Category Archives: Homilies – Sermons

Seeing is Believing

PASTORAL PRAYER

Creator God,

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

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

We are becoming calloused to the shootings and dying.

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

But Mystic Spirit, show us what to do…

Point us in the direction to begin changing the hatred –

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

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

Give us the strength to stand against the haters

Give us words that will de escalate  violence

Give us the opportunities to show love

And know that anything is possible with you.

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

 

 

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

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

The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus

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

HOMILY

 

BLINDNESS

Darkness of a cave

Night Light

Street Lights

Car Head Lights

 

 

FAITH has made you well.

Faith is seeing

Illumination

Seeing clearly

Awareness

 

Open our eyes to the world around us

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

____

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

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

1 in 12 men

1 in 200 women

_______________________________

Seeing is Believing?

Believing is seeing…

_______

Bartimaeus

Not common to use name of person being healed

Possible reason for naming

Healing impacted him so much

that his telling of it impacted        Jesus’ ministry

Name could be historically validated

 

NAME – MEANING

Bartimaeus

Bar = son of

Timaeus

________

Family used to be financially well off

Then became poor

Bartimaeus

Unable to work – begged

Looked upon as unclean by society

Physical ills = result of bad behavior

________

Bartimaeus

Not sure how he learned of Jesus

Decided he must talk to Jesus

Represents those who are outside of Jesus — lost — searching

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

He had to get Jesus’ attention

Break through the sounds of the crowd

Called Jesus SON OF DAVID

Acknowledged Jesus’ Royal Lineage

Asked for Mercy

Actions are proof of Bartimaeus’ faith

Persistence/   Recognized/   Called on

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

SAW JESUS WHEN OTHERS COULD NOT

Ironic –

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

  • Called on – Went to Jesus for mercy

 

Prayer   Jesus Son of David,Have Mercy on Me

Short   Specific    Full of Faith

Life Changed Direction

___

This story is all of our stories —

 

Life goes along and we are oblivious

Then realize our blindness

We assume we are not worthy

Try to find healing

Find Jesus’ teachings

Eyes are opened…

 

Vision clears

Spiritual blindness is healed.

 

Jesus told him that his faith had healed him….

 

 

Let’s go Back to Bartimaeus’ name

We know Bar is son

Timaeus – father’s name

Son of Timaeus

But there is more –

Timaeus = Defiled/unclean -ARAMIC

Timai =      HONOR           – GREEK

 

So Bartimaeus was both

A person who was Unclean and

A person of honor

___

Like most people

We have good and not so good parts

 

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

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

But Jesus

Saw his good part – his worth –

What his culture saw as unworthy

Jesus saw was worthy…

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

 

It was FAITH that opened his eyes —

Often we need to SEE to BELIEVE

And Jesus tells us to turn that around

 

We must BELIEVE to SEE –

Our FAITH is what puts our lives in focus –

 

Hebrews tell us

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

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

We have to back up and look again…

 

OPTICAL ILLUSIONS    Jesus on bulletin

Everyday we have the opportunity to see clearer –

Being informed

Being aware

Being receptive

Being OPEN

MAGIC EYE IMAGES

Bartimaeus was physically blind… yet he could see Jesus

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

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

Blind to loving one another

Blind to what it takes to be a follower

______

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

 

Blind Bartimaeus – Poem by Royston Allen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Based on Mark 10: 46-52

Syro-Phoenician Woman and Dogs September 9, 2018

Mark 7:24-37

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

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

 

Homily

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

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

DOGS  was a racial slur like

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

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

REALLY?    Did Jesus express bigotry?

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

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

She was risking her life… in so many words.

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

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

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

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

_______________

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

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

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

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

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

Male  Female Jew  Gentile  Young   old  Stranger Friend

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

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

Still Small Voice

1 Kings 19:1-15 (NRSV)

Elijah Flees from Jezebel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

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

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

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

15 Then the Lord said to him,

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

 

 Homily

 

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

What is it about silence that bothers us?

___________

At times –

Sound is a deflection – distraction

Other times

A filler –

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

Silence –                                                                                                                                   demands attention even more than sound

Illust   Classroom – everyone talking –                                                                           teacher whispers..

and                                                                                                     eventually there is quiet and attention.

Theatre-

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

Music –

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

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

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

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

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

Some call it bells…. Ringing…. Buzzing…

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

_________

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

Thoughts and memories we fear and avoid –

———-

Silence allows us to focus on ourselves – without distractions –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same with the          earthquake and the fire…

AND SUDDENLY—– SILENCE

Translated as “a light silent sound

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

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

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

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

Something huge –

 

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

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

 

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

Illustration=

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

The annual income in the Congo is approximately $387.00.

