Comparison is a Thief

6/6/2021

Message Title: Comparison is a Thief
Theme: Reruns & Glory Days
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: 1 Samuel 8 (Israel demands a king/Saul)
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
RCL Scripture: 1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15) or Genesis 3:8-15; Psalm 130 or Psalm 138; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35
Focus: Israel demands a king even after receiving a warning.
Function:
Other Notes:

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4: 13-5:1 13We have the same faithful spirit as what is written in scripture: I had faith, and so I spoke. We also have faith, and so we also speak. 14We do this because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus, and he will bring us into his presence along with you. 15All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory. 16So we aren’t depressed. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. 17Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison. 18We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal. 5:1We know that if the tent that we live in on earth is torn down, we have a building from God. It’s a house that isn’t handmade, which is eternal and located in heaven.

Intro to Summer Series: Movie Midnight in Paris– Every generation looks back and thinks THAT was the good ole days. (unless you are part of a minority or oppressed group).Sometimes living the good ole days involves watching our favorite shows on repeat. It seems every generation does this. Over the course of the summer, we will be looking at passages in 1st Samuel – 1st Kings and looking at Israel’s “Glory Days.” We may also look at glimpses of our past through movies, history, or personal stories, though some of our “pasts” are more recent than others.

RERUNS: This week, I wanted to start off with a cute story about my mother. If you don’t know my mother well, you wouldn’t know that she hates chocolate. Sure, she’ll eat a brownie or snickers on the occasion but she is NOT a chocolate fan. My mom learned to hate chocolate as a child and it’s all her own fault.

When she was in elementary school, she would bring a lunch from home. On this particular day, My grandmother sent my mom to school with a quart of chocolate milk. My mother was supposed to share this milk with her older sister. Instead, she drank the whole quart herself. No surprise to any of us: she got sick and now has an aversion to chocolate.

TRANSITION: I’m sure we can all relate to my mother’s childhood. Josh ate a 5-pound burrito Friday. I can eat circus peanuts, candy corn, or red vines until I’m sick.

Sometimes our desires actually lead to our demise. As we kick off our summer series, we will see the beginning of the monarchy in Israel. This one event sets a trajectory for Israel’s future… and it’s not great. 

We are reading all of 1 Samuel 8. I encourage you to open your bible either physically or digitally and read along. The text WON’T be on the screen behind me.

BACKGROUND: In the Jewish scriptures Bibles we have 1 & 2nd Samuel are under the unified name of “Samuel”. Christian bibles divide the book into two, matching the scrolls that contain the text- this is the same case for 1 & 2 kings, or 1 & 2 Chronicles.

Each of these twin books tells a history of Israel. Though if you compared Chronicles to Samuel or Kings, the story would not be exactly the same as the goal is a reflection through the lens of history rather than a step-by-step detailing.

MAIN TEXT: 1 Sam 8 Now when Samuel got old, he appointed his sons to serve as Israel’s judges. The name of his oldest son was Joel; the name of the second was Abijah. They served as judges in Beer-sheba. But Samuel’s sons didn’t follow in his footsteps. They tried to turn a profit, they accepted bribes, and they perverted justice.4So all the Israelite elders got together and went to Samuel at Ramah.

5They said to him, “Listen. You are old now, and your sons don’t follow in your footsteps. So appoint us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” 6It seemed very bad to Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” so he prayed to the Lord.

7The Lord answered Samuel, “Comply with the people’s request—everything they ask of you—because they haven’t rejected you. No, they’ve rejected me as king over them. 8They are doing to you only what they’ve been doing to mefrom the day I brought them out of Egypt to this very minute, abandoning me and worshipping other gods. 9So comply with their request, but give them a clear warning, telling them how the king will rule over them.”

 10Then Samuel explained everything the Lord had said to the people who were asking for a king. 11“This is how the king will rule over you,” Samuel said: “He will take your sons, and will use them for his chariots and his cavalry and as runners for his chariot. 12He will use them as his commanders of troops of one thousand and troops of fifty, or to do his plowing and his harvesting, or to make his weapons or parts for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, or bakers. 14He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his servants. 15He will give one-tenth of your grain and your vineyards to his officials and servants. 16He will take your male and female servants, along with the best of your cattleand donkeys, and make them do his work. 17He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and then you yourselves will become his slaves! 18When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you chose for yourselves, but on that day the Lord won’t answer you.”

19But the people refused to listen to Samuel and said, “No! There must be a king over us 20so we can be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles.” 21Samuel listened to everything the people said and repeated it directly to the Lord. 22Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Comply with their request. Give them a king.” Samuel then told the Israelite people, “Go back, each of you, to your own hometown.”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. God had designed creation to be in constant relationship with God. That God would govern God’s people directly.
    1. We see this reinforced in Abraham’s story and again when Moses received the 10 commandments and made a covenant with Israel.
    2. God intended for Israel to stand out from the rest of the world. Israel would be a beacon pointing people to the one true God by their unique rule.
  2. However, Israel struggled with being different and DEFINITELY struggled with change. As they anticipated the change of Samuel’s role of judge ending, they looked to the future and were filled with anxiety.
    1. Their solution was to demand a king like the rest of the nations. “Enough of this judge & God set up. We want a government like the rest of the nations.”
  3. Samuel tells God and God doesn’t protest. God says ‘give them what they wish. But offer a warning.’
  4. Even with the warning, Israel wanted a king.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. More to the story:
    1. This is Chapter 8. Samuel doesn’t die until Chapter 24.–Why were they wanting to get rid of Samuel?
      1. Ch 9 they will get a king. King Saul. He fits the bill – tall, strong, young. BUT he doesn’t stay faithful to God. Ch 15 Saul is rejected as king. He won’t get to pass on his crown to his son.
    2. So, Israel went against God’s design and demanded a king. This king will do EXACTLY what Samuel said a king would do.
  2. Reflection:
    1. Samuel was resistant, but God gave the people what they wanted
      1. Samuel was resistant- He is seen as an upright guy, but he decided his sons would inherit the role, however that wasn’t the plan for judges normally. And his sons were bad guys. The people rejected Samuel’s sons and demanded a king.
      2. But this shouldn’t taint Samuel’s character. Perhaps he was resistant to change just as much as the Israelites were anxious about change?
    2. Unlike Samuel, God let them have the consequences of their desires
      1. Remember last week? “I can work with that?” Here we are, God is working with the people where they are in their spiritual journey.
  3. The Point: The point of this passage is not politics but loyalty to & dependency on God.
    1. This passage is a reminder that human leaders will fail us; whether we voted for them or not; whether we placed our hopes in them or not. It doesn’t matter what party you’re from or what
    2. However, the goal isn’t anarchy. This passage isn’t telling Americans to overthrow the American government.
      1. Nor is it saying Americans should base their policies off of what the world is doing.

APPLICATION:

  1. Our wants aren’t always best for us—too much chocolate/food, too much power/fame/money,
  2. Sometimes we compromise our morals/beliefs to get what we want—i.e. specific political candidates, power, money, etc.

COMMUNION:

CONCLUSION:

Is this Doctrine a Deal Breaker?

