Category Archives: Calendar

“All Means ALL”

Luke 14:15-24  (NIV)

The Parable of the Great Banquet

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Matthew 14:13-21  (NIV)

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

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Homily     “ALL means ALL”

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus’ name to be a realization of the vision of God’s feast for all peoples.

On the slip of paper –

Please list the 11 people you would invite to your last meal –

Living or Dead – (and not in this room)

Eleven people who you would want to spend the last hours of your life with at a meal.

Then

Add the name of the person you would NEVER invite  — you can just put initials if you fear someone seeing your response.

______________________

Now, hold onto that paper and look at it again later –

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As Disciples of Christ… our identity statement says:

DOC IDENTITY

We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.

As part of the one body of Christ,

we welcome all to the Lord’s Table

as God has welcomed us.

Each week when I offer a communion meditation and invitation – it is not I who is inviting, I am merely passing along the message that we are ALL invited by God.

It is up to us to answer – we have a choice to accept or decline —

But ALL are invited.

Frederick Buechner

 “The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” 

CLOSED COMMUNION

conclusion

The Orthodox Christian Church, like Her Lord, is not an imaginary and invisible abstraction.

The tradition of any church is concrete and visible, expressed throughout history by real people in a tangible continuum of faith and practice (whether for 2,000 years or two years).

Like the Holy Trinity, the Church is a community, a real communion expressed and embodied by a shared faith and way of life.

ORTHODOX

The maintenance of real communion necessitates borders and boundaries, both doctrinal and disciplinary.

If a church is to be faithful to its own tradition, the door will be opened to some things and closed to others.

But it is how we understand CLOSED and OPEN –

practice of CLOSED communion –

is believed by that tradition to ACTUALLY be OPEN to ALL –

but the ALL actually means those who formally embrace the traditions beliefs and unite themselves to it.

OPEN to those who conform…

CLOSED to those who do not…

A door that is always open is not a door any more.

Certainly true of the Orthodox Church.

Some idea that limiting entrance enhances the significance –

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Illustration:

A pastor once shared this story…

He said:

He told of going                                        to his mother’s hair dresser for a hair cut.

After talking to her he             thought she had some interest in knowing more about God.

He told his             mother that he thought she               wanted to know about God.   

                 His mother responded:                         

“No way! She is on her fifth   husband and is living in sin.”              

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John said: “Mom the next                      time you get your hair done                    at the beauty salon ask her                   if she is interested in                     spiritual things?

The next time she went to                   have her hair done she prayed            in her heart as she was taking            a seat in the beauty shop chair.  

        “God you know I don’t want to talk to her about her faith because she’s not the kind of person I want to associate with.                                       If you want me to talk to her then have her ask me first.”

The first thing the beauty operator said when she approached was,

“I understand you and your  husband have a Bible study.               Do you mind if I come sometime?”

She said that her mother was Jewish and her father a Roman Catholic.

Her mother made her go to the synagogue on Saturday and when she came home her dad made her take the rosary and make confession of her sin.

She grew up confused and turned to alcohol for comfort and she could drink with the best of them.

To get help she went to AA meetings but could not think of her “higher power” as God so she called her “higher power” Ralph.

At one of the AA meetings a guy came in half drunk. He stood up and said; “My name is Ralph and I’m an alcoholic.”

The hair dresser said at that point in her life she wanted to know            the true God.

She and her husband started attending the bible study of John’s parents.

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ILLUSTRATIONS

The Pharisees could not understand why the common people, outcasts of society followed Jesus who claimed to be a Rabbi and Teacher. The kind of people Jesus ate with and fellowshipped with would not be tolerated in their homes.

Jesus did not go along with the Jewish customs of His day.

He invited all to His Table. There is room for all at God’s Table.

When feeding the 5000, Jesus did hot single out who could or could not share in the meal.

This was in direct contrast to the Pharisees who believed that only certain people are welcome at God’s Table.

