A Bee By Any Other Name Would Sting

3/27/2022

Message Title:  A Bee By Any Other Name Would Sting
Theme:
A Season of Growing
Season:
 Lent
Main Text:
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Scripture Reading:
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

RCL Scripture: Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Focus:
 The blessing of being in the family of God transforms our behavior.
Function:
 To recognize our role as ambassadors NOT law makers for Christ.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus told them this parable:…. 11b “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them. 13 Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living. 14 “When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need. 15 He hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from what the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. 21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! 23 Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting 24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field. Coming in from the field, he approached the house and heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. 27 The servant replied, ‘Your brother has arrived, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he received his son back safe and sound.’ 28 Then the older son was furious and didn’t want to enter in, but his father came out and begged him. 29 He answered his father, ‘Look, I’ve served you all these years, and I never disobeyed your instruction. Yet you’ve never given me as much as a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours returned, after gobbling up your estate on prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ 31 Then his father said, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found.’”

INTRODUCTION: Last week I mentioned the importance of dandelions as a bee’s first food in spring. Today I want to test your knowledge of bees.

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: (Disclaimer: I’m a pastor, not an Entomologist. Always consult bug professionals. This exercise is for general fun and not to be considered an official science lesson.)
    1. Can you tell the difference between yellow & black stripped & winged things?
      1. Word bank: Carpenter Bee, Bumblebee, Honeybee, Hoverfly, Yellow Jacket
      2. Answers: A. Carpenter Bee, B. Bumblebee, C. Hoverfly, D. Honeybee, E. Yellow Jacket
    2. Which of these pollenates? all!
    3. Which of these can sting? A. females only (the aggressive ones are males w/o stingers), B. rarely (can multiple times), C. no/can’t, D. in extreme circumstances (will kill them), E. yes, easily & repeatedly
  1. Sources;
      1. https://kottke.org/18/08/a-comprehensive-guide-to-yellow-stripey-things
      2. http://texashighplainsinsects.net/texas-insects-identified
      3. https://reddit.com/r/interestingasfuck/comments/bjjyqr/a_comprehensive_guide_to_yellow_stripey_things/
      4. https://bugguide.net/node/view/15740
      5. https://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/about-pollinators
  2. Family story: As a child, my little brother would refuse to wear yellow or bright colors because he didn’t want to attract bees. We all teased him and thought he was silly. It wasn’t until much later that we learned that bees see colors different than humans and yellow would definitely attract them.

TRANSITION: The problem with flying yellow stripey things is they all get lumped into the same “ouch” category. However, not all flying yellow stripey things do provide ouches or want to provide ouches. In the same way Christians are given a collective label. Anyone who claims to be a “Christian” impacts the label as a whole and impacted by the label. We are going to consider two separate passages today and how we can positively impact the Christian label.

MAIN TEXT:  2 Corinthians 5:16-21 16So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. 17So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! 18All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. 20So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 21God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.

EXPLAINATION: Remember this second letter to the Corinthians is a follow up that included a whole bunch of drama since the last letter. Paul is still teaching the Corinthians what it means to live for Jesus.  

  1. Vs 16 “we won’t recognize people by human standards.”—living for Jesus means our metric for success changes. It’s not the same as the world’s metric for success.
  2. Vs 17 “if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation”—living for Jesus means we are part of a new creation. We have been transformed.
  3. Vs 19 “God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ,” – living for Jesus means we participate in the Great Reconciliation work that God is doing through Jesus.
  4. Vs 20 “So we are ambassadors who represent Christ.” -living for Jesus means we represent Jesus to the world.
    1. Hint: if you’ve ever wondered what the tattoo on my forearm says…. Now you know. It is the Greek for “ambassadors for Christ” taken directly from this passage.
    2. And not hate the sin, love the sinner BUT invite all in. There isn’t a disclaimer for worthiness. We’re ambassadors not law makers.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Epistle: As believers in Christ, we are a new creation and become representatives of Christ in this world.
  2. Gospel:  Shifting to the Gospel, these may not seems connected but I promise we’ll get there together.
    1. Context:  Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors and sinners but speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees. This parable wasn’t for the “sinner” it was for the one who thought they were good.
    2. The Prodigal Son: The normal focus of this parable is typically on the son who returned. After all, we call this parable The Prodigal Son Returns.
    3. The son who stayed:  ANYWAY…. I want to consider the older son today.
      1. The older brother needs a transformation just as much as the younger brother. Sure, the younger brother basically says to dad “I wish you were dead so I could have your stuff.” BUT the older brother resents the work that he is putting in TO HIS OWN INHERITANCE.
        1. Where are my rewards for being good?! Why can’t I party with my friends? (which is an insult to the father as well: “I don’t want you around in my joyful moments. AND I’m ungrateful for all you are giving me.”)
    4. The brother who leaves is seen as the “bad kid” but is the older brother any better? Both of their hearts need a transformation. How did they grow so jaded with a father as loving and compassionate as the man in the story?
      1. He is furious that his brother is invited/welcomed back. He even stops calling his brother brother: “my brother” vs “your son.” He assumes a story about his brother wasting his money to prostitutes (which the narrator does not specify).
  3. Together:  On the surface, the older brother looks good. He stays. He works. I mean, he’s even in the fields when his brother returns and the party starts… no one goes to get him?!?!?! BUT his heart is full of resentment and venom. He resents his father’s compassion. He resents his labors as the oldest son. He is obedient but not transformed by his blessed state.
    1. Is the older brother really good if he’s filled with bitterness?
      1. Matthew 20:1-15 vineyard workers & a day’s wage
    2. If you identify as a Christian but do not change your life (heart & celebrating the reunion) through the Spirit’s guidance, you are no different than the brother who stayed and complained.
      1. We are God’s representatives on this earth.
      2. This isn’t about being morally good. It’s about being spiritually transformed.
      3. You follow the law… well good for you… BUT has your heart changed?

APPLICATION/RESPONSE: To recognize our role as ambassadors NOT law makers for Christ.

  1. BACK TO INTRO: VULNERABLE MOMENT– Like my little brother being hesitant to wear yellow (T-SHIRT) , I catch myself being hesitant to use the word “Christian” (T-SHIRT) because of how frequently it gets used for the wrong reasons. Instead, I say I follow Jesus or that I’m a Christ follower.
    1. I am not ashamed of Christ or Scripture, but I am sometimes embarrassed at churches and Christians.
  2. Specifically, my embarrassment blossoms when Christians try to speak for God without consulting Scripture or the Spirit.
    1. I am embarrassed when “Christians” use their label to push a particular political agenda…. Especially when Jesus specifically commissioned his disciples NOT ROME to be his hands and feet in the world.
      1. If I’m honest with you, one of the biggest crutches for Christians in America is the belief that America was founded as a Christian nation. We have merged together our faith and our patriotism. Separately both are good things but merged together, they create a mess.
    2. Matthew 22: 19-22 19 Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. 20 “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked. 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 22 When they heard this they were astonished, and they departed.
  3. We are participants in this world. We are law abiding citizens in this world UP UNTIL the point where a law prevents us from being faithful to Christ.
    1. No earthly nation is bound to follow our faith. Christ followers are not citizens of this world, we are citizens of heaven. We talked about this previously.
    2. Our role is ambassadors for Christ.
      1. “Stationed in a specific country, an ambassador is responsible for taking the pulse of the country’s political climate and representing the interests of the United States. Public diplomacy, communicating key positions of the United States and managing the U.S. Embassy are important duties of an ambassador.” https://work.chron.com/ambassador-do-4135.html
      2. An ambassador does not make the laws or make the plans. An ambassador represents the wishes of their government or company to another government or company.
        1. Don’t have their own power. They represent the power of the one who sent them (gov’t or company).

CONCLUSION:  We don’t decide on who or how God’s grace is poured out. We are to proclaim that it is happening.

