All posts by PastorSusan

“Keep Your Fork” by Roger William Thomas

There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things in order, she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.

She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

“There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.

“What’s that?” came the Pastor’s reply.

“This is very important,” the young woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.

“That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young woman asked.

“Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the Pastor.

The young woman explained. “My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming…like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!”

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder “What’s with the fork?” Then I want you to tell them: “Keep your fork ..the best is yet to come.”

The Pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She knew that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young woman’s casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question, “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

Seeing is Believing

PASTORAL PRAYER

Creator God,

Our hearts are heavy and our minds are reeling from another horrific hate filled attack on your children. For those eleven Jewish believers, we pray. For all of those wounded and fighting to live, we pray.

When will it end? What are we to do? How low will our society stoop before it ends?

We are becoming calloused to the shootings and dying.

It is becoming white noise… just another day…. Just another news segment – someone else’s problem, not ours.

But Mystic Spirit, show us what to do…

Point us in the direction to begin changing the hatred –

Equip us with the tools we need to show that violence will not be tolerated any longer. Give us the courage to take the action needed to pull our society from the edge of disaster.

You have heard our concerns and celebrations – we hand them over to you, and free our hands for what you want for us.

Give us the strength to stand against the haters

Give us words that will de escalate  violence

Give us the opportunities to show love

And know that anything is possible with you.

We ask all of these things in your many names as we pray y our prayer—Our Creator who art in Heaven hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our mistakes as we forgive the mistakes of others, Lead us not

 

 

New International Version
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Mark 10:46-52 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher,[a] let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

HOMILY

 

BLINDNESS

Darkness of a cave

Night Light

Street Lights

Car Head Lights

 

 

FAITH has made you well.

Faith is seeing

Illumination

Seeing clearly

Awareness

 

Open our eyes to the world around us

Teachers – see in the eyes of students when they finally get it.

____

Lately, I have see postings on FACEBOOK about a new technology that allows people who are color blind, to see color for the first time.

The technology boosts the saturation of red and green light – which is the most common deficiency –

1 in 12 men

1 in 200 women

_______________________________

Seeing is Believing?

Believing is seeing…

_______

Bartimaeus

Not common to use name of person being healed

Possible reason for naming

Healing impacted him so much

that his telling of it impacted        Jesus’ ministry

Name could be historically validated

 

NAME – MEANING

Bartimaeus

Bar = son of

Timaeus

________

Family used to be financially well off

Then became poor

Bartimaeus

Unable to work – begged

Looked upon as unclean by society

Physical ills = result of bad behavior

________

Bartimaeus

Not sure how he learned of Jesus

Decided he must talk to Jesus

Represents those who are outside of Jesus — lost — searching

Cried out – Jesus, son of David, have             mercy on me

He had to get Jesus’ attention

Break through the sounds of the crowd

Called Jesus SON OF DAVID

Acknowledged Jesus’ Royal Lineage

Asked for Mercy

Actions are proof of Bartimaeus’ faith

Persistence/   Recognized/   Called on

  • Persistence – kept crying out until heard
  • Recognized – Saw Jesus as Messiah

SAW JESUS WHEN OTHERS COULD NOT

Ironic –

Nation of Israel blind to Messiah, but a blind Jew had spiritual sight.

  • Called on – Went to Jesus for mercy

 

Prayer   Jesus Son of David,Have Mercy on Me

Short   Specific    Full of Faith

Life Changed Direction

___

This story is all of our stories —

 

Life goes along and we are oblivious

Then realize our blindness

We assume we are not worthy

Try to find healing

Find Jesus’ teachings

Eyes are opened…

 

Vision clears

Spiritual blindness is healed.

 

Jesus told him that his faith had healed him….

 

 

Let’s go Back to Bartimaeus’ name

We know Bar is son

Timaeus – father’s name

Son of Timaeus

But there is more –

Timaeus = Defiled/unclean -ARAMIC

Timai =      HONOR           – GREEK

 

So Bartimaeus was both

A person who was Unclean and

A person of honor

___

Like most people

We have good and not so good parts

 

The people around Bartimaeus could only see his not so good parts –

his blindness — being a beggar — having no value / worth

But Jesus

Saw his good part – his worth –

What his culture saw as unworthy

Jesus saw was worthy…

Once again, Jesus points out how we see things BACKWARDS—

 

It was FAITH that opened his eyes —

Often we need to SEE to BELIEVE

And Jesus tells us to turn that around

 

We must BELIEVE to SEE –

Our FAITH is what puts our lives in focus –

 

Hebrews tell us

Now faith is confidence                         in what we hope for and assurance about                             what we do not see.
Too often we cannot see the forest, for the trees…

We can’t see past what is in front of us to see the whole picture…

We have to back up and look again…

 

OPTICAL ILLUSIONS    Jesus on bulletin

Everyday we have the opportunity to see clearer –

Being informed

Being aware

Being receptive

Being OPEN

MAGIC EYE IMAGES

Bartimaeus was physically blind… yet he could see Jesus

The people around him – could not see him – nor Jesus –

Spiritually Blind — Blind to what we are called to do…

Blind to loving one another

Blind to what it takes to be a follower

______

Open my eyes that I may see, Glimpses of truth…

 

Blind Bartimaeus – Poem by Royston Allen

He would not let Jesus pass him by.
Called out to the Saviour with a loud cry.
It was his last chance to be made whole.
For blind from birth was this poor soul.

The crowd rebuked him to keep silent
but he cried out the more for he was intent
not to miss the Lord and let him pass by.
‘Have mercy on me’ was his loud cry.

Jesus stopped and bid them bring the man.
And jumping to his feet to Jesus he ran.
The Lord then said ‘What do you want of me? ‘
‘Rabbi’, Bartimaeus said, ‘I want to see.’

Immediately Jesus restored his sight
for he had faith that Jesus would put it right.
Then following Jesus along the way
his life had been miraculously changed that day.

As Bartimaeus we too have been born blind
and need like him the Saviour to find.
To cry ‘Son of David have mercy on me.
Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see.’

It is at the cross that all can see
the extent of God’s love for you and me.
And say to Jesus, ‘Saviour hear my cry
while You touch others do not pass me by.’

