Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Ash Wednesday Service @ Kingswood UMC

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This year the Holy Season of Lent begins on March 1.  At 1 pm there will be an Ash Wednesday Service in our sanctuary with voluntary imposition of ashes and Celebration of the Sacrament of the Holy Communion. Please make an effort to attend this service that marks the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent.

If anyone would like to receive ashes on their way to work, please contact Pastor Asher to arrange to meet at church on your way to work.

For those who are unable to attend our worship service at 1 pm, there will be a service at St. Nicholas’ at 7 pm.

Thinking Towards Sunday; March 5, 2017

Scripture for Sunday Matthew 4:1-11

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

In–Memoriam: Wilson Gartner. UPDATED Information!

Wilson Gartner passed on Monday, 2/20/2017 at approx. 6 pm.

Memorial Services will be on Thursday, March 2 at Ford’s Funeral Home in Chesapeake City.

Family and friends are invited to visit at 11 am. Services will begin at 12 noon.

Rest in peace, Wilson. Say “HI” to Barb!

Here is the link to Wilson’s obituary

In Memoriam: Wilson Gartner

Wilson Gartner passed on Monday, 2/20/2017 at approx. 6 pm.

Memorial Services will be on Thursday, March 2 at Ford’s Funeral Home in Chesapeake City.

Rest in peace, Wilson. Say “HI” to Barb!

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; Mark 1:29-39; Sunday, February 19, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: Mark 1:29-39

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

Next Week, February 26, 2017: The Salem County Brass Society comes to Kingswood UMC

The Salem County Brass Society is a non-profit organization that promotes brass music throughout Southern New Jersey and Delaware by awarding a music scholarship to a deserving senior student, in any music discipline, from Salem County, Gloucester County, Cumberland County, and New Castle County. The senior must plan on attending college in the fall as a major in some music discipline.

You will be Blessed by their Ministry and Presence!

Free Will Offering will be received.

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Most of the time it is easy for us to think about what we will do next week.  It is a huge generalization, but with a few exceptions your life next week will feel a lot like your life this week.  The vast majority of us will have the same friends, the same job, the same routine, drive the same car, and live in the same home.

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“Most of life is routine – dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration, you’ll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street.” ~~ Ben Nicholas

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Routine is what “polishes” our character, gives us time to think, allows us to strategize and gives us a chance to plan for the future.

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As I said earlier, most of the time it is easy for us to think about what we will do next week.  Your distant future is a bit blurrier.  It is hard to picture where you’ll be living, what you’ll be doing, and who you will be spending time with in 10, 20, 30 or 50 years.

For all of us, our ability to envision and then visualize the future is influenced by our memories from the past.

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I want to look at today’s Scripture from the point of view of the Disciples. The reading that we heard today took place fairly early in Jesus’ ministry. If we look at Mark 1 we learn that Jesus was baptized, spent time in the desert where he faced his own demons as well as the ultimate Evil – the Devil. When Jesus learned that John’s ministry was over (John the Baptist was imprisoned), his response was, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). Then Jesus called the first Disciples, and they went to Capernaum where Jesus healed a man of impure spirit, and as a result, “27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.’ 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee” (Mark 1).

I just gave a “Cliff Notes” version of events that probably took place over a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months. At the time of today’s reading, following Jesus was a fairly new experience for the Disciples. That is where today’s reading started:

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29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”

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How do you think the Disciples felt? Jesus did all the work healing people and driving out demons, but I bet that the Disciples felt proud and encouraged. “Look, I am with Him…,” they would say. At least some of the admiration and respect directed towards Jesus was bouncing onto them and they loved it. The Disciples’ social standing and status was increased just by being associated with Jesus.

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They were about to learn an important lesson: Jesus is NOT predictable. Mark tells us. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (verse 35).

The Disciples did not know what to do. Mark continues in verses 36 and 37, “Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’”

What I think they were saying was that they [the Disciples] were looking for Jesus because without Jesus they were just a bunch of dudes out of place, who did not know what to do next.