  1. Our role is to be Christ’s ambassadors NOT law makers.
    1. We are the pollinators NOT stingers.

Fancy Words & Family Trees

3/20/2022

Message Title: Fancy Words & Family Trees
Theme: A Season of Growing
Season: Lent
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Scripture Reading: Luke 13:1-9
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9
Focus: Jesus and Paul want to see people transformed by their faith.
Function: To release our grip on heritage or fancy prayers and cling to Christ.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 13:1-9 Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.” Jesus told this parable: “A man owned a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. He said to his gardener, ‘Look, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for the past three years, and I’ve never found any. Cut it down! Why should it continue depleting the soil’s nutrients?’ The gardener responded, ‘Lord, give it one more year, and I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. Maybe it will produce fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.’”

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE: How do you feel about dandelions? Do you remove them from your yard or let them grow?
    1. Can you name any uses for dandelions?
      1. Dandelions are a bee’s first food in spring before the rest of the flowers bloom.
        1. Source: https://apnews.com/article/bees-8e6c4391ff504dc88079e21c040837e1
      2. Dandelion jelly, wine, fried dandelions
      3. Source: https://www.eatweeds.co.uk/dandelion-taraxacum-officinale
        1. Parts Used for Food: Roots, leaves, buds and flowers.
        2. Dandelion-and-burdock is a popular fizzy drink made in the north of England. The root has also traditionally been used to make a coffee substitute.
        3. The leaves of the plant are considered to be very nutritious and can be eaten as a salad or fresh vegetable. In Asian cooking, for example, the leaves are used like lettuce, boiled, made into soup or fried.
        4. The flower buds can be added to omelettes and fritters, the flowers baked into cakes, and even the pollen sprinkled on food for decoration and colouring. Blossoms make a delicious country wine and beer is brewed from the whole plant before it flowers.
      4. Source: https://practicalselfreliance.com/dandelion-capers/
        1. Dandelion Capers
  2. Last year Josh and I left our Dandelions out at the beginning of spring while we were still planting our garden. Much to Josh’s chagrin. I know many people hate those “weeds” BUT dandelions are an extremely useful plant. –we did harvest some blossoms and josh fried them up. Though it wasn’t my favorite.

TRANSITION: This disliked weekd is a very important part of our echo system. Where the majority see Dandelions as weeds– God provided it was sustinance. Speaking of being disliked…. we’re going to continue the conversation about not being popular in this world.

MAIN TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Brothers and sisters, I want you to be sure of the fact that our ancestors were all under the cloud and they all went through the sea. All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.  However, God was unhappy with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. These things were examples for us, so we won’t crave evil things like they did. Don’t worship false gods like some of them did, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and they got up to play.[a] Let’s not practice sexual immorality, like some of them did, and twenty-three thousand died in one day. Let’s not test Christ, like some of them did, and were killed by the snakes. 10 Let’s not grumble, like some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer.  11 These things happened to them as an example and were written as a warning for us to whom the end of time has come. 12 So those who think they are standing need to watch out or else they may fall. 13 No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. History lesson– a retelling of stories from hindsight. (NOT THE MAIN POINT OF THE PASSAGE)
    1. FYI- Here are the scripture references to stories Paul references. We won’t focus on these today but you are more than welcome to explore these passages and contact me if you want to talk. Or join Bible study where we talk about this kind of stuff all the time!
      1. Exodus 13:21; 14:21-31; 16:4, 35; 17:1-7; 32: 1-10
      2. Numbers 14:26-35; 16:41-49; 20:11; 21:5-9; 25:1-9; 26:63-65
  2. Vs 12 think you’re fine but you really need to watch out
  3. *Vs 13* commonly misinterpreted as “God wont’ give you more than you can handle”

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Epistle
    1. Paul is taking excuses away from the Corinthians. They know better than their ancestors, therefore they are expected to do better.
    2. The main point of this passage ISN’T highlighting the failures of previous generations—because each generation has it’s failures.
    3. The main point IS to turn to God when you are struggling or failing. God will guide you. God will equip you.
  2. Gospel:
    1. Tragic events of Jesus’ time: our gospel passage starts with current events (as opposed to Paul’s history lesson). Unfortunately, these events are only recorded here in Luke’s gospel and not in other sources. They didn’t have the “gift” of our media to share news in milliseconds across the globe.
    2. Change your hearts and lives!! REPEAT: Change your hearts and lives!!
    3. Parable of the fig tree
  3. Together:
    1. Both the Gospel & the Epistle use events (historical or current) to highlight their main point.
      1. For Paul: know better, do better.
      2. For Jesus: faith leads to changed lives.

RESPONSE/APPLICATION/SO WHAT?

  1. Both these men want to see you practice what you preach. Don’t simply cling to fancy prayers or your ancestry as your salvation. Your faith is your own.
  2. Clinging to a prayer
    1. No where in scripture is our salvation tied to a prayer. It is tied to BELIEF IN JESUS.
    2. Neither our words or actions are salvation. (We can’t “good” our way to heaven.) No fancy prayers or memorized scripture. No special service to the church or community. ONLY BELIEF IN JESUS.
  3. Clinging to heritage
    1. We cannot boast in our Christianity anymore than we can boast in being Americans. We had no control over our nationality. As Christians, our salvation is to boast in Christ—not ourselves.
    2. It’s easy of us to interpret tragic events and assume God is placing judgement on a people or land—I have heard some say as much about Ukraine.
      1. This is frequently built off of taking 2 Chronicles 7:14 out of context. “14 if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
    3. We conflate Israel with modern day governments. Israel was a people, a religious group, & governmental body. No other country has God built in that same structure.
      1. Yes, humans may set intentions for a land—but that is not the same as Israel’s relationship with God. Immigrants came to America and fought a revolution to allow religious freedom. BUT that isn’t the same as God’s relationship with Israel.
      2. NOR is God’s relationship with the 12 tribes the same as the modern country of Israel’s relationship with God.
      3. Our nationality doesn’t save us. Our ancestral heritage doesn’t save us.
  4. Cling to Christ:
    1. Though we cannot boast in our prayers or our heritage—we can boast in Christ. Our label as Christians is not connected to a prayer or our faith family tree, it is connected to Christ.
      1. “Christ-ians”—means Little Christs. No, we’re not called to die on little crosses BUT we are called to be transformed.
    2. We won’t fit in with the rest of the world when we live like Jesus. Just like dandelions are seen as weeds to the uneducated eye.
    3. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What ways can we stand out? Ways we can do better because we know better.
      1. Opening our homes- allow someone to stay with you whether it be a few hours or a few years.
        1. i.e. fostering, adoption, refugee help, veteran or homeless assistance.
      2. Giving away our excess (or even more)—Ruth is a good example of that. How many times has she given away a couch or her phone to someone who needed it?
        1. I met a pastor in seminary whose goal was to live on 20% of his income and give away the other 80%. Though he had a small pastor’s salary, his goal was to give away $1million dollars in his life time. He lived in a small old home that was always full of guests. He drove an old car. They lived a simple yet full life.
      3. Serving – See people face to face that need love and support. I think the best place to serve is connected to people who make you uncomfortable- the poor, the refugee, the “different”, the recovering addict. We must see their faces and learn the love of God through loving them even when we’re uncomfortable.
        1. I.e. CAM, Jackson Morrow, Kokomo Urban Outreach, Kokomo Rescue Mission
      4. Mentoring-  creating relationships with those older and younger than us to build our connection with God and God’s people. Get yourself a mentor. Be open to mentoring. You don’t have to have all the answers BUT you could be a support when someone is in their darkest place.

CONCLUSION: Know better, Do better. Be the Dandelion blessing rather than the cursed weed.

Can new life grow from ashes? – Ash Wednesday

3/2/2022

Opening Song: Great Are You Lord by All Sons & Daughters

Closing Song: Dry Bones by Lauren Daigle

Message Title: Can new life grow from ashes? 
Theme:
 Ash Wednesday
Season:
Lent
Main Text:  
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Scripture Reading:
invite others to read as a spiritual practice this week
RCL Scripture: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Focus:
 God has not abandoned God’s people, even in their suffering.
Function:
 To find our hope, joy, and daily renewal in the Spirit of God.
Other Notes:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP: Welcome. We’re glad you are with us this evening to start of the Lenten season with intention. Let’s open up with prayer.

