Mama’s Wisdom

9/19/2021

Message Title: Mama’s Wisdom
Theme:
Words of Wisdom
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text:
Proverbs 31:10-31
Scripture Reading: James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8;
RCL Scripture: Proverbs 31:10-31; Jeremiah 11:18-20; Psalm 1; Psalm 54; James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37
Focus: A mother reflects to her son about a wise partner.
Function: To celebrate the wise people in our lives and to pursue their wisdom.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8; 13 Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. 14 However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. 16 Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil. 17 What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. 18 Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts. What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your cravings that are at war in your own lives? You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask. You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings. …Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded.

WISDOM:

  1. Audience Engagement: What silly habits did your grandparent’s have?
    1. Of my four grandparents, my mom’s mom was the one that didn’t have super silly habits. Though I suppose food would be the closest—I remember falling in love with saltine crackers and frosting because of my Grandma Hazel.
  2. Hazel Warner—
    1. As a child, I never understood why my Grandma Hazel seemed so serious. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t until her death, when I sat and listened to my aunts and uncle share memories of her life that I truly learned about my grandmother.
    2. Grandma Hazel was the oldest child of 6 of my Earl & Ethyl Green. Their family was always tight on money. In marriage, my grandmother had 6 kids of her own. She and my Grandpa Dick had to work hard to make their dollars stretch.
    3. My mom recollected how Grandma Hazel made birthdays and Christmas special for the kids by giving them their necessities as gifts—new clothes or snow boots as gifts rather than just things to purchase. They felt spoiled while my grandparents, felt like they were providing necessities.
    4. Through their stories they learned that all of them had been given the same pep talk by my grandmother.
      1. “Always be able to take care of yourself”–She wanted her girls to be able to be independent and not financially stuck.

TRANSITION: Our text for today reminds me of my grandmother Hazel’s wisdom for her daughters. Let’s hear this mother’s wisdom for her son.

MAIN TEXT: Proverbs 31:10-31 10A competent wife, how does one find her? Her value is far above pearls. 11Her husband entrusts his heart to her, and with her he will have all he needs. 12She brings him good and not trouble all the days of her life. 13She seeks out wool and flax; she works joyfully with her hands. 14She is like a fleet of merchant ships, bringing food from a distance. 15She gets up while it is still night, providing food for her household, even some for her female servants. 16She surveys a field and acquires it; from her own resources, she plants a vineyard. 17She works energetically; her arms are powerful. 18She realizes that her trading is successful; she doesn’t put out her lamp at night. 19She puts her hands to the spindle; her palms grasp the whorl. 20She reaches out to the needy; she stretches out her hands to the poor. 21She doesn’t fear for her household when it snows, because they are all dressed in warmclothes. 22She makes bedspreads for herself; fine linen and purple are her clothing. 23Her husband is known in the city gates when he sits with the elders of the land. 24She makes garments and sells them; she supplies sashes to traders. 25Strength and honor are her clothing; she is confident about the future. 26Her mouth is full of wisdom; kindly teaching is on her tongue. 27She is vigilant over the activities of her household; she doesn’t eat the food of laziness. 28Her children bless her; her husband praises her: 29 “Many women act competently, but you surpass them all!” 30Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31Let her share in the results of her work; let her deeds praise her in the city gates.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Reminder: This book of Proverbs in chapter 1 was attributed to Solomon. He was writing to his son about wisdom and how to live a fruitful/fulfilling life.
    1. This book ends with wisdom from a mother to her son. Recognizing wisdom in a woman. God’s wisdom is not just for men. God’s wisdom leads to fulfillment for all who pursue.
  2. Wisdom represented through a woman’s life
    1. Business woman – wool, flax, fields, trading
    2. Home maker –providing food, clothing, bedding
    3. Leader – with the servants, with her words, her projects, children
    4. Strong—powerful
    5. Partner- celebrates her husband, support each other

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Eshet Chayil (eh-shet hai-yeal) – Woman of Valor
    1. Source:
      1. https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/258901/jewish/Eshet-Chayil.htm
      2. https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Blessings/Shabbat_Blessings/Eshet_Chayil/eshet_chayil.html
      3. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-to-read-eshet-hayil/
      4. https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/mutuality-women-roles
      5. https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/tag/Eshet+Chayil
  2. Celebrating the wisdom of your faith family tree
    1. (Tomorrow is Fern Nash’s visitation & Tuesday is her funeral.)

APPLICATION: To celebrate the wise people in our lives and to pursue their wisdom.

  1. AUDICENCE ENGAGEMENT:
    1. how to do you become at something? (athlete, doctor, baker, etc)
    2. How do you become a better Christian?
  2. Ways to gain knowledge in community
    1. Accountability partners- iron sharpens iron (prov 27:17)
    2. Mentoring—not about having all the answers.
      1. Gaining wisdom
      2. Sharing wisdom

CONCLUSION: I gained knowledge through my parents, my grandparents, and my faith family tree. We all have a chance to share our wisdom and grow as a church & community. I invite you into the growing experience.

A Lady’s Wisdom

9/12/2021 – Homecoming Sunday

Message Title: A Lady’s Wisdom
Theme:
Words of Wisdom
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Proverbs 1:20-33
Scripture Reading:
James 3:1-12
RCL Scripture: Proverbs 1:20-33 or Isaiah 50:4-9a Psalm 19 or Psalm 116:1-9 James 3:1-12 Mark 8:27-38
Focus: Proverbs opens with an image of wisdom depicted as a woman.
Function:
To accept God’s invitation into a fuller life.
Other Notes:
HOMECOMING & COMMUNION

Homecoming game: 1854 History Quiz—Liberty’s history records our origins beginning in 1854. So we are going to take a moment to have a little history quiz. –Put your cell phones away.

  1. Who was the president in 1854? Franklin Pierce (D- New Hampshire)
  2. What famous author was born in 1854? (Oscar Wilde Oct 16th)
  3. What book does Charles Dickens release in 1854? (Hard Times)
  4.  Born in 1854, What was John Philip Sousa famous for? (composing songs/marches—marine corps song)
  5. What political party collapsed in the US in 1854? (Whig)—we didn’t become a two party country until Ulysses S Grant.
  6. Sources:
    1. https://worldhistoryproject.org/1854
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_evolution_of_the_United_States
    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1854
    4. https://www.onthisday.com/events/date/1854
    5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1854_in_the_United_States
    6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_presidents_of_the_United_States

Scripture Reading: James 3:1-12 My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, because we know that we teachers will be judged more strictly. We all make mistakes often, but those who don’t make mistakes with their words have reached full maturity. Like a bridled horse, they can control themselves entirely. When we bridle horses and put bits in their mouths to lead them wherever we want, we can control their whole bodies. Consider ships: They are so large that strong winds are needed to drive them. But pilots direct their ships wherever they want with a little rudder. In the same way, even though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts wildly. Think about this: A small flame can set a whole forest on fire. The tongue is a small flame of fire, a world of evil at work in us. It contaminates our entire lives. Because of it, the circle of life is set on fire. The tongue itself is set on fire by the flames of hell. People can tame and already have tamed every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish. No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we both bless the Lord and Father and curse human beings made in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and cursing come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it just shouldn’t be this way! 11 Both fresh water and salt water don’t come from the same spring, do they? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree produce olives? Can a grapevine produce figs? Of course not, and fresh water doesn’t flow from a saltwater spring either.

Wisdom: Again, I’d like to welcome you all to Liberty’s 2021 Homecoming. This time last year we were eating outside on camp chairs. For 167 years, Liberty has been gathering together for worship. But today I want to talk about a different type of gathering… more of a collecting.

  1. Audience Engagement: Did your grandparent(s) have a memorable possession, item, or collection?
  2. Grandma Ethyl Green– “purdies” & her collection of things
    1. My Great Grandmother Ethyl Green was married to my Grandpa Earl, that was mentioned a few weeks ago during our Reruns series.
    2. Grandma Green loved to collect ‘purdie’ things. No- not pretty. Puuuuurrrrddddie. She love all kinds of pretty things, mostly the highly breakable kinds.
    3. Similar to how my Grandma Billie had no discretion of her favorite sweets—my Grandma Green loved many pretty things. When she passed, the grandkids were all invited have little our own little purdies from Grandma Green.

