Archive for category Epiphany B

Matthew 2:1-12 Wise Men Bring Gifts to Christ 20140105 JUMC

Are these for Jesus or Me?
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”  When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;  and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:  ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”  Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.  Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”  When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. [NRSV]

Christmas Gifts

If you think about how much time we spend thinking about the perfect gifts to give, looking for the best deal, waiting in lines or for the deliveries to arrive, wrapping and transporting our gifts. There is a great deal of investment in every gift, no matter the monitory value of the gift itself.

Do you ever read about Mary and Joseph giving each other gifts? Did the shepherds draw names and play games to see who gets which gift? Do the Maji just find the best deal along the way or at the last moment?

Gift giving can hold many different meanings.

The obligatory gift is an oxymoron. Gifts ought be given of free will and love and not obligation. But if you don’t give someone a gift there is hell to pay in the not giving. Can you imaging only giving gifts to some of your family and not to all of them. What would be the message if you didn’t explain why.

  • Did you run out of money or just didn’t want to spend your resources.
  • “Its not the gift its the love or thought that counts”  But how do you express your thoughts and love? Is it clear to the recipient?
  • Did you run out of time, ideas, opportunity? Could you not make a home-made card from a used piece of paper that expressed your heart?
  • “We can’t buy everyone something” My great-grandmother in her late nineties still bought a bar of soap for every member of her nearly 100 member extended family. “It is something I know you can use, so use it and think of me.”
  • Did you get everyone something, or many somethings, but you gave them what you wanted them to have or to become?
  • Gifts are a tradition: I bought my father Old-Spice Soap-on-a-rope for years just because he seemed to like them on Christmas morning. I was helping him carry some boxes to donate and found three soaps-on-a-rope from the past three years and I got the message.

Gift Giving Is a Tricky Business

What do we learn for the Wise men? Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh 

Wealth, Extravagant Royal spa treatment and Glade Tomb-fresher

Gold has been a standard of exchange and value, beauty and tender for thousands of years. Frankincense comes for the roots of a small shrub that contains trace amounts of fragrant oil and was burning in the palaces of the king Herod daily and made as offerings to their gods without end. Myrrh, smells like dried prunes and was used in preparing a tomb.

  • Gold is completely practical: A gift card.
  • Frankincense: Extravagant Generosity, acknowledging Jesus as true King.
  • Myrrh: A Preparing for Jesus’ death, even at his birth. Telling the whole story
  • The Star-watching Travelers Journey: You have to leave home, journey in faith and uncertainty, and follow the signs you have.

Reframing our Gift Giving Practice

If you take a painting or photo and removed it from the frame and mat and exchange the boundaries, you will see the image in a new way with new meaning.

So go with the same gifts we have given: What if we connected why we give the gift with the hope we have for the gift.

“I gave you this tie, because I want you to look your best, feel confident and want you to think of our love when you wear it.”

Is that what you meant the gift to be? or did you just need something to go with a shirt.

“I gave you this game, because I want you to know joy and to share time at home playing with me. I want to spend more time being with you.”

Is that what you meant the gift to say? of did you just know they were hinting like crazy for that game.

“I gave you this vacuum cleaner because I am unimaginative but I do like a clean house and I want it to be easier on me to keep the floor and our home clean for you.”

Is that what you meant to gift to do? of did you just know the old one blew out and you needed a new one anyway.

Keep the Magi Model in mind:

Not just with Christmas gift, but all gives, seasonal, birthday and church gifts..

Practical AND Extravagant AND with a Purpose, Explained.

So Now You Tell Me..

So John, why didn’t you tell us this before Christmas. I don’t have a great answer but I will say: It is never to late to explain our gifts.

Don’t assume the message is conveyed that you hoped for the person. Tell them.

Finally. . be known as doing all three parts in your giving

Practical AND Extravagent AND with a Purpose, Explained.

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1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Don’t Become Disqualified JUMC 20122012:1100

24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. 26 So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27 but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified. NRSV

A coaches’ dream: To have a bible verse to challenge his or her team to victory.  That carries more weight than the word of the ‘Bear.’

Run for the prize that is eternal, the one that cannot be taken away.

There will be no Hall of Fame for Pete Rose, betting on the game as baseball coach, he did a great job as a players , but he knowingly broke the rules.

