Archive for August, 2010

Luke 14:4-14 Move’n On Up JUMC 09292010 Hospitality

Luke 14:4-14   Move’n On Up   JUMC 09292010   Hospitality

7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place”, and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ -NRSV

The whole time my grand parents kept house and ran a large farm in Johnson County, near Oconee, GA. (Jackson, to Monticello, to Milledgeville, to Tombsboro, to Charlie and Ruby’s place. All the siblings, spouses and grand children would make pilgrimage for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Ruby’s birthday, and the first watermelons.  In their dinning room there was a long table that would seat ten. Charlie and Ruby on each end; their four children and spouses on the sides and the rest of us would grab for seats in the living room. I never got to sit at the groan up table until after my grandfather died, my uncle was out of town, my cousin was out of the country and I brought Wendy to meet Ruby and get to meet the family. In forty years I only got to sit at the big table once..

Wendy and I have an ongoing competition with two of our life goals. I would like to eat dinner at the White House. (Not a sack lunch)  She wants to play August National. We both agree I will get my dinner before she gets her round of golf.

My brother and I were typical boys, when it came to keeping our shared bathroom straighten. Our parents were having an important dinner party at the house and she left us a note on the hand towels in the hall bathroom we used. The note read, “keep your nasty hands off the good towels.”  No one removed the note before the party, and no one used the towels either.

The text today is about who we invite to be included in our social community. At issue is the idea of where our place is in the community.

There was a time when the church was at the center of the community.

The center moved over time to schools,

And today the center of community is dependant on which community we refer.

(We can now be in multiple communities at the same time, real and virtual.)

At issue in the text is which community is central in our living.

(Based on GA estimations) For nearly half our county, church is not even on the radar of daily life. For over 40% church is one of many things we do when we can fit it in our other communities. For about 7% church is the center and others compete

Q: Does that mean we have to live at the church every day?   No!

Q: Does that mean we think about whose not yet in our community every day?   Yes!!

What are our requirements for becoming a part of this church community?

How old do you have to be?

Do you have to live in the county?

Do you have to have a certain degree of education?

Do you have to make a certain amount of money?

Do you have to give a certain amount of money?

Do you have to wear certain clothes?

Do you have to have certain preferences about the style of worship?

No, no, no, no, no, no, no…

as long as you think like I think, act like I expect, and don’t upset what I am comfortable with.

With 11 season of George and Louise Jefferson we heard the theme songs:

Well we’re movin on up, To the east side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up, To the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie.

Fish don’t fry in the kitchen; Beans don’t burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin’ Just to get up that hill.
Now we’re up in teh big leagues Gettin’ our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it’s you and me baby There ain’t nothin wrong with that.

Well we’re movin on up, To the east side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,  To the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie.

— The struggle is how to see beyond politics, economics, and difference and indifference….to hear the words of Jesus.

It is a bold thing that Jesus turns to the host of the dinner party and points out who they did not invite.

There are four groups of people who get invited to the a wedding. (some over lap)

1)  friends and relatives you want to be with you

2)  friends, relatives and strangers you feel like you have to invite

3)  folks who you don’t want to want to invite but know they give good gifts

4)  folks you owe and invite because they have invited you.

Jesus invites us to change our guest lists about who is “IN”cluded in our lives…

1)  Folks we had not planned to invite

2)  Folks who can’t repay the invitation

3)  Folks who aren’t necessarily friends or relatives

4)  Folks who Christ would include, who might not be on our list.

Move someone up,

Q: How?

A: By stepping aside and inviting them in for Jesus Christ.


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Luke 13:10-17 “I work on Sunday, how about you?” JUMC August 22, 2010

Luke 13:10-17   10  Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  11  And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.  12  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”  13  When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.  14  But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.”  15  But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?  16  And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”  17  When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing. -NRSV

What were you doing eighteen years ago?  Back to school, Sunday, August 23, 1992.

