Joys and Concerns – September 28, 2014

JOYS AND CONCERNS    September 28, 2014

 Prayer Requests

Always in our Prayers: Randy B; Joni B; Mitzi;  Lois R!  Prayers of love and healing for Dee V; Prayers of love and strength for Jim F.  Bill and Irene F; healing; prayers of support for caregivers Janis and Lana; Angelia healing from brain tumor; Kevin J; not doing well; Christina’s pancreatic cancer has spread; continued prayers for John A; in his cancer fight.

Prayers of love and support for friends and family of life-long Jerome resident Donald W, who passed from life this week.

Church Charge Conference rescheduled until Dec. 7, 2014.

Travel mercies for the L’s; going to New Mexico.

Blessings on our military and support personnel around the world.

Special prayers of love and support for the US Marine in Mexico.

Dad and Me Mingus Camp retreat, ages 4–10, October 24-26.  Call for info. 602-266-6956 x.215 or www.dsccamps.org/retreats.

October 10-11 weekend camp for Your & Children’s Ministry leaders.

 

October birthdays to celebrate

 

Janet K.                                                         10-5

Ollie B.                                                           10-23

 

September Anniversary to celebrate

 

Thom & Roni B                                              9-30

 

CW District Churches to pray for in September

 

Community Church of Buckeye        Liberty UMC, Buckeye

Mountain View UMC, Cottonwood

Visit www.havenchurchjerome.org 24/7/365.

Wellness Notes – August 2014

WELLNESS NOTES

“Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you’” (Luke 10:9)

August is National Immunization Awareness Month! The importance of knowing and RECEIVING the immunizations to prevent illness is important for every age. Awareness of the pro and con theories for infant vaccination is important to discuss with your Physician and encourage families to keep immunization schedules up to date.   Assuring that teens update vaccinations, especially those that may have a life long impact on their health is of utmost importance. Seniors feel they don’t need to be mindful of immunizations, but Flu, Shingles, Pneumonia, and Tetanus are vitally important in 60+ age group.   Take this table to your Physician and assure that YOU are covered, and remind your neighbors, family, and friends of this important wellness responsibility.

 

\

Age Group 19-21 years 22-26 years 27-49 years 50-59 years 60-64 years ? 65 years
Influenza 2,* ?1 dose annually?
Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td/Tdap) 3,* Substitute 1-time dose of Tdap for Td booster; then boost with Td every 10 yrs
Varicella 4,* ?2 doses?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) Female 5,* ?3 doses?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) Male 5,* ?3 doses?
Zoster 6 ?1 dose?
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) 7,* ?1 or 2 doses?
Pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate (PCV13)8,* ?1 dose?
Pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23)9,10 ?1 or 2 doses? ?1 dose?
Meningococcal 11,* ?1 or more doses?
Hepatitis A 12,* ?2 doses?
Hepatitis B 13,* ?3 doses?
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)14,* ?1 or 3 doses?

                                                                    Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Joys and Concerns – July 27, 2014

JOYS AND CONCERNS    July 27, 2014

Prayer Requests

Always in our Prayers: Randy B; Christine and John A dealing with chemo; George’s sister Louise with health issues; Joann’s sister Barbara with health issues; Prayers of love for Joan’s brother having heart problems; Dee V; diagnosed with breast cancer.

Prayers of healing and love for Mitzi who is improving.

Prayers of love for Lois R; who is improving!

Prayers of love and support for quick recovery for Joni B, now at home.

Praise for Janet who is now a Certified Local Pastor!

Travel mercies for Roni, Alison and Emily B; and George R.

Blessings on our military and support personnel around the world.

Special prayers of love and support for the US Marine being held in Mexico.  Pray for Peace!

 

July birthdays to celebrate

 

Nathaniel B                                                              7-3

Melissa B                                                                  7-20

Andrea P                                                                  7-27

Cole P                                                                       7-27

 

Central West District Churches to pray for in July

 

Haven UM Church, Jerome

Chino Valley UM Church

Shepherd of the Hills, Sun City West

Join Haven 24/7/365 at www.havenchurchjerome.org

Wellness Notes – July 2014

WELLNESS NOTES

JULY is a good month to think about MEN’S HEALTH issues.  When David was building the Temple, and we need to consider our body surely God’s Temple, he told his son, “ Be strong and brave. Get to work. Don’t be afraid. Don’t lose hope. The Lord God is my God. His is with you. He won’t fail you.” I Chronicles 28-20 Are not these directives exactly what Men, and the Men in our life, need to heed?

Dr. Ken Goldberg in a WebMD article asks men—”Do you put as much care into your personal health as you do into the maintenance of your car?”. Instead of recommending specific tests and prevention, he suggests men ‘ drop the bulletproof attitude, and get involved in health screenings, and realize that diseases can happen to anybody’.   Men need to know where to go for help, and work to promote community and national issues that contribute to their health. Be alert to media information, good websites, occupational health services, and LISTEN to others, and benefit from their experiences.   Mind-Body-and Spirit Wellness involves not only “Knowing Your Numbers” (Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, PSA, Weight, Oxygen Saturation, Blood Glucose), having annual Physical Exams and screenings, and being mindful of nutrition, exercise, stress and anger management —but in realizing risk factors (family history & activity related risks), and willingly educating yourself and your sons about wellness issues.   Breast Cancer, Osteoporosis, Eating Disorders, & Sexual dysfunction are not ‘just women’s disorders’. Encouraging sons and grandsons to check regularly for Testicular Cancer, is so important.   Not being embarrassed to talk about depression, sexual health, relationships, and spirituality can be a life-saving and positive role model for your family and friends.   A wellness goal is to have a heightened awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

Men’s Health is a Family issue—it impacts the whole.

LISTEN,GET INVOLVED, ACT, and EDUCATE yourself on Men’s Health issues.

Try web sites such as the following:

AARP.org (Men’s Health)

WebMD.com (Men’s Health–most asked questions)

WOMANSDAY.com (a woman’s guide to ‘his’ health)

www.menshealthoffice.info

nim.hih.gov/Medline plus/men health

www.mayoclinic.com

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,,PN

Wellness Notes – June 2014

WELLNESS NOTES

“”You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.” (Psalm 31:8)”

June is National Safely Month. We can use this month to raise awareness about important safety issues like the following:

 

  • Safety with Prescription Drugs: Check the storage, expiration dates, instructions, and safety of all of your prescribed and over the counter medications. Review how and when you should take each medication; update your medication list and have a copy in your wallet, with your Dr., and in your refrigerator (in a medicine bottle) on the door so Emergency Personnel can access a copy. Be sure children and teens do not have access to your medications.
  • Slips, trips, & falls: Do a home, yard, and activity assessment. Check for loose rugs, poorly visible steps;(put bright tape on edge of steps); slick tile or bath surfaces; electrical cords or pet leashes that might trip; adequate lighting around home, garage, walkways; Agility getting down on the floor and back up again & in & out of cars, tubs, and furniture; Check balance and flexibility (stand on one foot and count to 10, practice bend, squat, and turn in circles). Assure annual dilated eye exam.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Increase awareness of where you walk, how clear your home & car access is, removal of fire danger in house and yard, and alertness when in crowds or travel. Assure your wallet and valuables are not accessible to thieves. Be sure neighbor or close family member knows where you are, has an extra key, and is aware of travel and absence schedules.
  • Drive with awareness: Do not talk on phone, text, or reach around when driving. Pull off the road to do any of the above. Assure tire pressure, gasoline, oil pressure, and windows are maintained. Know when it’s time to LET SOMEONE ELSE DRIVE!! Talk with family members about changes in health or transportation needs. Always be aware of what and who may be around your car before moving.
  • Stay safe in summer heat: Always carry water (AND DRINK IT!!!), carry cell phone when going for hikes or walks & assure someone knows where you are. Exercise in cool of morning or evening. Use that bottle of sun screen on your counter DAILY. Wear sun glasses and hat when out in the heat. HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE in our Arizona climate.