Transition: While each of us kids were quite selective in the items we chose, in our text today, we will be considering the opposite approach. Yes, Scripture has its own collections.

Recap Wisdom series so far: Song of songs & Psalms

The book of Proverbs is a collection of wisdom to help one live a full life.

Main Text: Proverbs 1:20-33 20Wisdom shouts in the street; in the public square she raises her voice. 21Above the noisy crowd, she calls out. At the entrances of the city gates, she has her say: 22“How long will you clueless people love your naïveté, mockers hold their mocking dear, and fools hate knowledge? 23You should respond when I correct you. Look, I’ll pour out my spirit on you. I’ll reveal my words to you. 24I invited you, but you rejected me; I stretched out my hand to you, but you paid no attention. 25You ignored all my advice, and you didn’t want me to correct you. 26So I’ll laugh at your disaster; I’ll make fun of you when dread comes over you, 27when terror hits you like a hurricane, and your disaster comes in like a tornado, when distress and oppression overcome you. 28Then they will call me, but I won’t answer; they will seek me, but won’t find me 29because they hated knowledge and didn’t choose the fear of the Lord. 30They didn’t want my advice; they rejected all my corrections. 31They will eat from the fruit of their way, and they’ll be full of their own schemes. 32The immature will die because they turn away; smugness will destroy fools. 33Those who obey me will dwell securely, untroubled by the dread of harm.”

Explanation:

  1. Book Details:
    1. Authorship attributed to Solomon
    2. General outline
      1. 1-9 Poems Father to Son
      2. 10-30 Proverbs to live by
      3. 31 Poem Mother to Son
  2. Genre Details: Wisdom literature but we will approach this passage differently
    1. Proverbs are not a covenant
    2. Proverbs are not a law
    3. Proverbs are sayings of gathered wisdom from life
      1. “this way typically leads to fruit”
      2. “that way typically leads to ruin”
    4. This wisdom book is intended to be balanced by the others. Proverbs has a much more just and optimistic (less realistic) outlook on life. Ecclesiastes balances that out real fast 😀
  3. The Text:
    1. The book of Proverbs depicts wisdom as a human—a woman specifically. As you continue to read the book, the portrayal of Lady Wisdom is connected to the intentions and wisdom of God. To reject Lady Wisdom is to reject God.

Interpretation:

  1. Unlike glass figurines or cool tin cans, we do not get to pick what wisdom we follow. To follow God is to accept all of God’s scripture.
    1. Disclaimer: we’ve already talked about the fact that we may have questions and need others to help us with specific scriptures.
    2. Rather, we cannot reject parts of scripture that make us uncomfortable or that we don’t understand.
      1. Thomas Jefferson did this (photo)
  2. Unfortunately, we don’t get to have Jefferson’s mentality. To follow God is to wrestle with all of scripture.
    1. We don’t get to treat God or scripture like a magic genie—no 3 wishes, no on demand genie, God is God always.

Application: To accept God’s invitation into a fuller life.

  1. The invitation:
    1. You are all invited—you are invited to know God’s wisdom.
    2. You are invited to know God’s salvation.
    3. You are invited into the faith journey.
    4. Today is day 1. You’re invited to day 2… and 3… and 1033.. and 3 million.
  2. It’s homecoming—we’re here, we laugh, and we share memories—but its also a reminder that you are always invited. And you are always wanted.
  3. Communion

Conclusion

Praising Wisdom

9/5/2021

Post-Preaching Notes: I preached off of a simple outline this week. I knew what I wanted to say but didn’t write it all down because *excuses* the video has much more details than the notes.

Message Title: Praising Wisdom
Theme:
Words of Wisdom
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text:
Psalm 146
Scripture Reading: James 2:1-17
RCL Scripture: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Isaiah 35:4-7a; Psalm 125; Psalm 146; James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17;  Mark 7:24-37
Focus: Psalm 146 is a psalm of praise to God.
Function:
To make God our priority and adjust all life around our faith.
Other Notes:
Grandparent-isms

SCRIPTURE READING: James 2:1-17 – My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges? My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism? You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself.[a] But when you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, and by that same law you are exposed as a lawbreaker. 10 Anyone who tries to keep all of the Law but fails at one point is guilty of failing to keep all of it. 11 The one who said, Don’t commit adultery, also said, Don’t commit murder.[b] So if you don’t commit adultery but do commit murder, you are a lawbreaker. 12 In every way, then, speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. 13 There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment. 14 My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? 15 Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. 16 What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? 17 In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.

WORDS OF WISDOM:

  1. Audience Engagement: What were the special treats you shared with your grandparents?
    1. Facebook answers: blueberry dumplings & zebra cakes
  2. Billie Tigner — “That’s my favorite”
    1. My grandmother loved sweets but she wasn’t partial. She loved all sweets.

TRANSITION: Words of favoritism changes our outlook on life.

MAIN TEXT: Psalm 146 Praise the Lord! Let my whole being praise the Lord! 2I will praise the Lord with all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live. 3Don’t trust leaders; don’t trust any human beings—there’s no saving help with them! 4Their breath leaves them, then they go back to the ground. On that very same day, their plans die too. 5The person whose help is the God of Jacob—the person whose hope rests on the Lord their God—is truly happy! 6God: the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, God: who is faithful forever, 7 who gives justice to people who are oppressed, who gives bread to people who are starving! The Lord: who frees prisoners. 8The Lord: who makes the blind see. The Lord: who straightens up those who are bent low. The Lord: who loves the righteous. 9The Lord: who protects immigrants, who helps orphans and widows, but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn! 10The Lord will rule forever! Zion, your God will rule from one generation to the next! Praise the Lord!

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Psalms as a wisdom literature
  2. This particular psalm
    1. Author—not specified
    2. Dating—unknown
    3. Context—not specified
    4. Form of praise/worship to God

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Wisdom tells us we are called to praise God.
  2. Our daily, everyday life, actions are to point to God and praise God.

APPLICATION: To make God our priority and adjust all life around our faith.

  1. Is God our favorite (our priority)?
  2. Audience Engagement: What does it look like to have God as our priority?
  3. Disclaimer:
    1. This is not about earning brownie points
      1. We don’t do things to EARN God’s love
      2. We RESPOND to God’s love with action
    2. I am NOT shaming people who are not attending church regularly.
      1. I AM defining the Christian walk.
      2. IF your faith is more than just a label, it will transform your life. You WONT be the same as you continue to grow in your faith.
  4. My answer:
    1. Finding time for spiritual development- individually & in community
      1. Prayer
      2. Scripture
      3. Worship
    2. Transformation looks like:
      1. Developing the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5)
      2. Developing your spiritual gifts & talents (1 Cor 12, Rom 12, Eph 4, 1 Pet 4)
      3. A changed way of interacting with others (2 Cor 5:17)

CONCLUSION

The Beauty of Wisdom

8/29/2021

Message Title: The Beauty of Wisdom
Theme:
Words of Wisdom
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Song of Solomon 2
Scripture Reading: James 1:17-27
RCL Scripture: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; Psalm 15; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Focus: The book Song of Songs shows the beauty of life as a form of wisdom.
Function:
To remember that God built us for community and love and embrace ways of connection.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: James 1:17-27  17 Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. 18 He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created. 19 Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. 20 This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you. 22 You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. 23 Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. 24 They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. 25 But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do. 26 If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. 27 True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.

SERIES INTRODUCTION: This Sunday we are starting a new series on the Wisdom literatures. Over the course of 5 weeks, we will hop through passages in Song of Solomon, Psalms, and Proverbs (we’ll save the others for another day.) Join us as we glean wisdom from scripture!

WORDS OF WISDOM:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What’s a favorite saying that one of your grandparents would say?
    1. Some Facebook responses
  2. Jim Tigner
    1. “you’ve seen one waterfall, you’ve seen them all.”
    2. My grandfather doesn’t sound like he appreciated beauty. But I’ll tell you he had a deep love for his peach trees, neatly mowed his grass, and large mouth bass.

TRANSITION: Our first passage for this wisdom series is in Song of Songs or Song of Solomon. This, book knows about beauty!

INTRO TO TEXT: The Song of Songs is one of those books that may perplex the reader—why was this included in the holy scriptures? “Song of Songs” suggests this is the “best” song of all time. The book is attributed to Solomon, and some have assumed this book was about Solomon’s romance with a woman, however the type of Hebrew used in the text suggests that maybe it was even centuries after Solomon’s life. Perhaps Solomon’s reign inspired the words of this passage?

