live.

EXPLAINATION: God teaches a lesson using snakes.

  1. Who: Moses and the 2nd generation of Israelites; this is the first generation AFTER slavery. They were not enslaved.
  2. Where: In the desert/wilderness on their way to the Promise Land; going AROUND the land of Edom.
  3. Action: This generation resented wandering in the wilderness and being raised on manna. The spoke out against God who rescued their parents/grandparents from slavery and provided them food AND the spoke out against Moses who led them.
  4. Consequences: God sent “poisonous snakes,” they bite people, a bunch of people die,
  5. Repentance: the Israelites actually acknowledge that they spoke wrong of God and of Moses and ask God to help them. 
  6. Redemption:  God helps them by having Moses build a Snake Pole that the people look at and are healed.

INTERPRETATION: God teaches a lesson using snakes.

  1. Inherited Bias: The second generation inherited an attitude from the previous generation with out question or reflection.
    1. Examples today: Sports teams or comfort food
      1. Serious examples: politics, religion, or world view.
      2. The previous generation passed on their experiences, knowledge, and inherited beliefs/bias and want you to receive without bias.
    2. “I wanna go back to Egypt”
      1. Kids! You never were in Egypt. You are echoing the words of your parents & grandparents before you.
      2. This generation has carried on the wrong tradition from their ancestors. Instead of passing on a faithfulness to God they passed on a lack of gratitude and perspective.
    3. “And we detest this miserable bread”—The Hebrew here suggests that they detest this food so much that they gag or retch at the thought of eating it. This magical bread that God provided them since their infancy.
      1. God provided mercy and grace to the previous generation through manna and quail. They were ungrateful and complained about this food. The next generation was raised to be ungrateful for this blessing from God.
        1. Their parents and grandparents weren’t allowed to enter the promise land because of their inability to be faithful.
        2. Why would you want to copy the bitterness and brokenness of the previous generation?
        3. Do you want to walk in to the same consequences as that generation?
  2. Recognizing our Inherited Bias: We’re gonna have a little exercise. As we talk about the next thing, I want you to be aware of your internal reactions.
    1. God’s consequences—God gave the weirdest consequences for this sin by sending poisonous snakes.
      1. “poisonous snakes” à hebrew “fiery snakes” à “fiery seraphim” à dragons 😉 (WP)
        1. https://biblehub.com/text/numbers/21-6.htm
        2. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/8314.htm
          1. “I. שָׂרָף noun masculineIsaiah 14:29 a serpent, usually venomous (possibly from above v, from burning effect of poison); — absolute ׳שׂ Numbers 21:8 (J E; on Arabic parallels see JacobArabic Dichter ii. 93, iv. 10 f.), apposition ׳נָחָשׁ שׂ Deuteronomy 8:15, plural הַנְּחָשִׁים הַשְּׂרָפִים Numbers 21:6; a flying serpent, or dragon, שָׂרָף מְעוֺפֵף Isaiah 14:29Isaiah 30:6.”
          2. “II. [שָׂרָף] noun masculineIsaiah 6:2 plural שְׂרָפִים seraphim (probably akin to I. ׳שׂ, as beings originally mythically conceived with serpents’ bodies (serpent-deities, compare Isaiah 14:29Isaiah 30:6), or (CheComm.) personified of lightning, compare arts. SERAPHIM, StrachanHast. DB CheEncy. Bib.; Di Marti and others compare also Egyptian guardian-griffins, called Šerref; see also כְּרוּב; on Assyrian Šarrapu (-bu), epithet of god Nergal, connected by DlWB with √ שָׂרַף, see שָׁרָב, ZimKAT 3. 415); — in OT. majestic beings with six wings, and human hands and voices, attendant upon ׳י Isaiah 6:2,6.”
    2. The Christian hope has changed.
      1. If we dive into scripture, the Christian hope isn’t in heaven but in Christ returning and restoring creation. If the Christian hope was in heaven, we would be excited to die. But something deep inside of us wants to live.
      2. The church shifted the Christian hope over centuries.
        1. In the Victorian era we saw a shift of religion being a masculine field to a feminine field. We also saw Angels become cute chubby babies with wings that could not defy gravity.
        2. War and mortality changed the way the church preached. And we haven’t pushed back for generations.
      3. Heaven isn’t the goal. Christ’s return and the restoration of the earth is the Christian hope.

APPLICATION: To stop wishing for Egypt and look forward to breaking cycles by stepping forward with God

  1. Time of Reflection with music
    1. What is our Egypt: What are we looking back on with rose colored glasses?
    2. What is God asking us to step away from?
    3. What is God asking us to step towards?
    4. What has this path lead us “around”?

CONCLUSION:

  1. God’s mercy also came by a snake.
    1. I picture this and think of the symbols for the EMT and Doctors- but their symbols are both rooted in Greek mythology.
    2. God used weird & miraculous means to heal the people.
    3. God was committed to his promise to Abraham. Abraham’s descendants would live in the Promise Land.
  2. Post Script: I wish I could tell you that the Israelites were faithful from this point forward, but they weren’t. They continued to struggle with their faithfulness & obedience to God for generations.
    1. They “committed” to the covenant (the 10 commandments) of their parents/grandparents. They claimed God as their God and said the 10 commandments was their law…. But continued to struggle with faithfulness for generations.

