Saturday, January 25, 2014

EPIPHANY 4A   February 2, 2005                                                       

  • 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.  TheBeatitudes 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




  January 26, 2014                                                               
SCRIPTURES   Light is celebrated in Matt. 16 and in Isaiah 9:2 and Psalm 27:1 of this week's lection. This is a season of light. Throughout Epiphany, we experience an ever-widening circle of light. (We also are aware that some prefer the darkness.)   
  • Isaiah 9:1-4 "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." Oppression has been broken.
-"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." Israel's existence was always tenuous. Throughout most of their history they lived in the shadows of giants like Egypt, Persia and Assyria: the superpowers of their day. But God shined a light of hope in their darkness and promised them a Messiah. Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise.
-What I want to know is this: If the lights are on, why is it so dark? If the light of the world has come, as we Christians claim it has, why is there so much darkness? There seems to be a basic incongruity between our faith and the reality of the world. So I ask: If the lights are on, why is it so dark? Alex Stevenson
  • Psalm 27:1, 4-9  
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10-18. Paul says, "I appeal to you ... that there be no divisions among you ... be united in the same mind and the same purpose. ... Has Christ been divided?"
  • Matthew 4:12-23 Jesus begins to preach the reign of God by the sea, calling fishermen to be disciples and teaching and healing.

SCRIPTURE  (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.
-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 thing 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. 
-It's hard to get excited about a job.  It's almost impossible not to get excited about a ministy.
-An average church is filled with people doing jobs.  A great church is filled with people involved in ministry.
-"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
1. 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. 
2.  "Your search is over" proclaimed the billboard.  What glorious discovery have we happened upon at last? Underneath the large letters, we could read the words, "Perfect yogurt at reasonable prices."  Our search really has been scaled down considerably, hasn't  it?
3.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."
4.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
5. When the word of Jesus Christ heralded the Gospel on the shores of Galilee, and fisherman were called to be disciples, the nucleus of the church was being formed. Later, as that first fellowship sailed the waters of Lake Galilee in a fishing boat, the new servant people of God had been launched.Sometimes the church is still pictured as the boat of Christ sailing the unpredictable seas of life. The logo of The World Council of Churches (below) gladly employs this image. If that is a good logo for the church, then let us face one unpalatable truth: it is a scabby, motley,  crew that operates this vessel under the command of the ship’s Master. For such is the nature of Christ’s church on earth.

6.  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." However, that is 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
Alice in Wonderland:  Alice was treading the path through the forest in Wonderland when it divided in two different directions.  She asked the Cheshire Cat which path she would choose.  Where do you want to go? “ I don’t know”  “then, it really doesn’t matter, does it?  Know where you want to go.

-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 inpass.  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

1.On a separate piece of paper, ask the children to trace their shoe. In the shoe print, have the children write down some of the ways they will follow Jesus. (serve, love, forgive, ,etc.)  Then have the children color the shoe print and cut it out. You may display these, if possible, or have the children take them for display at home.
2. 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.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

  January 12,2014                                                               

  • Isaiah 42:1-9.
-"Here is my servant . . . my chosen . . . I have given you as . . . a light to the nations." For Christians, this description of the servant of the Lord is an inspiring portrait of Jesus. He is the One who brings us peace, life, and freedom.
- this is the first of the servant songs to appear in 2nd.Isaiah.
  • Isaiah 42:1-9. "Here is my servant . . . my chosen . . . I have given you as . . . a light to the nations."
  • Psalm Response: Psalm 29 (UMH 761). The response is a to a familiar tune. Sing the Psalm with the sung response, using Tone 1 in C major.
  • Acts 10:34-43. Peter, preaching to Cornelius and his household, summarizes the life and ministry of Jesus, "beginning in Galilee after the baptism . . ."
  • Matthew 3:13-17. Matthew's account of the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan.
-The Gospel is one more “Annunciation” scene.  As with Gabriel’s announcing to Mary that she would give birth to a son who will be born of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is announced as the “beloved son” by the same Spirit
-In a very real way, John was right. However, Jesus only says, "Give in for now." Jesus had a bigger plan in mind, and he was asking John to cooperate by laying aside his own way of thinking "for now." Does God ever ask you to "give in" on smaller issues?
- A river-washed God