Based on Mark 10: 46-52

Go To The Back of the Line September 23, 2018

Mark 9:30-39 New International Version (NIV)

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were,

31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.

32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”

34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

 HOMILY   Go to the Back of the Line  

WHY FIRST?

If I asked you who was the first man in space?                                              Most of you know that it was the Russian Yuri Gagarin.

But who was the second man in space?                                                                      Most of us do not know!     (American John Glenn)

If I asked you who was the first man to walk on the moon?                        Most of you know that it was Neil Armstrong.

But who was the second man on the moon?                                                        Most people don’t know!                      (Buzz Aldrin)

If I asked you who was the first man to run the mile in                         under 4 minutes?  Most of you know that it was Roger Bannister.

But who was the second man to run the mile in under 4 minutes? (John Landy)

If I asked you who were the first men to conquer Mount Everest?Most of you know that it was Edmund Hillary, and the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay,

But who did it after them? Your guess is as good as mine!Most of know who did ‘a thing’ first, because there is something about being first!

illustration

Neil Armstrong was the first  man to walk on the moon; On the 26th July 1969. In total only 12 people have ever walked on   the moon;  The last person was on, Apollo 17, in December 1972.

His name was Harrison Schmitt but most of us have never heard of him!                 There is something about being first!

Since childhood, humans struggle to be first…

Bus stop   Lunch line   VBS – kool aid/cookie

As ADULTS:

Ticket line  Airport/Airplane  First on/first off   Merging traffic     Lines  at stores on Black Friday    Food line at weddings

What are we afraid of, if we are not FIRST?

Running out of food (unlikely)         Running out of tickets (maybe)      Being LESS THAN if someone merges in front of us

What happened in our life that makes us fight to be first?

Sporting – First = winner            Trophy   Recognition

Second = loser       Nothing

 

Contests – First = winner       Trophy       Money     Recognition

All others = losers

 

Academy Awards     Oscar – Statue        Recognition                                       Can earn more  Money

_________________

Is our need to be first part of our natural instinct of

Survival of the fittest?    Us or THEM –

All or nothing?     Really?

The last shall be first and the first shall be last…

Where does it say the first are the only ones that count?

The first will get it all and everyone else get nothing?

This is such an important lesson that it appears in different forms in three of the four gospels…

What lesson are we to learn?

Every time the phrase “last shall be first and the first last” occurs in scripture it refers to the fact that one’s position in this life does not give a person an advantage in gaining eternal life—or a higher level of eternal life

Every time Jesus uses the phrase, the message is the same.

It does not matter who we are in this     world or what we have done.

Eternal life is for all – equally

Humans continuously focus on FAIRNESS—

As we humanly understand fairness –

First come — First served

Don’t cut the line

Go to the back of the line

We were here first.

UK BASKETBALL/FOOTBALL

Tickets sales

Tents/camped out days ahead

To go to class – would have someone                                                                            hold place in line –

First come – first served

Stores at Christmas

Can’t chance NOT getting Item                                                                                 for Xmas

Cabbage Patch Dolls

In 1983 we saw the birth of total consumer anarchy—

First in line       Took on use of violence     Camped out stores for days

Physically fighting to get one     A woman was pictured tightly grasping a Cabbage Patch Kid with both arms,                                                     as another woman wrapped her purse strap around her throat –

FIRST to be sure to GET

FIRST to be IN

FIRST to be INCLUDED

_____________

Again, our lessons from Christ seem to throw everything we understand – out the window…

At least UPSIDE DOWN

First are to be last? Really?

What does that really mean?

_____

Once a teacher told her class to line up in front of her desk to receive a special treat…

You know what happened…

A scramble to be the first in line – to be in the front –

Once everyone was in a line – the teacher got up and walked around the desk with  her bag of candy –

She reached inside the bag, pulled out a piece of candy, and then walked to the back of the line and gave it to the child who was LAST in line.

What did they learn that day?

ILLUSTRATION

Back in 2008, Sara was a college senior playing for the championship of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference softball league. In the second inning, she hit her first home run ever — the ball sailed right out of the park. Then, rounding the bases, she realized that she had failed to touch first. So, she turned back. But, through a twist of fate and her knee, she found herself down on the ground with a torn ligament, crawling in agony back to first base. According to the rules, she would have been out if anyone from her team helped her.

That’s when Mallory Holtman — from the other team — stepped up to help. She and her teammate, Liz Wallace, carried Sara around the bases, making sure to tap her left foot on each base. Though Mallory and Liz lost the game that day, they clearly accomplished something more important.

There’s no doubt that this is an extremely emotionally touching story. Mallory and Liz went beyond good sportsmanship. In a moment that really counted, those young women showed good character. And Mallory’s unsolicited offer to help (at a cost to herself) displayed a deep sense of humanity that we all hope (but don’t know) we would show in a similar circumstance.

When you put the needs and well    being of others before yourself                  you are showing love in a                                                                                   way that God has showed                                                                                              love to you.

The way that we grow in our trust   and faith in God is by taking               steps of faith.

By putting first  we can actually practice trusting that God will take                     care of our needs.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Although It’s tempting to want to  be great,  do we achieve that at        the expense of making  0thers out to be the                                                               least –

If so, will that make us least in the eyes of God?

What happens when we live out

The first shall be last and the last shall be first?

What does this really look like — ??

 

DOES THIS MEAN –

We are always to put others first?

_____

I grew up believing that…

JESUS AND OTHERS AND YOU

What a wonderful way to spell JOY

____

I understood that I was supposed to ALWAYS put others first – and me LAST.

Today, I have a different view of this lesson…

The first will be last  and the last will be first…

I have learned that when I always put myself LAST –

I failed to be my best –

I failed to take the best care of myself

I sacrificed myself for others…

______

This may be necessary at times…

BUT

We also need to treat ourselves as we treat others..

Love ourselves as we love others…

Not merely trade places with them…

10 REASONS WHY PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST IS IMPORTANT

YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PUT YOURSELF ON FIRE TO KEEP OTHERS WARM

Sure, helping people is rewarding, but don’t keep giving it your all if you receive nothing in return.

YOU’RE ALREADY DOING THE BEST YOU CAN

Be kind to yourself – you’re doing your best and sometimes, just getting up in the morning is the biggest achievement and that’s okay.