The book unfolds a love story between two people and some of the text can get rather explicit for biblical text though perhaps not for a modern ear.

Depending on your translation- there may even be notations showing who is speaking (the man or the woman), however that was not part of the Hebrew, that is part of the translator’s conclusions while translating the text.

MAIN TEXT: Song of Solomon 2

[Woman]

I’m a rose of the Sharon plain,
        a lily of the valleys.

[Man]

Like a lily among thornbushes,
        so is my dearest among the young women.

[Woman]

Like an apple tree among the wild trees,
        so is my lover among the young men.
In his shade I take pleasure in sitting,
        and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
He has brought me to the house of wine;
        his banner raised over me is love.

Sustain me with raisin cakes,
        strengthen me with apples,
        for I’m weak with love!

His left arm is beneath my head,
        his right embraces me.

Make a solemn pledge, daughters of Jerusalem,
        by the gazelles or the wild deer:
Don’t rouse, don’t arouse love
        until it desires.

Listen! It’s my lover: here he comes now,
        leaping upon the mountains,
        bounding over the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
        or a young stag.
Here he stands now,
        outside our wall,
        peering through the windows,
        peeking through the lattices.

10 My lover spoke and said to me,
“Rise up, my dearest,
        my fairest, and go.
11 Here, the winter is past;
        the rains have come and gone.
12 Blossoms have appeared in the land;
        the season of singing has arrived,
        and the sound of the turtledove is heard in our land.
13 The green fruit is on the fig tree,
        and the grapevines in bloom are fragrant.
Rise up, my dearest,
        my fairest, and go.
14 My dove—in the rock crevices,
        hidden in the cliff face—
        let me catch sight of you;
        let me hear your voice!
The sound of your voice is sweet,
        and the sight of you is lovely.”

15 Catch foxes for us—
        those little foxes
        that spoil vineyards,
        now that our vineyards are in bloom!

16 I belong to my lover and he belongs to me—
        the one grazing among the lilies.
17         Before the day breeze blows
        and the shadows flee,
    turn about, my love; be like a gazelle
        or a young stag
        upon the jagged mountains.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. My goal today is not to splice the details of this passage or even the whole book. Yes, we could get lost in the particularly rich imagery and connection to culturally specific language (i.e. raisin cakes were considered an erotic treat.)
  2. Instead, I want us to consider the general wisdom God is giving us in this book.
    1. Song of Songs is a poetry which portrays the beauty of life and love between a betrothed couple.
    2. The assumption of the man being Solomon is discredited when one thinks about the fact that Solomon had over 700+ female partners. This couple speaks of their need for each other alone.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. For a long time, the assumption has been that Song of Songs was an allegory between God and God’s chosen people. Christians have taught that this is an allegory between Jesus and the Church. (First off, don’t think too hard about the racy parts if that is the case.)
    1. However, as time has passed and archeological digs discover new artifacts, we have learned this style of romantic poetry was common of the era.
  2. Consider for a moment, the Song of Songs, not as an analogy or metaphor, but simply as a love story.
    1. WHY is this book in our Bible if it isn’t to tell us something about God?
      1. What if this book was a gift given to us, to remember what pure love can look like in a relationship?
      1. What if Song of Songs is to remind us of the love God intended—don’t hear what I’m not saying in this moment—for humans to experience?
        1. Vulnerable connection, passion, trust

APPLICATION: To remember that God built us for community and love and embrace ways of connection.

  1. Not every Christian is called to marriage, but we are all called to love and be loved. We are called to community.
  2. Let’s take some time to reflect on community:  — you are welcome to shout out an answer or to reflect internally–
    1. When or how do you feel the most loved?
    1. What ways have you been lacking connection or community?
  3. Continuing to build bridges–We want to look for ways to rebuild broken bridges and restore communities.
    1. Mentoring- gathering names
    2. Sunday School—starts the 2nd Sunday in September.
    3. Spiritual Listening Workshop
    4. Grace Tables for 8- gathering names for October
  4. Reflection on our Spiritual Listening Workshop
    1. Friday night 15 of us got together for the beginning of our lessons with Beth Broadbooks.
    2. By the end of Saturday, 9 of us had done some difficult work.
    3. I’m quite proud of them, honestly. Perhaps some of them have emotional or vulnerable hangovers today.

CONCLUSION: We were given this beautiful world and one life to live. We were plopped down into a community and given the opportunity to help it flourish. Let’s keep looking for ways to dig in deeper and love bigger.

Season Finale

8/22/2021

Message Title: Season Finale
Theme:
Reruns & Glory Days
Season:  Ordinary Time
Main Text:
1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20
RCL Scripture: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 or 1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43 Psalm 84 or Psalm 34:15-22 Ephesians 6:10-20 John 6:56-69
Focus: Solomon builds the temple
Function: To become a listening people who walk with intention, guided by God’s spirit.
Other Notes:
— wrap up the series– Reruns & Glory Days

SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 6:10-20 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. 11 Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. 12 We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. 13 Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. 14 So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, 15 and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. 16 Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time. Stay alert by hanging in there and praying for all believers. 19 As for me, pray that when I open my mouth, I’ll get a message that confidently makes this secret plan[b] of the gospel known. 20 I’m an ambassador in chains for the sake of the gospel. Pray so that the Lord will give me the confidence to say what I have to say.

RERUNS:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
    1. What season finale was the hardest to watch?
    2. And what TV show had the best wrap up?
    3. Anyone else still mad about the final season of Game of Thrones?
  2. Season Finale: Not every tv show ends in a way that honors the characters or the fans. One of the biggest disappointments was the final season of Game of Thrones. No, the pastor is not endorsing Game of Thrones as a safe and wholesome show just because she mentioned it. But definitely don’t watch the final season—the story is rushed and full of plot holes.
    1. Some shows end still leaving you with a little hope. West Wing ended as another president’s term begins. The transition of power enables a narrative conclusion while still leaving the story open ended.
    2. And then there are shows that needed to stop A LONG TIME AGO. They drug the show out too long and ruined everything that was built.

TRANSITION: Our text for today is our season finale but know that the story lives on. We’re in chapter 8 of 1 Kings but hundreds of years of history are still to come after our passage today. What can we learn from this season finale?

MAIN TEXT: 1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43

1Then Solomon assembled Israel’s elders, all the tribal leaders, and the chiefs of Israel’s clans at Jerusalem to bring up the chest containing the Lord’s covenant from David’s City Zion.

6The priests brought the chest containing the Lord’s covenant to its designated spot beneath the wings of the winged creatures in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the most holy place.

10-1110When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the Lord’s temple, 11and the priests were unable to carry out their duties due to the cloud because the Lord’s glory filled the Lord’s temple.

22-30 22Solomon stood before the Lord’s altar in front of the entire Israelite assembly and, spreading out his hands toward the sky, 23he said: Lord God of Israel, there’s no god like you in heaven above or on earth below. You keep the covenant and show loyalty to your servants who walk before you with all their heart. 24This is the covenant you kept with your servant David, my father, which you promised him. Today, you have fulfilled what you promised. 25So now, Lord, Israel’s God, keep what you promised my father David, your servant, when you said to him, “You will never fail to have a successor sitting on Israel’s throne as long as your descendants carefully walk before me just as you walked before me.” 26So now, God of Israel, may your promise to your servant David, my father, come true. 27But how could God possibly live on earth? If heaven, even the highest heaven, can’t contain you, how can this temple that I’ve built contain you? 28Lord my God, listen to your servant’s prayer and request, and hear the cry and prayer that your servant prays to you today. 29Constantly watch over this temple, the place about which you said, “My name will be there,” and listen to the prayer that your servant is praying towardthis place. 30Listen to the request of your servant and your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Listen from your heavenly dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive!