5/30/2021

Reflection: This sermon was a combo breaker. I did not create a full manuscript this time. I read commentaries. I listened to podcasts. I discussed the details with a few people and finalized my outline . I then preached with an outline.

Message Title: Is this Doctrine a Deal Breaker?
Theme: Trinity
Season: ordinary time
Main Text: Romans 8:12-17
Scripture Reading: Psalm 29
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
Focus: Paul points to the involvement of the Spirit in our salvation.
Function: To engage in a conversation about the doctrine of the Trinity while finding freedom in uncertainty AND confidence in our salvation.
Other Notes: Trinity Sunday (Talk about the Spirit again) MEMORIAL DAY

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 29 You, divine beings! Give to the Lord—give to the Lord glory and power! 2Give to  Lord the glory due his name! Bow down to the Lord in holy splendor! 3The Lord’s voice is over the waters; the glorious God thunders; the Lord is over the mighty waters. 4The Lord’s voice is strong; the Lord’s voice is majestic. 5The Lord’s voice breaks cedar trees—yes, the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon. 6He makes Lebanon jump around like a young bull, makes Sirion jump around like a young wild ox. 7The Lord’s voice unleashes fiery flames; 8the Lord’s voice shakes the wilderness—yes, the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9The Lord’s voice convulses the oaks, strips the forests bare, but in his temple everyone shouts, “Glory!” 10The Lord sits enthroned over the floodwaters; the Lord sits enthroned—king forever! 11Let the Lord give strength to his people! Let the Lord bless his people with peace!

INTRODUCTION:

  1. Silly activity: Blindfold food test
    1. 2 volunteers- no dietary restrictions and willing to be blindfolded
    2. Part 1: 2 minutes – Eat an item and describe the flavor without using the word for the flavor.
      1. Both are blind, one eats and describes, the other tries to guess what the food is
      2. I.e. can’t say it tastes like an “orange” to describe an orange.
    3. Part 2: 2 minutes Hold an item in your hand and describe the item without using the word for the item.
      1. Other partner tries to guess the thing
      1. i.e an orange is round, has porous skin, smells citrusy
    4. Multiple, for every one you get right, you get a prize

TRANSITION: This may have been a silly exercise but I think it emphasizes the point quite well:

Language is a limitation to experience and understanding.

Where words fail our senses and emotions fill in the gaps. Today is the day in the church calendar when we celebrate the Trinity. This topic is limited by language and full of mystery. As we engage with a passage from the Letter to the Romans, we will test the limits of our language and invite God to fill in the space between.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 8:12-17 12So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. 13If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. 14All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.

EXPLAINATION

  1. Background to the letter: Epistles are letters, we’re entering the middle of the conversation
    1. Author: Paul- Apostle to the Gentiles directly commissioned by the resurrected Jesus
    2. Dating: later in Paul’s career
    3. Audience: Jewish & non-Jewish believers in Rome worshiping in house churches
      1. Major divisions between Jewish & non-Jewish believers
      2. Paul’s intention was to make the Roman church a home base for missions into Europe (Spain)… that never happened because he was arrested and executed before he could fulfill that goal
      3. This church HAD to get IT right in order to be a base for missions.
        1. This letter is rich with teachings on the fundamentals of Christianity.
    4. Bigger context:
      1. Give your allegiance to Jesus above all else
  2. This passage: Living by the Spirit

INTERPRETATION

  1. Language limitations:
    1. trying to explain the trinity
      1. Russian nesting dolls
      2. Eggs
      3. Water
  2. Creed & language of the trinity
    1. Council of Nicaea in 325 AD

APPLICATION

  1. Flexibility & grace in language
    1. Reverence is relative
  2. God meets us where we are
    1. Faith journey: “I can work with that”

CONCLUSION

MEMORIAL DAY SPECIAL: Flowers/reading of names & prayer

  1. Another emotion that is hard to express is the level of gratitude Americans have for our soldiers both past and present. Today is not only Trinity Sunday but also Memorial Day weekend.
  2. A new tradition of Liberty is the reading of names at Memorial day for our service men & women who have passed away and giving flowers to the families left behind.
    1. Lets join together and remember
    1. READ THE NAMES
  3. Prayer:

God of power and mercy,
you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears,
that we may all deserve to be called your children
Keep in your mercy those soldiers
who have died in the cause of freedom
and bring them safely
into your kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord.

(adapted from https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/memorial-day-prayer)

Mother Tongues & Tongues of Fire

5/23/2021 Pentecost

Post-preaching reflection: I rewrote this sermon three times. When I first started, it was very academic and focused on ‘facts’ about the Spirit. The irony of not speaking spiritual truth about the Spirit on Pentecost was not lost on me. I took more time to spiritually reflect and the sermon adapted…. and adapted again. I used a mixture of the Ignatian Contemplation method, “manuscripting”, and word studies to see the bigger picture.

I will show you two versions of my sermon below and also the recording which became a ‘no notes’ sermon.

Message Title: Mother Tongues & Tongues of Fire
Theme: Holy Spirit
Season: PENTECOST
Main Text: Acts 2:1-21
Scripture Reading: John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
RCL Scripture:  *Acts 2:1-21 or Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Focus: The Holy Spirit is poured out on Jewish believers.
Function: To open our eyes to the movement of God and consider the small ways we could be part of the Spirit’s work.
Other Notes: PENTECOST

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

FIRST: John 15:26-27 26 “When the Companion comes, whom I will send from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 You will testify too, because you have been with me from the beginning.

SECOND: John 16:4b-15 4 But I have said these things to you so that when their time comes, you will remember that I told you about them.“I didn’t say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go away to the one who sent me. None of you ask me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Yet because I have said these things to you, you are filled with sorrow. 7 I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment. 9 He will show the world it was wrong about sin because they don’t believe in me. 10 He will show the world it was wrong about righteousness because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore. 11 He will show the world it was wrong about judgment because this world’s ruler stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you.

Version 2 (the version before this was lost in the edit)

PENTECOST INTRO: Welcome to Pentecost, the day we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to all peoples and the birthday of the church.

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Ever been impatient waiting for God to answer a prayer? Ever prayed a prayer and gotten mad when God didn’t respond in a blatantly obvious way?
    1. There’s a Garth Brooks Song that romanticizes this: Unanswered Prayers
  2. If I’m honest with you, I can rush God. I can try to extrapolate spiritual wisdom from scripture in a condensed period of time. Or hard focus on the scholarly details that I forget to take time for the spiritual message. There’s a joke that reminds me about the importance of slowing down and paying attention in order to hear from God.
    1. Joke about us not listening:
      1. God, flood, news, boat, helicopter
      2. “God why didn’t you save me?”
      3. “I sent the news, a boat, and a helicopter.”

TRANSITION: I will be the first to admit that I can be dense. I can totally miss God working until it’s already happened and I’m looking back on the moment. In our text for today, we will see the miracles of God unfolding and people struggling to believe their eyes and ears.

This is a longer passage; I encourage you to read along on the text behind me or in your own Bible. Let’s see if we can notice what they almost missed:

SCRIPTURE: Acts 2:1-21 When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. 4They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

 5There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. 7They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? 8How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? 9Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; as well as residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Libya bordering Cyrene; and visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), 11Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!”