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

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

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

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

 

Laws, Lies and Liability

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

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

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

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

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

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

  HOMILY

LAWS LIES AND LIABILITY

 

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

 

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

We are deluged with TOO MUCH going on around us

Too much information

Too Much MISinformation

Who do we believe?

Who do we distrust?

What is real?

What is fake?

____________

THEN what are we to do about it?

Can we determine truth over fiction?

Can we continue to hear falsities until we take them as

truth?

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

____

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

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

and interpretations.

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

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

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

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

and He would not have been our Messiah.”

This statement caused a firestorm of conversations on

social media. Those who argued in concurrence with

Xxxxx xxxxx, and more who argued against her statements.

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

probably nothing would have happened.

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

THUS – listeners assume she has the educational credentials and

her statements are based in reflective theological study.

This is NOT the case with XXXXX XXXXX –

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

This is a solid example of questionable theology –

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

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

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

and meant to say WOULDN’T –

What are we to believe?

__________

One of the buzz words today is FAKE NEWS –

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

Or MISINFORMATION

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

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

As a former University Reference Librarian

I taught students how to research and be sure to use

Legitimate scholarly sources.

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

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

Information that can be downloaded by ANYONE –

READER BEWARE

but how do we know it is reliable?

This pertains to spiritual information too.

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

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

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

To better understand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information is power –

________________________

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

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

Her interpretation sounded right – but wasn’t…

Did Jesus break the law?

Was Jesus killed for breaking Roman law?

What laws did he break?

Healing on the Sabbath

Touched Leper

Conversed with women

Conversed with Gentile woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture warns us of false prophets —

1 John 4:1-6 NIV

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

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

Matthew 7:15-20 NIV

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

16 By their fruit you will recognize them.

_________________________________

Thanks be to God

God Provides – But Not Always How We ]Expect

Exodus 16:2-15  (NRSV)

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

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

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

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

 

 

Homily —

ILLUSTRATION

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————–

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

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

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

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

 

No one likes listening to complaint.

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

dismiss it as mere whining, or punish the complainant.

In contrast,

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

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

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

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

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

The book of Lamentations, the laments in Psalms give voice

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

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

JOB

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

 

JESUS

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

_________

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

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

 

All of us have known times of uncertainty and upheaval.

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

 

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

 

We often let our fears get the better of us…

and fear of the unknown can do it quite easily.

 

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

We overlook how bad it was,

 

and remember what might have been better than now…

 

Remember

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

 

BUT

The now and future are undecided…

Unknown…

Scary…

 

 

In our story today,

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

 

It is the early part of a new relationship –

 

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

 

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

Where was the food and drink to come from?

 

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

 

Because at least in bondage, they were assured food.

 

They fall into that thought –

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

 

Familiarity offers comfort – even in the direst situations…

 

But God heard their complaints – and   sent meat and bread

 

But only a day’s worth….

 

 

Give us this day our daily bread…and meat.

 

What was it that God wanted these people to learn?

 

What is it that God wants us to learn?

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

After the whining and complaining to          Moses and Aaron,

God pours manna from heaven,

And the people didn’t understand it..

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

 

Probably expected

Loaves of Rotella Bread

Or      Matza crackers

 

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

They did not recognize it was what they needed…

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

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

The word manna HEBREW means

What Is It?

When we talk about Manna from Heaven—

We are really saying –

WHAT IS IT? FROM HEAVEN

 

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

We miss the manna looking for the McMuffin?

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

SERMON ILLUSTRATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

And

Would provide only what was needed for that day –

“Give us this day, our daily bread”

__

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

Luke 12:24 

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

Of how much more value are you than the birds!

Disciples sent out

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

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

Their needs would be met, as their needs appeared.

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

God will ALWAYS provide!

_________________

 

 

 

Homily – Matthew 25: 31-46

Matthew 25: 31-46

The Sheep and the Goats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

As Matthew 25 makes clear,

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

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

 

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

but also to people whom you do not know.

 

Paul makes this clear when he writes

that in Christ,

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

 

Scripture is very CLEAR —

Welcome the stranger –                we are all of one body

But….for some scripture is not so clear —

________

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

Attny General Jeff Sessions –

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

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

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

“It is very biblical to enforce the law.”

