Category Archives: Sermon

A little reflection on Moses and Exodus 3:1-15

(This little bit is from an evening service with new and returning college students – it is just my notes, but I loved the last paragraph!)

Opportunities of Campus Ministry

–         Friends and food – My first Sunday

–         Older students would drive around – knew cheap resturants

–         Professorial references

–         Live changing events like retreat

 

Unknow possibilities of College and campus ministry – where will these experiences take you?

 

Moses – Theophany – God made known to humans

          Moses didn’t get to choose the time or the place.

 

Name of God – Moses was the first person who knew the name of God according to Fredrick Buechner.  There was a choice that Moses could have made, to tell the name of God or not.  But Moses chose to share that name of God since we know that name – a story that lives on because of our retelling the story over and over.

 

There is also this dialogue between God, the I am who I am – I will be who I will be. God clearly calls Moses – but Moses comes up with a litany of excuses. He says to God, “But I don’t know your name.” Suppose they don’t believe me – staff into serpent, hand inside of his cloak develops leprosy (reasons those who care about you want you to wash your clothes). Later he even responds, “I don’t speak well.” Excuses, excuses.

 

But even with these excuses, Moses despite his best made excuses agrees to serve God, chose to work to free and lead God’s people who were in oppression in Egypt. It was a forty year assignment, that would last the rest of his life, but God had called him and God would be with him. Moses’ life with all of its challenges and setbacks models for us the fact that God will always be with us even on the days when the whole of the world seems so far away.

 

Your time here at school can be just four, or five or so

of normal making it though the day kinda thing.

Or it could be the theophany designed just for you

by God who has created you,

by God who loves you more than any other person, place or thing

and by the God who can’t wait to see how you chose.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Focus on Divine, Sermon, Worship

Peter Gomes’ Dec. 12, 2008

Beyond Anxiety 2

A great sermon. Probably my favorite sermon from Professor Gomes from Harvard Memorial Chapel. It was really timely and insightful – especially in Dec. 2008! A sermon with some great lines.

Hope you enjoy, especially if you need a bit of encouragement.

Leave a comment

Filed under Focus on Divine, Sermon

Advent I: “Surpised by Hope”

Click for audio:09 Advent_ Surpised by Hope Sermon_ 1

Advent I – “Surprised by Hope”

Matthew 1:18-25

Nov 28 2010

During Advent a Sunday school teacher read her class part of the Christmas preparation story from the perspective of the animals involved. She then asked which animal was missing from the story. One said a cow. Another timidly said a horse. Then in desperation the teacher asked, “Who are the animals waiting for?” After a few seconds of pausing, one brave student declared, “The Great Pumpkin!”#

This time of the year, from the time before Halloween and All Saint’s Day, it seems that we just have one big string of holidays. Turkeys wearing Santa suits. Pumpkins sporting feathers and felted Pilgrim hats. Confetti being dropped from the sky and noise makers at full blast as we begin the liturgical New Year with the first Sunday of Advent. We’re in all these… “right now” … “this second” …and “because we have to” mode of life.

I have to acknowledge that this fall has been busier than usual around the church. We’ve worked doubly hard to make sure you are aware of our congregation’s financial needs to support our ministry budget. We’ve attempted to let you know of those 5 goals that have been discerned over the past five years and accepted by our church’s official leadership: our congregation’s desire to have updated youth and children’s areas, a place for us to come together as friends and a place were strangers can become our new friends, strengthening our music ministry and their work, areas within our walls that support current technological means – like projection for a study group or watching a movie together in fellowship.

For those of you who have heard that call and have responded as generously as you are able, I add my voice to the thank yous that have been said for your support of our congregation and its ministries. I also want you to be aware of the potential for you to be apart of something wonderful and meaningful through giving. Giving in my own life has been something of a slow development. But I am getting there. Every year I have gone up…how much I don’t know …but this year I can tell you this year my pledge went up 7.5% – it’s not huge, but its what I can do. Then I went forward and pledged to the capital campaign. Do you want to know who the first person was to turn in their pledge and their commitment to the capital campaign? Me. That’s how excited I am that I can be a part of this.

I was thinking as I made my decision regarding my support of the Ministry Budget and Capital Campaign, “what do I spend my money on that actually make a lasting difference in my life and other’s lives?” A cup of coffee how long does that last? – say an hour, a haircut two/three weeks, a shirt a couple, three years. A car, what 4-5 years, a tank of gas about 350/400 miles, all fleeting moments of things I find important at that moment. But a Bible purchased for a kid, food given around the world, our general church’s work on behalf of the most marginalized people. Those a places where there is good done. Moments of God’s Kingdom being revealed on earth and by my gifts, people’s lives can be touched.

Part of my thought in giving what I could to the Capital Campaign was me wondering where else, I’d be able to point to in 25 or 50 – 60 – possibly 70 – that’d only make me 104 years old – and say I was fortunate enough to be able to contribute to that project on behalf of our children and youth and every member – now and those to come in the future. There are all kinds of ways to support the church – not only monetary gifts – we focus on Christian living much of the year, and we’ve gotten scared to speak of money as not to offend someone. But what I have come to understand through reading, study, what Ernie has preached, is that if I don’t give, I’ve got someone else to answer to – and it isn’t me. We focus on Christian living much of the year, just lately on Christian giving. In our vows of membership, we are asked, “Will you be loyal to the United Methodist Church and do all in your power to strengthen its ministries?” and your response was ____(yes)_____?

Strengthening United Methodist ministries takes much work and much money, as financial responses tend to grease the wheels of ministry. From the campus ministry at UNCC, the closest university to us with a United Methodist campus ministry, to 5th Street Ministries, to project Agape in Armenia, where we sent those 55 gift boxes and heard from their director on that Wednesday night, to supporting Lake Junaluska, teaching our children and youth, to supporting missionaries and health care programs all across the world. I say that to say, you’ve a big task before you. A worthy task mind you – but a large task.

We are hopeful that you’ll be able to complete your Letter of Intent as soon as possible – we’ll have opportunity for you to bring them up to the front, pray if you wish, receive a brick if you wish (even if you have already turned in for letter or mailed it, we’d like you to have a brick as you are assisting and enabling our congregation to do kingdom work throughout the world). Dr. Porter last week put it wonderfully: “Some of you have already made your commitment, come down to the altar and say a prayer and thank God for what you have done, some of you gona bring yours and leave it on the chancel rail, some of you haven’t decided yet what you’re gona do, come pray about that, some of you have made up your mind you’re not going to give anything, and you’re part of the family, you need to come pray about that too.” -Endquote.

