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

Outline and approximate notes for Sunday Message; 23 March 2014

Scriptures for this Sunday:  Exodus 34:29-35;  Luke 9: 28-36

You can read these Scriptures here:  NIV

image

Our identity as Christians is rooted in our relationship with Jesus. The Sacraments that we celebrate (the Baptism and the Holy Communion) are established by Jesus. What we do as a community and a fellowship of Christ United Methodist Church is rooted in our understanding of who Jesus is, how Jesus interacts with us through the Holy Spirit and how we can be the bearers of God’s message of healing, love and reconciliation to the community around us.

image

This Lenten Season we have been looking at the events that our Jewish neighbors commemorate when they celebrate Passover because the Last Supper, the event when Jesus established the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, was really a Seder (or Passover) meal commemorating events of the Exodus. That is why, in order to understand Easter, we need to first understand Passover.

image

There is another detail that is important for our understanding of Easter. Jesus’ earthy ministry began with John baptizing Jesus, thus establishing the Sacrament of Baptism. For us baptism is a sacrament of initiation in the Christian faith; it is a symbolic action of washing away the grime of original sin, and acceptance of God’s vision for our lives. During the Last Supper Jesus washed the Disciples’ feet. One of many ways to view this act of servant leadership is as a symbolic gesture that reminds us that in addition to beauty we also encounter grime on our journeys. Jesus washed the Disciples’ feet to remind us that God is challenging us to continue chipping away at our sinful nature, and to continue becoming the best version of what God has created us to be, as we continue to renew and regenerate our faith through acts of service. When we help someone else (i.e. “wash their feet”) we actually grow in our understanding of God.

image

In the last few messages we looked at the life of Moses, at the events at Mount Sinai, and we touched briefly on the years when the Hebrews traveled in the desert. We saw that these were bloody and violent years full of strife and internal battles with neighbors raising swords against each other.

We saw that initially Moses was not the “Moses” that Charlton Heston portrayed in the Hollywood movie. As a young man Moses was an angry, scared man with conflicting and overlapping identities (Jew, Egyptian, Outlaw, Midianite, soldier, aristocrat) that he did not know how to negotiate these identities for a fulfilling life. There was no coherence or cohesiveness to his life. Through the Burning Bush experience, through the negotiations with Pharaoh and dealing with the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and then through the Exodus, Moses was learning about God while God was molding him into one cohesive whole.

image

By the time the remnant of the Hebrews came to the Promised Land for the second time (after wandering in the desert for forty years), they were united in their common understanding of what was right, true and beautiful (the Ten Commandments). Their common history, common shared values and their individual identities had common roots. These were men, women and children who had survived the strife of the desert years, and they now knew from experience how wonderful it could be to be in the presence of God, as well as the consequences of displeasing God.

The mind has a way of making traumatic experiences seem like distant dreams to those who survive them. As it goes, the more traumatic the experience, the quicker the paramedics in one’s mind rush to dress wounds, resuscitate and stabilize the victim; the victim being you (Sheppard).

image

To these men and women, Moses was synonymous with being the greatest servant of God and the most significant achievements of their lives. To these men and women, the name of Joshua was synonymous with bravery and dedication to the common mission and vision. They forgot the strife of the years in the desert.

By New Testament times, Moses and Joshua had become national heroes, much like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are today.

image

So if I tell you a story of a young man who was born in difficult circumstances, whose parents had to protect him from being killed by the order of the ruler of the land, a young man who found protection among “Egypt,” who was well versed and well educated, who had an experience of God during which he was affirmed and promised that God would be with him, who would you say I am talking about? This description fits both Moses and Jesus.

In addition to that, Joshua’s Hebrew name is “Yehoshua,” and Jesus’ Hebrew name is “Yeshua”; both names sound similar.

To the first century Judeans and Galileans, these similarities would stick out like a sore thumb. They remembered Moses who was faithful in his relationship with God, and that relationship transformed him. That transformation was so genuine, so real, and so profound that it in turn challenged and transformed everybody around him. The first century Judeans and Galileans simply swept the unsettling years of strife and struggle in the desert under the rug, because our minds have a tendency to do that.

So when Jesus came and his contemporaries saw the similarities with Moses, they expected Jesus to take them to their “promised land,” the place where Romans did not oppress them and where they would be able to govern themselves. That is what Moses did at Exodus; and that is the example/model that the first century Judeans and Galileans expected to follow.

image

What is the place or situation that bothers you? What is a cause of frustration in your life? That is your “Egypt.” If I had to guess, every one of us has multiple “egypts” in our lives.

{illustration of an “egypt”}

image

When you think about what would make you happy, things or situations that would resolve your frustrations, that is your “Promised Land.” I suspect that every one of us has multiple “promised lands” in our lives. Is it a retirement? Is it a job where you can use your skills and talents? Is it a certain financial goal like “I want to pay off my mortgage” or “I want to be able to retire?”

{illustration of a “promised land”}

image

What we tend to forget is that in order to get from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Hebrews had to live through ten plagues, then endure the terror of the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, internal fighting at Mount Sinai, and then hardships and fighting of the desert as they wandered.

Our lives are not all that different. We have to work to reach our goals. That “work” that connects our “Egypt” with our “promised land” is what we call life.

image  image  image  image

{Life of “Carrying the Cross” Illustration}

Works Cited:

Sheppard, Ferrari. “I Traveled to Palestine-Israel And Discovered There is no ‘Palestinian-Israeli Conflict’.” 24 01 2014. Stop Being Famous. 24 01 2014. <http://stopbeingfamous.com/2014/01/24/there-is-no-palestinian-israeli-conflict/_3308199.html&gt;.

Advertisements

4 responses to “Outline and approximate notes for Sunday Message; 23 March 2014

  1. Pingback: Outline and Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; 6 April 2014 | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  2. Pingback: Outline and Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; 6 April 2014 | Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD

  3. Pingback: Outline and Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; 13 April 2014; Palm Sunday | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  4. Pingback: Outline and Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; 13 April 2014; Palm Sunday | Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: