All posts by PastorSusan

ELDERS 2019

DATE BREAD CUP

FEBRUARY

3 Sharon M. Harold M.

10 Jonathan W. Bev A.

17 Patt K. Sharon D.

24 Harold M. Jonathan W.

MARCH

3 Liz W. Vanessa W.

10 Bev A. Sharon M.

17 Sharon D. Harold M.

24 Jonathan W. Patt K.

31 Vanessa W. Bev A.

APRIL

7 Sharon M. Liz W.

14 Harold M. Vanessa W.

21 Patt K. Sharon M.

28 Liz W. Jonathan W.

MAY

5 Bev A. Sharon D.

12 Harold M. Patt K.

19 Vanessa W. Sharon M.

26 Liz W. Bev A.

JUNE

2 Sharon D.. Jonathan W.

9 Patt K. Liz W.

16 Sharon M. Sharon D.

23 Jonathan W. Vanessa W.

30 Bev A. Harold M.

ACT JUSTLY

MICAH   6:8       ACT JUSTLY

It is written that the response of a godly heart is      outward (do justice),                inward (love mercy), and          upward (walk humbly).

Micah                                                      – -prophesied during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. 742 – 696 BC

–He is considered one of the twelve minor prophets of                                   the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and   was a        contemporary of the   prophets IsaiahAmos and Hosea

Micah                                                             –also rebuked Israel because of dishonesty in the marketplace and corruption in government.

–He warned the people, on behalf of God, of pending destruction if ways and hearts were not changed. He told them what the LORD requires of them:

Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God

Israel’s response to Micah’s charges and threats consisted of three parts:

  1. admission of guilt,
  2. a warning of adversaries that Israel will rely on the LORD for deliverance and forgiveness,
  3. and a prayer for forgiveness and deliverance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micah_(prophet)#cite_note-10

ACT  JUSTLY – Golden rule –

UNJUST LAWS

Some of which are so ridiculous, they should never be enforced…

ALABAMA: The City of Mobile may know how to throw down on Mardi Gras, but the use of confetti is strictly prohibited. To carry, manufacture, sell, or handle the party supply is considered an “offense against public safety.”

A frog that dies during a frog-jumping contest cannot be eaten in the state of California.

INDIANA: Liquor stores can’t sell refrigerated water or soda. The law specifies that a beer and wine store should be in the exclusive business of selling adult beverages.

KENTUCKY: Every legislator, public officer, and lawyer must take an oath stating that they have not fought a duel with deadly weapons.

ARIZONA –Illegal for donkey to sleep in a bathtub

In CONNECTICUT … a pickle must be able to bounce.

In Nebraska … you can’t get married if you have a venereal disease.

In VERMONT … it’s illegal for women to wear fake teeth without their husband’s approval.

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I am talking about UNJUST LAWS –

Like the laws in our past:

       INDIAN REMOVAL ACT (1830)

Passed by Congress and signed by President Andrew Jackson, This law gave Jackson’s administration the ability to “negotiate” with native American tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole), ostensibly forcing them to vacant the lands they held long before the colonies or United States were established

FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT (1850)

Congress, largely controlled by pro-slavery Democrats, passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which required that runaway slaves be returned to their “owners” once they were captured.

CHILD LABOR LAW —The first group to fight for child Labor laws, formed in 1906, and it was over ten years later that a law was finally established.


USA PATRIOT Act (2001)

Passed and signed more than a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the USA PATRIOT Act (an acronym for Uniting Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) gave the intelligence community and law enforcement agencies broad new powers to combat terrorism. Thanks to recent disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden, Americans have learned that the PATRIOT Act has been used by intelligence agencies, most notably the NSA, to snoop and spy on American citizens, even if they’re not suspected of terrorist activity, by obtaining phone and Internet metadata from third-party businesses. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who authored and introduced the PATRIOT Act, has said that the government’s interpretation of the law is “excessive and un-American” and supports efforts to put better privacy protections in place.

  • Illegal for a black person to marry a white person – finally struck down 1967 by Supreme Court
  • Illegal for American Women to vote until 1920.

TODAY

Ban on Those entering country

Iran   Libya   North Korea   Yemen Somalia   Venezuela   Syria

_____________

RESTRICTIVE VOTING MEASURES           have been enacted by states in recent years. They range from laws demanding that voters produce specific forms of identification to reductions in the number of locations where people can cast their ballot. 

  • California city passed a law banning the charitable act following a massive Hepatitis A outbreak.
  • police officer warned the activists not to give food to the homeless in the park.
  • “It’s okay to give food in public to other people but not homeless people,” he said, referencing the city law, KGTV reports. 
  • “That’s an unfair way of targeting the alleged issue of hepatitis A.”
  • ________________________

Justice is not merely about defending     personal rights and condemning social evils. 