IT’S OKAY TO ADMIT WEAKNESS

Taking care of yourself is by no means a weakness, but a sign of strength. But sometimes, admitting that you can’t do something might feel like failure. It’s not. It’s okay and healthy to realize you’re not able or ready to do something.

YOUR HEALTH COMES FIRST

Nothing is ever more important than your health and mental well being.

STOP SAYING YES TO THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO

DON’T SPEND YOUR LIFE AT WAR WITH YOURSELF

I used to keep forcing myself to do things I thought I needed to do, when every part of myself kept screaming no. But my sense of responsibility was always louder.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN

Sometimes we just need silence, keep to ourselves and breathe.

TREAT YOURSELF LIKE YOU TREAT YOUR BEST FRIEND

We tend to always put others first, but sometimes, we need to take a step back and treat ourselves like our best friend. Because, in the end, there is no one you spend more time with than yourself.

THINGS TAKE TIME

Healing takes time, getting better takes time, learning takes time… everything takes time.

DON’T FEEL GUILTY FOR DOING WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU

If you become empty because you always give away – You are limited in who and how many you will help…

YOU CANNOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP –

S. Lewis said

Humilty is not thinking less of yourself –

But

Thinking of yourself LESS

The first shall be last and the last shall be first –

In a nutshell –  EQUALITY    INCLUSIVENESS

Working together – as a team…as part of the whole…

It may be easier just to remember to

Put God first and we will never be last…

Syro-Phoenician Woman and Dogs September 9, 2018

Mark 7:24-37

24From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

 

Homily

“Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

This is the equivalent to me saying White people are to receive the       best of everything and  NON white people can  have what is left.

DOGS  was a racial slur like

Towel Heads     Wet Backs  Dago   Camel Jockey   Polack    Sambo   White Trash   Redneck

Jesus not only dismissed this woman, he also threw in an ethnic slur for good measure…

REALLY?    Did Jesus express bigotry?

As a Jew, and a man, he was perfectly within his rights  to respond this way…

  • NO WOMAN was to directly speak to a strange man – and in public
  • And NO GENTILE woman was to ever make contact with a JEW.

She was risking her life… in so many words.

Jesus telling her the CHILDREN were to be fed first actually referred to the Children of Israel – THEY come first –

Gentiles – the DOGS—   could have the leftovers or                               what fell to the floor.                                                                                                 THIS would have been an expected  response considering the                  situation… and  NO one would have thought twice at his actions…

Except in this case – Jesus  had just given a sermon on the mount Telling us to love one another as we love ourselves…Could it be that Jesus wanted to SHOCK the disciples – and make this a teaching moment for them? Jesus’ responding by dehumanizing her with ethnic prejudice was startling —

So for Jesus to spew this ethnic slur didn’t make sense—unless  he was trying to make a point…To SHOW the Disciples what racism and bigotry LOOK LIKE—and how if we stop and listen – we share more similarities than differences..,.

_______________

Commonly, theologians accept this story on the premise of Jesus was fully human and fully divine and this was his HUMAN showing –

And it became a LEARNING moment for human JESUS. Up until meeting this persistent woman, Jesus still lived under the assumption that   he was a JEW and his message was only for    the JEWS.

Jesus does the most difficult thing for those of us born into prejudice and power.  He listens.   And allows himself to be fundamentally changed. Here is where Jesus realized that GENTILES could have the same or stronger faith as JEWS.

That WOMEN could have the same or stronger faith as MEN This is the only time recorded in the gospels in which Jesus changed his mind… And his ministry evolved — This opened the Door for Gentiles to be accepted into his ministry.

This initiated the profoundly expansive notion of a kingdom that included ALL, not just the “CHOSEN” – EVERYONE –

Male  Female Jew  Gentile  Young   old  Stranger Friend

This story is not only a lesson for Jesus and the Disciples… but for all of us… This story shows us that no one is excluded from God’s love

No one is left out because they are different.  All are made in God’s image – Whatever image they may have…

Still Small Voice

1 Kings 19:1-15 (NRSV)

Elijah Flees from Jezebel

19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 8

 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind;

and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;

12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire;

and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

15 Then the Lord said to him,

“Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

 

 Homily

 

Silence. It is something which, I think we are all a little uncomfortable with on some level. When talking friends and family we all try to avoid “awkward” silences. At times it can even seem as though we are scared of silence. But what are we afraid of? Why is silence bad? What reason do we have for avoiding silence?

What is it about silence that bothers us?

___________

At times –

Sound is a deflection – distraction

Other times

A filler –

Illus We are collecting offering –                                                                                              or receiving communion                                                                                                          and the music finishes                                                                                                              before the    offering/communion –                                                                                          how does it feel?

Silence –                                                                                                                                   demands attention even more than sound

Illust   Classroom – everyone talking –                                                                           teacher whispers..

and                                                                                                     eventually there is quiet and attention.

Theatre-

Overture – people may still talk, but when  it stops – the silence of the music grabs           attention.

Music –

Used to pass the time – to fill in the   void/silence.

Anyone who has had a hearing test has experienced being in the sound-less  booth with headphones on.

All sound has been blocked out in preparation for the testing. You are in complete silence – soundless ness

As I have said before – I cannot relate to a state of absolute silence—

I have tinnitus which is a syndrome where I have continuous sound in my ears…

Some call it bells…. Ringing…. Buzzing…

  • The closest sound I can compare it to is when the cicadas are at their loudest –
  • I need sound as a distraction ….
  • Thus, I rarely sit in soundlessness…

_________

Silence provides a place where we are confronted with our thoughts and memories –

Thoughts and memories we fear and avoid –

———-

Silence allows us to focus on ourselves – without distractions –

Provides a time when God can speak and we will hear…

The story today is about Elijah who finds himself in deep trouble trying to escape Queen Jezebel who

Elijah has displeased her by having a contest with the priests of Baal – and with God’s help, he beats them – humiliating them and the Queen who worships Baal

  • .  So, Jezebel threatened revenge upon Elijah if she could catch him.
  • He goes into the wilderness to hide –
  • God provided food for him —
  • He went up Mt Horeb/Mt Sinai – Moses/God
  • On the mountain he found a cave for the night-
  • During the night Elijah received the word of God – “what are you doing here?”
  • Then he is told

go and stand on the mountain –         God is going to pass by —

Elijah figured that a God as mighty and powerful as YAHWEH would be revealed in the power of the world around him.

