The Original Flavor

1/9/2022

Message Title:  The Original Flavor
Theme:
Baptism of Jesus
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: Acts 8:14-17
Scripture Reading: ALL
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Focus: God claims us not just through waters but also through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  
Function:To learn some basics about baptism, consider baptism or ‘remember’ our baptism.
Other Notes:
introduction to series next week?

SCRIPTURE READING:

Isaiah 43:1-7 But now, says the Lord—the one who created you, Jacob, the one who formed you, Israel: Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched and flame won’t burn you. 3I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your savior. I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. 4Because you are precious in my eyes, you are honored, and I love you. I give people in your place, and nations in exchange for your life. 5Don’t fear, I am with you. From the east I’ll bring your children; from the west I’ll gather you. 6I’ll say to the north, “Give them back!” and to the south, “Don’t detain them.” Bring my sons from far away, and my daughters from the end of the earth, 7everyone who is called by my name and whom I created for my glory, whom I have formed and made.

Psalm 29 You, divine beings! Give to the Lordgive to the Lord glory and power! 2Give to the 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!

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 15The people were filled with expectation, and everyone wondered whether John might be the Christ. 16John replied to them all, “I baptize you with water, but the one who is more powerful than me is coming. I’m not worthy to loosen the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.”… 21When everyone was being baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened 22and the Holy Spirit came down on him in bodily form like a dove. And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Are you a tap or bottled water drinker? For the tap drinkers—well water or city water? For the bottle drinkers—do you have a favorite brand?
    1. I know that there are some people who exist who can tell the difference between different types of water—I am not one of them.
    2. Here’s your motherly reminder that it is important to drink water every day.
  2. While I can’t tell the difference between types of water—I CAN tell the difference between types of Coke or types of Dr. Pepper. With both I grew up experiencing the glass bottle, cane sugar versions, which are obviously the best.
    1. Dublin, Texas used to have a Dr. Pepper Plant you could tour that still made the original recipe in glass bottles and had a soda parlor where you could get milk shakes or Dr. Pepper floats.
    2. I believe it is now run by a different company that has since changed the name. But I cherish those memories.

TRANSITION: There’s nothing quite like the original soda flavor to fill you with joy. Today, We will engaged with scripture to see how some disciples saw God open up the flavor profile of his plan. … or perhaps he was going back to the original recipe?  Let’s dive in!

MAIN TEXT: Acts 8:14-17 14When word reached the apostles in Jerusalem that Samaria had accepted God’s word, they commissioned Peter and John to go to Samaria. 15Peter and John went down to Samaria where they prayed that the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit. (16This was because the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Philip in Samaria: Philip was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, now called an apostle. Saul was persecuting the church and helping with murder of the followers (i.e. Stephen) but Philip went to Samaria any way to share the message of Christ.
    1. Our text is sandwiched in between a story about a sorcerer named Simon. Yes, a man who did magic—healing, fortune-telling, cursing enemies, etc. 
  2. Peter & John giving the Holy Spirit
    1. Peter and John came to see the work Philip was doing and affirm what Philip was seeing. They didn’t show up because Philip wasn’t capable of giving the HS.
    2. These Samaritans received the Holy Spirit.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Background:
    1. Bad Blood: Samaritans—were Israel’s siblings… though neither liked to claim the other.
      1. MAPs- 12 tribes, 2 kingdoms, Jesus’ contemporary map
        1. The Samaritan Israelites that have survived to this day, believe they are the remnant from the Northern Kingdom’s exile. Yet their Jewish siblings do not see them as family.
      2. Jesus’ contemporary Jews would have seen Samaritans as their rejected half sibling.
  2. Samaritans in Jesus’ ministry: Samaritans and Jews hated each other—this is why Jesus used the Good Samaritan as the hero in his parable. And how important it was that the first-person Jesus affirms his messiahship to was the woman at the well in Samaria. – He did things unexpected.
  3. Great Commission: When Jesus had commissioned the disciples, he told them – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  4. The Jewish/Samaritan Struggle
    1. I think the other disciples came because they needed affirmation for their own jewish faith, that Samaritans were included.
    2. Acts 10 Peter has a vision where God makes in quite clear to him that YES GOD IS INCLUDING GENTILES IN THE PLAN.
      1. No one that Peter wanted to exclude was actually excluded.
      2. Then this event was punctuated by Peter witnessing the presence of the Holy Spirit pouring out on a group of Gentiles. He realized he couldn’t hold back baptism from those that God had already chosen.

TRANSITION: Today is the day we celebrate the baptism of Jesus; we’ve talked previous years about the different cultural aspects of baptism both Jewish and Christian. If you want to listen to past recordings, let me know and I can get them for you.

  1. While the Jewish followers of Jesus may have been freaking out about the inclusion of Gentiles, “OH NO THEY’RE CHANGING THE FLAVOR OF DR. PEPPER!!!”, the reality is that God was going back to the original design.
    1. All creation was intended to be part of God’s plan.
  2. What’s fascinating is how Christians have shifted the plan to have hoops to jump through in order to see if you “truly” are a follower. “ARE YOU REALLY ONE OF US?”
    1. A lot of this came through the trauma of persecution and trying to protect themselves from martyrdom—Special baptism rites, special communion rites, secret meeting places, etc.
  3. As you read through the book of Acts, baptism and following Jesus is difficult in practice, but not in concept:
    1. Believe. – Boom done!—ok let’s baptize you!
    1. Be transformed— OOOOOOF THAT’S HARD! Yep, it’s going to take you the rest of your life to work on this.

APPLICATION: To learn some basics about baptism, consider baptism or ‘remember’ our baptism.

  1. Stances & Definitions of Baptism
    1. Traditional Baptist Belief: “For the one who experiences it, baptism should indicate an acceptance of Christ, a desire to be united in Spirit and in fellowship with Christ, and should function as a sign of discipleship in the times to come.” (The New Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches)
    2. ABC Baptism: Believer’s baptism by immersion
      1. Policy at Liberty:
        1. “By Baptism – Any person who confesses Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, adopts substantially the views of faith and principles of this church and is baptized by immersion may be received into the fellowship of this church.” (and you become a member)
    3. For Baptists, baptism is a symbolic gesture you make to express your commitment to believing in Jesus and walking in your faith with a group of people (ideally the ones witnessing your baptism).
  2. Baptism FAQ—Baptist Edition
    1. Are you required to be baptized in order to follow Jesus? No
    2. Is baptism a ticket into heaven? No
    3. Is there a test you can take to determine if you are ready? No
    4. Can you get baptized again to reaffirm your faith? – it depends on the church and the pastor. Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans and more would all say no. Baptists have been known to re-baptize and it is a criticism many have of Baptists.
      1. If you would like to talk to me about this (or a first time baptism)—we totally can.
      2. There is also an affirmation ceremony that we could perform for those interested in ‘remembering their baptism.’
  3. Practice: On your way out today, there will be a bowl of water at the front and back of the sanctuary for those who would like to dip their hand in and remember those waters.

CONCLUSION: The beauty of Jesus’ baptism? That he opened the waters for the rest of us. We enter those same waters with Christ at our baptism.

Our waters of baptism are the “Original Flavor,” God didn’t change the recipe to include us. Just as God intended Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, God intends us to be part of the family.