41-43 41Listen also to the immigrant who isn’t from your people Israel but who comes from a distant country because of your reputation—42because they will hear of your great reputation, your great power, and your outstretched arm. When the immigrant comes and prays toward this temple, 43then listen from heaven, where you live, and do everything the immigrant asks. Do this so that all the people of the earth may know your reputation and revere you, as your people Israel do, and recognize that this temple I have built bears your name.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Israel’s history:
    1. David dies and Solomon builds the temple and dedicates it to the Lord.
  1. Diagram/Photo of Solomon’s temple 
  2. Not the same as the temple from Jesus’ time (we’ll get to that…)
    1. God makes a promise to be with Solomon and the people as long as they are faithful. God promises that Solomon’s descendants will be on the throne as long as Solomon is faithful.
  3. HOPE IS LINGERING IN THE AIR RIGHT NOW… The possibilities are endless. If only we could rewrite a more joyful and faithful story.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. This is only the beginning of Solomon’s rule yet we are at the end of our series. Much like how a season finale indicates the carrying on of stories in new chapters, the story of Israel continues on from this point.
  2. The story continues on from this passage but Israel’s story will only break your heart from this point forward:
  1. Solomon married many women in order to form allegiances with other nations and his loyalty to Yahweh waivers.
  2. After Solomon the kingdom of the United 12 tribes of Israel finally breaks apart. 
  3. There has been tension and division within the 12 tribes since the time of the judges and now the division becomes permanent. 
  4. Israel continues the cycle of unfaithfulness and oppression and crying out for help that they once did during the time of the judges. But this time the consequences are more intense.
  5. After Solomon, after the split, after a strain of unfaithful unloyal and unrighteous kings,and after prophets rise up calling Israel to return to God– the 12 tribes of Israel are conquered by other nations and are sent into exile. 
    1. First the Northern 10 tribes
    2. Then the southern 2 tribes
    3. 10 of the 12 tribes will never return to Israel again. 
  6. The story of Israel is the story of humanity. There is a fascinating divide in Christians and how they feel about Jews in general and the nation of Israel specifically. Some will think that Jews are villains because Jewish people were part of the process that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. However, Jews didn’t crucify Jesus, humans did.
    1. On the other side Christians sometimes blindly speak about the tensions in the Middle East and defend the rights of the nation of Israel over other humans in that same land. But current day political tensions are not as black and white as a support of Israel and a demonizing of Palestinians or Muslims. 
    2. We may look at this world and think that solutions are black and white because the ink on the page is black and white. But the deeper we get into our faith with God the more gray areas exist. 
    3. Our God did not create the Great commission or the ten commandments or the commission in the garden so that people would live by rules. The goal wasn’t to fence ourselves in, the goal was to have a skeleton or a framework to build from.
    4. Our God gave us a brain and a heart to help us. And then we were given the spirit of God. These three things together are to illuminate the laws of scripture so that we can fulfill the commissions we received.

APPLICATION:

  1. If you read all of 1 Kings 8, you will hear Solomon’s dedication of the Temple and prayer to God for the people and for his reign. Solomon has the best of intentions and the best of requests & his reign starts out strong. However, he doesn’t listen to the instructions of God. God is faithful. It is humans who waver.
  2. I believe a pathway to healing is the pathway of listening.
    1. Spiritual listening workshop this weekend! – approach specific people
      1. This week we have the opportunity to learn about bridging the divide. This Friday and Saturday, we’re hosting a workshop to reteach ourselves how to talk to someone who is different than us.
      2. Our presence in this world could be a light that draws people towards Yahweh. Currently, we are known as operating more like a bug light: a light that leads to destruction. Words of judgment and division and condemnation are more prevalent now than words of compassion and understanding and healing.
  3. Currently, people are filled with fear for a variety of reasons:
  1. Some are afraid that vaccine & mask regulations will take away their rights.
  2. Some are afraid that a lack of vaccine & mask regulations will lead to unnecessary death or illness.
  3. Some are afraid for the death of society because of shut downs.
  4. Some are afraid for the death of the church because of a decline in attendance.
  5. And then, some are afraid because of things not connected to COVID:
    1. EXAMPLE: Walmart will not be doing layaway and Facebook is filled with fear about Christmas within the poor community.
  6. I am afraid of the twisting of the gospel, the word of God, for our own benefits. We hunt scripture to defend our own beliefs or worldview and close our ears to the words of our neighbors who disagree.

CONCLUSION: In Bible study, we saw irony this last week. Israel was originally formed to be a beacon of hope to the surrounding nations to point towards Yahweh. However, Israel regularly wandered away from Yahweh towards the gods of other nations. They followed the beacon of other gods rather than being the beacon for other people.

The story of Israel is the story of humans. God is calling for us to return to the commission into the instructions of scripture. God is calling us to be faithful to the essence of the law and not simply the letter of the law.

SERIES CONCLUSION: Over the summer, we have looked into Israel’s “Reruns & The Good Ole Days.” We read the stories that are referenced with reverence and glory in the New Testament and hopefully see a fuller picture. As we look back on our own “Good Ole Days,” we can take off the rose-colored glasses and learn from the past. As we revisit the “Reruns” of our favorite shows, we can review the stories with a new perspective.

The Beginning of a New Era

8/15/2021

Message Title: The Beginning of a New Era
Theme:
Reruns & Glory Days
Season: Ordinary Days
Main Text:
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
RCL Scripture: 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 or Proverbs 9:1-6 Psalm 111 or Psalm 34:9-14 Ephesians 5:15-20 John 6:51-58
Focus: David dies and Solomon inherits the monarchy.
Function: To acknowledge the faith legacy we inherit while acting with wisdom and discernment.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 5:15-20 15 So be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly. 16 Take advantage of every opportunity because these are evil times. 17 Because of this, don’t be ignorant, but understand the Lord’s will. 18 Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead, be filled with the Spirit in the following ways: 19 speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts; 20 always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 

RERUNS:

  1. Family Tree—Where did your family come from? How far back can you go in your family history?
  2. My Ancestry: Ancestry.com and 23&Me
    1. Based on my DNA results, my immediate settled in the south and the northern part of new England in the 1700’s. This fits what I know from both of my parent’s. My father’s side would be the south, mother’s side- new England.
    2. If you go back a few more generations, you will quickly learn that I’m 99.5 % European. I’m sure you couldn’t tell  that by looking at me—right? 😀
    3. However, 23 & me offers an additional piece of information. This is called the Maternal Haplogroup. Every person’s DNA can be traced back to a specific maternal line from Africa.
    4. That’s right, all DNA timelines point back to Africa if you go back far enough. All humans are related if you go back far enough.
    5. So this 99.5% European *COULD* trace her ancestors far enough, to find family lines in Africa. Unfortunately, that kind of data doesn’t exist after a few generations. Tracing your ancestry through historical records is very difficult.
  3. Has anyone else taken the ancestry DNA tests?

TRANSITION: Seeing my family’s legacy present in my DNA was really cool. The science behind DNA ancestry is not exact—and I regularly get emails updating my results because they got new data. Example: Some days I have Ashkenazi Jewish or Polish and some days I don’t.

The oral traditions of family history ring more true to most of us than these DNA results. I know stories from both sides of my family and their struggles as immigrants in America. I carry those stories with me.

Today we will see Solomon carry the story of his father with him as he assumes the throne. What will Solomon’s legacy be?

MAIN TEXT: 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 2: 10 Then David lay down with his ancestors and was buried in David’s City. 11 He ruled over Israel forty years—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his royal power was well established. … 3:3 Now Solomon loved the Lord by walking in the laws of his father David, with the exception that he also sacrificed and burned incense at the shrines. The king went to the great shrine at Gibeon in order to sacrifice there. He used to offer a thousand entirely burned offerings on that altar. The Lord appeared to Solomon at Gibeon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask whatever you wish, and I’ll give it to you.” Solomon responded, “You showed so much kindness to your servant my father David when he walked before you in truth, righteousness, and with a heart true to you. You’ve kept this great loyalty and kindness for him and have now given him a son to sit on his throne. And now, Lord my God, you have made me, your servant, king in my father David’s place. But I’m young and inexperienced. I know next to nothing. But I’m here, your servant, in the middle of the people you have chosen, a large population that can’t be numbered or counted due to its vast size. Please give your servant a discerning mind in order to govern your people and to distinguish good from evil, because no one is able to govern this important people of yours without your help.”10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had made this request. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked for this instead of requesting long life, wealth, or victory over your enemies—asking for discernment so as to acquire good judgment— 12 I will now do just what you said. Look, I hereby give you a wise and understanding mind. There has been no one like you before now, nor will there be anyone like you afterward. 13 I now also give you what you didn’t ask for: wealth and fame. There won’t be a king like you as long as you live. 14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my laws and commands, just as your father David did, then I will give you a very long life.”