So when the wind became violent, he expected God to be in it…                                             and wasn’t

The same with the          earthquake and the fire…

AND SUDDENLY—– SILENCE

Translated as “a light silent sound

Elijah hears a small voice asking the same question..                                                                 What are you doing here, Elijah?”

We think that God may speak through something dramatic in our lives and expect it to happen in a thunderstorm as the lightning flashes or when the skies are     threatening.

We assume strength and power is expressed in loud noise and big events –

So when we ask God for anything, we look for a flash in the sky – a roll of thunder –

Something huge –

 

But God most often speaks to us in quiet moments – when we can HEAR God –

  • God speaks in the everyday routines –
  • In the healing of a sick body –
  • In the changing of unjust laws –
  • In the words of a friend saying what we need to hear –
  • Even in times of tragedy – that small voice speaks –
  • When our country was forever changed by planes used as weapons –
  • God’s voice quietly spoke through the efforts, courage and determination of those first responders…

 

  • God’s quiet voice spoke through the changing of laws that prevented people to marry because of who they loved.
  • God’s quiet voice speaks in every loving act towards another person or animal.
  • God’s quiet voice speaks in the times of forgiveness –
  • And at times.. God’s still small voice speaks through us…

Illustration=

Sr. Marie Therese Dondja is a Catholic Sister with a scholarship to attend the College of St. Mary to study Early Childhood. She is from the Congo, and plans to return to her work at an orphanage.

The annual income in the Congo is approximately $387.00.

In the six years she has been in
America, she has only seen her family once. That trip home was financed by a philanthropic family. She still has another two years before she graduates and returns home.

I heard a still small voice urge me to embark on a journey to finance a trip home at Christmas for Sister Marie.

In a short few weeks, I had collected not only the price of the plane ticket, but money to cover expenses along the trip.

This was an example of a still small voice speaking through 24 different people – to say YES to answer an unspoken prayer.

 

Laws, Lies and Liability

Matthew 5:17-20           New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter,[a] not one stroke of a letter, will pass

from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks[b]one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches

them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the

scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

  HOMILY

LAWS LIES AND LIABILITY

 

(Disclaimer – Being that this homily is being posted publicly, I have omitted real names)

 

In today’s world, there is TOO MUCH TO ABSORB–

We are deluged with TOO MUCH going on around us

Too much information

Too Much MISinformation

Who do we believe?

Who do we distrust?

What is real?

What is fake?

____________

THEN what are we to do about it?

Can we determine truth over fiction?

Can we continue to hear falsities until we take them as

truth?

How do we know what to believe and then how do we respond?

____

I hear many of you say that you only watch one news

report a day to avoid all of the cacophony of NOISE/LIES

and interpretations.

  • How do you know which NEWS will give you the facts?
  • Some of us never pick up a newspaper – because it
  • isn’t unbiased.
  • Some of us accept FACEBOOK postings as FACT – and
  • then proceed to SHARE these postings without regard
  • to verifying them first.

The catalyst for my words today is two-fold. ONE – a statement

made by XXXXX XXXXX pastor of XXXXX  Christian Center in XXXXX, Florida,

Who told CBN that if Jesus “had broken the law then He would be sinful

and He would not have been our Messiah.”

This statement caused a firestorm of conversations on

social media. Those who argued in concurrence with

Xxxxx xxxxx, and more who argued against her statements.

Had Xxxxx xxxxx been just a person on the         street, voicing an opinion,

probably nothing would have happened.

BUT XXXXXXXX  is the head of a very large church and is a  televangelist.

THUS – listeners assume she has the educational credentials and

her statements are based in reflective theological study.

This is NOT the case with XXXXX XXXXX –

White has been criticized for being introduced as having, or claiming                                                                                        to have, a doctoral degree, when she has no college or seminary  degree.

This is a solid example of questionable theology –

The second part of this catalyst for today’s message comes from what  happened in Helsinki this week.

President Trump- said     he saw no reason to believe Russia would interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

When the nation/world responded so vehemently against his  statement, the President announced that he had MISSPOKEN –

and meant to say WOULDN’T –

What are we to believe?

__________

One of the buzz words today is FAKE NEWS –

FACEBOOK and other forms of social media can circulate information around the world in seconds,,,

Or MISINFORMATION

FACEBOOK was used to disseminate erroneous information that affected the election –

It spreads bad information and easily as good – because there is no way to completely guarantee the facts have been checked.

As a former University Reference Librarian

I taught students how to research and be sure to use

Legitimate scholarly sources.

It was much easier in then than it is today because all information resources were                                                  publications and easily verifiable-

Today, the internet provides     monstrous amounts of information  at a keystroke…

Information that can be downloaded by ANYONE –

READER BEWARE

but how do we know it is reliable?

This pertains to spiritual information too.

We hear from our Sunday School teachers – and minister what the Bible says…

And When we read the Bible, we can only interpret as deeply as our own                                                              knowledge—

Our interpretation may not provide a full understanding of the story…

To better understand

We  have to study the context of the time the scripture was       written… the culture of the times…                                              the social norms…the laws…  the government.

Disciples of Christ pride ourselves on our    freedom to interpret scripture for ourselves.                                                                     And in community/church we also have the arena to share and discuss our interpretations

It is our responsibility to seek out the most reliable and verifiable information we can –

Remember the Protestant Reformation was the result of the printing press –

Putting the scriptures into the hands of the people – who up til then had to depend on Priests to interpret and explain scripture.

Once the people  had access to the original information – things changed…

This is why I remind you often you are not to take MY word for it…

Look and learn for yourself.. I only wish to offer more possibilities…

Information is power –

________________________

Now, back to the first catalyst for today’s message…

Xxxxx xxxxx professed that  Jesus did not break the law — because if he had broken the law then He would be sinful and He would not have been our Messiah.”

Her interpretation sounded right – but wasn’t…

Did Jesus break the law?

Was Jesus killed for breaking Roman law?

What laws did he break?