We’ve a large task before us, but we can do it for the sake of fulfilling God’s calling on our church family. Our work and outreach, supporting our ministries are critical for us to answer the call of being kingdom people. But that’s what we do…as Christians there’s a forever presence of overwhelming situations, but there is something about us that should refuse to ever give up hope. Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa responded once in a 1992 interview – two years before Nelson Mandela is elected president and four years before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began. if he was hopeful about the future of his country. His response, “I am always hopeful.” “A Christian is a prisoner of hope. What could have looked more hopeless than Good Friday?…There is not situation which God cannot extract good. Evil, death, oppression, injustice – these can never again have the last word, despite all appearances to the contrary.”#

Well, you know, I figured if we are living in the pumpkin, Pilgrim, liturgical New Year, you surely wouldn’t mind a reference to our Easter story too. But in honesty, isn’t that the real way of life. Every moment is lived in the complex situation of everything at once – Thanksgiving, New Year, Easter, and even Christmas. But at the same time we have to try and center ourselves in the present moment.

We’ve entered into the season of Advent beginning today. It is when we get ready, anticipate the coming of Jesus. We calmly go about our lives, readying our hearts and minds, preparing our homes and events to celebrate the season of Christmas, the birth of the Christ child long ago. Did you notice a problem in the last sentence? I said, “We calmly go about…”. Yeah, right, we’ve thrown the house, we’ve thrown the car, we’ve thrown our selves into high gear.

A friend sent me a text on Friday. He said, “I just saw on the news a clergy person in the middle of the state was fighting for limited quantities.” ( I wondered why Don would be in the middle of the state shopping.) I sorta laughed; sorta thought it’d be fitting as what the season has come to – I hope he just made it up. It was funny this morning in the early service – we had a great illistration – one of the candles fell out of the Advent wreath – we’re down to three Sundays over there.

But Advent is as counter cultural as the church could be in our human lives. Advent is the reminder, just as Lent is to Easter, that there is something more to Christmas than the parties of the season. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend time with those special to us all season long, all year long. I’ll be at all the parties I can attend. I am saying that we have to be reminded during the season of Advent that we have to wait just a bit more – things in our world aren’t as they should be. The world in which we struggle through life is not what it should be – and sometimes we, both you and I, have caused and support systems that prevents God’s kingdom from being fully revealed.

The Good News is that Advent reminds us that not only did Jesus come long ago as a child born of Mary, cared for by Joseph – a child destined for the cross, tomb and resurrection. But Advent is here also to remind us that our hope is never history. Yes, we must continue working for God’s kingdom day and night in our world, but, ultimately, Christ will return to make all things right. The end of struggle is not only in heaven, but will be revealed here upon the earth.

James Moore concludes in the book we are studying across our congregation, Christmas Gifts That Won’t Break, the section many of you have read today concludes with the story of the solider in Paris. With a phrase of “Happy Christmas” as he overpays for the flowers he purchases just to give away he transforms the whole restaurant where he’d been dining. Songs burst out, people start singing, laughter abounds. People who couldn’t speak the same language began speaking the same spirit – that spirit of Christmas. It wasn’t about the flowers given, it wasn’t about the money overpaid – it was the Spirit which transformed the moment. That is the Hope of the season. That’s what we are waiting on – a world transformed by the Christ whom we worship.

All glory, honor and power be to the one that was, is and is to come.

Leave a comment

Filed under Focus on Divine, Sermon, Worship

Stand Up and Be Set Free

“To Be Set Free”

Luke 13: 10-17; II Corinthians 8 (several verses)

Yesterday was hopefully one for the history books – hopefully called sessions of Annual Conference will be no more than a page in the annuals of my life. Frances and Virginia, our lay delegates from our congregation, Jane and Rob as District Delegates, and Don and I left early on Saturday morning toward Lake Junaluska to adopt the 2011 budget for our annual conference.  I understand Marty was at the conference office waiting to update the website with the information decided. Thanks for her good work at the Annual Conference assisting to keep us all updated on the happenings around the conference.

It’s not hard to imagine plans more fitting on a Saturday morning, but the work must go on.  Bishop Goodpaster followed the singing of three hymns – a wonderful sound in a room with some passionate singing. He first apologized for having to assemble our conference once more this year. But he quickly reminded us that we have a process we have all agreed to follow as United Methodist and this was part of it. We need to be able to fund the work of the church and that not only takes prayer and worship but also financing.

He started with a selection of scripture form II Corinthians 8:
We want you to know, brothers and sisters,* about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; 2for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4begging us earnestly for the privilege* of sharing in this ministry to the saints— 5and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking* among you. 7Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you*—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.*
8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9For you know the generous act* of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something—11now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between14your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15As it is written,
‘The one who had much did not have too much,
and the one who had little did not have too little.’

The Bishop said the darn-est thing, “You know this passage could have been written yesterday!” He was addressing the concerns of the economy – the concerns of the world around us. The Bishop proclaimed the tension the news from the economist and the good news of Jesus Chirst. He said, “Our stewardship crisis is because of listening to the wrong tapes in our minds.” He said, “If we care only for OUR interest, we will become a spiritually empty shell of nothing!”

From II Corinthians again…for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4begging us earnestly for the privilege* of sharing in this ministry to the saints— 5and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking* among you.

He said, “He said if we give out of our scarcity or our supposed “fixed” resources, then we limit what we can accomplish for God!” If we continue to live in a scarcity we will wither and die!” Are we in a maintenance mode or willing to share. It was real interesting, he said he received an email recently that listed the average incomes of each county in North Carolina. If he considered the number of working United Methodist times those average earnings across our counties (if we followed God’s suggested giving plan of 10%, the old-fashioned tithe you may recall, then our purpose there would not be to assemble a budget to fund ministries; rather we’d be assembled to try to figure out how in the world we could get rid of massive amounts of money. “God has blessed us,” he said, “with more than enough – for everyone.” He suggested that his reading of the scripture reminds us that our generosity is nothing short of a manifestation of our love.  But he left us with a question, and I pass it on to you, “What can we offer Christ for the world?” And are we willing to share, “according to our means.”

