Saturday, February 25, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
February 22, 2012
Joel 2:12-17a CEB
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 CEB
As we enter this time of Lent, we remember that it is a time of self-reflection, a time when our hearts turn towards the journey to the cross, a time when we ponder on the gift that God so freely gives to you and to me…the gift of redemption and forgiveness wrapped in a cross on top of a hill from so long ago. As I reflect on my life and walk with God I am reminded by the reading from Joel that it is not the outside that God is concerned with, it is not my outward appearance but the appearance of my heart…how is it really with my soul. God is waiting for the day when all of His creation turns back to Him as He had planned for it to be from the very beginning.
There is sort of a Math having to do with Lent. There is a letting go…a subtraction of the things that bind us and there is a picking up of…an addition of the things and practices that bring us closer to God. It’s like packing for a trip…you see sometimes we pack too much for the journey…we get a little carried away with the just in case stuff that there is either no room for the important or we are so waited down that we are too tired for the journey. So…we decide to let go of what we feel we need to let go of but that in itself can be a problem. Let me read to you about some subtraction and addition…listen to what can happen if we get too much of this addition and subtraction math…the scripture is found in Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-21…
There is a danger of adding too much and we want to show how religious we are to those who are around us…all this addition and subtraction can make our heads explode…but then you have to add in the multiplying that we may feel we need to do…take on more projects, do more than our share of different new and improved things that will make us super Lenten warriors , and the like, only to wind up frustrated and overtired and not even sure what this whole Lent thing is about…It becomes all about us and what we do and less about what God did and continues to do…
How fitting it is that we begin our Lenten journey in ashes…the thought brings us back to the reality it’s not about us…Titus tells us that it is not by what we do that we are saved but by God’s grace we are redeemed. There may be reasons why we need to unpack or add in our spiritual life and that’s OK…as long as we don’t lose sight of what the Lenten journey is…it’s our journey of reflection and hope…it’s the road…our means of access…we travel to the destination at the end of our 40 day journey. The place where God showed His greatest compassion and mercy…the place where He gave His Son to die in our stead so that we may have life renewed and redeemed…the foot of the Cross of Calvary. It is good that we begin in ashes for it is by ashes we were made and to ashes we will return. Wednesday’s ashes…God transformed into the beauty of the cross for me and for you.
Forgiving God, full of compassion and redemption, as we enter this season of Lent we pray that we would emerge renewed by your Grace. As we search our lives and our hearts, help us to see the changes we need to make to walk closer to and with you. Create in us a clean heart, O Lord, and a steadfast Spirit within us so that we may be a light that shines in the darkness of the world in which we live. May we focus on the eternal and not the external things in our lives. Speak to us in new ways and may we have a new revelation of your love that was shown on the cross…the love that came down in the form of your Son, Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
February 12, 2012
Sixth Sunday of Epiphany
Worship Theme: God’s glory manifested in cleansing
2 Kings 5:1-14 NRSV Bible
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
As the days are getting longer with more light than dark, I am beginning to think more about spring and less about the winter. I am looking forward to when the flowers start blooming again, the warm weather starts becoming a reality instead of a thought and a more variety of birds start coming back to the bird feeders. I also am beginning to think about how it’s just about time to open the windows and getting rid of all that winter dust and getting that nice spring scent in the house. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to clean the house of all its winter doldrums an welcoming in the newness of spring… There’s something about a clean, fresh smelling house that just lifts my spirit. A new, fresh start…
At this same time of year I also think about my soul…does it need some cleaning, does it need to have the freshness restored to it? We can tend to get ourselves spiritually stale and need some type of renewed freshness in our spiritual life. The world around us is full of dirt and grime and sometimes this dirt and grime comes “under the door of our spirits” and makes it dull and lifeless instead of the luster and shine God intended it to have. But how, when and where can we find this healing…this cleansing that is so needed for our spirits?
