Pt 2 Bathsheba’s Pain

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

8/1/2021

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

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

RERUNS: FULL HOUSE BEDROOM SERIOUS TALKS

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

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

MAIN TEXT: 2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION:

The Beginning of David’s Fall Pt 1

7/25/2021

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

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

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

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

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

RERUNS & GLORY DAYS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERPRETATION:

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

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

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

CONLCUSION:

The Roommate

7/18/2021

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

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

RERUNS:

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

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

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

We will read this in two portions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost & Found

7/11/2021

Message Title: Lost & Found
Theme: Reruns & Glory Days
Season:  Ordinary Time
Main Text: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
RCL Scripture: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Amos 7:7-15; Psalm 24; Psalm 85:8-13; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29
Focus: David moves the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.
Function: To express gratitude for the finding of lost things and the recharging of depleted energy.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING:  Ephesians 1:3-14 3 Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven. 4 God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. 5 God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan 6 and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. 7 We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, 8 which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding. 9 God revealed his hidden design[b] to us, which is according to his goodwill and the plan that he intended to accomplish through his Son. 10 This is what God planned for the climax of all times:[c] to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth. 11 We have also received an inheritance in Christ. We were destined by the plan of God, who accomplishes everything according to his design. 12 We are called to be an honor to God’s glory because we were the first to hope in Christ. 13 You too heard the word of truth in Christ, which is the good news of your salvation. You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit because you believed in Christ. 14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance, which is applied toward our redemption as God’s own people, resulting in the honor of God’s glory.

RERUNS: It’s good to be back with you all. I’m sure we all can relate: vacations are wonderful but nothing beats sleeping in your own bed! It’s official: Josh got to experience a South Dakota farm. We spent a few days on my aunt and uncle’s farm over 4th of July. Sunsets, baby calf feedings, target practice, and family fish fries were salve to our souls. All with a dose of no cell service or wi-fi. PHOTOS

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
    1. Do you have a place where you can “unplug”?
    2. How do you recharge?

PHOTOS We’re still in our re-run’s series. Being at “the farm” brought back a flood of memories. Because my aunt and uncle’s farm was away from internet and cell service, we had to be in the moment. I learned to move cattle on atvs. I bottle fed calves. I walked through corn fields and picked up cobs that the harvester missed. I wouldn’t have experienced those things if I had every piece of technology in my hands. Being deprived of one thing opened doors to another.

Yet, no matter how glorious life was at the farm, I loved getting cell service and wi-fi back.

TRANSITION: In our text for today, we will see Israel experience a different type of loss and restoration.

Previously on: The story of Israel—Two weeks ago we saw David mourn for Saul and Jonathan. Through David’s experiences, we had a conversation about grief. Since then, David has become king though Israel was conflicted (two camps: Israel vs. Judah) about who should follow Saul as king. TONS of family drama unfolds between 2 Samuel 2 and 6. For a full, Game of thrones meets Bible stories experience, read those chapters.

Eventually David is recognized by all of Israel as king. (Also, David has 7 wives by this time. Bathsheba will be his 8th.)

MAIN TEXT: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 David again assembled all the fit young men in Israel: thirty thousand. 2 He and all his troops set out to bring the ark of God from Baale-judah. The ark bears the Name, the name of the Lord of Armies who is enthroned between the cherubim. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and transported it from Abinadab’s house, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the cart 4 and brought it with the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on the hill. Ahio walked in front of the ark. 5 David and the whole house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all kinds of fir wood instruments, lyres, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.

Paraphrased Vs 6-11 Uzzah touches the ark & ties bc God is mad. David gets mad at God.

12 It was reported to King David, “The Lord has blessed Obed-edom’s family and all that belongs to him because of the ark of God.” So David went and had the ark of God brought up from Obed-edom’s house to the city of David with rejoicing. 13 When those carrying the ark of the Lord advanced six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened calf. 14 David was dancing with all his might before the Lord wearing a linen ephod. 15 He and the whole house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of the ram’s horn. 16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the city of David, Saul’s daughter Michal looked down from the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. 17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings in the Lord’s presence. 18 When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Armies. 19 Then he distributed a loaf of bread, a date cake, and a raisin cake to each one in the entire Israelite community, both men and women. Then all the people went home.