That is how most traditions viewed communion until recently –

Only children of members of a tradition would be baptized –

Only those who were members could partake in the meal –

Everyone was welcome… as long as they had joined the family…

In my childhood tradition, we celebrated Communion only 4 times a year…

Prior to serving – the minister made it clear that this table was for members of our church ONLY… baptized into the faith, and members of our particular church.

Last fall the Chaplain Residents were participating in a Celebration Mass, and before the Eucharist, each was told NOT to participate in the bread and wine unless they were Catholic.

Not only were they not invited… they were individually excluded…

Does this fulfill our understanding of God’s mission for t he world…

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Tony Campolo Throws a Party for a Prostitute

In his book The Kingdom of God Is a Party, Tony Campolo relates an experience he had late one night in Hawaii.

Up a side street I found a little place that was still open. I went in, took a seat on one of the stools at the counter, and waited to be served. This was one of those sleazy places that deserves the name, “greasy spoon.” I did not even touch the menu. I was afraid that if I opened the thing something gruesome would crawl out. But it was the only place I could find.

The fat guy behind the counter came over and asked me, “What d’ya want?”

I said I wanted a cup of coffee and a donut.

He poured a cup of coffee, wiped his grimy hand on his smudged apron, and then he grabbed a donut off the shelf behind him. I’m a realist. I know that in the back room of that restaurant, donuts are probably dropped on the floor and kicked around. But when everything is out front where I could see it, I really would have appreciated it if he had used a pair of tongs and placed the donut on some wax paper.

As I sat there munching on my donut and sipping my coffee at 3:30 in the morning, the door of the diner suddenly swung open and, to my discomfort, in marched eight or nine provocative and boisterous prostitutes.

It was a small place, and they sat on either side of me.

Their talk was loud and crude. I felt completely out of place and was just about to make my getaway when I overheard the woman beside me say, “Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m going to be 39.”

Her “friend” responded in a nasty tone, “So what do you want from me? A birthday party? What do you want? Ya want me to get you a cake and sing ‘Happy Birthday’?”

“Come on,” said the woman sitting next to me. “Why do you have to be so mean? I was just telling you, that’s all. Why do you have to put me down? I was just telling you it was my birthday. I don’t want anything from you. I mean, why should you give me a birthday party? I’ve never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?”

When I heard that, I made a decision. I sat and waited until the women had left. Then I called over the fat guy behind the counter, and I asked him, “Do they come in here every night?”

“Yeah!” he answered.

“The one right next to me, does she come here every night?”

“Yeah!” he said. “That’s Agnes.     Yeah, she comes in here every     night. Why d’ya wanta know?”

“Because I heard her say that tomorrow is her birthday,” I told him. “What do you say you and I do something about that?       What do you think about us throwing a      birthday party for her—right here—     tomorrow night?”

A cute smile slowly crossed his chubby cheeks, and he answered with measured delight, “That’s great! I like it! That’s a great idea!”

Calling to his wife, who did the cooking in the back room, he shouted,                        “Hey! Come out here! This guy’s got a great idea. Tomorrow’s Agnes’s birthday.

This guy wants us to go in with him and throw a birthday party for her—right here—tomorrow night!”

His wife came out of the back room all bright and smiley. She said, “That’s wonderful! You know Agnes is one of those people who is really nice and kind, and nobody does anything nice and kind for her.”

“Look,” I told them, “if it’s okay with you, I’ll get back here tomorrow morning about 2:30 and decorate the place. I’ll even get a birthday cake!”

“No way,” said Harry (that was his name). “The birthday cake’s my thing. I’ll make the cake.”

At 2:30 the next morning, I was back      at the diner. I had picked up some    crepe-paper decorations at the store and had made a sign out of big pieces of    cardboard that read, “Happy Birthday, Agnes!”

I decorated the diner from one end to the other. I had that diner looking good.

The woman who did the cooking must have gotten the word out on the street, because by 3:15 every prostitute in Honolulu was in the place.

It was wall-to-wall prostitutes…and me!

