Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Epiphany 4A

EPIPHANY 4A    January 29, 2017                                                     

  • Micah 6:1-8. Micah: The Lord has a controversy with Israel. 
  • Psalm Response: Psalm 15 (UMH 747). Tone 1 in C major. 
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. Paul says, "Consider your own call . . . not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong." 
-Foolish God who loves the wise; Wise God who loves the foolish. Weak God who loves the strong; strong God who loves the weak.  
  • Matthew 5:1-12. The Sermon on the Mount — The Beatitudes section.
-The Beatitudes tell us the shape of our character when we are ruled by the purposes of God and not by credentials, status, or the bottom line
- It's what we are that really counts , not what we possess or have done.
 -sermon idea:  "Walking Small"  We look up to those who walk tall.  God accepts those who walk small. Matthew and Micah scriptures especially good for this  
-Beatitudes is not exclusively for a distant future.  Rather, it is for the present
- The Beatitudes talk about the real world. 
- Spiritually bankrupt = poor in spirit
-One N.T. scholar suggests that "congratulations" might be better than "Blessed".
sermon/ Lindy  A. there is bad news all around us (new paper, suffering, wars, etc.)/ media loves it
                B. There was bad news in Jesus' time,  suffering, tyranny, immorality, betrayal, Jesus; life, etc. 
                C. Jesus climbed that mountain and said:  There is Good News notwithstanding!  The Beatitudes.  
-"Be-Attitudes" or "Attitudes for Being."
-Most  think they are familiar with the Beatitudes, but how many can name half of them, much less really understand them? . I don't think "familiarity breeds contempt" so much as "familiarity breeds inattentiveness." We think we know all that's worth knowing, so we tune them out. Is there any way we can hear these beatitiudes with new ears?  Tom Welbers
-Where the Ten Commandments offer clear guidelines for behavior - what is and what is not allowed - the Beatitudes speak more of an inner disposition.
-This may be the same occasion as "The Sermon On The Plain" . Lk 6:17-49
-This sermon has been called., The Magna Carta of His Kingdom or The Manifesto of the King
- The paradox of strength through weakness.  
-Our attitude more than our aptitude determines our altitude  Carter
-If actions speaks louder than words than attitudes speak louder than actions
- Instant gratification, fast foods, high speed internet, etc. not exactly what Jesus was talking about. 
People look on the outside but God looks on the heart.  1 Sam. 16:7
-  Are we having fun  yet?  Zippy comic strips.  
-  You can become what you already are. 
-Christians are guilty of secularism when they think and act like the world about them. We fall into the evil of secularism when we attempt to go about doing the work of God in the world’s way. We have succumbed to secularism when we adopt the same attitudes, values, and goals as those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It is to this matter of secularism that our Lord first directs His attention in the Sermon on the Mount. Bob Deffinbaugh
-The last human freedom is to chose ones attitude. Frankyl

-  The Be Happy Attitudes, by Robert Schuller....discuss pros and cons of Schuller's approach to the Beatitudes. 
- Discuss how popular television programs reveal a particular definition of success. There's  a sharp contrast between Jesus' notion of blessedness and that of the wider society.  "Blessed are those who drive large sport vehicles for they shall be seen powerful and successful". 
- Once, when I was a teenager, I excused my self by saying to my father,   “But Dad, I’m only human”.   My Dad didn’t buy it.  He quickly responded, “No, you’re not human enough”. Dad’s father was a minister and evidently some of Grandpa’s  preaching about Jesus rubbed off onto Dad.  I didn’t exactly know what Dad meant when he told me I wasn’t human enough until I became a minister myself and then learned just how fully human Jesus was. The more fully human I 
become, the more I seem to understand the beatitudes.  Lindy

- Invite children to look at the church from a different angle. (lie on their backs;  look through their legs)  How does it look different?  What things do you notice that that you never noticed before?   Then talk about the beatitudes and how they make us see things differently.  Jesus made everything look different. In Jesus' day they believed that poor people were being punished by God.  You might want to find a children's version of Beatitudes.  The Beatitudes for Children
-The Song "If You're Happy"
Theme     Happiness is not brought about by what happens to us, it is
          brought about by what happens within us. (Matthew 5:1-12)
-- "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. (clap, clap)
-- If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.  (clap, clap)
-- If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it,
-- if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. (clap, clap)
I wonder how that song would go if a bunch of birds sang it?  Maybe it
would go like this, "If you're happy and you know it, flap your wings.
What do you think a dog might do to show that he was happy?  Wag his tail?
-- If you're happy and you know it, wag your tail. (swish-swish)
-- If you're happy and you know it, wag your  tail.  (swish-swish)
-- If you're happy and you know it, then your tail will surely show it,
-- if you're happy and you know it, wag your tail.  (swish-swish)
I heard a story about a little puppy that noticed that whenever he was
happy, his tail wagged, so he thought he had discovered the secret to
happiness.  One day he shared the secret of happiness with an older dog.
He said, "I have learned that the best thing for a dog is to be happy, and
that happiness is in my tail.  So I am going to chase my tail; and when I
catch it, I shall have happiness.
The old dog replied, "I too believe that happiness is a marvellous thing
for a dog, and that happiness is in my tail.  But I have noticed that
whenever I chase my tail, it keeps running away from me; but when I go
about my business, it follows me wherever I go.
  Many of us are like the little puppy chasing his tail - trying to find true
happiness that is always just out of our reach.  What we need to do is
learn that if we will just go about our business and trust in the Lord,
happiness will follow us where- ever we go.Charles Kirkpatrick, www.Sermons4Kids, 2002 