  1. PRAYER: Gracious God, God of our troubles and our triumphs. Be present with us tonight as we set our intentions for the season of Lent. We have the habit of losing our way or getting distracted from you. The burdens of our daily lives and current events can pull our eyes off of you. Help us to take this time to come back to you with great intentions. Help us to see your grace as we try and potentially fail. Build in us a craving for your Spirit and comfort. Amen.
  2. HOLY SPIRIT CANDLE – light the candles.
  3. INCENSE- I’m also lighting incense tonight as a specific symbol of this purifying time. I use Frankincense and Myrrh not only because they were gifts Jesus received but also because they are known to help calm and focus the mind.

SONG: Great Are You Lord by All Sons & Daughters

I want to start with a song of praise. My hope is this sets our attitude for the service. You are welcome to sing a long or simply reflect on the words on the screen.

DEVOTION: Can new life grow from ashes? 

Because of the burdens we all have experienced over the last few years and especially the last week with the crisis in Ukraine, I wanted us to take this time to find hope again. Normally Ash Wednesday is specifically designed to remind us of our mortality. I, however, think we’ve had a lot of reminders of that as of late.

So today we’re going to be diving in to Ezekiel 37 rather than the normal RCL passages.

Let’s set the scene: Ezekiel is a priest in training during the first Babylonian siege on the city. (think the same time as the book of Daniel.) Some of the skilled workers, aristocrats, and artisans were pulled from Jerusalem to Babylon to serve Babylon. Ezekiel was one of those people. He received multiple visions from God while in exile and we’re going to read one of them together today.

  1. Ezekiel 37:1-14 The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones. 2He led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry. 3He asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?” I said, “Lord God, only you know.” 4He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! 5The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. 6I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.” 7I prophesied just as I was commanded. There was a great noise as I was prophesying, then a great quaking, and the bones came together, bone by bone. 8When I looked, suddenly there were sinews on them. The flesh appeared, and then they were covered over with skin. But there was still no breath in them. 9He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.” 10I prophesied just as he commanded me. When the breath entered them, they came to life and stood on their feet, an extraordinarily large company. 11He said to me, “Human one, these bones are the entire house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely finished.’ 12So now, prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims: I’m opening your graves! I will raise you up from your graves, my people, and I will bring you to Israel’s fertile land. 13You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, my people. 14I will put my breathin you, and you will live. I will plant you on your fertile land, and you will know that I am the Lord. I’ve spoken, and I will do it. This is what the Lord says.”
  2. RESPONSE:
    1. It would be natural for Ezekiel to feel abandoned by God and far away from God as Ezekiel was far away from the Holy City of Jerusalem. BUT God met him in his grief. God met him in the ashes and told him there would be life again.
    2. Ezekiel’s vision is of a valley of dried bones (think cow skull in a desert withered from the sun…tumble weeds rolling in the background). There is no marrow left in those bones. Yet God showed Ezekiel that God could bring even those bones back to life again.
    3. This vision was supposed to give Ezekiel hope that 1. God had not abandoned Ezekiel or the people of Israel just because they were experiencing the consequences of their actions. 2. God would restore the people again as the turned to him.

REFLECTION TIME:

  1. For so many of us 2020 was a year of weariness. We had hoped 2 weeks to flatten the curve would be all we needed and then we could go back to our normal lives. Then reality hit—no family is removed from the pain of someone being affected by COVID either by illness, career, or life’s milestones being skipped or altered. We missed our honeymoon… and now we’re joyfully pregnant. Maybe by out 5th anniversary we’ll get to go.
    2020 ended and 2021 still didn’t see the end of COVID. Things have changed and we’ve had high spikes and low spikes but most of society has tried to “go back to normal-ish” as much as they can. I’m obviously skipping over all the politics woven into that time as well.
    For many, 2020 and 2021represent pain, loss, and anxiety. NOW we see the crisis in Ukraine and know that this is only one example of war and conflict happening in our world. Our hearts are overburdened. This year, I want us to twist lent. Rather than MORE time to consider mortality—which I’m sure we’ve all had enough of—let’s take time to renew our lives. To put breath in our lungs and have hope again.
  2. The point of this season is to reset our spiritual mind, to bring us back to Christ. This season was instituted to balance out the season of Easter’s 40 days of feasting with 40 days of fasting. (Perhaps we all desperately need the 40 days of feasting this year!) If you count the days from now until Easter, you will notice that adds up to more than 40 days. Each Sunday you get to break your fast and remember that Easter is coming, though some people choose to maintain the discipline.
  3. How to practice the season of Lent: We will take some time to look at some simple options for engaging in a new practice. I will also have a few handouts in the back available for those interested in trying a particular practice.
    1. Fasting (Traditional)
      1. The most traditional form of fasting is abstaining from anything caloric for a period of time. The point is that your hunger pangs remind you to connect with God like an internal alarm clock for prayer.
      2. Some alternative forms:
        1. Day fasts- fasting caloric intake from sun up to sun down or for a certain amount of hours i.e. 8 am to 8 pm.
        2. Fasting particular foods- i.e. giving up sweets, soda, coffee
        3. Fasting particular entertainment or habits- i.e. giving up tv, social media, smoking etc.
    2. Start a new spiritual discipline: here are a few examples.
      1. Bible Reading: This could take shape in many ways including listening to the audio Bible, Bible Journaling, Lectio Divina, or simply picking a book of the bible to read during Lent.
        1. Devotional
        2. Meditation
        3. Memorization
      2. Prayer-
        1. Breath Prayer
        2. Center Prayer
        3. Contemplative prayer
      3. Community Connection
        1. Accountability Partner
        2. Mentoring
        3. Volunteer (Service)
    3. Read the RCL readings each week.
      1. For Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

LORD’S PRAYER: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom,and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

Instructions & Dismissal: We will close with the Imposition of Ashes. All are welcome forward to receive ashes and a blessing. I ask that you leave quietly for those who may choose to sit and reflect.

Imposition of Ashes: Heather plays song & I invite people forward.

*Song- Dry Bones by Lauren Daigle*

When Opposites Repel

3/13/2022

Message Title:  When Opposites Repel
Theme:
A Season of Growth
Season:
Lent
Main Text:
Philippians 3:17-4:1;
Scripture Reading: Luke 13:31-35;
RCL Scripture: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35; Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a)
Focus:  Paul and Jesus test the allegiance of their audience.
Function:
To choose to align ourselves with God or to align ourselves with the world.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 13:31-35 31 At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus and said, “Go! Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.” 32 Jesus said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Look, I’m throwing out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work. 33 However, it’s necessary for me to travel today, tomorrow, and the next day because it’s impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you! How often I have wanted to gather your people just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that. 35 Look, your house is abandoned. I tell you, you won’t see me until the time comes when you say, Blessings on the one who comes in the Lord’s name.”[b]

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you grow a garden? What is your favorite thing to plant?
  2. I’ve known for years the importance of rotating crops to make sure that soil nutrient levels stay balanced.
  3. However, I recently learned about how plants have “bed fellows” and “bed enemies.” There are certain plants that shouldn’t grow next to each other. While other plants thrive off of each other. Let’s look at one example:
    1. What shouldn’t you plant with CARROTS: –
      1. Chives -; Dill -; Leaf lettuce; Onions; Parsnip- ; Tomatoes; Radish
    2. https://heeman.ca/garden-guides/companion-planting/

TRANSITION:  Sometimes opposites repel each other and we can’t force them to “get along.” For vegetables, there are hard rules about success with gardening. For Christians, the guidelines are much more nuanced.

As we look at the next pairing of scriptures, Luke 13 and Philippians, we will discuss how Christians fit in… or stand out. Do we attract our opposites or repel?