  • Ten years out of high school.
  • Three years out of seminary,
  • Only two stamps in my passport.
  • I had just returned from a new church development conference in Pittsburgh, PA learning how to start new United Methodist Congregations.
  • Susanna was almost one and a half.
  • I drove a Ford Taurus..
  • Redskins over Bills 37–24 SprBwl
  • Founding the European Union.
  • Winter Olympics Albertville, France
  • Silence of the Lambs, Best Picture.
  • Bosnian declaration of independence from Yugoslavia, besiege the city of Sarajevo.
  • Windows 3.1 released
  • Euro Disneyland opens.
  • Jury acquits four LAPD police officers in Rodney King case,
  • Los Angeles riots and leading to 53 deaths and $1 billion in damage.
  • Shuttle Endeavour maiden voyage.
  • Amy Fisher shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco, wife of Joey Buttafuoco.
  • Johnny Carson retires, 30yrs
  • U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle  spelling of the word potato.
  • Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraq refuses a U.N. inspection team access to the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture. UNSCOM claims that it has reliable information that the site contains archives related to illegal weapons activities. U.N. Inspectors stage a 17-day “sit-in” outside of the building, but leave when their safety is threatened by Iraqi soldiers.
  • Summer Olympics Barcelona, Spain.
  • Mall of America opens.
  • Shootings at Ruby Ridge, Idaho,
  • Hurricane Andrew Cat 5; 23 killed.
  • Charles and Diana separation.
  • Births – Selena Gomez – Demi Lovato  – Nick Jonas  – Miley Cyrus,
  • Deaths – Natalie Sleeth – Isaac Asimov – Lawrence Welk
  • Brett Favre makes his first start for the Green Bay Packers
  • Pope John Paul II apology, Inquisition against Galileo Galilei.
  • Election, Bill Clinton,  George H. W. Bush and H. Ross Perot.
  • Church of England votes to allow women to become priests.
  • U.S. military forces land in Somalia.

It was a busy year, and filled with it’s own celebrations and tragedies. Think about the millions of things that have happened in the past 18 years.

New countries, currencies and crises

New advances in technology, exploration and medicine.

But what if we had not only a year of illness and suffering,

One score, two decades..

18 years..

It would be hard to remember what happened eighteen years ago, much less all the events during that time… but a woman with osteoarthritis, chronic bone loss, terrible back aches, for 18 years.

At issue is about what is appropriate for worship.

I heard the report of a missionary who had returned from Haiti about two months ago and the report was that people were happy to work together to rebuild housing, feed the hungry, give medical attention to the sick, and find new relationships people from around the world.. but he reported one conflict in every church:  What would they sing, hymns or praise songs.

Here is person who comes to Jesus and it happens to be the day of worship, in the place of worship.  Should she just wait until the next day, she has already waiting 18 years, what is one more day?

Do you hear the struggle between the urgency of Jesus work?

Yes, she could wait, she had been waiting the majority of her life time.

But in Jesus presence, she didn’t have to wait another minute.

To be with Jesus is to be present in God’s Kingdom.

Our mission is to share the Kingdom of God with everyone.

Why wait until tomorrow, when we can do it today!

I will wait until I’m older, have more time, have more experience…

But why?

So here is the invitation: if you can make a difference in someone’s life, do it now.

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8/15/2010 Luke 12:49-56 JUMC “A House Divided”

baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? -NRSV

I came to bring fire…
One of the things that I learned early on in my ministry is that I have never been sent to a church to please people.  The Bishop and Elders didn’t lay on hands at ordination for me to make people comfortable.  The book of discipline contains duties of the pastor, and none of the instructions even suggest that my task is to make sure no one is offended, upset or even comfortable in the least.  So how can I mess up?

By not hearing these words and helping to remind one another our task is not to make things easy on each other…at the cost of loosing hold of our mission in Jesus Christ.

But you might say..
the angels announced, “Peace on earth and good will to all people, everywhere!”
or did not Jesus say that, “blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”    we sing about Jesus’ Silent Night..

But look at the examples: when his mother and brothers come to take him home because folks were beginning to talk of threats.. and he replies, who is my mother and brother? those who will follow.

So what does this passage in Luke have to do with us, today?
Its about the urgency of living as witnesses of Jesus Christ.

For most folks, given an opportunity to keep quiet on matter of faith-sharing, personal testimonies and public speaking about Jesus, the church and stuff that eternally matters… silence appears to be the leading example.

We assume folks have already heard, and heard enough.
We are busy, uncomfortable and even uneasy about what to say, where to start and when to stop.  So our best hand to lead is to pass of hoping our partners have a better hand that we do.
Now our neighbors at the Baptist church usually turn up the heat of Hell and brimstone, sin and destruction… with an attempt to scare or coerce each other into stead faithfulness.

As United Methodist we some times take that heat and feed a fever… stopping at the HOPE that our witness will tell the story of Jesus, just as long as someone is looking on our good days, when they are willing to come on our terms join us in the things we call church…

…but this is not our true theology, not our calling and points to why Christ call remains urgent to us as disciples today!

