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/

GOD EXPLAIN YOURSELF!

10/17/2021

Message Title: GOD EXPLAIN YOURSELF!
Theme: In Our Sorrows
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Job 38:1-7, 34-41
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 5:1-10
RCL Scripture: Job 38:1-7, (34-41) or Isaiah 53:4-12 Psalm 91:9-16 or Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c Hebrews 5:1-10 Mark 10:35-45
Focus: God responds to Job’s questions without justifying himself.
Function: To stop justifying God’s action in our suffering, instead to sit in silence or point towards Christ.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 5:1-10 Every high priest is taken from the people and put in charge of things that relate to God for their sake, in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 The high priest is able to deal gently with the ignorant and those who are misled since he himself is prone to weakness. 3 Because of his weakness, he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as for the people. 4 No one takes this honor for themselves but takes it only when they are called by God, just like Aaron. 5 In the same way Christ also didn’t promote himself to become high priest. Instead, it was the one who said to him, You are my Son. Today I have become your Father, 6 as he also says in another place, You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek. 7 During his days on earth, Christ offered prayers and requests with loud cries and tears as his sacrifices to the one who was able to save him from death. He was heard because of his godly devotion. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. 9 After he had been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who obeys him. 10 He was appointed by God to be a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

SERIES UPDATE:

  1. Job 1 & 2
  2. Job 23 – John Amick
  3. Job 38 ← YOU ARE HERE
  4. Job 42

FIRST WORLD PROBS:

Audience Engagement: how many of you have pets? do any of them have a funny habit? – favorite toy?! picky about food?

Much like their humans, pets can have first world problems. However, pet first world problems are probably even funnier than human probs. Perhaps it’s the language barrier that leads to such humor- “my human doesn’t understand me” or perhaps the humor is in the comparison with wild or stray animals.

  • photo 1- so many toys
  • photo 2 – wrong flavor of food
  • photo 3 – peeing in rain

one of my favorite quotes comparing cats and dogs goes like this: you feed a dog and they think you’re God. you feed a cat and they think they are God.

TRANSITION:  in our text for today we will hear words from God as God responds to questions from Job. However, Job doesn’t get the explanation he expected.

SET THE SCENE: Consider drawing a picture to connect to wk 1

  1. From 3-28 Job’s “friends” have been giving him explanations for why he must suffer so much.
    1. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar take turns speaking and letting Job respond for 26 chapters. Each time they try to explain Job’s suffering and each time Job defends himself.
    2. Each time the friends defend God’s character by smearing Job’s character. God is Just so CLEARLY Job has done something wrong. We’ll give you examples…
      1. After all of their words, Job then expresses his perspective (29-31) including questions to God in relation to Job’s character & behavior.
        1. Job even questions God’s goodness.
  2. THEN Job’s young “friend” Elihu speaks for 6 chapters.
    1. Before Job can respond to Elihu, God speaks up.

MAIN TEXT: Job 38:1-7, 34-41 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: 2 Who is this darkening counsel with words lacking knowledge? 3 Prepare yourself like a man; I will interrogate you, and you will respond to me. 4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me if you know. 5 Who set its measurements? Surely you know. Who stretched a measuring tape on it? 6 On what were its footings sunk; who laid its cornerstone, 7 while the morning stars sang in unison and all the divine beings shouted?….34 Can you issue an order to the clouds so their abundant waters cover you? 35 Can you send lightning so that it goes and then says to you, “I’m here”? 36 Who put wisdom in remote places,    or who gave understanding to a rooster? 37 Who is wise enough to count the clouds, and who can tilt heaven’s water containers 38 so that dust becomes mud and clods of dirt adhere? 39 Can you hunt prey for the lion or fill the cravings of lion cubs? 40 They lie in their den, lie in ambush in their lair. 41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry to God, move about without food?

EXPLANATION: God responds to Job’s questions without justifying himself.

  1. Job just asked God to explain Godself. (VERSE QUOTES- Ch 29-31)
  2. God responds to Job but does not answer Job’s questions.
  3. Instead, God responds with his own pointed questions.

INTERPRETATION: God responds to Job’s questions without justifying himself.