MAIN TEXT: Philippians 3:17-4:1a; 17 Brothers and sisters, become imitators of me and watch those who live this way—you can use us as models. 18 As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross19 Their lives end with destruction. Their god is their stomach, and they take pride in their disgrace because their thoughts focus on earthly things. 20 Our citizenship is in heaven. We look forward to a savior that comes from there—the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform our humble bodies so that they are like his glorious body, by the power that also makes him able to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and miss, who are my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Background of Philippians (Map)
    1. Paul writes to the church in Philippi
    2. Paul is in prison, Philippians send Epaphroditus to bring Paul a care package and Paul sends him back with a letter.
    3. Philippi had strong identity as Romans. Very patriotic and nationalistic. (TBP)
      1. Paul wants to correct their allegiance
  2. “Become imitators of me”
  3. **“many people live as enemies of the cross”
  4. “our citizenship is in heaven” – our citizenship is IN God. (Greek heaven/sky)
  5. “stand firm in the Lord”

INTERPRETATION:

  1. EPISTLE
    1. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is full of gratitude for their care BUT remember—he’s in prison. As far as society sees it, Paul has a criminal record. This isn’t the last time he’ll be imprisoned either. Paul will eventually be executed for his faithfulness to the Gospel.
      1. Paul destroys his earthly reputation as a Pharisee and a Roman Citizen
    2. Paul is fighting a mindset that values earthly citizenship over their allegiance to Christ. Philippi was proud of their fealty as citizens of Rome.
      1. Paul was executed by his own countrymen. He was a Roman citizen with Roman privileges and eventually his countrymen rejected him for his message.
  2. GOSPEL
    1. Sassy Jesus shows up in our Gospel text today. He calls Herod Antipas a FOX! (Blanford’s Fox) The Tetrarch over Galilee! The guy who executed his cousin for insulting his wife!
      1. (Btw that wife was actually his brother’s wife! Herod killed his brother and took his wife and John the Baptist called him out.)
      2. Herod is keeping an eye on Jesus but (just like Paul) Jesus doesn’t hold back his ministry because of a threat.
    2. Aware of the shocking nature of Jesus: This passage reminds us of the shocking nature of Jesus. He was controversial to the authorities—both religious and government.
      1. Sometimes we focus in on the Birkenstock Jesus and picture him handing out free hugs at a festival while forgetting about Table Flipping Jesus. Table Flipping Jesus called for a radically different way of living in community.
        1. This is the Jesus who included individuals the religious leaders/zealots would exclude
        2. This is the Jesus calling out the religious leaders for their own hypocrisy
        3. This is the Jesus who said the law exists to benefit people, not people to benefit the law.
    3. Side note: this is one time where you see that Pharisees aren’t bad guys
  3. TOGETHER
    1. Personal Lord & Savior/ Stuffed Animal Jesus isn’t’ an accurate picture of Jesus. Jesus isn’t just FOR you. Jesus is FOR all of creation. Jesus isn’t on OUR side, we are called to HIS side.
      1. He loves people that others cast out. He gave second chances to those others had given up on. He pushed back on religious traditions/habits and people felt threatened.
      1. He died a criminal’s death—that’s right, his siblings sit on death row.
    2. Jesus called out the hypocritical behavior within his religious branch.
      1. Herod Antipas was a hypocrite for claiming his Jewish faith but being in the pocket of the Romans. His rule was founded by the Romans, not the Jews. The Romans thought the Jews would be easier to subdue if they put a “jew” in place.
    3. Those of us who grew up in the church: if we were transplanted to Jesus’ time, would be at risk of being offended by Jesus’ teachings rather than empowered by them.

APPLICATION: To Choose to align ourselves with God or to align ourselves with the world.

  1. It’s a little uncomfortable to think that Paul has a criminal record and that Jesus was executed by Roman capital punishment at the behest of the religious leaders. In fact, aside from John, all of Jesus’ disciples will be executed for their faithfulness to Jesus’ message.
    1. Compare to MLK Jr.: MLK was assassinated – there was a reason. We now paint him with rose colored glasses as we celebrate MLK day in February BUT his contemporaries hated him. They hated that the status quo was being disrupted. 
      1. Jesus was hated too. Sure, he was loved by the outcasts and oddballs BUT the ones in leadership with power, the ones with wealth, the ones in allegiance with Rome— they hated Jesus.
  2. Our story is a lived expression of Jesus’ story. (TBP)
    1. If we follow Jesus, we will not be fit in with the rest of the world.
      1. We won’t fit in with a political party.
      2. We won’t fit in with the cultural norms of our country.
      3. We won’t fit in anywhere because our citizenship is in heaven.
    2. INSTEAD:
      1. We will be welcoming the ones who are kicked out.
      2. We will be opening doors that others shut.
      3. Our connections will cross borders. Citizenship isn’t defined by earthly standards.
  3. DISCLAIEMER: Not a justification for being an asshole.
    1. There have been Christians who have used the concept “not part of this world” or “animosity with the world” as an excuse to be jerks.
      1. “Christians” protesting at soldiers’ funerals proclaiming their beliefs about homosexuals in vulgar ways.
      2. “Christians” protesting at women’s clinics by shaming women who need medical attention or are considering hard decisions about the future.
      3. “Christians” so convinced their political party is correct that the use slurs against leaders they disagree with. – All sides do this.
      4. “Christians” pastors who would refuse to marry a couple who are living together rather than unite them under God.
      5. “Christians” saying there is a war on Christmas based on the design on a cup at a coffee shop.
  4. Your Will, Not Mine: Following Jesus doesn’t mean that every belief we hold is now endorsed by God. Following Jesus means we will scrutinize each of our beliefs through the Holy Spirit and invite God to change our mind.
    1. Following Jesus means we let go of our own plans, hopes, desires and invite God’s desire to blossom within us.
    2. Jesus prayed in the Garden before he was arrested “Yet your will be done.” He didn’t want to suffer BUT he gave it all up for the glory of God.

CONCLUSION

A CHALLENGE: I invite you to pray Jesus’ prayer during lent. To share with God the struggles on your heart, the hopes you have, or the plans you’re making. AND THEN have the guts to say “yet your will be done.”

Help me want what you want.

Let go of our allegiance to party, country, or denomination and place our citizenship in heaven.

Do the Roots Run Deep?

3/6/2022

Message Title: Do the Roots Run Deep?
Theme: Lent: A Season of Growing
Season: Lent
Main Text: Romans 10:8b-13
Scripture Reading: Luke 4:1-13
RCL Scripture: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
Focus: Paul coaches the romans to root their faith in belief in Jesus.
Function:  To take time to remember WHY we believe in Jesus.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 4:1-13 Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.”[a] Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”[b] The devil brought him into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you 11 and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.[c]12 Jesus answered, “It’s been said, Don’t test the Lord your God.”[d] 13 After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity.

SERIES/SEASON INTRODUCTION: To those of you who missed the Ash Wednesday service welcome to Lent! This is a season of reflection, humility, and growth. Our scripture readings will be from the Gospels and the sermon text we will pair from one of Paul’s letters. As we set our spiritual intentions to focus back on Jesus, we will gather some lessons from Paul to help our roots grow deep.

INTRODUCTION: …. Speaking of roots…..

  1. Audience engagement: Do you have a favorite type of tree?
    1. I love magnolia trees
    2. Anyone know what the oldest living trees are in the world?
      1. Ok technically this is a trick question because there isn’t one answer. Many of the oldest trees have already been cut down or died (i.e. Prometheus a 4900+ yr old tree) and some they struggle to date.
        1. some are considered “clonal” (or a tree that has sprouted in multiple places but shares one set of roots. The oldest of those is dated about 14,000 yrs we’ve talked about that before)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_trees
    3. So, I’ll qualify with this—ONE of the oldest trees still living today are Olive Trees—there is one Greece dated to be between 2000- 5000 years old and still producing olives. Scientists aren’t exactly sure because they don’t want to risk harming the tree with further tests. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_tree_of_Vouves
      1. Wrap your mind around that for a minute: Either the tree was JUST planted at the time of Jesus OR that tree was 2000 years old AT the time of Jesus… and it’s still making olives.
      2. Depending on the dating of this tree it would be the oldest, non-clonal, living tree.

TRANSITION:  There are olive trees in Israel in the 900-1000+ age near the Garden of Gethsemane. If only those trees could talk! This series is going to get us to our roots and dig down deep. Let’s build a strong foundation during the season of lent to help us flourish throughout the rest of the year.

SCRIPTURE PAIR: Our first scripture paring is Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness with Paul’s letter to the Romans. Let’s read Paul’s letter and connect it to our Gospel reading.