 12They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?” 13Others jeered at them, saying, “They’re full of new wine!”

14Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. 18Even upon my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. 20The sun will be changed into darkness, and the moon will be changed into blood, before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes. 21And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

EXPLANATION:

  1. Background: what has been happening just before this passage?
    1. After Easter/Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples for 40 days and provided some last instructions.
      1. Ascension Day (10 days ago)- Jesus commissioned his disciples and ascended into heaven.
    2. Judas died by suicide
      1. The 11 cast lots to replace Judas- Matthias was added.
    3. Jewish Festival of Pentecost
      1. 50 days after Passover (so 50 days after easter)
      2. “Festival of Weeks – holiday for harvest & giving of the law
      3. Typically celebrated by reading the story of Ruth (harvest plays a big part of her story)
  2. Recap:
    1. Where were the disciples before this point?
      1. “all together” – likely in “the upper room” where they had the last supper & Jesus appeared to them.
    2. The Disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and that manifested in speaking in known languages, that they did not know before.
      1. A crowd gathered
    3. Audience Engagement:
      1. What was the response?
        1. How do you know my language?
        2. Are you drunk?
        3. How is this possible?
        4. We are hearing the works of God!

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Walk with me through their reaction:
    1. I’ve made a pilgrimage for my faith. I’m not in my native land.
    2. WAIT! Someone is speaking my language! Many us travelers are ALL hearing our language!
    3. They’re speaking of the wonders of God!
    4. How is this possible? How could these rural fishermen know MY language? Or ALL of these languages?
  2. Peter responds by finding common ground: Hello fellow Jews! We may be of diverse cultures, but we are of one faith.
    1. You are hearing this message in your own tongue but don’t need to be surprised. Our scriptures spoke of this day!
  3. Take a moment to recognize the beauty of what Peter says: All peoples will receive the Spirit
    1. Your gender doesn’t determine your worthiness to receive the Spirit
    2. Your economic status doesn’t determine your worthiness to receive the Spirit
    3. Your cultural heritage doesn’t determine your worthiness to receive the Spirit
    4. Your age doesn’t determine your worthiness to receive the Spirit
  4. All peoples will receive the Spirit. Our differences don’t hold us back. BUT God didn’t remove all these differences and make everyone the same. Instead, God built bridges between the cultural gaps by enabling the disciples to speak in these languages.
    1. Our differences are not something to get rid of or ignore. Our differences enrich our faith rather than distract from it.
  5. Jesus had commissioned his disciples, the Holy Spirit equipped them, and immediately started speaking the truth of God.

APPLICATION: To open our eyes to the movement of God and consider the small ways we could be part of the Spirit’s work.

  1. Though the disciples were given the Spirit, the language, and the words to say. There still was confusion in the crowds about how to respond to the message.
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
      1. Does anyone in this room enjoy calls from telemarketers?
      2. What about ads on television or facebook?
      3. If you’re looking to make a big purchase, where do you turn first? Ads ?
    1. Tricked into Listening to a pitch -Yes, we trust our friend’s opinion most when it comes to trying something new BUT that relationship has to be rich for the opinion to hold weight.
      1. We’ve all had that friend add us on Facebook that we haven’t talked to in forever. We’re excited to hear from them AND then we learn they are working for some multi-level marketing company and want to give you their business pitch.
      2. Nothing more frustrating than using a friendship to make money. Even if it is a great product! It doesn’t work. Right?
    1. We all feel this way about advertizements… imagine how non-Christians feel about us talking about Jesus, church, or salvation?
  2. Successful Missions- from the people who “get” us
    1. Church statistics say that evangelism is most successful when a relationship has been previously established AND is also more successful/well received when you share a similar context (culture/language/profession)
    2. Acts 1:8 “Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
  3. Mission of the Church: To share the hope of Christ with the world, nurture new disciples, grow the family of God.
    1. Different denominations disagree about how the Mission of the Church is best carried out
      1. Track Ministries
      2. overseas missions
      3. Evangelists- Street or Television
      4. (Jehovah’s Witnesses & Mormons coming door to door)
      5. Revivals or big events
      6. Weekly Invitationals
  4. The Holy Spirit does grand things like speaking in tongues but also small things like keeping someone in your mind or prompting you to admit when you’re wrong.

CONCLUSION: Back to the intro: I can try to rush God or over fill my schedule so that I don’t have time to slow down and listen. Our Wednesday night bible study has really revived that need to slow down in me.

Version 3 (my preaching “notes” that i ignored while preaching)

  1. intro
    1. prayers & impatience
    2. Joke
    3. I can rush God & miss the message
  2. transition: a story of God working unexpectedly and people almost missing it
  3. Scripture: acts 2:1-21
  4. Background:
    1. Pentecost (50 days) after Passover
    2. ascension (10 days ago)
    3. picking a replacement for judas –> Matthias
  5. Interpretation
    1. reaction of the crowd
    2. can you blame them?
      1. how would you know my language?
    3. MLM companies, mission stats, & evangelism
      1. evangelism is most successful when less cultural divides exist
  6. Application:
    1. God can work in ways we donn’t understand or expect.
    2. so frequently we expect god to answer prayers in grand/miraculous ways and then discredit the small ways God can work.
    3. yes, God can work through fire & storm and the gift of languages BUT God can also work through an apology or a casserole.
    4. This group was surprised that God worked through their native language–
    5. i can struggle with seeing God move when i’m tired, stressed, or impatient. my emotions don’t mean God has left, it may mean my spiritual radar has turned down.
  7. Conclusion: For Pentecost this year, let’s look for the little ways God works and be part of those little movements.

Version 4 the recording – you’ll notice my sermon changed significantly from version 2 to the recording in version 4. Even now, I can hear God pruning that sermon if i were to preach it again.

This posting shows in greater depth writing my sermons. Do I think my previous sermons were bad? No, but they were a little like a spaghetti bowl. Unfortunately, a spaghetti bowl of thoughts can overwhelm your congregation rather than give them peace. Learn from my experience. Yes, take time to practice and edit your sermon, but also leave space for the Spirit to work.

The Word Made Flesh

5/16/2021

Message Title: The Word Made Flesh
Theme: Even the Rocks Will Cry Out
Season: Easter
Main Text: John 17:6-19
Scripture Reading: Psalm 1
RCL Scripture: *Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19
Focus: Jesus prays for his disciples.
Function: To engage with scripture academically and spiritually.
Other Notes: Next week is Pentecost!

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 1 The truly happy person doesn’t follow wicked advice, doesn’t stand on the road of sinners, and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful. 2Instead of doing those things, these persons love the Lord’s Instruction, and they recite God’s Instruction day and night! 3They are like a tree replanted by streams of water, which bears fruit at just the right time and whose leaves don’t fade. Whatever they do succeeds. 4That’s not true for the wicked! They are like dust that the wind blows away. 5And that’s why the wicked will have no standing in the court of justice—neither will sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6The Lord is intimately acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is destroyed.

NATIONAL PARKS:

  1. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
    1. The Lost Colony by Paul Green- tells the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
      1. “The origins of one of the America’s oldest unsolved mysteries can be traced to August 1587, when a group of about 115 English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina. Later that year, it was decided that John White, governor of the new colony, would sail back to England in order to gather a fresh load of supplies. But just as he arrived, a major naval war broke out between England and Spain, and Queen Elizabeth I called on every available ship to confront the mighty Spanish Armada.

In August 1590, White finally returned to Roanoke, where he had left his wife and daughter, his infant granddaughter (Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas) and the other settlers three long years before. He found no trace of the colony or its inhabitants, and few clues to what might have happened, apart from a single word—“Croatoan”—carved into a wooden post.” -History.com

  1. “In 1587, 117 English men, women and children came ashore on Roanoke Island to establish a permanent English settlement in the New World. Just three years later in 1590, when English ships returned to bring supplies, they found the island deserted with no sign of the colonists. After nearly 450 years, the mystery of what happened to the colonists remains unsolved.” – Lost Colony Website
    1. Sources:
      1. https://www.thelostcolony.org/
      2. https://www.history.com/news/what-happened-to-the-lost-colony-of-roanoke
      3. https://www.nps.gov/fora/index.htm
      4. https://www.thelostcolony.org/ticket-info/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw4v2EBhCtARIsACan3nzuvWpAbzLs1ywAWvJVSTzFgZIRVXsIsKyCk06HQFNMH4Bj2C3j-qQaAtJ3EALw_wcB

TRANSITION: This national historic site strives to keep the story of the founding colonies alive through drama.

Today, instead of rocks, I want to let the words of Jesus shout as a prayer becomes a lesson. I’m sure we’ve all figured out my routine for sermons. Today we’re taking things out of order! Let’s gather some information!

APPLICATION:

  1. Bible Study: Tools for Study
    1. Bible study just finished our lesson series where we looked at the four gospels and compared their version of the same story. We also learned new spiritual practices for engaging with scripture.
      1. We learned to ask questions and dig in deep. Scripture came alive.
      2. This Wednesday we’ll be picking a new study. Want to join? Come on down 6:30 pm Wednesday.
    2. Synoptic Gospels: Through our study, we noticed 3 of the gospels overlap in details frequently.
      1. Synoptic sourcing
    3. John, is not pat of the synoptic Gospels. John frequently tells a completely different story than the other three Gospels.

Our text for today is a perfect example of this divide.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. The last few weeks, we’ve been in John and the passages have been on Maundy Thursday. We’re still in that same time.
    1. Jesus has had his final Passover meal with his disciples.
    2. He washed their feet.
    3. He gave final instructions.
    4. Then Jesus prays.
      1. I’m assuming you will be more familiar with the next events from the “synoptic gospels”
      2. Jesus takes 11 disciples to the Garden of Gesthemane (judas has already left)
        1. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John away from the group to pray
        2. The disciples fall asleep while Jesus prays “take this cup from me… yet your will be done.”
        3. Luke even says Jesus was so stressed and sad that he sweat drops of blood.
    5. But John’s gospel? TOTAL DIFFERENT?

INTERPRETATION:

  1. John’s Gospel has focused on telling the story of God in the flesh. The Infinite God entered humanity in Jesus with the intention to redeem creation.
    1. John’s Jesus prays but not for himself and not out of stress or fear. John’s Jesus prays for his disciples.
    2. John’s Jesus connects his ministry with the work of God since creation.
  2. God wanted a relationship with creation from the beginning.


SCRIPTURE
: we are going to read the whole of Chapter 17. As you hear these words through our readers, listen for the promises God is making. Listen for the healing.

John 17

CONCLUSION: The Synoptic Gospels’ Garden prayer showed a relatable and human Jesus. They showed a Jesus who understands our stress and pains. John shows us the divine Jesus who will make all things right again. Together, all four Gospels proclaim the glory of the God we follow. The Word of God proclaims the Word.

Conclusion of Series: Palm Sunday the Pharisees told Jesus to silence his followers and Jesus said if he did, even the rocks would cry out the truth. We’ve seen wonders of National parks, forests, and historic sites proclaiming the beauty of America and the wonder of our Creator. God can use rocks and trees. God can use fires and storms. God can use the low and broken. All parts of creation are part of his glorious design for redemption and even Jesus’ prayer proclaims it. 

Tv survey thing

I saw this little TV survey while wandering the interwebs. I thought I would check it out and reflect on it.

How LOW can you go? Lower than me???

My score is : ___ out of 100🤦🏼‍♀️

You never realize how much/little TV you watch until you fill out a list. Put a 💜 by the shows of which you have watched MORE than ⭐10⭐ episodes.

**I’m adding a ⏱️by the ones I plan to watch some day.

1A. Gen Hospital:
1. Grey’s Anatomy: 💜
2. Stranger Things: 💜 (ALL OF IT!)
3. The Vampire Diaries:
4. The Walking Dead:
5. Fear The Walking Dead:
6. Dexter:
7. American Horror Story:
8. Orange is the New Black:
9. A Million Little Things: :
10. This is Us:
11. The Simpsons:
12. New Amsterdam:
13. Manifest:
14. How To Get Away With Murder:
15. Breaking Bad:
16. SOA:
17. Scandal:
18. Riverdale:
19. The Good Doctor:
20. House of Cards:
21. Once Upon a Time: 💜 I got distracted, may rewatch
22. House: 💜💜💜💜
23. True Detective:
24. Dr. Pimple Popper:
25. Power:
26. Empire:
27. One Tree Hill:
28. Supernatural:
29. Family Guy:
30. Santa Clarita Diet:
31. Shameless:
32. Pretty Little Liars:
33. Secret Life/AmericanTeenager:
34. Bones:
35. Criminal Minds:
36. The 100:
37. Chicago Fire:
38. Chicago Med:
39. The Resident: :
40. Game of Thrones: 💜 (let’s ignore season 8, shall we?)
41. The Big Bang Theory: 💜 I used to love this show, not so sure now
42. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
43. Lost:
44. The Sopranos:
45. NCIS:
46. NCIS Los Angeles:
47. NCIS New Orleans:
48. Law & Order SVU:
49. Gossip Girl:
50. How I Met Your Mother:
51. Blue Bloods: ⏱️I’ve seen a few, it’s on my list to watch
52. Two Broke Girls: ⏱️
53. The Office: 💜 (I’m just meh about the US office)
54. Blacklist:
55. Full House: 💜
56. Fuller House: meh
57. Downton Abbey:💜💜💜
58. Hawaii Five O:
59. Big Mouth:
60. Last Man Standing:
61. Six Feet Under:
62. Wentworth:
63. Friends: 💜meh
64. That 70s Show
65. Girlfriends Guide to Divorce:
66. Heartland:
67. All-American:
68. Greek:
69. Yellowstone:
70. Better Call Saul:
71. You:
72. Rescue Me:
73. Scrubs:
74. Community:
75. Letterkenny: I’ve seen 5 episodes, not for me
76. Kitchen Nightmares:
77. The Masked Singer:
78. Robot Chicken:
79. Vikings: ⏱️I’ve seen a few episodes and want to watch more.
80. Mind Hunter:
81. New Girl: 💜I used to love this, I don’t know if I would anymore if I revisited it.
82. The Good Place:
83. Black Mirror:⏱️ only 3episodes.
83. Lucifer: ⏱️
84. Peaky Blinders:⏱️
85. iZombie:
86. Parks and Rec:⏱️
87. Brooklyn 99:
88. Handmaid’s Tale: ⏱️
89. Modern Family:
90. Smallville:
91. Seinfeld:
92. Gilmore Girls: 💜 loved it but also can’t think too hard about it or I’ll hate it.
93. Charmed:
94. Private Practice:
95. Lost Girl:
96. True Blood:
97. Roswell:
98. Haven:
99. Mad Men:
100. Arrow:

Tv shows not listed that I love:

  1. BBC Sherlock 💜💜
  2. BBC Doctor Who💜💜
  3. BBC Victoria💜💜
  4. West Wing💜💜
  5. Madam Secretary💜
  6. Ms. Koizumi loves ramen noodles (anime)💜
  7. Avatar The Last Airbender💜💜
  8. Wandavision💜
  9. The Great British Bake off💜
  10. The Crown💜
  11. The Umbrella Academy💜
  12. Queer eye💜
  13. Salt fat acid heat💜
  14. Star Trek (original)💜
  15. Dr Quinn Medicine woman💜
  16. The Mandalorian 💜💜💜💜💜💜
  17. The falcon and the winter soldier ⏱️
  18. Good eats 💜
  19. Once upon a time 💜
  20. What we do in shadows 💜

Tv shows not listed with mixed opinions indicated by emoji

  1. Bridgerton 😏🤭😶‍🌫️
  2. Cobra kai 😱
  3. Arrested development 😴😴😴
  4. Anne with an E 🤔🧐😤

Honestly, I don’t watch much tv any more. I spend most of time watching YouTube videos while working.

I catch myself quite particular about my entertainment. I don’t like violence or excessive gore. I don’t like horror, suspense, or jump scares. I naturally gravitate towards rewatching my favorites rather than trying new things.

This silly adventure in a survey may show how much of a predictable creature of habit I am.

What Friends Are For

5/9/2021 Mother’s Day

Message Title: What Friends Are For
Theme:
Even the Rocks Will Cry Out
Season: Easter
Main Text: John 15:9-17
Scripture Reading: Psalm 98
RCL Scripture: *Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
Focus: Jesus charges his disciples to act as friends.
Function: To engage with the Chosen Family of God rather than divide.
Other Notes:
Mother’s Day

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 98 Sing to the Lord a new song because he has done wonderful things! His own strong hand and his own holy arm have won the victory! 2The Lord has made his salvation widely known; he has revealed his righteousness in the eyes of all the nations. 3God has remembered his loyal love and faithfulness to the house of Israel; every corner of the earth has seen our God’s salvation. 4Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth! Be happy! Rejoice out loud! Sing your praises! 5Sing your praises to the Lord with the lyre—with the lyre and the sound of music. 6With trumpets and a horn blast, shout triumphantly before the Lord, the king! 7Let the sea and everything in it roar; the world and all its inhabitants too. 8Let all the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains rejoice out loud altogether 9before the Lord because he is coming to establish justice on the earth! He will establish justice in the world rightly; he will establish justice among all people fairly.

NATIONAL PARKS:

  1. Audience Engagement: How many Hoosiers like the TV show Parks and Recreation?
    1. For those who haven’t seen the show, it is not for everyone, the premise focuses on a small town Parks and Recreation department of a fictional town in Indiana. One of the main characters is a man named Ron Swanson. Through most of the show Ron is quite persnickety or difficult individual
    2. 3 and sometimes makes Leslie Knope work harder.
      1. Major Spoiler Alert: The ending of Parks & Rec includes a happy ending for the grumpiest Ron Swanson. He becomes the Superintendent of the new National Park of Pawnee, Indiana.
  2. Audience engagement: Do you know how many national parks Indiana has? Not State parks but National.
    1. The National Park Website lists 4:
      1. George Rogers Clark Historic Park
      2. Indiana Dunes National Park
      3. Lewis & Clark Trail (a stop on the trail, there’s a bicentennial park on the Ohio River.)
      4. Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
    2. Bonus: Hoosier National Forest
  3. Sources:
    1. https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm
    2. https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/workwithus.htm
    3. https://www.nps.gov/libo/index.htm
    4. https://www.nps.gov/lecl/planyourvisit/maps.htm
    5. https://www.nps.gov/indu/index.htm
    6. https://www.nps.gov/gero/index.htm

TRANSITION: “Our 4 national parks and dozens of state parks are definitely something to boast about! We love to brag about our wonderful state. There are certain things we do for love.

In our text for today, we are continuing the conversation from last week. Last week, we learned about pruning in order to produce good fruit.

SCRIPTURE: John 15:9-17 we will read this in pieces

EXPLAINATION & INTERPRETATION: As Jesus continues the conversation with his disciples he steps away from the husbandry language briefly and towards the language of relationships.

vs 9-12 9“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. 12This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you.

  1. “Remain in my love”
    1. abide, dwell
  2. “Keep my commandments”
    1. What are his commandments? Love God and love others.
      1. His “commandments” boils down to “love”
  3. “so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete”
    1. This is before Jesus’ tragic execution and triumphant resurrection
    2. repeated theme in 16:20-22, 24(WP)
  4. love each other just as I have loved you”
    1. Jesus has set the example so far in his ministry. Little do the disciples know, on this very Maundy Thursday he will be setting an even bigger example of love.

vs 13-15 13No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you.

  1. “to give up one’s life for one’s friends.”– Remember, we’re at Maundy Thursday. Jesus is preparing them for the biggest lesson of love. I will love you even to death and back again.
  2. “if you do what I command you”
  3. “I call you friends,” -Jesus has changed the language. This isn’t just about being faithful subjects who fear their master. Jesus is compelling his disciples to demonstrate what they have learned. Don’t just be my students or servants, be my friends. Be my chosen family.

Vs 16-17 16You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 17I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.

  1. “I chose you and appointed you”
    1. We don’t earn God’s favor with our actions, it’s been given to us out of God’s goodness. Because God is good, God loves.
    2. Jesus’ words point forward to Paul’s famous words of Ephesians, which James tempers.
      1. “For by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph 2:8-9
      2. “17 In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.” James 2:17
  2. 17I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.”—We are faithful to Jesus’ commandments not because we are earning God’s love with brownie points but because we have been loved. We act out of gratitude, not fear.  

APPLICATION: To engage with the Chosen Family of God rather than divide.

  1. Today is Mother’s Day, and that can be a very complicated day for many.
    1. Statistics say 1 in 4 women have had an abortion and 1 in 8 have fertility issues. That alone brings pain to this day.
    2. Perhaps you have lost a mother or a child.
    3. You desire to be a mom, but something is limiting that.
    4. You are estranged from a child or mother.
    5. You feel society’s pressure to fit feminine roles.
  2. Mother’s Day can be a very joyful time and we have celebrated many wonderful women today.
    1. Amid the joy, we also notice that sometimes biological family don’t act like the family you need.
  3. Whether your family is one of joy or pain, the church is our Chosen family. God gathers us up into a new family. This one is stronger than blood. Our chosen family isn’t just about biology, but about intentionally engaging in relationships.
    1. Jesus calls his disciples friends. This was a way of saying they may not be blood, but they are his intimate companions. They are the ones he journeyed with.
  4. Sources.
    1. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-pacific-southwest/blog/1-in-4-american-women-will-have-an-abortion-by-age-45
    2. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm
    3. https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/fast-facts/

CONCLUSION:  You are welcomed into the family of God. We are not perfect people but we will love you.