EXPLAINATION: David dies and Solomon inherits the monarchy.

  1. David dies. Solomon inherits the throne.
  2. God speaks to Solomon, just as he spoke to David at the beginning of his reign.
  3. Solomon asks for wisdom (a discerning mind).
  4. God grants him wisdom and blesses him with wealth and fame because he only asked for wisdom.
  5. God promises Solomon a long life if Solomon is faithful to God’s commands.

INTERPRETATION: David dies and Solomon inherits the monarchy.

  1. Solomon is the king to follow the legacy of King David.
    1. David’s rule will be forever seen as “the good ole days” to Jews.
    2. Let’s get back to the good ole days means getting back to the rule of David.
    3. As we have spent time studying the rule of David, we see that his reign was not all rainbows and butterflies. There was extensive darkness and wrong doings in David’s reign.
  2. “The Good Ole Days” aren’t painting history with truth. David and Solomon were both imperfect men that God chose to love and guide.
  3. Both Solomon and David have positive legacies, though their stories are not filled with only positive accounts. Solomon’s wisdom and David’s faithfulness to God have echoed through the generations. The other stories seem to slip through the cracks.
    1. A full picture of these men helps to illuminate scripture and our own place in God’s family.

APPLICATION: To acknowledge the faith legacy we inherit while acting with wisdom and discernment.

  1. We talked about family heritage earlier, but can you remember your faith family tree?
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Can you remember the person who first told you about Jesus?
  3. As you consider your own faith development, I want us to think about the legacy we carry with us and how that impacts the faith we develop and pass on.
    1. AUDIENCE REFLECTION: I’m going to ask two separate questions and I invite you to write—be genuine—not what you think is the *right* answer, but what is the *true* answer. I won’t make you share these out loud.
      1. What is your motivation to follow God?
      2. Why are you here at church on a Sunday morning?
      3. These may seem like odd questions but our faith family tree can carry with it hidden baggage that God never expected us to carry. This isn’t to discredit those who gave you faith, but a chance to remember—like David and Solomon—our loved ones can be flawed, even if their faith is pure.
        1. Because your grandma told you to?
        2. Because of the words of Jesus?
        3. Because you’re curious?
        4. Because it’s what good Americans do?
        5. Because it’s the entrance to eternal life or your way to avoid hell? (fire insurance)
  4. AMERCIAN HERITAGE: If I zoom out from our personal history and look at American faith history, we learn quickly that the story is muddled. Thousands of people immigrated to the United States at different points in American history with unique reasons.
    1. Example:
      1. Over 100 years later in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson tried to pass laws about religious liberty but they got shut down. The Virginia Colony was founded quite opposite from Rhode Island.
        1. Virginia was a Church-State. In order to pay your state taxes, you had to attend the state-church. If you missed all Sundays in one month, you could be put in jail or fined. You were legally required to attend church. AND families paid for their pew. Your name was on your pew.
          1. If you want to learn more about this—go to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. They have a living history museum and you can tour the village and learn about life in the colony.
      2. TRANSITION SENTECNE: In the 1630’s Roger Williams was in Massachusetts and was kicked out because of his conflict with the Church-state. He then was part of the foundation of Rhode Island, which did not form a Church-state. He believed in the “liberty of conscience” – or the freedom to follow your conscience to practice your faith. He did not believe the government should decree a specific faith for citizens to follow.
    1. Some settlers came to the Americas looking for religious freedom. Others came as an extension of what they knew.
  5. BAPTIST HERITAGE: Roger Williams was one of the Baptist fathers in America. The teachings of “liberty of conscience” is now a major Baptist tenant.
    1. Soul Competency—each mind has the ability to choose God from their own conclusions. No one should be forced to practice or believe anything because God made us with a free thinking mind. God didn’t restrict the mind, why should governments?
  6. Though we inherit our faith from those who have gone before us, the story is ours to carry on. Our actions, our faith, our relationship with God are what fill in the following chapters.
    1. Disclaimer: Our actions don’t earn us brownie points with God.
      1. We are saved by grace through faith, not of our selves
    2. But we write the next chapters.

CONCLUSION: How will you carry on the legacy you inherited? What chapters will you add to the faith family tree? Your actions are your own—how will you claim ownership of your faith walk with God?

  1. Sources:
    1. https://www.history.com/topics/reformation/roger-williams
    2. https://www.history.com/topics/united-states-constitution/freedom-of-religion
    3. https://www.dummies.com/education/history/american-history/3-colonies-that-supported-religious-freedom-dissidents-catholics-and-quakers/
  2. Other great books:
    1. Baptists through the centuries by David W. Bebbington
    2. The New Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches by Evrette C. Goodwin
    3. Inventing A Christian America by Steven K. Green
    4. Endowed by Our Creator by Michael I Meyerson
    5. American Exceptionalism & Civil Religion by John D. Wilsey
    6. Migrations of the Holy by William T. Cavanaugh

Don’t Trust the Narrator

8/8/2021

Post preaching: I was quite sick while preaching this week. In hindsight, I should have called in pulpit supply. Let this be a lesson to any other preachers out there–take the rest day.

**The Sermon will contain a brief moment of sensitive content. Please use discretion for younger audiences or those with trauma history.**

Message Title: Don’t Trust the Narrator
Theme:
Reruns & Glory Days
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text:
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:25-5:2
RCL Scripture: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 or 1 Kings 19:4-8 Psalm 34:1-8 or Psalm 130 Ephesians 4:25-5:2 John 6:35, 41-51
Focus: David lost perspective during his family drama.
Function:
To repent of the places where we lost perspective and restore the connections we broke.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 4:25-5:2 25 Therefore, after you have gotten rid of lying, Each of you must tell the truth to your neighbor[b] because we are parts of each other in the same body. 26 Be angry without sinning.[c] Don’t let the sun set on your anger. 27 Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil. 28 Thieves should no longer steal. Instead, they should go to work, using their hands to do good so that they will have something to share with whoever is in need. 29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. 30 Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy—you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ. Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.

RERUNS: We celebrated our graduates last week. Graduating high school is part of life—yet every generation has a handful of people who didn’t receive that privilege. My Grandpa Green didn’t graduate high school—instead, his parents sold him as an indentured servant to pay their debts. Grandpa Green ended up running away from his “master”. Grandpa Green’s story did not hold him back from his successes, he is every bit of a self-made man—even with his imperfections and blatant mistakes he provided for his family after starting out with less than nothing.

My great-grandfather’s story sounds quite different depending on who is telling the story. His parents could have easily justified their decision to sell their son—can we really judge people’s actions during desperate times?

The vantage point of a story is key to understanding the events which unfold before us. Yesterday, I posted a question asking if you didn’t read an assigned book. I’m proud to say that most of you were excellent students!

I have concrete memories of books I skipped, but even more so I remember of the stories I DID read. What stands out to me today are the short stories by Edgar Allan Poe with untrustworthy narrators.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Do you have a book, movie, or show that you enjoy which includes an untrustworthy narrator?

  1. movies
    1. Beautiful mind – Can’t trust the narrator
    2. Inception –which is reality?
    3. Perks of being a wallflower – book and movie skewed towards main characters experiences & memories
    4. Life of Pi- book & movie
    5. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
  2. Stories
    1. Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
    2. Tell-tale heart by Edgar Allan Poe

TRANSITION: In our text for today, we will read the drama of David’s household. But who is the trustworthy one? Whose perspective is reliable? Has David lost his faculties?