At 3:30 on the dot, the door of the diner swung open, and in came Agnes and her friend.

I had everybody ready (after all, I was kind of the M.C. of the affair) and when they came in we all screamed, “Happy birthday!”

Never have I seen a person so flabbergasted…so stunned…so shaken. Her mouth fell open. Her legs seemed to buckle a bit. Her friend grabbed her arm to steady her.

As she was led to sit on one of the stools along the counter, we all sang “Happy Birthday”‘ to her.

As we came to the end of our singing with “happy birthday, dear Agnes, happy birthday to you,” her eyes moistened. Then, when the birthday cake with all the candles on it was carried out, she lost it and just openly cried.

Harry gruffly mumbled, “Blow out the candles, Agnes! Come on! Blow out the candles! If you don’t blow out the candles, I’m gonna hafta blow out the candles.”

 And, after an endless few seconds,      he did.

Then he handed her a knife and told her,

“Cut the cake, Agnes. Yo, Agnes,   we all want some cake.”

Agnes looked down at the cake. Then without taking her eyes off it, she slowly and softly said,

 “Look, Harry, is it all right with you if I…I mean is it okay if I kind of…

what I want to ask you is…is it O.K. if I keep the cake a little while?

 I mean, is it all right if we don’t eat it    right away?”

Harry shrugged and answered,

“Sure! It’s O.K. If you want to keep the cake, keep the cake.

Take it home, if you want to.”

“Can I?” she asked. Then, looking at me, she said, “I live just down the street a couple of doors. I want to take the cake home, okay?       I’ll be right back. Honest!”

She got off the stool, picked up the cake, and carrying it like it was the Holy Grail, walked slowly toward the door.

As we all just stood there motionless, she left.

When the door closed, there was a stunned silence in the place. Not knowing what else to do, I broke the silence by saying,

“What do you say we pray?”

Looking back on it now, it seems more than strange for a sociologist to be leading a prayer meeting with a bunch of prostitutes in a diner in Honolulu at 3:30 in the morning.

But then it just felt like the right thing to do. I prayed for Agnes. I prayed for her salvation. I prayed that her life would be changed and that God would be good to her.

When I finished, Harry leaned over the counter and with a trace of hostility in his voice, he said,

 “Hey! You never told me you were a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to?”

In one of those moments when just the right words came, I answered,

 “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for whores at 3:30 in the morning.”

Harry waited a moment and then almost sneered as he answered, “No you don’t. There’s no church like that.

If there was, I’d join it. I’d join a church like that!”

Wouldn’t we all? Wouldn’t we all like to join a church that throws birthday parties for whores at 3:30 in the morning?

Well, that’s the kind of church that Jesus came to create!

Jesus changed the game –

He did not fall in line – and follow the status quo  —

He came to remind us of God’s vision for the world… unity – love — equality — harmony — peace —

At his table – he had 12 disciples to share the meal….. but none of them qualified to be called faithful…

1 betrayed him

1 denied him three times

The rest ran away and abandoned him

But he invited them to dine with him any way. They were welcome in spite of how much or how little faith they had.

They didn’t meet the standards – but were welcome anyway…

We can’t claim to be worthy to sit at this table… but we are invited and welcome.

Scholars like Borg and Crossan consider the stories of Jesus’ open tables to be the most powerful and influential examples of God’s love for ALL people.

Jesus dined with Zacchaeus – a tax collector

He dined with Levi – another tax collector  and invited him to come and follow him.

Jesus dined with Simon – of elite social status, when a woman of lowly status crashed the dinner and anointed his feet. He welcomed her, when his host wanted her removed.

Feeding the 5000 was not his responsibility – these were people from ALL backgrounds – women and childrens who had no status

His tables had no seat of honor…no hierarchy – and no limit. All were invited and all were welcome.

WE are not just celebrating the last meal when we come to the table – we are celebrating ALL the meals…

because Jesus as Borg says, “One of Jesus’ most characteristic activities was an OPEN and INCLUSIVE table.”