Safety issues can be our number 1 enemy, no matter what our age, stage of life, or level of awareness.   Taking a few moments to assess the above mentioned issues, place safety articles within easy access, remind ourselves and others around us of safety issues, and being AWARE may make the difference in a safe, well summer and a disaster.

BE WELL AND HAVE A HAPPY SUMMER!!

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Janet Keffer leading Easter Sunrise Service 2014

Haven’s Sunrise Service on Easter, 2014

Haven’s Sunrise Service on Easter was a true celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The beauty of God’s sunrise coming up over the rim underscored not only the beauty of the world we live in but the wonder of Jesus’ sacrifice for all of us.

A brunch followed the service with the usual excellent food and great fellowship.

Our traditional service focused on the victory of Jesus resurrection following the defeat of his death, and how relevant that victory is to us today.

The morning activities ended with an exciting Easter egg hunt where many joyful children enthusiastically filled their baskets with plastic eggs which were filled with candy.  What a joy to watch their smiling faces and to hear their excited laughter.

Another wonderful Easter at Haven UMC!

Sermon Series – April 20, 2014 Easter-9:00 am

“WHAT DID JESUS DO?”

6. “When Jesus Died-and Rose Again”

Easter Sunday April 20, 2014-9:00 a.m.

 

Men and woman crowded into the hall. The time and the place were given over to enjoyment and cheer. The entertainers gave their best. The evening neared its end. The people were soldiers…American soldiers. The year…2005…the war in Afghanistan. One of the soldiers stepped forward to express thanks to those who had provided the entertainment. He did so; then abruptly added: “As you know, tomorrow we will be shipping out. We’re scheduled to go into battle immediately. Soon we’ll be in the war. Many of us will be going to our deaths. Will any of our friends here tell us how to die?”………….

I don’t know if anyone told them, or not. But it’s a good question. Situations vary widely, but the fact is, that all people die. Death is a certain, inevitable, inescapable and guaranteed experience. All of us are born, and by virtue of that very fact, all of us have received at our birth the sentence of death…and then been granted a short reprieve. “We, too, shall pass away.”…….

I am drawn by what might well be catalogued as “Famous Last Words.”

Gene Smith, in “The Last years of Woodrow Wilson” describes the president’s death…….

“Dr. Grayson stayed when the other doctors left. Late that night, after the fog came in and covered “S” Street, and the reporters shivered in front of the dimly lit house.

Grayson said to his patient what the truth was: that he was dying. Woodrow Wilson listened and breathed, ‘I am a broken piece of machinery. When the machinery is broken….’ his voice grew weak. There was a silence in the sick room…..Then the president said, ‘I am ready.’”1

How different the picture painted by Walter Thompson who followed World War II wrote: “The war in Europe was now approaching its final phase. In attempting to escape, Mussolini was captured by anti-Fascists and executed, but not before he begged for his life. ‘Only spare my life and I will give you an empire!’ “That was his last sentence. Then he was shot.” 2

 

I cannot vouch for their authenticity, but according to a list I have seen the last words of some other well known persons were these:

Ludwig von Beethoven… “Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.”

Joseph Addison…. “See how calmly a Christian can die.”

President William McKinley…. “Nearer, my God to thee.”

George Washington…. “I am not afraid to go.”

The martyred Zwingli… “They can slay only the body, not the soul.”

Telegraph inventor/Samuel F.B. Morse… “The best is yet to come.”

Thomas Alva Edison….”It is beautiful over there.”…………

 

I don’t suppose there is a Christian pulpit in the world but that has touted Jesus as an example of how to live. This one is no exception. During Lent this year, we’ve been looking at things Jesus did. We’ve asked: “What Did Jesus Do?” Hopefully, we have answered with what Jesus did when he was tempted. We’ve regarded the fashion in which Jesus looked at other people. We’ve enquired as to the how of his prayer life, and the what of his preaching and teaching. On last Sunday…Palm Sunday….we saw him in the midst of a demonstration. These experiences are not unique to Jesus. For the most part, they are the common lot of us all. We, too, are tempted.

We, too, are daily, hour by hour, even moment by moment, in contact with people. Some of us pray; though some may not. Some preach; and if not by words, then certainly by our lives we all teach. It’s a pretty sheltered soul who has never taken part in any demonstration! There’s one proposition in the Lenten sermon series remaining to be explored. “What did Jesus do…when he died?”

 

And just as we may learn things…important and helpful things…by seeing what Jesus did as he faced up to the experiences involved in living….experiences you and I share….so, too, we may be helped by seeing what Jesus did…and hearing what Jesus said….His last words…when He died.

 

The hard, the brutal, even the vicious reality of his death was vividly brought out in the articles by Dr. Truman Davis, perhaps you and I are in similar a situation to that author who confessed: “I suddenly realized that I had taken the crucifixion for granted all these years; that I had grown callous to its horror by a too easy familiarity with the grim details, and a too distant friendship with Him.” Davis reminds us of the anguish even in Gethsemane: “…being in agony, He prayed longer. “…His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground.” Later, before the high priest: “A soldier struck Jesus across the face…the palace guards… “spat on Him and struck Him…”

“Battered and bruised, dehydrated and exhausted…Jesus is taken…to Pilate…to Herod…and returned to Pilate.

 

“Stripped of his clothing…a short whip of heavy leather thongs with…small balls of lead attached…is brought down with full force again and again…across Jesus’ shoulders, backs and legs…it cuts through the skin…produces large, deep bruises…the entire area is …. a mass of torn, bloody tissue….the prisoner is near death….the beating is finally stopped.

A small bundle of branches covered with thorns….are twisted into a crown….and pressed into His scalp. They strike him across the head…they tie the heavy wooden beam of the cross…across Jesus’ shoulders. The procession begins…Jesus stumbles and falls…the weight of the heavy wooden beam is too much…Simon of Cyrene, now carries the cross. “The crucifixion begins. Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic…He refuses the drink…Simon is ordered to place the cross-arm on the ground…Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood…The legionnaire…drives heavy, square, wrought iron nails through the wrists and deep into the wood…The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through both ankles…The victim is now crucified…” The cross is raised, and the lower portion dropped into a hole in the earth it is steadied, and then stabilized.

The physical details as outlined by the doctor as we are caught up in the agony, and the excruciating pain of it all.

 

But shift your focus now…How did Jesus die? With all of that agony, Yes! But also with this: with seven words, seven last words, or more accurately, seven phrases and sentences, seven words which testify to the validity of all that Christ has done, all that Christ has taught, and all that Christ has been. We have listened to what Jesus said…when he taught, but “Now the teaching of Jesus ceases to be a theory, and becomes reality. Word 1– In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord commands us to love our enemies. On the cross dying, he obeys his own command.

In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord tells us to do good to those who spitefully use us;

On the cross, dying, he follows his own teaching.

 

In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord instructs us that forgiveness is the hallmark of discipleship; On the cross, dying, he illustrates his own instruction,”

Word 1-“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

We have seen the compassion with which Jesus looked at people during his life. Now we see him dying and hear him say to the thief, a revolutionary, an outcast…who cries out to Him: “Lord, remember me….”

Word 2- “Yes, today you shall be with me in Paradise.” Care for people?

There is His mother, standing at the foot of the cross; standing there “with sorrow…too deep for tears. We can only surmise what she felt as she saw her son hanging there near death…But we know what He felt…” a love, a loyalty, a caring, and figuratively, a hand outstretched from those hands immobilized on the cross by the nails.

Word 3-“Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” In other words: “John, my beloved friend, take good care of her whom I love so much.”

Word 4-but for today, that word, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” it’s question understood when you hear not the question that you and I would have asked under similar circumstances:

 

“Why does God do this to me?” but rather, “My God, my God…”

A question addressed to that God whom Jesus, even in loneliness, his loneliness, his feeling of being forsaken, confirms as His God yet; surely knowing that when He asks the question, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

The truth is, “That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.” But, oh, the humanness of it all.

Indeed, do you think with some ancient heretics that Jesus was some otherworldly figure who was never truly human, never really like us, never truly involved in the pain and grief of life or death, because he was never truly man?