Hank Arron quote: ““You guys have got a tough job. I don’t envy you,” Aaron said. “But if a player is elected who’s known to have used steroids, then I think there ought to be an asterisk or something mentioned on the plaque that he used steroids. “To be safe, that’s the only way I see you can do it. I played the game long enough to know it is impossible for players, I don’t care who it is, to hit 70-plus home runs. It just does not happen.”

Olympic Gold Taken Away:

  • 10. Ben Johnson – Canada Steroids
  • 9. Olga Medvedtseva – Russia Stimulant
  • 8. Andreea Raducan – Romania  pseudoephedrine
  • 7. Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall – Sweden   alcohol
  • 6. Rashid Ramzi – Bahrain  blood-boosting drug.
  • 5. Marion Jones – United States   steroids
  • 4. Ara Abrahamian – Sweden   claimed the judges were being corrupt and unjust.
  • 3. Lyudmyla Blonska – Ukraine    steroids
  • 2. Alain Baxter – United Kingdom     methamphetamine
  • 1. Jim Thorpe – United States   1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm played professional baseball, making his wins disqualifiable. Thorpe did in fact play professional ball for the Eastern Carolina League in 1909-1910 and made very little money, probably about $47 a game in today’s dollar terms.

Disqualification: No longer allowed to participate because of breaking the rules.

Jesus died for us who have sinned! Hear the Good News.

Paul’s teaching for the church, then and now, is don’t fool yourself just because you have been given grace.

So What for us: Can you take away someone’s church membership? Yes under circumstances that destroy the community.

Paul’s encouragement is far greater than baseball, Olympics or even church.. don’t be disqualified from being a disciple.

  1. Most often it is not breaking the rules that make the news
  2. Most often it IS when even I/Me comes before God, the old biblical word is blasphemy, known as the unforgivable sin, because we don’t see it as sin in the first place.  It is the things we do or say that reflect, “It doesn’t apply to me,” or “it only affects me,” or “I won’t get caught.”

Paul’s encouragement for us as Christian Disciples:

This life of faith we live is:

  • Like that of an athlete: continuous, persistent training is required. (pray, study, piety, worship)
  • Knowing the only thing we can control in life is our own self, and are to do so daily. (I can encourage you, but it’s your work)
  • Proclaiming to those around us a message in word or deed that we can stand behind. (Living with a constant call to know that other know Christ.)

This life of faith can never be taken away, unless we give it away..

Then all the work and pain and struggle is like a boxer hitting the air or a marathon runner going in circles.

ACTION: Ask your neighbor: Is there anything that threatens to disqualify your witness? There is where we start. And now is when we can train. Now Go to Practice..

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Matthew 6:1-9 Love is In the Air JUMC 20122012:0900

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. NRSV

Why does a guy give a girl a valentine gift? If you listen to the commercials for strawberries, flowers, and teddy bears the exchange is more the guy than the girl. The tradition of valentine comes out of the Martyrdom of St Valentine who would not give up his Christian faith when challenged by the Roman Emperor Claudius II.

Someone laying down his or her life for the faith and life of others… Not only is it a Christ-like example it begs what do chocolates and cards have to do with real love.

  • A parent does not feed his or her children because they want them to love and appreciate them as a parent. The parent feeds their children because they love them.
  • A firefighter does not go into a burning building because they are a show off, the go because they trust their team, equipment and training to save lives.
  • A solid waste collection engineer does not ride on the back of big smelly truck because they love the outdoors nor carrying our trash, it is his or her job, the livelihood for their family, homes, and living.

Nugget: Showing love for the sake of loving rather: for show, approval, or your self.

ACTION: When there are so many opportunities to show our love, in all the different ways we express love… Let our words and actions be genuine and not for show, nor for us.

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“The Giving Continues” Matthew 25:31-46 JUMC 20120101

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.. –NRSV

As we end the year 2011 the highest rated TV shows have been football games; number two over all and the number one series is the X-Factor. Knowing the letter “X” is Greek for CHI and a historic abbreviation for “CHRIST”. Our life and faith are founded on the X-factor. Is that the conversation you hear folks following and sharing? Or is it football teams and entertainers that we will talk about come the Day of Judgment and accountability?

