All posts by PastorSusan

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?

 

 

Will We Recognize Jesus? Luke 24:13-49

Luke 24:13-49

13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.

18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,

20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place.

22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.

24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

25Then he (Jesus) said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!

26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”

27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.

29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 

32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.

34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence.

44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,46and he said to them,

“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

 

48You are witnesses of these things.

49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

___________________________________

Homily Luke 24: 13-49

Will We Recognize Jesus?

Last week we talked about all of those who saw Jesus after the resurrection… and this week,

We look at those who saw Jesus, yet did not recognize him.

Many of whom were intimate friends –

  • How could Mary NOT know it was Jesus when she mistook him for a gardener?
  • How could Thomas require to see the wounds in his hands and feet?
  • How could the disciples who were fishing not recognize the man they had traveled with for three years?
  • How could the two disciples on the road to Emmaus not recognize the man they had followed for so long?

_________

THEORIES

–Jesus’ appearance had changed

–Blind with grief

–Supernatural reason –                                    “their eyes were kept from                                   recognizing him”

–Disbelief was stronger than faith

JESUS’ APPEARANCE CHANGED

  • Transfiguration?
  • Resurrected appearance — more perfect?
  • Apparition/Spirit like –
  • Able to pass through walls

Suddenly disappearing when recognized

 

BLIND WITH GRIEF/FEAR

  • In such pain, can’t see world around them
  • Wrapped up in grief – unable to process
  • Worried about what is next for them
  • Will they be arrested?
  • Have they wasted three years?

SUPERNATURAL

  • Eyes were prevented from seeing
  • Had to understand to see
  • Needed more information to see

DISBELIEF STRONGER THAN FAITH

  • Ancient times understanding of such things were very                     limited
  • Illiterate
  • Uneducated
  • No history of resurrection like we have
  • Only believe what they can see
  • Unable to believe the unbelievable
  • “What I know” stronger than               “What I have been told”
  • How can one see the dead?
  • Not expecting to see Jesus, so eyes overlook him

 

These are people were human…. People who could only understand what they could see/experience…

And they followed a man who was human as well, though with a special connection with God…

———————————–

Their understanding of Jesus’ being the Messiah was one of him being a HUMAN who would free them from the Roman government… a king, warrior or leader…

When this special human was arrested and killed – all that they had been holding onto was destroyed…

their hopes and expectations were gone…. Jesus was dead and buried and they could not see tomorrow…

They lost their leader, their mission, their future and their hope all in one day. Their minds had to have been reeling/.///

 

Anyone who has had a friend or family member die may have experienced disorienting grief –

  • Confusion about the death
  • Denial
  • Fear – of what the death means to their life and future.
  • The changes that will be forced upon them.

Some people go into a form of shock and disassociation – unable to absorb and process the reality of the death.

Mary was probably a good example of that…

Stress from watching the beating and crucifixion – fear of being taken herself – and panic of what the next day would bring.

Then hearing the familiar voice – broke through the confusion and fear.

____________

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus –were not of the close group of 12,  but were followers just the same and             knew what Jesus looked like…

–Do not recognize him when he comes         up to them…spends time and               even shares a meal –

–until Jesus breaks the bread and                 their eyes are opened…

Why?

Why did they not recognize him… and why did he disappear when they did?

Whatever the reason, stories of his appearances provided future believers hope of seeing him and experiencing him.

Even if they were NOT members of the original disciples/followers…

Remember John’s story of Jesus’     appearance in the upper room –   Jesus tells Thomas — blessed are    those who believe without seeing

And

This week’s story of Cleopas and the other disciple on the Road to Emmaus –

announces that more than just Mary and the 12 closest disciples        get to see and experience the   resurrected Jesus.

Even the common believer will have the chance…

What an amazing affirmation the disciples and followers received —-

Reverend George Anastos of First Plymouth Church of Englewood Colorado describes the atmosphere in that upper room when Jesus suddenly appeared behind locked doors…

What a revelation the 12 had when they all could admit to themselves and to each other that they had not stopped having experiences of Jesus when he died.

Jesus somehow lived on, he was somehow not dead, and there must have been such joy in saying so.

There must have been such comfort in that room. So it is with us.

If resurrection is to have any meaning for us, it is in the sense that Jesus walks among us unrecognized all the time.

We catch glimpses, we see flashes, we overhear hints and insinuations.

We see this refracted Christ, never head-on, never fully, but fleeting like something that catches our eye and then is gone.

This is the way of resurrection—not in a resuscitated body but in a sweet kind of suggestion that lingers in the world and makes us know that we’ve seen it.

This is the resurrection—always hidden, always smiling, always beguiling in its playful apparitions.

It’s there for the seeing,                                    but not the pinning down;

it’s there for the perceiving,                              but not for study.

And all that is required of us to see this strange    familiar Christ is a pair of open eyes.

Blessed are those who believe yet have not seen…

ILLustration

Kathryn Johnston, a pastor at Mechanicsburg Presbyterian Church, tweeted —-

“When grief and the dark of the valley engulf you, you cannot even see Jesus in front of your face. He’s there. Just. keep. walking.”

Amen

________________

 

 

 

EASTER – 2018 Resurrection of Mary

Homily –

Today’s message is not mine to give. It is not one that I received from Spirit, but one that spoke to me just the same. The author/composer of this message is Rev. Bret S. Myers – Faith UCC in PA.

This message is meant for all of us.

“The Resurrection of Mary”                        Rev. Bret S. Myers

Mary Magdalene was the first person, male or female, to witness the empty tomb…

the first to see angels who reported the resurrection…

the first to hear the voice of, and see, the risen Christ…

and the first to be commissioned to go tell the others.

 

Given her prominent place in John’s gospel as the one who first,

and arguably best,

experiences the risen Christ she might be considered Jesus’ most faithful follower.

And the one for whom the greatest miracle was achieved.

When Jesus found her, she was claimed to have 7 evil spirits in her.

She, too, according to tradition, was considered to be a woman of ill repute by society: a prostitute.

 

If these things about her were true, then her life would have been the epitome of a despised existence in her society.

She would have been familiar with heartache, ostracization,

and the close-mindedness of those who thought they had a grip on reality in thinking themselves superior to her.

 

But it was she who ended up teaching them about a different reality:

that of resurrection – a life full of possibilities beyond all the prisons of our past.

 

From the start, in her darkest hour, she opened herself up to the message of one who told us we all have the image of God within us;

and to the example of how transformative love can be when it is given unconditionally.

She was on the lowest rung of life when Jesus exorcised her spirit from one of waywardness and despair                                           to a path of meaning and purpose.                                       She trusted that her life could be transformed through living in accordance with the values and virtues of Jesus.

And that she was!

Her life is perhaps the best example of what it means to be resurrected –

of having abided in the tomb of social alienation

until Jesus taught her the way of abundant living. (and thus resurrected /transformed)

In the Bible, it is usually the “least of these” that God most seems to be able to speak to most readily.

Why do you think that is?

God was able to get their attention.

They hear God, and talk with God, in ways that the self-assured seldom experience.

Consider that Jesus’ self-chosen disciples were hiding away in an upper room for fear that what happened to him might happen to them.

But it was Mary Magdalene who had the fearlessness to venture out in public to visit Jesus’ burial site.

And when she went back to report what she found, she followed the two disciples who went to the abandoned tomb to see for themselves.

When the two male disciples arrived and found a missing Jesus, they assumed the worst:

that his body had been stolen.

Sullen and feeling helpless, they went back to their homes.

Perhaps they did not want to face their sorrows, fears, and feelings of impotence.

But Mary stuck around. And she wept.

Sometimes allowing ourselves to cry,

openly and prolifically, opens us to

new dimensions of reality that we cannot experience without going into that pit of despair.

It takes courage to go to that place where we are unsure whether we’ll ever be able to recover.

But when we confront the worst that is imaginable, we see solutions unavailable to our understanding when we are in denial of what is happening.

Hiding from their fears, the male disciples were closed to the initial experience of the risen Christ.

They wanted to go back to their homes, to safety and security, to a place which was familiar, even if not revitalizing, in order to see what they could salvage of their previous lives. But Mary’s history of delving into the depths of human emotion opened up her heart, mind, and soul to seeing life, reality, and God’s presence in a whole new way.

She was open to transformation…to resurrection.

Granted, she was not quick to perceive this. She had to wrestle with what others, and her own way of thinking, told her was impossible. But when she heard her name called, she recognized that the one who had loved her for who God made her to be was as present to her as he had ever been.