John Dominic Crossan writes that Jesus’ open table fellowship is a core teaching component and symbol of his life.

It is a view of absolute equality of people that denies the validity of any discrimination between them.

When we come to the table, we are living out an expression of God’s love –

In sharing the bread and cup unconditionally – as God’s love is shared unconditionally –

And for ALL  —

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

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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. ~

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

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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…

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

Homily – Jesus Condones Weed

Matthew 13:24-43

24He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

After telling two other parables…. He has to explain the first one…

 

36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart           be acceptable to you, O God           my rock and my liberator. Psalm 19:14

 

 

 

HOMILY –                                JESUS CONDONES WEED

 

Pericope –

  • Weeds sown with Seeds
  • Malicious vandalism of crop
  • Hopes of choking out crop

 

The actual weed Jesus spoke of was a ryegrass called “darnell.”

  • In its early stages it resembles wheat;
  • but instead of bearing fruit,it’s poisonous.
  • So not only is darnell useless, it’s toxic as

TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION –

Metaphor

God – sower of Seeds –                             Good people

Devil –sower of Weeds –                            evil people

In the END

God sorts out the good                         from the bad…                    takes Good into the kingdom                 and sends bad in the flames

BUT, I ASK THAT WE LOOK AT THIS PARABLE WITH A DIFFERENT LENS…

CHARACTERS IN THE STORY

SEEDS represent ?

 

WEEDS represent ?

Seeds –                                                                                                                                          those trying to do God’s  will/Follow Christ

Weeds –                                                                                                                                              those struggling with God’s will/Christ

 

Seeds –      Facts

Weeds –     Lies

 

Seeds –      Truth

Weeds –     Untruth

 

Seeds –      Accurate News Coverage

Weeds –     Fake News Stories

 

At one time or another – we have found ourselves surrounded by WEEDS…

GOSSIP?

Mildred, the small town gossip and self-appointed monitor of church morals, was always one to stick nose into other people’s business.

Most members of the congregation did not approve of her intrusions, but she was feared, so all maintained their silence.

She took that fatal step too far one day, when she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the small town’s only bar all afternoon.

She emphatically told Frank (in front of several others) that EVERYONE SEEING THAT PICKUP THERE WOULD KNOW WHAT HE WAS DOING !

Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment then just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing.

Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house, walked home ….and left it there all night.

 

LIES/RUMORS

These weeds are the hardest.

We want to stop the spread –

But rumors/lies cannot be stopped –

We must spread the truth just as quickly… then let it go

Often we have to live with the lies/rumors – until the day the truth comes to light….

 

FAKE NEWS

Although it has always existed…

Now it has a proper name

AND a perfect disguise.

Fake news is frustrating, infuriating

 

For many – we want to take it upon ourselves                                                 to jump on the lies/fake news and WEED them OUT –

Shout out contradictions and

Root out the truth…

In this parable – what is Jesus trying to convey?

Jesus seems to be saying that God’s Answer to Problem – is to do nothing —

Let the lies,                                                                                                                           untruths,                                                                                                                                     fake news                                                                                                                            rumors  continue to circulate –

 

Go On about your life… live it according to God’s will –

 

Racing in to refute a lie only     keeps  the lie center stage…

Once the story is out there…    an immediate  correction   rarely repairs the damage

Stirring up the mud…

The lies begin to muddy the water – but then when we respond trying to refute the lies, we stir the water more and more mud gets into the mix…

Jesus says —  wait – don’t act now… let the mud settle and THEN the truth will appear…

Don’t’ spend all of our time trying to fight the lies, and nothing else gets done…

_______________

Jesus wants to get across to the disciples that attempting to pull out the weeds before harvest will only result in pulling out the wheat as well….