Healing on the Sabbath

Touched Leper

Conversed with women

Conversed with Gentile woman

  • Overturning the money tables at the temple.
  • Eating with “sinners”, people of dubious reputation.
  • Not ritually washing hands before eating.
  • Jesus’ commitment to non-violence

Forgiving people’s sins and thus bypassing the temple sacrifices.

Jesus adhered to the Hebrew laws that were just and humane –

But not if the law came before the wellbeing of a person.

So, Xxxxx xxxxx’s proclamation was not based on sound information – or real study of scripture.

We cannot base our beliefs and knowledge on what we are told – or read online.

We cannot sit back and accept what others tell us… like Doubting Thomas, we have to have a first-hand experience –                        or at least have the news from a reliable source.

WE must be actively involved in the world around us – seeking valid information and not accepting some POST that FACEBOOK uses FORWARD—

That is why I shared a list of reliable news sources so we have a good start at obtaining FACTUAL information ,,,

Scripture warns us of false prophets —

1 John 4:1-6 NIV

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,

Matthew 7:15-20 NIV

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

16 By their fruit you will recognize them.

_________________________________

Thanks be to God

God Provides – But Not Always How We ]Expect

Exodus 16:2-15  (NRSV)

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”[a] For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

 

 

Homily —

ILLUSTRATION

 

In the mid 1980s, a minister moved to northern Saskatchewan to start a church. As a church planter, part of his support was funded by the local mission. Most months were difficult financially. He had a side Fix It shop business

One week in April, when the ground is still frozen and snow-covered, he was down to only a few dollars in the bank. The usual reaction to that need was to look for our own solution. This time, however, in a stroke of faith, he went before God and told him that he needed eggs, bread, and milk. The minister would wait upon God.

That afternoon, a man came to my little fix-it shop with a leaky teakettle.

He said, “I know I could get another, but it’s my favorite kettle. Please fix it.” In a matter of minutes the job was done, and the minister didn’t even charge him for it.

But the man pulled out a $10 bill and insisted that the minister take it—

It was just enough to buy a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of bread.

As the man left, the minister, with a bit of pride in his faith decision, thanked God, to which God replied:

“Don’t you wish you had asked for a side of beef?”

—————————–

Anyone who has ever led a large group of people through unfamiliar territory is sure to have heard complaints –

often over trivial matters — from some or even many members of the group.

The complaining can quickly sour relationships and provoke the leader to regret that he or she took the group away in the first place.

The complaining is loud and clear in this Exodus passage. Moses, Aaron and God get an earful.

 

No one likes listening to complaint.

Individuals in power or in the majority can often choose to ignore a complaint,

dismiss it as mere whining, or punish the complainant.

In contrast,

to listen to a complaint involves seeing the world from another’s position and hearing    a call to act.

So – it is not fair to condemn the Israelites for complaining

That is a judgment that the text itself does not make,

sending the message that          complaint has no place in life with God.

But, it does have a place in life with God…

The book of Lamentations, the laments in Psalms give voice

to the human experience of abandonment, suffering, fear, and danger.

The laments call upon God to see, arise, and act

JOB

MAKES a detailed complaint against God’s treatment of the righteous and God’s management of the world.

 

JESUS

Cries out  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

_________

By complaining – those who are afraid and hungry are expressing their need for God –

Not turning away from God… but let’s  God KNOW things need to be made better.

 

All of us have known times of uncertainty and upheaval.

Times when fear of the  unknown gets the best of us.

 

This story gives the wonderful promise of God’s provision, which is reassuring to                                               all of us.

 

We often let our fears get the better of us…

and fear of the unknown can do it quite easily.

 

This is when we look back to   previous times – to a familiar –

We overlook how bad it was,

 

and remember what might have been better than now…

 

Remember

The past is a known —    something we have already traveled and conquered…

 

BUT

The now and future are undecided…

Unknown…

Scary…

 

 

In our story today,

the need for bread in this early stage of the Journey out of bondage is about                            an opportunity for God and God’s people to get to know each other — understand and           trust   the other…

 

It is the early part of a new relationship –

 

Understandably – the Israelites let their hunger and fears cause doubts in how God was                               caring for them.

 

Within the first month in the wilderness – people were whining and complaining to Aaron and Moses about being hungry and thirsty=–

Where was the food and drink to come from?

 

This is when their fears of the unknown and unseen outweigh their memories of how bad it was for them in Egypt.

 

Because at least in bondage, they were assured food.

 

They fall into that thought –

better the enemy you know –          than the enemy you don’t know

 

Familiarity offers comfort – even in the direst situations…

 

But God heard their complaints – and   sent meat and bread

 

But only a day’s worth….

 

 

Give us this day our daily bread…and meat.

 

What was it that God wanted these people to learn?

 

What is it that God wants us to learn?

Could it be – God wants us to learn that GOD WILL PROVIDE and learn what that looks like?

After the whining and complaining to          Moses and Aaron,

God pours manna from heaven,

And the people didn’t understand it..

They failed to see that God had provided for their needs, because it was not in the form         they had envisioned…

 

Probably expected

Loaves of Rotella Bread

Or      Matza crackers

 

So when they found some flakey substance  scattered on the ground— Manna semi-transparent oleo-gum resin extracted from Commiphora Tree

They did not recognize it was what they needed…

  • I kind of think it is like if
    • we were in a restaurant – ordered a beer and what came to the table was
  • Grain -Barley
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Water

Technically, it was beer – just not in the form we expected –

The word manna HEBREW means

What Is It?

When we talk about Manna from Heaven—

We are really saying –

WHAT IS IT? FROM HEAVEN

 

When have we missed what God provides                                                                      because we are looking for something specific?

We miss the manna looking for the McMuffin?

Do we miss the gift because it comes in a different package?

SERMON ILLUSTRATIONS

Once there was a Christian woman who lived next door to an atheist man.

Every day, when the Christian woman prayed, the atheist man could hear her.

The atheist thought to himself, “She sure is crazy, praying all the time like that. Doesn’t she know there isn’t a God?”

Many times while she was praying, he would go to her house and harass her, saying

“Lady, why do you pray all the time? Don’t you know there is no God?” But she kept on praying.

One day, she ran out of groceries and as usual,

she prayed to the Lord explaining her situation and thanking Him for what He was going to do.