Not so. Not so……..

“Of all the needs of the human body, thirst is far and away the most agonizing….Thirst is like a consuming fire…The most intense agony a person can know, is to feel his tongue thickened and his throat parched from lack of water.”

 

Word 5- “I thirst.” He was one of us all right.

Word 6- “It is finished.” And this word, too, may be quite different from what you think it is. It is no cry of weakness and defeat. It is no confirming evidence that, as is so often true for us, that the world has proved too much for us, too much in those days for the Christ. Rather, you remember the record states that Jesus cried, “with a loud voice”: “It is finished! Achieved! Accomplished! “No weak admission here that, thank God, it’s all over with now. But rather, the triumphant assertion that the job which was to be done has been completed…”

That the work that his Father God had wanted him to do on earth has been accomplished. It is finished. And the cross itself has become what Jesus makes of it as “with every flag proudly waving, with every banner still flying defiantly, the ship is brought safely to port.” It is finished!

 

And at the last, that prayer….that prayer which Jesus must have learned at his mother’s knee, just as you and I learned, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep…”

At the last, Jesus prays…

Word 7- “Father, into Thy hands, I commit my spirit.”

 

But this last word from the cross…is no mere echo of a childhood prayer, nor is it merely a lesson for dying. ‘Father, into Thy hands, I commit my spirit,’ is the secret of victorious living to be renewed every day that we live.

 

“Do we face up to problems that we seemingly cannot solve? Into Thy hands.

Do we experience such sorrows; such grief’s so heavy that we cannot possibly bear them? Into Thy hands.

Do we face temptations stronger than we can possibly endure? Into Thy hands.

Is life with its many complications simply too much for us? Into Thy hands.

Are we starting across the great sea of eternity wondering what lies on the other Shore? Into Thy hands.

 

Do you want to know not only how to live, but how to die? Have we not all sang this song? “Put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the water; Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea….Put your hand in the hand of the Man of Galilee.”

“What did Jesus do…when He died?” That’s what He did. That’s how He faced up to dying. And then He crowned it all; God crowned it all, by raising Him from the dead.

 

Sermons on the resurrection you have heard, here and elsewhere, Easter after Easter. What Jesus did after He rose again is also on record. And as He said: “Because I live, you, too, shall live.”

But after that: to know also how to die…with the ability to forgive everybody; with love for all human kind….those near in your own family and those to the uttermost parts of the earth; with face and faith turned to God, even in the midst of whatever agony and pain death brings to you; with whatever work we have been able to do offered up as a reasonable offering of thanksgiving to God, for the gift of life; then, with trust and confidence, praying the prayer, “Father, into Thy hands, I commit my spirit.”

 

That’s the way Jesus lived. And that’s how He died. That’s what Jesus did….Hopefully, for our living, for our dying, for our living again, so may we.

Amen.

 

 

(1-When the Cheering Stopped pp.225-226)

(2-“Assignment Churchill” p. 304)

Sermon Series – April 13, 2014

#5 “What Did Jesus Do?”

“When Jesus took part in a Demonstration”

Luke 19:28-38 & 39-48

April 13, 2014

Things have quieted down now. Oh, pickets still picket. To walk into some business meant going through lines of 15 or 20 placard bearing strikers who greeted possible customers with moans and groans and threatening sounds, calculated to discourage would be patrons from entering the stores. Strikes occur, and workers and their families walk around buildings and plod along the streets.

And there are still parades. In New York, the Irish march on St. Patrick’s Day. People come out to honor veterans for Veterans Day parades.

Fourth of July parades aren’t what they used to be, but some communities still have them. The Boy Scouts still have their Camporees and Jamborees and Scout-o-ramas.

But the real hard core demonstrations of the past have quieted down.

The million man March, Kent State, or how about the Poor Peoples march on Washington many years ago, now is history. Crowds gathered in demonstrations in Birmingham and Memphis and Atlanta and Chicago and Newark and Washington; the scars on humanity still remain, but these too, happened many years ago.

So, despite the fact that there have been hundreds of thousands of them, most demonstrations are a matter of memory.

Recalled only with effort most times, and though people still gather in groups to protest, or plead…the Wall Street protest or as even yesterday in our nation’s capitol, groups protesting immigration reform, but for the most part, temporarily at least, demonstrations have quieted down over the years.

But there is one demonstration which is widely remembered, known around the world, celebrated annually; a demonstration whose re-creation is fostered religiously “from Greenland’s icy mountains to India’s coral strand”; from the Vatican to Vietnam; from Philadelphia to Asia, to Phoenix Arizona to Jerome Arizona; a demonstration in which you and I have participated, at least in minor fashion, here, this morning;

A demonstration that took place first 1,984 years ago…in Jerusalem…1,984 years ago today!

It was a demonstration on behalf of Jesus of Nazareth. It has been said, “Jesus, too, was part of a demonstration; part of a parade without a permit. There’s just no other way to read the Palm Sunday incident.” It was a demonstration carefully planned in advance; long-haired, bearded, sandal-clad or barefooted, poorly dressed, or even ‘smelly’ people, including many so-called rabble and riff-raff…beggars, thieves, prostitutes, the poverty stricken…and a full share of “the halt, the maimed and the blind”; it was a demonstration that was directed against the status quo, a demonstration directed against the power structure;

It was a demonstration that attracted large and noisy crowds; it was a demonstration that resulted in damage to property, in violence to people, and in the death of the chief participant. It was a demonstration all right, and Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus our Lord and Savior, Jesus was not only in the midst of it, but Jesus was its focal point, the leader of the procession, the instigator, the planner, the chief demonstrator, and the chief victim of it all.

It was a demonstration all right; make no mistake about it. In the affairs of people, and of nations, and of God; evidently times to pass when demonstrations are needed to protest injustice, to drive home truth, to bear witness to faith, to stimulate hope, to accomplish a purpose when all other methods seem to have failed.

John Oxenham puts Palm Sunday in just such a context of failure when he writes of Jesus: “Unflinchingly the Messenger forecast the likelihoods to which his face was set…his life, his loving deeds, himself, had failed; one final mighty effort he could make; perhaps even now the people might be won…. An old time prophet has foretold a King who should come meekly…not as others came, with pomp and pride and royal circumstance, but riding simply on an ass’s foal and bringing peace to them and all mankind. So would he ride.

Perhaps their eyes might bear the meaning of the symbol to their hearts. He found a foal that never man had used, and mounting it, he pressed upon his way. The people caught his meaning, and with joy, with shout and song, his path with branches strewn, and flung their garments down that he should pass in triumph like a conqueror. “He Comes!” they cried. “He comes! The Promised One of God!”, and poured tumultuous through the city gates.””

(“Gentlemen, the King!” John Oxenham, pp 46-47, 55, 57)

Yet not from the point of view of Oxenham, but from the vantage point of the record in the gospels, let us look at what Jesus did in the first Palm Sunday demonstration.

We’ve already read from the 19th chapter of the gospel according to Luke. Way back in the 9th chapter we read: “Jesus….made up his mind and set out to Jerusalem…He sent messengers ahead…to get everything ready…” (Chapter 9 verses 51-52.)

Note also, this portion in the 13th chapter of that gospel: “At that same time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him; ‘You must get out of here and go somewhere else, for Herod wants to kill you.’ Jesus answered them: ‘Go tell that fox, I am driving out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I shall finish my work.’” (Chapter 13 verses 31-33.)

And in the 18th chapter there is this reference: “Jesus took the twelve disciples aside and said to them: ‘Listen!

We are going to Jerusalem where everything the prophets wrote about the Son of Man will come true. He will be handed over to the Gentiles, who will make fun of him, insult him, and spit on him. They will whip him and kill him, but on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Chapter 18 verses 31-33.)

As we recall, the 19th chapter testifies to the immediate planning concerning colt and route and crowds and the place of direct confrontation.

That’s the Scriptural record. So Oxenham. So Luke.

But it may be a too, too familiar story. Some of you here present have already celebrated Palm Sunday for more than 70 years.

Most of us have heard the Palm Sunday story in the old familiar words time and time again.