MAIN TEXT: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 5The king gave orders to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake, protect my boy Absalom.” All the troops heard what the king ordered regarding Absalom to all the commanders. 6So the troops marched into the field to meet the Israelites. The battle was fought in the Ephraim forest. 7The army of Israel was defeated there by David’s soldiers. A great slaughter of twenty thousand men took place that day. 8The battle spread out over the entire countryside, and the forest devoured more soldiers than the sword that day. 9Absalom came upon some of David’s men. Absalom was riding on a mule, and the mule went under the tangled branches of a large oak tree. Absalom’s head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair while the mule under him kept on going.15Then ten young armor-bearers of Joab surrounded Absalom, struck him, and killed him.…31Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My master the king: Listen to this good news! The Lord has vindicated you this day against the power of all who rose up against you.” 32The king said to the Cushite, “Is my boy Absalom okay?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my master the king and all who rise up against you to hurt you end up like that young man.” 33The king trembled. He went up to the room over the gate and cried. As he went, he said, “Oh, my son Absalom! Oh, my son! My son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! Oh, Absalom, my son! My son!”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Recap:
    1. Last week we heard the 2nd part of the David & Bathsheba story where David received consequences and those consequences spilled onto Bathsheba.
    2. Directly after that story, David’s son Amnon—behaves like his father with one of his half-sisters, Tamar. (Not to be confused with Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah/wife of Judah).
      1. 2 Sam 13:21 – David did not punish Amnon for his actions
        1. Tamar’s full blood brother Absalom defends her honor by killing Amnon and then rebelling against his father, David.
      2. The story of justice was skewed into a twisted mess between David, his sons, and his general Joab.
  2. Summarize the text:
    1. The feud between David and Absalom has grown for multiple chapters- Joab, David’s General, stirs the family drama pot.
    2. David gives instructions to his generals to not kill his son but bring him back alive.
    3. Joab disregards this instruction and kills Absalom, then buries his body in the forest.
    4. Two different messengers are sent to tell David of his son’s death.
      1. One of the messengers lies
    5. David weeps for his son—a traitor of the state
      1. Keep reading—David shames his army for their success because they killed his son, a traitor.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. David isn’t a great dad. He doesn’t treat women well either.
    1. Sure, he never worships other gods. But he sins in other ways.
    1. We have painted him as a great guy—but that is much like the “Good Ole Days” lens—rose colored glasses so to speak.

APPLICATION:

  1. Last week, we practiced confession before taking communion—
    1. I want us to consider the practice of repentance.
    2. Repentance isn’t just saying “I’m sorry” – repentance is changing your behavior.
  2. The church has lost her way—we focus so much on defending certain tenants of faith above the message of God’s love through Jesus.
  3. Division in David’s household
    1. Division in the church
    2. Division in the country

CONCLUSION:

Pt 2 Bathsheba’s Pain

**The Sermon will contain some sensitive content. Please use discretion for younger audiences or those with trauma history.**

8/1/2021

Message Title: Pt 2 Bathsheba’s Pain
Theme: Reruns & Glory Days
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: 2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13a
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16
RCL Scripture: 2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13a or Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 78:23-29 Ephesians 4:1-16 John 6:24-35
Focus: David is rebuked for his actions, receives consequences, but Bathsheba is required to stay in his household.
Function: To acknowledge how our actions impact others and to hold ourselves accountable.
Other Notes senior Sunday—communion Sunday

SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 4:1-16 Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all. God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people.[a] What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? 10 The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything. 11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. 15 Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, 16 who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.

RERUNS: FULL HOUSE BEDROOM SERIOUS TALKS

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you were raised with a “traditional” family structure where the mother stays home and cares for the children while the father works?
    1. I grew up with the opposite. My dad cared for us and my mother worked. Trust me, this was the best arrangement as my dad is SIGNIFICANTLY the better cook. However, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, this arrangement wasn’t popular. Sometimes my dad got flack from other Christian men. They asked him when he was going to “man up” and be the bread winner of our household.
  2. Not every family looks exactly the same. Some of us were raised in divorced or single parent households. Perhaps someone online was raised in the foster care or adopted. I love the phrase “chosen family.”
  3. A great example of a tv show with a “chosen family” structure is Full house. This show was an American sitcom that ran from 1987 to 1995.
    1. Premise: After the death of his wife Danny Tanner recruits his brother-in-law Jesse, and his best friend since childhood, Joey, to help raise his three young daughters—DJ, Stephanie and Michelle. (wiki)
    2. The show is full of humorous moments but also provides amazing life lessons and growth opportunities all with a background laugh track. I think a classic picture of this show is Danny Tanner on one knee talking to his daughters about tough topics.

TRANSITION: Full House showed a softer side to men as parents and opened doors for families to have similar hard conversations. In our text for today, we are continuing the story of David and Bathsheba. Some of the tough themes brought up last week will be present again today. Once again, if the topic of rape is a difficult one for you, take some time and come back to this sermon at another date.

MAIN TEXT: 2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13

26When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband Uriah was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27After the time of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her back to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. But what David had done was evil in the Lord’s eyes. 12 So the Lord sent Nathan to David.

Parable & Response: When Nathan arrived he said, “There were two men in the same city, one rich, one poor. 2The rich man had a lot of sheep and cattle, 3but the poor man had nothing—just one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised that lamb, and it grew up with him and his children. It would eat from his food and drink from his cup—even sleep in his arms! It was like a daughter to him. 4“Now a traveler came to visit the rich man, but he wasn’t willing to take anything from his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had arrived. Instead, he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the visitor.” 5David got very angry at the man, and he said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the one who did this is demonic! 6He must restore the ewe lamb seven times overbecause he did this and because he had no compassion.” 7“You are that man!” Nathan told David.

Consequences: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: I anointed you king over Israel and delivered you from Saul’s power. 8I gave your master’s houseto you, and gave his wives into your embrace. I gave you the houseof Israel and Judah. If that was too little, I would have given even more. 9Why have you despised the Lord’s word by doing what is evil in his eyes? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and taken his wife as your own. You used the Ammonites to kill him. 10Because of that, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own, the sword will never leave your own house. 11“This is what the Lord says: I am making trouble come against you from inside your own family. Before your very eyes I will take your wives away and give them to your friend, and he will have sex with your wives in broad daylight. 12You did what you did secretly, but I will do what I am doing before all Israel in the light of day.” 13“I’ve sinned against the Lord!” David said to Nathan. “The Lord has removed your sin,” Nathan replied to David. “You won’t die. 14However, because you have utterly disrespected the Lordby doing this, the son born to you will definitely die.” 15Then Nathan went home.

EXPLAINATION: David receives consequences for his actions and he repents.

  1. If you’re reading along, David rapes Bathsheba and then kills her husband. THEN Bathsheba is expected to marry David.
    1. Bathsheba marries her rapist and then gives birth to his son.
  2. But what David had done was evil in the Lord’s eyes
    1. Nathan uses a parable to show David that he was wrong
      1. David sees how his actions were evil
        1. David killed Uriah
        2. David ‘took’ Bathsheba
        3. David used the Ammonites to kill Uriah
      2. David receives permanent consequences for his actions (which will continue to unfold in following weeks)
        1. “The sword will never leave your house”—trouble will be within David’s family
        2. “Your wives will be taken by friends” and the scandal will be public
      3. David repents of his actions.- Psalm 51 is a psalm of repentance about this exact situation.
        1. 10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12)

INTERPRETATION: David receives consequences for his actions and he repents.

  1. Scripture update
  • 1 Samuel 8
    • 1 Samuel 15-16
    • 1 Samuel 17-18
    • 2 Samuel 1
    • 2 Samuel 5
    • 2 Samuel 6
    • 2 Samuel 7
    • 2 Samuel 11
    • 2 Samuel 12
    • 2 Samuel 18
    • 1 Kings 2-3
    • 1 Kings 8
  1. Bathsheba loses her husband, is forced married to her rapist, and then loses her son.
    1. The Jewish law required rapists to pay the bride price and marry their victims. (Deuteronomy 22: 28-29) Ironically, this was considered a mercy on the woman. A woman who was no longer a virgin was undesirable as a wife. If a victim didn’t marry their rapist, they would be forced to beg or prostitution to survive. A woman couldn’t own property or earn their own income, they depended on men. Bathsheba was given no choice.
      1. Source: https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/1940448/jewish/Does-the-Torah-Punish-a-Rape-Victim.htm
    2. We know from the story of Esther—women are not given a choice in life especially with matters of the king. The story of Vashti in Esther is a tragic example.
  2. David’s actions and consequences impact Bathsheba. Bathsheba is stuck in the consequences of David’s actions.
    1. However, Bathsheba’s presence is also a consequence of David’s actions. She is a daily reminder to David of his gigantic failure. Because of Jewish law, David has to care for Bathsheba for the rest of his life. He doesn’t get to abandon her like an unwanted object.
    2. On top of this, David’s shame stays in the lineage of Jesus. David is listed as having a son w/ the wife of Uriah. David is listed as an adulterer in the lineage of Jesus. (Matthew 1:6)

APPLICATION: To acknowledge how our actions impact others and to hold ourselves accountable.