God is faithful. We are called to be faithful, not a carbon copy of the previous generation. May we inherit a strong faith but let the stubborn pride or cranky attitudes fade with time.

Laws Made To Be Broken

Originally preached on 3/7/2021

Message Title: Laws Made to Be Broken
Theme: Record Breakers & Redemption
Season: Lent
Main Text: Exodus 20:1-17;
Scripture Reading: John 2:13-22
RCL Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
Focus: God makes a covenant with Israel through Moses.
Function: To separate ourselves from the legalism of religion and enter into the spiritual journey of a faith focused on Christ.
Other Notes: Guinness Records in Indiana https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/

SCRIPTURE READING: John 2:13-25 13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. 15 He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. 16 He said to the dove sellers, “Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written, Passion for your house consumes me.[a] 18 Then the Jewish leaders asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things? What miraculous sign will you show us?” 19 Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I’ll raise it up.” 20 The Jewish leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” 21 But the temple Jesus was talking about was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered what he had said, and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. 23 While Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, many believed in his name because they saw the miraculous signs that he did. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust himself to them because he knew all people. 25 He didn’t need anyone to tell him about human nature, for he knew what human nature was.

WORLD RECORD: longest high-five chain

  1. Temporary Record Holders: From September 2nd of 2014 to November 30th of 2016, Indiana State University held a world record for the Longest High-Five Chain. About the record: 1,647 participants gathered at Indiana State University’s Hulman Center in Terre Haute to set the record. The event, sponsored by High-5 for The Kids, doubled as a fundraiser for the United Way.
  2. Current Record Holder: Indiana only held this record for 2 years before a group from Arizona surpassed the record by more than double the participants.
    1. The longest “high five” chain measures 3,473 participants, and was achieved by Fiesta Bowl and UnitedHealthcare (USA) in Avondale, Arizona, USA, on 30 November 2016. The third to eighth graders attempting the record were Playworks students; participants in a non-profit program focused on encouraging active play in schools.
  3. “Record Breakers” – I was told that the term “record breaker” was coined because they used to literally break the record of the previous champion when a new record was created. To be a record breaker was to literally break the record. Now I tried to find a source to prove this was more than anecdote but unfortunately was unsuccessful. Please let me know if you can find a source to prove the history of the term “Record Breaker.”
  4. Sources:
    1. https://www.tribstar.com/news/local_news/world-record-for-longest-high-five-chain-set/article_8f908f88-1e27-592d-908b-aaf5b3b9573c.html
    2. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-high-five-chain

AUDIENCE ENAGEMENT: COVID has made greetings and physical affection weird. Hugs, handshakes, and high fives used to be our social norm for greetings. Now I see awkward smiles or fist bumps or people wondering what is an acceptable greeting.

  1. What type of greeting do you wish would make a comeback after COVID-tide?
  2. What type of greeting do you wish would go away forever after COVID-tide?

TRANSITION: We make records to break records. However, it seems the only records easily broken are the ones easily accomplished? Do you think we could surpass 3500 people for a high five chain?

In our text for today, we will see a new covenant established. This covenant builds expectations of humans perpetually breaking the contract. As we dive into this covenant, I want to look at God’s design rather than dissect the route to perfect holiness.

SCRIPTURE READING: Exodus 20:1-17 Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3You must have no other gods beforeme. 4Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5Do not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. 6But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generationof those who love me and keep my commandments. 7Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way. 8Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. 9Six days you may work and do all your tasks, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. 11Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13Do not kill. 14Do not commit adultery. 15Do not steal. 16Do not testify falsely against your neighbor. 17Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

EXPLAINATION: The 10 commandments

  1. Moses got them on a mountain (Mt Sinai)
    1. Not the first time we see something significant happen on the top of a mountain.
    2. Moses first interacted with God on the top of a mountain (burning bush).
    3. Moses continually communed with God on a mountain.
    4. Mountains were considered high holy places.
  2. Covenant for the people of Israel-
    1. Eventually the Jewish laws expanded to 613 (Footnotes)
    2. Jesus simplified the laws into two categories: “Love God” and “Love Others.”
      1. Matthew 22:34-40
      2. Mark 12:28-34
      3. Luke 10: 25-28

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Jesus has not gotten rid of the Law (10 Commandments)
    1. Matthew 5: 13-20 God’s people live the law to be an example for the world
    2. But the law isn’t a gradebook.
  2. Guidelines for how to live: God gave us the 10 Commandments to show us how to flourish in relationship with others and with God. However, these laws became a grading book to determine the holiness/righteousness level of God’s people.
    1. We love a grading scale, don’t we? “Yeah, you love me God, but am I better than that person?”
    2. These aren’t easy laws to follow but standards to strive towards because they lead to a fulfilling life.
      1. Jesus spends time in the gospels pointing to the root of the laws (Do not murder à do not hate. Do not commit adultery à don’t even lust)
        1. Don’t use God’s name in vain is not about avoiding saying G-D or Oh My God! Don’t put words in God’s mouth. Don’t make promises on God’s name and then not fulfill them.
  3. God doesn’t find joy in grading our behavior or plotting consequences. God wants our flourishing. We forget that the essence of the law is about God’s intention for creation when we follow the letter of the law. The letter gives us a score card to judge each other on. The essence of the law gives us stronger relationships with God and with our community.