So this morning, I’d like you to think about the events on that demonstration day, in modern times…………….

Imagine, for example, the front page story from the day after the events of the JERUSALEM DAILY TIMES. The headline reads:

HOLIDAY PARADE ENDS IN TEMPLE RIOT, OUTER COURT SCENE OF CONFUSION, BANKERS’ TABLES OVERTURNED, AND ANIMALS LET LOOSE.

And the newspaper story begins: What started out as a minor parade, welcoming one Jesus of Nazareth to Jerusalem, ended in a near riot yesterday afternoon, when the man Jesus invaded the temple precincts and boldly attacked the vendors there. “It is written…. ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ Jesus shouted; then charged, ‘but you have turned it into a hideout for thieves.’”

According to eyewitnesses, the Nazarene took a whip of cords, and drove from the Temple the moneychangers and the sellers. He upset the booths of the cattlemen. He overturned the tables of the bankers. He set free both birds and beasts, thereby creating an uproar.

He then left the Temple; Jesus had made entry to the city through the east gate riding on a colt. He was acclaimed by his followers with religious chants and cheers. Vandalism is said to have occurred when branches were torn off trees and flowers uprooted to be strewn in the road on which Jesus travelled. Concerning the bold attack on the religious & financial interests, neither Temple rulers nor city and province authorities were immediately available for comment.

Or, look at the incident from another point of view: Found buried in government files in Rome, is a report submitted by the Governor of Judea. “To most noble Tiberius, Protector of the State, Ruler of the Empire: Hail Caesar!

“That you and the Roman Senate may be kept fully informed of recent developments in the province of Judea, I beg to report that the religious rioting which occurred in Jerusalem today is completely under control, and the city is now quiet. Roman troops have been put on alert throughout the province, and the situation is now entirely satisfactory. You may already know that demonstrators took to the streets this morning in the name of one Jesus of Nazareth. Holiday crowds, gathered for the annual celebration of the Jewish Passover, at first amused, were in part taken in by the festival nature of the religious-like procession, and joined in cheers for the aforementioned Jesus.

The only awkward incident occurred in the Jewish Temple, where a disturbance was quickly quelled by the religious authorities who assure us that the distributor will be summarily dealt with, and will not be allowed to pose a threat to the peace and prosperity of Judea. Roman Peace, will prevail! With renewed devotion to the welfare of our gracious and esteemed person, I am sincerely, etc., etc., Hail Caesar! (Signed Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judea.)”

Or, the event in modern guise again: Also at hand is a portion of a transcript of the television program “FACE THE PROVINCE”, aired by PBS, the Palestine Broadcasting System, in which reporter Esther Aleichem of the Nazareth News; interviewed Simon Peter, one of the Nazarene’s well known followers. The occasion marked the first time a lowly fisherman had appeared on a program which generally featured high government dignitaries, economists, historians, and scientists. Janet and Mike to read below??

Esther: What I am interested in, Simon Peter, is your recollection of exactly what went on in the streets of Jerusalem yesterday. Is it true that your Master encouraged the uproar when the authorities were trying to bring it under control?

Peter: It’s true that the people were cheering and applauding. As a mark of respect and affection, many of them were putting their coats in the road so that Jesus might ride over them.

Esther: But weren’t the people told to be silent? Wasn’t Jesus himself warned to keep his followers in better control?

Peter: Some of the Pharisees did say to Jesus, “Teacher, command your disciples to be quiet.” But Jesus told them, “If they keep quiet, I tell you, the stones themselves will shout.”

Esther: What else did Jesus say?

Peter: Well, when Jesus was coming close to the city he wept over it. He said, “If only you knew today what is needed for peace! But now you can’t see it.” And he also said: “the day will come when your enemies will surround you….and close in on you from every side. They will completely destroy you and the people within your walls;

not a single stone will they leave in its place, because you didn’t recognize the time when God came to save you…”

Esther: Isn’t that a direct attack against the religious rulers? Isn’t that a threat to the government of the city?

Peter: Oh, I suppose it is. But that is what Jesus said. And by experience, I’ve come to have absolute confidence in what he says.

Esther: What’s going to happen now?

Peter: All along, Jesus has said that in Jerusalem he would be condemned and killed; but he has also said that he will be raised to life.

Esther: Raised to life? What does that mean?

Peter: I don’t know; but that is what he said.

Esther: We interrupt for a word from our sponsor, the Mount of Olives Olive Company.

One other document. Here is an excerpt from the personal diary of Caiaphas, high priest of Israel: “On the evening of the ninth day of the month Nisan, it is obvious to all that we must get rid of the troublemaker, that disturber of the peace, that blasphemer, Jesus of Nazareth. His condemnation of our beloved scribes and of the most religious of the community…the Pharisees…has made them an object of scorn throughout the country. His teachings undermine our ancient laws, and his healings upset the very balance of nature. He has stirred up the people to the point of open revolt.

Our whole system of government, church and state, is threatened. It’s more appropriate that one man die, than that the whole country go through revolution. I will take all needed steps tomorrow.”

And there, in brief, you have it….what Jesus did…the events Jesus set in motion, the reaction of the people…when Jesus took part in a demonstration.

From the point of view of a poet, a reporter, an interviewer-commentator, a government leader, a churchman, and from the record, the point of view of Jesus himself.

Now what is your opinion of the demonstration, and what is your opinion of the chief demonstrator?  Are you with him? Or against him? And if you are with him, then how far?

Would you, for example, have given him your colt….your own colt….even though you knew you might not get it back, and you would have been much poorer in personal possessions than you were before? Would you have welcomed, or would you have turned away from the motley crowd, a crowd with so many in it of society’s dregs and scum, who seemed so captivated by the demonstration? Would you have sided with the governor, no matter the cost, enforcing law and order, calling out the troops, and enforcing the Roman Peace? Would you have connived with the marriage of

convenience between the religious leaders and the business interests, to get the Temple stands back in operation again;

so that both business and religion could proceed as usual with only having been briefly interrupted? And surely it turned out that way. Would you have joined the chief demonstrator in weeping over the city? Would there have been compassion enough in your heart for that? To weep not only for friends, but for enemy? And would you have understood…indeed, will you understand that behind the cheers, behind the palm branches, behind the colt and the coats, behind the machinations of evil people, and the bungling of good, behind the vested interests, behind the state and the church, the parade in the streets, the uproar in the Temple, behind it all…is the man Christ Jesus, preparing to die?

“Ride on, ride on in majesty, in lowly pomp ride on to die.”

This demonstration in which Jesus took part is no simple thing. It is no John Keats: “thing of beauty…a joy forever.” It is no mere sentimental celebration. It is a prelude to death. It is as complicated as life itself….and in itself it is as incomplete as our lives are incomplete this morning.

The question we must ask ourselves is “Will we go on to the end? Will we go on as far as the table in the Upper Room? Will we go to the Cross on Calvary? Will we go on to the point where we would be willing to die with Him? Will we go with Him to the grave; and will we stand with Him at the Empty Tomb?

And if there should come opportunity this week……                

and surely the opportunity will come…..for demonstration by word or by deed, of your conviction concerning Him; of your convictions about life and living, about church and state, about business and politics, about teaching and learning, about morals and decisions….what will your demonstration be?

Will you be on the side of Palm Sunday’s Chief Demonstrator?

That’s where hailing Christ as King on Palm Sunday, really counts.

 

Let’s bow our heads in prayer;

O God, help us. Life isn’t easy; following Christ isn’t easy.

Making our decisions, developing our outlooks, forming our attitudes based on Him, Christ the King, is a hard thing to do. Help us, O God, help us each one. And may the welcome we have given with our lips today, be demonstrated in our lives this week, and always. Grace, mercy and peace, from God the Father, God, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be with you all, now and forever.

Amen.

 

Sermon Series – April 6, 2014

What Did Jesus Do?

#4 When Jesus Prayed

Matthew 6:5-15

April 6, 2014

 

What did Jesus do – when he prayed?

Note that our theme today is NOT “What did Jesus teach concerning prayer?” even though that is important.