Their anxiety and confusion is understandable. Remember, today’s reading comes from Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Mark. We are still in the beginning for Jesus’ ministry on Earth. The Disciples had not spent much time with Jesus yet.

When they witnessed the healings, as they basked in the warmth of the admiration and respect flowing towards Jesus, more than likely the Disciples liked what they felt. I wonder if they were imagining starting a new synagogue and having a fruitful ministry in an area where everybody knew them.

That vision of the future would be so easy for the Disciples to imagine and adapt to. But it is not why Jesus came.

There is a saying that no one can cross the ocean until they have the courage to lose sight of the shore. The disciples were not ready to lose sight of everything that they knew and loved. They were not yet ready to “cross the ocean.”

{Illustration: This is Us, episode 1-3, Kate singing}

They wanted to stay close to their friends and families, close to their routine and fishing boats, close to their wives and homes, afraid to lose sight of everything they knew, loved, and were familiar with.

But Jesus had different ideas; Jesus was called to something different. “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come,” he said (Mark 1:38).

{Illustration}

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When Jesus told the Disciples that he wanted to go out there, that was a first glimpse for them of the future where they are capable of letting go of their “shore.” Jesus wanted them to go out there so that they had a chance to sing a song, to expand their minds, to reach beyond themselves.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

~~ Helen Keller

{Illustration}

Thinking Towards Sunday; February 19, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: Mark 1:29-39

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

Approximate Notes For Sunday’s Notes; February 12, 2017; 1 Kings 19:1-13

Scripture for this Sunday is 1 Kings 19: 1-13

You can read these Scripture here: {NIV and ESV}

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“What am I doing here?”

“How did it come to this?”

I am certain that I am not the only one who has asked these questions of myself at one time or another. It is impossible to live life on earth and to be human without finding ourselves in that place.

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In today’s reading we find Elijah after a show-down with the prophets of Baal. It was a show-down that Elijah was led to by God (1 Kings 18:15) and I think that God did it in order to demonstrate to the children of Israel that Elijah was the real thing.

{Illustration: Show-down is described in 1 Kings 18}

It is in this place of desolation and in this time of despair that God gave to Elijah something like a Super Bowl half-time show. It was scary and noisy. Elijah did not feel God’s presence in the earthquake, or in the wind, or in the fire. Elijah felt the presence of God in the stillness and silence that followed.

Today we live in a society filled with noise. Noise gets our attention; noise stimulates our curiosity. God used the noise of the earthquake, wind and fire to prepare Elijah to pay attention. The sentence, “Ok, Poindexter, sit down, shut up and listen” comes to mind.

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Last week we looked at Jesus’ sermon about renewal and regeneration. “… if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13) Jesus asked.

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Today’s reading is about Elijah losing his “saltiness.” He was scared, unable to see beyond his current circumstances, and he felt powerless. He even asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19: 4 – “I have had enough, take my life.”) Listen to Elijah’s conversation with God.

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NIV2010 1 Kings 19:14 “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

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In Celtic spirituality there is a concept called “Thin Places.” A thin place is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth, between sacred and profane, is so transparent that God feels especially real to us. A thin place is a spot on a space-time continuum where we can look straight into the face of God, where we can touch the hand that holds the world. It’s a place where and when we – imperfect human beings – can sense and experience the presence of the divine intensely and vividly. It is a place where we are encouraged and filled with the Holy Spirit.

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We see Elijah in his “thin place.” I think that God sent him on an errand (1 Kings 19:14-18) just to get Elijah to recognize that life still goes on and to demonstrate to Elijah that he is still capable of doing things for God. God also gave Elijah hope. In verse 18 we hear, “I [God] reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” In essence God said, “Elijah, you are not the only one left.”

We all get frustrated or angry at some point in our lives. All of us know the feeling of being defeated or embarrassed by something that we said or did. We don’t live in a perfect world; we live in a fallen world and sometimes things do not go the way we hope them to because we live in a world where the forces of evil are active.