Biblical justice starts in the heart.

It is inseparable from love and humility.

When we choose to walk in the light – to follow the teachings of Jesus – to work to do God’s will… 

We enter a covenant which means both parties have obligations to the other…

Micah was reminding people of their part of the bargain – of what GOD expects of a person who seeks Him. 

God requires three ongoing actions:

  1. Act justly.
  2. Love mercy.
  3. Walk humbly with God.

acting justly

making fair decisions in our business      and personal lives.

Show each person the same respect whether they are rich or poor / young or old / educated or ignorant/ white or one of the million other shades of skin tones….

Do we treat people better who are dressed in a suit and tie than if they are in drag?

However we treat one another is how we treat God.

To Act Justly requires we show others the same attention as we show ourselves.

We are to love justice, not only when it harmonizes with our own interests… but we are to love justice…more than ourselves…

if it ain’t right – and I do nothing,     then I ain’t right.

Pay attention to the word REQUIRES – meaning NOT OPTIONAL

       Eugene Peterson paraphrases in the MESSAGE –                          Do what is fair and just.

And that means, even when life isn’t fair to us…

We are the only Bible some people read… we are the only Christ some people will meet.

We are the only example of a relationship with God, some people will ever experience…

HOW DO OUR ACTIONS DEMONSTRATE OUR LOVE FOR GOD?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu  said this:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

If an elephant has his foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ~

Samuel, Hannah, Mary, Jesus

41Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he said to them. 51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

Samuel 2:18-26

18Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod.19His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord”; and then they would return to their home. 21And the Lord took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. 22Now Eli was very old. He heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.23He said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25If one person sins against another, someone can intercede for the sinner with the Lord; but if someone sins against the Lord, who can make intercession?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father; for it was the will of the Lord to kill them. 26Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.

  1. eph·od
  1.  (in ancient Israel) a sleeveless garment worn by Jewish priests.

Two Stories – hundreds of years apart

Hannah –desperately wanted a child

Mary – surprised by a child

Hannah makes covenant with God if she can have a child

Mary – angel announces that God has chosen her and there is a covenant concerning a child.

Each mother has been given a child that is then returned to the service of God.

The similarities between the stories of two women are reflected in the words of their two songs.  

From the miraculous conception of each woman’s son to each woman’s faithful response of praise, we see God’s purpose and plan revealed. 

1)  What the books reveal:  

The books of 1 Samuel and Luke both focus on the birth of a male child who is born to serve God.  

2) Who the women were:

The roles of both Hannah and Mary in Scripture are limited to that of motherhood. 

Neither is a picture of salvation of Israel, of saving the people, like Esther—or of leading the people, like Deborah. 

Their work for God was simply to raise-up the child whom God had given to them.

Hannah’s pain came immediately when she handed Samuel over to Eli to raise in the Temple.

Mary’s pain would come later.

God choses the marginalized or the downtrodden to break-in upon history.

Sarah, like Hannah, was older and barren. Rachel, too, was barren and jealous of her sister Leah. All three women were dealing with “competitors” — either co-wives or servants.

Hannah was taunted by Peninnah, the other wife of Elkanah.

These stories finally parallel that of Elizabeth, also old and barren, who then conceives and gives birth to John, the baptizer, the last and greatest of the prophets.

Then a lowly maiden Mary is selected to birth Jesus –

Through these surprising and unexpected births, a child is set apart as truly “of God,” dedicated to and willing to serve God.

Contrasts

Having noted the similarities of Hannah’s story with Mary’s story and Hannah’s song with Mary’s song, let’s consider several contrasts.

  • Hannah was marked by sterility and shame.
  • Mary was marked by virginity and purity.
  • Hannah prayed for a son, desiring that her shame be removed.
  • Mary did not seek a son, but was graced with this great gift (Luke 1:28) and shame came upon her and her family.
  • Hannah gave birth to the son of Elkanah.
  • Mary gave birth to the “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32a).
  • Hannah’s son was one of a long line of prophets.
  • Mary’s Son was the True and Better Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18).

Hannah is a type of Mary primarily in her role as a mother and as a maidservant of God.  In Hannah we see incredible gratitude to God and selflessness in giving her son to God.  Hannah knew that Samuel did not really belong to her, but to God.  Mary knew that Jesus did not really belong to her…He is God.  In each mother’s story, their love for their child is evident and their love for their God is magnified.

1 Samuel 2:21b  …the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

Luke 1:80  So the child [Jesus] grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Luke 2:52  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

__

In both passages, we have nearly identical words at the close o0f the story –

         Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.

Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

It is a theme of growing – of maturing…

Both boys grow physically in STATURE

Both grow in wisdom and in favor with God – and with humanity –

Jesus did not come into this world gifted with knowledge – wisdom and power.