-For some people, baptism is “just joining the Jesus club.”  We have all joined clubs and every club has its rules and regulations. 
 Baptism is joining the ‘Jesus club” and we now have to follow the “Jesus rules” as suggested by this particular congregation. 
-  For others, baptism is like “hell insurance"    Protects you from going to hell
-  For some baptism is like being adopted.  An adopted child doesn't chose his parents... etc.
-  For some baptism is like branding.   the mark of Christ is put on  us.
-  for some baptism is like washing.  Washing away our sins.
-Being "unworthy" is what grace is all about. If we were "worthy," Christ wouldn't have needed to come at all. Christ begins His ministry by affirming the ministry of the "unworthy
-To me this passage is about intimacy. Jesus' intimate relationship with God is possible to us through baptism, however we practice it
-I was thinking about using the tidal wave (tsunami) myself in talking about Baptism. Water can be both dangerous and life-giving. Following Jesus is both dangerous and life-giving

Transcending: not going beyond but seeing beyond. Chopra
Baptism has marked entry into the Christian Church, which is why all our medieval churches have the font at the back of the Church near the door, symbolizing entry. All who are baptized in whatever Church are full members of any Christian Church throughout the world..
-The risk is, that after accepting and acknowledging the God within, the Holy Spirit, God might ask us, just as he asked Jesus, to step out into some new form of ministry. And then what would we do?
-We Christen (we name ships) We baptize babies.
- Let us turn our eyes back to our own baptisms, and recognize that it was God’s act, not ours or the church’s, We can do nothing outside of the Grace of God to affect our own salvation. Our Baptismal birth into the family of God is a gift FROM God.  Reverend Dr. Gregory S. Neal
Baptism Is a Divine ordinance not a human creation
Baptism  is an inauguration, a new beginning.
Baptism is death to my time.
-Baptism is an event followed by a process   
- Baptism is a journey that includes all other journeys
-Baptism is a post operative sacrament .
The twelve apostles were never baptized
God is aware of us before we are aware of Him
- May the force be with you.  (from movie Star Wars)

-    The movie, Lion King has the Father encouraging his son to, "Remember who you are".  I think baptism is a time
      we can do that.  As Jesus was reminded that he was a child of God, so are we reminded of that at our baptism. Lindy
 - What's the difference between John the Baptist and Winny the Pooh? Both have same middle name.
 -Some plunge right into the water....others take their time.
-"I believe in getting into hot water. I think it keeps you clean.”  G.K. Chesterton
-Explain to the children that, at Jesus' Baptism, all three Persons of the Trinity
 are present. 
Ask the children to name the three Persons if they can. (Father, Son, and Holy 
Ask how the Father was present (through his voice from the heavens). Ask how the 
Son was present (Jesus, 
who was baptized). Ask how the Holy Spirit was present (seen as descending like a 
- Talk about three-legged races.  Ask children how this is like being baptized?! 
 Well, in a 3-legged race we are 
dependent on each other,  if we try to go our own way, we have problems, if we work together we win! etc. etc. 
-Give us the courage and comfort that comes from being claimed by you in the waters of baptism. 
This we ask in the name of our Redeemer.


Monday, December 23, 2013

CHRISTMAS 2A    (I'm using Epiphany Sunday scriptures) Epiphany is Jan.6th
January 5, 2013
Isaiah 60:1-6. Isaiah prophesies to a people just returning from exile that the day would come when all nations would stream to their light.
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12. Paul says that his imprisonments are enabling the Gentiles and even the leaders of the nations to come to know the mystery that they are invited to become fellow heirs with Christ Jesus.
Matthew 2:1-12. Matthew tells of the visit of the Magi and their participation in God's subversion of Herod's plan.
Epiphany Matthew 2: 1-12
-The word epiphany means appearance or manifestation, and Epiphany marks the first appearance
of Jesus to the Gentiles. We celebrate Epiphany on January 6. While Christians emphasize
Christmas today, Easter, Pentecost, and Epiphany were the important holy days for
the early church.

Jesus is the light of the world, not just Christians but the world! If this is true, it will depend upon us. We are the angels, we are the shepherds, we are the wise men, etc. We are invited not just to
accept the faith but to share it and pass it on. If he is not for everybody, he is not for anybody. Gomes

We've a story to Tell to the Nations a
good hymn for Epiphany.

 Epiphany is a church founded idea....not found in the Bible.