As usual, the atheist heard her praying and thought to himself,

“I’ll prove to her there is no God once and for all.”

The atheist went to the grocery store, bought a bunch of groceries, took them to her house, dropped them off on the front porch,

rang the doorbell and then hid in the bushes to see what she would do.

When the Christian lady opened the door and saw the groceries,

she began to praise the Lord with all her heart, thanking God for providing for her needs.

Immediately, the atheist jumped out of the bushes and told her,

 

“You silly lady, God didn’t buy you those groceries, I bought those groceries for you!”

The Christian lady looked to heaven and said with great joy, “God, I knew you would provide me with groceries, but I didn’t know you was         going to make the devil buy              and deliver for them!”

  • God Will Provide
  • _____________
  • We also have to remember that when God provides – it is in GOD’s time

The Israelites HAD to wait on God to          provide in God’s time.

And

Would provide only what was needed for that day –

“Give us this day, our daily bread”

__

Our needs will be filled – as needs arise… without having to HOARD for tomorrow

Luke 12:24 

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.

Of how much more value are you than the birds!

Disciples sent out

 [3] He told them: “Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. [4] Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. [5] If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”

They were to depend on God to provide – through the kindness of strangers…

Their needs would be met, as their needs appeared.

  • ILLUS
  • A pastor needed $1 million for the building they were purchasing.
  • The settlement date was getting closer and closer.
  • The pastor just kept praying.
  • Then the day before settlement date an envelope arrived in the mail.
  • It was a check for $1 million.
  • The pastor said,
  • “GOD, why didn’t you send this earlier?”
  • God said,
  • “You didn’t need it earlier.”

God will ALWAYS provide!

_________________

 

 

 

Homily – Matthew 25: 31-46

Matthew 25: 31-46

The Sheep and the Goats

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

 

As Matthew 25 makes clear,

the Christians should see everyone as   “Christ” in the flesh.

-scholars argue that in the New Testament, “stranger” and “neighbor” are in fact synonymous.

 

“love your neighbor as yourself,” refers not just to people whom you know –   your “neighbors”  down the street

but also to people whom you do not know.

 

Paul makes this clear when he writes

that in Christ,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female.”

 

Scripture is very CLEAR —

Welcome the stranger –                we are all of one body

But….for some scripture is not so clear —

________

The Bible has once again been MIS-used for political reasons…

Attny General Jeff Sessions –

UMC The group claimed in a June 18 statement that Sessions, a member of a Mobile, Alabama, church, violated Paragraph 2702.3 of the denomination’s Book of Discipline.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

Later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders summed up the same idea:

“It is very biblical to enforce the law.”

 

 

Once again – cherry picking scripture to support the argument…

 

Romans 13 New International Version (NIV)

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

BUT if SESSIONS had continued quoting Romans 13 he would have undermined his argument…  VERSE 8  – Paul says…

 

VERSE 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor.

Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
PLUS-

Anyone claiming to walk the Christian walk should KNOW that Jesus NEVER put secular law above the welfare of the person.

 

As usual, trying to apply BIBLICAL principles to COMTEMPORARY matters of POLICY is too ambiguous …

 

Christians have taken opposing sides of the immigration/undocumented works and refugees – yet READ THE SAME Bible…

The filters through which scripture is interpreted  makes for a wide range of understanding—

__________

BUT –

The Bible is CRYSTAL clear on the principles of

WELCOMING THE STRANGER

There is NOTHING ambiguous about

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF

_

Like the expert in the law – seeking the proverbial LOOPHOLE –

A way to be selective in who we are to love, welcome and care for…

 

This lawyer wanted to nail down the definition of NEIGHBOR –

So he asked Jesus

So, who is my neighbor?

Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan…

Rarely is Leviticus  a source of inspiration,

We find one of the clearest statements in the Bible about extravagant welcome.

Listen

Leviticus 19:33-34 (NIV)

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

The argument of immigration is not new…

It has existed since time began….

____________

Today it is about Mexican people seeking a safe place to live and raise their children…

I do not believe for one SECOND that they risk their lives in the back of semi-trailers in suffocating heat –

The people who migrate from and to Mexico, crossing 25 miles in a 114 degree desert to get to this country, risk their lives to get here not because they want to take away from you or from me. They come because they too love their families and are trying to survive.

 

___

By the way –

What American is out of work and hungry because an immigrant took the job

Of roofing houses in 100+ temperatures

Or hand plow and harvest vegetables from   the ground..

Or work tobacco fields in the heat…                  absorbing the nicotine toxins

I f you asked a farmer… they don’t ALL hire immigrants because they are cheap labor… but because they are LABOR

____

In 2013   NY TIMES ran an article by Adam Davidson Journalist focusing on Business and Economics and co-founder of NPRs Planet Money

Do Illegal Immigrants Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy?

In a very simplistic summary of the article….

He reports that because immigrants take the basic low level jobs – it actually helps the economy…

Because they take on the unskilled labor that comes along with skilled work, it frees the skilled workers to move onto do more skilled work… rather than be paid SKILLED wages for unskilled cleanup work.

_________

Economists agree that there are downsides to undocumented immigrants, but that the upsides outnumber them. Economy actually improves.

But, what is the difference… whether their doing the scutt work helps the economy or not?

_______

We are to welcome the stranger –

Even when it is inconvenient…

The Hospital has to have interpreters    available to assist patients and families in receiving good health     care…                                        whether these aliens are   undocumented,

or just new to the country…           and have not learned the                   language yet.