As we begin 2012 I am struck with how on-target other businesses are with their marketing for the new year: For example: Weight Watchers focusing on our cultures intention to adopt fresh resolutions offer a new message for this year:  2012 The Year for Believers:

“By declaring 2012 ‘The Year to Believe’ we are sounding a rallying cry to help persons across the country turn their dreams in truth,” said Cheryl Callan, Principal Promotion Officer for Dieters. “Dieters will encircle persons with inspirational messages starting in the holiday season and then ongoing all the way through the coming year. At a time when lots of us are not feeling specifically confident, we wish to express our ardent faith in persons and the power in all of us to change for the much better. We see it take place each day. That Is what we are about, and what ‘The Year to Believe’ will be about.”

Chrysler employed a mass choir to introduce their new line of cars calling would be buyers to “Lose Themselves” MT 16, MK 8, LK 9, That sounds just like Jesus’ word for those who will follow.

Blackberry threatened by iphone and android devices calls for us to “Be Bold”  Believe: That sounds like the Gospel of John’s message and invitation! Be Bold, That sounds like the apostle Paul, 2Cor 3 and 10. How is it that?

Jesus’ messages is clear:

  • Are you aware of people other than yourself?
  • Are you aware of people who suffer?
  • What are you doing about it?

Football games have pre-games to gets us ready, excited, informed and primed.

The pre-show is not the game..

  • Get into the real game…. Feed the hungry, clothe the cold, befriend the excluded and lonely
  • Let’s look at 2011: How many hungry people did you help feed? What were their names?
  • Until the time of accountability comes:
  • Our Task, Our Mission, Our Response is Feed, Clothe, Share.

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Mark 1:14-20 “Get Out of the Boat” JUMC 20120122

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.  -NRSV

ImageOn the Sea of Galilee, Lake of Genesserat, is a contrast to the

  • The invitation starts with asking for trust.. not qualification.
  • The invitation is not based on our skills, but includes our gifts.
  • The invitation does not effect just one person, it affects the household.

Jesus calls us to follow and to catch people.

Casting a net. Story: Wanting to net-fish, but not allowed because the water is neither plentiful nor clean and the supply of fish no longer abundant.

ImageIt is nostalgic to wish for easier times or more familiar days, but it is essential that we as a congregation return to our first call to be the people of are Inviters.

Fishing with a net is throwing wide the reach of our individual message to bring people in. How many empty seats are in your car on Sunday morning?


Jesus calls ‘fishermen’ to catch people…

  1. Start with what you already know and build upon our skills.
    1. If you cook, then feed,
    2. If you make money, invest
    3. If you teach, give instruction
    4. If you are young, then as fresh questions and infuse energy
    5. If you are retired, what are you waiting to start doing God’s work.
    6. If you read and write, then share your story
    7. Get the idea?
  1. Follow instead of Leading.
    1. Do you know someone who complains, blames, and kills the joy?
    2. We have too much good to accomplish to be shooting others down.

i.     Especially church folks eating Church folks for lunch..

  1. Jesus later calls Disciples who follow to step our as Leaders, but

i.     Only AFTER first mastering the art of servanthood.

  1. Let Go and Get out of the Boat, Use the nets we know for new work.
    1. The role of the boat was a big one for the sons of Zebedee.

i.     This is like the Rich Young Ruler actually selling everything.

  1. For US, it is identifying what keeps us from letting go to FOLLOW
  2. DISCIPLESHIP: Learning to follow..
    1. Going where we are needed to help real people who Need God.
    2. The Great commission of feeding, clothing, caring for those in need
    3. Is the response to FIRST, following..
    4. THIS IS THE FIRST FAITH LESSON for us to encourage one another.
      1. Here is an faith request:
      2. Write one this week:

i.     What does it mean to you personally to “Put God First”

ii.     How has life in the church transformed/blessed your life.

iii.     What is the most recent way Christ has been working in you.

We may not talk during worship, but we are going to start by writing it out…

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Mark 1:29-39 “Hunting Season” JUMC Scout Sunday 20120205:11

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. NRSV

Mark’s account Jesus begins his ministry teaching, healing and revealing Good News.

The Fab-Four, Peter, Andrew, James and John start hunting for Jesus.
“Everyone is searching for you.”
People are looking for Messiah, Savior, Answers, Leader, Hope, Justice and Grace
True then, True Now.
Folks are looking at Church and not at Church,
Folks are looking for Politics and beyond politics,
Folks are looking at home, work, school, on TV, in papers, and on the internet.
PREMISE: People are looking for what Jesus has to tell, teach and share.