-You shall know the truth and it shall make you odd.
-A woman was walking along the street one night and came upon a man parked outside of her apartment building walking around under the streetlight and gazing intently at the ground. She inquired as to what he was doing and he replied that he was looking for his car keys. She offered her help and started looking. After about 15 minutes of intense searching she asked, “Are you shure you dropped them over here?” “No, I dropped them near my car”, he replied. “Well, why are we looking over here”? she responded, barely able to hide her sarcasm. “Well, because we’d never find them over there. There’s no light over there!” (The dominant image of Epiphany is light)
-Someone has said that we are either like a potato or an egg. Boiling water hardens eggs and softens potatoes.  

- ....after we have seen the real world You offer to us, give us the courage to come forth and be part of Your world, your kingdom....
-  May our love be as simple as what you've made us to be.  May our knowledge be as simple as the wisdom that comes from our hearts and may our righteousness be as simple as, Doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with You, our God.  Lindy



Monday, January 16, 2017

Epiphany 3A

January 22, 2017                                                                        
 For mor information go to:
Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 4-9 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Matthew 4:12-23
- John taught that people should repent to make themselves ready and worthy;  Jesus taught that they should repent because the kingdom was already near.  John taught that repentance was the necessary stimulus for  God to act.  Jesus preached that God was already acting; the kingdom was already coming  and one should repent in order to receive what God had to offer.  For Jesus, repentance is a response not a stimulus.  Lindy
-Jesus refused to be a "One man show" 
-The word “evangel” means “good news.”  It is news, something that comes to us, rather than something derived from us. It is good because it is something that God does before it is anything we do. Willimon
-Repentance.  the Greek means, literally, "to have a change of mind." A whole attitude adjustment
-Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen  A wonderful scenario about deciders, doers, controllers, dreamers, and ignored.  Also, the usual great exegetical study. 
-Note that the command, "Repent" is in the present tense -- "Keep on repenting!" "Continually be repentant!"
-Hare in his commentary: "Our task is to share a faith that is exciting enough to be contagious" [p. 31]
-We all need to belong to something, something bigger than ourselves. It gives us a sense of identity, personhood, meaning in an often meaningless world.  But belonging to Jesus will be left to the one or two who look for a kingdom not of this world, and see in Jesus its beginning and end. Only they will leave their nets and boats and follow (belong) to him. Rev. Bryan Findlayson
-Epiphanies are identifying moments: who we are and who God is
-An epiphany is both a revelation and a challenge because it forces us to change. We spend most of our lives fumbling around in the darkness–only rarely we are given the gift to see something old in a new way

-Nothing is more surprising than the rise of the new within ourselves".  Tillich
-The Gospel comes to us, rather than from within us.
-Our problem, in catching a few fish for Jesus is not that we are so respectful of different cultures, so open minded and pluralistic, our problem is that we find it very difficult to imagine any culture more powerful than the one sanctioned by the Pentagon, the White House, AMWAY, and Toys ‘R Us. Willimon
-Called into a new future.  Called to be non-conformists.
-Think of the Bible as a long story of God’s refusal to leave us to ourselves. Willimon
-"Beginnings are hard." To repent means to begin again. When have you made a new beginning? How can you make a new beginning today in some area of your life? Chaim Potok
-If our eyes are not open to see the darkness, how can we see when the light is shined in it?
- The Bible is not so much a record of our search for God and it is a record of how God searched for us.
- You are here, (in church) not because you are searching but because you have been sought, called, summoned.  You are here because God has reached in, grabbed you, put you here, enticed , wooed , allured you here.  So Christianity is not so  much a religion of discovery. It is a religion of revelation.  The long search is over. You have been found.  This is the good news.  Willimon
-Those who think that he is finished is finished.  Those who think that they have arrived have lost their way.  Those who think they have reached their goal, have missed it.  Those who think they are saints are demons.  Henri Nouwen. 
-Not expressing or repressing but confessing. (Repent)
-Repentance is not about the past but about the future.
-The best we can become is redeemed sinners.
-It's hard to get excited about a job.  It's almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.
-An average church is filled with people doing jobs.  A great church is filled with people involved in ministry. Buechner
-"Make no little plans," said Daniel Burnham, "They have no magic to stir men's blood... Make big plans... a noble logical
  diagram once recorded will never die but... will be a living thing."
-However, almost all agree that repentance requires five elements: recognition of one's sins as sins (hakarát ha-chét'), remorse (charatá), desisting from sin (azivát ha-chét'), restitution where possible (peira'ón), and confession (vidúi).  David R. Blumenthal
-We like to think you are not o.k., I am  o.k.  when we should be thinking,  you are not o.k., I am  not o.k. either.   Gomes