MAIN TEXT: Romans 10:8b-13 The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the message of faith that we preach). 9Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. 11The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame. 12There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. 13All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Paul’s letter:
    1. Context:
      1. Paul’s letter to the Romans (Date & Cultural context?)
    2. Confess with your mouth faith in your heart you will be saved
    3. All who have faith will be saved
    4. No distinction between Jew and Greek
  2. Gospel Passage: Jesus’ Temptation according to Luke
    1. If you compare this story in the other gospels, it will unfold in a slightly different order.
    2. Jesus goes into the desert not with his own “power” but with the Holy Spirit’s “power”
    3. The temptations the Devil offers are actual temptations to Jesus—he could skip the whole suffering thing and follow the Devil. (is “Devil” the same word as Job’s “accuser”?)
    4. “until an opportune time”
      1. Some say Jesus’s prayer in the Garden “take this cup from me” is that next temptation
      2. Others say that since Jesus wasn’t susceptible to temptation, Judas was tempted.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Paul is teaching the Romans to believe in the man in the desert. The man who put the needs of all of creation before his own desires. THAT is a man we can get behind. THAT is a man we can follow. THAT is a God we can worship.
  2. Jesus makes things easy. Belief in Jesus is our salvation. Nothing about our story, identity, personality, or baggage can boost or subtract from our salvation. It’s all rooted in Christ, not in us.

RESPONSE/SO WHAT/APPLICATION:

  1. Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to withstand the temptation he received.
    1. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells the disciples that they will do even greater works than him through the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers can trust in the Holy Spirit to enable and equip us for whatever tasks God calls us to do.
    2. That get’s me excited.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What are the stories that compel you to follow Jesus or know more about Jesus?
  3. It is important to take time to remember WHY we participate in the Christian Faith. It’s important to reflect on our spiritual roots. WHAT first drew you to Jesus?
    1. Our motivation drives us forward into a deeper relationship with God.

CONCLUSION: PRUNE THE ROOTS—I’ve learned that I kill house plants out of neglect. I forget to water them, or I water them too much OR I forget to replant them or fertilize their soil. I learned that my dying orchid might be able to be revived if I tend to the roots, prune as necessary, and repot the plant.

We can do the same with our faith.

Spiritual disciplines handouts in the foyer.

COMMUNION: One of the best ways to tend to our faith-roots is through the practice of communion. Communion can be that reminder of WHO we follow and WHY we worship.

Is It Contagious?

2-27-2022

Message Title: Is It Contagious?
Theme: TRANSFIGURATION SUNDAY
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2;
Scripture Reading: All
RCL Scripture: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36
Focus: Paul connects Moses’ transfiguration with our faith transformation.
Function: to open ourselves up to the transformation possibilities brought from a relationship with God through spiritual disciplines.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING:

Exodus 34:29-35 29 Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two covenant tablets in his hand, Moses didn’t realize that the skin of his face shone brightly because he had been talking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw the skin of Moses’ face shining brightly, they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called them closer. So Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32 After that, all the Israelites came near as well, and Moses commanded them everything that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 Whenever Moses went into the Lord’s presence to speak with him, Moses would take the veil off until he came out again. When Moses came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was shining brightly. So Moses would put the veil on his face again until the next time he went in to speak with the Lord.

Psalm 99 The Lord rules—the nations shake! He sits enthroned on the winged heavenly creatures—the earth quakes! The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them thank your great and awesome name. He is holy! Strong king[a] who loves justice, you are the one who established what is fair. You worked justice and righteousness in Jacob. Magnify the Lord, our God! Bow low at his footstool! He is holy! Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel too among those who called on his name. They cried out to the Lord, and he himself answered them— 7he spoke to them from a pillar of cloud. They kept the laws and the rules God gave to them. Lord our God, you answered them. To them you were a God who forgives but also the one who avenged their wrong deeds. Magnify the Lord our God! Bow low at his holy mountain because the Lord our God is holy!

Luke 9:28-36 28 About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him. 31 They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus’ departure, which he would achieve in Jerusalem. 32 Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him. 33 As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it’s good that we’re here. We should construct three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—but he didn’t know what he was saying. 34 Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them. As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe. 35 Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” 36 Even as the voice spoke, Jesus was found alone. They were speechless and at the time told no one what they had seen.

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What are your favorite compliments to receive? Or how do you like to receive them?
  2. Art Project in a High School- You’re beautiful- Video
    1. Notice how their faced lit up? They were transformed by a simple kind word.

TRANSITION: Words are powerful tools. They can transform a situation from cold to warm. Words can build people up or they can tear them down.

  1. The last 6 weeks we have been in 1 Corinthians learning about how to be the church from Paul’s instructions to the Christians in Corinth.
  2. Today is Transfiguration Sunday and the “normal” thing to do is read the story of Jesus’ transfiguration and focus on that. Instead, I’d like to tie all our readings together.
  3. How will these words transform us?

MAIN TEXT: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 12 So, since we have such a hope, we act with great confidence. 13 We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were closed. Right up to the present day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. The veil is not removed because it is taken away by Christ. 15 Even today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But whenever someone turns back to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. 18 All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit….4 This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. CORINTHIANS: Vs 13- I’m unsure why Paul decides to paint Moses in a negative light in this passage. Paul makes it sound like Moses was embarrassed by his transformation. We can call this a reinterpretation of Exodus 34.
  2. EXODUS: Moses covers his face because everyone else is freaked out that he’s glowing. Moses’ spent time with God and he was changed physically. This scared the Israelites so much they said “God will be our God and we will be His people; but we don’t want to deal with Him directly. You be our mediator. … we don’t wanna look freaky like you because we might die.” (paraphrased)
    1. PSALM:  No wonder they were freaked out, we look at the words in Psalm 99 and see that being in God’s presence is intimidating.
  3. LUKE:  It doesn’t surprise me that the disciples behave like others that have gone before them. The are in awe (and maybe a little scared) when Jesus transfigures before them. His glory is revealed, they see Moses and Elijah and hear a voice confirming that this is the Messiah that Yahweh has promised. 

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Since creation, God has wanted a direct relationship with creation. And since the beginning, humans have continued to put a barrier up between us and God.
    1. We’ve feared God.
    2. We’ve doubted God.
    3. We’ve judged God.
    4. We’ve decided we know better than God.
  2. Yet, God continues to call us to a relationship. But the scary thing is, this relationship will change us.
    1. No, likely you won’t literally glow like Moses did. But as we step into a consistent relationship with God, we will be transformed.

APPLICATION:

  1. The transformation process is not for the faint of heart. We will no longer fit in with the standards of this world. Things like war, money, power, or politics lose their taste when we are growing in God’s Spirit.
    1. Instead of our own self-gains, we will be looking to care for all of creation. We will see each face as a beloved child of God rather than opposition.
  2. How do we grow in a deeper relationship with God? What leads to our transformation?
    1. Answer: Spiritual Disciplines– a fancy way of saying, finding unique and set aside time for your spiritual development.
  3. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:  List off some spiritual disciplines
    1. Is this a struggle for you?
    2. Lists from online sources:
      1. https://groundworkonline.com/blog/what-are-spiritual-disciplines
        1. Why Practice Spiritual DisciplinesTitus 2;11-15 & 1 Timothy 4:7-8
        2. Prayer & FastingMatthew 6:1-6, 16-18
        3. Simplicity & SubmissionPhilippians 4:10-13, Matthew 6:19-33
        4. Silence & SolitudeLuke 5:15-16 & 1 Kings 19:11-13
        5. Service & GivingMatthew 6:19-21 & Matthew 25:14-30
        6. Scripture: Study, Memorization, Contemplation & MeditationPsalm 119
      2. Wiki:
        1. prayerfasting, reading through the Christian Bible along with a daily devotional, frequent church attendance, constant partaking of the sacraments, such as the Eucharist, careful observance of the Lord’s Day (cf. Sunday Sabbatarianism), making a Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land, visiting and praying at a church, offering daily prayer at one’s home altar while kneeling at a prie-dieu, making a Spiritual CommunionChristian monasticismBible studychanting, the use of prayer beadsmortification of the fleshChristian meditation or contemplative prayer, almsgiving, blessing oneself at their home stoup daily, observing modest fashionreconciliation, and Lectio Divina.
        2. chastity, confession, fasting, fellowship, frugality, giving, guidance, hospitality, humility, intimacy, meditation, prayer, Quiet Time, reflection, self-control, servanthood, service, simplicity, singing, slowing, solitude, study, submission, surrender, teaching, and worship.
  4. Book recommendation: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
    1. Topical Parts
      1. Worship
      2. Open Myself to God
      3. Relinquish the False self
      4. Share My life with Others
      5. Hear God’s Word
      6. Incarnate the Love of Christ
      7. Pray
    2. Chapters Include
      1. Chart
        1. Desire
        2. Definition
        3. Scripture
        4. Practice includes
        5. God-Given Fruit
      1. Description, Reflection Questions, and Spiritual Exercises

CONCLUSION:  The Transfiguration of Christ revealed his divinity to his disciples. Moses’ transformation came from time with God. We are children of the divine, as we spend time with God, our spirit will be transformed like Moses and like Jesus.