Like us, he came in as a vulnerable baby – a clean slate upon which life would write –

He would have to be taught –

 The same way Samuel – had to be taught –

Samuel began his growth in wisdom along side the Priest Eli –

Jesus began his with Mary and Joseph and his time in the temple.

And when the time came to return home, Jesus was more interested in learning from the priests—he had questions – they had answers – and his understanding amazed the priests.

Both Samuel and Jesus had to prepare for their life of service to God

Samuel’s preparation was through Eli

Jesus’ Preparation included                                          Wisdom: Jesus grew in Intellectually

Stature: Jesus grew in Physically.

with God”: Jesus grew Spiritually.

“with men”: Jesus grew socially.

The priests in the temple were impressed with Jesus because he was at ease and comfortable in His Father’s house.

But he would continue to grow – as he experienced life in new ways-

I never really thought about how Jesus had to grow – into becoming who he was called to be.

But, it speaks volumes that Samuel – and even Jesus had to learn – and grow and mature in their spiritual and social lives, as well as in favor with God —  just as much as their physical lives.

Jesus models that in order to grow intellectually, we must watch – o0bserve – and experience so that we have WISDOM

We must take care of ourselves physically –                            by eating well – resting when                             needed – and consider our                               bodies temples..

Jesus showed us that we are to always study        scripture, pray, reflect and engage in        our relationship with God – to grow spiritually – and find favor with God –

And to find favor with those around us –                  so that we are all one body in God…

These things are accomplished through small ways of treating one another — small acts of kindness – not huge achievements — 

Sometimes God lets us know we have found favor —

Illustration –

Madeleine L’Engle tells one such story.  While speaking at Wheaton College, word came to her that her 9-year old granddaughter, Lena,  had been hit by a truck while she was walking home from swimming.  The news was not good — Lena had two broken legs, broken ribs, her jaw was fractured in two places, her arms and legs had bruises and contusions, and she had a head wound that laid open her scalp to the bone.

She finished her lecture at Wheaton, and asked there for prayer for her granddaughter.  Returning to her room, she tried to call both an Episcopal clergy friend of hers in New York, and the Episcopal Sisters who ran the school her granddaughters attended. Neither of her calls went through.  Finally, after ringing and ringing, one of the sisters answered.  Madeleine told her about Lena, and the sister said that all of New York was blacked out and that she had to feel her way through the dark building to find and answer the phone.  Later, the same sister would tell Madeleine that hers was the only call that came in that night, that afterward the phones quit working altogether.

As was her custom, that night in her hotel room, Madeleine L’Engle reached for the Episcopal Book of Prayer she carried with her.  She always read Evening Prayer.   However, that night when she turned to the Psalm for that evening, a photograph of Lena stood at the page.  Taken only a few days before, L’Engle had stuck it in her prayer book hastily without thinking.

She said she could barely stand to see the photo, but as she held the prayer book, a piece of paper fell from its pages.   Given to her years before by some Catholic nuns, the card contained a quote from St. John of the Cross, a medieval Christian mystic.  The quote read —

“One act of thanksgiving made when things go wrong is worth a thousand when things go well.”

And so she thanked God for Lena’s nine years of life, for their family, and for God’s blessings.  Ten days later, little Lena emerged from her coma.  Among her first words were “Read to me.”  And so they did, night and day, until little Lena recovered. — Walking on Water, p. 184-186.

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Both stories stress the need of growth in faith – growth that is in terms of understanding and practice. We might also call it wisdom in the faith, the beginning of which is, as Proverbs reminds us, the ‘fear of God’.

Not terror but awe and worship;

a sense of God in relation to creation which intimately involves understanding ourselves and those around us.

How much more do we as Jesus’ disciples in every age need to seek to grow in our faith – in favour both with God and humanity.

 Faithful service to God is a slow journey of growth and learning with aspects of loss and vulnerability along the way.

Significance of the Visit of the Magi

Matthew 2:1-12

2In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “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.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6‘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.’” 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then 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.”

9When 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. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On 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. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

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EPIPHANY

Christians celebrate the feast of Epiphany,

* from the Greek word epiphaneia,

meaning disclosure, manifestation, unveiling or appearance.

* At the simplest level, on Epiphany Christians commemorate the “appearance” of the magi from the east

It is interesting that Matthew was the only biblical writer who recorded their visit.

WISE MEN/KINGS –WHO?

here came wise men—literally, “Magi” or “Magicians,”

*KINGS?

KINGS?  Why would they seek to pay homage to another KING

Asked a KING for directions to KING of Jews?

*Why ask at all, if following the star,   and continued to follow the star?

*Left for their own country… where?

More likely a priestly caste of *Zoroastrianism, noted for their study of the stars as part of their religion. 

