LIVING INTO CHRIST

Living into Christ Read John 14:1-14 One of my favorite slogans - one that’s popular on bumper stickers and on refrigerator magnets and whatnot  - is “Jesus is coming: Look busy.” I get a laugh whenever I see it. It’s funny that people dread Jesus, like he’s some overbearing office manager who just can’t tolerate you standing around talking by the coffee machine, the kind who keeps track of your bathroom breaks, the kind that requires someone to be on the lookout, so when he does start heading your direction everyone can scatter and “look busy.” There are Christians who have such fear, I fear. They’ve been strongly affected by a particular belief in Judgment Day, when Jesus calls all...

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PRODIGAL LOVE

John 13:31-35 When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ “Prodigal...

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CHOSEN IN THE WILDERNESS

Read Deuteronomy 10:12-21 and John 15:12-17 One day, as Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem, where he would be betrayed, arrested, mocked and executed, two of his disciples – James and John came up to him and asked, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you…Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus told them that they had no idea what they were requesting, then he asked them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” James and John assured Jesus that yes, they were able. Jesus then told them that...

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EVOLVING IN THE WILDERNESS

ThE word, ‘evolving’, creates some tension with some Christians and I suppose with some people belonging to other religions as well. Even in the 21st century there are people of good intention who believe it to be a matter of faith to accept what the Church once insisted was the age of the universe and the order of creation. Such folks hold strongly to this belief fearing that if we start to shed the beliefs that have been handed down to us for God-knows how long that we’ll start sliding down that slippery slope that leads away from the Church, thus away from salvation – that’s why I say that such people have good intentions. But just because your intentions...

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ESTABLISHED IN THE WILDERNESS

(Read Exodus 14:10-31, Mark 1:14-15) “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God has come near you. Repent and believe the good news.” For hundreds of years Biblical scholars have pondered what words ascribe to Jesus actually came from Jesus and which were creations of the writer. Most scholars consider this proclamation in Mark’s gospel to be authentically Jesus’ and this proclamation by Jesus to be the crux of his message. Listen to it again: “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God has come near you. Repent and believe the good news.” If you think of Mark as one of Jesus’ spin doctors, this is how Mark spun the message of Jesus. “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of...

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ENTRUSTED IN THE WILDERNESS

(Read Exodus 3:1-12, Luke 4:9-12 Among our greatest attribute as humans is our ability to imagine. When I look at a new painting or read a new novel or listen to a new piece of music – or even a piece I’m familiar with - I am not only in awe of the art; I’m in awe of the artist who created it. Even if I don’t particularly like the piece of art, the music, the novel, I can still admire the person who created it and appreciate the imagination that went into the composition. And that same gift of imagination is at the core of religion. I see the Bible not as a perfect composition that presents a comprehensive...

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RECLAIMED IN THE WILDERNESS

Read: Genesis 27:41-45, 28:10-22 and Luke 4:5-8 “The best things in life are free.” That’s true, isn’t it? It’s also true that the best things in life cannot be bought. Nonetheless we spend an awful lot of time trying to buy our way to happiness, don’t we? When we stand in Jesus’ sandals and the devil gives us a glimpse of all the riches that can be had, we’re tempted to say, “Well maybe just a little, Mister Devil. I don’t need it all, but some of that stuff looks pretty nice.” I don’t think I could turn it ALL down. I think I’d try to work a compromise with the devil; I’ll take just a little of that, if I’ll...

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ENTERING THE WILDERNESS

Genesis 3:22-24 Mark 1:9-12 The first scripture passage comes at the end of a story that you are all likely familiar with, the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent and the eating of the forbidden fruit. The Gospel should also be familiar to you: Jesus’ baptism and what immediately follows. I chose the Old Testament passage, which includes verses that are not part of the three-year lectionary, because I’m a glutton for punishment. Actually not; I chose this passage to begin this worship series Navigating the Wilderness because in order to enter the Wilderness we have to leave many of our preconception and prejudices behind us. And in a way, that means BITING THE APPLE (and yes, I...

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THE WALL OF RELIGION

Matthew 5:38-48 I encourage you to take out your Bibles and look up the passage. Every translation has its own nuance, and I’d be interested to know your perspectives (email: mattschaeffer0130@gmail.com) Next, I encourage you to pull out a hymnal and sing “El Shaddai,” by Michael Card and John Thompson; it’s #123 in the latest UMC hymnal. I’ll read the lyrics, because I confess I’m not that familiar with it, but I can tell you there are people in our church who are. El Shaddai is an ancient phrase, ‘El’ meaning ‘god’ and ‘Shaddai’ may have derived from the Akkadian word ‘Shalu’ meaning ‘wilderness’ or perhaps ‘mountain,’ those mysterious and frightening places where we don’t venture after dark. The phrase...

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IDEOLOGICAL INTOXICATION

A Useful Simplification Rev. Emerick When mixed together, two historically significant ideas make a toxic cultural cocktail: (1) the idea that everything that happens, will happen, or can happen, is determined by forces above and beyond us - forces like God, the gods, nature, the “divine right of kings” (and the Church), the “Invisible Hand” of laissez-faire, or fate (which is called “pre-destination” in the Church’s teaching); and,   (2) the idea that we are all born rotten to the core (the Church’s doctrine of Original Sin), and therefore we can never do anything intelligent, right, or good. “Christendom” has been serving this toxic cocktail to Western culture for many centuries.  And Western culture has been imbibing the toxic cocktail to the...

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