That’s what he said, or at least what I heard him say. He said words we need to hear once again. Over and over again.

There are ways that we buy into a downtrodden systems. Old ways of thinking; old ways of doing. We get used to the normal old maintenance modes of life. We are used to the world we live in – whatever, however that might be. We are conditioned to just deal with whatever is.  It’s good enough. It was good enough for 15 years ago. It, whatever you know needs to be there, it was nice, so it still must be nice – although we really know it isn’t what it needs to be.

I remember a while back – when the televisions weren’t flat – that somewhere I frequented had a tv that the color control had started not controlling the color – sometimes it was more green, sometimes more red, sometimes more blueish. But never what it was supposed to be! Never. Well, it was ok though. It was just tv., so it was ok. But it wasn’t really like we all knew it should be. It was a far cry from the normal tvs we saw around us. But when we just sat and looked at it, we’d get used to it – it was good enough.

I recall going to the pet store growing up – it was on my route through the mall. The puppies and the cats, and all those crazy little animals. One of my favorite sections was were the fish were. It was so neat – they had all colors of fish and all shapes throughout the section of the store. I wish I didn’t, but I did – I’d disregard the signs and tap the glass, just to watch the fish swim hurriedly across the tank. I knew that’d get them moving fast.
Only later when I read once that fish will actually become conditioned to the tapping on the glass. If the glass was tapped often enough as a person walked up to the glass, then even when the person didn’t tap on the glass the fish would swim the other way as they noticed movement. Over and over again they were trying to get away from the constant tapping on the glass – even when it wasn’t there. They’d been so conditioned to run the other way even if the person walking toward the tank was there to feed and care for the small fish. They’d begin to expect the worse, even if the truth was counter their fears – they’d stopped looking for the good!
I remember Bishop Jones sharing a story from the mission field. I don’t remember the lead in, but if I recall correctly, there was a group that had gone over the Atlantic for an international mission event. They were helping out – caring for people  or repairing something. The first few days, they were fine, but near the end, there was a noticeable difference in the mood of the group.
The local person who was helping them adapt to the location, asked about what was wrong. Some of the group stated that they’d worked all week and little had actually changed around them.  The local leader replied, this is the part I remember from Bishop Jones’ story, the leader replied, “That’s the trouble with you Americans, you only know how to hope if you are winning.”  Personally, I doubt this trait is limited to just Americans, but much of the advantaged people of the world. Just this edition of the Christian Century announced on the front cover that 93% of the starving in the world live in three areas:  Asia, The Pacific, and Africa. We are the advantaged, even in these times – a short season compared to the life lived by so many other of God’s created people around the world.  The leader said, “you only know when to hope if you are winning.”
There’s something about life experiences that seem to condition us to deal with just the basics of life. To come to expect nothing more than the norm.  To deal with real life!  To live in the real world! as they say.

Yeah, and sometimes you might be right. But there is something about the fact that we, you and I, and others come here and to other churches, or synagogues, and even mosques, to hear the word of God say so plainly once again that the way things are out there in the big bad world aren’t the same way – or at least shouldn’t be the same way – here as they are out there.  Yeah, we have to consider sound principles,
but that can’t be the only force we let lead our community or our lives.

You see, we’ve more leading our lives than merely sound earthly principles and personal opinions.  The presence of Christ can make such a difference.

I wonder how it would have been to have been there when Jesus healed the woman on the Sabbath day in the synagogues. Her arrival, she’d gone like the week before.  She’d struggled to get there before, her back all hunched over. Painful – probably. Perhaps even more painful because of the way others looked at her. They’d size her up even before she spoke a word or even before she’d lifted her face.

Frances Taylor Gench, one of my professors at Seminary, in her book, Back to the Well, considers this “Bent Woman.” She suggests that the 18 years this woman was “bent over” was over half her life that was probably only about 36 years. ( ) She poses a question, “Given the woman’s restricted field of vision, one wonders if she would have been aware of [Jesus’} presence. Jesus is represented as taking note of her presence, interrupting his teaching, and calling her foward from the margins to the center of the worshiping community” (87). And he says to her, “you have been set free.” And Dr. Gench, who we all called Frances, as we did most of the professors at Union-PSCE, to remind us of our connectedness because of our baptism and life lived in Christ, she suggests that the woman “assumes an eschatological (or of the end of earthly time) posture appropriate to the coming of the Son of Man and God’s new age.” A reminder of Luke’s Jesus foretelling the final days, as in Luke 21:28, “Now when these things take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption in drawing near” (87).  She goes on to remind her reader, “that not everyone recognizes the significance of the events taking place around them – specifically those in leadership. So the deep joy offered by Jesus living in and around them, was only received with deep suspension and  questioning. They were failing to recognize the goodness unfolding before their very eyes.

How often we do the same thing in life. The goodness happening around us is overshadowed by our conditioning. It seems that we are quiet content just to go with the normal ol’ stuff of life and forget about the possibilities of God in our very presence.

Where are the places where the possibilities of Jesus await your life?

Perhaps it is within family relationships. wounds long scared over or raw from this morning’s fresh fight. Perhaps there was THAT teacher or administrator or another student at your school. Or that co-worker that drives you mad. Perhaps you may even feel God has in some way let you down.  Perhaps the presence of Christ waits to be revealed in the way you care for employees in your charge – standing with them verses the bottom line figures for the corporation. Perhaps it’s time you really wrote or called your congressional representatives about an issue that effects more than your wallet.

It goes with out saying that our vote next week is a vote of possibility. We aren’t agreeing to take on debt, we aren’t saying yes to new construction. We are wondering if the congregation supports our leadership beginning to work securing funds to make our building able to support our church’s work for us (especially mindful of our children and youth spaces for the future, your ease of access to get to this sacred space), and for our greater community.

You see, the same old bent over ways of life aren’t required in the presence of Jesus. Because God in our midst is able to do more than our human minds can even imagine. Even if we don’t know enough to ask what we should be doing for Christ Jesus. Sometimes we just have to stand up and be set free to live into a new life. Place old fears and pains behind us and see and start looking for possibilities all around us.