Welcome to the Family

1/2/2022

Message Title: Welcome to the Family
Theme: Christian 101
Season: 12 Days of Christmas
Main Text: John 1: 10-18
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14;
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 31:7-14; ; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1:(1-9), 10-18
Focus: Jesus is God incarnate who came to earth to adopt all.
Function: To recognize there isn’t a chosen race but the family of God.
Other Notes: Communion Sunday

SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 1:3-14  3Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven. God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding. 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.

INTRODUCTION: Saint Nicholas Traditions

  1. Audience Engagement:
    1. How old were you when you were first told about Santa Claus?
    2. What traditions did your family have revolving around Santa?
  2. Saint Nicholas of Myra
    1. Lived March 270 to December 343
    2. Greek/Christian Bishop
  3. Saint Nicholas Traditions (Dec 6th)
    1. Italy: “On St. Nicholas Eve in December, children in Molfetta, a city on the Adriatic Sea, put a plate on the table with a letter asking for gifts and promising to be good in the coming year. During the night, San Nicola fills most of the requests and piles the plates with chocolates, candies, and other good things.” (St Nicholas Center)
      1. “Because Nicholas is the patron saint of young women wanting to be married, young women still come to the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari on the 6th of December to put a note to the saint with three coins in a special box.”
    1. Romania: “On the night of December 5th, boots are cleaned and carefully polished to be put by the door or on the windowsill to wait for St. Nicholas’ (Sfantul Nicolae) visit. He is generous to adults as well as children, putting a little present in each boot—usually nuts, tangerines, sweets, chocolate and small useful items, like new socks. Larger gifts come at Christmas.” (St Nicholas Center)
    1. Holland: “After the Reformation, St. Nicholas was largely forgotten in Protestant Europe, although his memory was kept alive in Holland as Sinterklaas. There St. Nicholas is said to arrive on horseback on his feast day, dressed in a bishop’s red robe and mitre and accompanied by Black Peter (Zwarte Piet), variously described as a freed slave or a Moor, to help him distribute sweets and presents to good children or lumps of coalpotatoes, or switches to bad ones.” (Britannica)
      1. “Black face” is involved in the Dutch traditions and is a controversial topic today.
    1. Sources:
      1. https://www.stnicholascenter.org/around-the-world/customs
      2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Saint-Nicholas-Day
      3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas_Day

TRANSITION: Today we prepare for a different holy day, Epiphany (January 6th). That’s right until January 6th we are still in Christmas season. So, if anyone wonders “when exactly do I take down my tree?” it’s January 6th. Then bake yourself a King Cake or give each other books and celebrate Jesus as King.

We’re going to talk about the One True King from the Gospel of John’s perspective this morning.

MAIN TEXT: John 1: 10-18 10The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. 11The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. 12But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, 13born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. 14The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’” 16From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; 17as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known.

EXPLAINATION: Jesus is God incarnate who came to earth to adopt all.

  1. John’s Gospel opens very different from the other 3.
    1. Matthew and Luke both include some form of Christmas story.
    2. Mark just jumps into the story with John The Baptist announcing the coming Messiah.
    3. BUT John ties Jesus of Nazareth to the beginning of all things—Genesis 1:1
  2. John wants to emphasize that God isn’t doing something new, nor is this a new God. This is the same God with the same plan.
    1. Jesus is God dwelling with God’s people. The Incarnate God.
      1. Jesus isn’t the first tale of a deity that walks among the people. The Greeks worshipped Zeus and he was known to frolic among the female humans… getting himself into trouble.
    2. Up until this point—a deity’s interaction with humans was about amusement and usually to the detriment of humans.
      1. Jesus of Nazareth is different. He is the eternal God who created all things and intends to pour out his grace. This is a God who adopts the abandoned and calls them his own.
        1. Our status as children of God isn’t born from any human thing—its entirely a gift from God.
      2. I love the language “grace upon grace” here (WP). This language indicates the fullness of God’s love. This grace isn’t temporary, short lived, or conditional—it’s the fullest form of grace.

TRANSITION:

  1. Today, as we reflect on John 1, I want to officially say: “Welcome to the family!”
  2. Next week we will celebrate the Baptism of Jesus and discuss how baptism is one way to express that we’re joining the family.

INTERPRETATION: Jesus is God incarnate who came to earth to adopt all.

  1. Today is day 9 of the 12 days of Christmas.
    1. January 6th is Epiphany and marks the beginning of a new season…. But we’ll talk about that next week!
      1. Some Epiphany traditions include King Cake or giving each other books to symbolize the “wise” men who gave Jesus gifts.
  2. But no official action is required to receive God’s love or grace.
    1. Jesus called people to live transformed lives in light of the truth of Christ. BUT FIRST Jesus cared for people’s basic needs. Actions don’t earn you favor, God already gives it freely.
    2. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs & a lesson for the church about salvation
      1. Abraham Maslow formed a theory about the basic needs in each human.
      2. In order to develop the higher rungs of the pyramid, one must take care of the lower needs.
      3. The church has been known to flip this on it’s head when it comes to ministering to the poor, refugees, etc.
        1. Hear the gospel message, claim Jesus as your savior, and THEN we’ll feed you. (this is how the homeless shelter operates in my hometown).
        2. But the practice of Jesus wasn’t to give people drug tests or make them break up with their live in partners before they would get care. Jesus first cared for their physical needs.
          1. He healed. He fed. He cast out demons.
          2. THEN if the people stuck around, he called them to a different life.
            1. Woman at the well
            2. Adulterous woman
        3. The irony, is the bottom rungs aren’t always lacking. Sometimes people are drowning in excess stuff or cushioned by excess security and that needs balancing out before Jesus moves forward.
          1. i.e. Rich Man.

APPLICATION: To recognize there isn’t a chosen race but the family of God.

  1. As God’s followers—we aren’t to put prerequisites on grace. We are to pour out care and compassion and let God do the rest. As the person sticks around, a life can be transformed BUT God is the one guiding the transformation—not our own ideas.
  2. COMMUNION:  Let’s start off the year with a family meal!? I know with the holidays, there’s a good chance you’ve had your fill of these BUT this one isn’t just about food, it’s about a gift.
    1. No conditions. Jesus opens up the table to all. You’re invited into the family.
    2. The bread represents his body.
    3. The juice represents his blood.
    4. By his life, death, and resurrection we are all united into the family of God.

CONCLUSION: Christmas isn’t about Santa, Saint Nicolas, or Presents. It is about the actions God takes to heal creation and recall all of us to him.No matter what any one else may tell you—God invites you. God desires you. God calls you his own. Welcome to the family, may we continue to grow together.

Living Out the Plan

12/19/2021

Message Title: Living out the Plan
Theme:
back to basics
Season: Advent
Main Text: all
Scripture Reading: all
RCL Scripture: Micah 5:2-5a; Psalm 80:1-7; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55
Focus: Multiple prophetic voices point to Jesus as the plan for restoration.
Function:To shape our lives as prophetic voices pointing towards Christ.
Other Notes:

INTRODUCTION: New Beginnings—

  1. Previously: ice breakers (benefit of being a rookie), team building exercises, remembering names
  2. Work friends & Actual friends
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is the difference between a work friend and a friend?
      1. Seinfeld Meme
    1. Joke about Jesus being in his 30’s and having 12 close friends.