EXPLANATION:

  1. Ark of the Covenant crash course: No, this isn’t Noah’s ark from Genesis.
    1. This is an oversimplification of the details around the Ark. Exodus has significant details on the construction and beginning uses of the Ark. Check it out.
    2. Ark or Arc- was an ornate wooden chest holding 3 significant things to the Israelite people: manna, Aaron’s staff that was used in the exodus from Egypt, and the 10 commandments.
    3. When the people traveled in the desert, the Arc travelled with them. It was a symbol of God’s presence with the people.
    4. Until Solomon built the Temple, the Arc lived in the Tabernacle. This movable worship space had specific details filled with symbolism and specific requirements in order for people to enter this worship space.
    5. Taken by the Philistines. Before Solomon was king, the Philistines captured the Arc. They had it for 7 months. Eventually, the Philistines sent it back to the Israelites because God plagued the Philistines. So they put it on a cart, attached some cows, and sent them on their way.  Check out 1 Samuel 5 for more of that story.
    6. Between the Israelites receiving the Ark back in 1 Samuel 5 and our text for today, the Arc was misplaced. Psalm 132 talks about this.
  2. Now, David is finally king! The king has returned the Ark of the Covenant back to the people. This task was not without its own struggles and pain—including spontaneous death, marital, & fertility problems.
  3. This is a big deal the Ark is back! God’s presence is back with the people.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. The Ark was not only symbolic of God’s presence; Israel connected the Ark to the successes and defeats they experienced in battle.
    1. For Americans, the best way to get into the shoes of an Israelite is to imagine someone stealing the Declaration of Independence. Then, the President (perhaps I need to say, imagine your favorite president, in order to make the point). goes out, finds it – people die in the process but they finally bring it home. The leader would be praised and proverbial ‘freedom’ would be restored. There would be parades!
    2. The limitation of this analogy is that the Declaration of Independence is a symbol of freedom not necessarily religion. America and the kingdom of Israel from the OT are not the same. Our history of religion and government have become more convoluted the more time passes.
  2. David’s kingship starts off strong. Every step of the way, David consults God. When he takes steps and experiences defeat, he turns to God for guidance. At this point, David seems like the perfect king. He is the king who can’t make mistakes. He is the king every other king should be measured to.
    1. If you’ve been reading along in the story so far; here is an update on where we’re going:
      1. 1 Samuel 8
      2. 1 Samuel 15-16
      3. 1 Samuel 17-18
      4. 2 Samuel 1
      5. 2 Samuel 5
      6. 2 Samuel 6
      7. 2 Samuel 7 – next week
      8. 2 Samuel 11
      9. 2 Samuel 12
      10. 2 Samuel 18
      11. 1 Kings 2-3
      12. 1 Kings 8

APPLICATION: To express gratitude for the finding of lost things and the recharging of depleted energy.