-Epiphanies are identifying moments: who we are and who God is

-Compare our journey with the journey in the Wizard of Oz...Scarecrow wants brain; Woodsman wants a heart and lion wants courage...Each danger faced is solved by courage (lion); cerebral danger, (scarecrow); and love (woodsman, tin man) . They find their strengths when they start their journey...their strengths are within themselves.

- Epiphany is the season of light. "light" a symbol of God's presence. Epiphany often referred to as an "aha" moment. May this Epiphany season be a time of discovering or rediscovering God's love for all of us.

 -The expensive gifts that the wise men offered the child were appropriate for royalty

-THE THREE GIFTS (Peter Gomes)
1. Gold: a precious metal reserved only for royalty. (Jesus is king.) regal value. Kingship of Jesus The manger is also a throne
2,  Frankincense: priest used in worship signifying , a favorite part of religious rituals. Its smoke rises like prayer. (Jesus is God.) God's presence – priesthood. Jesus is the High
priest. (priesthood of all believers) ["incense is the odor of God’s presence." Gomes]
3. Myrrh: used in preparation of bodies for burial . Reminds us that Jesus’ ministry sacrifice. 

 -It is worth noting that the wise men visited a home, not a stable.

-I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas Day on Christmas day? One for each King?

 -The wise men, were priests, possibly from Persia, who specialized in
interpreting the stars.

- It was widely held that new stars appeared when great rulers were born. Such a rumor circulated at the birth of Alexander the Great. The fact that Herod felt threatened when he heard about the star indicates that some of the Jews may also have held this belief.

-Magi is the plural of Magus, from which we derive the word magic and magician.

 - Third verse of As With Gladness Men of Old makes good offertory words.

 -We must become the epiphany, Jesus revealed in us.

-It can seem to us as if an epiphany is almost an apostrophe, a small mark on a big sheet of the paper of life. De Jong

-Let's not just give gifts....let's be the gift. It seems like God often shows God's self in the darkness of life.

-The Twelve Days of Christmas are probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th).Dennis Bratcher

-The one or two Sundays between Christmas Day and Epiphany are sometimes called Christmastide.

-For many Protestant church traditions, the season of Epiphany extends from January 6th until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter.

-The star shines in the night sky. It is only a sign. Like the Magi, we have the choice to journey toward it or stay stuck wherever we are. De Jong

-Lawrence Kushner says human beings are, at once, both riddled with divine sparks and in desperate need of repair.

-Epiphany is a six week journey to find God.

-Have we embarked upon that journey of discovery, like the Magi? We are a pilgrim people, we have to set off to follow Christ and learn more about God as we journey. The Reverend Charles Royden

-actions like seeing, seeking, looking up, looking beyond this world, have hope and expectations, looking for pointers, (signs), finding, worshiping, listening, and obeying–are all keys to our understanding what true wisdom is all about. True Wisdom (An Epiphany Sermon) Posted by Will on January 5, 2007

SERMON: A NEW WAY: Epiphany means to behold the world or one's life in a new way, with new eyes. It is when something becomes clear to us in a way we have never seen or noticed before. New light can be shed on an old problem.

-Faith is the bird that can feel the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. Rabindranath Tagore
-God hath yet more light to brake forth from His Word. Pastor Robinson to Pilgrims
-God is the inward light Quaker
-Holman Hunt’s painting called, “The light of the world”
-Some live in tea pots: not room for anyone else; narrow, little light
-We are the light. Not just guided but guiding
-Like a boat going through a lock. The boat doesn’t realize anything is different. Surroundings are the same but all of a sudden everything is seen from a new perspective
-The longest journey is the journey inwards. Of him who has chosen his destiny, Who has started upon his quest for the source of his being.
Dag Hammarskjold
-The obstacle is the path. Zen
-A Christian is a Pilgrim
-Perhaps we too can be called wise by taking that inward journey to the Bethlehem of our hearts where the spirit of Christ dwells. Lindy
-Non religious people only believe their eyes. The Wise men believed beyond their eyes.
-You cannot find wisdom if you look only through your human must look through God's eyes..." Gibran
-Centering down, the Quakers call it, reaching a quiet core of your self, inside silence,
-Christian faith cannot be taught...only caught.
-Close mind to safe guard faith.
- God is not through with us yet.
-Not failure but low aim is crime
-We are beings in process God takes us at what ever point we may be at.
-You are born an original, don't die a copy. John Mason