TRANSITION:

SCRIPTURE READING:

Micah 5:2-5a As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces, one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you. His origin is from remote times, from ancient days. 3Therefore, he will give them up until the time when she who is in labor gives birth. The rest of his kin will return to the people of Israel. 4He will stand and shepherd his flockin the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. They will dwell secure, because he will surely become great throughout the earth; 5he will become one of peace.

Psalm 80:1-7 Shepherd of Israel, listen! You, the one who leads Joseph as if he were a sheep. You, who are enthroned upon the winged heavenly creatures. Show yourself 2before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh! Wake up your power! Come to save us! 3Restore us, God! Make your face shine so that we can be saved! 4Lord God of heavenly forces, how long will you fume against your people’s prayer? 5You’ve fed them bread made of tears; you’ve given them tears to drink three times over! 6You’ve put us at odds with our neighbors; our enemies make fun of us. 7Restore us, God of heavenly forces! Make your face shine so that we can be saved!

Hebrews 10:5-10 Therefore, when he comes into the world he says, You didn’t want a sacrifice or an offering, but you prepared a body for me; 6you weren’t pleased with entirely burned offerings or a sin offering. 7So then I said, “Look, I’ve come to do your will, God. This has been written about me in the scroll.” 8He says above, You didn’t want and you weren’t pleased with a sacrifice or an offering or with entirely burned offerings or a purification offering,which are offered because the Law requires them. 9Then he said, Look, I’ve come to do your will.He puts an end to the first to establish the second. 10We have been made holy by God’s will through the offering of Jesus Christ’s body once for all.

Luke 1:39-55 39Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.” 46Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! 47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. 48He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored 49because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. 50He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God. 51He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. 52He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. 53He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. 54He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, 55just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Micah
    1. Jewish lens:
      1. Threat of Assyria is strong, looking at their own demise on the horizon
      2. looking for restoration through an offspring of David, a shepherd and king
      3. “she” who would give birth could be a personification of Jerusalem (Daughter Zion)
    1. Christian lens:
      1. We hear words of Jesus coming to Mary
      2. -Scripture has layers-
        1. Cultural lens for the time the text was written
        2. For us today
        3. For those tomorrow
  2. Psalm 80
    1. Like Micah, this passage speaks of a people experiencing loss. Either they are in exile or about to return and attempt to rebuild. They’re looking for God’s restoration.
    2. Prayer for hope in God’s work.
    3. There are times, especially during great loss or suffering that the words of the psalms or prophets remind me I’m not alone in waiting on God.
  3. Hebrews
    1. Like the Micah passage, this passage has layers.
    2. The author of Hebrews uses the words from Psalm 40 to speak of Jesus and what he has accomplished.
    3. – scripture has layers-
  4. Luke
    1. Mary visits Elizabeth and we see 3 prophetic moments happen (just before a 4th)
      1. John leaped in this mother’s womb “this is the messiah!!!”
      2. Elizabeth proclaiming
      3. Mary’s Magnificat

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Prophets like Micah & poetry in the Psalms are traditional ways of speaking to God and hearing God speak. The majority of these voices came from older Jewish men (with few exceptions like Miriam, Deborah, or Hannah)
    1. In Luke, the prophetic word comes from 3 unlikely characters: the unborn, the “barren” woman, and the virgin woman. These are voices that would not have been listened to in formal or traditional settings.
  2. Think on the Magnificat for a moment:
    1. When Mary first heard from the Angel, her response was “let it be”
      1. Simple, honorable, but also reserved
    2. When Mary was with Elizabeth, her response was prophetic poetry called the Magnficat
      1. Grand, expressive, praise filled
    3. Mary’s prophetic moment was shared with a relative, friend, companion rather than the Angel.

APPLICATION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: If you are looking for a new product to buy (PICK ONE), what influences your buying decision: Advertisements, articles reviewing the product, or a friend’s review?
    1. Statistics say that the words of a friend have greater influence than advertisings. We trust the words of our friends more than we trust the fluffy, polished, photogenic words of a company.
  2. This same premise transfers over into other parts of our lives.
    1. A famous Methodist evangelist named Rodney Smith has a well known quote on the subject:
      1. “There are 5 gospels: matthew, mark, luke, john, and the Christian. Most people will never read the first four.”
    2. Another quote typically attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (though that is up for debate) says:
      1. “Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary, use words.”
  3. You are the avenue for people to hear the message of God—what message is your life sending?
    1. The message:
      1. God’s plan has not changed
        1. God desires a direct relationship with all of creation.
      2. This relationship has been tainted and Jesus has come to restore it.
      3. Jesus is the great equalizer- humbling the proud and elevating the lowly.
      4. Jesus is the purifier- satisfying the sacrificial system once for all time.
        1. Jesus removes the qualifiers.
        2. No longer do you have to be “good enough,” Jesus IS the good enough. Consider this a group project and Jesus’s grade is what everyone gets.
      5. Jesus came for all people and all creation—so that all may know God.
        1. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection opened those doors.
      6. God intends to restore creation and we are waiting for that day.
      7. Things will not stay this way.
  4. Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus is ALSO the reason for all of creation. Jesus is the reason for our relationships with others and with this world. We are Jesus’ ambassadors on this earth, waiting for the fulfillment of scripture so all may be reunited and restored.
    1. 2 Corinthians 5:20

CONCLUSION:  We’ve spent the past 4 weeks going back to the basics. At the very beginning, we learned that having a rookie attitude was a benefit. Keep a teachable spirit. Keep learning. Keep preaching the gospel through your lives.

Go from this place- announcing the birth of Jesus, not just with Christmas celebrations but also with the grace we provide and the love we share.

Series conclusion: Rookie smarts—benefit of starting new, having humility and a teachable spirit.

One True King!

11/21/2021

Message Title: One True King!
Theme: CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: John 18:33-37
Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 23:1-7;
RCL Scripture: 2 Samuel 23:1-7; Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18); John 18:33-37; Revelation 1:4b-8
Focus: Jesus is the one True King!
Function:
To reject powers, authorities, companies that claim Jesus’ endorsement.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: 2 Samuel 23:1-7 These are David’s last words: This is the declaration of Jesse’s son David, the declaration of a man raised high, a man anointed by the God of Jacob, a man favored by the strong one of Israel. 2The Lord’s spirit speaks through me; his word is on my tongue. 3Israel’s God has spoken, Israel’s rock said to me: “Whoever rules rightly over people, whoever rules in the fear of God, 4is like the light of sunrise on a morning with no clouds, like the bright gleam after the rain that brings grass from the ground.” 5Yes, my house is this way with God! He has made an eternal covenant with me, laid out and secure in every detail. Yes, he provides every one of my victories and brings my every desire to pass. 6But despicable people are like thorns, all of them good for nothing, because they can’t be carried by hand. 7No one can touch them, except with iron bar or the shaft of a spear. They must be burned up with fire right on the spot!