Jesus’ followers once came to him and said:

Teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

And the prayer Jesus taught was the one with which we are so familiar:

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

But our focus this morning is not on what Jesus taught about prayer,

But rather His own experience, on Jesus’ own way of praying.

We may find that we learn as much from how Jesus prayed as from his preaching, or from what he did or from what he said.

What did Jesus do – when he prayed?

First – He prayed often.

Secondly – he prayed alone (well, most of the time)

And Third – in His praying Jesus concentrated on God, not on himself.

Finally, Jesus prayed and lived out life’s greatest prayer, life’s finest prayer, life’s ultimate prayer, the prayer that makes both prayer and life real

He prayed…

But I will get back to that…

I.                     

Jesus prayed often.

Flip through the pages of the Gospel of Luke and you find Jesus praying:

He prayed following his baptism;

He prayed when he faced the anger of the Pharisees because he dared heal the man with the withered hand.

You find Jesus praying before he chose the twelve who would be with Him in his ministry.

You find Jesus praying just prior to asking his disciples the two key questions – “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do YOU say that I am?”

It was during a period of prayer that Jesus was transfigured:

“The appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white…”

He prayed as he sent seventy followers out, two by two, to prepare the way for his coming to cities and towns where he had not been before.

It was when they saw Jesus praying that the disciples were moved to request a model prayer:

“He was praying in a certain place,” Luke tells us, and when he ceased one of his disciples said to him,

“Lord, teach US to pray…”

Jesus prayed on Palm Sunday as he looked over the city of Jerusalem, he wept over it and he prayed:

“Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace!”

Jesus prayed on Holy Thursday as he celebrated the Passover with his disciples, and again after the supper in Gethsemane, just before his arrest.

Jesus prayed on Good Friday.

Three of the traditional “Seven Last Words” from the cross were prayers:

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do!”

My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?”

“Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.”

So the records bear evidence, not only in Luke, but in Matthew, Mark and John –

That not only did Jesus advocate prayer, and teach about prayer and inspire prayer –

But he practiced what he preached – he himself was a man of prayer who prayed often.

When Jesus says to us, “Pray!”…

He can do it on the grounds that he can also say:

“I prayed.

I know the need of it

I know what prayer can do.”

Jesus Prayed often.

II.

Jesus prayed alone.

There is no doubt but that Jesus prayed in the company of others. Look in the gospels and there we can “read all about it!”

And Jesus was a great proponent of praying in church.

Indeed one of the few occasions in the gospels when you see Jesus “with fire in his eyes” and hear anger in his voice, is when he is driving the moneychangers from the temple shouting:

“It is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”

But read the record of Jesus’ prayer life and you find that he most often prayed alone.

Matthew tells us:

“…after he had dismissed the crowds he went up into the hills by himself to pray…”

Mark testifies:

“And in the morning, a great while before day, (Jesus) rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.”

Luke observes:

“Now it happened that as he was praying alone…”

And the Doctor Luke again, with a keen eye on medical details, and with great interest in the healing of people writes of Jesus:

            “…great multitudes gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities but, Jesus withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

It is good to note that it was by withdrawing for prayer that Jesus found renewal for living.

Jesus’ source of power was a lonely place of prayer.

Behind his public ministry, with people pressing in on him from every side, was his private time with God.

Power constantly going out of him demanded some deep recharging of the batteries of his soul, and he did this in “His secret place.”

Neither the lack of time or crowdedness of space prevented Jesus from praying,

Jesus went out to put a stout fence around some corner of time and space. – And there he prayed.

 Life has become very public and to find a lonely place and a quiet time is not easy.

The outer world intrudes so completely on us, not just with responsibilities and duties; not just the clamoring of the necessities of life;

But cell phones and texts and radios and Facebook and Twitter and television and I-pods,

Are all things that we like to do better than pray.

Remember that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark picture Jesus feeding the multitudes; and just a little while later Jesus walking on the water. And between these two events was a bridge…

Two sentences…

“After Jesus had taken leave of the multitudes he went into the hills to pray.”

…when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land.”

Someone commented that…

“The chief thing in this passage is the picture of the great rhythm in the life of Jesus, the spending of himself in ministry to people and the replenishment of mind and soul in communion with God.”

He went into the hills to pray!

We all need to find our own hilltop.  A place where we can be alone and concentrate on our prayers

To have a truly close relationship with God in prayer we too need to “go into the Hills” even if the hills are in our home, our carport, garage or office.  Being lucky enough to be here in Jerome we can indeed have a hilltop experience just by looking out of the windows.  Wherever we are however, we need to pray. Alone.

To have a life filled with mountaintop experiences you have to go up on a mountain, to pray.

III.

In his praying Jesus concentrated on God, and not on himself.

Here we can learn from his practice and His teaching.

In the prayer he prayed as a model both for himself and his followers… note where the concentration is:

Our FATHER, who art in heaven.

Hallowed be THY name.

THY kingdom come.

THY will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

And only then does the thought of ourselves intrude.

Give US this day our daily bread.

Forgive US our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead US not into temptation.

Deliver US from evil.

And that is how it ended.

Though the early church was certainly right in bringing the focus back on God when they added the words,

For THINE is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.

Prayer has the major purpose of relating God and humanity.

In order to do that Human concentration must be focused on the divine, not on the self.

What childish ideas we have of the purpose of prayer!

Do you remember the cartoon of the little girl in her pajamas kneeling by her bed and calling out to her parents:

“I’m going to say my prayers – anyone want anything?”

The thought makes us smile but the fact is that all too often that describes our own philosophy and practice of prayer.

We think of prayer and pray as though it were a way of manipulating God,

             A way of changing God’s mind about us,

              A way of getting God to see things our way.

For Jesus this kind of prayer is totally false and misleading.

For Jesus both prayed and lived out the greatest prayer:

And that prayer was and is both the prayer of the Sermon on the Mount and the prayer prayed in Gethsemane

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in in heaven.”

                                    And

“Not my will but thine be done.”

Prayer is not a technique for managing God but a genuine, unreserved, act of trust that lets God manage us.”

Jesus didn’t use prayer to give orders to God.

Jesus used prayer as a way of reporting for duty.

You and I may learn a lot by observing Jesus’ prayer life, but nowhere more than when we hear him praying:

“Not my will but Thine be done.”

The same prayer which we so much more casually and less thoughtfully pray when we say.  “Thy will be done on earth…”

Reflect on the fact that Jesus consciously, consistently and faithfully in prayer opened himself to the will of God, even though that will included not just a crown, but a cross.

Then reflect on our presumption when we pray, “Thy will be done”

Never dreaming that God’s will could be less for us than a full dinner plate, a happy life, maybe a new car every few years and nothing to worry about….

“Prayer is not a clever way of using divine energy for our own ends.

Prayer is a way of discovering what God wants and fitting ourselves into His plan.

Nor is prayer a life boat to be launched in an emergency, or a magic wand to wave to get what we want.

Prayer for Jesus, and hopefully for us, is relating and adjusting ourselves to God so that “His will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

In prayer Jesus said to God:  “Thy will be done!”

“Not as I will, but as Thou will.”

This is not merely the great divide of prayer but the crux of life.

Tennyson wrote:

“Our wills are ours to make them Thine.”

The Hymn we sing:

“Take Thou ourselves O Lord,

            Heart, mind and will;

Through our surrendered souls

            Thy plans fulfill.

We yield ourselves to Thee –

            Time, talents, all;

We hear, and henceforth heed,

            Thy sovereign call.”

So much more can be observed of Jesus in the act of prayer.

How he knelt,

            How he used outward aids;

                        How he listened as well as spoke;

                                    How he kept perspective;

                                    How he alternated between word and deed;

Between seeking God and giving God;

Between drinking in God’s presence; and letting it flow out;

How he used prayer as the background for decision making, and so much more.

But for today –

What did Jesus do when he prayed?

            And what can we do?

He prayed often.

            He prayed alone – as well as in fellowship.

He concentrated on God – not on himself.