Her experience of his reality post-resurrection was even more enlivening for her than her prior encounters with him.

She was herself given the resurrection spirit that changed her whole outlook on life.

What would get us to take this kind of life-altering chance?

Would we have to be at our lowest ebb before we’d be open to the turning of the tide?                                          Might we see, instead, that more is possible for our lives, through faith, than what we would ordinarily dare to conceive?

Does the need for safety and security, comfort and pleasure, keep us from opening our lives to opportunities and possibilities that only those with a daring courage of Mary Magdalene can perceive?

Could it be that we, like Mary, would prefer to “hold on” to those who have made life easier for us rather than venturing out on an adventure that God is calling us to?

Is this why Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me?”

As much as he had been a blessing to her in changing her life around, she was now a true disciple who had learned to live by the values and virtues that Jesus had taught her.

She did not need his continual physical presence in her life for her to live out the lessons and mission that had become a part of her own being.

Jesus later reminded all of the disciples that he would always be with them in spirit, but he commissioned them to go out into the world and carry out his purposes without his doing it for them.

They were no longer children of the faith, but adults of conviction who were to leave their houses and go out into the world.

If God let you know your life could be transformed, would you take the offer?

If it meant trying new things? Helping those most in need? Serving those who might not appreciate it?

Putting yourself at risk or in harm’s way?

Mary Magdalene teaches us the lesson about how we all, even the least of us, can be transformed and resurrected into an abundant life of love, peace, justice, faith, kindness, hope, compassion, and gentleness. These are the qualities and character traits of Christ – the things we need to live by and follow if we are to be true disciples rather than pretenders.

If Easter is not about the transformation of each of our spirits, then we are underestimating its power.

It was not just about Jesus. It was about Mary, who was one of the least of us.

And this is good news;

for if resurrection could be about her, then most certainly it could be about each and every one of us.  – Rev. Bret S. Myers, 4/12-13/2017

_________

Let us remember that resurrection is more than mere resuscitation!

It is life transformed!
It is faith in possibilities, when others are convinced of inevitability.

It is the courage to love others, when they don’t love you in return…

to show compassion, when others are heaping judgment…

to live by peace, when others are being violent…

to work for justice, when others are working for wealth…
to respond with gentleness, when others are reacting with rage…

and to trust that life, well-lived, even if short-lived,  is preferable to longevity without virtue.
Don’t remain caterpillars when you can become butterflies!
Live beautifully! Birth goodness in all you think, say, and do!
For you are called to life abundant!
God’s blessings be with you.

Jesus is on the Loose. April 8, 2018

John 20: 19-34       HOMILY

 

Jesus is on the Loose –

 

Post Resurrection appearances

Garden – Mary     (John/Mark)

Garden – Mary, Mary mother of  James, Salome Joanna                                   (Matthew)

Peter –              (Luke)

Two Disciples /Emmaus  Road            (Luke)

11 Disciples/upper room                       (Luke / John)

12 Disciples 8 days later  (John)

7 Disciples at Sea of  Galilee    (John)

Or Mt in Galilee    (Mark)

500 people at same  time         (1st Corin)

James                  (1st Corin)

Apostles – ate meal    (Acts)

Ascension            (Mark / Luke)

Saul / Paul       (Acts / 1st Corin)

Ananias (31-36 AD)         (Acts)

Paul in Temple                (Acts)

 

1205,   Saint Francis Of Assisi while           praying in the Church

1246 Saint Lutgarde (d.1246), a Cistercian mystic of Belgium

1302: ST. GERTRUDE THE GREAT
She received private revelations from Jesus regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart and the importance of the Communion of Saints.

1366: Saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church by Tiepolo,
Saint Catherine of Siena was a withdrawn Dominican tertiary who lived, fasted and prayed at home in Siena Italy.
In 1366, when she was 19 years old she reported her first vision of Jesus after which she started to tend to the sick and the poor.
1372 Saint Julian of Norwich was on her deathbed and had been given her last rites when she reported a series of visions of Jesus, followed by a sudden recovery.

 

1425: THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
Next to the Bible, this has been the most sold book in the world. Its content concerns the dialogue between Christ and Thomas Kempis.