I wonder if you might want to pray. I mean just come to the altar rail and pray – or right where you are. Pray for Christ’s church and its work throughout the world.  Perhaps you have some fears or concerns or you’re ready to pray for Christ to guide your thoughts or even pray for strength to vote how you feel God has guided you to vote for our church’s decision next week. Pray for some point of trouble that has your life bent over.To pray about your past, your presence, your future.  To pray for a child you’ve just taken off to school, or for the students and teachers heading back this week. Pray about something that has your vision or your life cloudy or even totally blocked.  Perhaps there is even the possibility that you’re ready to enter the presence of Christ’s love and let your life be lived with him.  There is so much where shall we begin?

1 Comment

Filed under Focus on Divine, Sermon, Worship

“A Change in Perspective” Aug 1, 2010 Sermon

“A Change in Perspective”
BSUMC: Statesville: Jason Harvey
1 August 2010
Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

It has been far too long for me to be away: Annual Conference, Youth Mission Trip, continuing education event, caring about friends and family. I’ve missed our worship together; Our sharing praise and worship of God.

My time away has been both tiring and renewing. I am especially grateful that the events came in the order they did, I finished up thinking theologically in a worshiping community of musicians, preachers and artists outside of Minneapolis at St. Olaf College. The conference title was “The News and the Good News.” Talking about a timely event. How wonderful! What do we do with the “mess” of the world around us? Oh, I loved it. Some of the presenters spoke or preached about the on going conflicts with in our country. When did it become cool to hate or attach a person for his or her opinions? Civil discourse has long been the means by-which we are able to consider and learn. Our beliefs may be transformed – not by the easy absorption of another’s thoughts, but by development of our own thoughts based upon reason, examination, and developed understanding or experience.  If you are so inclined as a practicing United Methodist, one could follow Wesley’s Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience of is thought process named by Albert Outler, Wesley’s Quadrilateral.

There are two themes that keep poping into my mind this week form today Lesson’s: Civility and Greed – (themes that will always pack the house!)

I recall an email exchange with the “GoodNews” magizine’s editor and the now Diector of the Institute of Religion and Democracy, Mark Tooley.  I must let you know, I consider this group a fringe organization who twists and warps facts and events in a unusual light I am unable to see nor understand – I preface my statement with that understanding. Several years back, I wrote him challenging his perspective on the work of our general church.  I’d heard his doom and gloom about the church I love long enough.  I took his perspective to task. He did reply back quickly with a few questions and recants. I returned my responses and then he responded was a I lay or clergy member of the United Methodist Church. I ceased my conversation as he’d pushed the conversation past the issue-at-hand and on to me as a person.  He’d stop considering the issue at hand and moved to begin to attack me as a person – not as a holder of thoughts.

This trend seems to be even more common today – growing over the past 20 years. The climate across our land has deteriorated to a point where we have lost our civility toward one another. Our society seems to be operating by allowing the loudest voices to be only those asking us to join their side of the fence.  Our political process, beginning in the 1980s suggest some, not at the last election or the past three elections, but in the 1980s, our political process has become so polarized. Polarized to the point where the ones with the most money and the greatest amount of advertising rise to the top. A point only recently supported by the Supreme Court of the United States – considering a corporation’s campaign gifts.  Although the cream is thought of as rising to the top of the milk; the gulf over the past three months has been proof enough that slimy crude oil and life draining grease rises and floats to the the surface too.

Stephen L. Carter in his book Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy, a text from one of my classes in seminary, makes many deep arguments for the practice of civility. Civility, he defines “the set of sacrifices we make for the sake of our common journey with others, and out of love and respect for the very idea that there ARE others” (pg. 23).  He goes further in saying, “Alone of God’s creation, we humans are able to apply the test of morality to our actions, and civility calls us to do so. For democracy without civility is like dieting without discipline: we may call ourselves careful eaters, but we know in our souls that we are gluttons” (pg. 24).  His regular suggestions of faith shaped civility through out the text appears to suggest there is something different caused by the presence of God. He suggests, “only resurgence in all that is best about religious faith will rescue civility in America, for there is no truer or more profound vision of equality than equality before God” (pg. 31). Both for us and our neighbors – the ones who act like us; who speak and think like us; who look like us – and those neighbors who do not in the very least mirror our own selves – they too are God’s creation we are called offer care and to be relational.

Carter suggests a few ways for civility to grow: Our duty to be civil does not depend on whether we like them or not; civility requires we sacrifice for strangers, not just for people we happen to know; civility has two parts: generosity, even when it is costly, and trust, even when there is risk; Civility creates not merely a negative duty not to do harm, but an affirmative duty to do good; we must come into the presence of our fellow human beings with a sense of awe and gratitude; civility assumes that we will disagree; it requires us not to mask our differences but to resolve them respectfully; civility requires that we listen to others with knowledge of the possibility that they are right and we are wrong; Civility requires that we express ourselves in ways that demonstrate our respect for others; Civility requires resistance to the dominance of social life by the values of the marketplace. The basic principles of civility – generosity and trust – should apply as fully in the market and in politics as in every other human activity; allows and sometime requires criticism, but it should always be civil; civility discourages the use of legislation rather than conversation to settle disputes, except as a last, carefully considered resort; Civility values diversity, disagreement, and the possibility of resistance, and therefore the state must not use education to try to standardize our children; Religions aid civility when they preach not only love of neighbor but resistance to wrong.
(Pause)
I sometimes to find myself in less than normal conversations. Even on the sidewalk or elevator, I wind up getting to into conversations best left for prayer chapel or a medical professional, but there I often am. After sometime conversing just this very week, someone looked me square in the eye and asks, “How does Jesus Christ make a difference in a person’s life?” Point blank.

Think on that – What do you say? – tell your neighbor. “How does Jesus Christ make a difference in a person’s life?”

My answer was/is “Jesus changes our perspective.”  That’s it. The person I said that answer to appreciated it. What happens after we chose to follow after Christ, our perspective changes?  Our world begins to be seen through a whole new set of lens and there is a whole new way of life. Our old selves begin to die away and our new selves begin to grow modeling our lives after the one we now claim to follow. The process is forever on-going and not likely to be complete while we drawl breath on earth.