  1. In today’s passage, David is a righteous king… but that goodness doesn’t last forever. However, we’ll stay in the present-past for the moment. His response to the return of the Ark was unreserved worship. He danced. He played music. He embarrassed his wife (well one of the 7). God was praised.
  2. David sacrificed animals after the Ark moved 6 steps. SIX STEPS. Sometimes I can forget to say thank you for weeks. David said thank you after SIX STEPS.
  3. Two weeks ago, we talked about grief. Today I want to consider joy.
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
      1. What ways do you like to celebrate?
  4. My Lack of gratitude: If I’m honest with you, I don’t always think about saying ‘thank you’ to God when I experience joy or success. I feel like it’s natural to turn to God in grief or when we feel overwhelmed, but sometimes success leads me to forget who is caring for me.
  5. Practice makes perfect: I knew a pastor once who would never take compliments. He would always respond with “praise God” or “to God be the glory.” I used to think he was weird or even a little delusional. Now, I think a practice can be helpful, even when we don’t think or feel that God had anything to do with our success.
    1. Gratitude, praise, & worship aren’t always about a feeling.
      1. Denominations/Churches with formal liturgies:
        1. Lord’s prayer
        2. Doxology
        3. Confession
        4. Apostle’s creed
    2. We need training to be grateful. We need training to give God credit.
      1. Do I think God gives our favorite team victory in a sporting event? No.
      2. Do I think God gives us great parking spots? Not usually.
      3. Do I think God can use anything and everything to point to God’s glory? YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!
  6. I want to read the very last psalm to you as we consider gratitude and then we’re going to do something a little cheesy.
    1. Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in his sanctuary!
    Praise God in his fortress, the sky!
Praise God in his mighty acts!
    Praise God as suits his incredible greatness!
Praise God with the blast of the ram’s horn!
    Praise God with lute and lyre!
Praise God with drum and dance!
    Praise God with strings and pipe!
Praise God with loud cymbals!
    Praise God with clashing cymbals!
Let every living thing praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

  • Audience engagement: Think of something you are grateful for. On the count of three, we’re all going to shout “Thank you.”

CONCLUSION: In everything, point to God. In the good. In the bad. In the joy. In the pain. Find ways this week, to start incorporating gratitude into your daily life: maybe an audible ‘thank you,’ maybe you keep a gratitude jar, maybe your family takes time for ‘thank you’ at supper.

The Weird Thing About Grief

6/27/2021

Message Title: The Weird Thing About Grief
Theme: Reruns & Glory Days
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
RCL Scripture: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Lamentations 3:22-33; Psalm 130; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
Focus: David grieves two deaths.
Function: To talk about our interaction with death and grief while considering tools for grief.
Other Notes:
Blessed Be the Tie: “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above

SCRIPTURE READING: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 Be the best in this work of grace in the same way that you are the best in everything, such as faith, speech, knowledge, total commitment, and the love we inspired in you. I’m not giving an order, but by mentioning the commitment of others, I’m trying to prove the authenticity of your love also. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you could become rich through his poverty. 10 I’m giving you my opinion about this. It’s to your advantage to do this, since you not only started to do it last year but you wanted to do it too. 11 Now finish the job as well so that you finish it with as much enthusiasm as you started, given what you can afford. 12 A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford, if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly. 13 It isn’t that we want others to have financial ease and you financial difficulties, but it’s a matter of equality. 14 At the present moment, your surplus can fill their deficit so that in the future their surplus can fill your deficit. In this way there is equality. 15 As it is written, The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little.[b]

RERUNS: TV shows & Death

  1. Tv shows have a difficult job of incorporating real life into their stories. Sometimes story telling is about joy, new life, new beginnings, and hope. Sometimes story telling is about loss, grief, and hopelessness.
  2. This week I asked on Facebook what tv shows had an episode about loss or death that hit you hard.
    1. Some of your answers included: Dallas, Grey’s anatomy, Downton Abbey, Bones, …….
      1. Both Grey’s Anatomy and Game of Thrones have enough death for every other show combined.
    2. One of my answers was Avatar: the Last Air Bender
      1. A character named Uncle Iro has a story about loss that tears you to the core.
    3. The other answer would be from Glee
      1. After the unexpected death of actor Cory Monteith, the writers of Glee had to figure out how to tell that story. In real life, Cory was dating one of his costars and she, while grieving her boyfriend, had to perform on the show. That hit viewers “in all the feels” as you’re sure some of her genuine feelings were part of her character’s portrayal.

TRANSITION: Our story tellers don’t have it easy. Portraying death or grief is never fun. We get uncomfortable. We feel emotions we don’t normally feel. Sometimes we say stupid things or try to rewrite the past to comfort ourselves.