Palm Sunday: A Man with The Promised Plan

3/28/2021

Message Title: A Man with The Promised Plan
Theme: Holy Week
Season: Lent
Main Text: Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-7; 50:4-9a; 52:13-53:12
Scripture Reading: Mark 11:1-11
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 or Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16 or Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39, (40-47)
Focus: God promises deliverance through the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.
Function: To believe in the God who keeps God’s promises and prepare to celebrate Easter.
Other Notes: PALM SUNDAY

**INTRODUCTION to HOLY WEEK** (place with Palms): Hosannah! Hosannah in the highest! Jesus is the King of Kings. Today we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry in to Jerusalem.

  1. Make your own palm leaf cross. https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Make-Palm-Crosses/
  2. Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday (depending on your tradition)
    1. Passion Sunday used to be the Sunday BEFORE Palm Sunday. But the Catholic church merged those two together into the Sunday before Easter.
  3. Call to worship read & response!

SCRIPTURE READING: Mark 11:1-11 When Jesus and his followers approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus gave two disciples a task, saying to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.’” They went and found a colt tied to a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some people standing around said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them just what Jesus said, and they left them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes upon it, and he sat on it. Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields. Those in front of him and those following were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord![a] 10 Blessings on the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. After he looked around at everything, because it was already late in the evening, he returned to Bethany with the Twelve.

ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE:

  1. What are your favorite Easter traditions?
    1. Do you have a favorite Easter food?
    2. I know without a doubt my mother would say it isn’t Easter without ham. But I need some deviled eggs!
  2. Who loved sitting at the kids’ table?
    1. Who loved graduating to the adult table?
  3. If I’m honest, I quickly learned the adult table was boring. All they wanted to talk about was work, school, and if I had a boyfriend. The kids’ table was more fun. We had talks of games and friends and other interests.

TRANSITION: Sometimes traditions are passed on for generations and we never question where they came from. My grandmother always made this orange jello salad with whipped cream and nuts on top. Now it’s a family staple. But what made her make it the first time?

INTRODUCTION TO SERMON:

Explaining today: During the season of Lent, we spent weeks looking at different covenantal promises God made with creation and with humans. As we explored those promises, we saw how God continued to be trustworthy and find ways to make God’s will happen, even if humans were stubborn or selfish.

ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE: Have you ever heard someone say that Jesus is mentioned in the Old Testament?

Christians believe Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promises to humanity. However, some of those promises have not been fulfilled yet.

Today is going to look a little different than a sermon. We are going to take a little jump through Isaiah together today and see what we can find. Our goal is not to solve all of our questions in these passages but to get glimpses of promises together that will get us excited for the rest of holy week.

SCRIPTURE ACTIVITY: Isaiah 42:1-9; Isaiah 49:1-7; Isaiah 50:4-9a; 52:13-53:12

Isaiah & the Suffering Servant—Read the Isaiah “Suffering Servant Songs” and look for details about the Servant Israel.

I’ve recruited some volunteers to read for me. As they read, I want you to write down places you see God promising to do something. We’ll sort them out together. If you want a copy of the scripture, raise your hand. Otherwise, the references will be on the screen.

Y’all, this is gonna get real awkward if you don’t join in with me.

  1. But here is my servant, the one I uphold; my chosen, who brings me delight. I’ve put my spirit upon him; he will bring justice to the nations. 2He won’t cry out or shout aloud or make his voice heard in public. 3He won’t break a bruised reed; he won’t extinguish a faint wick, but he will surely bring justice. 4He won’t be extinguished or broken until he has established justice in the land. The coastlands await his teaching. 5God the Lord says—the one who created the heavens, the one who stretched them out, the one who spread out the earth and its offspring, the one who gave breath to its people and life to those who walk on it—6I, the Lord, have called you for a good reason. I will grasp your hand and guard you, and give you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, 7to open blind eyes, to lead the prisoners from prison, and those who sit in darkness from the dungeon. 8I am the Lord; that is my name; I don’t hand out my glory to others or my praise to idols. 9The things announced in the past—look—they’ve already happened, but I’m declaring new things. Before they even appear, I tell you about them.
  2. Listen to me, coastlands; pay attention, peoples far away. The Lord called me before my birth, called my name when I was in my mother’s womb. 2He made my mouth like a sharp sword, and hid me in the shadow of God’s own hand. He made me a sharpened arrow, and concealed me in God’s quiver, 3saying to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I show my glory.” 4But I said, “I have wearied myself in vain. I have used up my strength for nothing.” Nevertheless, the Lord will grant me justice; my reward is with my God. 5And now the Lord has decided—the one who formed me from the womb as his servant—to restore Jacob to God, so that Israel might return to him. Moreover, I’m honored in the Lord’s eyes; my God has become my strength. 6He said: It is not enough, since you are my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the survivors of Israel. Hence, I will also appoint you as light to the nations so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. 7The Lord, redeemer of Israel and its holy one,  says to one despised, rejected by nations, to the slave of rulers: Kings will see and stand up; commanders will bow down on account of the Lord, who is faithful, the holy one of Israel, who has chosen you.
  3. 4The Lord God gave me an educated tongue to know how to respond to the weary with a word that will awaken them in the morning. God awakens my ear in the morning to listen, as educated people do. 5The Lord God opened my ear; I didn’t rebel; I didn’t turn my back. 6Instead, I gave my body to attackers, and my cheeks to beard pluckers. I didn’t hide my face from insults and spitting. 7The Lord God will help me; therefore, I haven’t been insulted. Therefore, I set my face like flint, and knew I wouldn’t be ashamed. 8The one who will declare me innocent is near. Who will argue with me? Let’s stand up together. Who will bring judgment against me? Let him approach me. 9Look! The Lord God will help me. Who will condemn me?
  4. 13Look, my servant will succeed. He will be exalted and lifted very high. 14Just as many were appalled by you, he too appeared disfigured, inhuman, his appearance unlike that of mortals. 15But he will astonishmany nations. Kings will be silenced because of him, because they will see what they haven’t seen before; what they haven’t heard before, they will ponder. 53 Who can believe what we have heard, and for whose sake has the Lord’s arm been revealed? 2He grew up like a young plant before us, like a root from dry ground. He possessed no splendid form for us to see, no desirable appearance. 3He was despised and avoided by others; a man who suffered, who knew sickness well. Like someone from whom people hid their faces, he was despised, and we didn’t think about him. 4It was certainly our sickness that he carried, and our sufferings that he bore, but we thought him afflicted, struck down by God and tormented. 5He was pierced because of our rebellions and crushed because of our crimes. He bore the punishment that made us whole; by his wounds we are healed. 6Like sheep we had all wandered away, each going its own way, but the Lord let fall on him all our crimes. 7He was oppressed and tormented, but didn’t open his mouth. Like a lamb being brought to slaughter, like a ewe silent before her shearers, he didn’t open his mouth. 8Due to an unjust ruling he was taken away, and his fate—who will think about it? He was eliminated from the land of the living, struck dead because of my people’s rebellion. 9His grave was among the wicked, his tomb with evildoers, though he had done no violence, and had spoken nothing false. 10But the Lord wanted to crush him and to make him suffer. If his life is offeredas restitution, he will see his offspring; he will enjoy long life. The Lord’s plans will come to fruition through him. 11After his deep anguish he will see light,and he will be satisfied. Through his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant, will make many righteous, and will bear their guilt. 12Therefore, I will give him a share with the great, and he will divide the spoil with the strong, in return for exposing his life to death and being numbered with rebels, though he carried the sin of many and pleaded on behalf of those who rebelled.
    1. (Jesus’ time)? (were the fulfilled already?)
    2. Are these promises for our future? (waiting to be fulfilled?)