What we can learn from Elijah is that the most obvious answers and the easy answers are not always the right ones.

From his “thin place” experience Elijah’s world view was challenged, and he reached a new understanding. In order to get to that new understanding, he had to lose his bearings, and he was forced to find new ones. He was jolted out of his comfort zone, out of old ways of seeing the world, and challenged to seek a deeper understanding of the world.

It takes maturity, patience, courage, and discernment to keep going in times like this.

Today we have with us Scout Troop 603. Scouting prepares and builds young men for their future lives. Everything worthwhile takes time, effort, perseverance and strength of character to accomplish.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting said once, “The secret of sound education is to get each pupil to learn for himself, instead of instructing him by driving knowledge into him on a stereotyped system.”

We all asked ourselves the question “How in the world did I get here?” Scouting prepares young men and women to face such times with courage and dignity, and teaches them to persevere, listen and learn from those experiences.

Throughout our lives we are in the process of becoming something tomorrow that we were not yesterday and are not today. God did not create us to grovel in the grime of our sins the way Elijah did in that cave. God created us to be the best version of the image of God that we can be.

Thinking Towards Sunday

Scripture for this Sunday is 1 Kings 19: 1-13

You can read these Scripture here: {NIV and ESV}

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; February 5, 2017; Matthew 5:1-2, 13-16

We will continue to explore what it means to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit guidance and transformation.

Scriptures for this Sunday are: Matthew 5:1-2, 13-16

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

We will also dedicate and commission a new wheelchair in memory of Irene Toth Genbauffe

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Am I the only one who gets tired and needs to rest once in a while? Can anyone else remember a time in your own life when you were so frustrated that you just did not care about what was going to happen next?

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Today’s Scripture records a time when Jesus was talking about this in the wilderness of Judea, “… if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13). The sad truth is that all of us lose our “saltiness” once in a while. And we are in a good company.

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In 1 Kings 19 we learn that Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of Israel, was running for his life from a tyrant. He was scared, discouraged, and depressed.

1 Kings 19: 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.”

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In the Book of Numbers, we learned that when the Children of Israel became exceedingly whiny after leaving Egypt, they tried to dump their anxiety on Moses.


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NIV2010 Numbers 11: 10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

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To paraphrase all that, Moses is saying, “Lord, just take me… Please…”

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We lose our “saltiness” when we lose our vision. We lose our “saltiness” when we lose sight of the big picture. We lose our “saltiness” when we lose our focus and see no way out of our current predicament.

{Illustration}

When we lose our “saltiness” we start dreaming of the “good old days.” In our memories the “good old days” are “good” because we tend to remember all the joys and celebrations and tend to forget the difficulties and frustrations. And all of a sudden, instead of letting the past infuse our future with meaning, we reminisce about what was and is no longer possible because times have changed. If we want to survive we need to change with the times.

This applies to our lives as a Christian community and it applies to our personal lives.

{Illustration: Educational Process}

{Illustration: Accomplishing personal goals}

{Illustration: Emotional and Spiritual healing}

Rediscovering our “saltiness” is about reinventing ourselves. It is about learning to think and react differently.

When we lose our saltiness, it is important to recognize what is happening – “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Most of the time we have options; we may not like our options, but we do have options. If we get complacent and do not want to do anything different, eventually we become “no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out” (Matthew 5:13). When that happens it becomes so much more difficult to reinvent ourselves.

To keep us focused, to remind us of our role in keeping our “saltiness,” Jesus himself established the Sacrament of the Holy Communion.

{Celebrating the Sacrament of the Holy Communion}

Thinking towards Sunday

We will continue to explore what it means to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit guidance and transformation.

Scriptures for this Sunday are: Matthew 5;1-2, 13-16

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

We will also dedicate and commission a new wheelchair in memory of Irene Toth Genbauffe

Approximate Notes For Sunday’s Message; January 29, 2017; Acts 7:54–Acts 8:3

We will continue to explore what it means to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit guidance and transformation.