  1. God doesn’t justify his actions.
    1. Job never learns why the things he experienced happened. much like us today, suffering isn’t explained.
    2. We like to explain why suffering happens; it helps is to grieve and deal with the pain if we feel like we have a purpose to the madness.
      1. However, God doesn’t tell Jon “everything happens for a reason.”
      2. God doesn’t explain anything to Job.
      3. Job experienced natural disasters and consequences of other people’s actions (Chaldeans etc.) His suffering was caused by a tainted world.
  2. Job gains a perspective of God’s role compared to his own. God shows Job that God’s perspective and responsibilities are bigger than Job can comprehend. God does not move humans like chess pieces on a chessboard.
  3. though we know from the narrator’s perspective, Jobs loss was stirred up by the Adversary, job never learns this. he is humbled. he is put in his place. he’s reminded that God doesn’t *owe* us explanations.

APPLICATION: To stop justifying God’s action in our suffering, instead to sit in silence or point towards Christ.

  1. What to do with God’s answer?
    1. Recognize that suffering is not a direct action by God to teach us lessons. Do not blame God for the pain in our lives.
      1. INSTEAD: The existence of suffering is the consequence of sin in this world.
        1. sin affects nature- storms, natural disasters, etc
        2. sin affects humans in two ways:
          1. consequences for OUR actions
          2. consequences from other people’s actions
    2. Realize that God doesn’t need your help/defense of his actions
      1. When we try to defend God’s actions or the consequences we experience, we say false things about God.
      2. explaining away grief with ‘ everything has a purpose” or “God has a plan” paints God as a jerk who enjoys watching our pain OR a NOT good God who uses evil to accomplish his will.
        1. God’s plan is not for us to lose loved ones – young or old.
          1. Babies don’t die because God needed another angel in heaven.
        2. God’s plan is not to teach us lessons through suffering.
          1. BUT that doesn’t mean we can’t learn or grow in the midst of suffering. God doesn’t cause suffering for a lesson, but we still can learn. I see those lessons as a way that God redeems stories of pain.
      3. INSTEAD: Sit with people in their suffering without explaining it. Give them the gift of presence.
    3. Preach the hope of Christ’s return and the end of this suffering.
      1. At the end of the Gospel of Luke and the beginning of Acts, Jesus says he’s coming back. We turn to the Old Testament and other writings in the New Testament to know what to look forward to:
        1. Someday these painful things will be done.
        2. Someday we will not suffer.
        3. Someday we won’t be separated from our loved ones who have died.
        4. Someday our bodies won’t decay because of age or illness.
        5. Someday Jesus will restore heaven and earth to God’s created intention. Evil will be wiped out and suffering will be no more.
      2. THAT is the hope we live for. That is the thing we cling to amid suffering. The hope of Christ keeps us going.

CONCLUSION: I know it would be wonderful if I was able to give you a clear and simple answer about why suffering exists. It would be nice if we had easy causeàeffects for different pains. Sure medical professionals are trying to fine the cause and cure for cancer but there still are so many mysteries out there.

Until Christ redeems this earth, we will sit with people in their pain, we will lean on God’s wisdom, and share the hope of Jesus.

LOOKING TO NEXT WEEK: Job 42

Stage Left is Satan?!

10/3/2021

Message Title: Stage Left is Satan?!
Theme:
In Our Sorrows
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Job 1:1, 2:1-10
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
RCL Scripture: Genesis 2:18-24 or Job 1:1, 2:1-10 Psalm 8 or Psalm 26 Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 Mark 10:2-16
Focus: Job is a parable told through two vantage points.
Function:
To reframe our brains about the Parable of Job and consider our own experience with faith and suffering.
Other Notes:
First World Problems // communion Sunday

SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 1:1 In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways. In these final days, though, he spoke to us through a Son. God made his Son the heir of everything and created the world through him. The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message. After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right side of the highest majesty. And the Son became so much greater than the other messengers, such as angels, that he received a more important title than theirs. 2:5 God didn’t put the world that is coming (the world we are talking about) under the angels’ control. Instead, someone declared somewhere, What is humanity that you think about them? Or what are the human beings that you care about them? For a while you made them lower than angels. You crowned the human beings with glory and honor. 8You put everything under their control. When he puts everything under their control, he doesn’t leave anything out of control. But right now, we don’t see everything under their control yet. However, we do see the one who was made lower in order than the angels for a little while—it’s Jesus! He’s the one who is now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of his death. He suffered death so that he could taste death for everyone through God’s grace. 10 It was appropriate for God, for whom and through whom everything exists, to use experiences of suffering to make perfect the pioneer of salvation. This salvation belongs to many sons and daughters whom he’s leading to glory. 11 This is because the one who makes people holy and the people who are being made holy all come from one source. That is why Jesus isn’t ashamed to call them brothers and sisters when he says, 12 I will publicly announce your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you in the middle of the assembly.

SERIES INTRODUCTION: IN OUR SORROWS–Job is a misunderstood book in scripture that Christians approach in different ways: 1. Avoid, 2. Justify, 3. Doubt God’s goodness, or rarely 4. Do some cultural and literary exploration to see a broader picture. Over the course of 4 Sundays, we will explore parts of Job and consider new angles while also considering grief. In fact, next Sunday we’ll hear from a retired Hospital Chaplain about his experiences in grief. Here’s the schedule.

  1. Job 1 & 2
  2. Job 23 – by John Amick
  3. Job 38
  4. Job 42

You’re invited to read through Job. It is a beautiful and troubling book (we’ll unpack more of that together today.)

SERIES DISCLAIMER: Job will discuss suffering through loss of loved ones, illness, relationship problems and more. I cannot solve every question or parse every translation that we may have for this book. We’re going to skip across this text rather than dive in. Perhaps we can do a bible study on this someday and unfold all of our questions. You willing?

FIRST WORLD PROBS: As Job is a heavy book, with deep topics; let’s start out with something light. We’ll be considering first world problems.

  1. Introduce “First World Problems”
    1. a relatively trivial or minor problem or frustration (implying a contrast with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world).
  2. Bed & Night time 1st world probs
    1. Example 1: When I just got into bed and realize I have to pee
    2. Example 2: I hate when my phone charger won’t reach my bed.
  3. Don’t our problems seem so insignificant when put in a bigger perspective?

TRANSITION: This is a light-hearted way of providing us humility, right? The thing is, problems unfold when we compare our suffering to others and then rank them in order of worst to best. Is there one person in the world who is at the very bottom of the suffering food chain?

As we explore droplets of Job, I want us to set a precedent for being kind to ourselves and our neighbor. We all experience things differently. It’s no use comparing stories to rank suffering.