APPLICATION: To separate ourselves from the legalism of religion and enter into the spiritual journey of a faith focused on Christ.

  1. Lent is a time of reflection and re-centering our lives around Christ. Two weeks ago, we talked about the different ways you could participate in Lent. How has your reflection time been going?
    1. Audience engagement: Have you tried to incorporate one of the Lenten practices?
      1. Fasting
      2. Charitable giving
      3. Confession/repentance
      4. Incorporating a new spiritual practice
      5. Unconventional: Joy Jar
    2. Deconstruction: Sometimes as you are reflecting, meditating, or praying, you may discover parts of your faith that you struggle believing, don’t believe any more, or trigger painful memories.
      1. Naked Pastor- “Deconstruction is the erosion or crumbling of our beliefs. It is unlearning. It clears space for wisdom.”
      2. Lent can be a season of deconstructing beliefs (maybe even decluttering) to bring us back to the truth of Christ. Don’t be afraid as questions arise.
      3. Don’t be scared if you consider setting down some old teachings or practices.
        1. Jesus simplified the laws into: Loving God and Loving Others.
        2. Sometimes our faith gets over complicated and needs to be brought back to the truth of Christ.
    3. Encouragement to try to engage your faith spiritually.
      1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What are other ways we can love our neighbors or love God that don’t show up on the 10 commandments?
  2. COMMUNION: Jesus set an example in his life. Jesus removed the grade book with his death and resurrection. We remember his life through communion and the life we are called to live.
    1. Invite a deacon to pray over the elements.

CONLUSION

  1. The Law isn’t about legalism. The law is about setting us free to love more fully and experience enriched lives.
    1. As you continue to dive into your faith and examine things during the season of lent, share with us ways we can support you.
    2. Follow up on commitment cards – if you didn’t hear this last week, hear this now: These cards are not a gradebook or score card. They are a commitment to practice a new aspect of your faith. They are a way for me & the deacons to encourage you as you grow.

Fancy Titles & Big Gestures

Originally preached on 2/28/2021

Message Title: Fancy Titles & Big Gestures
Theme: Record Breakers & Redemption
Season: Lent
Main Text: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Scripture Reading: Mark 8:31-38
RCL Scripture: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38 or Mark 9:2-9
Focus: God makes a covenant with Abram & Sarai and seals it with a sign.
Function: To return God’s commitment with a commitment of our own.
Other Notes: Guinness Records in Indiana https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/

SCRIPTURE READING: Mark 8:31-38 31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” 34 After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. 36 Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? 37 What will people give in exchange for their lives? 38 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

WORLD RECORD: Michael Jackson—King of Pop –Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana in 1958. You would have to live under a rock to have not heard of the King of Pop.Though his story is full of controversy, scandal, and pain, there is no denying the musical talent he contained.

At one point in time, Michael Jackson held 24 world records. Some have since been broken by new artists. As of 2020, Jackson currently holds 16 Guinness World Records, including best-selling album of all time and most expensive music video.

YearNominee / workAward
1984ThrillerBest-selling album of all time
1984Michael JacksonMost Grammy wins in one night
1996Scream” (Shared with Janet Jackson)Most expensive short film[52]
1997ThrillerBest-selling album by a male soloist in the UK
1999Michael Jackson and Janet JacksonMost successful siblings[53][54]
2000Michael JacksonMost charities supported by a pop star[55][56][57]
2002Making Michael Jackson’s ThrillerBest-selling music video
2006You Are Not AloneFirst vocalist to enter the US single chart at No. 1  
2009Michael JacksonMost simultaneous charted singles in the UK charts in a year 
2002Michael JacksonMost American Music Awards won by a male artist[59][h]
2010Michael JacksonHighest-earning deceased artist[60]
2011Michael Jackson’s This Is ItHighest-grossing concert film of all time
2011Michael JacksonLongest span of US top 40 singles[63][j]
2015Black or WhiteLargest TV audience for a video premiere[k]
2015 Michael JacksonHighest annual earnings for a celebrity ever [64]
2016Michael JacksonHighest-earning dead celebrity [65]
source: wiki (yes i realize that’s not really a scholarly source)

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is your favorite Michael Jackson song? Even if you have to reach back to the Jackson 5.

TRANSITION: Michael Jackson may be the “King of Pop” but in our text for today, Abram is given the title of “Father of Many Nations” by God. Let’s dive into the covenant between Abram & God.