And he knew the best answer to all prayer:

Not my will, but Thine be done.”

Amen.

Sermon Series March 23, 2014

#3 “When Jesus Preached”

Isaiah 52:7-10, Luke 4:16-21 & Matthew 4:23, 5:2

March 23, 2014

Matthew 5:2

and he began to teach them.

“When Jesus Preached”

It may rightly assumed that the subject “What did Jesus do…when he preached, and taught” is of particular interest to the person in the pulpit. But to you also, as a person in the pew the matter may be of special interest. If you are someone always able to answer this question in the affirmative, have you attended church at least once during the past seven days….? From the day you join the church until the day you die at the biblical 3 score years and ten, you may well have heard 3,016 sermons! (that‘s 70 years). You will have been exposed to a great deal of preaching.

But the question today relates only indirectly to the preaching you hear, today’s question is…”What did Jesus do…when He preached?” It isn’t an easy question to answer; not because there is too little on record, but because there in this instance, in this context, in this situation of seeking to respond to that question, entirely too much! Adequately and honestly to respond to the query, “What did Jesus do…when he preached?” I had to read the gospels again, had to re-read most of Matthew and Mark and Luke and John, with this question in mind, focusing on the particular theme of Jesus’ preaching and teaching, and the varied situations in which he did it.

And having done that, here is only a sketchy answer, but these things stood out:

1.      Jesus preached in church

2.      Jesus answered questions

3.      Jesus experienced interruptions

4.      Jesus told stories

5.      Jesus dealt with everything

6.      Jesus turned the world upside down

How much can I say about these matters in less than half an hour?

First-Though it is obvious that Jesus preached in many and varied places; field, mountains, seaside, homes, boats, roadside; the record shows that he did much of his preaching in the churches of his day and generation.

Matthew tells us, “He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom.”

Mark describes Jesus’ ministry this way: “And he went throughout Galilee preaching in their synagogues…”

Luke pinpoints a specific instance…you heard it in the reading from the Scripture…”And Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read…He opened the book…He read…He closed the book…And He began to say to them….he had a text, you see… ‘Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”

Luke further indicates that Jesus preached often in the temple. “One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel…” Luke further emphasizes the routine nature of this occasion when he repots:

“And every day Jesus was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged…. “And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.” Jesus never downplayed the church as the pre-eminent place for preaching and teaching.

Secondly-Much of Jesus’ preaching was in response to questions. When a year ago I was reading my father-in-laws The New English Version Bible from cover to cover, I noticed that he had placed a “Q” in the margin every time he came across a question addressed to Jesus, or asked by him. So it was rather easy to skim the pages this time and find that much of Jesus’ preaching was done in response to questions, questions such as these:

“Why do your disciples break the ancient traditions?

“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

“Lord, how often am I to forgive my brother?  

“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any and every grounds?

“Master, what good must I do to inherit eternal life?

“Who can be saved?

“What will be the sign for your coming and for the end of the age?

“Which commandment is greatest of all?

“Who is my neighbor?

“Are you the King of the Jews?”

And there of course, scores more. Much of Jesus’ preaching was done in response to questions. Questions are important, yes, even vital, to helpful preaching.

It is right to ask questions about your religion and your life.

Both religion and life are apt to be nearly dead when no questions are forthcoming. Beware when you think you have all the answers. Jesus took questions seriously and much of his preaching was dialogue in the sense of question and answer.

 

Thirdly-Closely similar to the fact that Jesus faced almost a barrage of questions, is the fact also that very often his preaching was interrupted, often times by questions, but often times by people who had other answers.

Luke tells us: “On another Sabbath, Jesus went into a meeting house and taught. A man was there whose right hand was crippled. Some teachers of the Law and Pharisees wanted some reason to accuse Jesus of doing wrong; so they watched him very closely to see if he would cure anyone on the Sabbath.

But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to the man with the crippled hand, ‘Stand up and come here to the front.’ The man got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them: ‘I ask you: what does our Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To help or to harm? To save a man’s life or to destroy it?’ He looked around at them all, then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’

But they were filled with rage and began to discuss among themselves what they could do to Jesus.” (Luke 6:6-11)

You see, Jesus was preaching. Some members of his congregation were listening intently to see what they might learn. Other members of his congregation weren’t there at all to listen to what the preacher had to say. They were looking for “some reason to accuse Jesus of doing wrong.” It isn’t hard to imagine what they were looking for:

in his preaching some departure from accepted belief; some comment upon issues of the day upon which they might build a case that he was dealing with matters not appropriate to the pulpit; some word about “people, places or things” that they might use as the springboard for an attack not only against what he had to say, but against him personally; or perhaps some departure from preaching in the way that preaching has always been done….

Here it is recorded that Jesus virtually read their minds. He “knew their thoughts” and “taking the bull by the horns” called this crippled man to the front and did the very thing which, in their jealous and angry hearts, they had hoped he would do.

He cured the man.

But he surrounded it with such faultless logic and such divine compassion, that those who sought to use that even against him among the people were reduced to angry mutterings, bitter words, and raging thoughts among themselves.

But we were talking about interruptions.

On another occasion, Jesus is preaching in a certain synagogue. His fame is such that the little church is filled. Standing room only on the inside….and crowds pressing at the doors on the outside. And Luke tells us: “Jesus’ mother and brothers came to him, but were unable to join him because of the crowd.”

Someone in position to see…perhaps someone standing near a window…able to see up toward the pulpit and out the window…sees Jesus’ mother and brothers standing out in the yard.

He thinks it is important and he dares interrupt Jesus and says: “Stop the sermon a moment! I want to let you know that ‘your mother and brothers are standing outside, they want to talk to you.’” Jesus turns the interruption to his own purposes, saying to them all, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 8:19-21)

Something happened to Jesus when he was preaching that happens very seldom… perhaps too seldom…to most of us who preach today….Jesus was constantly interrupted.

Fifthly- (I’ll come back to the fourth)….in his preaching, Jesus dealt with just about everything.

This may have something to say to the modern man who would restrict preaching to, so-called “spiritual matters”, and leave the rest of life to the maneuverings of the devil.

As I flipped through the pages of the New Testament, I found record of Jesus preaching about forgiveness and forgiving; divorce; money…you know the pulpit speaks a whole lot less about money than Jesus ever did!; greatness; God; illness…physical, mental, moral, and spiritual; paying taxes; hypocrisy; resurrection; crime and punishment; city problems; evangelism; troubles; persecutions; poverty; the last days; prayer; fasting; judgment; war; enemies; love; the kingdom of God….again and again and again about the kingdom of God and how it should have rule over all. It is though Jesus were saying in the context of his preaching: “The world is my parish.” He preached about just about everything, especially the things about which people were often the most sensitive.

Sixthly-I observe that in his preaching, Jesus turned the world upside down. And people don’t like that. We heard in the New Testament reading only the beginning of what was probably Jesus’ keynote sermon. It’s a beautiful passage of scripture. But more than that, it is a passage fraught with significance, for his reading from Isaiah was a real inaugural for his whole life and ministry. You remember he read:

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me He has appointed me to preach good news to the poor…sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to free the oppressed, to announce the year when the Lord will save his people.”

Then Jesus began speaking about this passage of scripture which He had read. But what was the reaction to what Jesus then said? It was not unlike that which happened in America in the 1800’s when a speaker or a salesman, or someone espousing ideas not liked by the townspeople… someone who would come to town and start spouting off certain ideas…They would “run him out of town on a rail.”

Well, in his home town of Nazareth, when his townspeople heard what Jesus had to say in his sermon, they were, as the record states, “filled with anger”…. “They rose up, dragged Jesus out of town, and took him to the top of the hill on which their town was built, to throw him over the cliff.” Somehow Jesus escaped.

But this was far from the last time that the reaction to hearing Jesus preach led his hearers to feel that they had been personally insulted; their selfish interests perhaps mortally wounded; so that their anger boiled over to the point that they were willing to commit murder. And at last those who could no longer stand or put up with the preaching of Jesus succeeded in having the preacher put to death. Jesus’ teachings turned the world upside down…that’s why he was crucified; no preacher gets killed for mouthing pious platitudes.