Object: a battery operated electric candle. Tell about the meaning of Epiphany as God's Light coming into the darkened world. Turn on the electric candle and ask the children what light is useful for (vision, beacon, warmth--let them feel the heat of the bulb). Tell them that "God's Light" is a picture word (metaphor) for a person who came into the world and whether they know who it is. Ask them why they think Jesus is called God's Light (he made blind to see, he helped us understand God in a new light, he saved us from sin...).God's Light is still in the world today, shining in the form of the church of Christ. We are the church, you and I are God's little lights and we are called to shine in the darkness around us--to make this world a better place. Examples?If your children know the song "This Little Light of Mine" this is a great time to sing it with them to close the children's time in worship (you may want to use the hand-motions too).F. Schaefer
Wisdom comes from good judgment and a lot of that comes from bad judgment Gomes
Navaho wisdom A woman is driving toward home in Northern Arizona when she sees a Navajo woman hitchhiking. Because the trip had been long and quiet, she stops the car and the Navaho woman climbs in. During their small talk, the Navajo woman glances surreptitiously at a brown bag on the front seat between them." If you're wondering what's in the bag," offers the woman, "it's a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband. "The Navajo woman is silent for a while, nods several times and says, "Good trade."
Wasn't it Carl Sagan who said that we were made of the stuff of stars?
The title of my sermon will be "When You Follow a Star and Find a Stable". anonymous
 Do you suppose they were called wise men because they STOPPED AND ASKED FOR DIRECTIONS? Desperate Preachers
Peter Gomes, minister at Harvard tells how when he was young he was always the king that was black because he was the only black child around.
"Affirmative action?"

-Father, we thank you for revealing yourself to us in Jesus the Christ, we who once were not your people but whom you chose to adopt as your people.
As ancient Israel confessed long ago, we realize that it was not because of our own righteousness, or our own superior wisdom, or strength, or power, or numbers.
It was simply because you loved us, and chose to show us that love in Jesus. As you have accepted us when we did not deserve your love, will you help us
to accept those whom we find it hard to love? May we, through your guidance and our faithful obedience, find new avenues in ways that we have not imagined of
holding the Light of your love so that it may be a Light of revelation for all people. Bratcher
-Forgive us for living in your shadow and failing to see your light. Lindy
- O God, we give thanks for light of the star by which we are still led to the manger and far beyond. Encourage us in our journeys
and welcome us to that newer way where we will find ourselves. Peter Gomes
-May we also have a sense of wonder and awe, the spirit of a searcher, one willing to look up and follow a star beyond familiar borders.
May we recognize the revelation of God, despite all appearances to the contrary.