The letter of Colossians and our gospel lesson from Luke 12 both suggest that new perspective. In Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible, The Message, he translates the first of Colossians 3 in this way, “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t suffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ — that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

Funny how our text and my conversation happened this week – perhaps it’s a God thing – just perhaps.  The perspective with which we view the world is different when we choose to follow after Jesus Christ. The normal doom and gloom of the world around us isn’t what is the driving force in our lives. There is something beyond us and ourselves and we recognize it.

Then, in the Gospel, there’s that guy who looks at Jesus as some judge and jury. He pops the question – well, at least makes a statement to get Jesus to tell his brother to divide the family’s inheritance.  Good for him, he does recognize that Jesus is a man of great power and possibility, but he misses the point and Jesus calls him on it! Jesus recants, again from Peterson’s The Message, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”  Then Jesus illustrated the point with the story of the farmer’s bigger barns and his impending death.

Cartoon from New Yorker – Little girl with toys around her, not wanting to share with the little boy with her one line excuse, “I would share, but I’m not there developmentally.” Greed appears in many places. We are confronted on nearly every news report concerning the greed and mismanagement of corporations throughout the world, chief among them in our own country. It seems the bottom line drives away an honest profit. It seems the care for and about employees is forced to take the farthest seats on the corporate coaches.  It seems that the very ones who yell about the downfall of our world are the very ones leading the charge.

But greed isn’t only in the corporate boardroom. It’s present in even the most holy of places. Non-profits. Scandals all around. But we most likely don’t even have to travel outside our own heart to get to the greed Jesus is speaking of. So often our own desires to be great and have much leaves us restless (as Augustine put it: “our hearts are restless till they find rest the thee.”)  Our greed, our wants, our desires are seem to ourselves justified in some way.

Oh, the struggles we face.  What is in us that justifies the 3-4,000 more dollars of car accessories or home upgrades, you know while we are doing it, but the challenge that arises when the offering envelope or the pledge card comes around to give a bit more.  What is it that makes us feel we deserve the four or fifth trip of the summer even to the point where we hinder the causes of Christ in the world? But if we truely follow after, or act like we are following after Jesus, these corrupted ideals won’t have lasting power over us.

John Wesley’s phrase, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” The first two for most of us aren’t that demanding. The last one is where the rub is.

My, my, the need for civility and a case against greed.  Yeah, not such happy topics. But examination of our lives is necessary – crucial.  The wound cannot heal without being cared for in some manner. We must consider our perspective on all things – allowing nothing to be unexamined in light of the call of Christ Jesus. The good news in all this news is that God is still working with this weary world and within our “sin sick souls” calling us from despair into the live changing love of Jesus Christ.

All glory, honor and prise be to the one who was, who is and is to come.

Leave a comment

Filed under Focus on Divine, Sermon, Worship

“Shaazam!” – Pentecost Sermon

“For Real Membership”
Pentecost, Confirmation and Heritage Sunday
Broad Street UMC, Jason Harvey, Preacher
23 May 2010
 
If someone were to stop you on the street and ask what does Pentecost mean? What might you tell them? Say they were in a hurry, what would your short answer be? Puzzeled? Here’s my advice to you, just say “Shaazam!” The best explianation of the arrival of the Holy Spirit long ago is the simple “Shaazam!” ’cause that’s pretty much what happened. –“Shaazam!” belongs to The. Rev. Gerheart Miller’s sermon on Pentecost.  
 
Today is the day of Pentecost. A day our church liturgical calender deems is the day of celebration of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the people. Christ’s promised “Advocate” comes as a mighty rushing wind over the people gathered. Peter, the Disciple of Christ, begin to speak and all the people, no matter where they had gathered from, they understand the Disciple’s words. How it happened I do not know, but I do not worry – the Disciples spoke and the people understood.So much so that 3,000 people were baptized and added to the body of Christ. The Spirit has continued to work each and every day since – even when we fail to recognize it.
 
The church of God, or rather the people of Christ who combine to create the Church of Christ, has a long history. It is that history that offers us the tradition of our past, the stories of those who have been engaged by God Almighty and have chosen to live their lives under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is also the same history of our church that has been effected by humanity’s finitude that holds stains of the past. But it is also that same church of Christ that seeks to make the world we live in just a bit more like that promised wonderfulness of the Kingdom of God – places of grace and mercy, justice and equality, forgiveness and new challenges. Somewhere in that history of the past and hopes for the future, we find ourselves, as a present linkage between the past and the future – like a link in a chain, we stand as the link. 
 
Could Christ’s church move forward into tomorrow without us? Quiet possibly, but I believe, the God who knit us together in our Mother’s womb, as the psalmist wrote, wouldn’t have it
ANY OTHER WAY
than to have us right here, right now. Perhaps another way to say it is captured by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s sentence, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”  Although, important are the things we have done in the past – moments of successful living and glorious histories; we must, too, consider future events that may hold unknown triumphs and loudest accolades, but they are not most important in our lives.  The most critical, perhaps most counter-cultural, prophetic statement I’ll make today, the most important elements of our lives is who we chose to be in the here-and-now.  
 
I wonder if the congregation would mind if I were to take just a few minutes to speak with these four confirmands? A little time to encourage them on their way and challenge them in their future.  You see we’ve spent a good deal of time together over the past months, however, there have been interruptions and challenges during our teaching time. Today, they’re down front, quiet, the cell phones are toned down a good bit, so I might be able to chat with them, if you’ll allow it?
 
Thank you.
 
Confirmands, I am so glad that you’ve have arrived here where you are. You’ve come a long way. But we aren’t finished yet. There are a few more things I want to say to encourage you on your way as you begin your full membership in our church’s congregation and more importantly into Christ’s Holy world-wide Church.  But I feel a little weird just talking to you, so is it ok if the rest of the congregation listens in a bit to our conversation?
 
Thank you. I wasn’t sure what I would have to do if they said no. I feared I may have to ask you to leave and go to lunch early.
 