THRONES: 

  1. Game- 
    1. Drawing Chain: 2 people 1 person draws on the other person’s back and the other person has to try to draw what they feel. 
    2. Pictionary
    3. “Password”—The password is…
  2. Answers
    1. King of the Mountain (game)

TRANSITION: 

MAIN TEXT: John 18:33-37 33 Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?” 35 Pilate responded, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.” 37 “So you are a king?” Pilate said. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”

  1. My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world
  2. My guards
  3. My kingdom isn’t from here

The One True King—Discussions of the king & descriptions of the King

ACTIVITY- read 3 passages and look for descriptions of Jesus and his kingshimp

Daniel 7: 9-10 9As I was watching, thrones were raised up. The ancient one took his seat. His clothes were white like snow; his hair was like a lamb’s wool. His throne was made of flame; its wheels were blazing fire. 10A river of fire flowed out from his presence; thousands upon thousands served him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood ready to serve him! The court sat in session; the scrolls were opened.

  1. “ancient one” 
  2. Clothes “white like snow”
  3. Hair “lamb’s wool” 
  4. Flame throne

Isaiah 9:6-7 A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom, establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever.

Revelation 1: 12-14 12 I turned to see who was speaking to me, and when I turned, I saw seven oil lamps burning on top of seven gold stands. 13 In the middle of the lampstands I saw someone who looked like the Human One.[a] He wore a robe that stretched down to his feet, and he had a gold sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white as white wool—like snow—and his eyes were like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like fine brass that has been purified in a furnace, and his voice sounded like rushing water. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His appearance was like the sun shining with all its power.

Revelation 17:14  14 They will make war on the Lamb, but the Lamb will emerge victorious, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Revelation 19: 13-16 13 He wore a robe dyed[a] with blood, and his name was called the Word of God. 14 Heaven’s armies, wearing fine linen that was white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword that he will use to strike down the nations. He is the one who will rule them with an iron rod. And he is the one who will trample the winepress of the Almighty God’s passionate anger. 16 He has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: King of kings and Lord of lords.

  1. Artist depiction of Jesus from Rev 19

APPLICATION: 

  1. Our God is capable of bringing about the restoration. 
  2. OUr God desires restoration.

CONCLUSION: 

The Reconciliation Plan

12/12/2021

Message Title: The Reconciliation Plan
Theme:
Back to basics
Season: Advent
Main Text: all
Scripture Reading: all
RCL Scripture: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
Focus: God’s plans are of reconciliation.
Function: To put our actions where our mouth is.
Other Notes: to include all creation; to be humble hearts acting on Gods love, NOT judging the worthiness of others

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What do you do if you run into someone but forgot their name?
  2. Small talk is awful
    1. The pressure of small talk can build up the stress enough, to not be able to receive names during introductions into my head.
      1. I’m the worst at remembering names in those first social meetings

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

Zephaniah 3:14-20 14Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem. 15The Lord has removed your judgment; he has turned away your enemy. The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you will no longer fear evil. 16On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem: Don’t fear, Zion. Don’t let your hands fall. 17The Lord your God is in your midst—a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing. 18I will remove from you those worried about the appointed feasts.They have been a burden for her, a reproach. 19Watch what I am about to do to all your oppressors at that time. I will deliver the lame; I will gather the outcast. I will change their shame into praise and fame throughout the earth. 20At that time, I will bring all of you back, at the time when I gather you. I will give you fame and praise among all the neighboring peoples when I restore your possessions and you can see them—says the Lord.

Isaiah 12:2-6 2God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won’t be afraid. Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my shield; he has become my salvation.” 3You will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation. 4And you will say on that day: “Thank the Lord; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples; declare that God’s name is exalted. 5Sing to the Lord, who has done glorious things; proclaim this throughout all the earth.” 6Shout and sing for joy, city of Zion, because the holy one of Israel is great among you.

Philippians 4:4-7 4Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7-18 7Then John said to the crowds who came to be baptized by him, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 9The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire.” 10The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11He answered, “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized. They said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He replied, “Collect no more than you are authorized to collect.” 14Soldiers asked, “What about us? What should we do?” He answered, “Don’t cheat or harass anyone, and be satisfied with your pay.” 15The people were filled with expectation, and everyone wondered whether John might be the Christ. 16John replied to them all, “I baptize you with water, but the one who is more powerful than me is coming. I’m not worthy to loosen the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.” 18With many other words John appealed to them, proclaiming good news to the people.

EXPLAINATION: God’s plans are of reconciliation.

  1. Out of order to highlight that today is GAUDETTE Sunday—notice the pink candle. This represents Joy.
    1. Isaiah 12:2-6–God has done glorious things
    2. Philippians 4:4-7–Transformed hearts and lives—gentleness and the peace that surpasses all understanding
  2. Zephaniah 3: 14-20
    1. My favorite part about the Zephaniah passage is that this is the one bright side in the small prophecy. Previously, Zephaniah talked about fire that would burn things—but now the fire appears to be more of a refiner’s fire than all-consuming hell-fire.
  3. Luke 3:7-18
    1. John does not say new stuff to his Jewish audience, but reminds them of the Jewish teachings that they needed to follow.
      1. This wasn’t anything new
    2. Consider the “chaff” that Jesus sorts as the chaff in each of us rather than people who are wheat and people who are chaff.

INTERPRETATION: God’s plans are of reconciliation.

  1. God’s people are not to just speak words of holiness but to show their BELONGING to God’s family with their participation in God’s plan.
    1. Remember our struggle with coming up with a list last week?
    2. I think John’s conversation with the crowd is at the core of our own struggle—we don’t always connect our faith with our actions.
  2. A changed heart evidenced by actions
    1. Crowds – if you have 2 shirts, give 1 away, share your food
    2. Tax collectors – collect no more than you are authorized
    3. Soldiers – don’t cheat, harass, and be satisfied with your pay

APPLICATION: To put our actions where our mouth is.

  1. God is in the restoration & reconciliation business
    1. We should do the same
    2. How are we opening doors for healing & reconciliation?  PAUSE
  2. Follow this train of thought for a moment:
    1. Just feeding the poor is not enough—for they will be hungry again.
      1. Yes, I know that the saying goes “give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”
      2. But I’d like to consider that until the systems are changed that make the poor vulnerable, we will continue to have the poor.
      3. Until God’s kingdom is brought, we are called to fight the systems that make others vulnerable.
  3. Our experience this weekend with Jubilee is step one—we don’t just give gifts; we get to know and care for families.
    1. Are there other ways that we can take the essence of Jubilee into practice in the rest of our lives?
      1. Not just serving people
      2. But caring about them

CONCLUSION: God’s plan isn’t about fancy words or fun small talk. God’s plan is restoration and redemption.

Benediction: May we walk the talk.

My Place in the Plan

We did not get a video this week, however, we have a recording on FB.
12-5-2021

Message Title: My Place in the Plan
Theme: Back to basics
Season: Advent
Main Text: all
Scripture Reading: all
RCL Scripture: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6
Focus: The role of God’s people in The Plan is participation.
Function: to serve, love, and spread hope as our participation in God’s plan
Other Notes: pointing towards christ’s return and God’s plans, calling people to changed lives
intro ideas: “Rookie Smarts” any intro 101 lessons

INTRO: TEAM BUILDING EXERCISES

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How do you feel about Team Building Exercises?
    1. Do you have a favorite?
  2. I used to work a YMCA camp in SD –every year as we prepared for the summer we would have team building exercises to develop our trust and communication skills. These exercises were always facilitated by our High Ropes/ Rock Climbing instructors. – PHOTOS OF ME AT CAMP
    1. Human Knot
    2. Spider Web
    3. Wall Challenge
  3. As much as I dislike ice breakers, team building exercises can be cheesey but they TRANSFORMED the way we worked as a team. AND THEN when we brought campers through the same program, their interaction with other campers would completely shift. These became life lessons they would carry with them.