PRAYER by Rev. Alex Smith

Moment of Silence during service included poem:

“I No Longer Pray For Peace”

By Ann Weems

On the edge of war, one foot already in,

I no longer pray for peace:

I pray for miracles.

I pray that stone hearts will turn

to tenderheartedness,

and evil intentions will turn

to mercifulness,

and all the soldiers already deployed

will be snatched out of harm’s way,

and the whole world will be

astounded onto its knees.

I pray that all the “God talk”

will take bones,

and stand up and shed

its cloak of faithlessness,

and walk again in its powerful truth.

I pray that the whole world might

sit down together and share

its bread and its wine.

Some say there is no hope,

but then I’ve always applauded the holy fools

who never seem to give up on

the scandalousness of our faith:

that we are loved by God……

that we can truly love one another.

I no longer pray for peace:

I pray for miracles.

It’s Alive!

2/20/2022

Message Title: It’s Alive!
Theme: “Here Is the Church” 1 Corinthians series
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50;
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:27-38
RCL Scripture: Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38
Focus: Paul speaks of the resurrection of our bodies.
Function:
To allow questions to remain unanswered while being filled with a focus on our commission.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 6:27-38 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you. “If you love those who love you, why should you be commended? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, why should you be commended? Even sinners do that. If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, why should you be commended? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid back in full. Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. “Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.”

INTRO: Gifts at Funerals

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What are typical ways we care for a grieving family when you know someone who has lost a loved one?
  2. I’m unsure where the tradition started that at funerals we provide “gifts” such as flowers, casseroles, words, or memoriam.
    1. Personal story of people trying to give the gift of words: My dad grew up in California and did not experience a funeral with memoriam gifts until moving to South Dakota. We were, however, very accustomed to the gift of words people would provide at a funeral.
      1. One of my favorite people on the planet was my Uncle Stephen, my dad’s little brother. He had Down Syndrome and was nonverbal but we had a special connection. He lived most of his life in Texas but the last few years, he lived in South Dakota and we got to see him regularly.
      2. Stephen lived a longer than average life for folks with his condition.  His life was a wonderful one but when he died of complications with pneumonia, there were people who tried to comfort us in his death by saying “Aren’t you glad he isn’t retarded anymore?”
      3. Now this phrase was problem to me for more than one reason, but we’ll talk about that later.  
  3. When we come to a funeral with the goal of making the grieved feel better, we’re guaranteed to make a jerk out of ourselves…. Or even sometimes make a jerk of God, i.e. “God needed an angel.”

TRANSITION:  When it comes to grief, perhaps the best gift we can offer is presence- our time, our hugs, maybe coming to do laundry, dishes, or provide a meal while they grieve. (Honestly, this is the best stuff you can do for new parents too.)

In our text today, Paul is providing words for the Corinthians about their fears connected to death. A conversation that doesn’t end in this letter but continues on in 2nd Corinthians too. Will the Corinthians find comfort in Paul’s words or will they feel like the words at my uncle’s funeral?

MAIN TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50;

Vs 35-38, 42-44 35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come back?” 36 Look, fool! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t come back to life unless it dies. 37 What you put in the ground doesn’t have the shape that it will have, but it’s a bare grain of wheat or some other seed. 38 God gives it the sort of shape that he chooses, and he gives each of the seeds its own shape. …42 It’s the same with the resurrection of the dead: a rotting body is put into the ground, but what is raised won’t ever decay. 43 It’s degraded when it’s put into the ground, but it’s raised in glory. It’s weak when it’s put into the ground, but it’s raised in power. 44 It’s a physical body when it’s put into the ground, but it’s raised as a spiritual body. If there’s a physical body, there’s also a spiritual body.

  1. Resurrection questions: The topic of resurrection was constantly on the forefront for believers of Paul’s day. To the point where some Christians actually stopped working just waiting for Christ’s return. Others pondered, studied, and debated the details of the resurrection. It’s no surprise that the Corinthians wanted more details.
    1. Continuing conversation:
      1. 2 Cor 4 & 5 briefly touch on this again
      2. He also talks to the Thessalonians, Philippians, & Romans about this (Romans 6:5; 1 Thess 4:13-18, Philippians 3:10-11)
  2. Seed analogy: while Paul doesn’t go into great details, he does use the analogy of a seed to describe the change we will experience through resurrection.

Vs 45-50 45 So it is also written, The first human, Adam, became a living person,[e] and the last Adam became a spirit that gives life. 46 But the physical body comes first, not the spiritual one—the spiritual body comes afterward. 47 The first human was from the earth made from dust; the second human is from heaven. 48 The nature of the person made of dust is shared by people who are made of dust, and the nature of the heavenly person is shared by heavenly people. 49 We will look like[f] the heavenly person in the same way as we have looked like the person made from dust. 50 This is what I’m saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood can’t inherit God’s kingdom. Something that rots can’t inherit something that doesn’t decay. 

  1. First Adam vs Second Adam (Jesus) – In Genesis 3 everything changes for Adam & Eve. They choose their own path rather than God’s wisdom.This lead to division from God, a separation of physical and spiritual.
    1. Image of Eve & Mary—God sent God’s self through Jesus to heal the human condition.
    2. Fully Human & Fully God: Jesus was human to heal the human condition. Jesus was God because only God could be perfect under the Law.
  2. Our Transformation through Christ: Paul highlights that through faith in Christ, something changes.
    1. Christians disagree exactly on the details of this change:
      1. Some believe that humans were made sinful (original sin or total depravity) and God *transforms* us treasure through Jesus.
      2. Others believe that humans were made holy—in God’s image—and our choices separated us from our holiness. Christ *restores* our connection to our holy identity.
      3. Good news- theology doesn’t save us, belief in Jesus saves us…  the details are up to God.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. This section of chapter 15 feels the most relatable to me. Yes, I realize there have been very practical lessons thus far. BUT Paul is connecting with the Corinthians on their BAZILLION questions. And if we’re honest, Paul doesn’t clear much up for us here.
    1. I still have so many questions! (Gif)
  2. Much like the answer to Jesus’ crucifixion, Christians have made a bunch of theories about how and when Christ will return, what the resurrection will look like and for who.
    1. Eschatology- is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as “the end of the world” or “end times” (Wiki)
      1. Comes from eschatos, a word for the end.
    2. Christians have a ton of end times theories.
      1. You may have heard buzz words in Christian circles like: rapture, pre trib, post trib, amillenial, etc.
      2. Some things to note: Not every Christian group believes in a rapture BUT all Christians believe in a resurrection.
      3. Believing in “right” theology doesn’t save us, belief in Jesus saves us.
    3. Throughout this chapter, Paul highlights that the resurrection is not simply a spiritual transformation but a resurrection of body & spirit. Every part of us will be transformed by God.

APPLICATION/RESPONSE/SO WHAT?: To allow questions to remain unanswered while being filled with a focus on our commission.