SCRIPTURE READING: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk with me and be trustworthy. I will make a covenant between us and I will give you many, many descendants.” Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, “But me, my covenant is with you; you will be the ancestor of many nations. And because I have made you the ancestor of many nations, your name will no longer be Abram but Abraham. I will make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will come from youI will set up my covenant with you and your descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant. I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you. … 15 God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you will no longer call her Sarai. Her name will now be Sarah16 I will bless her and even give you a son from her. I will bless her so that she will become nations, and kings of peoples will come from her.”

EXPLAINATION: God makes a covenant with Abram & Sarai and seals it with a sign.

  1. Abram was 99 when this covenant was established.
  2. God tells Abram God’s name is El Shaddai (some translate this as Almighty God but it could also be God on the Mountain.)
  3. Covenant details:
    1. Abram’s Covenant responsibilities to commit to God and be trustworthy.
      1. Sign of the covenant: circumcising all the males in his household. Any male committing to this covenant will have that sign on their body.
    2. Reward: Abram will have many descendants (in a time when a family tree was basically a sign of wealth & prosperity.)
      1. God promises Abram that he will be a great nation & changes his name to Abraham.
        1. Kings will come from the line of Abraham.
      2. God commits not just to Abraham, but to Sarah and their offspring for generations.
        1. Kings will come from Sarah’s line.
        2. This covenant description is different from God’s previous mention of this promise to Abram in Genesis 12 and 15.
        3. This promise isn’t just for Abram/Abraham, but for Sarai/Sarah too. (WP)

INTERPRETATION: God makes a covenant with Abram & Sarai and seals it with a sign.

  1. God is claiming to be Abraham & Sarah’s God and the God of their future generations.
    1. God is changing religion for that time era. Much has changed from Adam & Eve to Noah to Abram & Sarai. Humans did not walk with God as Adam and Eve. Humans didn’t listen to God. And then, during the time of Abram & Sarai, deities were tribal or national.
      1. Your family gods were yours and not the same as the other tribes’ family gods. Your gods protected you and their gods protected them. Sometimes they would even have to fight it out to see who was the stronger family god.
        1. Think Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans as national gods.
        2. Think Chinese Dynasties as family gods that become national gods.
        3. Think of indigenous tribes and their gods.
    2. God takes this moment and promises Abraham & Sarah will be ancestors of NATIONS and that God will be the God of their ancestors. God is shifting things from a tribal religion. God is bringing creation back to God’s intentions.
  2. Previous portions of the Covenant:
    1. Genesis 12: 1-3 The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you.”
      1. They go but Abram struggles with trusting God and regularly does things his own way (or his wife’s way). I.e., Egypt & Pharaoh.
    2. Genesis 15: 4-6, 18-21 4The Lord’s word came immediately to him, “This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child.” 5Then he brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them.” He continued, “This is how many children you will have.” 6Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram’s high moral character. … 18That day the Lord cut a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from Egypt’s river to the great Euphrates, 19together with the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
      1. God promises Abram & Sarai off spring & land. Sarai is barren, so they take advantage of their slave Hagar to provide Abram a son. Once again trying to take things into their own hands to fulfill God’s promises.
  3. This third time speaking the covenant to Abram, God changes Abram’s name and says that Sarai is part of the promise. She, too, will have a biological child.
    1. Abraham pleads that Ishmael, his son by Hagar, would count as the heir but God’s redemption story includes Sarai and does not include taking advantage of Hagar. However, God doesn’t abandon Hagar or Ishmael and they receive a blessing to become a great nation as well.
  4. God’s redemption plan will be done in God’s holy and righteous way. God once again reestablishes this covenant with Abraham, explicitly including Sarah this time, and calls Abraham to walk with God and live a trustworthy life.
    1. The sign that Abraham is committing to the covenant is circumcision.
  5. God asked for a mutual commitment from Abraham. There was an event to signal the commitment and a behavior that changed permanently as a result of that commitment.
    1. At one point in time, it was easy to see by looking at a group of people what tribe, religion, or political group they affiliated with.
      1. In Jesus’ time, well after Abram & Sarai, you could see a person’s loyalties based on their dress.
      2. A modern-day example would be the headdress worn by Arabic men. This headdress goes by different names depending on the region you are from but the meaning remains the same. The pattern of the fabric and the way it is tied signifies where you are from and sometimes even your political party.
        1. Example: Palestine, Yemen, Jordan
  6. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How do we show our loyalties?
    1. Examples: Sports teams;Coke, soda, pop; Firefly or lightning bug
      1. I joke that drawing the lines for the Midwest would be a good divisive activity.
    2. Those are all fun loyalties to consider; it gets less fun when we talk about religion, politics, or economic status.
  7. When Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, God was not just changing his name but changing his will. God was saying, “I know you’ve got a plan Abram, but mine is even more fulfilling.”

APPLICATION: To return God’s commitment with a commitment of our own.