  1. Why does Bathsheba carry the consequences of David’s actions?
  2. Sometimes it is easier to ignore the truth: Our actions impact other people.
    1. David’s consequences spilled over onto Bathsheba.
    2. A drunk driver’s consequences could impact another family.
    3. Unresolved: David acknowledged that his actions were evil—they weren’t what God intended for David. And David confessed. There are still a lot of unresolved tensions in this passage, that we could discuss in Bible Study or over coffee.
  3. COMMUNION: God’s graces renew every morning. God didn’t give up on David. God forgave David when David confessed. BUT God did not remove David’s consequences. When David became king, God promised David this would happen. He wouldn’t treat David like Saul—God would correct David like a parent. We confess our wrong doings and God’s graces renew. Yet consequences can still remain.
    1. We are going to share communion together.  As we prepare for communion we are also going to practice confession together. May these words we share stir our hearts to change our lives and claim responsibility for our actions.
    2. Confession: For the moment, we’re setting David aside and considering our own stories.
      1. Almighty and most merciful Father; 
      2. We have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep. 
      3. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. 
      4. We have offended against your holy laws. 
      5. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; 
      6. And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; 
      7. And there is no health in us. 
      8. We confess, O God, that these are great evils.
      9. Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we are miserable offenders. Amen.
    3. **This time we will come forward**

CONCLUSION:

The Beginning of David’s Fall Pt 1

7/25/2021

**The Sermon will contain some sensitive content. Please use discretion for younger audiences or those with trauma history.**

Message Title: The Beginning of David’s Fall Pt 1
Theme: Reruns & Glory Days
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: 2 Samuel 11:1-15

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21
RCL Scripture: 2 Samuel 11:1-15 or 2 Kings 4:42-44 Psalm 14 or Psalm 145:10-18 Ephesians 3:14-21 John 6:1-21
Focus:
David rapes Bathsheba and orders her husband killed in battle.

Function: To listen for the stories of the vulnerable and fight systems that silence their voices.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 3:14-21 14 This is why I kneel before the Father. 15 Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. 16 I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. 17 I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, 18 I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. 19 I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God. 20 Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; 21 glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.

RERUNS & GLORY DAYS:

  1. **Content disclaimer**– We will be talking about some sensitive topics today in the story of Israel. This includes discussion of rape and murder. I understand if you need to hold off on this discussion for another day.So, to start us off, we’ll ask a question and give people a chance to settle in.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is your favorite crime show?
    1. Walker Texas Ranger; Blue Bloods; NCIS; **Sherlock (BBC); Prison Break; Law & Order: Special Victims unit
  3. Attack of the vulnerable: If I’m honest with you, I am not great with crime shows; especially true crime like Unsolved Mysteries or The Ted Bundy Tapes. I carry those stories with me forever. They season my dreams and flavor my outlook on the world.

TRANSITION: The popularity of “true crime” shows reveals the desire to understand what leads a person down a path of darkness. In our text for today, we will see God’s golden boy fall from graces by committing multiple atrocities. This will only be part 1 of the story. Return next week for part 2.

This is a dark story of scripture, Sorry Nan… not a great birthday present… but it leads to a brighter place. Join me in the darkness for a time.

MAIN TEXT: 2 Samuel 11:1-15 In the spring,when kingsgo off to war, David sent Joab, along with his servants and all the Israelites, and they destroyed the Ammonites, attacking the city of Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2One evening, David got up from his couch and was pacing back and forth on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3David sent someone and inquired about the woman. The report came back: “Isn’t this Eliam’s daughter Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4So David sent messengers to take her. When she came to him, he had sex with her. (Now she had been purifying herself after her monthly period.) Then she returned home. 5The woman conceived and sent word to David. “I’m pregnant,” she said. 6Then David sent a message to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. 7When Uriah came to him, David asked about the welfare of Joab and the army and how the battle was going. 8Then David told Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9However, Uriah slept at the palace entrance with all his master’s servants. He didn’t go down to his own house. 10David was told, “Uriah didn’t go down to his own house,” so David asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just returned from a journey? Why didn’t you go home?” 11“The chest and Israel and Judah are all living in tents,” Uriah told David. “And my master Joab and my master’s troops are camping in the open field. Howcould I go home and eat, drink, and have sex with my wife? I swear on your very life, I will not do that!” 12Then David told Uriah, “Stay here one more day. Tomorrow I’ll send you back.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day. The next day 13David called for him, and he ate and drank, and David got him drunk. In the evening Uriah went out to sleep in the same place, alongside his master’s servants, but he did not go down to his own home. 14The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15He wrote in the letter, “Place Uriah at the front of the fiercest battle, and then pull back from him so that he will be struck down and die.”

EXPLAINATION: David rapes Bathsheba and orders her husband killed in battle.

  1. “…when kings go off to war…”– The narrative in this passage starts by contrasting David’s behavior with what was expected of kings. David was *supposed* to be with his army at war.
    1. This was even emphasized by the honorable reaction of Uriah when summoned to sleep with his wife and cover up David’s evil actions.
  2. “to take her”
    1. Audience engagement: Let’s take a moment to consider something—
      1. Did Bathsheba have a choice in this story? Could Bathsheba deny the request of the King? Could Bathsheba deny David’s sexual advances?
        1. No. Bathsheba did not have a choice.
    2. Uncomfortable conclusion: David raped Bathsheba. This was not a romance story. No romantic comedy about how they fell in love. David “took her” and did what he wanted.
      1. Bathsheba is not a temptress that lures in the honorable David.
      2. David was forced himself on her.
      3. Bathsheba was a victim.
  3. Uriah the Good Guy does what David should have been doing……and then has Bathsheba’s husband killed. David is contrasted with Uriah the Hittite (who?). David becomes the king Samuel warns about in 1 Samuel 8.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. David the Bad Guy – In this moment, the man who we call ‘a man after God’s own heart’ is the bad guy. David used his position of power to take advantage of a woman and her husband.
    1. David was not doing what he was supposed to do as God’s appointed king AND THEN his sins escalated to rape and murder.
    2. Unfortunately, the story of David, Bathsheba, & Uriah never fully gets resolved but we will hear more of the tale next week when Nathan tells David what God thinks of David’s actions.
  2. Adolf Hitlerthe impossible Bad Guy vs. David -Everyone’s Bad Guy
    1. It’s hard to imagine David as the bad guy. Especially he has been contrasted with Saul all along.
    2. It’s easier to think of a bad guy like Adolf Hitler. We paint Hitler as this black & white—obvious bad guy.
      1. However, Adolf Hitler has a soft side. Everyone knows that Hitler was a painter but few knew about his love for children. Our time separated from history has twisted the truth making Hitler the impossible evil bad guy that no one else can become.
      2. Now don’t hear me wrong Hitler did terrible things and being nice to kids doesn’t cancel that out. I’m saying it’s hard to put yourself in Hitler’s shoes. David on the other hand….
        1. Hitler and Helga Goebbels (https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/hitler-helga-goebbels-1936/ )
    3. Bad guys like Adolf are easy. You condemn them and leave it there. But David… David was called “a man after God’s own heart”… how could David be a bad guy? I mean, isn’t he like all of us?
  3. We grow arrogant when we think we are not susceptible to dark and twisted choices.
    1. Foster training this week has been rough. We’ve learned about some really difficult stories of parents or guardians doing terrible things to kids and the pathways for healing and restoration.
    2. It’s easy to judge an abuser and think ‘I could never be like that’ … However, we all have the potential to be Honorable David or Bad Guy David. It’s the choices we make and the voices we listen to that make the difference. (Nano teaches as much in her children’s messages—let’s love our neighbors).

APPLICATION: To listen for the stories of the vulnerable and fight systems that silence their voices.