During our time together, you’ve considered many aspects of our faith. Our lenghtened time together has allowed you to learn and live into what it means to be a part of the church. You’ve studied the parts of scripture, you’ve learned about people of the past, John and Charles Wesley, various leaders of the church from St. Augustine and Martin Luther, to Mother Teresa and the Rev. Dr. King. People who have lived out God’s call upon their lives in commitment that caused them to challenge and teach the church and world the ways of God. We’ve studied and even experienced other denominations’ worship styles. We’ve even had a chance to visit other churches and our local synagogue to discover Christianity’s connection with the Jewish faith. I admit, that was the first time I’d ever been in a synagogue, with you, that was just wonderful!  We’ve have a chance to discuss, sometimes in great detail, our faith, our questions, our struggles, our experiences with God. I wonder if we all could constantly be this mindful of what it means to be Christian and to be United Methodists, how very different our world would be!
 
You might not even be aware of some of the times you were learning and what you were learning, when you were learning.  You didn’t know, but I was learning too. I was learning more about the faith I claim as my own, right alongside you all.  Bet you didn’t know that, but it is true. Upon your Confirmation, it does not mean that you now know everything you need to know about church membership and following the way of Christ. It’s sorta like boot camp in the armed forces. There are things you must know to be a educated member of the force and the schooling is a quick way to teach you some stuff, but it isn’t meant to be your last learning moment. Oh, it is mearly a first step of a life long, no eternity long process.
 
Not only is today Pentecost Sunday and Confirmation, but it is also deemed Heritage Sunday. A day when we recall our history as a denomination. This day is closely tied to May 24, 1738, for on that day, John Wesley, the chief personality of Methodistism, was convinced at once that God forgave, loved and cherished him.  His heart was “strangely warmed,” as we’ve talked about before in class. It was then that he trusted in God. Wesley wrote in his journal,

“…While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”  -Heritzenrater, Richard. Wesley and the People Called Methodist, 1995, pg. 80. 

It was this event that gave this Priest in the Church of England new courage and empowerment to work for God in the world – to visit the sick and set up free clinics, to preach for people in fields and gathering places, spoke out against slavery and societal injustices of his time, wrote and taught about this God in whom he trusted. Wesley’s “heart warming experience” was not a culmination climax of his faith, it was only a grand opening!, a new beginning.  It doesn’t say he never had a challenge again, it only meant he was able meet challenges, not unafraid, but with confidence of who was on his side.  He trusted Christ with his life.    
 
I don’t lift up Wesley to you as someone to be worship, not in the least.  But I do say he’s not a bad model of a person who practiced their faith with zeal.  He’s pretty clear is his motivating factor in his work is his deep appreciation for the gift of Christ’s salvation and grace and love. His desire to serve God and humanity is not some once-upon-a-time, half-hearted, lacking commitment, easy-does-it type of Christianity.  It is sacrificial, self-less and certainly not easy. 
 
In Pat Conroy’s South of Broad, he follows a gang of kids through much of their lives.  I’ve not finished reading it yet, it’s been an OK read.  However, part that really fascinates me is the struggle these kids face in the late sixties as a group African-American and White kids who spread the spectrum of social classes – from the riches part of town to the orphanage.  They are always fighting between them selves, who is this or who is that.  They love the each other to death, but their infighting is draining. 
 
In the early part of the book, two guys, one Africa-American and one White guy are brought together as co-captains of the integrated football team. They really aren’t so excited to be on the same team. One of the guys is the son of the new African-American football coach at Peninsula High School, the other is the principal’s son.  Over the summer of everyday workout their friendship grows into one that proves to last through their time at the Citial and their lives.  Their work as co-captians and their leadership of their team took them to the State Championship game, they of course win, this is a novel. 
 
It’s not a recount of the very exciting game laid out by the author, even a sport novice can appreciate. But he says, “I liked being apart of a team with a game plan and a way of deliverance for a boy who knew how much he needed it.” There you are, today, you are being added to a team, one who offers you deliverance from the “normal” ways of life and world, part of God’s way of life. One that takes lots of work, lots of learning, lots of love and lots of grace to live out.  
 
 
Perhaps that’s one thing troubling the world today – where have those who practice a living faith gone? I’m not talking about a faith that’s turned into some political party lashing out at world. I’m not talking about a faith that’s been regulated to simple teachings of being nice, although that’s not a bad goal either. I’m not talking about a faith that has been compartmentalized to a small pigeon hole that is only visited on Sunday morning. I’m not talking about a faith that practiced in here and not out there. 
 
“Two Dollars Worth of God Please” by Mark Williams.

Well, I pulled up to the station

in my bright new shiny car

and I asked the man who was working there

what was he staring at me for

Nevertheless, I let him rest

but then I watched him freeze

when I told him what I wanted

was “two dollars of God, please.”

chorus:

‘Cause that’s not enough to make me love

someone who’s not like me

but the right amount to get me through

another busy week

I don’t want nothing radical

‘cause then I’d have to change my ways

no, I just want two dollars

that would be just fine today

That man did what I wanted

he put the gas into my car

not so much as to slow me down

just enough to get me far

Now some people call me crazy

but I’m smart enough to know

the type of fuel changes the way

your engine runs and so

chorus:

I don’t want enough to make me love

someone who’s not me

but the right amount to get me through

my very busy week

I don’t want nothing radical

‘cause then I’d have to change my ways

no, I just want two dollars

that would be just fine today

Well, next time you’re by that station

tell that man I said “hello”

‘cause I think he’s starting to understand

what I told him not long ago

See I don’t want to live for God my friends

‘cause his ways and mine don’t mix

that’s why I only go every week or so

to get my two dollar fix

chorus:

‘cause that’s not enough to make me love

someone who’s not like me

but the right amount to get me through

another business week

I don’t want nothing radical

‘cause then I’d have to change my ways

no I just want two dollars

that would be just fine today

yeah, I just want two dollars

that would be just fine today

c. 1997, Mark Williams (BMI) http://www.mark-williams.com/ (It is with deep appreciation to Mark for sending me the words to this favorite song from my college Wesley Foundation experience.)

I beg of you, keep a faith that is more than just two dollars worth of God. Live into mighty challenges.  Stay a part of God’s team. I’d like to encourage you to chase after a faith that is alive and living. The Christ we seek to follow has promised us life abundant, not just some half life.  The Christ, whom I’ve learned more about during our time together than I knew before, promises to be with us always to comfort and to challenge. I can’t look into the future and know what your life will hold – times of glamorous goodness or deepest pain, but I do know one thing, the Christ that you chose to follow after, to worship and praise, to pray to and travel with, will never, ever, never leave or not love you. Our God is good. May you always learn, always love, and always allow his life to lead your life this day and forever. 