In our text today, David is going to get news that hits him hard. His response reminds me of the human experience. As we read this text, let’s listen to the humanity in the words. And perhaps see moments of tiny grief bandages covering his prose.

  1. Last week on Israel-
    1. We saw Saul tried to kill David. David made connections, allies, and relationships that paved the way to his kingship.
  2. What We Missed! Between texts
    1. 19-20: Saul tries to kill David. David gets married to wife #1 Michal.
    2. 21- 23: Saul tries to kill David. Saul kills people helped him. David continues to be faithful to Saul.
    3. 24-26: David spares Saul’s life. Saul likes David again. Samuel dies. David gets wife #2 Abigail. Saul chases David again.
    4. 27-29: David runs away to Philistine territory. David & his soldiers camp with the Philistine army. Saul consults with a ‘fortune teller’ or ‘medium.’ Saul learns his end is coming.
    5. 30-31: Amalekites raid a city and take David’s 2 wives captive. David conquered that group and got his wives back. His soldiers shared the spoils of war. Philistines killed Saul’s 3 sons (including Jonathan). Saul was wounded, he ‘fell on his sword’ so that the philistines couldn’t torture him. 

MAIN TEXT: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 After Saul’s death, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, he stayed in Ziklag two days.17Then David sang this funeral songfor Saul and his son Jonathan. 18David ordered everyone in Judah to learn the Song of the Bow.(In fact, it is written in the scroll from Jashar.) 19Oh, no, Israel! Your prince lies dead on your heights. Look how the mighty warriors have fallen! 20Don’t talk about it in Gath; don’t bring news of it to Ashkelon’s streets, or else the Philistines’ daughters will rejoice; the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate. 21You hills of Gilboa! Let there be no dew or rain on you, and no fields yielding grain offerings. Because it was there that the mighty warrior’s[g] shield was defiled—the shield of Saul!—never again anointed with oil. 22Jonathan’s bow never wavered from the blood of the slain, from the gore of the warriors. Never did Saul’s sword return empty. 23Saul and Jonathan! So well loved, so dearly cherished! In their lives and in their deaths they were never separated. They were faster than eagles, stronger than lions! 24Daughters of Israel, weep over Saul! He dressed you in crimson with jewels; he decorated your clothes with gold jewelry. 25Look how the mighty warriors have fallen in the midst of battle! Jonathan lies dead on your heights. 26I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan! You were so dear to me! Your love was more amazing to methan the love of women. 27Look how the mighty warriors have fallen! Look how the weapons of war have been destroyed!

EXPLAINATION: David laments the death of Saul and Jonathan.

  1. David learns of the death of Saul & Jonathan. If you keep reading there are TONS more details. Including the question if Saul killed himself or was killed.
  2. David responds with a poem, a song, of lament. (Saul & Jonathan weren’t the only ones that died that day… but they were the only ones mentioned in the song).

INTERPRETATION:

  1. If you notice David’s song, you’ll notice that he doesn’t remember Saul completely.
    1. He notes the relationship between Saul & Jonathan.
    2. He notes how Saul provided for his country.
  2. His grief shines through
    1. ‘don’t talk about it’ – they’ll rub it in our faces
    2. Then he laments specifically the loss of Jonathan. His love for Jonathan surpassed that of a woman. (… remember… he’s got 2 wives…)
  3. We do weird things to deal with grief.
    1. We talked last week about God redeeming any story. Here, it seems David, has changed the story or forgotten the story as an act of honoring the deceased.
  4. At funerals we seem to do this same thing. We gloss over the lives of our deceased loved one. In that moment, at least for the funeral, we forgive their faults and remember their celebrations.
    1. David’s actions in lamenting Saul match our current day human struggles with grief.
    2. It also seems like David’s love for Jonathan tempers his feelings about Saul. As scripture says, David loved Saul more than he loved women.
  5. Seminary Class- Death, Loss, & Mourning- when I was in seminary, I took a class called “Death, Loss, & Mourning.” Yes. It was exactly what you picture. We visited funeral homes. Talked about different forms of loss. And we read a lot of books about the ways different cultures deal with loss.
    1. Assignment- Loss Chart- one particularly difficult assignment was a loss inventory.
      1. all types of loss: break ups, job changes, moves, deaths, loss of innocence, etc
      2. at the time of the assignment- I was 29 and had experienced 22 family deaths. I was very familiar with death.