 

 

Once again – cherry picking scripture to support the argument…

 

Romans 13 New International Version (NIV)

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

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

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

 

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

Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
PLUS-

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

 

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

 

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

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

__________

BUT –

The Bible is CRYSTAL clear on the principles of

WELCOMING THE STRANGER

There is NOTHING ambiguous about

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF

_

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

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

 

This lawyer wanted to nail down the definition of NEIGHBOR –

So he asked Jesus

So, who is my neighbor?

Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan…

Rarely is Leviticus  a source of inspiration,

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

Listen

Leviticus 19:33-34 (NIV)

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

The argument of immigration is not new…

It has existed since time began….

____________

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

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

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

 

___

By the way –

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

Of roofing houses in 100+ temperatures

Or hand plow and harvest vegetables from   the ground..

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

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

____

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

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

In a very simplistic summary of the article….

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

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

_________

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

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

_______

We are to welcome the stranger –

Even when it is inconvenient…

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

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

This is another reason

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

HOSPITAL

Trauma – hurt on the job

Fell off roof –                                    unable to speak language

Time to get interpreter can                        cause loss of life

Unable to comfort patient – effectively

Explain medical issues –               get important medical information –

Allergies

History

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

Coming here legally or not, is RISKY

Isolating

Dangerous

Scary

__________

My Master’s Thesis in 2009

Address scenario about

Immigrant family / cultural differences

Welcoming the stranger and their               beliefs

 

 

++++

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

 

Remember Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt

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

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

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

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

Welcome the Stranger –

Let us pray:

 

Immigration Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give us the strength to stand with and for

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

Let it begin with us.

 

 

Communion Meditation

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

WE reserve the right to refuse service to…

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

54 years is not really all that long ago…

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

Because of color

Location of church membership

Lack of baptism

________

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

Welcome the stranger/love your neighbor

Share the meal…

Homily Caring for God Genesis 1: 26-31

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

Genesis 1: 26-31 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Global Warming noun

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

 

Fracking noun

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

 

Strip Mining

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

Litter

Trash/waste just tossed aside anywhere –

An issue that has been debated since 1953…

1953 – 1970

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

Plastic

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

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

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

AREN’T PLASTIC STRAWS RECYCLABLE?

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

 

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

Storm Drains – lead to the ocean

WE NEED TO STOP MAKING PLASTIC STRAWS

—————————-

Styrofoam

trademarked brand of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam

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

EPS-eating worms[edit]

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

Air Pollution

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

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

______________

I WILL ONLY BE DISCUSSING THE USA TODAY

 

Why is this a Spiritual Issue?

What has garbage to do with our walk with God?

 

ONE ANSWER

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

 

God entrusted the care of creation to us

Plants    animals    air   water  earth

And let them have dominion over…” 

ANOTHER ANSWER

Pantheism

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

God is spiritual/divine                                                                                      Universe is spiritual/divine

 

What we do to the least of these…

Remember that from last week’s                  discussion of Immigration –

 

Loving one another

However we treat one another is                         how we treat God

 

 

Pantheism –

believing that God/Universe are the same

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

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

 

 

Genesis story

God created – said it was good

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

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

HOW are we doing?

Let’s take a look….

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

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

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

Anyhow, take a look.

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

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

 

22 billion: Plastic bottles thrown out yearly.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

$19:

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

3.4 million tons:

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

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

34.3 percent:

The amount of garbage that   Americans are now recycling yearly.

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

 

And let them have dominion over…”

 DOMINION                                      

Bible Translations  Many use Dominion

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

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

 DOMINION     – definitions include

Power, control, rule, control, superiority…

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

— control and power

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

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

To be responsible for

 to be in partnership with creation…

Protect preserve serve and love…

Scripture also uses the term SUBDUE –

 

____

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

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

Water – became a place to dump waste

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

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

ANIMALS –    meat eating – followed flood

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

Struggle with eating meat –

Was not original intention at creation

Animal Abuse –

Not seeing animals as living creatures

Abuse – scientific testing – neglect –

DOMINION — NOT DOMINATION

SUBDUE                                                          (calm, placate, soften, mollify)

to care – show compassion – protect

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

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

Burning bush

Parting of the sea

Nourishment from heaven/sky

 

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

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

Aren’t we also caring for God?

 

 

 

Communion Meditation

Jesus followed this theme of ONE WITH CREATION –

This bread and cup are my body and blood –

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

 

 

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.”

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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?

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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.

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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

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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

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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 –

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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