1559:  Saint Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Jesús) reported a vision of Jesus present to her in bodily form.
For almost two years thereafter she reported similar visions. Saint Teresa’s visions transformed her life and she became a key figure in the Catholic Church eventually being recognized as one of only three female Doctors of the Church.

 

From 1673 to 1675, Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque recounted a series of visions of Christ speaking to her.
1697: Saint Veronica Giuliani expressed a great desire to suffer in union with the crucified Jesus for the conversion of sinners.
Shortly after that time she reported a series of vision of Jesus

On Good Friday 1697 she received the five wounds of Christ as stigmata.

1843: 1843 Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun in Tours France reported visions of conversations with Jesus

1859: ST. JOHN VIANNEY
Known as a great exorcist, he was blessed with countless visions of Jesus,

 

In 1866 Venerable Marie Martha Chambon began to report visions of Jesus telling her to contemplate the Holy Wounds, although it is said that she had received her first vision when only five years old.

 

1898; Secondo Pia’s 1898 negative of the image on the Shroud of Turin, used in the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.

 

1899 Saint Gemma Galgani reported a vision of Jesus after which she experienced recurring stigmata- she also reported further conversations with Jesus.

 

1910: The Franciscan Italian priest Saint Pio of Pietrelcina reported visions of both Jesus and Mary as early as 1910.

1923: SISTER JOSEFA MENENDEZ
From 1919 to 1923 when she died, Sister Menendez received apparitions of Jesus]

 

.

1931 Saint Faustina Kowalska reported visions of a conversation with Jesus when she was a Polish nun.

 

1936: Blessed Maria Pierina De Micheli.

On the first Friday in Lent 1936,

_____________

Can anyone share a story about a time when they saw Jesus — ?

Dream

Art

Music

Vision ?

Special Services

Camp

Revival

Hospital

_________________

 

Colleague shared

After losing an adult son to an overdose –

Riding motorcycle – angry

Jesus appeared behind him on his cycle –

____________________

The strange case of Debbie Cain, a woman who was declared dead, has doctors intrigued.

The woman was unconscious and her heart stopped during appendectomy surgery.

She explained that she had been in heaven:

“I started to feel a great love from within.

I was warm and I saw a bright light that began to clean everything.

I saw Jesus there.

He looked at me and without saying a word, he spoke to me and said:

´Not now my child´.

I can´t remember anything else and then I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit”,

explained Debbie.

 

Debbie explains that before her supernatural experience, she was not a religious person,

but now she is certain that God does exist.

 

An encounter with Jesus:

  1. Will often not be what we expected
  2. Addresses questions we didn’t know needed answers
  3. Reveals the gross parts of us
  4. Gets to the true heart of the issue
  5. Sends us out to tell others about Him

 

One theologian says there are three ways of seeing Jesus…

  1. Jesus is alive in the word – the Gospel stories and the living tradition of our church.
  2. We meet Jesus in Baptism and our weekly Communion.
  3. We meet Jesus in our loving service to those in need, those who live on the periphery of society.

What does Jesus look like – how will we know when we see him?

Regardless of how someone looks or lives… we are looking into the eyes of Jesus – who comes to us in many faces and many places…

When we look into the face of someone caught up in addiction – Jesus is there

When we look into the eyes of a man who has committed horrible crimes… Jesus is there.

The writer of Matthew records Jesus saying

Matthew 25:36-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

When we see Jesus, we finally understand what the love of God can do for all of us

Elder Schedule​2018​

​Bread​Cup

April
1    ​Teresa​        Debbie
8​     Gwen​​         Patt
15  ​Bev​             Jonathan
22​  Vanessa​   Patt
29​  Teresa​       Liz

May
6   ​Patt​               Debbie
13  ​Jonathan​  Vanessa
20​  Gwen          ​​Liz
27​  Teresa​       Bev

June
3​  Vanessa      ​Gwen
10​  Debbie​     Bev
17  ​Teresa​      Jonathan
24   ​Liz​             Patt

July
1​   Teresa​        Vanessa
8   ​Bev               ​Gwen
15​  Debbie      ​Liz
22​ Jonathan  ​Patt
29​  Liz​               Vanessa

 

August
5​     Patt​               Gwen
12  ​Vanessa​      Bev
19​   Teresa​        Debbie
26​    Liz​               Jonathan