TRANSITION:

Scripture Reading: Malachi 3:1-4 Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me; suddenly the Lord whom you are seeking will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming, says the Lord of heavenly forces. 2Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. 3He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the Lord, presenting a righteous offering. 4The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in ancient days and in former years.

Luke 1:68-79  68“Bless the Lord God of Israel because he has come to help and has delivered his people. 69He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house, 70just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago. 71He has brought salvation from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us. 72He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and remembered his holy covenant, 73the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham. He has granted 74that we would be rescued from the power of our enemies so that we could serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. 76You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way. 77You will tell his people how to be saved through the forgiveness of their sins. 78Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, 79to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.”

Philippians 1:3-11 3I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. 4I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. 5I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. 6I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. 7I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. 8God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. 10I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. 11I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.

Luke 3:1-6 In the fifteenth year of the rule of the emperor Tiberius—when Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea and Herod was rulerover Galilee, his brother Philip was rulerover Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was rulerover Abilene, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—God’s word came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3John went throughout the region of the Jordan River, calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 4This is just as it was written in the scroll of the words of Isaiah the prophet, A voice crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight. 5Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be leveled. The crooked will be made straight and the rough places made smooth. 6All humanity will see God’s salvation.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Malachi 3 – prophecy believed to be about John the B and Jesus
    1. Jesus is the refiner’s fire who will restore, purify, (improve?) God’s people
    2. John is the one preparing the way for Jesus
  2. Luke 1– Zachariah’s prophecy about Jesus and the role of his son in announcing God’s intentions
    1. Jesus already has raised us up
    2. God keeps God’s promises
    3. John would speak of the forgiveness received because of God’s compassion
  3. Philippians 1 – hope and direction for congregations
    1. Partners in the ministry of the gospel
    2. Partners in God’s grace
    3. Love might become more and more rich with knowledge and insight
  4. Luke 3– John the Baptist at work
    1. The role of the church is to point towards Christ

INTERPRETATION:

  1. John the Baptist was called to proclaim the coming of the Messiah
    1. He had a role to play.
  2. God *could* just accomplish God’s will on God’s own. BUT God chooses to involve us.
    1. From Genesis and the creation of humans, God gave us roles to play in God’s plans.
    2. The story of Jesus is no different.

APPLICATION:

  1. Our participation
    1. Serving
      1. Regardless of their story
        1. Paul was in prison and the Philippians cared for him
      2. Without sorting people into “worthy” or “unworthy”
      3. Every time we make a qualifier for service, God removes it
    2. Loving All people
      1. Just like with service, we are not putting conditions on love: “I’ll show you love if you behave like me, if you talk like me, if you think like me, if you vote or love like me”
    3. Spreading hope
      1. NOT condemnation
      2. Not backhanded hope
        1. “God loves sinners like you too”

CONCLUSION

COMMUNION

The Big Plan

Message Title: The Big Plan
Theme: Back to the Basics
Season: Advent 1
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36
Focus: Christmas isn’t about a baby, it’s about a Savior fulfilling God’s plan.
Function: To prepare our hearts for the fulfillment of that plan and actively wait, living faithfully.
Other Notes: God wants all creation restored (think back to garden), we’re in the second advent now- waiting for this to come true.
intro ideas: “Rookie Smarts” any intro 101 lessons

SERIES INTRODUCTION: Happy New Year! Welcome to Advent and the beginning of a new church year. During the season of Advent, things will look a little different, as you have already noticed. We will be reading 4 passages from scripture and incorporating those into our sermon lesson rather than 1 main text. 

SERMON INTRODUCTION: 

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: 
    1. How many of you ACTUALLY like “Ice Breaker” questions? 
    2. What is the best “ice breaker” question you’ve heard? 
      1. I like “look at your arms, hands, legs and find a scar. Tell us about that scar”
      2. I have some great one for women’s only conversations too 😉 
  2. Starting something new isn’t always fun… especially when you know that you’re going to have to answer ice breakers questions AND you’re an introvert. 
  3. I attended a conference, years back where Liz Wisemen (author of Rookie Smarts) talked about the advantage of starting something new and being the rookie. Now, she wasn’t talking about having the best answer to ice breakers BUT she did talk about the benefit of a learning attitude. 

TRANSITION: We are going to practice a Rookie mindset by getting a smattering of scripture that will help lay the foundation to bring us Back to the Basics – to start Christmas isn’t about a baby, it’s about a Savior. 

MAIN TEXT: (SCRIPTURE READINGS)

Scripture Readings: 

Jeremiah 33:14-16 14 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness. 

Psalm 25:1-10 I offer my life[b] to you, Lord. 2My God, I trust you. Please don’t let me be put to shame! Don’t let my enemies rejoice over me! For that matter, don’t let anyone who hopes in you be put to shame; instead, let those who are treacherous without excuse be put to shame. Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth—teach it to me—because you are the God who saves me. I put my hope in you all day long. Lord, remember your compassion and faithful love—they are forever! But don’t remember the sins of my youth or my wrongdoing. Remember me only according to your faithful love for the sake of your goodness, Lord. The Lord is good and does the right thing; he teaches sinners which way they should go. God guides the weak to justice, teaching them his way. 10 All the Lord’s paths are loving and faithful for those who keep his covenant and laws.

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 How can we thank God enough for you, given all the joy we have because of you before our God? 10 Night and day, we pray more than ever to see all of you in person and to complete whatever you still need for your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus guide us on our way back to you. 12 May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. 13 May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen.

Luke 21:25-36 25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, there will be dismay among nations in their confusion over the roaring of the sea and surging waves. 26 The planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken, causing people to faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world. 27 Then they will see the Human One[b] coming on a cloud with power and great splendor. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, stand up straight and raise your heads, because your redemption is near.” 29 Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that God’s kingdom is near. 32 I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until everything has happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away. 34 “Take care that your hearts aren’t dulled by drinking parties, drunkenness, and the anxieties of day-to-day life. Don’t let that day fall upon you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. It will come upon everyone who lives on the face of the whole earth. 36  Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Human One.”[c]

EXPLAINATION: Christmas isn’t about a baby, it’s about a Savior fulfilling God’s plan.

  1. Jeremiah
    1. Even in the midst of exile, God is promising restoration and redemption. 
  2. Psalm 
    1. David is expressing hope in God to keep God’s promises
  3. 1 Thessalonians
    1. Paul instructs the Christians in Thessalonica to stay faithful to God while they wait for those promises to be fulfilled. 
  4. Luke
    1. Jesus describes the signs pointing to God’s plans being fulfilled. 

INTERPRETATION: To prepare our hearts for the fulfillment of that plan and actively wait, living faithfully.