  1. Much like Abraham shifted his plans to meet God’s, Being children of Abraham & followers of Christ means joining the covenant. We aren’t getting God to join our plans, rather we are joining God’s plans.
    1. Think about the fact that the Lord’s prayer doesn’t say “My will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It says “Thy will be done.” – God’s will.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: If we were to designate a covenantal sign for Christ followers, what would it be?
    1. No longer is circumcision necessary as a sign of the covenant. If you’re curious, that was discussed in Acts 15. Also, only God would know about that commitment…. I mean we aren’t checking.
    2. The reality is that the Christian faith is a large spectrum of humans. It’s not as easy to get us to agree on how to perform baptism much less design a universal symbol of our faith. Plus, so many signs have baggage or connotations behind them.
    3. I.e.—have you ever thought what Jesus would think if he came back and saw that we use crosses in our worship décor? You know, the thing used to sentence him to death? I know that is the point. A brutal thing becomes converted to a symbol of love… but at the same time, I gotta wonder what Jesus would say.
  3. So as we think about it in genuine terms, How do we show our loyalty to God both in publicly visible and invisible ways?
    1. Answer: with our words and our actions. Symbols can be misinterpreted or meanings can change BUT our words and our actions can be a constant testimony to our commitment to God.  
  4. Liberty Commitment Card: deacons pass out and collect after service.
    1. Tangible commitments in current church practice:
      1. Child dedication/ family dedication
      2. Baptism or recommitment to baptism
      3. Membership
      4. Volunteering/committee
      5. Tithing/pledge

CONCLUSION: Even after death, Michael Jackson is still maintaining his title as King of Pop with 16 Guinness World Records. Through life, death, and eternity we are able to claim the title as Children of God. We don’t perform actions as a way to earn that title but we respond to the gift we’ve been given with our life.

Does God Break Promises?

Originally preached on 2/21/2021

Message Title: Does God Break Promises?
Theme: Record Breakers & Redemption
Season: Lent
Main Text: Genesis 9:8-17
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:9-15
RCL Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15
Focus: God makes a covenant with all creation through Noah.
Function: To set our minds for the season of lent and a renewed dependance on God.
Other Notes: Guinness Records in Indiana https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/

SCRIPTURE READING: Mark 1:9-15 9About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.” 12At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him. 14After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

Intro to Series: Record Breakers & Redemption

  1. Over the season of Lent, we will explore passages in the Old Testament that touch on God’s covenants. These are stories of God’s promises with and for humanity.
  2. While we explore these big promises, we will also explore some impressive feats! As we count down to Easter, we will also learn about some Guinness World Records made in Indiana.

AUDIENCE ENAGEMENT: If you became famous for breaking a world record, what would that record be?

GUINNESS INDIANA RECORD: Largest Paint Ball--It’s amazing what humans can do when they set their mind to it. Michael Carmichael of Alexandria Indiana is no exception.

  1. In Alexandria, Indiana Michael Carmichael started the world’s largest ball of paint.
    1. The center of the ball is a baseball attached to a hook.
    2. They add about 2 coats of paint every day.
    3. There is over 26k coats.
  2. It now weighs over 2.5 tons & has a circumference of over 14 ft.
  3. Sources.
    1. https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/9792
    2. https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/
    3. https://radio-indiana.com/20151208/all-indiana-it-happened-here-guinness-world-records/
    4. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-layers-of-paint

TRANSITION: In our text for today, God will paint the sky rather than a baseball. Perhaps this artistic expression will give us a sense of purpose, much like Michael Carmichael’s determination to maintain his record.

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 9:8-17 8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9I am now setting up my covenant with you, with your descendants, 10and with every living being with you—with the birds, with the large animals, and with all the animals of the earth, leaving the ark with you. 11I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I am drawing up between me and you and every living thing with you, on behalf of every future generation. 13I have placed my bow in the clouds; it will be the symbol of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15I will remember the covenant between me and you and every living being among all the creatures. Floodwaters will never again destroy all creatures. 16The bow will be in the clouds, and upon seeing it I will remember the enduring covenant between God and every living being of all the earth’s creatures.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I have set up between me and all creatures on earth.”

EXPLAINATION: God makes a promise with Noah and all creation.

  1. Genesis 1-11 are considered pre-history chapters.
    1. Most historians don’t date this section of scripture because it is in Hebraic poetry form. Some Christians call this our origin myth, while the word myth makes others uncomfortable.
    2. For some Christians it is super important that Creation happened literally exactly as it unfolds in Genesis 1 and that Noah’s Ark literally happened exactly as is. For other Christians, this is a prologue to scripture. Genesis 1-11 sets the stage and introduces you to God.
    3. God created all of creation, and it was very good. It didn’t take long, with human choice, for things to grow corrupt. God wiped the slate clean and start over with a specific family, Noah’s family.
      1. This loss was an enormous cost. God promised not only Noah and his family, but the rest of creation that he would not use a great flood of destruction to bring about redemption.
        1. Did God regret exercising judgement in this form?
  2. What we learn from this account
    1. “am now setting up my covenant,”
      1. Covenant means a commitment or legal contract. This is a vow that has consequences if broken. Though God doesn’t define here what the consequences would be if God didn’t keep God’s promise.
    2. “I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters,”
      1. And here we have the specific covenant with Noah, his family, and all of creation.
      2. God isn’t gonna do the flood thing again.
    3. “I have placed my bow in the clouds,”-
      1. “bow”–the word used in Hebrew, think archery weapon not rainbow.
      2. God’s weapon of war and death (the bow) is laid aside in the clouds and becomes the sign of peace and life assured in the covenant. (Footnotes)
    4. “I will remember”- this is a mutual reminder. God calls for justice and holy living, but this is his way of reminding himself of this promise

INTERPRETATION: To set our minds for the season of lent and a renewed dependance on God.