APPLICATION:

  1. SCRIPTURE LIKE ONIONS: Scripture is so beautiful. Scripture has multiple layers of truth stacked on top of each other. There is a Jewish practice called “midrash” which is like a reinterpreting of scripture to be helpful in a new way. Jesus regularly quoted the old testament and gave it a new twist.
    1. As we look at the promises made in Isaiah, we must recognize the layers to this text. There is a layer that was directly for the Israelite people of Judah during Isaiah’s time.
    2. There is a layer for the Jews of Jesus’ time and a layer for us today.
  2. I can assure you that we haven’t nearly answered any of your questions about Isaiah or the fundamentals of Christianity in this service.
    1. Christianity is a life long learning adventure. As we continue to read scripture, talk to God and learn with each other, we grow and change.
    2. We continue to peel back layers of scripture and of ourselves as time goes on. With hope, we become more who God  built us to be in the process.

CONCLUSION: Welcome to Holy Week! It’s the Church’s superbowl. We’ve got services throughout this week that will give you a different aspect of the Christian story and who this Suffering Servant is to us.You are invited to come, participate, and engaged in the story of God’s love for all of creation.

  1. Holy Week schedule:
    1. 3/28
      1. Palm Sunday Service 10:30 am
      2. Judson Association Palm Sunday evening service &  “mini business meeting” at Hills Baptist Church 3-4:30 pm. (No meal).
    2. 3/31 Wednesday
      1. No Bible study
      2. Practice for Good Friday
    3. 4/1 Maundy Thursday 6:30 pm in fellowship hall
    4. 4/2 Conversations Around the Campfire – Good Friday 6:30 pm in sanctuary, dessert & fellowship afterwards. 
    5. 4/4 Easter Sunday
      1. Breakfast & Egg Hunt 9:30 am
      2. Easter service 10:30 am

WWJE (What Would Jesus Eat?)

originally preached on 4/18/2021

Message Title: WWJE (What Would Jesus Eat?)
Theme: Even the Rocks Will Cry Out
Season: Easter
Main Text: Luke 24:36b-48
Scripture Reading: Psalm 4
RCL Scripture: *Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48
Focus: The resurrected Jesus reveals the truth through a snack.
Function:
To look for the physical redemption of creation and not just the spiritual redemption in our lives.
Other Notes:

Farmer blessing: Can I have our farming families stand? We know you are preparing for planting season, perhaps you’ve already started. We want to take a moment to bless you as you start this season.

God, you are the Creator and Sustainer of Life. In marvelous ways, You take the rich life of the plant and carefully fold it into tiny seeds. Creation proclaims the delicate handiwork of your design.

We begin our planting season this week, dear Lord. We will plant the seeds that You have given us.Bless them, watch over them, and bring them to the full growth and rich harvest You wish to bless us with.

Protect our farmers as they enter the fields for long hours. Give them the energy they need to accomplish their work. Give them the rest they need to recharge for the next day. Give them the weather they need to make a smooth planting season. We ask you to bless their farm equipment, and each machine can sustain the role it plays in planting. We ask you to bless their farm hands. Keep the farmers and their workers safe.

Bless the entire farming family. May we support them during this laborious time as their church family. God we thank you for farmers and the ways they provide for our community, our country, and our world.

Amen. 

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 4 Answer me when I cry out, my righteous God! Set me free from my troubles! Have mercy on me! Listen to my prayer! 2How long, you people, will my reputation be insulted? How long will you continue to love what is worthless and go after lies? Selah 3Know this: the Lord takes personal care of the faithful. The Lord will hear me when I cry out to him. 4So be afraid, and don’t sin! Think hard about it in your bed and weep over it! Selah 5Bring righteous offerings, and trust the Lord! 6Many people say, “We can’t find goodness anywhere. The light of your face has left us, Lord!” 7But you have filled my heart with more joy than when their wheat and wine are everywhere! 8I will lie down and fall asleep in peace because you alone, Lord, let me live in safety.

NATIONAL PARK: Glacier National Park

  1. ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE: What is your favorite camping snack?
  2. I have a very distinct snacking memory of my family camping at Glacier National Park in Montana. We were driving along the scenic highways getting the sites in when we saw a small black bear on the side of the road munching on dandelions. The bear looked up at the van and had a dandelion hanging out of its mouth like a flamenco dancer.

TRANSITION: As we continue our series “Even the Rocks Cry Out” we will see God’s glory presented through snacks. Yes, Jesus gets the munchies. Join me in opening our bibles to Luke 24.

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 24:36b-48 36 While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 37 They were terrified and afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you startled? Why are doubts arising in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me! Touch me and see, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like you see I have.” 40 As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 Because they were wondering and questioning in the midst of their happiness, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish. 43 Taking it, he ate it in front of them. 44 Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power.”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. As we’ve talked about before, the different Gospels don’t tell the story of Jesus exactly the same. The resurrection sightings are no different.
  2. What happened just before?
    1. In the Gospel of Luke, the women saw the empty tomb and talked to angels but didn’t see Jesus. The disciples didn’t believe the women because it sounded like gossip.
    2. Then Jesus shows up on the road to Emmaus and strikes up a conversation with two disciples, but they don’t recognize him until they invite him to eat food with him. They tell the other disciples and say “He appeared to Simon” (though that story isn’t told in Luke).
    3. So, while the two disciples are telling the other disciples that they saw Jesus….
  3. POOF! Jesus is there with them.
  4. Jesus shows them his hands and feet and invites them to touch.
  5. Then he asks for a snack before sorting out all the scriptures to them and commissioning them to tell all the nations this same thing.

INTERPRETATION: Jesus appears to this group of disciples and offers them the proof they need to know he isn’t a ghost or an angel. Jesus has resurrected in the flesh and the spirit.

  1. It may not seem like an important distinction–resurrection of the flesh vs. resurrection of the spirit — but the resurrection of the body AND the spirit is significant.
    1. God is keeping God’s consistent promises through the full resurrection of Jesus.
    2. We don’t believe in a God that sorts out justice in the afterlife.
    3. We believe in a God who brings justice to this life.
    4. We believe in a God who will restore all of creation, not just the spiritual realm.
      1. Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
  2. Jesus’s bodily resurrection shows that his actions on the cross didn’t only take away the sins of the world, BUT also restores all of creation. Body and Spirit are redeemed in this story.