  1. personal story: Back to Uncle Stephen & Grandma Billie
    1. Personal Story: I have to admit any time I hear about resurrected bodies I think of my Grandma Billie. Grandma Billie repeatedly said she would be tall in heaven. It reminds me of the words of “comfort” we received at my uncle’s funeral. My grandmother and that person both focused on physical flaws from a human/earthly perspective.
      1. BUT what if our resurrected bodies are transformed not to remove our flaws like a photoshop brush but to enable us to better connect with community and with God?
      2. What if my uncle still has down syndrome BUT now he can communicate clearly with others AND others pay attention?!
      3. What if my grandmother found peace in her 4’ 10 3/4” body? What if she didn’t feel limited because of her height?
      4. What if a person’s social anxiety is removed rather than whatever flaw they see when they look in the mirror?
  2. Jesus’ (transfiguration &) resurrection in the Gospel accounts tells us that some kind of transformation will happen that could lead to us being unrecognizable. After all, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener when she went to visit the tomb. It wasn’t until he spoke her name that she saw him clearly.
    1. I may not be able to tell you that you will be tall in eternity BUT I can say you will be transformed, still yourself but more fully you than you’ve ever been before.
  3. I know that it would be convenient for Paul’s words to be crystal clear about what to expect. However, the resurrection is full of mystery. We don’t know when it will happen. We don’t know exactly the details of what will happen.
    1. BUT we know that God is good. We know that God plans to conquer evil. We know that God wants the best for creation.
  4. how does the promised resurrection impact us today?
    1. Silly Joke: Be kind to everyone, you don’t know who will be your neighbor in eternity.
    2. The end details are a mystery, however we have a clear mission for the present.
      1. Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
      2. Acts 1:7-8 Jesus replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. 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.”

CONCLUSION: We are called to witness to the world about Jesus. Witness in our words, our actions, and our love. We wait for the return of Christ and the resurrection of all. Until then, let’s stick to the job God has for us.

Memories of Hope

2/13/2022

Message Title: Memories of Hope
Theme: “Here Is the Church” 1 Corinthians series
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20;
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:17-26
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:17-26
Focus: Paul connects the Gospel message with the Christian hope of resurrection.
Function: To return the focus of our hope on the resurrection.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 6:17-26 17 Jesus came down from the mountain with them and stood on a large area of level ground. A great company of his disciples and a huge crowd of people from all around Judea and Jerusalem and the area around Tyre and Sidon joined him there. 18 They came to hear him and to be healed from their diseases, and those bothered by unclean spirits were healed. 19 The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone. 20 Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said: “Happy are you who are poor, because God’s kingdom is yours. 21Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh. 22 Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One.[b] 23 Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven. Their ancestors did the same things to the prophets. 24 But how terrible for you who are rich, because you have already received your comfort. 25 How terrible for you who have plenty now, because you will be hungry. How terrible for you who laugh now, because you will mourn and weep. 26 How terrible for you when all speak well of you. Their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.

INTRODUCTION: GIFTS

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: have you ever left a gift at a loved one’s grave or a special place that reminds you of that deceased loved one?
    1. How did that action help you?
  2. I did not grow up in a family that celebrated Memorial Day in the traditional sense of visiting a loved one’s grave and giving of flowers or mementos. I remember my mom being adamant “They’re not there anymore, they’re with Jesus.” However, my adolescent mind always wondered what the experience would feel like because of the movies.

TRANSITION: In our text for today, Paul continues the conversation about the Gospel with why the Gospel matters to us. He connects Jesus’ death and resurrection with our Christian Hope. Let’s hunt for hope together.

MAIN TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 12So if the message that is preached says that Christ has been raised from the dead, then how can some of you say, “There’s no resurrection of the dead”? 13If there’s no resurrection of the dead, then Christ hasn’t been raised either. 14If Christ hasn’t been raised, then our preaching is useless and your faith is useless. 15We are found to be false witnesses about God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, when he didn’t raise him if it’s the case that the dead aren’t raised. 16If the dead aren’t raised, then Christ hasn’t been raised either. 17If Christ hasn’t been raised, then your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins, 18and what’s more, those who have died in Christ are gone forever. 19If we have a hope in Christ only in this life, then we deserve to be pitied more than anyone else. 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead. He’s the first crop of the harvestof those who have died.

EXPLAINATION: Paul connects the Gospel message with the Christian hope of resurrection.

  1. Recap from last week:
    1. The Gospel Message—Belief in Jesus is the only thing
  2. Why does Jesus’ story matter?
    1. Paul says, if we believe Jesus died and resurrected, then we all have resurrection through him.
    2. Resurrection is key to the Gospel—we have nothing to believe in if Jesus didn’t resurrect.
  3. Resurrection points to our forever hope.
    1. We too, though we die, will live again.

INTERPRETATION: Paul connects the Gospel message with the Christian hope of resurrection.

  1. The Gospel is our hope.
    1. In Bible study this week we briefly talked about Atonement theories—these are Christian theories answering the question “Why did Jesus die on the cross?”
      1. Christians across denominations don’t agree on the answer to this question- 7 theories.
      2. The importance isn’t about the details of these theories because theology doesn’t save us, belief in Jesus saves us. Also, differences in theology doesn’t condemn us.
    2. Without choosing a specific atonement theory, we know that Jesus died and that opened a door for our eternal hope.
  2. Our faith in Christ isn’t just about death, it’s about resurrection. After death, we have hope. Even after death there will be life.
    1. Our faith isn’t about dying and going to heaven.
    2. Our faith is about receiving the same resurrection as Christ and living again.
  3. Christians have had a habit of weaving our hope up in death and heaven while forgetting resurrection. We’ve lost sight of the long-term goal of resurrection and focused on the short-term comfort of heaven. Death feels like comfort because we know our loved ones are with Jesus.
    1. We see this demonstrated in the gospels as Jesus promised the thief on the cross “Today, you’ll be with me in paradise.”  (This story is in Luke 23.)
      1. This man wasn’t baptized, wasn’t part of a church, didn’t go to Sunday school or receive communion. He didn’t even pray a sinner’s prayer—technically he didn’t even repent. He acknowledged his punishment was just in correlation with his actions but didn’t say that he regretted his actions.
      2. This man was promised paradise.
  4. Christ didn’t die so that we could all die and go to heaven. Christ lived so that we could live.

APPLICATION/RESPONSE/SO WHAT: To return the focus of our hope on the resurrection.

  1. Resurrection points to the value of caring for the physical. Christ isn’t just healing spirits but bodies too.
    1. However, we have at times hyper focused on healing spirits—it seems like a ticking time bomb “save them before they die” but their healing isn’t coming before death… their healing includes death. The physical his healed along with the spiritual.
    2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: identify physical and spiritual ministries
  2. RETURN TO OPENING: As an adult, I have changed my tune, sort of. My husband and I visit his grandfather’s and aunt’s graves on Memorial Day and leave a flower. But the act is more for us than for those who are gone. We actively remember them through this action. We take time to call them to the front of our mind and for Josh specifically to share stories.
    1. Though I don’t have graves to visit, I like to take time to remember my grandparents through photos and storytelling.
    2. Memories of them sometimes hurt—because I miss them so—but they also remind me that I’ll see them again. Not just in heaven but when we are all resurrected.

CONCLUSION: Next week we will talk more about resurrection as the people in Corinth had many questions… much like us. Feel free to read the remaining of Ch 15 in preparation for next week as we wrap up 6 wks in 1 Corinthians.

Until next week. Find peace in knowing that belief in Christ is the only requirement for a ticket to the resurrection. No other action or belief is necessary. For Jesus said: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (End of Matt 11)

Our Response to The Gift

2/6/2022

Message Title: (titled post-preaching) Our Response to The Gift
Theme: “Here Is the Church” 1 Corinthians series
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11;
Scripture Reading: Luke 5:1-11
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13); Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11
Focus: Paul reclarifies the Gospel to the Corinthians.
Function: To respond to the Gospel with awe and worship rather than a “try harder” attitude.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 5:1-11 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

INTRODUCTION: Gifts

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How would you describe love? – Is your definition different depending on the relationship? (Couple, Parents/Kids, Food, Possession?)
    1. Emotion, action, & choice
    2. Bond, connection, commitment
  2. PG 13 question: When you think of expressing love to your partner—how do you feel about the term “making love”? I know of a couple that hate this terminology because it sells short the word love, leaving it only as a physical act. Others, prefer this phrase because it reminds us of the importance of intimacy in the foundation of a romantic relationship.

TRANSITION:  Last week we talked about Love and how Love should impact the way we use our gifts and interact with this world. Paul defined love through the Divine example of God’s love. Now, we are hoping forward a chapter to 15 to review the story of the Gospel – AKA God’s love story with creation. Let’s see how Paul tells the story.