Scriptures for this Sunday are: Acts 7:54 – Acts 8:3

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}


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In today’s Scripture reading we heard about the persecution that broke out against the young church, and it is in this context we meet the future apostle Paul: the man who has influenced every one of us gathered in this sanctuary today.

There are only a handful of people about whom we can make such a claim: Jesus himself, the Disciples, Mary Magdalene, and, of course, Paul. There may be one or two others….

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Paul influenced every one of us because his teachings and his example have influenced every man and every woman adhering to Judeo-Christian beliefs since the times of Jesus, and these men and women are our “cloud of witnesses,” our ancestors, great-grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles.

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So what do we know about Paul up to the point that we meet him in today’s Scriptures. We know that he was a devout Jew, he was well educated in what today would be called a “progressive” seminary under Rabbi Gamaliel.

Acts 5: 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. … 38 … I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

– Words of Gamaliel.

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Paul describes that stage of his life, before he met Jesus, in Acts 22:

NIV2010 Acts 22:2 I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

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Paul had strong opinions, Paul had strong faith, and in today’s scripture we see that Paul was convinced that he was doing the right thing in persecuting the church.

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So how did Paul get from that place of wanting to make sure that none of us know about Jesus to being someone who influenced, inspired, and helped all of us to understand Jesus?

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What happened in between was the event of Paul’s conversion when he met Jesus on the Road to Damascus, which was followed by the process of Paul’s conversion.

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Paul’s meeting Jesus for the first time is described in the Book of Acts, chapter 9.

NIV2010 Acts 9: 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

{{{ … }}}

NIV2010 Acts 9: 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

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In that meeting God revealed something to Paul that contradicted his deep seated beliefs. That revelation challenged Paul to stretch beyond what he already knew and had done, “something like scales fell off his eyes” (Acts 9:18). That revelation inspired Paul to break the barriers and boundaries established by his upbringing, convictions, and education. In response, Paul became a follower of Jesus and made it his life’s work to spread the good news. Notice that Paul did not give up his belief in God, nor did Paul contradict his roots. I am not saying that Paul did not have to work through the emotions and feelings of betrayal, of abandoning his roots, and guilt for hurting innocent people. But by working through these emotions and realities he learned something new about God and about himself, and that knowledge set him free…

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Paul’s conversion happened sometime between 33 and 36 C.E. The Epistle to Romans was written between 55 – 57 C.E.

In Romans Paul writes, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (12:2)

Most of us think that we are rational human beings and deeply believe that we make rational decisions at least most of the time. Unfortunately this is not true, studies have shown that human beings have a tendency to make decisions emotionally[1].

When proven wrong, we tend to defend our actions and words no matter what; we try to justify ourselves in the hope of appearing right, and we are scared of appearing weak.

{Illustration: Luke 10:29 – Intro to the Parable of the Good Samaritan – “Trying to justify himself…”. The Parable of the Good Samaritan was given to us because someone was trying to preserve appearance of being right and strong}

It is hard for us to change our opinions and beliefs because opinions and beliefs are emotional, not rational.

Paul’s conversion and twenty years of ministry resulted in these words from Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Paul had to live through a struggle between the events described in today’s reading, when Paul met Jesus for the first time, and the time towards the end of his life when he wrote the epistle to Romans.

To me these 37 words (I quoted NIV2010 translation) describe the process of Paul’s conversion, twenty years of ministry and interaction with other Christians and non-Christians, growth in his understanding of God, growth in his faith and his personal growth as a human being.

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Last week we talked about Thin Places. I think that Paul’s Conversion was a Thin Place for Paul.

That Thin Place experience taught Paul to submit himself to God who is always doing a new thing. As a result of his submission and understanding, God continually used Paul’s life as a beacon of hope and encouragement to others.

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Today I want to leave you with couple of questions:

  • When was the last time that “something like scales” fell off of your eyes and your mind was opened to something new?

  • How did this new knowledge manifest in your life?

  • How does God use you as a beacon of hope and encouragement to others?