In the 2 Kings Scripture from this morning, we heard about a man named Naaman. Now he was a big and important guy but he had one drawback that caused him to be an outcast. He had leprosy. Now Leprosy was a disease thought as a symbol of sin. We hear in the bible about Moses sisters Miriam being struck with leprosy by God because she plotted against Moses because of his marriage to an “outsider”. It was her punishment from God. But how was Naaman cleansed from this disease. It was through the waters…through the word of God given by Elisha who told him what to do. Reluctantly he followed this word to him and he was made clean. Through the water of God’s word…through baptism we are made clean. This is one way how we are cleansed…
In the 1 Corinthians we heard, we are told that our cleansed life demands discipline. We are to run the race with integrity and with purpose. We keep our spirits clean by following that discipline of running the race to win. I like how the Message Translation puts this scripture…
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
The Message (MSG)
You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
We need to run hard…run for the eternal not the things that fade away…stay alert and in top condition…The cleansed life demands discipline…the when in the equation, when we run the race that is set before us the way God would have us run, we can live with and in that cleansed life…
So…where do find that cleansing? I would like to read for you a story of cleansing…of Jesus’ healing touch. It is found in Mark chapter 1 verses 40-45. It is found on page 911 in the pew bible. Read along with me and hear the Good News…
(Read from Mark 1)
It was Jesus’ touch that healed this leper…It was the lepers faith and trust in Jesus that healed him…This man was told not to say anything to anyone…to go straight to the priest in the temple but this man could not keep quiet…this man needed to shout it from the roof tops…I have been healed by the touch of Jesus! I am no longer and outcast! I no longer ashamed! It was at the feet of Jesus I found healing and wholeness! Where do we find healing and wholeness…where are we cleansed? At the feet of Jesus…at the foot of the cross…in Holy Communion with Christ! Each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper…Communion…we are healed by the compassion and love of Christ…
It’s soul cleaning time. We are about to enter one of the most important times in the Christian life. We are about to enter the time of Lent…the time when Jesus completed His mission on earth…the time when we were made whole and cleansed by the foot of Calvary’s Cross. Last week, we talked about how life isn’t a bowl of cherries but we have hope…life is about coming up with those who are weak and being that healing balm for them…sharing the Good News with them. But we ourselves need to be made whole before we can help others who are broken. Beloved…are you in need of some soul cleaning…do you need to hear a word from God to be cleansed…is it time to “get back on track” and continue the race? My invitation to you and to me is this…come to the cross…come to Jesus’ feet and be healed. Then too we may be able to leap for joy and give the Lord a shout! We to can shout from the roof tops I have been healed by the touch of Jesus! I am no longer and outcast! I no longer ashamed! It was at the feet of Jesus I found healing and wholeness! Let us run with perseverance the race set before us…let us run as athletes for the prize…a prize not of this world but the next. Let us be the healing balm to the nations in Jesus’ name.
Bulletin for this Service:
*Centering Song: “Spirit Song” #347 UMH *Call to Worship:
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.
(Psalm 30:1-4 NRSV Bible)
*Hymn: “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy” #340 UMH
We praise you with joy, loving God, for your grace is better than life itself. You have sustained us through the darkness, and you bless us with life in this new day. In the shadow of your wings we sing for joy and bless your holy name. Amen.
(Worship & Song ©2006 Upper Room Books)
Old Testament Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-14 NRSV
“The Sharing Of Our Journey”
Concerns /Joy’s and Celebrations Invitation to silent prayer followed by Pastoral Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer (UMH #895), and Choral Response.
Special Music Suncook UMC Sacred Dancers
Epistle Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NRSV
Message for the Children
Invitation for Tithes and Offerings
Special Music Choir
*Doxology #95 UMH
*Prayer of Dedication (Unison)
Gracious and forgiving God, we long to be the disciples who give you our very best: our strongest witness, our mightiest efforts, and our first and best fruits. When we fall short, still you take what we make available and do great things! Bless what we offer now, fill it with your power so that lives may be touched, the world transformed, and your power and love be praised by all! We pray it in the name of Jesus, the Christ! Amen.