Recall portions of the “Sermon on the Mount”: There was a “teaching about anger”.

Said Jesus: “you have heard that men were told in the past ‘you shall not kill’.

“But I say to you: anyone who is angry at his brother, I in danger of hell fire…” There was a “teaching about adultery.” “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ “But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to posses her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart…” There was a “teaching about revenge.” “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ “But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who does you wrong. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the left also. And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well.”

And this one, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ “But now I tell you: love your enemies, and pray for those who mistreat you…’”

You see what Jesus did in this, and in so much of his preaching, he was swimming against the tide, he was going against popular opinion, he was turning the standards of the world upside down…or better said…right side up! And our world has not been better off because it has rejected the teachings of Jesus!

Fourthly-now…and finally….Jesus in his preaching, told stories. In my reading, I read again these familiar words: “One time many tax-collectors and outcasts came to listen to Jesus.”

You can see the picture; the riff-raff and the rabble of the community gathered about Jesus, listening with care, hanging on every word, strangely affected by the words from this man of Nazareth.

Passersby from the more “respectable” ranks of society note that something is going on…they pause…not in fashion dissimilar to that which I occasionally did when walking around downtown City of Phoenix. I would hear someone loudly haranguing a small crowd…oftentimes in the name of Jesus, always with an American flag held in one hand or standing near, both as a source of protection and a guarantee of free speech. I would pause, and listen for awhile, and then move on. Others in the crowd sometimes took up the challenges hurled by the speaker, and argue and dispute until the air was hot and heavy with opinions generally coming from opposite poles.

When Jesus was preaching on this occasion, the passersby happened to be “Pharisees and teachers of the Law”, and they “started grumbling”. First they grumbled among themselves; “This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!” Was it that Jesus knew what was in their minds, overheard what they were whispering among themselves; or secure in their positions and in their prestige, did they even dare dispute with Him publicly?

At any rate, Jesus interrupted whatever he was saying and he told them three stories, each of which is familiar to you. I just remind you of them.

One began:

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep in the pasture and goes looking for the lost sheep until he finds it. When he finds it, he is so happy that he puts it on his shoulders, carries it back home, and calls his friends and neighbors together.

“Rejoice with me,” he tells them. “For I have found my lost sheep!” ‘In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent.’”……….

He went on to reinforce his argument by telling what we call the Parable of “The Lost Coin.”

“Or suppose a woman who has ten silver coins loses one of them…what does she do?

She lights a lamp, sweeps her house, and looks carefully everywhere until she finds it. When she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together. ‘Rejoice with me,’ she tells them, ‘for I have found the coin I lost!’ “In the same way, I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.”

And then from the lips of this man whose life has been called “The greatest Story Ever Told”…there came what is perhaps the greatest story He ever told…the greatest among the parables, the most meaningful, the most helpful, the most wonderful of all….“Jesus went on to say: ‘There was a man who had two sons.

The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me now my share of the property.’ So the father divided the property between his two sons. After a few days, the younger son sold his part of the property and left home with the money. He went to a country far away, where he wasted his money in reckless living. He spent everything he had. Then a severe famine spread over that country, and he was left without a thing. So he went to live with one of the citizens of that country, who sent him out to his farm to take care of the pigs. He wished he could fill himself with the bean pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him any. At last he came to his senses and said: ‘All my father’s hired workers have more than they can eat, and here I am, about to starve!’

‘I will get up and go to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fir to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired workers.’”

So he got up and started back to his father…. ‘He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity and he ran, threw his arms around his son and kissed him.’ “Father,” the son said, “I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.” But the father called his servants: “Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.” “Then go get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast!” “For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive;

he was lost, but now he has been found.” ‘And so the feasting began.’” (Luke 15:1-24)

Never mind, for today, the remainder of the tale with its story of the elder brother. Note especially, for today, and remember for always, that Jesus was saying, “God is like a father!”  God is always waiting, God is always hoping, that His children will come home.

And that is how…in church and elsewhere, with questions and answers, despite interruption, proclaiming a new style of life, dealing with just about everything, telling matchless stories, that’s how…and when…and where…and why…and what….Jesus preached.

To the only wise God our savior, be blessing and honor, glory and majesty, dominion and power now and forever. May the living Christ go with you; before you to show the way, beside you to encourage you, behind you to help should you fall. May His spirit sustain and guide you and grant you peace this day and always.

 

Let’s pray;

O Lord God who is full of compassion and love toward us, who is gracious unto us so far beyond our deserving. We recognize our weaknesses and our failures and our sins and humbly we confess them before You. Sins of body and mind and spirit; sins of word and deed.

Graciously forgive us we beseech You, O God, as we come to You through Jesus Christ your Son. And also grant, our Father, Your blessings upon us; not only forgiveness, but strength to know and to do right. And for living of this and every day grant, O Father, new power, new courage, new vision, deeper understandings that we may live truly as Your forgiven children, that indeed light may shine forth from our lives, blessing the lives of those around us, as well as our own. In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Sermon Series March 16, 2014

#2 “When Jesus Was Tempted”

Matthew 4:1-11 & James 1:12-15

March 16, 2014

James 1:12-15

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

II-We seek either to find out, or to remind ourselves, as to what Jesus did: When he preached, when he prayed, when he taught, when he looked at people, when he took part in a demonstration, when he died…and rose again, and today, what Jesus did when he was tempted.

And he was tempted. Just as surely as you and I are tempted, so was he. That’s another of the great things about Jesus. Not only could it be accurately recorded, “He knew what was in people”, but he himself experienced the things we experience…including birth and death, hunger and hot and cold, loneliness and pain and suffering…and temptation.

A New Testament letter writer said of Jesus: “We have no superhuman high priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible….

Christ himself has shared fully, in all our experience of temptation…and by virtue of his own suffering under temptation; he is able to help those who are exposed to temptation….Yet He never sinned…” (Hebrews 4:15-16, 2:18)

I appreciate and am helped by that, not just by the fact that he never sinned, but that he was tempted…as we are.

I see Jesus, not as some divinely protected, providently guarded, carefully sheltered “hot house plant”, kept out of the searing heat and biting cold and bitter storms of life; but rather, one like us, exposed to the same temptations: physical, mental, moral, spiritual, even as you and I.

My own situation, however, is not accurately described in the words written by Jesus: “He never sinned”…….

My biography is more perfectly related, biblically, to the words of the Apostle Paul:

“I often find”, Paul wrote to his fellow Christians at Rome, “(I often find) I don’t accomplish the good I set out to do, and the evil I don’t really want to do….I find I am always doing….I want to do good, but in practice I do evil….It is an agonizing situation….” And then Paul asks, as well might we all, “Who on earth can set me free from the clutches of my…..sinful nature?” and answers: “I thank God, there is a way out, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Two questions:

One-Do you, like Paul, acknowledge yourself to be a sinner? And Two-Do you really want a way out; that is, so you really want a way…a fashion…in which to stand up to temptation? If your answer is in the affirmative, then listen on.

For we think and speak about what Jesus did when He was tempted.

By the way, I share three ways of meeting temptation, suggested by a certain tale of Greek mythology. You remember the mythological sirens, (female singers…for those who think in terms of fire engines and similarly equipped vehicles) (the mythological sirens) whose bewitching songs lured seamen and their ships to death on the rocks.

On one occasion, the hero Ulysses was to sail by the treacherous shores from which the sirens sang. Before the ship drew near, Ulysses did two things: One-he had every seaman’s ears filled with wax, so that nary a man could hear a thing; Secondly-he had himself bound to the mast so securely, that though he struggled mightily to free himself, he was successfully restrained until the song of the sirens was no longer even an echo.

So it is possible that a person may close their ear’s to sin’s appeal, their eyes…when that is appropriate, their mind…at all times; or they may so provide for their physical, spiritual and moral restraint that sin’s allurement…..finally fades away. 