Jesus’ response: Is not leave me alone, rather its:
“Let’s Go!” – Let’s Roll, Let’s ride, Let’s get to it.
Jesus response is one of action and not just mental belief or verbal affidavit.
But take special notice that Jesus action INCLUDES an INVITAION.
Let ‘US’ go.. Let’s go together.
I will go with you.
You are going, now, but not alone.

Jesus has Good News for those who Hunt.
What is Good News for a Hunter?
It’s open season? The sky is the limit? Your waiting and preparing is worth it.
If we are hunting for the things of Jesus: Hope, Power, Core Values for Living, Life, Purpose..
It’s open season? The sky is the limit?
Your seeking and trusting is worth because of Christ.

What I Came to Do.
Hear this: Here is the Good Word we’ve been searching for, Jesus is out looking for us, right we are.
Not waiting for us to prove ourselves.
Not waiting for the time to be right and the stars to be aligned
Not waiting to get things right first..
So What?
But Jesus comes with Disciples, reaching out to you, this very day:
into the real life we share and brings hope, healing and wholeness for the world.

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Isaiah 40:21-31 “With Wings Like Eagle” JUMC 20120205:09

21 Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening? Haven’t you heard these stories all your life? Don’t you understand the foundation of all things? 22 God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants. He stretches out the skies like a canvas – yes, like a tent canvas to live under. 23 He ignores what all the princes say and do. The rulers of the earth count for nothing. 24 Princes and rulers don’t amount to much. Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted, They shrivel when God blows on them. Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind. 25″So – who is like me? Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy. 26 Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this? Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name – so magnificent! so powerful! – and never overlooks a single one? 27 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? 28 Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. 29 He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. 30 For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. 31 But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. (Petersons:The Message Translation)

Tent Canvas to live under.. Scout Sunday: My first few years of scouting begin in canvas tents..
The teacher and prophet Isaiah looks up at the sky
during the day and the stars at night and says:
Who made this marvelous tent over us?
Who made the matter? Who ordered gravity?
Who spoke and exploded order out of chaos and
turned what appears random into the heavens and the earth?

The Teacher and prophet Isaiah says, some look up and still say, fine, but:
God doesn’t care what happens to me?
I will give you that God just might have done great things back then,
But where is God now?
With wars, hunger, diseases, fallen economies: Where is God?

The Teacher and prophet Isaiah says, God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
Seasons come and go. Governments and policies change.
God didn’t just create a self propelled, automaton as in HUGO
God who was at the beginning is steps into the storms with us.

God is life and power. God energizes those who get tired,
God is our Energizer..
If you are going to ‘be prepared” for a camping trip, do you look for fresh batteries?
If you are looking for direction to light your way: look to God.
If you are lost stay centered: stand firm in God.
If you are feeling afraid or forgotten: Look for God, for God is looking for You.

Those who wait upon d God get fresh strength.
This is the eagle part: The rank of Eagle is the goal. To get there you have to keep the prize ahead of the little choices you make. They don’t hand out the badge to everyone who signs up. I will let you in on how to do an Eagle Service Project. It is a lesson about using all your learn along the way and allowing those skills to empower you leading others. It is not a project that you accomplish quickly nor one you can do alone. It is knowing your strength comes from your faith, family, friends, volunteers and others who can do something greater than you could ever do on your own.
This is the strength God Promises, not just to scouts, but to us all!

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1 Corinthians 8…

1 Corinthians 8:1-13  JUMC “Why UMC Love Covered Dish Dinners” 20120129

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as in fact there are many gods and many lords– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.  NRSV

REASON: One of the central things that I love about the United Methodist Understanding and practice of loving Jesus is that we use our brains.

John Wesley spoke of reason. God has given us wonderful, creative, questioning, exploring minds… they catch is with such a great set of tools, computers and libraries contained in our heads, it could be easy to assume we are creator, master and solely responsible for things God simply opens up to us to discover.

We think there fore we are…      vs.         We think there God is.

René Descartes                                             Apostle Paul in letter to the Corinthians

He is a question for your brain to chew on today:

Can Food be used to keep people closer to God or keep people separated from God?

On one hand we would say yes, food can keep people together. That is why Wednesday night dinners and Holy Feasts have been at the heart of Christian fellowship through out our church. Looking back to scripture we recall it is through a child’s lunch of five roles and two fish sticks that Jesus works to feed thousands and thousands of hungry followers.