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Does God need reminders? Why do you think he said “I will see it and remember”?
    1. It’s an odd thing to think that God would need help remembering not to destroy all of creation in a flood again. Honestly, it makes me think of the problem of decorating a nursery in a Noah’s ark theme. Yes, it’s a story with a bunch of animals which is cute. But also, it’s a violent story of God seeing evil people and sentencing them to death by drowning. Not just humans experienced consequences of these actions. Plants & animals also suffered.
    2. I think God places that reminder there because his justice is so strong. He sets down his weapon of war in the sky and reminds himself to hold off on judgement & justice. God does not choose to repeat the form of justice
  2. Biblical Waters
    1. Waters of the flood were violent and destructive.
    2. Waters of Jesus’ baptism were about giving life.
      1. But does that mean OT God is angry and vengeful while the NT God (Jesus) is all about love and peace?
  3. God keeps God’s promises. God doesn’t compromise God’s expectations.
    1. God created the world and made it good.
    2. God created humans in God’s image. They chose not to reflect God’s image.

Back to the Intro:

APPLICATION: To set our minds for the season of lent and a renewed dependance on God.

  1. Traditional practices during the season of lent help us enter the holy life to which God has invited us.
    1. Fasting is most famous! (From ash Wednesday to Easter it’s 40 days of fasting b/c we skip fasting on Sundays.) Fasting could happen continually or perhaps you want to try to do a full day fast (I recommend making sure your doctor says you’re healthy enough for that).
      1. The goal of a fast is to experience the void of that thing and spend that time with God. This could manifest in many ways.
        1. I.e.: giving up 1 hour of television/entertainment a day for mental and spiritual development.
    2. Charitable giving (not just money but acts of service)
      1. Pointing the focus away from yourself and towards others.
    3. Confession & Repentance– owning up to your active or passive sins and changing your behavior. This could look like direct acts of healing with the person you’ve wronged but that isn’t always possible. Confession and Repentance can also be a journey between you and God or you and a counselor.
    4. Incorporate a new spiritual practice: Prayer, meditation, bible study
  2. On Ash Wednesday, I suggested doing something unconventional for Lent. I suggested a Joy Jar: taking time to find joy in the mundane little things in life. We have given up many things in the last year and during COVID.

CONCLUSION: You are invited to find creative ways to remember our hope is in God during the season of lent. You may choose a traditional path or perhaps discover something non-traditional.  Humans can accomplish a lot when they are committed. Imagine what we can accomplish committed to our covenant with God and with each other. Let’s break a record in love!

Jesus Gets A Makeover

Originally Preached on Feb 14th, 2021

Message Title: Jesus Gets a Makeover
Theme: Flopped Inventions & New Discoveries
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: Mark 9:2-10
Scripture Reading: Psalm 50:1-6
RCL Scripture: 2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9
Focus: Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James, & John.
Function: To acknowledge how we have changed the image of Jesus & Christianity to fit our preferences and correct the gaze of our ministry.
Other Notes: Madame CJ Walker & Annie Turnbo Malone

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 50:1-6 From the rising of the sun to where it sets, God, the Lord God, speaks, calling out to the earth. 2From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines brightly. 3Our God is coming; he won’t keep quiet. A devouring fire is before him; a storm rages all around him. 4God calls out to the skies above and to the earth in order to judge his people: 5“Bring my faithful to me, those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” 6The skies proclaim his righteousness because God himself is the judge. Selah

INVENTOR: Madame CJ Walker & Annie Turnbo Malone

  1. AUDICENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you love a good before and after pictures?
    1. What’s your favorite type of before and after photo? (home reno, car, yard, weight loss, fashion makeover, hair makeover)?
      1. Weight loss
      2. Home reno
      3. Before, during, after deployment
      4. Car remodel
  2. Before and after photos tell a story. They show the passage of time and transformation of the subject. Our invention today highlights the story of before & after pictures but we must focus on two women today.
    1. Netflix recently released a mini series titled “Self-Made” and it is a historical fiction story that is loosely based off of the stories of Madam CJ Walker and Annie Turnbo Malone.
      1. History has dubbed Madam CJ Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, the first woman millionaire in the US. However, much like the light bulb and the car, the invention of a particular formula of hair care products has a debated origin.
      2. Both women claim to be the inventor of their hair growth product but the recipe has ties to use by African women 100+ years prior.
  3. Thanks to these women a few inventions & cultural implications came about:
    1. Black/African hair care products like the hot comb & hair care treatments
    2. Thriving cultural & educational opportunities for desegregated and segregated areas
      1. (Walker) Indianapolis
      2. (Malone) St Louis & Chicago
    3. A business structure that would be copied by Avon, Mary Kay, It Works, Pampered Chef and many more.
  4. Hoosiers, specifically, were impacted by Madam CJ Walker as her headquarters were in Indy. She contributed to Indy’s YMCA and helped to fund desegregated cultural events.
  5. Sources:
    1. https://www.biography.com/inventor/madam-cj-walker
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madam_C._J._Walker
    3. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/madame-c-j-walker
    4. https://historicmissourians.shsmo.org/historicmissourians/name/m/malone/
    5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Turnbo_Malone
    6. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/2/15/18226396/annie-turnbo-malone-hair-entrepreneur-trump-black-history