This is another reason

We cannot believe immigrants are        coming here to take stuff away    from us…

HOSPITAL

Trauma – hurt on the job

Fell off roof –                                    unable to speak language

Time to get interpreter can                        cause loss of life

Unable to comfort patient – effectively

Explain medical issues –               get important medical information –

Allergies

History

Even with interpreter – there is a gap   between the patient and       doctors./nurses

Coming here legally or not, is RISKY

Isolating

Dangerous

Scary

__________

My Master’s Thesis in 2009

Address scenario about

Immigrant family / cultural differences

Welcoming the stranger and their               beliefs

 

 

++++

  • Immigrants appear throughout Scripture:
    • Abraham left his homeland for the land God would show him, promising to bless him and all other peoples through him.
    • Joseph was a victim of human trafficking, sold as a slave.
    • Naomi was forced to flee her homeland because of famine, and Ruth returned with her when God provided food again.
    • Mary and Joseph brought their baby, Jesus, across several borders to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous intentions.
  • Immigrants are created in God’s image.
  • God tells the people of Israel, time and time again, to “welcome the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.”
  • Hospitality, particularly to the stranger, is a theme in both the Old and New Testaments, and it’s a central theme of Jesus’ ministry.
  • The Greek word for hospitality is philoxenia, meaning “love of the other.”
  • The treatment of immigrants in our midst is a relevant application for numerous biblical themes—
  • stewardship, grace, biblical justice, evangelism, fellowship, unity, hospitality, the role of government, reconciliation, power

 

Remember Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt

— A family is forced to flee their homeland for fear of persecution—REFUGEES   IMMIGRANTS

This is the classic modern-day definition of a refugee. In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines that group of people as follows:

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Jesus began his life as an immigrant fleeing the land in which he was born to escape Herod’s Wrath

Welcome the Stranger –

Let us pray:

 

Immigration Prayer

Creator God,
open our eyes so we can see you in the eyes of our immigrant brothers and sisters,

eyes downcast for having lived so long in the shadows,
eyes challenging us to join them in the streets or picket lines,
eyes lifted looking for the Christ light in us.

Compassionate God, who has come to dwell among us,
open our ears to hear the cries of your children,

children being separated from their parents,
rounded up in raids,
led to detention centers,
silently giving up dreams.

God of Justice, who crosses all boundaries,
give us courage to resist, to say NO

to unfair labor practices,
to unjust laws like SB 1070,
287g contracts.

Give us the strength to stand with and for

your inclusive love,
faith to believe,
another world is necessary and possible.

Let it begin with us.

 

 

Communion Meditation

Next month is the 54th anniversary of the Desegregation of LUNCH counters…

WE reserve the right to refuse service to…

Up until that time – only WHITE people could sit at the counter. No one else was welcome or served.

54 years is not really all that long ago…

Even Churches refused to allow certain people to be served communion…

Because of color

Location of church membership

Lack of baptism

________

I can’t help but shake my head at the irony of a Christian refusing to share communion with someone…

Welcome the stranger/love your neighbor

Share the meal…

Homily Caring for God Genesis 1: 26-31

The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; for He laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers.” (Psalm 24:1–2, HCSB)

Genesis 1: 26-31 

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[c] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[d] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27 So God created humankind[e] in his image,
in the image of God he created them;[f]
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them,                      “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue (calm, placate, soften, mollify) it; and have dominion (control, authority, domination, power, rule) over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

 

With the living creatures now in place,  our sacred story continues,

 

Global Warming noun

  1. a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.

 

Fracking noun

  1. the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc., so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.
  2. Fracking uses huge amounts of water, which must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost.
  3. Environmentalists say potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. The industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.
  4. There are also worries that the fracking process can cause small earth tremors.

 

Strip Mining

strip mining meaning: a method of obtaining substances such as coal from the ground that involves removing the top layer of soil instead of digging deep holes …

Litter

Trash/waste just tossed aside anywhere –

An issue that has been debated since 1953…

1953 – 1970

  • 1953: National Advisory Council organizes.
  • 1956: First public service announcement (PSA) about litter prevention appears.
  • 1960: Keep America Beautiful begins its more than 50-year relationship with the Ad Council.
  • 1965: First Lady of the United States of America, Lady Bird Johnson, joins Keep America Beautiful in promoting highway beautification, stating “Ours is a blessed and beautiful land. But much of it has been tarnished. What can you do? Look around you: at the littered roadside; at the polluted stream; the decayed city center. We need urgently to restore the beauty of our land.”
  • 1967: Canine TV star Lassie appears as mascot for an anti-litter campaign.
  • 1970: In partnership with the Ad Council, launched what became known as the “Crying Indian” PSA campaign, iconic symbol of environmental responsibility and one of the most successful PSA campaigns in history.

Plastic

Bakelite. The first plastic based on a synthetic polymer was made from phenol and formaldehyde, with the first viable and cheap synthesis methods invented in 1907, by Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian-born American living in New York state. … Bakelite was a purely synthetic material, not derived from living matter.

Plastics are generally made from petroleum. If the plastic is incinerated, it increases carbon emissions; if it is placed in a landfill, it becomes a carbon sink[62] although biodegradable plastics have caused methane emissions[

Plastic straws are really bad for the ocean. We use over 500 million every day in America, and most of those end up in our oceans, polluting the water and killing marine life. We want to encourage people to stop using plastic straws for good. If we don’t act now, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

AREN’T PLASTIC STRAWS RECYCLABLE?

Most plastic straws are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. They drop through sorting screens and mix with other materials and are too small to separate, contaminating recycling loads or getting disposed as garbage.

 

Plastic straws end up in the ocean primarily through human error, often 1) left on beaches in coastal communities and seaside resorts globally 2) littered OR 3) blown out of trash cans (oftentimes overfilled) or transport boats and vehicles.

Storm Drains – lead to the ocean

WE NEED TO STOP MAKING PLASTIC STRAWS

—————————-

Styrofoam

trademarked brand of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam

In the United States and Canada, the colloquial use of the word styrofoam refers to another material that is usually white in color and made of expanded (not extruded) polystyrene foam (EPS). It is often used in disposable coffee cups and coolers, and as cushioning material in packaging.[1] The term is used generically although it is a different material from the extruded polystyrene used for Styrofoam insulation.

EPS-eating worms[edit]

In 2015, researchers discovered that mealworms, the larvae form of the darkling beetle Tenebrio molitor, could digest and subsist healthily on a diet of EPS, commonly referred to as “Styrofoam” colloquially.[14] About 100 mealworms could consume between 34 and 39 milligrams of this white foam in a day. The droppings of mealworm were found to be safe for use as soil for crops.[14] Superworms (Zophobas morio) are also reported to eat EPS.[15]

Air Pollution

Air pollution occurs when harmful or excessive quantities of substances including gases, particulates, and biological molecules are introduced into Earth’s atmosphere.