   December 29, 2013                                                                              

Isaiah 63:7-9 The covenant love of God shown to the people of Israel.
Psalm 148
Hebrews 2:10-18 Christ is able to be our great high priest because he shared the same things with all who are flesh and blood.
Matthew 2:13-23 Matthew tells of the slaughter of the innocent children and the flight of the holy family into Egypt for refuge.
-Our calendar was dated B.C. meaning before Christ and A.D. meaning “Anno Dominei” which means, the year of our Lord.  Why wasn't Christ born in the year zero.?  The mistake happened in 527 CE, when a man named Dionysius Exigiuus, a monk from Russia, who, in 527 AD, calculated that Jesus was born 753 years after the birth  of the city of Rome. Dionysius centered Jesus Christ in history at the year zero, but he made a mistake of four years, not accurately calculating the death of King Herod. Our calendar has been off four years ever since then. Sermons from Seattle
-There are no other records of such a massacre. No other writing in the NT mentions it. While Josephus tells us that Herod ordered the execution of three of his sons; and at his burial one member of every family was to be slain so that the nation might really mourn (Ant. XVII. 181), he says nothing about the Bethlehem massacre. His writings indicate that Herod was the type of person who could have ordered such a slaughter and the small number of children might have gone unrecorded.
-When have you had to change plans, to re-route your itinerary, to make a new life in a new place? When have you found yourself unable to put down roots, but instead having to move on, to a better, though unknown, place? When have you experienced this as God at work in your life?
-*What are the “Egypts” of our lives?
-*In what ways is God calling you to new places in your life of faith?
-How quickly we lose the Christmas spirit as we re-enter "ordinary time." Like some rare botanical specimen, Christmas ‘blooms’ just one calendar day a year, yet the incredible image it invokes lives year round hidden in faithful souls everywhere.
-*God is not with us in some abstract and perfect place. God is with us here and now.
-*We need to always remember that for Joseph and Mary there was no ‘returning to "normal" the day after Christmas
-"We do not know how life is going to turn out," writes Jung. "…In the end the only events in life…worth telling are those when the imperishable world irrupted into this transitory one. That is why I speak chiefly of inner experiences, amongst which I include my dreams and visions."
-This "low Sunday" can become a spiritual high point when we realize that God calls each of us to a great work and a great dream.
-The word obedience comes from a Latin word meaning, "to listen." Some of us have developed what is called "selective hearing." We select, or choose, what we want to hear. (What we want to obey) Not Joseph and Mary.
- Hearing the still small voice.
-Seems an atheist said to a Christian, “If your God is so all-powerful, ask him why he allows killings, starvation and homelessness in the world?” To which the Christian replied: “I would. But I’m afraid he might ask me the same question.”
- If any God is going to save us, God will have to come to where we are, because we can’t get to God.
- John calls it “The Word made flesh;” Matthew calls it “Bethlehem.”
- *When glad things happen to sad people
- Ends and beginnings…there’s no such thing…there’s only middles.  Robert Frost
- You don't leave past and go to present. You draw past into present.
-"*The other half of Christmas"...the shepherds are gone, wise men have departed, excitement of birth is over, Jesus
   was circumcised, dedicated, etc,  now the second half of Christmas begins!. 
-Light tomorrow with today.
- a God that is not all-powerful, but certainly all-loving.  Kushner
-  *When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins:
1.*"Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome," writes C.G. Jung. "Its true life…invisible, hidden… The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away…Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the external flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains." The Sunday after Christmas is a time to remember the quiet eternal presence of a spiritual inheritance guarded deep within.
2.  *Tale of Three Trees" each tree had its own dream of what it would become. The first dreamed of being a beautiful treasure chest filled with precious stones, and the second dreamed of becoming a strong sailing ship. The third dreamed of being the tallest tree in the world, pointing the way to God. When dreams come true, they’re not exactly what we expect. The tree that dreamed of being a treasure chest became instead a manger, the manger in which the baby Jesus was laid when he was born. The second tree didn’t become a magnificent sailing ship, but a small fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee—the boat that carried Jesus and his disciples across the lake in the midst of a terrible storm. And the third tree that wanted to be the tallest tree in the world and point the way to God, became instead the cross — the cross which points the way to the unconditional love of God for each of us. Each tree had its dream, and the dream was fulfilled, but not in the way that was expected  
3.*A statistical analysis done by some scholar suggest that given the population of the area at the time and the birth and infant mortality rates of the period, the slaughter was less than twenty children.  Still, it is a graphic illustration of an African proverb  that when elephants fight the grass gets trampled.
4. In the musical Cotton Patch Gospel which is available on video cassette, the story of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents is very well done.  Viewing the scene by preacher or by congregation  would be an excellent commentary on this text.
-A Sunday school teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem.  A small child replied:  "They couldn't get a baby sitter."
-In one year and out the other.
- If you miss this New Year, you can catch Chinese New Year,  February 9, 2005.  Year of the Rooster. 
-  Can we enjoy Christmas this year or are we going to try to explain it?
-Fund raising ideas for next year.
Organist Tip Jar
3 Drink Minimum at Communion
Sunday School Tuition
Handling Fee for Baptisms
Church Parking Meters
Paid Newsletter Subscriptions
Bulletin Classified Ads
-Time sneaks up on you like a window on a bug.

1. December 26th is the "Feast of Stephen," the day mentioned in the  carol, "Good King Wenceslas." Wenceslas is the patron saint of the Czech Republic. He ruled in the late 900s but, unlike many in power, he was known for his generosity and faith and, in particular, for his care of the poor and of children, especially those living in poverty or in slavery. In the carol, we hear of a king who left the high seat of power to take firewood and a meal to a hungry, cold peasant. Unlike the common Christmas practise of the time, when the peasantry were often invited to climb up to royal places to pick over the leavings of Christmas feasts of the night before, the King in the carol prepares a fresh feast and leaves the castle behind to go out into the cold and serve it to the person who needs it most. In this story, we hear echoes of the prophet, "It was no messenger or angel, but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old." (Isaiah 63:9) We celebrate the birth of Christ, who comes to us, not to lord it over us, but to be one with us, to seek us and find us and bring us lasting food for our hearts and our souls, and to lead us out into the world, ready to serve the best we have to those who need it most.
2.  Talk about refugees: Bring in pictures of refugees, talk about some modern day examples. (Africa, Iraque, Palestine, etc.) how they must feel, how the church might help, how Mary and Joseph felt,
3.  Parable of three trees.  See illustrations