Here is what is a stake:
If we feed and clothe people but don’t take that opportunity to find ways to transform their hearts with the message and power of Jesus Christ, they will only come back to us when the clothes are dirty or wear out.

If we join together in Christian fellowship over meals, coffee, and regular gatherings, but don’t take the time to SHARE, HEAR, and BUILD UP one an others faith, then we push something between ourselves and God… talking Church all the while.

If we rely on someone else to do the work of ministry for us, then we don’t build the relationship ourselves.  Sports Example: (A house divided car tag plates:… Wendy and I are products of Vanderbilt and Emory…. Whiles Emory’s record in football is undefeated, Vandy doesn’t’ have many titles either, so we are not a threat…)

Staff Example: Rather than your church staff doing ministry for  your, Our role is more as Coach and Trainers… you are the real players and stars of the team. We might be able to instruct, inspire or encourage, but it is your effort, labor, pressing on for the prize… that builds the relationship.  (most folks don’t see it that way.. but the church doesn’t have any one of our names on it… it is Christ’s body and we all share the work of witness.

The Urgency!
We can have the most wonder worship, the most effective ministry, the best attended programs and if we fail to share Christ, build each other up IN CHRIST, Forgives, Bless, Heal, Encourage then we have the look and not the substance..

The Urgency is about taking the life of Christian living seriously.
When you hear someone say or you say in your head:
“When I retire.”  “When I get caught up.”  “When I know more about the Bible.”
“When I have more energy.”  “When things are going better in my life.”
“When I have more money.”  “When…  when..  when…

When I realize that Jesus is expecting me to address the hopelessness… people are feeling in this economy, loss of jobs, assets, and dreams.
When I realize that Jesus is counting on me to speak up in the face of injustice…
people feeling marginalized, discounted, prejudice, or plain forgotten.
When people are surrounded by every opportunity to hear Good News… instead they hear us complaining, bickering, gossiping, doubting, and hesitant.

What if we have 2012 more years before Christ returns… do we just wait for that generation to speak up?   What if Christ’s time IS sooner than we’ve been assuming?

The Urgency may not be felt by us, seating in these pews, but it is felt but thousands, yes, THOUSANDS of our neighbors.. hope, waiting, needing to hear God’s message of hope TODAY, not later…

And THAT truth is the fire that burns… to challenge us or quiet us down…
I don’t know about your but I want to learn God’s division and on side of the SOLUTION and not the lowest common denominator.

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Luke 12:13-21 “I’m Rich, I’m Rich” 08012010

Theme: Disciples billionaires in things of God no matter the numbers on their profit/loss sheet.

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”


  1. Property ownership passed at the owner’s death to those so designated to receive or succeed, Legacy.
  2. The reception of genetic qualities by transmition from parent to offspring, Identity.
  3. A gift given for which we have not worked at the pleasure of the gift giver, Blessing.
  4. Obsolete, right of possession or ownership, Birthright.

Legacy, Identity, Blessing, Birthright.

  • What legacy are we leaving for God?
  • What has God given us that forms our self image?  Greed? Jealousy? Pride? No these are not God’s
  • What has God bestowed that is a blessing? Easy list, family, talents, creation, etc.
  • What is the birthright of being born of the Spirit? Being rich, rich, rich in Grace, Hope, Peace, Love..

Some folks assume they will receive their parents assets…

I just hoped my father would end up with more assets than debts

My Mgrandmother started giving things away for years before she died

My Pgrandfather, deeded half the house to the children so if my grandmother remarried the step father would not get what my grandfather had hoped for his children… good for 7th grader.

My father gave me his father’s watch.. a gold watch.. it doesn’t work for more than 15 minutes..  The treasure is the lesson that some folks are not honest, don’t be dishonest.

Some good families are split over the division of property.

.. all I wanted was the cedar chest that my father made for grandmother.

What are you worth?

What are you without your barn, without your attic, without your garage, without your accounts,

What is my worth to God?  Hear the Good News…

You are worth God’s only son’s life.

You are worth entrusting with the work of God’s kingdom

You are worth God’s love, trust, and power.

Who will have what is ours..

Are we waiting for our death to give our ‘faith-inheritance?’

The soul is foolish to make material preparations. at the sake of spiritual ones.

.. nothing at all wrong with arranging one ‘s funeral,

.. most folks avoid it thinking that if they talk about death, it will speed our death.

..the priority is not what we are doing to prepare for our death, what are we doing with the days we have?


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