Zoroastrianism

  • Possibly the oldest             monotheistic faith
  • pre-Islamic religion of       ancient Persia founded    by Zoroaster in the 6th    century BC.                              3500 YEARS AGO
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy calls Zoroaster

 “the world’s first philsopher

  • echoes of his words in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 
  •  Zoroastrians were also known for their devotion to truth and wisdom.
  •  They place a strong emphasis on protecting the environment.
  • Also within his religion, Zoroaster taught the existence of angels, demons and saviorsideas that can also be found in ChristianityJudaism and  Islam.                                                                 Zoroastrians use the Avesta as their sacred text. The Avesta contains hymnsritualsand spells against demons.

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NAMES

  • Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar,                                                       
  • do not come from the Bible
  • and did not appear in Christian literature until over five hundred years after the birth of Jesus.
  •  Nothing in the Bible says the wise men rode camels (or any other animal);
  • they may have made their journey from the east on foot for all we know.
  •  And despite the familiar lyrics of the Christmas carol “We Three Kings,” no biblical source depicts the three wise men as kings. (They were most likely learned men, perhaps astrologers.)     

probably of the learned class who cultivated astrology and kindred         sciences.

TRADITION

prophesied – a star would come   out of Jacob /  giver of  light

and exercising kingly power  might have come down to them by tradition;

 but nothing definite is known of them.

FROM THE EAST – where

from the east—Arabia, Persia,      (IRAN)  or                                        Mesopotamia

Most popular IRAN

NOT JEWS

Went to Jerusalem—       as the Jewish metropolis.

** In the Revelation of the Magi, by    Landau —  they come from a    land called Shir,

which, because it is located at    the eastern edge of the inhabited         world, is probably equivalent to           China

LOCATION

  • NOT at stable-
  • Some sources say they traveled 6 months to two years
  • Matthew only place of story
  • “until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that   the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child –
  • According to Luke 2, it was shepherds, not wise men, who visited the infant Jesus in the manger.
  • Each GOSPEL writer was writing to a different audience—
  • Shaped stories to be more relatable and relevant.

SIGNIFICANCE of Visit

  • Matthew is the only gospel referencing the arrival of the Magi, specifying that they bring three gifts, not necessarily the number of Magi that arrived.
  •  The importance of their arrival and gifts offered bring great meaning to the story.
  • Matthew was Jewish and possibly a Pharisee, so his inclusion of the Magi was a reference to eastern gentile wisdom, which also included astrology, and was perhaps viewed in a negative light by the Jewish community.
  • Yet this point brings us to the conclusion that gentiles were included in the birth of the Messiah. Upon the Magi’s arrival, their bowing down to the infant offered the respect shown divinity, as did the gift of gold.
  • he other gifts have sparked debate, but I see frankincense representing the presence of God as an incense and myrrh as an anointing oil, both of which have significance throughout Jesus’ messianic journey and our own Christian tradition.
  • Being Southern, I recently learned about a tradition called “chalking of the door.”
  • In a ceremony held around the Epiphany, the letters “C,” “M” and “B” are chalked on a home’s entrance to bless all who live or visit there.
  • It is said:
  •  traditionally, the initials represented names of those Three Wise Men — Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. However, the meaning actually is
  • , Latin for “Christ, bless this house.” Regardless, Christus mansionem benedicat the inclusion of gentiles and recognition of the Christ child as Messiah ultimately point to the clearest meaning of the Three Wise Men.

DETAILS

The Magi are not always given their due –

I read a story about one person who keeps the Wise Men figurines from her nativity – out year round –

She says:

it’s a visual reminder to me. It    reminds me that the truth of the           ages from this part of the             “Christmas” story is, and always           has been, that wise men and      wise women, wise boys and wise         girls, still seek Jesus. Not just at Christmas time, but all through             the year.

  • the magi are a poignant reminder that Jesus welcomes all peoples from all places.
  • he magi, then, “unveil” this mystery and disclose the nature of God’s kingdom announced in Jesus.
  • They remind us that it cannot be limited to the Jews or any other singular people.
  • The magi symbolize the divine promise given to Abraham for “all peoples on earth” in the first book of the Bible (Genesis 12:3), and
  •  John’s vision of heaven with people from “every nation, tribe, people, and language” in the last book of the Bible (Revelation 7:9).

________________________

A couple of weeks ago we talked of Living the Nativity –

Today’s story talks of how wise men met Jesus and returned home by a different path —
Mary and Joseph were warned in a dream to leave Bethlehem –

And they fled pagan Egypt where they found asylum.

  • That symbolic place of Israel’s bondage now became a place of protection.

As we all seek Jesus and to discern the main thing in life –

Once we find it, we too continue on a different path than we came…

Let us pray –

Continue to open our eyes, hearts and minds to the wonders of our walk in the light…

Help us to share our journey with all who wish to join… Amen

“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?

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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.

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Thanks be to God