APPLICATION: To talk about our interaction with death and grief while considering tools for grief.

  1. The Ball & Box analogy: Grief can hit us in unexpected ways and manifest in unusual forms. One of the best ways to understand the human interaction with loss is an analogy called The Ball and The Box. This comes from a twitter thread by @LaurenHerschel Dec 29, 2017 https://twitter.com/LaurenHerschel/status/946887540732149760?s=20
    1. “So grief is like this: There’s a box with a ball in it. And a pain button. And no, I am not known for my art skills.”
    1. “In the beginning, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over. You can’t control it – it just keeps hurting. Sometimes it seems unrelenting.”
    2. “Over time, the ball gets smaller. It hits the button less and less but when it does, it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function day to day more easily. But the downside is that the ball randomly hits that button when you least expect it.”
    3. I found this explanation of grief so helpful.
  2. We’re allowed to grieve. We’re allowed to feel. Healing doesn’t mean that you will never feel pain again about that loss.
    1. Sometimes grief takes us on a weird journey.
    1. God is not expecting you to be ok in your grief. God is not telling you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You have permission to feel and to grieve.

CONCLUSION

Who Wrote This Script

6/20/2021

Message Title: Who Wrote This Script?
Theme: Reruns & Glory Days
Season: ordinary time
Main Text: 1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 18:10-16
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
RCL Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 18:10-16 or 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49; Job 38:1-11; Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; Psalm 9:9-20; Psalm 133; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
Focus: David and Saul’s relationship is a chaotic downward spiral.
Function: To see the redemption in our stories.
Other Notes:- father’s day

SCRIPTURE READING: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 Since we work together with him, we are also begging you not to receive the grace of God in vain. He says, I listened to you at the right time, and I helped you on the day of salvation.[a] Look, now is the right time! Look, now is the day of salvation!  We don’t give anyone any reason to be offended about anything so that our ministry won’t be criticized. Instead, we commend ourselves as ministers of God in every way. We did this with our great endurance through problems, disasters, and stressful situations. We went through beatings, imprisonments, and riots. We experienced hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger. We displayed purity, knowledge, patience, and generosity. We served with the Holy Spirit, genuine love, telling the truth, and God’s power. We carried the weapons of righteousness in our right hand and our left hand. We were treated with honor and dishonor and with verbal abuse and good evaluation. We were seen as both fake and real, as unknown and well known, as dying—and look, we are alive! We were seen as punished but not killed, 10 as going through pain but always happy, as poor but making many rich, and as having nothing but owning everything. 11 Corinthians, we have spoken openly to you, and our hearts are wide open. 12 There are no limits to the affection that we feel for you. You are the ones who placed boundaries on your affection for us. 13 But as a fair trade—I’m talking to you like you are children—open your hearts wide too.

RERUN: “The Recap Sequence”

If you have watched more than one episode of cable television, you may have heard the phrase “previously on….” At the beginning of a show to catch the viewers up on the story.

This “recap sequence” technique has morphed along with the changes in entertainment over the decades. In 1955 a show premiered titled The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp. This show used recaps weekly to keep the story alive for viewers.

Recaps faded from use in the mid 50’s & 60’s as stand alone ‘rerun’ compatible episodes ramped up. Think of shows like I love lucy or The Dick Van Dyke Show. Some shows used a theme song to get people into the story with minimal back story. I.e. Green Acres or Gilligan’s Island.

However, the recap sequence made a come back in the 70’s and had a steady incline through the 90’s and 00’s as shows with multiple seasons developed ongoing stories. Some even stylized their recap to fit the theme of their show. i.e. Glee’s recap typically sounds like a gossip circle.