MAIN TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas,and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Recap Ch 13
    1. Our gifts are pointless if we don’t do them in love.
  2. Back up to Ch 14 for a minute
    1. Orderly conduct of worship
      1. Tongues
      2. Wives saving your questions for home (Men are expected to educate their wives, there was no educational system for women at that time, so men were expected to share that information with their wives rather than leaving them clueless… that way the conversations in church could be productive. This is actually about empowerment and calling men out for not educating their wives which lead to disrupting the congregational worship)
      3. Also, women are celebrated as leaders & teachers in other of Paul’s letters
    2. Remember: This letter is to get the Corinthians back on track. They’ve been divided for a variety of reasons- we talked about the wealth gap. CH 12-14 talk about the gift gap and how unity and order should be part of worship & function of the church.
  3. NOW Paul is highlighting the Gospel message—don’t forget the basics of the gospel.
    1. Think of this as a skeleton and everything else is meat, tendons, organs etc. Without the skeleton, the body would have no structure to exist within.
    2. The Gospel provides us the structure to shape the rest of our lives around.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Paul is simplifying the Gospel. He is clarifying the basics so no one can add to it. (Remember the Judaizers trying to add Moses’ Law and circumcision?)
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Paul’s Gospel- Reader’s Digest: Pinpoint details of the gospel in passage together
    1. VS 3-8
      1. Jesus’ death and resurrection
        1. For our sins
        2. Based on scripture
      2. Proof through appearances to: Cephas, 12, 500+, James, all apostles, Paul
      3. Vs 2 By this Gospel, you are saved
    1. Does it feel comfortable to leave the Gospel at these points? Are you compelled to add more details?
    1. What does Paul not specify that we consider Christianity?
      1. Stuff from the Janizaries:
        1. Circumcision
        2. Practicing the Law
      2. Regular worship practices
        1. Communion
        2. Baptism
        3. Tithes/offerings
        4. Sunday School/Bible study
      3. Current Cultural stuff:
        1. Thoughts on politics or social issues
        2. A specific version of the Bible

APPLICATION/RESPONSE:

  1. Connect to Scripture reading: Luke 5:1-11
    1. “Because you said so…”
    1. they left everything….
      1. $$, good catch, safety/consistency, security, family business
    1. They responded with awe & curiosity for more
  2. Worship God in the story of the Gospel
    1. How do you react when you hear the Good News?
      1. My natural response is “thank you”
    1. Can I let you in on a pastor conversation? Sometimes we talk about writing sermons and the struggles together—many pastors struggle to take a passage and make it into a practical step for a few reasons.
      1. Christianity isn’t about trying harder. We don’t need to add anything to the Gospel. It is complete as Christ delivered it and Paul rephrased it.
      1. Christianity is a response to the gift of life in Jesus. Our lives are a response to God’s gift.
        1. Do you know how to follow Jesus in your daily life? (WP)
        1. How have you been handing down the gospel to others as Paul and the early Christians passed it on to us? (Jerrod)

COMMUNION

CONCLUSION

All You Need is Love

1/30/2022

Message Title:  All You Need is Love
Theme
: “Here Is the Church” 1 Corinthians series
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13;
Scripture Reading: Luke 4:21-30
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30
Focus: Paul instructs the Corinthians to use their gifts through LOVE.
Function:
 To filter our thoughts and actions through God’s love.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 4:21-30 21 He began to explain to them, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.” 22 Everyone was raving about Jesus, so impressed were they by the gracious words flowing from his lips. They said, “This is Joseph’s son, isn’t it?” 23 Then Jesus said to them, “Undoubtedly, you will quote this saying to me: ‘Doctor, heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we’ve heard you did in Capernaum.’” 24 He said, “I assure you that no prophet is welcome in the prophet’s hometown. 25 And I can assure you that there were many widows in Israel during Elijah’s time, when it didn’t rain for three and a half years and there was a great food shortage in the land. 26 Yet Elijah was sent to none of them but only to a widow in the city of Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 There were also many persons with skin diseases in Israel during the time of the prophet Elisha, but none of them were cleansed. Instead, Naaman the Syrian was cleansed.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with anger. 29 They rose up and ran him out of town. They led him to the crest of the hill on which their town had been built so that they could throw him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the crowd and went on his way.

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is your favorite valentine’s day treat?
    1. What is your favorite way to say “I love you”?
    2. Tiktok – “Women don’t want chocolate for valentine’s day they want….”
  2. It’s important to know how to communicate love to your friends, family, and romantic partners.
    1. Tiktok- Love languages— “I’m gonna need you to say thank you….”
    2. Love languages- Gifts, Touch, Service, Words, Time

TRANSITION:  Communicating love, especially in the way people hear, is extremely important. In our text for today, Paul is going to link our Spiritual Gifts with Love. Could Love change the way a gift is used?

As we read, consider: Why is love significant? What does it look like?

MAIN TEXT: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever. Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. We know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. 12 Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. 13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. 1 Corinthians 13 is frequently paired with wedding talk. It is no surprise since 1 Cor 13 is full of talk about love.
    1. But What’s Love Got to Do with It? … I know I’m funny…. Why does Paul wedge in a conversation about love around the topic of gifts and the operation of the church?
    2. This love isn’t about romance. This love is the Divine form: full, strong, and powerful.
  2. Paul shifts the conversations from gifts and unity to an attitude that should be carried while using those gifts.
    1. Paul makes it very clear that gifts mean nothing if we don’t have love.
  3. Paul then get’s super specific about what Love is, so that no one gets confused.
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Let’s list of the do’s and don’ts of love. Focus on vs 4-7

INTERPRETATION:

  1. SAUL MISSED LOVE: These words are rich coming from Paul—the man who was so obsessed with the Torah that he completely missed the point.
    1. Saul of Tarsus was Pharisee trained under one of the best rabbis: Rabbi Gamaliel. But his zeal for the law made him hyper focused on his own righteousness and the condemnation of others.
      1. We learn from the book of Acts that Saul stood by holding coats while the disciple Stephen was stoned to death.
      2. His conversion story in Acts 9 starts with him marching on the Damascus Road, holding a decree that enabled him to execute blasphemers. He was so convinced that his perspective of God’s word was right that he was willing to kill others to prove his point.
  2. Youth Group Lesson: As a youth pastor, I would lead group activities or competitions: beach volley ball, eating contests, dodgeball, human hungry hippos. kickball, etc. Frequently. I was called in to referee a disagreement over a particular rule.
    1. Was the ball in-bounds (and gave the other team a point) or out of bounds (and it’s time to switch sides)?
    2. Does catching the ball after it bounces off the wall mean the runner is out?
    3. Can you use your elbows to hold extra balls under your basket as a hippo? – things you never have to say as a Senior Pastor that Youth Pastors have to say all the time.
    4. The disagreements are always filled with passion from both sides, especially the most competitive team mates. They would argue over who was right and the tension would build until a fight was brewing.
      1. These exact circumstances lead me to coin a phrase: “When you are so determined to be right that you cease to show love, you are no longer right.”
      2. Even if a side was “correct” – if they acted un-sportsman-like I would favor the other team.

APPLICATION: Christians aren’t supposed to be A-holes about their beliefs.

  1. As adults, it’s easy to look at children and see when they have lost their logic or reason… ironically enough, we aren’t the best at seeing that within ourselves.
  2. Adult Christians can behave like competitive children or even Self-Righteous Paul. We can lose sight of the Gospel when we are convinced that we are exactly right.
  3. Our beliefs and actions as Christians don’t matter if we don’t demonstrate love.
    1. In the last 4 years, American Christians have struggled with this line—politics, COVID, and other current events have led us to form opinions that bubble and brew until we’re convinced that our recipe is perfect and everyone else is wrong.
  4. I’m not perfect either—I’ve been in that same place of being convinced that everyone else is an idiot and I’m right-eous with God!
  5. Keeping ourselves humble and loving.
    1. “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”
      1. This IS leaving condemnation to God and only doing love.
      2. This is leaving the transformation of a life up to the Spirit’s guidance.
    2. “I’m just speaking in love”
      1. This is having a relationship with someone who expresses they want to grow in their Christian faith before you give commentary on their lifestyle.

CONCLUSION:  How could love transform your life?