  • When was the last time that your mind was renewed and you had a new understanding?


[1] See Dr. Robert Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (New Your, NY: Harper Paperbacks, 2006), page 57

Thinking Towards Sunday

We will continue to explore what it means to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit guidance and transformation.

Scriptures for this Sunday are: Acts 7:54 – Acts 8:3

Note for the worship team: I will use Acts 9:1-22 in the message. Only Acts 7:54 – Acts 8:3 will be read during Scripture Reading time.

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; January 22, 2017; Luke 19:1-10

Scriptures for this Sunday: Luke 19:1-10

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV and ESV}

Wheelchair dedication is rescheduled for February 5

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Zacchaeus intrigues me. Zacchaeus is different from other characters in the Bible. Most of the characters in the Bible experienced a call from God either as a personal invitation or through the public preaching of Jesus. Others sought Jesus because of some affliction. It is not Zacchaeus’ story. In many respects, he was an average man just like you and me.

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We know that he was short (Luke 19:3). I wonder if it bothered him or whether his neighbors made fun of him? It is our common human condition: we make judgments about each other based on our perception of the other person’s physical attributes.

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We know that Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector. Perhaps we know a “Zacchaeus.” Someone such as an elected official, a football coach, a doctor or a co-worker that we know by the position or title that they hold in society, while we really do not know much else about them.

When was the last time you asked your doctor, “Hey Doc! How is your mom?” Do we even know anything about our doctor’s family?

We do not know much about Zacchaeus because the Bible does not give us any information about him. All I know is that there had to be more to this man than just collecting taxes. He had a life filled with its own joys, problems and frustrations. Working as a tax collector in Roman times was lucrative, but it was not easy.

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{Illustration}

Many of his neighbors disliked Zacchaeus because he was perceived as someone who was fraternizing with the enemy: he was seen as an oppressor. That is probably why his neighbors did not see any need to let Zacchaeus get a closer look at Jesus (Luke 19:3) To add insult to injury, Romans were good at executing the hired help at the slightest agitation.

With all that, Luke makes it clear that Zacchaeus was a wealthy man because he was good at what he did (Luke 19:2).

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In Celtic spirituality there is a concept called “Thin Places.” A thin place is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth, between sacred and profane, is so transparent that God feels especially real to us. A thin place is a spot on a space-time continuum where we can look straight into the face of God, where we can touch the hand that holds the world. It’s a place where and when we – imperfect human beings – can sense and experience the presence of the divine intensely and vividly. It is a place where we are encouraged and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Experiencing “thin places” does not necessarily lead to anything spectacular, but it can challenge your world view and lead to a new understanding. In my experience, encountering a thin place challenges me and forces me to lose my bearings, so that I have to find new ones. In my experience “thin places” jolt me out of my comfort zone, out of old ways of seeing the world, and challenge me to seek a deeper understanding of the world that we live in. There is transformative power in being in thin places. For me, thin places, bring out the essence of what it means to be created in God’s Image. This can be an uncomfortable experience.

One thing about thin places. We cannot plan a trip there. They kind of happen on their own.

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What we can do is take steps to increase the probability of an encounter. For me, being in proximity to an ocean and staring at the expanse of water increases the probability. For Jesus, he loved to go to the tops of mountains to pray. It is different for everyone.

Nothing gets in the way of a genuine experience more than expectations, that is why “spiritual journeys” or “retreats” can be disappointing.

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The reason I am telling you all of this is because Zacchaeus stumbled upon a thin place. As far as thin places go, looking into the face of Jesus is as “thin” as it gets.

Thin places transform us and Zacchaeus shows such a transformation. Look at what happened to him as a result of encountering Jesus.

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NIV2010 Luke 19: 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

[Illustration]


8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

[Illustration]


9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Encountering God in a thin place changes us.

Have you encountered God in your life? Have you been to a thin place? What is the transformation that happened in your life? What is your witness as a result ?