  1. God’s plans didn’t start with the manger. God’s plans didn’t end with the cross. 
    1. Gordon Hickley’s quote
    2. Christmas is the prologue to Easter. Christ’s return is the epilogue. 
      1. It is ironic that we spend much more time focusing on Christmas when without Easter, Christmas is just a sweet story of a baby being born into less than desirable circumstances. 
      2. Easter is where the story REALLY unfolds. Acts 1 has us waiting with anticipation as we’re promised Jesus will return as he left. 
  2. How are you waiting? Is your waiting pointing towards the truth and hope of Christ? 
    1. Waiting isn’t just for Advent or Christmas time—we are in the Second Advent, waiting for Christ to come back and fulfill all the promises found in scripture. We are waiting even now. 

APPLICATION: To prepare our hearts for the fulfillment of that plan and actively wait, living faithfully.

  1. Ways to get involved with Advent: 
    1. Advent calendars – these all start on Dec 1st. Advent begins 4 Sundays before Christmas, so the date changes every year therefore many start counting at Dec 1st for consistency. 
      1. Could be treats, crafts, or random acts of kindness challenges
      2. Could also be a “reverse advent calendar” – print off ideas in the back. 
    2. Advent Spirals- instructions in the back 
      1. This could be paired with family devotions, prayer, or listening to some Christmas music together at the end of the day. 
    3. Advent Devotions- 
      1. Sarah Bessey- Waiting, Accepting, Journeying, Birthing https://www.sarahbessey.com/shop/advent?fbclid=IwAR0UKTR9nRiMO1VdVCyXlU3UytUp6Ywk79XIznlkhAkITPEyvjxKy3KRcqE 
      2. Walter Brueggemann- Celebrating Abundance https://www.amazon.com/Celebrating-Abundance-Devotions-Walter-Brueggemann/dp/0664262279/  
      3. Scott Erikson- Honest Advent https://www.amazon.com/Honest-Advent-Awakening-God-Us/dp/0310361877/ 
      4. Thomas G. Long- A Surprising God https://www.amazon.com/Surprising-God-Advent-Devotions-Uncertain/dp/0664267238/ 
      5. Zondervan has an Advent Verse Mapping program https://www.zondervan.com/p/versemapping-adventsignup/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=zbibles-vm-advent&fbclid=IwAR2UX0_R3IOf6Sebutn_TPH76xeRY6tDfUpyhbb6rZMm9fJjTYgwdoMeZu8 
    4. Advent Playlists
      1. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5Mdxc5vcsIGBLWm9V1paGz?si=ace02f31252d42c0 
  2. These activities are great for advent BUT they are also great for the second advent. What ways could you incorporate waiting, expectation, and faithfulness into your daily lives year round? 

CONCLUSION:  I invite you to go back to the basics, back to the beginning and learn something knew about God. Start over this Advent season. Today is a new day, a new church year—you have a chance to begin this relationship again. 

Not The King

11/14/2021

Message Title: Not the King
Theme: Thrones
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Mark 13:1-8
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25
RCL Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:4-20 or Daniel 12:1-3 or 1 Samuel 2:1-10** Psalm 16 Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25 Mark 13:1-8
Focus: Jesus warns his disciples to not be led astray by false teachers.
Function:
To raise caution towards our allegiances and loyalties by weighing them against scripture.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 10:11-25 11 Every priest stands every day serving and offering the same sacrifices over and over, sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right side of God. 13 Since then, he’s waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for his feet, 14 because he perfected the people who are being made holy with one offering for all time. 15 The Holy Spirit affirms this when saying, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them. After these days, says the Lord, I will place my laws in their hearts and write them on their minds. 17And I won’t remember their sins and their lawless behavior anymore. 18 When there is forgiveness for these things, there is no longer an offering for sin. 19 Brothers and sisters, we have confidence that we can enter the holy of holies by means of Jesus’ blood, 20 through a new and living way that he opened up for us through the curtain, which is his body, 21 and we have a great high priest over God’s house. 22 Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us, since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water. 23 Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. 24 And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. 25 Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.

CROWN GAME:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
    1. Can you recognize a monarch by their crown?
      1. Ursala from The Little Mermaid
      2. Joffrey Baratheon from GOT
      3. Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland
      4. King Aragorn from The Return of the King
      5. The White Witch/Queen Jadis from The lion, The witch, and the wardrobe
      6. Bonus: Queen Anna from Frozen
  2. I’m a sucker for stories about monarchs, both historical and fiction. Give me the story of King Arthur or King George VI and I’m all in. What is it about the stories of royalty that draws us in?

TRANSITION: Next Sunday is the final Sunday in the church calendar, known as Christ the King Sunday or Reign of Christ Sunday. We will take 2 weeks to consider kingship and Jesus’s role.

In our text today, Jesus warns of leaders who would mislead Jesus’ disciples and warns them to stay sharp. Let’s consider loyalty as we dive into this text.

MAIN TEXT: Mark 13:1-8 As Jesus left the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, look! What awesome stones and buildings!” Jesus responded, “Do you see these enormous buildings? Not even one stone will be left upon another. All will be demolished.” Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? What sign will show that all these things are about to come to an end?” Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives youMany people will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the one!’ They will deceive many people. When you hear of wars and reports of wars, don’t be alarmed. These things must happen, but this isn’t the end yet. Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other, and there will be earthquakes and famines in all sorts of places. These things are just the beginning of the sufferings associated with the end.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. “one of his disciples said”—an unnamed disciple is in awe of the Temple and expresses this awe to Jesus.
  2. All will be demolished.”- Jesus seems to be in a dark place as he mentions that destruction will come to this beautiful place.
    1. At times in the different scriptures, Jesus predicts his death and the destruction of the Temple and the language can be confusing. However, this time, Jesus doesn’t blend those two topics. The Temple will fall. This beautiful, holy place will fall.
  3. when will these things happen?”- naturally the disciples want to know when these events will unfold and how to be prepared.
  4. Watch out that no one deceives you.”–Jesus doesn’t directly answer, his reply is to not be led astray.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Put it in context:
    1. Just before this conversation, Jesus pointed out the giving of a poor widow. Even in her poverty, she gave to God.
    2. Now we have disciples in awe of this pretty building. What a juxtaposition?! This beautiful elaborate building is just a building. It doesn’t ensure the faithfulness of God’s people. Jews were supposed to provide for the widow, yet this woman was destitute. What happened?
  2. Little Apocalypse: In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus had already been teaching the disciples that he would be killed (starting in Mark 8). The disciples were to prepare for ministry without Jesus by their side. However, this apocalyptic teaching was different, this wasn’t about Jesus’ death…directly.
    1. These words of doom could sound overwhelming but there is more that the disciples may not be considering: Jesus will not be there when this destruction comes. They will experience this tragedy alone. Will they remain faithful amid suffering?
    2. Jesus’ prediction comes true:
      1. 70 A.D. the temple get’s destroyed and is never rebuilt again.
    3. Imagine the despair in Jesus’ followers when 40 years later the holy temple of God is destroyed. Would they remember these words? Would they feel comforted or that the world is ending?
  3. The End of the World: Every generation has events that feel like the end of times. Every generation has people speaking out saying “The End is Near!” because we need to “read the signs of the times!” Yet here we are in 2021 preparing for 2022.
    1. 70 AD temple destruction
    2. WWII
    3. Vietnam
    4. 9/11
    5. COVID

APPLICATION: To raise caution towards our allegiances and loyalties by weighing them against scripture.