(GBOD 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
“Equipping the Saints”
Message Scripture: Mark 1:40-45 Pew Bible pg 911
Message: Soul Cleaning Time!
*Hymn: “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” #382 UMH
“Sending forth in Jesus’ Name”
*Musical Response: “Amen”
January 5, 2012
Fifth Sunday of Epiphany
Theme: Healing for suffering humanity
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
You know I hate picking up the paper or watching the news these days. There is so much pain and suffering in the world. There are people who are dying of hunger…people who are persecuted and killed for their convictions…random killings…natural disasters…it just breaks my heart seeing so many who have lost hope…who are so defeated by life that they just can’t go on. They feel they have nowhere to turn to find help and peace. What has happened to humanity?
Even though I really have a hard time with hearing all of this, I know that by hearing about it…it helps me to know what is going on in the world and who or what needs my prayers. That’s part of what we do as Christians, we pray for others who are in need. It also helps me understand where there is a need for ministry…places where I can get involved. Pain and suffering has been around for a long time. But there is a way to help that suffering in the world…to ease the pain of others…and that gives me hope. Life I hard…God never promised that we would never suffer…He only promised that we will not go through it alone…He would be there with us in our suffering…
There are so many types of suffering as well. There is personal suffering as we heard in the scripture from Job this morning. Job knew suffering…he didn’t realize why he was suffering…he knew that he was righteous. But through all of his suffering he never cursed God. He knew that his strength was found in God. Job knew that he couldn’t let go of the one thing he had…his God. But there are so many out there that don’t have this hope in the world…they don’t have this anchor to hold on to in the rough times…in those times of pain and suffering in their lives. What a disaster it is for them…not to have hope for tomorrow…
There is pain and suffering that is caused by others. The pain of a loved one not being as “loving” as they should…the pain caused by others greed…the pain caused by others callousness…the pain can go deep but in the depths of that pain we can find the One who wishes us only good…the One who accepts us as we are…the one who has a great plan for our lives…the One waiting there to wipe away all our tears…our Rock and Fortress…our God and King. But we can help others in their misery and suffering. As Paul stated in the Corinthians scripture, we can come up next to others in their suffering…we can help them through their suffering…we can walk with them in their pain and help them find the One thing that can help them…the One thing they can hold fast to at all times. We can bring them to the foot of Calvary where they can find peace, love, joy and hope; even in their suffering…they don’t have to walk alone!
Jesus knew about the suffering of humanity. There are many stories in the bible about Jesus’ compassion. One story in the bible talks about how He felt…shows His compassion…gives us direction on what we can do. It is found in Mark 1 verses 29-39…read along to read first hand this account of His compassion. It is found on page…in the pew bible…
(Read Mark 1:29-39)
He felt their pain…He had compassion for humanity. He healed many and we too can help heal many. If we, as Christians, are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps we need to be involved in the lives of those who suffer…Jesus didn’t stay away…He dove right in to help.
This morning we are celebrating Scouting Sunday…we are celebrating the courage and determination of these young and older peoples conviction to make a difference. I love the Scouts “One My Honor” pledge…they pledge to:
1. Do my best to do my duty to God and my country.
2. To obey the Scout Law—and the Law is this: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
3. to help other people at other times
4. To keep myself mentally awake.
5. To keep myself morally straight.
And a child shall lead them. Humanity can learn a lot from these children and their leaders and mentors.
Church…Beloved sons and daughters…life really isn’t a bowl of cherries…you know it, I know it, the world knows it too…but…we too need to be that healing balm in society…to be leaders in the world…leading humanity to the only One who can really heal make humanity whole…leading humanity to our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Let us all join in the game of follow the leader and follow the path of compassion and love our Savior leads. We talked about authority last week and how we have been given authority through God…how will you and I use that authority to bring healing and wholeness…? We need to get our heads in the game…we need to get off the bench and win one for our God and king. Are you ready to rumble?
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Seeing really is believing. We just have to look. Sight Psalms is the work of photographers who seek to express the divine through images.