MAIN TEXT: Job 1:1, 2:1-10 1:1 A man in the land of Uz was named Job. That man was honest, a person of absolute integrity; he feared God and avoided evil. 2:5 5But stretch out your hand and strike his bones and flesh. Then he will definitely curse you to your face.” 6The Lord answered the Adversary, “There he is—within your power; only preserve his life.” 7The Adversary departed from the Lord’s presence and struck Job with severe sores from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. 8Job took a piece of broken pottery to scratch himself and sat down on a mound of ashes. 9Job’s wife said to him, “Are you still clinging to your integrity? CurseGod, and die.” 10Job said to her, “You’re talking like a foolish woman. Will we receive good from God but not also receive bad?” In all this, Job didn’t sin with his lips.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: I need 2 people willing to draw in front of others
    1. Vantage point 1: Earth
      1. Job’s household: Job, Wife, 3 daughters, 7 sons, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoked oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and an abundance of slaves/servants.
      2. Job’s friends: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite
        1. (Ch 32 we’ll meet Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite)
    2. Vantage point 2: Heavenly Court room?
      1. God, “the sons of God,” “the Adversary”
    3. So, the story of Job bounces between these two scenes, though Job is not privy to the conversations in the heavenly spaces.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Myth Busting: Let’s do some myth busting for a second
    1. Job is not a history book, it’s a wisdom book.
      1. Job is a wisdom literature. It is not a history book but a parable to glean wisdom from.
      2. The author appears to be intentionally ambiguous about this story’s historical settings.
        1. Job is not an Israelite, he’s from Uz—but we’re not exactly sure where that is
        2. There is no clear dating by kings or rulers or special events
        3. Our goal is to use the story of Job to wrestle with our own questions of the human experience.
    2. God is not hanging out with Satan in Heaven in the story of Job.
      1. First off, because this is a parable and not a historical story like Abraham or Moses.
      1. Second off:
        1. הַשָּׂטָ֖ן haś-śā-ṭān
        2. (Biblehub.com/Hebrew/7854.htm)
        3. “Satan” some translations of the Hebrew say Satan. However, the Hebrew suggests a role rather than a name (RA-HB)
        4. However, The Adversary is not to be considered a “saintly celestial being.” Jealousy and a cynical attitude appear in his accusations.
  2. The Problem of Suffering: Even with these two myths busted, this story isn’t any easy one.
    1. To God, the Adversary accuses Job of being materially motivated and if God takes away his blessings that Job will lose his faith. God says, alright, take it all- Job’s special, but don’t hurt Job.
      1. Through wars and natural disasters, Job loses all his children, all his livestock, and apart from the messengers, Job loses all of his servants.
      2. YET Job still praises God.
    2. To God, the Adversary then accuses Job of only being faithful for self-preservation. God says, no Job is special. You can affect his health but not kill him.
      1. Job loses his health. He’s covered in boils and copes graphically YET Job does not curse God… even when his wife says he should.
      2. Then his friends come to sit with him…they’ll be on stage for A WHILE!! They each get chapters of words to say.
    3. Job suffers immense loss and experiences deep suffering, but he still praises God. The Adversary was wrong. (But they’re not done poking at Job’s life. The book of Job is 42 chapters long.)

APPLICATION: To reframe our brains about the Parable of Job and consider our own experience with faith and suffering.

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: You don’t have to answer out loud. Consider this question: Have you ever experienced loss and suffering and thought to yourself, “Really God, can’t I get a break?”
    1. Perhaps even this year you’ve felt that way.
    2. Perhaps even a few times since March 2020.
    3. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the things have been hard recently. *Deep breath*
  2. The Psalms teach us it is totally acceptable to ask: “Where is God in the midst of my suffering? Does God even care?” (Check out Bible study on Wednesday night as we study psalms)
    1. God won’t give up on us or smite us for asking questions or crying out for help.

CONCLUSION: As we continue to study the Parable of Job, we will see in greater detail the relationship between our lives and God.

COMMUNION: In Job’s suffering, his friends gathered with him and were present. In chapter 2, they simply sat with him, though that won’t last for long.

Today is World Communion Sunday—This is a day to remember our connection to our Christian family throughout the world. As we partake of the gifts of Jesus, so do our siblings. We are connected with them in this moment, though each of us is filled with stories that others may not know. In this moment, we practice like Job’s friends—sit with each other in our suffering, in our life experiences, and remember the grace of Jesus.

No matter the suffering you are experiencing- self-inflicted, nature inflicted, or the casualty of someone else’s actions, you are invited to the table of God for nourishment and rest. The bread and the juice remind us of Jesus’ ministry and promise that suffering and pain will end finally when he returns.

*deacon prays* –if enough deacons, pass plates, if not come forward.

Mama’s Wisdom

9/19/2021

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

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

WISDOM:

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

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

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

EXPLAINATION:

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

INTERPRETATION:

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

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

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

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

A Lady’s Wisdom

9/12/2021 – Homecoming Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap Wisdom series so far: Song of songs & Psalms

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

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

Explanation:

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

Interpretation:

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

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

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

Conclusion

Praising Wisdom

9/5/2021

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

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

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

WORDS OF WISDOM:

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

TRANSITION: Words of favoritism changes our outlook on life.

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

EXPLAINATION:

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

INTERPRETATION:

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

The Beauty of Wisdom

8/29/2021

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

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

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

WORDS OF WISDOM:

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

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

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

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

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

MAIN TEXT: Song of Solomon 2

[Woman]

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

[Man]

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

[Woman]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXPLAINATION:

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

INTERPRETATION:

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

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

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

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