  1. Trials and tribulations are easy temptation breeding grounds to switch allegiances for self-preservation.
    1. In The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Edmund initially fostered a relationship with Queen Jadis because he thought she would elevate him above his siblings.
    2. In The Lord of The Rings, the Hobbits of Hobbiton intentionally ignored the rest of the world. They didn’t get involved. Their corner of the world was happy and safe, why should they interfere?
  2. Leaders can have selfish motives. It is important to ask questions and to assess things through the lens of Scripture with the guidance of God’s Spirit.
    1. Prince John in Robin Hood wanted the wealth of his kingdom for himself.
    2. The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland wanted subjects to flatter her and entertain her.
  3. We must temper our allegiance even to good leaders.
    1. Jesus first and foremost is our King.
    2. Every other law of the land or word of a ruler should be tempered through the words of Christ.
  4. Reflection:
    1. Are we, as Christians, able to be critical thinkers?
    2. Are we able to test every leader, ruler, and power against the words of Christ?
    3. Can we tell the difference between false rulers and the One True King?

CONCLUSION: Next week we will celebrate the One True King. Come back next week and we will look for attributes of our king. Then we can test others according to the truth of Christ.

The Hallmark Original

10/31/2021

Message Title: The Hallmark Original
Theme: Ruth
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Ruth 1:1-18
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 9:11-14
RCL Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 or Ruth 1:1-18 Psalm 119:1-8 or Psalm 146 Hebrews 9:11-14 Mark 12:28-34
Focus: The story of Ruth is first and foremost the story of love between Naomi & Ruth.
Function:
To develop friendships and relationships that will encourage your growth as a person and with God.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 9:11-14 11 But Christ has appeared as the high priest of the good things that have happened. He passed through the greater and more perfect meeting tent, which isn’t made by human hands (that is, it’s not a part of this world). 12 He entered the holy of holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time. 13 If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of cows made spiritually contaminated people holy and clean, 14 how much more will the blood of Jesus wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God? He offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit as a sacrifice without any flaw.

HALLMARK MOVIES:

  1. Audience engagement:  Controversial question time!
    1. Christmas movies & music before thanksgiving- Yes or No?
    2. I’m a firm believer in holding out until after Thanksgiving for any Christmas stuff. I prefer to also hold off on Thanksgiving until after Halloween.
  2. I have to tease both my mother and my mother-in-law- they both love their holiday movies. My mother-in-law starts counting down to Christmas basically in July and will watch Christmas movies as soon as summer is over. Well… that might be a slight exaggeration… but I have fun teasing her none the less.
  3. My favorite thing to tease is the predictability of a hallmark movie. In fact, someone made a flow chart to create your own hallmark Christmas movie.
    1. Create your own hallmark movie

TRANSITION: over the next two weeks, we will be engaging in a story that many Christians have retold as its own hallmark style movie. But perhaps there is more than romance to be shared in this tale?

MAIN TEXT: Ruth 1: 1-18 During the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A man with his wife and two sons went from Bethlehem of Judah to dwell in the territory of Moab. 2The name of that man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the territory of Moab and settled there. But Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died. Then only she was left, along with her two sons. 4They took wives for themselves, Moabite women; the name of the first was Orpah and the name of the second was Ruth. And they lived there for about ten years. 5But both of the sons, Mahlon and Chilion, also died. Only the woman was left, without her two children and without her husband. 6Then she arose along with her daughters-in-law to return from the field of Moab, because while in the territory of Moab she had heard that the Lord had paid attention to his people by providing food for them. 7She left the place where she had been, and her two daughters-in-law went with her. They went along the road to return to the land of Judah. 8Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “Go, turn back, each of you to the household of your mother. May the Lord deal faithfully with you, just as you have done with the dead and with me. 9May the Lord provide for you so that you may find security, each woman in the household of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10But they replied to her, “No, instead we will return with you, to your people.” 11Naomi replied, “Turn back, my daughters. Why would you go with me? Will there again be sons in my womb, that they would be husbands for you? 12Turn back, my daughters. Go. I am too old for a husband. If I were to say that I have hope, even if I had a husband tonight, and even more, if I were to bear sons—13would you wait until they grew up? Would you refrain from having a husband? No, my daughters. This is more bitter for me than for you, since the Lord’s will has come out against me.” 14Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth stayed with her. 15Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her gods. Turn back after your sister-in-law.” 16But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do this to me and more so if even death separates me from you.” 18When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her about it.

EXPLAINATION: The story of Ruth is first and foremost the story of love between Naomi & Ruth.

  1. Timing: During the Judges when Israel had no king (and they all did what was right in their own eyes)
    1. Israel was not faithful to God through the time of the Judges. They struggled.
  2. The story opens with a depiction of Naomi’s family: her husband and two sons. This is a family from the people of Israel.
  3. Because of famine, the people are forced to go elsewhere to find food—they got to Moab.
    1. To Jewish readers this would be scandalous—Moab was the location of “their enemies.”
    2. The Moabites were offspring of Lot and one of his daughters… but that’s a story for another time.
    3. Main point: Jews were told not to mingle or intermarry with Moabites because they were corrupt and followed other gods.
  4. This Jewish family went into “enemy territory” AND THEN! The sons MARRIED two of the women.
    1. We won’t get into it today but the Hebrew here isn’t a pretty fairy tale marriage. These two women were war brides—they were prizes, not people.
  5. The men all die. We don’t get any explanation about the death of Naomi’s husband or eventually her sons. We now have 3 widows as the focus. Rather than remain in this foreign land vulnerable, Naomi decides to return home where she can find refuge within her family.
  6. She encourages her daughters in law to do the same.

INTERPRETATION: The story of Ruth is first and foremost the story of love between Naomi & Ruth.

  1. Orpah returns to her family. She was a war bride- stolen from her family, she is finally free to return. Orpah is the logical one.
  2. Ruth remains with Naomi. Remains with the woman whose son kidnaped her. Ruth does the illogical thing BUT that is the spark to this story.
    1. Why would Ruth choose to stay with Naomi?
    2. Why would Ruth choose to leave her homeland to enter a new land as a widow, a foreigner, and impoverished?
  3. Ruth not only commits to go with Naomi but that she will be transformed and her identity rewritten by this story.
    1. Your people my people
    2. Your God my God
  4. The story of Ruth is one of encouragement for me—no matter how dark things seem; God can always redeem a story. Ruth, like Job, is faithful to the God of the Israelites. She, as a foreigner, sets an example for faithfulness to God even when suffering is raging like a storm.

APPLICATION: To develop friendships and relationships that will encourage your growth as a person and with God.