On the other hand it separates people. Recall in the Great Commissioning there are is a time of accountability, “When did you see you hungry and feed you?, When you fed the least important ones, you fed me.” For generations that Hebrews had food laws that helped keep them healthy and helped define them.

The example in this text focuses on FOOD.

In particular is the rule about eating food offered to other Gods.

Its not such an issue in our time, as we eat foods of different cultures and culinary pallets through out our regular diets.

The issue is not so much the food, but RULE part. I’m I being unfaithful to God if I eat something offered to another God)

(Other Religion dinner episode near Emory)

Paul’s answer is: There are no other God’s. Someone else may spoil fool but they can’t make food un-Godly.

How the food we eat define us?

We can look and see that we enjoy sugars, fatty foods, and value convenience over quality.

But this text is about a physical needs limiting a spiritual hunger.

One Thanksgiving season, the church I pastored started gathering food to share with folks who we wanted to help feed at this important family time of the year.

  • We learned that most of the people who need the turkey’s we bought didn’t have a pan big enough to cook the bird, if they had a working oven to heat the thing.
  • We learned that not everyone who signed up with the Department of Family and Children’s services had an empty refrigerator on Thanksgiving, some knew how to work the system.
  • We learned that some parents would let their children be hungry rather than ask for help, admit they had a family problem, or would not share with their children.

We also learned, some folks were content to help with one meal on one day and that absolved their conscience for the year.

We also learned, that because sometimes the church was taken advantage of by a few folks, we didn’t need to waste our resources helping anyone.

We also learned, it might be uncomfortable seeing how some neighbors live so close to our own home, school, parks and shops.

  • But through it all, we learned, that our food, filled hungry bodies.
  • Through it all, we saw Jesus’ love come into homes that were filled with fear, depression, sadness, and brokenness.
  • Through it all, we experienced Jesus alive, through us bringing hope, belonging, and love, using food.

Why worry about food?

Paul writes about food because we deal with it daily.

The REAL question is:

If there are those who are looking and you and me as examples and witness of Jesus in the world..

Does it matter what we eat, drink, wear?  We can do as we please, right?

Does it matter how we speak to and treat other people? We have our right to our opinion, right?

Does it matter if we lead with sweetness, forgiveness and grace,

Or do we have to be right, correct, and justified..

Paul’s Point: Don’t fooled for all our knowing.. folks look to each of us to show them Jesus, even as we eat together… WE ARE EXAMPLES.

That’s why United Methodist loved their covered dish dinners, because we can all find a place at the table:

If Jesus sat at your table, would you make sure he had food?

If a stranger was hungry today, who you make sure he/she knew Jesus at your table of food?

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John 1:43-51. “Invitation”. Jumc 01152012

1:43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. :45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” :46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” :48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” :49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” :50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” :51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”. NRSV

Follow Me
We are not there yet
I have something others want
I have a sense of where I am going
I am actively asking other to go where I am going

Come and See
Specific invitation
Anticipation and expectation
Excitement and discovery
Unfolding and revealing

A Promise to See God at Work
See your maker
Have a meeting with God
See where the buck stops, ultimately..and live to tell about it,

Text is about Jesus modeling our invitation to others,,
Go where I am taking you..
Not waiting for folks to fall in by accident
Come see what I have seen..
Not what they need or expect, necessarily
You will see God when you go looking
Are you really looking for God in what you do?

So Why Hesitate?
Some folks have lead us astray or they might and we are harder, scared or hurt.
I don’t lime following, I’d rather lead or go my own way..
I don’t know what to say, where to start, or when to go..

ASK your neighbor Right Now:
where do you find God working right now?

When is the last time you personally saw God at work in the world fist hand? I bet more people said nothing..

New approach:
Come see what I’m looking to find.
I don’t. Know it all but I know where to look.
Follow me where I am looking.
I don’t always get it right, nor ‘feel’ nor ‘get fed’ but I
Know where to go to feed my spirit.
Let’s discover God in our lives together.
This is why we have Cerf AND Honduras missions
No ONE in this room has all the answers figured ou

We are journeying together into mystery.
But we go following Christ who leads us..

This is the new invitation…
Not to know nor have it all first, but invite others to follow what we seek and want and what we hunger for.

This flies in the face of scarcity and competition
If someone find a better way we better not tell because some one will one up us or steal it from us or buy us out.