Today we’re back to losing our need for recap with the rise of internet tv and death of the structured cable format. Netflix even gives you the option to skip recaps & theme songs all together. Binging a show means you don’t need a reminder what happened in the previous episode.

TRANSITION:  From radio shows to Netflix originals, stories have a need to carry on themes as the viewer stays engaged over time.

Our scripture reading from last week included the passage we missed in our Reruns series. Since we weren’t together last week, let’s to a little recap sequence.

Recap: “Previously on Israelites in the Holy Land” – The Israelites demanded a king, even with a staunch warning. King Saul seemed to be everything they wanted…. Until he wasn’t. God chose a new king for Israel- David the youngest son of Jesse was anointed by Samuel. A shepherd would be Israel’s king. Though Saul’s successor was already picked out… Saul was still in charge. And now the future king will cross paths with the current ruler.

Our text for today will hop around. Join me on this soap opera of a bible story as we wonder what God will do next…

MAIN TEXT: 1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 18:10-16

57 So when David came back from killing the Philistine, Abner sent for him and presented him to Saul. The Philistine’s head was still in David’s hand. 58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, my boy?” “I’m the son of your servant Jesse from Bethlehem,” David answered.

18 As soon as David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan’s life[a] became bound up with David’s life, and Jonathan loved David as much as himself.[b] From that point forward, Saul kept David in his service[c] and wouldn’t allow him to return to his father’s household. And Jonathan and David made a covenant together because Jonathan loved David as much as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his armor, as well as his sword, his bow, and his belt. David went out and was successful in every mission Saul sent him to do. So Saul placed him in charge of the soldiers, and this pleased all the troops as well as Saul’s servants.…

10 The next day an evil spirit from God came over Saul,[e] and he acted like he was in a prophetic frenzy in his house. So David played the lyre as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he threw it, thinking, I’ll pin David to the wall. But David escaped from him two different times. 12 Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with David but no longer with Saul. 13 So Saul removed David from his service, placing him in command of a unit of one thousand men. David led the men out to war and back. 14 David was successful in everything he did because the Lord was with him. 15 Saul saw that he was very successful, and he was afraid of him. 16 Everyone in Israel and Judah loved David because he led them out in war and back again.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. David has come to gather news for his father and brin ghis brother supplies.
    1. While there he sees the front lines of the ongoing conflict with the Philistines.
    2. He is stirred by the taunts of Goliath and offers himself as champion.
    3. The shepherd beats the seasoned soldier.
  2. Saul wants to celebrate his champion-
    1. It seems  like in introduction happens here but earlier in ch 17, Saul enlists David to play music for him when he is troubled of spirit. … so did they just meet now and they told the story out of order or does Saul have a short attention span?
  3. David meets Jonathan, Saul’s son and presumptive heir. They connect in a way that has left Christians debating for centuries… could be a good Bible study topic if you wanna dive into all the angles with me.
    1. A covenant is formed between David and Jonathan.
  4. Then David is enlisted in to Saul’s service – sometimes as a musician and sometimes as a warrior.
    1. David comes back from a battle and the crowds brag of David’s successes being bigger than Saul’s.
    2. What does Saul do? Try to kill David… who is playing music for his troubled spirits.

INTERPRETATION: Honestly the whole saga of Saul and David fills me with a million questions for God. Alas, not all can be answered by academic research. If you have questions—we can meet together and chat or I invite you to our Wednesday night bible study where we regularly wrestle with tough topics.