All glory, honor and praise, be to the one who was, who is, and is to come.   

Leave a comment

Filed under Focus on Divine, Sermon, Worship

Advent III/II: Sunday’s Sermon

Advent II – Dec. 13, 2009
Broad Street UMC: Statesville, NC
The Canticle of Zechariah – Luke 1:68-79: Malachi 3:1-4; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6.
The Rev. Jason W. Harvey

Some times in life you realize you make good choices. Other times you realize you don’t necessarily. This morning I chose to put on the socks that don’t stay up. I hate that. I was in the office this morning and I reached down to pull up the socks that don’t stay up and I realized I wore blue socks with my black suit. They are dark blue – good news. The other news is I felt if I wear my blue stole I’ll be ok. A little edgy, but that’s ok. It is the fashion trend of Statesville, I started it right here.

The other thing you realize that you make choices, well, when you type up the bulletin (those three mistakes are mine – out feet, our feet – something like that). You print the bulletins and you then you realize that the text that you put into the bulletin and you realize that you have put in the texts from the week before, but I like the text from the week before, so we are doing Advent, number two today and you have another week to shop before Christmas this year. So we’ve stretched that out a week more. Our merchants are glad to hear that. We have another week to shop.

However, since last week was such a wonderful celebration of our 100 year sanctuary. I look out and I see the remainate of the festivities gone past, but I am greatful you’re here. I don’t blame you, I thought about staying home and listening by the radio. If you are listening on the radio, we welcome you.
But there are some wonderful things going on this time of the year. I love it. All around town and even right here in our church. Sunday school parties, UMWomen Circle parties – one tomorrow; I’m looking forward to it.

Church trips we go on. The van tires are still cooling down at Boggs Motor from the Senior trip to Lake Junaluska yesterday. Twenty-five of us went yesterday – it was a great trip.

Last Saturday, 19 of the youth and I and some others took off to the Candle Tea in Winston-Salem to a neat event. We wound up watching the Christmas parade sitting inside the Mellow Mushroom Pizza in Winston-Salem. We were right there on Fourth St. the parade went by as we were munching on pizza. I found a way to watch a parade and it is not out standing in the cold.

However, at Old Salem we went downstairs, I don’t know, several of you have been to Old Salem… There is one rumor I want to dispel – it is Moravian Sugar …Cake, not Sugar Bread, being from Winston-Salem, I am somewhat of an authority, it is Sugar Cake, not Sugar Bread. So I am here to change Statesville, I understand there is an ugly rumor of Sugar Bread in our midst. The Moravians have sent me here to do that.

We went to the Candle Tea, we sang some Moravian songs, we saw them make candles, the beeswax candles, ate some of the Sugar, what’s it called? Cake, good, no rebels. So we went downstairs to the PUTZ and from what I understand, I’m Methodist, with some Moravian influences. They would put these small houses around the bottom of their trees in family homes – small wooded houses sometimes with candles. They would go around and see the neighbor’s villages. The PUTZ in Salem was dying out, so they included it at the Candle Tea. It takes about three months to set it up, it is viewed for a month and it takes a month to take down. They use marble dust for snow. It is great. All kinds of wonderful things.

We had this tour guide, she really hammed it up for the kids. She made Salem come alive. Well, I was standing on one end, probably about the Wachovia Building and I was looking over the village. I couldn’t see all the way to the end.

I asked her how long she’d been near Salem? She replied, “All of her life.” I thought she would remember what it was I was about to ask her. I told her I couldn’t see that far down, but was there a Rambler dealership at the bottom of Salem hill – Winebarger and Adkins? She said no, but she remembered it. It was my Granddad’s dealership. Not far from Krisby Kream – another W-S treasure. As I walked by she said they’d bought two cars there – a wagon and convertible and I absolutely loved them.

Well, I, I’m not trying to sale Ramblers, althought I could probably do it; but I could I’ve got some good lines down – “It’s a good solid car.” “It was a car before it’s time. It really was.” They don’t make it anymore, but that’s par. I could sale it.

Have you ever noticed that a person who asks a question in some public setting they somewhat become an authority on the issue. People automatically look toward one person to do the speaking. Have you ever noticed that in a meeting?

Well, I asked that one question and one of our kids looked at me. She observed some of the details. There were footprints coming in and out of this one small building behind some of the houses. And she asked, “What’s that little building out back?” I replied an “Outhouse.” I still got a blank stare. I pushed forward and said, “Well, that’s the place they used to go to the restroom.” That got her attention. She looked at me like a murder had just been committed. “What, they didn’t have indoor pluming?” I said, “no, they didn’t” and one of the parents added in, “nor did they have cell phones.” A bit of a reality check for how far we’ve come in a short while.

Back to our guide person – she really made Salem come alive – making up little stories about houses and people chatting on the street. She even told a story about what the town crier was saying. You know what a town crier is don’t you? It’s not gone the way of the outhouse, has it? Well, he was the internet, tweeter, the evening news and newspaper all rolled into one noisy man walking along the streets. Often ringing a bell, hollering out “Oyea, Oyea,” and would then yell the headlines. Sorta like a prophet, a little bit. He made the announcements for the courts and the government.

Did you know the Lord Mayor of London still has a town crier? Did you know that the town crier is still protected by law against assault and harassment? The town crier was a agent of the king, so therefore, if the town crier was accosted or something, then that is treason on the words of the king. The town crier would announce something like tax increases and that is never welcomed.

So you have these town criers that are somewhat still existent. They have competitions and things where they get together.

You know sometimes in Advent, I feel a little like a town crier (ringing huge handbell, requiring both hands – at this point) – Oyea, Oyea! In Advent, I feel a little like a town crier. I stand here saying something similar to before, just in a different time and place.

Thinking back to December two years ago – we thought we had the world by a string. A year ago in December, you probably remember it – we were wondering if the world was going to be around in a couple of months. Dire faces because of dire funds. This year we’re a little better, but we’re not out of the woods yet on that issue.