-grant that we may share the divine life
of him who humbled himself to share our humanity,


Monday, December 16, 2013

    December 22, 2013                                                                                 


Isaiah 7:10-16 Prophecy in a time of crisis: "The young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel."    "Emmanuel" is actually a phrase in Hebrew (`immanu el). It doesn't contain a verb, and it is usually correct to provide a present tense form of "to be," e.g., NRSV's "God is with us." Thus this name doesn't imply that God was with us only during Jesus' lifetime, but that through Jesus, God continues to be with us.
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (UMH 801)
Romans 1:1-7 Paul, sets forth his great theme: "the gospel concerning [God's] Son ..."
Matthew 1:18-25 Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus.
-Today's Gospel tells "the other annunciation story." Not the one about Gabriel appearing to Mary with a message, but the annunciation to Joseph
-Jesus" (Greek) or "Joshua" (Hebrew) -- names that mean "savior". Note that with this name, the importance of Jesus is not "who he
    is" defined by the genealogy and the virgin conception as son of God; but what he will do -- save people from their sin!
-Calling Jesus, "the Messiah," simply indicates that God will use him for some special purpose Stoffregen
-Last week we celebrated hope in this season of advent waiting. Love is the subject of our hope
-sermon: God comes to us AT TIMES we least expect it.  God comes to us IN WAYS we least expect it. And God comes to us THROUGH PEOPLE that we least expect. Mickey Anders
-Emmanuel – means “God with us.” God is still with us, today,  God is still speaking!
-It is too easy at Advent to speak of the coming of one who will take upon himself the suffering of this world, because suffering, evil and tragedy all remain with us. It is too easy to boil Advent down to waiting and watching for Christmas to come. It is too easy to celebrate the four words —PROMISE, HOPE, LOVE, JOY— which hang majestically, yet impotently, from our ceiling.   The birth of love is often hard and difficult. Sometimes we must struggle for it, even as Mary did in the cold dark of a lonely night.   DeJong
- Betrothal was a commitment  so binding that had Joseph died before taking Mary under his roof, Mary would have become a widow. 
- Betrothal is symbolic:   "already is"  with "not yet fully realized."
- Quiet Joseph, an ordinary man, a quiet man, a carpenter, caught up in the grand purposes o God.  He quietly obeyed though he could not possibly comprehend all that God meant to do through these events. 
-sermon    "Sign language"
                         A. We use symbols to help us understand things we cannot see or understand (examples)
                         B.  Use symbols or signs  to point to God's presence.  Jesus,  baby, cross, the word
                         C.  We are sent as signs of God's love and forgiveness.  Lindy
- Can we enjoy Christmas this year or are going to try to explain it?!
-I read, that all some people want is an inoculation of Christianity -- just enough of it so that they don't catch the real thing. Sometimes Christmas is no more than a "booster shot".  Stoffregen
-John Main tells us that every moment is a moment of Christ if we are present to it. It can be an experience of the EMMANUEL, the God-who-is-with-us.
-We are fairly willing to take responsibility for "our own thing" or our own project but are not very good about supporting what is started by others. But to be a Christian and a Christ bearer is precisely to take responsibility for the work of the Spirit. Gerry Pierce
-I  would remind all of us that God is hidden in plain sight.  Not in this book (Bible).  Not in this building (Church).  Not up in the sky.  God is hidden within the hearts of all of us....hidden yes, but in plain sight.  
-None of us avoids crisis. All of us have trouble in the course of our lives.
-We don't sacrifice to each other but for the relationship. J. Campbell
- The hinge of history is on door of Bethlehem stable...God came through that door.  Ralph Sockman
-As we begin to wait, may we no longer wait to begin!
-None of us avoids crisis. All of us have trouble in the course of our lives. Because this is so, the great difference between people does not lie between those free from trouble and the rest of us. The great difference appears between those people who are vanquished by their problems and those people who find in their problems something worthwhile that redeems the rest. 
Charles Hoffacker
- The church has traditionally called Mary the "First Disciple."  Willimon
- Song:  "What if God was one of us" is sung by Joan Osborne
-There is an old Jewish saying, "You always know the mother, but you never know the father." and so it was important on the eighth day at the circumcision to name the child, and so on that day when Joseph say his name is Jesus Bar Joseph, he legally became Joseph's son.
-"Humankind's greatest hope and greatest fear is that God will truly come to us." source unknown
- "Touched by an angel"