  1. David was king. He was supposed to protect the vulnerable – like a shepherd—not bring them to the wolves or act like a wolf.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
    1. Who are the vulnerable? (poor, children, elderly, vets, labor/low wage employees)
    2. What ways can we act like wolves to the vulnerable?
      1. #MeToo –Pastors reported for sexual abuse
      2. Churches harboring abusers
      3. WOW—game being sued by the state of California for abusing women
      4. Ignoring the history of Minorities
      5. Laborers receiving fair livable wages
  3. Building Bridges – The vulnerable need our help. We’ve named them… now we need to get to work. Our ministries will honor the Shepherd.
    1. Mentoring
    2. Sunday School
    3. Spiritual Listening Workshop
    4. Grace Tables for 8
  4. How we do ministry moving forward—looking for ways to bridge the gap
    1. Bridging the gap for the vulnerable
      1. Ministries to the vulnerable in our community:
        1. Kokomo Rescue Mission – shelters for men, women & children
        2. Gilead House – women in drug rehab
        3. CAM – homeless & impoverished
        4. Howard Haven – elderly, disabled, & impoverished
        5. Hopebridge – Austistic community
        6. Jackson St Commons – veterans
        7. Tipton County LIT

CONLCUSION:

The Roommate

7/18/2021

Message Title: The Roommate
Theme:
Reruns & Glory Days
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:11-22
RCL Scripture: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a or Jeremiah 23:1-6 Psalm 23 or Psalm 89:20-37 Ephesians 2:11-22 Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Focus: David intends to make God a home but God has other plans.
Function:
To turn our intentions for (insert thing) towards God’s intentions rather than our own.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 2:11-22 11 So remember that once you were Gentiles by physical descent, who were called “uncircumcised” by Jews who are physically circumcised. 12 At that time you were without Christ. You were aliens rather than citizens of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of God’s promise. In this world you had no hope and no God. 13 But now, thanks to Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. 15 He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. 16 He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God. 17 When he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and to those who were near. 18 We both have access to the Father through Christ by the one Spirit. 19 So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people, and you belong to God’s household. 20 As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. 22 Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit.

RERUNS:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is your favorite TV show that includes roommates?
    1. New Girl, Grey’s anatomy, Friends, Big Bang Theory, The Odd Couple…?
    2. Some of my favorites include: Facts of Life, Threes Company, and Golden Girls.
  2. The story of any group of roommates guarantees entertainment:
    1. We watch roommates fight over dishes, rent, or romance.
    2. We see roommates support each other in tragedy.
    3. We observe chaos unfold through miscommunication and laugh.
  3. It’s much easier to laugh at the misfortunes of a fictional character.

TRANSITION: In our text for today, David considers the dwelling place of God. Will David and God become roommates or is something else brewing?

MAIN TEXT & EXPLAINATION: 2 Samuel 7:1-14

We will read this in two portions.

VS 1-7 A House for the Lord: When the king was settled in his palace,and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2the king said to the prophet Nathan, “Look! I’m living in a cedar palace, but God’s chest is housed in a tent!”  3Nathan said to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you are thinking, because the Lord is with you.” 4But that very night the Lord’s word came to Nathan: 5Go to my servant David and tell him: This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build the temple for me to live in. 6In fact, I haven’t lived in a temple from the day I brought Israel out of Egypt until now. Instead, I have been traveling around in a tent and in a dwelling. 7Throughout my traveling around with the Israelites, did I ever ask any of Israel’s tribal leaders I appointed to shepherd my people: Why haven’t you built me a cedar temple?

  1. Previously on The story of Israel: David returned the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and celebrated unabashedly.
  2. Now that the ark has returned, David wants to build a permanent building for the Ark to reside.
    1. David thought: I have a place to lay my head, God should have a place to dwell.
  3. David is advised by a man named Nathan.
    1. Nathan is not previously mentioned but this passage refers to him as a prophet. Nathan will continue to play a significant role as an advisor to David.
  4. However, Nathan receives a correction by God. No, David won’t be the one to build him a temple.

VS 8-14 Role Reversal: 8So then, say this to my servant David: This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to be leader over my people Israel. 9I’ve been with you wherever you’ve gone, and I’ve eliminated all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great—like the name of the greatest people on earth. 10I’m going to provide a place for my people Israel, and plant them so that they may live there and no longer be disturbed. Cruel people will no longer trouble them, as they had been earlier, 11when I appointed leaders over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. And the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make a dynasty for you. 12When the time comes for you to die and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your descendant—one of your very own children—to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He will build a temple for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. 14I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to me. Whenever he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod, with blows from human beings.

  1. God speaks to David through Nathan:
    1. I will provide for my people as I have been providing for my people.
    2. I’ve provided for you and will continue providing for you.
  2. You will not build my temple, your descendant will.
  3. I will care for you and your descendants different from how I cared for Saul. Even in your mistakes or failures, I will not abandon you.

INTERPRETATION: David intends to make God a home but God has other plans.

  1. God clarifies that he doesn’t *need* anything from David.
    1. Nor should David put words or actions in God’s mouth.
    2. Rather, David should be in the habit of turning to God for each step David makes. 
    3. Instead, God reveals how God will provide for David’s monarchy.
  2. How often do we put words in God’s mouth?
    1. Even our best intentions cannot honor God when we do not first hand them over to God.
  3. Role Reversal:
    1. I think this is especially true when we consider ministries.
      1. When little churches compare themselves to big churches, all they will see is a large gap.
        1. More volunteers
        2. More participants
        3. More money
      2. We don’t see our strengths when we compare ourselves to other churches.
    2. We play the game of David- assuming we know what God has in store for us instead of asking.
    3. The whole struggle of ministry comparison becomes as complicated as roommates mis-communicating.

APPLICATION: To turn our intentions for (insert thing) towards God’s intentions rather than our own.

  1. State of the Church Post-2020- Let’s take some time to assess things.This last week in particular I feel particularly in tune with the state of the church: Saturday was ABW IN/KY summer conference. Monday morning, I zoomed with female pastors across the US, then saw Ruth’s program, and another zoom call with ABC pastors across the US. Tuesday, I was in Indy for a lunch with ABC Young Pastors.  Wednesday was Circle of Concern and a zoom call with small church pastors about current problems. Thursday, I met with Judson Association pastors. Bottom line: I’ve gathered some information.
  2. The Stats:
    1. Attendance across the world is down- this isn’t just Liberty. It’s cross denominations, states, and even countries. Many families choose online worship on a Sunday in place of in person but even that attendance is dwindling.
      1. Multitask, Pajamas, Wine–Believe me- no judgement. Sleep is my love language.
    2. Division- Tensions are high between groups that vote, love, worship, or live differently. 2020 was no help to that. And each of us, myself included, are part of the lines of division.
    3. Burn Out- All the while our expectations for ministry compares to other large or even mega churches in cities. Many pastors are burning out over the added responsibilities on their shoulders while church funds are struggling.
      1. Volunteers are low or exhausted but expectations for ministries and opportunities are the same.
      2. The Few- The Proud: The few voices calling out to “come back to church” are frequently misinterpreted: Give us $$! Fill a pew! Show up you sinners!
  3. 2020-enabled us to custom build church. Sure, we can drink wine and fold laundry while hearing a sermon BUT we’re missing community. We’re missing the people who can teach us, encourage us, and keep us accountable.
    1. I miss the faces of those we lost in 2020 to death.
    2. I also miss the faces of those we lost in 2020 for 100 other reasons.
    3. If you are listening on line, Liberty is not the same without you. Our community notices your absence, not because of our budget, because no one can replace you.
    4. Covid Precautions: Now we recognize that everyone is “sick” of COVID but COVID is not done in this world. There are still families connected to Liberty impacted by COVID. We must be wise in our words in order to honor them. It is unfortunate this topic has become so polarizing.
  4. A New Era: Building Bridges—I want to share a dream with you that started as heart break in our Christian Ed meeting last week. We struggled to find solutions for the kids at Liberty. The only solutions we knew were examples from churches with bigger budgets or a large volunteer base. I left that meeting distraught and burdened with prayer.
    1. And then this week of meetings and stories unfolded that filled my heart with hope and direction. My hope is you will hear these words and affirm the dreams unfolding:
    2. Mentoring- k through 12
      1. Sunday School format- Kid friendly using The Story. Starting Sept 1st.
    3. Spiritual Listening Workshop Aug 27-28
      1. 25 person cap.
      2. Josh is providing supper on Friday and lunch on Saturday.
    4. Grace Tables for 8 – Ruth’s new project
      1. Deacons/leadership start out this first year
      2. 2 Sundays in October

CONCLUSION: Churches are struggling worldwide. The Church as a whole is at a turning point. We can dig in and try to fit an expectation we are doomed to fail OR We have a chance to do ministry unlike any other church.

Our community is unique. We don’t fit the make up of any other congregation. Only Liberty can serve like Liberty. Let’s step into our skills. Let’s step into our gifts. And let’s build bridges for the future.