Smog hanging over cities is the most familiar and obvious form of air pollution. But there are different kinds of pollution—some visible, some invisible—that contribute to global warming. Generally any substance that people introduce into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on living things and the environment is considered air pollution.

______________

I WILL ONLY BE DISCUSSING THE USA TODAY

 

Why is this a Spiritual Issue?

What has garbage to do with our walk with God?

 

ONE ANSWER

Genesis 1   PANENTHEISM  Panentheism where all is in God;   God/Universe are separate

 

God entrusted the care of creation to us

Plants    animals    air   water  earth

And let them have dominion over…” 

ANOTHER ANSWER

Pantheism

Pantheism is the belief God and the universe can be equated; that God is the universe.

God is spiritual/divine                                                                                      Universe is spiritual/divine

 

What we do to the least of these…

Remember that from last week’s                  discussion of Immigration –

 

Loving one another

However we treat one another is                         how we treat God

 

 

Pantheism –

believing that God/Universe are the same

means that “What we do to the least of these…”

What ever way we treat the world… we are doing that to God

 

 

Genesis story

God created – said it was good

Then God entrusted the care of creation to humankind… telling humans

fill the earth and subdue (calm, placate, soften, mollify) it; and have dominion (control, authority, domination, power, rule)

HOW are we doing?

Let’s take a look….

Americans generate about 258 million tons of MSW MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE –                                           or MANMADE SOLID WASTE annually,

53% is deposited in landfills                                      Currently, 34.6% of MSW is recycled

and 12.8% is combusted for energy production. https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/cat-item/solid-waste/

Anyhow, take a look.

4.4 pounds:                                            The amount of trash generated daily, on average, by every American. Packed in cubed feet it would be the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

254 million tons:                                     The amount of trash that Americans       generate in a year.

 

22 billion: Plastic bottles thrown out yearly.

 

12 feet: The height of a wall from Los Angeles            to New York City that could be made              from tossed office paper every year.

 

300: Laps around the equator that could be         made in paper and plastic cups, forks,     and spoons disposed of annually.

 

2,000+: The number of active landfills in the country.

 

1000s: The number of inactive landfills in the country.

 

38.4 tons: the amount of garbage per person in Las Vegas landfills.

10 tons, or less:                                      The amount of landfill waste per person            in Idaho, North Dakota, and Connecticut.

https://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/trash-numbers-startling-statistics-about-americans-and-their-garbage.html

$19:

The cost per ton that Alabama       charges to take another state’s trash.

3.4 million tons:

The amount of out-of-state waste   taken by Ohio each year at the cost  of $35 per ton.

32 percent:                                                           The amount of Ohio’s out-of-state                   trash that came from New York.

34.3 percent:

The amount of garbage that   Americans are now recycling yearly.

Recycling and composting prevented      87.2 million tons of material from being disposed in 2013, up from 15 million tons in 1980.

 

And let them have dominion over…”

 DOMINION                                      

Bible Translations  Many use Dominion

  • CHRISTIAN Standard Bible – RULE
  • Living Bible – MASTER
  • Message – Responsibility
  • Good News – POWER

These words have been a struggle for people of faith to understand their role in creation…

 DOMINION     – definitions include

Power, control, rule, control, superiority…

And that is how the church has interpreted DOMINION – and taught this lesson of scripture

— control and power

Sadly, we were not taught that when God gave us dominion over all God created… the God probably believed in human goodness and entrusted us to care for the rest of creation.

I think God’s intention was for humanity to CARE for the rest of creation…

To be responsible for

 to be in partnership with creation…

Protect preserve serve and love…

Scripture also uses the term SUBDUE –

 

____

HUMANS view the rest of creation as lower on the ladder of importance..

Thus, we have not protected God’s creation….

Water – became a place to dump waste

Air – carried away the dirt/toxins from our fires and incinerators

Land – raped for its many resources… gas, coal, minerals, oil, etc.

ANIMALS –    meat eating – followed flood

Scripturally – Genesis 9: 3- Every living creature—birds, animals, fish—will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You’re responsible for them. All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. Except for meat with its lifeblood still in it—don’t eat that.

Struggle with eating meat –

Was not original intention at creation

Animal Abuse –

Not seeing animals as living creatures

Abuse – scientific testing – neglect –

DOMINION — NOT DOMINATION

SUBDUE                                                          (calm, placate, soften, mollify)

to care – show compassion – protect

we were called to care for all that God   brought into reality…

and remember the Bible stories in which God revealed God’s self THROUGH creation…

Burning bush

Parting of the sea

Nourishment from heaven/sky

 

IF we understand God as ONE wth nature/creation, us, the universe –

then when we refrain from waste, reuse what we can, recycle what we can’t and create with materials that eventually return to nature…

Aren’t we also caring for God?

 

 

 

Communion Meditation

Jesus followed this theme of ONE WITH CREATION –

This bread and cup are my body and blood –

AS we share this meal, remember we are all one in the Spirit, in the Universe and in Creation.

 

 

Why Am I Here?

Why am I here? What is my purpose? These are questions humans have asked throughout time.

The prophet, Jeremiah asked

‘Why, oh why, did I ever leave that womb?
Life’s been nothing but trouble and tears,
and what’s coming is more of the same.’

Why am I here?

In 1966, Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote the song, “Alfie”. Lyricist, Hal David was asking the same question when he wrote:


What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about — when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give,
Or are we meant to be kind?

As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie, I know there’s something much more, Something even non-believers can believe in.

Why are we here and what is it all about? Part of the answer is found in Proverbs 16:4,God made everything with a place and purpose”.

Our highest purpose is found in several scriptures including Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all   your heart, and with all your soul, and with       all your might.”

Our next highest purpose is: “to love others as you love yourself.

We are here to love God, and be open to God’s love flowing through us as we love others.

Our love of others manifests as welcoming the stranger; protecting the helpless; feeding the hungry; demanding justice; fighting oppression; being the voice of the voiceless; and standing for what is right even when it is not popular. In other words, we are to model the life of Jesus and rock the boat of apathy and selfishness.

As Christians, our purpose is to love; period; end of sentence. We are to love God and ALL others, not just some. Jesus taught us to love our enemies as we love our friends. Anyone claiming to be Christian and does not love, is a fraud; period; end of sentence. Why am I here?