Follow me
Come see
See the hand of God at work in your life.

Next week: Getting out of the Boat

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Lord, it is good for us to be here Matthew 17.1-9 JUMC 03062011

Matthew 17.1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

We were not on the mountain, but we are here in Jackson, GA, It is good for us to be here..

Peter, James and John: we can only speculate why it was only these three who go with Jesus up Mt Tabor to witness and experience Moses, Elijah and God’s blessing.

To have walked this trip would be a hilly, twenty eight mile hike. That distance is like walking from Jackson, GA to Conyers, GA. plus climbing up Stone Mountain at the the end of the walk. Why go on this outing? Why not take all twelve? Why these three?

Peter, probably one of the most wealthy people in the city of Capernum, must have had work and family responsibilities tugging at his attention. His home was located at the Sea, and was one of the largest homes in town. Jesus did well to go to Peter as a person of influence. But now that Peter had been traveling with Jesus, we might speculate that the demands of work and home were influencing his walk with Jesus.

Or it might have been Peter’s personality.. we see repeatedly that he responds to events quickly, but his follow through was questioned later in their relationship. Did Jesus know that Peter was more of a visual learner and needed to see things in a different way to get to his heart?

James and John, certainly had their father’s fishing business, on their minds. Only within the past few years have they discovered one boat dating back to the time of Jesus, uncovered because of the decade of drought in Galilee. This boat was constructed out of 14 different types of wood as trees were very rare in the area. To have owned a boat would have indicated the prosperity of James and John’s business. To have walked away from such a business would not have been easy and possibly something significant was needed to hold their attention.

Maybe it is far from remedial reasons. Possibly these three already had experience and skills that allowed them to comprehend and manage more than the others. The others might have been overwhelmed and only these three could hold the pieces together.

Again, all these are speculations. What we do know is that Peter, James and John are taken by Jesus to witness and experience a confirmation of Jesus’ authority and work. Jesus has a terrific meeting with Moses, the lawyer and Elijay the Marketing and Advertising department and they three disciples are witnesses of this meeting.

Peter’s commentary on the experience is that it is a good place to be. The experience was a once-in-a-lifetime, incredible moments to have witnessed. His second statement spoils the first.

He wants to build booths. Tributes, memorials, historical markers, trophies.. with name placards. Peter goes from being in the moment, an active participant, to a manager, a promoter, and a leader. His role is to be a follower, a participant, a witness..

It is good that we are here.  Right here, right now.

We were not on the mountain, but we are here in Jackson, GA, It is good for us to be here..

Transfiguration Sunday is the end of the season of Epiphany. A time of shifting our focus. Stopping the planning and reacting… to a change our journey.  If there is one thing I have learned so far from traveling 14 hours for 15 days and traveling 14 hours back home, is that as good as it was to be see first hand.. it is good to be right here, right now.

Not simple because it is home.

Not only because it is familiar or even safer.

It’s good to be here, because this is where Jesus is revealing himself, his word, and his work… through me and through you.

I would love for us to have a group go to share the holy places.. and there is a blessing in doing so.. but the reason we might go to see and be there..

is the difference it makes in being right here.

The lessons of the meeting on Mt Tavor/Tabor.. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. Jesus is the promise of the prophets. Jesus is God with us. so listen and follow.

We don’t have to go up the mountain to learn these things, but through the witness of Peter, James and John we learn what to do.


It is good to be here that we might hear what God is doing.

So what is God doing..

God is getting ready to journey with us.

Suffer with us. Live and die with us.

God is running ahead of us, winning the race for our team so that we know it is good to be here.

This is what I want you to think and say and share when you are at church, when you are at home, when you are at work, when you are at school.

“that you can’t wait to hear what God is doing next in your life and in our lives together…”

I can’t tell you all that it will be, any more than Peter, James and John could tell the other disciples…

but we know what they know.

that Jesus is with us here, and that is what makes it good to be together.

Look around at the people God has called together to do God work..

The teaching is so simple, we miss it for the light show and bells and whistles:

God says to disciples.. Listen to Jesus.

We listen in scripture.

We listen through prophets and teachers.

We listen through divine, spirit filled inspiring songs, lights and sights

We can listen or we can speak.

The command is not to go tell.. it is to listen.

Hear the word of the Lord and be blessed with assurance.


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