TRANSITION: Today is a special holiday. And I’m not referring to Valentine’s day. Today is Transfiguration Sunday, the day we remember a specific account in scripture. Jesus is gonna get a makeover… but it isn’t from Madam CJ Walker or Anne Turnbo Malone.

SCRIPTURE: Mark 9:2-10 2Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain where they were alone. He was transformed in front of them, 3and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white. 4Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. 5Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He said this because he didn’t know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!” 8Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. 9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Human One had risen from the dead. 10So they kept it to themselves, wondering, “What’s this ‘rising from the dead’?”

EXPLAINATION: Jesus transfigures before Peter, James, & John and reveals his divine state.

  1. Setting:
    1. When- “Six days later”
      1. After what: Predicting his death and “get behind me Satan” to Peter.
      2. Lots of time has passed since Jesus’ ministry started (last week we were in chapter 1/16… we’re now in chapter 9/16)
    2. Who- Jesus took Peter, James, & John
    3. Where- top of a very high mountain
      1. Jewish traditional place for God to meet people
        1. (law & prophets affirm Jesus)
          1. Both guys interacted with God on a mountain
      2. “High places” were places where heaven & earth overlapped (think Greek god’s of Olympus)
  2. Story:
    1. Jesus transformed – bright clothes
    2. Elijah & Moses appeared & talked to Jesus
      1. Did the other guys hear what they were saying?
      2. What could have been the topic?
    3. Peter’s response: I like this, let’s make 3 tents/shrines
      1. My interpretation: Lets deem this moment holy and this location holy by setting up a monument like they used to do in Moses’ day
    4. Narrator “for peter did not know what to say”
      1. Connected to passage just before
    5. Voice from above “This is my son, listen to him”
      1. Echo of his baptism from the beginning of ministry
      2. Connected to passage just before
    6. Jesus responds – keep this secret until I rise from the dead
      1. PJ&J- Ugh WHAT?!?!

INTERPRETATION: We place expectations on Jesus.

Disclaimer: I wrestled with this topic and ask you to wrestle with me.

  1. When you picture Jesus, how often do you picture Jesus looking like a glow stick? You know what, Let’s take a moment to illustrate Jesus together.
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: If you were to draw a picture of Jesus (when he isn’t a glow stick), what would he look like?
      1. Think about context: Jesus was from the middle east, yes, a diverse area of land but likely Jesus looked more like a modern day Arab than the renaissance paintings we have of Jesus
      2. AI picture of Jesus & Forensic Jesus-
        1. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2020/07/jesus-according-to-ai.html
        2. https://www.archyde.com/they-recreate-the-image-of-jesus-with-artificial-intelligence-unusual/
        3. https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-general/reconstructing-jesus-using-science-flesh-out-face-religion-004942
    2. AUIDENCE ENGAGEMENT: If Jesus was here now, how do you think Jesus would compare to the Jesus we teach in Sunday School? What would his parables be focused on?
      1. Could we have modified Jesus to fit our preferences?
  2. The Disciples & their faith:
    1. If you read the different Gospels next to each other you will notice little differences. Mark’s gospel presents the disciples as clueless people.
      1. Look at Peter’s response to glowstick Jesus- Woah! Let’s build some tents!
      2. The narrator says “he didn’t know what he was saying”
        1. Matthew 17:1-8 – doesn’t make this notation, Peter has a Jewish response. Let’s build a sacred space for this sacred thing.
        2. Luke 9:28-36 – does claim Peter didn’t know what he was saying, Jesus’ goal was to head to Jerusalem and Peter wasn’t ready for what was coming.
        3. Frequently, in the other gospels, the disciples get background information that others don’t get. They seem to get “secret knowledge” that puts them ahead of the crowd. However, in Mark’s gospel the disciples struggle.
      3. In Mark’s gospel the disciples struggle to follow Jesus’ teachings and show their faith. Just after this scene, they rejoin the rest of the disciples who weren’t able to perform miracles. Honestly, Mark’s version of the disciples seems very human.
  3. Jesus’ ministry is defined by God not by human expectations.
    1. Jesus is different than we picture him & his ministry goals look different than humans would plan. I think, if Jesus were here today, humans would work Jesus to death answering small prayers. We would be satisfied with individual stories of healing instead of looking for the greater systemic healing.
      1. Last week, Jesus took some time to rest and moved on to the next city EVEN THOUGH there were still more needs in Capernaum. Jesus could have spent his entire life in Capernaum and never actually fulfilled his ministry.
    2. The transfiguration is a transitional point in Jesus’ ministry between teaching, healing, and casting out demons AND the Great Healing on the cross. (PF)
      1. “My Dad, a pastor, always felt that the Trans            figuration was a “trigger event” and readying for the journey to Jerusalem. He also saw the baptism as the “trigger event” for the ministry on earth.” (FB)

APPLICATION: To acknowledge how we have changed the image of Jesus & Christianity to fit our preferences and correct the gaze of our ministry.