APPLICATION: In Verse 48 Jesus tells the disciples that they are supposed to be witnesses of “these things.” Disciples of Christ share the story and spread the Good News.                

  1. Audience engagement: Write these down
    1. What ways do we show spiritually that God is the Redeemer?
      1. We talk of forgiveness of sins.
      2. We talk of heaven and eternal life.
      3. We talk of spiritual gifts.
    2. What ways are we showing physically that God is the Redeemer?
      1. Loving our neighbors as ourselves
      2. Taking in the orphan
      3. Caring for the widow
      4. Feeding the hungry
      5. Loving the hurting
  2. We reveal God’s redemption in our actions in our daily life. We point to Jesus with our lives.
    1. What do your actions currently point towards?

CONCLUSION:

Prunes or Pruned?

Originally Preached on 5/2/2021

Message Title: Prunes or Pruned?
Theme: Even the Rocks Will Cry Out
Season: Easter
Main Text: John 15:1-8
Scripture Reading: Psalm 22:25-31
RCL Scripture: *Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
Focus: Jesus uses an analogy to prepare his disciples for his absence.
Function:
To reflect on the fruitfulness of our lives and prune off things that don’t help us flourish.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 22: 25-31 I offer praise in the great congregation because of you; I will fulfill my promises in the presence of those who honor God. 26Let all those who are suffering eat and be full! Let all who seek the Lord praise him! I pray your hearts live forever! 27Every part of the earth will remember and come back to the Lord; every family among all the nations will worship you. 28Because the right to rule belongs to the Lord, he rules all nations. 29Indeed, all the earth’s powerful will worship him; all who are descending to the dust will kneel before him; my being also lives for him. 30Future descendants will serve him; generations to come will be told about my Lord. 31They will proclaim God’s righteousness to those not yet born, telling them what God has done.

NATIONAL PARK: Smokey the Bear & National Parks

  1. Audience Engagement: Does anyone know what Smokey the Bear’s catch phrase was?
    1. My Grandmother & Smokey the Bear Song sheets
    2. Grandma’s “smokey the bear hat”
  2. National Parks vs. National Forests are technically different BUT both have the same approach when it comes to fires.
    1. Reduce accidental fires (fires caused by humans) by prohibiting fires when its dry
    2. Allowing wildfires to run their course (but not get out of hand or harm humans) because it has been proven good for the ecosystem
    3. Light the occasional controlled fire known as a “Prescribed fire” to help an ecosystem when it is seen fit.
  3. Sources:
    1. https://www.fs.usda.gov/science-technology/fire
    2. https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire
    3. https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/what-are-the-differences-between-national-parks-and-national-forests?gclid=Cj0KCQjw-LOEBhDCARIsABrC0TndHcIL4kWCyF1kDa4awoa93IWqC73_d50op4MKTiI7rCa7bxb5x2EaArmoEALw_wcB
    4. https://www.nps.gov/cuva/learn/news/cuyahoga-valley-national-park-to-conduct-prescribed-fires.htm
    5. https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fire/index.htm
    6. https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/story-smokey-bear
    7. https://smokeybear.com/en/smokeys-history/story-of-smokey

TRANSITION:  As a kid, I always assumed all forest fires were bad fires. Especially with the way Smokey the Bear talked about preventing forest fires. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that some fires actually help a forest flourish.

In our text for today, both plants and fire will enter the discussion about producing the best fruit.

SCRIPTURE: John 15: 1-8 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 2He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit.

3You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. 6If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned.

 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.

EXPLAINATION: Jesus uses an analogy to prepare his disciples for his absence.

  1. Background:
    1. After the foot washing on Maundy Thursday
    2. Part of the “farewell discord” of John where Jesus gives final instructions before his arrest.
    3. Can you hear him urging them to be attentive and faithful?
      1. “stay with me” – even if I’m not physically with you “stay with me”
  2. Scripture Outline:
    1. I am the vine
    2. Father is the vineyard keeper who prunes & trims
    3. You are branches and have been trimmed to bear good fruit
      1. Stay connected to me and you will live and produce fruit
      2. Disconnect from me and you lose your life source
    4. Father is glorified in your fruit

INTERPRETATION: Jesus uses an analogy to prepare his disciples for his absence.

  1. Judgmental Elephant: I want to stop for a moment and discuss the traditional elephant of judgement in the room.
    1. This passage has been used as a threat to tell people they could be thrown into the fiery furnace of hell if they don’t follow Jesus.
    2. This passage of comfort, has been used as a passage for fear. I want us to take time to reclaim the beauty of this passage.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Before we do that, let’s have a plant pruning exercise.
    1. Two plants, people come up and prune the plants
    2. What made you choose to prune that spot?
  3. Gardening practices: Here are some gardening tips from a few gardening websites-
    1. “For extensive rejuvenation, completely remove the entire plant 6 to 10 inches above the ground using heavy lopping shears and a pruning saw. Healthy shrubs will respond by sending up new shoots.”
    2. “For gradual rejuvenation, remove one-third of the oldest, unproductive branches. The next year, take half of the old, lingering stems. In year three, prune out the remainder of the old branches. While this takes longer to complete, the shrub stays more attractive throughout the process.”
    3. “Proper pruning is a must for a productive, happy fruit tree. Pruning your trees can give their leaves better access to light, keep messy growth to a minimum and help them set bigger, juicier fruit. Remove dead wood, and thin out branches that cross each other. Every species of tree is different, so read up on when and how to prune your tree for best results.”
    4. Sources:
      1. https://gilmour.com/shrub-care-tips
      2. https://www.landscapemanagement.net/step-by-step-how-to-perform-rejuvenation-pruning/
      3. https://www.cabinlife.com/articles/5-tips-for-fruit-tree-success
  4. As Jesus is preparing his disciples for his absence, he gives them instructions on how to remain faithful.
    1. Remain in me – abide in me – cling to me
    2. I will give you life and you will produce fruit.
    3. It seems like we skim over these words of comfort but, our ears naturally perk up at prune, dead, and fire.
  5. We naturally associate those things with individuals being cut off of the faith family tree instead of considering each of us a plant needing pruning. We label whole individuals as good or bad instead of a beloved creation of God that could be pruned to flourish.

APPLICATION: To reflect on the fruitfulness of our lives and prune off things that don’t help us flourish.

  1. As we reflect on the pruning exercise and common gardening practices, I want us to connect back to the scripture.
    1. What could spiritual pruning look like?
      1. Does God want to take away the sources of joy in our life?
      2. God isn’t saying give up video games or bubble baths.
      3. God is saying, those things that harm my relationship with you or your relationship with others, those things need to go. What needs to be pruned will be different depending on the person.
        1. Some will need to prune substances.
        2. Some will need to prune their language.
        3. Some will need to prune their entertainment.
    2. How could you make room for your own pruning?
    3. How could you give grace to others who are being pruned?


COMMUNION:
 As we prepare to share communion together, we recognize Christ as our source of life AND we recognize our spiritual family are all growing and at different stages of the pruning process. We don’t all look the same as we come to the table. But we are all loved completely by the Jesus who make this table.

Deacons bless bread & juice

Come to the table.

CONCLUSION