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

> Worton UMC; served July 2014–June 2015

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Approximate Notes for the Last Message for Worton UMC

NIV2010 Luke 13: 18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”

20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

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Who among us has not wondered what Heaven is like? Who among us has not tried to imagine what it would feel like to be in Heaven?

Art is a lie that tells us something about the truth. I recall a couple of episodes from The Simpsons where Homer goes to Heaven. In one episode everything is made of chocolate and we see Homer wandering around taking bites out of buildings, cars, dogs and trees, gorging on chocolate and every bite that he takes heals itself immediately. In another episode, Homer is wandering around Heaven that is made out of gold, stuffing his pockets with dirt, pebbles and dog droppings which he plans to put to good use when he gets back to our world. These are metaphors that illustrate our understanding that Heaven is so beautiful and so precious that it is like the tastiest food we can think of, or the most precious physical possession that we can imagine.

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However, this is not what Jesus taught. The parable of the Mustard Seed is found in Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-32 and Luke 13:18-19. We’ve heard this parable countless times, and because we are so familiar with it we miss most of its meaning. Let us listen again to the parable of the Mustard Seed from Luke 13.

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NIV2010 Luke 13: 18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”

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In Ancient Israel mustard was not cultivated because there was no way to harvest and preserve the greens, mustard oil is extremely hot and it does not taste good and there is no evidence that mustard was used as a condiment by Jews, Greeks or Romans. In Ancient Israel mustard was a weed, very much like dandelions are today in North America.

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Jesus did not compare the Kingdom of God to something magnificent, majestic, and beautiful and of great monetary worth like the Cedars of Lebanon. Jesus did not compare the Kingdom of God to magnificent temples and palaces in Rome or in Jerusalem. Instead Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a weed, something that you and I would try to kill with herbicide if it were to take over our front lawn.

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Mustard plants interconnect and grow together providing a thick canopy with places where small animals could burrow and hide; mustard plants support each other as their branches interconnect; mustard plants produce seeds in abundance in order to reseed themselves and to spread wherever they can and whenever an opportunity presents itself.

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Once mustard plants took over a hill or a field, all kinds of life would take refuge there. There were small animals (mice, hedgehogs, fox, cats) hiding underneath. There were small birds perching and nesting on branches. There were butterflies fluttering around and bees buzzing around. Hawks would fly above looking for prey. Areas where mustard shrubs grew were teeming with activity and with life.

Mustard plants looked for opportunities to grow. Mustard plants fought for survival and for the living space. Once they found new areas to take over, they “attracted” birds and small animals. Once taken over by mustard, fields and hills became epicenters of life.

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The truth is that it is hard to control direction of our lives, to make the best decisions that we can, to be the best version of the person that we are created to be. The truth is that life has a mind of its own, and most of the time we cannot really choose the circumstances of our lives. Things just happen. Good things, bad things, none of us make it through life without pain and loss, sorrow and disappointments. To add insult to injury, life just happens – more often than not we do not even get an opportunity to prevent something before it takes place.

That is why, as a church we are called to be interconnected with and support each other as mustard plants did. That way we can help each other to grasp on to life with all of its abundance and complexity, helping each other to enjoy and find meaning in each breath and each moment.

As a church we are called to attract and to invite our neighbors to join us and find a place to “perch” in our midst and help them to find abundance and meaning in their lives.

To do that, we need to figure out a way to attract our neighbors to join us.

We need to try new things; build on what works, let go of what does not.

{Illustration}

 

Litany of Farewell To Worton United Methodist Church

Leader:

Family of Worton United Methodist Church, time does not stand still. The life of our church family is ever changing with new possibilities and new ministries. These changes bring with them opportunities and challenges.

It is important for our church family to recognize and to celebrate these endings and beginnings. Today we say farewell, and now it is time for all of us to write a new chapter in our journey with God.

All: Loving and Gracious God! You have blessed and sustained us for many years and have given us life together in the Christian family of this congregation. We are asking you to bless the community of Worton United Methodist Church and guide us as we reflect upon and celebrate our history, and as we hope and dream about the future. Help us prepare for the next stage in this congregation’s life. Give us courage and vision; help us to stay flexible, adaptable and patient as we face the challenges of ministry. Most importantly, strengthen us in our Christian vocation as we serve God by serving the world in which we live and make disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world.

Asher:

As my wife and I stand before you we thank you for the love, kindness and support that you have shown us. We thank you for welcoming us into your church family. We thank you for the grace and forgiveness that you have extended us when we made mistakes or did not meet your expectations. We thank you for your prayers in our times of need. We thank you for your love, kindness and support. We will cherish our memories and apply what we have learned from you in future ministry. We celebrate with you the legacy of the family of Worton United Methodist Church and we are excited about what you can and will accomplish in the future.

Leader:

Next week this church family will receive Pastor David Kelly as your pastor. Our Bishop and the Cabinet of the Peninsula-Delaware Conference of the United Methodist Church discerned that his vision, passion for ministry and vocational skills are well matched with the goals of this congregation (Ephesians 4:11). Let us all pray for Pastor David Kelly.

ALL: Loving and gracious God! We uplift Pastor David Kelly and his wife in prayer. As we start this new stage of our lives, we pray that you bless Pastor David Kelly and his ministry. We also thank God for God’s guidance on the pastoral appointment process. May our efforts and ministry, outreach and evangelism be like a pleasant aroma or a joyful noise in God’s presence, because God’s joy translates into our strength (Neh 6:8).

In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

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