God wants us to Wait –

In the end, the lies and the       truth will be sorted out …

BUT

BUT

BUT

This means we have to allow the lies to continue to live and grow –

Until God moves in….               Letting God handle it…

Trusting God to bring the                truth into the light

And send the lies into flames

ILLUSTRATIONS,

There was a church in which the minister asked the people to imagine what would happen if they adopted a policy of weed-pulling,

if they drew a circle around their little town of Wingate, North Carolina, and made a vow that no evil would cross that line,

that no weeds would grow within that border.

The minister said,

“You know, you and I could spend the rest of our lives protecting that boundary,

standing shoulder to shoulder with pitchforks and clubs, making sure that we kept drugs and alcohol and pornography and gambling safely on the other side.

I think it would take all of our energy and most of our time.

But what if we did it?

What if we succeeded?

What would we have?

We would have a town characterized by the absence of evil,

which is not the same as a town characterized by the presence of good.

And maybe this is what Jesus was talking about all along,

that it’s better to have a wheat field with weeds in it than a field with nothing in it at all.

We also have to understand that what is a plant to one may be a weed to another…

I am sure I have one of the healthiest WEEDS growing in my back yard…who knows… I am not deciding…

The same goes for some people around us we may see as weeds, who AREN’T –

Transgender      Illegal Aliens      Muslims      Homeless                      Mentally Challenged

A man wrote about someone he viewed as a WEED…

He said:

One of the best Christians I’ve ever known was a Roman Catholic who cursed and smoked and had a heart as big as the Gulf of Mexico.

She was not the kind of person you would find serving punch in the church fellowship hall.

But she started the shelter movement in Atlanta.

I remember when she stopped a knife fight at our night shelter by walking calmly between two combatants and saying,

“You guys know better than  this.”

And that was the end of that.

When one of our homeless friends died on the street,                                she claimed his body,   paid for the cremation, and waited for someone- friend or family-to come.

No one ever came.                   She drove around for weeks with his ashes in the backseat  of her car.

Finally, she asked the rector of a downtown Episcopal church                      if the ashes could be placed  in the church’s memorial                garden.

He said:

“Our policies will allow only the remains of relatives to be placed here,”

“Perfect,” she said.     “Jesse was my brother.”

It’s often hard to tell who is wheat and who is weed.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am wheat                                     and sometimes I am weed,

Often, I can’t tell when I am being either…

Pray with me –

Homily – Numbers Don’t Always Count

Luke 10:1-20                                    (MSG)

10 1-2 Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge:

“What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.

3 “On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack.

4 “Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage.

“Don’t loiter and make small talk with everyone you meet along the way.

5-6 “When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.

7 “Stay at one home, taking your meals there, for a worker deserves three square meals. Don’t move from house to house, looking for the best cook in town.

8-9 “When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!’

10-12 “When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say, ‘The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we’re giving it back. Did you have any idea that God’s kingdom was right on your doorstep?’ Sodom will have it better on Judgment Day than the town that rejects you.

13-14 “Doom, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had been given half the chances given you, they’d have been on their knees long ago, repenting and crying for mercy. Tyre and Sidon will have it easy on Judgment Day compared to you.

15 “And you, Capernaum! Do you think you’re about to be promoted to heaven? Think again. You’re on a mudslide to hell.

16 “The one who listens to you, listens to me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And rejecting me is the same as rejecting God, who sent me.”

17 The seventy came back triumphant. “Master, even the demons danced to your tune!”

18-20 Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

 

 

HOMILY

 

When I first knew that God was calling me to this church… I began disassembling our house and packing boxes. I packed boxes every day for three months and stacked them in the garage. Even with yard sale, many late night runs to various dumpsters, and trips to Good Will… I still had filled a large two car garage and stacked two and three boxes high.

I thought, for two people who had accumulated a lifetime of stuff… this wasn’t too bad —

Until the day the semi-trailer truck pulled into our little cul-de-sac for the move. The driver walked through the house and began putting yellow tags with numbers on everything….

Before he had come close to finishing… he said Oh, Oh..

Apparently the company contracted to estimate the load had been inaccurate… by 4000 pounds… (remember the estimate was made BEFORE sorting, selling, throwing and donating.

I asked if there was a problem, and he said there was. The estimate was for only ¾ of the trailer… and he was to pick up two more loads in route to Nebraska…He had to call his office in Michigan to have another truck sent for the other loads. I still could not believe our stuff would take up that much space in a semi-trailer…

Well, after eight hours of five men and two dollies loading the trailer to within inches of the roof… and front to back— they got it all loaded — but barely. And we didn’t bring washer and dryer or refrigerator. After preparing for this move – literally handling every possession we have… then packing the truck… I can now understand why it was that Jesus suggested to his followers that we ‘carry no purse, no bag, no sandals’….

Jesus understood how belongings can be a burden – how possessions divide our attention–how things divert our focus –how stuff can prevent progress

Jesus then sent these followers out in pairs, rather than one by one…We are not given his reasoning for this,        Maybe Jesus thought it was more   effective to send his followers out in               pairs sharing diverse gifts.

They would be accountable to one another, They would be encouragement for one another, They would be safer traveling in pairs.  But who were these followers?

Scripture just states that Jesus appointed seventy others…Not priests… not prophets… not scholars… not royalty…

OTHERS…..

Others sent to share God’s peace – cure the sick – cast out demons – and share God’s love..Contrary to popular belief these acts do not require professional religious leaders – to perform these acts requires trust in God’s reign. Sending out ordinary people shows us that everyone is called into God’s ministry….and can carry out that ministry in any number of ways.

Flannel blankets cut and tied are a ministry to children through Linus Project – and to those at the end of life in the hospital.

Some of these are tied by young people with mental illness; older people who still wish to contribute and everyone in between.        Taking turns to serve breakfast to the homeless.                                   Collecting household items for refugees                                                                Distributing necessities to panhandlers                                                       Picking up the tab for groceries for a struggling family.                  Collecting eye glasses for the poor                                                               Giving rides to dr appts                                                                                              Hospice House volunteer – ministry was to go room to room and clean the resident’s glasses.

These are ministries – that do not require professional training –Theological research  Special skills    Or money….Just time — and a desire to be part of God’s ministry…

The followers were sent out empty handed –

Another reason for this might have been so that these followers ministry to others would require them to depend on relationships to survive…It required them to help others learn to help themselves, rather than supplying for their need—or fixing the problem….

Is this story a good example of a successful ministry?                                   It was seventy ordinary people – untrained – unskilled and sent out in pairs       When it comes to having a successful ministry- it may not look like what we would expect –When the seventy returned excited at their ‘success’, Jesus reminded them that their success was because of him… and not they themselves…

Often, ministers measure the ‘successes of their ministry by the numbers in the pews… by the money in the plate                                         If that is a legitimate way of measuring… then many churches are very UNSUCCESSFUL…

FACEBOOK   Modern Religion Focuses on Filling Churches with People. The True Gospel Emphasizes Filling People With God.(www.revivial-library.com)

Jesus taught us to be more concerned with the health of the community not the size of it. Jesus knew the difference between CROWDS and followers…One who reads the gospel of Matthew       quickly realizes there is a real difference between crowds and         disciples.

So, it may be that the message we have here is                                           The health of a church is not based                                                                        upon the number of people who attend.

But whether the church is producing disciples.

So when we worry about church growth —Remember – we are healthy and successful  Because

We are more concerned with growing disciples than numbers!

Ministerting to Refugees / Homeless

Refugee

Karen and Jane – Shopping for household items to                                        assist refugee families

Open Door Missions - Serving Breakfast - July 8, 2016

Breakfast Queens – Rev. Susan, Peggy and Debbie                                         serving pancakes at Open Door Mission

Open Door 2

Peanut Butter Patt brightening someone’s day                                             at Open Door Mission.

Open Door 3

Helping Hands at Open Door Mission Breakfast                                            – Peggy, Barb, Patt and Debbie