But I take my place here again to say we’re in the Season of Advent once again and not Christmas – not yet! It is the way that the church says we’re different – things inside these walls aren’t the same as outside the walls.
Advent say to us, “wait, slow down, remember the reason we are to celebrate – but in a way more than just being reminded that, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” In my opinion, a rather trite explanation of the Incarnation of God – God made flesh. That little mantra doesn’t seem to capture Jesus. Advent is the church’s way to say to us, “anticipate the joy of Christ’s birth, but not yet!”

Stanley Hauerwas, Time Magazine’s 2001 America’s Best Theologian – How many of you’ve heard of him? (Only one had – my senior pastor) – he teaches at that other divinity school, down there, where ever it is, at Duke. Sometimes I think he pushes us (the church) against the culture too much, some I can really get behind. But my understanding or memory of a quote in this pass issue of “Christian Century” that today’s church has lost its ability to be counter cultural, since it has become a slave to consumer trends. He says, today’s church has lost its ability to be counter cultural, since it has become a slave to consumer trends. We my friends, we want people to like us, so we’ve made concessions:
If you are visiting, we want you to come again.
If you are here, we really want you to stay.
If you haven’t been here or it has been a while, we would love to see you again. But in our process of trying to make everyone happy; to get everyone to like us, we’ve forgotten that our message isn’t always comforting – to the ways of the world.

Advent says to us, we can’t put on some festive sweater, a painted on smile, purchase someone an artificial gift we’d rather give to someone else. And then go out into the world and everything will be happy. That, my friends, is called “denial” – and it isn’t just a river in Egypt.

Advent says the ways of God are not the ways of the world – not anywhere close. Might does not make right! Ask Mary and Joseph in a tiny stable in a few days. The old king might not know about the new king. And tell me the last time a bunch of roughen shepherds were the first to be invited to the biggest party in the world’s history by a choir of angels.

Not the same! Not the same. – Yells the town crier.

Jesus Christ for whom we wait isn’t the same ol’, same ol’. This Jesus – both the infant that we celebrate and the ruler who has promised to return in the end – is a major change agent in our lives – and can be in each of our individual lives, if we so choose.

This Jesus – for whom we wait – reminds us that our world, no matter how tough we may experience it, will not fall from its axis – it may change, it may look different – the North Pole might be the South Pole – or the South Pole the North Pole. But it will not have final say over our lives, over our souls. I wonder what December 2010 will look like, I wonder what December 2020 will look like, or maybe December 2222? What will they look like how will they be? But we need not fear it. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow – they neither toil or spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” (Matt. 6:28-29).

There are paths we fear to trod before each of us, but even though life may threaten, we do not face our challenges alone, because of Christ’s presence.

Advent reminds us that Christmases and days have come before. Some are now fond memories, others are painful scars – but Advent reminds us there are new memories to be made in the here and now – and the scars of past wounds that make us who we are, but they are not our defining feature.

This morning on my way in I was listening to the BBC Worldservice on 90.7 – 88.5 and 89.9 were playing these elaborate classical pieces and I wanted companionship on my way in. They were interviewing this guy from South Africa who was missing a bone in his leg. This man was born and his parents had to choose to have both of his feet and part of his legs amputated – one was misshapen and the other was missing a bone need for structure. But this young man had decided to make a go of life. He’d had some prosthesis made and he was able to walk and to run. In South Africa they aren’t as easy on their kids as they grow up. He said had his Mom ran after him each time he fell over, she’d still be running. She’d say, “Yeah, he’ll get up.” And he did. He said once he got in trouble and was sent across the street to the girl’s school from his boy’s school and he had to do ballet for two hours a day for a month. He said ballet for a kid with no feet was a challenge. He said he did it, he tried. He made a go of it.

Now he’s bring up an issue in the world of sports. Can he compete with so called “able bodied” runners, ‘cause he is so good, so fast? He’s moving on. He has figured out a way to live in the circumstances where he’d found himself. He’s made a life. Now he’s being interviewed by the BBC. Pretty amazing.

Advent reminds us that promises made have been fulfilled and the Messiah is here, the Messiah is come in the birth of Jesus, the little infant. But we also know there is hope for the future. All things wrong will be made right.
That’s what Advent reminds us of.

Advent says to us, “wait, just you wait!” the future is to be your present. Not something for us to dread, but for us to hope. Not merely to hope, but to work toward. It is great for us to help out a person who needs even the basics of life during this season, but what is it that we, many of us some of the most influential people in this town and county, what can our church do to correct injustices that created this situation in our society? Where has the spirit of transformation gone from Christianity?

Foundry Church in DC. I was listening to a sermon online the other day, back from November. Dean Snyder, the Minister there, was laying out the goals of that congregation for the next five years for that church. One of their goals he laid out was to alleviate homelessness in Washington, DC. That’s pretty big, isn’t it? They plan to work through church communities throughtout the District. They estimate that for $19 million they can eliminate homelessness in DC. He said he’d watched homelessness as we knew it had developed over the past 30 years. It’s not something that has been present throughout our nation’s history. But they could end homelessness by 2014 for $19 million dollars.

I am reminded of Bishop McClesky’s illustration last week. This thought has stayed with me all week long – about how Liverpool could build an $11 Million dollar cathedral. The Dean of the cathedral asked why we were so willing to put forth the necessary money for a nuclear submarine or concord jet, when one day they will be obsolete? But we are not willing to spend $11 million dollars on a cathedral that will last 500 or 1000 years and touch so many people’s lives. $19 Million is all it takes to cure homelessness in our nation’s capital. That’s amazing, that’s a Christian vision. That’s going after God’s way.

We must move forward to live out the promises of God. Yeah, God is working to bring about transformation, but what are we doing to help? When is the last time you wrote a letter or made a call to some leader in some place – especially because of the Scripture’s calling us to be and do and not our pocketbooks? Advent isn’t always fun – contrary to what the world’s idea of what Christmas always is, Advent isn’t always fun.

You know, It’s a Wonderful Life was on last night. Produced in 1946, I believe, know telling how many times it has been shown. It shows how much one person can shape a small town and the impact they can have on it. After George wished that’d he’d never been born and Clarence, the angel shows up and he hasn’t been born and we sees how Bedford Falls has changed to Pottersville. He finally realizes the impact he’s made on his small community and then he stands on the same bridge and prays, “Please God let me live again.”

And he does.

Leave a comment

Filed under Focus on Divine, Sermon, Uncategorized, Worship