  1. In what ways could our image of Jesus hold us back from our own growth as Christians?
    1. My Burden
    2. Focusing on the things that will not spread the hope of Christ.
      1. I know some people who are no longer believers or don’t attend church because Christians focus on the wrong thing while ignoring the tenants of our faith.
    3. Not focusing on the healing needing to happen in this world.
      1. Sometimes, earthly healing is needed for people to hear the message of God & discernment.
  2. We make God in our own image instead of remembering that we are made in God’s image. We have also made Christianity fit our own image.
    1. We focus on some parts of the scriptures and ignore other parts.
      1. We eat shrimp and pork. We eat dairy and meat together. Sorry, bible says no cheeseburgers. Especially not bacon cheese burgers because pork isn’t kosher. Neither is mixing dairy with meat.
      2. Men shave their beards & side burns
      3. Our fabrics are mixed.
      4. Women, when was the last time you pitched a tent outside when you were on your period?
    2. We choose some laws to maintain and judge others by while ignoring laws in the same list.

CONCLUSION:

Jesus may not have needed the magical hair products available from Madam CJ Walker and Annie Turnbo Malone but he still was transfigured and this transformed his ministry. The disciples saw a fuller picture of Jesus. This new perspective changed the trajectory of ministry for the disciples.

Back to blonde step 1: Overtone review

We all did something weird to our hair in 2020. Some skipped haircuts. Some grew out their body hair. Others did home haircuts or funny facial hair.

I tried Overtone.

I bought the Ginger overtone last spring and was excited to try a washout color depositing conditioner.

I am SUPER blonde. I have only once before done an all over color on my hair. That was a washout in 2006 and… I looked like little mermaid!

Don’t judge my 19 year old self. 😂🤣😂

This “washout” faded to a rose pink colored and stuck with me for 6+ months.

Mom and I going to a Gala thing to her work.

The only thing that helped was old school “Sun In”

I had experimented with my hairstylist and permanent dies on the under part of my hair but never did a full on color.

We got married January of 2020 and I wanted my hair ‘normal’ for our big day.

Photo credit: Franklin Focus

2020 was starting out to be an awesome year. We stared it with our commitment to each other and were planning an awesome honeymoon to England…. and then COVID hit.

But this is about hair. Not our lack of honeymoon. Just before COVID really rocked our world my husband and I got haircuts.

I am not sure what convinced me to finally try Overtone but I had been snooping on their website and reading reviews and getting ads for a while.

I bit the bullet and bought their Ginger kit. My paternal grandmother was a red head and I thought I would channel her with this color adventure.

Most of the reviews I read said to keep the color mask on for a long time. The box says 10-15 minutes. Other people were saying 1-2 hrs.

So naturally I listened to the internet & not the box. 2 hrs & 1 movie later, I was GINGER.

I LOVED it! It was beautiful, looked like what I was hoping for and it was way cheaper than going to a salon.

I maintained this color through Overtone products from May 2020- October 2020.

The last three times I refreshed my hair I used the golden brown with an attempt to darken my hair a little for a friends wedding.

The ‘golden brown’ didn’t really change the GINGER at all.

If I’m honest, I’m a lazy person when it comes to hair and general appearance efforts. I love sleep way too much to get up early. Also night showers are the bomb.

I maintained Overtone from May 2020 to October 2020. And then I stopped.

But the color didn’t go away.

I finally accepted my fate. This color wasn’t coming out on its own. So I sheepishly contacted my hairstylist and confessed my hair transgressions.

We set up a 2 – 3 step plan of bringing my hair back to blonde… Mostly so I can be lazy again.

Yesterday was step 1.

After 3.5 hrs and trial and error about what method would remove the Overtone color, we had to bleach it and tone it. The orange-y look is gone. It’s now somewhere between a light brown and strawberry blonde.

This is only step 1. We will repeat the bleach & tone steps over a span of time.

Reflection: while I LOVED my ginger look at the height of my maintenance, I hated maintaining it. When I wanted to move on, my hair was stained with color that wouldn’t fade out. Perhaps this would be different on a brunette? But I’m going to be more gunshy with washout hair color in the future.

Recommendation: Blondes, if you plan on making a permanent change to your hair Overtone is cost effective and easy to do at home. However don’t expect a quick change to be available.

Use with caution.