1.Recently a man took his film to a one-hour development facility in downtown Chicago.  He left the film and returned in an hour to discover that the place had changed to a one-hour cleaners.  The confused man hesitantly entered the store, met the same clerk, and asked about his film.  The gentleman behind the counter said, "Was that a suit or just shirts?" The man replied, "It was 35 millimeter film."
The clerk asked, "Was it to be pressed or just cleaned?" The man said, "It was film to be developed." The clerk said, "Do you want to look through these suits to see if one of them belongs to you." The man, getting a little agitated by now, said with a bit of tension in his voice, "I didn't HAVE a suit, I HAD film." The clerk asked the gentleman if he ever watched TV. He said, "Sometimes." Then the clerk announced, "Smile, you're on Candid Camera!"  "Remember,
when you least expect it, someone, somewhere may walk up to you and say, 'Smile, You're on Candid Camera.'"   I think that must be how Mary and Joseph felt!.
2. Country song,  "The Dad That He Didn't Have To Be." The song is about a little boy whose mother kept dating guys who would disappear when they discovered she had a little boy. Then a man showed up in their lives who even let him go along on some of the dates, who became a father to him in every good sense of the word, and married his mother. Part of the chorus is, "I hope that I can be at least half the Dad that he didn't have to be." Joseph didn't have to be a part of this "mess." He could have saved himself a lot of trouble, but he didn't. He accepted the scandal, the gossip, etc
3 Poem .“When Jesus called that Christmas week I wasn’t at my best;
And the house was much too cluttered to entertain a guest.
He seemed to notice everything, the card still unaddressed,
The gifts piled high awaiting wraps, the baking and the rest.
He eyes fell on the evergreen and the presents ‘neath the tree,
It’s my birthday that you celebrate--what are you giving me?
‘What am I giving him?’ I thought; ashamed no words I found.
So many costly things I’d bought, he looked at me and frowned.
I prayed he’d let the question pass, but when he did persist,
I blurted out the truth at last, you were not on my list.” 
Louise Teisberg 

- "It's the right thing to do"  President Clinton  (That's what Joseph said)
-Those who struggle with the Virgin Birth need to remember that it was more a problem for Joseph than for them!

-What's in a Name? (Sadlier Publishing)
Names in Scripture are usually meaningful. Knowing the meaning of someone's name can help us understand his or her role in God's plan. And even our own names have meanings that we can explore. Below is a list of names from Scripture. The meanings are given. Add to the list—your name, your parents' names, the names of your brothers and sisters, your teacher, your friends. Look up the meanings. Sometimes "Names for Babies" books can help. Then write a sentence giving a spiritual or faith-interpretation of that name. Even names that seem "non-religious" can have a faith meaning. For example, "Tiffany" comes from the name of a famous jewelry store. So being called "Tiffany" can remind the bearer of that name that she is a precious jewel in God's eyes! Examples:
Emmanuel—God with us. (The name Emmanuel or Manuel is still used for boys today.)
Jesus—God saves. (The name Jesus is used today too, especially for boys in Spanish-speaking cultures.)
Joseph—"He shall add." (The "He" refers to God. God will give more!)
Mary—related to mara, which means "bitter." Mary suffered because her Son suffered. We also relate Mary's name to the Latin for "sea," (mar) so we call her "Star of the Sea."
John—"gift of God." Juan is Spanish for John. Sean is Gaelic. The feminine is Joan, or Jean, or Joanne.

-Lord Jesus, bless this Advent. Bless our families and friends. Bless the poor, the lonely, the forgotten with your presence and your peace.
as we begin to wait, may we no longer wait to begin!  Speak to us Lord, as we ponder your holy word. We ask all these things in your name.
-Spirit of God, help us to be ready to celebrate Christmas. Help make all rough ways in each of our relationships smooth. Help us to be like Joseph, who dared to listen, to believe, and to love. Amen.
-...give us grace to imitate the righteousness of courageously respond to your call upon our lives. to be obedient and faithful disciples in our own time and place.