BUILD YOUR OWN SERMON   "Seeing change where change is needed"   (Jesus and those new disciples were able to do this.) Here are some quotes, illustrations, humor and analogies on which to build your sermon.  Lindy
-New roads; new ruts.  Gilbert K. Chesterton
-Today's certainty can always become tomorrows antique notion.   B.B. Taylor
-Some defend the status quo even though the quo has lost its status.  G. Mann
-He who never changes never mends.
-Heraclitus said: "You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.
-Serenity Prayer
- Someone has said, The Church is a chameleon  It finds colors that fit into various environments.  It continues, yet changes!
-When you put your head in the sand, you know what's up.
-Many churches if given a choice would choose to die rather than change  Spong
-Things do not change,  we do.  Thoreau
-God's frozen people,  fundamentalists,
-All is flux; nothing stays still.  Heracletus
-Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future  John F. Kennedy
-All things change; nothing perishes.  Ovid
-Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.

- It is said that rabbis did not "call" disciples.  It was considered bad form for a rabbi to go out and beat the bushes, and ask people to become his disciples.  The greatness of the ones teaching was supposed to naturally attract students. 
-A long time ago, a traveler came upon a site in England where swarms of workers were building a grand church.  The traveler saw several men digging a ditch.  He stopped to ask three of them what exactly they were doing. The first replied, "Hey! I'm just doing what they tell me to do. All I care about it making a living to support my family." The second replied, "Me?  I'm digging a ditch from here to that stake over there." But the third worker stopped, leaned against his shovel, and with a gleam in his eye, said, "I'm helping Christopher Wren build a great cathedral."
-.Scientists say they have discovered a shape-changing fish that can detect the presence of hungry predators and then turn itself from easy pickings into something much more difficult to swallow. (New York Times 1/19/93) Plasticity is the only way for an organism to adapt to a rapidly changing environment within its life span....This opens up the door for more careful examination of plasticity in vertebrates. People are going to have to stop thinking that there's not going to be this kind of change during an individual's lifetime. This fish changes in order to survive. The gospel invites us to change so that we may survive...may become a testament to God through Jesus Christ. Some may even say that we exist so that our natures may glorify God. What a fish story!  Frederick Streets
- An interesting approach to the "fish for people" image is to talk about what kind of bait would work to attract people. I titled a sermon once, "Worms Won't Work."  That's  not the way these fishermen fished. They used nets. They didn't use bait. The fish didn't have a choice of "to bite or not to bite" or "to eat or not to eat." They were dragged ashore or into a boat, they were dragged from life to their deaths.  Maybe we should drag people to church. I'm afraid that if we did drag people into church, etc.  we might miss the gospel message we are trying to share....Stoffregen

-If the Scroll Fits, Live It. Don Friesen
-A young rabbi found a serious problem in his new congregation. During the Friday service, half the congregation stood for the prayers and half remained seated, and each side shouted at the other, insisting that theirs was the true tradition. Nothing the rabbi said or did moved toward solving the impasse.  Finally, in desperation, the young rabbi sought out the synagogue's 99-year-old founder. He met the old rabbi in the nursing home and poured out his troubles. "So tell me," he pleaded, "was it the tradition for the congregation to stand during the prayers?" "No," answered the old rabbi." Ah," responded the younger man, "then it was the tradition to sit during the prayers?"
"No," answered the old rabbi. "Well," the young rabbi responded, "what we have is complete chaos! Half the people stand and shout, and the other half sit and scream." "Ah," said the old man, "that was the tradition."
-When two or more are gathered, factions lurk in the midst of them.
-If I repent of anything it is very likely to be my good behavior. Thoreau

- Compare fishing for fish with fishing for "men".  Need to have right equipment, go where the fish/people are, have patience, You got to love it You have to be dedicated to it. You have to get up at three in the morning.  experience helps, you have to know the fish. You have to know what and where they are biting. You have to know where the good holes are/ be taught by other skilled fisherman.
-Have the children say the phrases and do the corresponding actions with you in this fun finger play based on Matthew-- Hand motions for: 4:18-22.
Jesus walked along the shore (walk two fingers of right hand along left forearm).
He watched (put right hand on brow to shade eyes)
the boats at sea (touch the fingers of both hands together to form a triangle boat and rock them in the air-sea).
He loved (put both hands over heart)
the busy fishermen (pretend to use a fishing pole).
He called (cup hands around mouth),
"Come follow me" (beckon with hands).

-...we  have come here this day searching for you, because we believe that you are searching for us.  In countless ways you have reached out to us.  We confess that sometimes we have searched for you in all the wrong places.  We admit that sometimes we have thought that we found you when we only found cheap substitutes for your love.  ....find us new so that we might find you and in finding , love you and in loving you, serve you in all that we do.  Willimon
it is not we who chose Christ,
      but Christ who chose us,
 we are not here because of our goodness
      but because of Christ’s grace,
 we are not here to enlighten ourselves,
      but to allow Christ to enlighten us,
 we have not come to be entertained
      but to worship God with heart, soul, mind and strength.