  1. The aspect I want to focus on is how God’s plans start to unfold.
    1. Saul was anointed king in 1 Samuel 9. By the middle of 1 Samuel 10, Saul has demonstrated that he will not be faithful to God as a king and God rejects Saul as the king of Israel. However, Saul isn’t removed from office.
      1. In 1 Samuel 16:14 we hear that the Lord’s spirit leaves Saul and an “evil spirit from the Lord” torments him. So frequently we take scripture like this and use it to explain the terrible things in our lives or the terrible choices other’s make. “God tempted me.”
      2. I want to suggest another way to look at this- Saul was already disobedient before God’s spirit left him. Saul was already making decisions against God’s guidance. Yet God’s will continues to unfold, just no longer through Saul. God uses Saul’s rebelliousness as a pathway to restore the story. Saul’s actions pave the way for David to become Israel’s king.
        1. Could the torment be his guilty conscience? Perhaps we wont fully know why he was being tormented.
    2. In 1 Samuel 16 David is anointed to be the next king of Israel, but once again, this transition of power doesn’t happen instantly. Instead, the end of Saul’s reign unfolds over the remainder of 1 Samuel.
      1. Saul was unfaithful. David was faithful.
      2. David, the anointed king, begins to gain the trust and favor of not only Israel but also Saul’s family.
      3. Jonathan ties his soul to David and commits to protecting him, which we see continue in the following chapters.
      4. Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s wife, protects David from her father’s assassination attempts.
      5. The Israelites celebrated David’s successes.
  2. Misconception about God forcing us into bad things or tempting us to do bad things
    1. God is redeeming the choices we have made for God’s purpose

APPLICATION: To see the redemption in our stories.

  1. Saul’s kingly line unfolds as David’s reign develops. This story is like a biblical soap opera- who loves who, assassination plots, and the game of thrones.
  2. Today is father’s day– and there are so many complicated feelings about father’s day, much like Mother’s day.
    1. There aren’t enough words to explain every angle of feelings connected with this day.
  3. Redeemer of stories: Regardless of the story you carry connected to Father’s Day, I want you to hear that God is the redeemer of stories.
    1. No, I’m not telling you in this moment you have to forgive *that* person what they did. Nor am I telling you that God put you through terrible things to make you better. Our God is a god of order not chaos. Our God wants our flourishing not our destruction.
    2. Instead, I’m telling you that any story can be used to glorify God. No story is outside of pointing back to God.
      1. And sometimes, humans have made such a mess that only God can restore a story.
      2. I mean, only God could help David continue to honor Saul, even when Saul repeatedly tries to kill him. Continue reading in 1 Samuel and find the story about Saul peeing in a cave—see how David honored him even then.
  4. A word of caution: Redemption is a story in God’s hands. You are not the savior. It is not your job to save those who have hurt you by continually subjecting yourself to pain in hopes of swaying them someday.
    1. Please hear thisJesus died on the cross; you don’t have to.
    2. Instead, we continue to grow with God and God will show us the avenues towards healing.
      1. Sometimes that leads to reunions and earthly healing. Sometimes, that healing can only happen in eternity.
    3. Your role in redemption is to continue to listen to God’s spirit and follow faithfully. God will work out the rest.
    4. I want to invite you to pray the Lord’s prayer with me again. – Heather, could you pull that slide up again? –God’s the one doing work here.

CONCLUSION: I won’t be able to resolve all of your questions and problems with the passage we read today. But I can tell you that God isn’t done yet. God isn’t done with this story (we’ll continue it next week as we start in 2 Sam) and God isn’t done with your story.

May God redeem and restore your story in ways you didn’t know were possible.

Comparison is a Thief

6/6/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXPLAINATION:

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

INTERPRETATION:

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

APPLICATION:

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

COMMUNION:

CONCLUSION:

Is this Doctrine a Deal Breaker?

5/30/2021

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

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

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

INTRODUCTION:

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

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

Language is a limitation to experience and understanding.

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

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

EXPLAINATION

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

INTERPRETATION

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

APPLICATION

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

CONCLUSION

MEMORIAL DAY SPECIAL: Flowers/reading of names & prayer

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

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

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

Mother Tongues & Tongues of Fire

5/23/2021 Pentecost

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

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

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

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXPLANATION:

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

INTERPRETATION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Word Made Flesh

5/16/2021

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

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

NATIONAL PARKS:

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

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

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

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

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

APPLICATION:

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

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

EXPLAINATION:

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

INTERPRETATION:

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


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

John 17

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

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