  1. The relationship between Ruth and Naomi is the focus of the first half of the book of Ruth. Though the romance is coming next week, the big love story of Chapter 1 is Ruth’s love for Naomi. Ruth provides for her vulnerable mother-in-law though she has no legal obligation to.
    1. Ruth’s character is defined by the actions she takes to go with Naomi and care for her.
    2. Ruth, though a vulnerable widow, protects an elderly vulnerable widow.
    3. Where Ruth and Orpah’s husbands broke many Jewish laws to accomplish their desires and acquire wives, Ruth—a Moabite enemy of the Israelites—is faithful to the law to protect the vulnerable.
  2. Ruth builds a relationship and fosters that relationship.
    1. Audience Engagement: Can you think of movies or shows without romance OR where the main story is about friendship or family connection?
    2. Movie Conversation: earlier we talked about hallmark movies. I recently discovered something called “The Bechdel Test” to assess one quality of characters in a movie:
      1. The Bechdel Test:
        1. The movie has to have at least two women in it,
        2. who talk to each other,
        3. about something other than a man.
    3. This test isn’t the ultimate deciding factor about the quality of a movie but it does cause a person to pause and consider the way writers portray the characters and tell the story
  3. The world & the church’s mistake of hyping up romance and marriage but not emphasizing enough the value of friendship or those you can mutually grow with.
  1. Do you have non-romantic relationships in your life? Are they people you can be vulnerable with? Are they people who will help you flourish your faith? Are they people who will walk with you through darkness and celebrate with you through triumphs?
  2. Find your Ruth. Find your Naomi.
    1. Mentors & Accountability partners

CONCLUSION: I invite you to read the book of Ruth for discussion next week. It’s only 4 chapters—I have faith in you! While our Hallmark film has only been framed around the awesome best friend, next week… the romance ignites.Could a love story teach us anything about God or ourselves?

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

10/24/21

Message Title: Open Mouth, Insert Foot
Theme: In Our Sorrows
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Job 42:1-6, 10
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 7:23-28
RCL Scripture: Job 42:1-6, 10-17 or Jeremiah 31:7-9 Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22) or Psalm 126 Hebrews 7:23-28 Mark 10:46-52
Focus: Job responds to God with faith and humility.
Function:
 To find our own humility in suffering or prosperity, leaving the justice to God, and welcoming everyone equally to the table.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 7:23-28  2The others who became priests are numerous because death prevented them from continuing to serve. 24 In contrast, he holds the office of priest permanently because he continues to serve forever. 25 This is why he can completely save those who are approaching God through him, because he always lives to speak with God for them. 26 It’s appropriate for us to have this kind of high priest: holy, innocent, incorrupt, separate from sinners, and raised high above the heavens. 27 He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests, first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people. He did this once for all when he offered himself. 28 The Law appoints people who are prone to weakness as high priests, but the content of the solemn pledge, which came after the Law, appointed a Son who has been made perfect forever.

FIRST WORLD PROBLEM:                                                  

  1. Audience engagement: What is the most frustrating thing about the internet?
    1. The internet in the country is very dependent on the weather.
    2. Social media and the spread of misinformation or leading to judgement.
  2. First World Prob: Free Wi-Fi BUT Slow!

How humorous, or short sighted, is it to be mad about the speed free Wi-Fi? Sometimes, as a Americans, we are pampered and don’t realize how our “sufferings” are truly first world problems.

TRANSITION:  The book of Job sometimes feels like first world problems, at least when Job’s friend’s talk, when we bring our complaints to God. The goal of this book isn’t to suck it up and deal with it but to praise God in the midst of all parts of life.

In our text today, we will see the last portion of Job’s conversation with God. Fair warning, this passage may lead to more questions than answers. We will try to wrap up Job today and remember our place.

MAIN TEXT: Job 42:1-6, 10 Job answered the Lord: 2I know you can do anything; no plan of yours can be opposed successfully. 3You said,“Who is this darkening counsel without knowledge?” I have indeed spoken about things I didn’t understand, wonders beyond my comprehension. 4You said,“Listen and I will speak; I will question you and you will inform me.” 5My ears had heard about you, but now my eyes have seen you. 6Therefore, I relentand find comfort on dust and ashes.….10Then the Lord changed Job’s fortune when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord doubled all Job’s earlier possessions.

EXPLAINATION: Job responds to God with faith and humility.

  1. Job and God have been talking back and forth for a few chapters now. God hasn’t given Job the answers he was looking for but Job still gained something.
  2. VS 3 After this conversation with God (that started in ch 38), Job concludes he needs to open his mouth and insert his foot.
    1. Has concluded he spoke about God without knowing God fully. And as he has a bigger picture now, he has decided to shut his mouth and be content wherever life places him… even in the ashes.
  3. Vs 5 After all that Job has experienced, all the loss, sadness, and pain, he concludes God is good and does not owe Job an explanation.
    1. Though the Wisdom literature of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job have concluded God doesn’t reward do-gooders and curse the unrighteous; Job gets a happy ending! Job receives family, property, and health again.
  4. Bonus: In between Job’s response and his final blessings, God tells Job’s “friends” that they didn’t speak right about him BUT Job did. His friends ask Job to pray for them and because of Job’s prayer, God forgives Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

INTERPRETATION: Job responds to God with faith and humility.

  1. The struggle of the end of Job is real. Job concludes with a happy ending which leads us to question everything God said in the first place.
    1. Does God ACTUALLY reward the righteous and punish the wicked?
    2. Many scholars feel like the ending of Job cancels out the speeches of God in the previous chapters. Others question if this was the actual ending or tacked on later to make everything feel tied up like a bow.
  2. “The Book of Job tells how one man suddenly awakened to the anarchy rampant in the world, yet his attachment to God outlived the ruin of his tidy system.”[1]

APPLICATION: To find our own humility in suffering or prosperity, leaving the justice to God, and welcoming everyone equally to the table.

  1. Faithfulness to God should not be dependent on our fortune.
    1. Good things may happen in your life – Praise God.
    2. Bad things may happen in your life—Praise God.
    3. Grateful
    4. God is not our vending machine or magic genie that we only worship and follow when we are provided with blessings. God is to be worshipped in all times.
  2. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job together tell a story of Divine Justice that is bigger than we can understand. And honestly, I’m grateful justice is God’s responsibility and not mine… or yours. I’m grateful that God takes all things into account. The burden of judge is too great for my shoulders—every judgement I make would be biased from my own beliefs, experiences, and knowledge. My judgement wouldn’t take everything into account.
    1. Many of us have been wronged and would love to see justice or at least repentance and an apology.
      1. Imagine if the justice system determined reparations based on the victims feelings and not a separate standard?
      2. I give most people the benefit of the doubt. At my core I believe that ‘hurt people hurt people.’ But the pain had to start somewhere. Who started the web of hurt?
  3. The Scale of Justice: Job’s friends wanted to explain Job’s suffering as a direct consequence of unrepentant sin he committed. God tells Job’s friends they were wrong, Job’s suffering was just suffering.
    1. How often are we the friends of Job? How often do we keep people from the worship space, the communion table, or even from Christ because we are certain we know their sin and the judgement they will receive from God?
      1. Wealth does not indicate favor with God. Nor does poverty does not indicate disdain from God.
      2. Nothing about our lives – gender, race, religion, sexuality, political affiliation, etc—leads to greater favor with God. Those are all grains of sand on the scale of justice. God’s love, God’s character is the only thing that will change the judgement.

 CONCLUSION:

SERIES CONCLUSION: Job is a complex wisdom parable that can seem daunting at first glance. The story of Job is a parable that helps us to consider our own feelings about loss, suffering, and God.


[1] https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-book-of-job/