September
2​    Gwen            ​​Debbie
9​    Bev​                 Liz
16​ Jonathan    ​Vanessa
23​  Teresa        ​Patt
30​  Debbie      ​Jonathan

October
7  Vanessa​        Bev
14​ Teresa​         Gwen
21  ​Patt              ​Debbie
28​  Liz​                 Jonathan

November
4​​  Patt​                Bev​
11 ​Teresa​       Vanessa
18​  Jonathan​  Gwen
25​  Debbie​       Liz

December
2​   Gwen        ​  Bev​
9​    Vanessa​   Debbie
16  ​Gwen        ​Liz
23   ​Bev          ​Jonathan
30​  Teresa    ​Patt

January 2019
6     ​Liz​                Vanessa
13​ Jonathan​   Bev

Elder Schedule​2018​

​           Bread​        Cup
January
7​      Gwen​​      Jonathan
14​   Debbie​   Vanessa
21​   Patt          ​Bev
28​   Teresa​    Liz

February
4​    Jonathan    ​Debbie
11​  Bev               ​Liz
18​  Teresa​        Gwen
25​   Vanessa​   Patt

March
4​    Debbie​      Gwen
11​  Teresa      ​Bev
18​   Liz​​             Vanessa
25​  Patt          ​Jonathan

April
1​   Teresa​      Debbie
8​   Gwenv  ​​Patt
15​Bev​Jonathan
22​Vanessa​Patt
29​Teresa​Liz

May
6​Patt​Debbie
13​Jonathan​Vanessa
20​Gwen​​Liz
27​Teresa​Bev

June
3​Vanessa​Gwen
10​Debbie​Bev
17​Teresa​Jonathan
24​Liz​Patt

July
1​Teresa​Vanessa
8​Bev​Gwen
15​Debbie​Liz
22​Jonathan​Patt
29​Liz​Vanessa

Elder Schedule​2018​​pg 2

​Bread​Cup

August
5​Patt​Gwen
12​Vanessa​Bev
19​Teresa​Debbie
26​Liz​Jonathan

September
2​Gwen​​Debbie
9​Bev​Liz
16​Jonathan​Vanessa
23​Teresa​Patt
30​Debbie​Jonathan

October
7​Vanessa​Bev
14​Teresa​Gwen
21​Patt​Debbie
28​Liz​Jonathan

November
4​​Patt​Bev​
11​Teresa​Vanessa
18​Jonathan​Gwen
25​Debbie​Liz

December
2​Gwen​Bev​
9​Vanessa​Debbie
16​Gwen​Liz
23​Bev​Jonathan
30​Teresa​Patt

January 2019
6​Liz​Vanessa
13​Jonathan​Bev

From the Pulpit February 10 2018

The story of Jonah is a great metaphor about a God of second chances. Jonah did not want to do what God instructed and warn the Ninevites to change their ways or be destroyed. The Ninevites were one of Israel’s greatest enemies, and known for their cruelty, so Jonah preferred God destroy them.

Jonah ran away and boarded a boat. When the storms raged, the crew believed the storms were because of Jonah and tossed him overboard, and then a huge fish swallowed Jonah. For three days, Jonah was in the fish, and praying for rescue. Then the fish spit Jonah out on the shore.

Jonah returned to do what God originally told him to do. He went into Nineveh and told them that they had to change their ways or God would destroy them. To Jonah’s surprise, the Ninevites listened and changed their ways. Jonah was really upset now, because he knew God would have mercy and not destroy his enemies.

JONAH did not understand why God would give the Ninevites a second chance – when they didn’t ask for one, nor deserve one.

He also didn’t recognize that he, himself, had received the same grace when God gave him a second chance after running away, and when Jonah didn’t ask for one either.

There are several people given a second chance to do what God called them to do:

Moses killed a man; God called Moses to lead the       Children of Israel out of bondage.

Peter denied Jesus three times; God used Peter at             Pentecost.

Paul tortured and executed those who followed    Jesus; Paul was transformed on the Road to      Damascus; God called Paul to be the Apostle to the      Gentiles.

We walk with a God of second chances, grace, and            mercy. One who forgives us even when we fail to             ask for forgiveness, and one who continues to call   and use those who return to him. That is Good News.