Working Towards Sunday; January 22, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: Luke 19:1-10

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV and ESV}

We will also dedicate and commission a new wheelchair in memory of Irene Toth Genbauffe

Wheelchair dedication is rescheduled for February 5

Approximate Notes for the Sunday’s Message; Litany of Consecration and Commissioning of the New Boiler; Eph 4:7-8, 11-16

Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-16 NIV2010

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Slide2

I think of today’s Scripture as Paul’s instructions for “How to be a member of a Christian community.” Similar instructions are found throughout his letters, especially in Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-32 (the reading that we heard today), Romans 12:4-13 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-14.

God is the common denominator in what keeps us together. Our commitment to God is what translates into action: our common Christian values, mission, evangelism and outreach. Our commitment to God is what translates into what we believe to be right, true and beautiful. Our understanding of and our commitment to God translates into our interactions with the world around us, i.e. making disciples, volunteering, voting, recycling, what we do and do not do.

As you know, we had to replace the boiler in this church building. The Trustees worked really hard, and as a result we gather today to worship in a balmy, warm sanctuary.

Slide3

The tradition of consecrating buildings and objects to God’s service goes deep into our Christian history. In the Hebrew scriptures, a whole chapter (1 Kings 8) is dedicated to King Solomon’s dedication of the newly constructed Temple. The prayer of consecration that Solomon prayed is found in 1 Kings 8:22-53. You can also find a reference to this event in 2 Chronicles 7:1-22. Following this tradition and legacy, today we will consecrate the new boiler to God’s service.

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To us, this sanctuary and this building is a holy place. What makes this place holy to us is memories and meaning. This is where we recognize God’s presence and grace in our lives. This is where we gather for prayer, worship and the Sacrament of the Holy Communion. This building remembers the voices of our loved ones; this sanctuary is where many of you were baptized and married; this community is the community that witnessed your accomplishments and stood by you in your set-backs.

If we sit quietly it is almost as if we can hear the sound of God’s breathing meeting our human imagination. The sound of this organ and the sounds of our voices are part of the tapestry of prayer and worship that happened before us, is happening now and hopefully will continue to happen for years to come.

When I saw the new boiler for the first time, I saw a symbol of hope and faith that our community will continue making disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world in the future. By installing this boiler, we make a statement that we will be around for the next 20 years – the life-expectancy of this unit. The work that went into installing this boiler represents the efforts, dedication and commitment of this community to God. It represents our hope and our faith in the future of our community.

Litany of Dedication and Commissioning  of the New Boiler.

L: Loving and Gracious God!

With gratitude and joy we remember the men and women who served you and gathered for worship in this church building in the past. They prayed, studied Scriptures, worshiped, worked and fellowshipped together. Through it all they grew in grace and wisdom. Many of them are a part of the Church Triumphant, some of them are still on this side of eternity. For all of their efforts and for everything that they mean to us we give you glory, honor and gratitude.

P: Today we pray for ourselves and for those Christians who will follow us and gather to pray, to study Scriptures, to worship, to work and to fellowship together in the future. We pray that the use of this building will help them to serve you, to further your kingdom, to make disciples and to be your church in the world that you created and gifted to humankind. May the warmth generated by the new boiler be a blessing to this community and remind us of your faithful presence in our life.

L: We thank you for the men and women who worked tirelessly to raise money to pay for the boiler, who worked tirelessly and diligently to make decisions and work out the logistics of installation, and who installed this new system.

P: May all their efforts be “pleasing in your eyes” (Ps 19:14) and like a “pleasing aroma” (Gen 8:21, Exo 29: 18, 25, 41) in your nostrils.

L: In the name of the Father who understood and forgave us, in the name of the Son who redeemed us on the Cross and in the name of the Holy Spirit who molds and guides our lives we dedicate the new boiler to God’s service and glory.

P: The community of Kingswood United Methodist Church accepts this boiler as a sacred trust and will care for it and use it reverently as we strive to make disciples for Jesus Christ, to spread the gospel and to further God’s Kingdom.

ALL: AMEN

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