A third method is illustrated by the journey of the Argonauts past the same place. The Argonauts heard the sweet songs of the maidens, but simply laughed at what they deemed to be coarse and raucous voices coming from the sirens, for they had on board Orpheus, Orpheus, the sweetest singer of all; Orpheus whose songs had calmed the fluttering birds of the air; Orpheus whose voice had tamed the wild beasts of the forests; Orpheus whose singing was truly “the sweetest music this side of heaven”. The Argonauts had on board, then, the one whose songs and voice were truly the greatest.

How many shipwrecks on the rocks of temptation are avoided because of the presence within of a higher, more noble, more pure, more beautiful, more powerful attraction………..

The two most vivid scenes of Jesus in the presence of temptation are located: one in the desert, and the other in the garden.

The desert temptation, according to Matthew and Luke, occurred immediately following Jesus’ baptism. Jesus had heard a word from God, a spiritual manifestation with a voice sounding from the heavens, saying concerning him: “This is my beloved son in whom I am pleased.” Jesus had received his high and holy commission to live and labor “to the glory of God and for the good of men.”

Then Jesus had gone out into the desert…to think it all over, to plot his course, to plan his campaign.

And to the desert the devil came. Don’t let the picture of the devil on cans of devilled ham fool you; and don’t allow yourself to be beguiled, by the humor of a friend at a costume party dressed up in horns and tail and carrying a pitch fork. The devil is real, all right; he needs no physical form; he is the demonic power which seeks to rule our lives, using temptations which abound all along life’s way. In the case of Jesus, surely you remember what the record says!

Three temptations;

First: “If you are the Son of God command these stones to become bread.” Food! Food for the hungry! Certainly there is nothing inherently wrong with that!

How devastating real hunger is! And surely Jesus wants the hungry fed!

Let not the consideration of hunger as an occasion for temptation minimize what Jesus did for other hungry ones at other times. Those situations during which at the request of Jesus, 4,000, and then 5,000 were fed at once, vividly testifying to Jesus’ concern for the starving multitudes.

And spoken in another context…the words of Jesus: “I was hungry, and you gave me food” were among the reasons behind Christ’s greatest words of praise and eternal hope. So, the Haven Food Pantry is good.

But for Jesus, at this time and place in his early experience, to use his divine power for the satisfaction of his purely personal, physical want would have been betrayal…at the very outset…of his Father’s mission.

The power with which he was divinely endowed was not for himself, but for humanity. And humanity….like himself…needed more than bread!

So there came through lips that were certainly parched, the words of Holy Scripture:

Man shall not live by bread alone!”  

Don’t tempt me to forget my ministry by virtue of a full stomach, by virtue of a feeling of physical satisfaction.”

So the stone remained stones.

So the enemy tries a new tack…

Secondly: “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down….” One can almost hear the reinforcing arguments with which Satan subtly seeks to bait his trap: “What a way to get your ministry off to a ‘flying start’! People everywhere looking for a genuine man of God. Multitudes eager to know for sure they are on the right religious track!”

“Thousands of people here in the temple will get the word around in no time that you indeed must be the Savior for whom all the people are looking. It’s so simple…just let yourself go here from the top of the temple and God will protect you….that’s his business…and you’ll win the day even before the battle has begun!”

 But even you and I know that that is not God’s way; and the word from Jesus…. another biblical saying…”You shall not tempt the Lord your God!”

Thirdly: “All right Jesus, while we’re up here…another look around!” And in a vision Jesus is shown all the kingdoms of the world. And the tempter says: “All, all are yours, if only you will fall down and worship me.” “Nothing is too good for you.

All economic, and political and social success will be yours. All authority, all power will be in your hands. You will be able to say to man…’Go!’ and they will go; ‘Come!’ and they will come. “What you want will be yours when you want it. and there’s only a small price to pay…..just acknowledge and worship me as supreme.”

 When tempted like that, what did Jesus do? Another word of Scripture:

It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”

And with that, according to the record, the devil left Jesus for a season. Yet not for long. We know that….because temptations don’t stop.

They’re as American as apple pie. They are as much a part of life as the Ten Commandments. Temptations… keep coming in virtually every aspect of our lives, and every day we are alive.

They come….and come…..and come…and come. And they came again and again to Jesus.

But that one of which the record speaks the most clearly, occurred in the garden.

Again, you know that record…the account of what happened in Gethsemane…perhaps you know it more completely than concerning the account of the temptations in the desert. You, who worship regularly here, have a reminder of it for an hour or more every Sunday. Except, of course, that one picture is inadequate.

The savior is painted there, in the window back in the hallway, but there is no way in which one picture can do the scene justice.

For omitted is the agony of the decision, the bloody seat of spiritual wrestling, the three times going and coming back to the rock, the failure of his closest friends to remain awake and watch with him, and certainly the stark horror of what his ultimate decision means: the cross! The cruel and death dealing cross!

And the prayer:

Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.”

Oh, for a last minute reprieve!”

Oh, for some other way to accomplish God’s will. Oh, for some other fashion to do what I have set out to do. Oh, for anything but this!”

Nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done!”

And after that I suspect there were no more temptations, for the divine human drama had reached a climax…and the result in the mind of Jesus, and in the eye of God was inevitable.

 Jesus made the right decision. Even though it meant the cross, He would go forward on that God-given road. And He did not sin.

 What helped Jesus? What might help us? Not just wax in the ears….that’s artificial. Not just getting ourselves tied up; for that’s impossible sometimes. Something very similar, however, to having the purest voice in your ears, and the perfect song in your souls.

 Notice what Jesus did when he was tempted.

 First- He knew, and He used the Bible. The life of Jesus was steeped in that sacred scripture, which to so many of us is more of a fetish than a guide.

Again and again he pointed out…. “It is written”, It is written…..”

The Good Book was more than a volume that was put out some years ago…. “The Bible Designed To Be Read as Living Literature.”

The Bible was more than a book designed to be read as “living literature.” The Bible to Jesus, was something that gave light on his path, it was a lamp to guide his feet, it was a beacon to illumine his mind, and it was a pure white beam that shone constantly in his heart.

 “I read it all….at once” is not what Jesus said of the holy summons of his people. He read it…and read it again. He heard it…He memorized it and taught it. He preached it. He lived it…day after day, after day, after day. The life of Jesus was a life directed by a knowledge of the Book.

 Secondly-He prayed.

I am sure He prayed more than most of us put together. He prayed more often, more fervently, more truly, more persistently than the priest, the monk, or parson, before or since. It is recorded of Him, again and again: “He lifted up his eyes to heaven.” What gesture is more typical of the man Christ Jesus than that?

 And again and again it is recorded of Him: “He went apart to a desert place to rest and pray awhile.” So often this is what the record bears witness to. He was strengthened not just by his prayers, but by his being a man of prayer, by his being a praying man.

 Thirdly-He reacted rightly, right away. A friend of mine put it concisely: “When you meet temptation, turn to the right.” Someone else described too us: “Most people who flee from temptation usually leave a forwarding address.” And a writer in a religious magazine warned: “Temptations are like pigeons….treat them kindly and they return, bringing others with them.

How tragic, that so often facing the fires of temptation we allow them to develop into a 4-alarm blaze! We dally with the tempter, we think about the temptation, we plan and we counter plan, we dream, we wonder, and we hope about the possibility of having the cake of a clear conscience, all the while eating the frosting of some misdeed;

when one bucket of water quickly and directly applied would have put out the blaze before it spread four feet. Or we dip the water out teacup or by teaspoonful and wonder why the fire gains so rapidly.

Jesus-in the presence of temptation…reacted immediately and moved immediately in the opposite direction! Right away………..!

Fourthly, and finally, though admittedly not completely, Jesus kept his eyes on the goal of his life. From the very beginning of his life….you remember the occasion of speaking to his parents in the temple and saying to them: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” to the very end, when in the garden he could make the final word of his prayer: “Nevertheless, not my will, but Your will be done.”

Jesus faced life having ever before Him, God’s will for his life.

A young man came to a king and asked the monarch the secret of a wise and happy and sinless life. The king filled a cup with water, gave it to the lad, ordered him carry it through the streets of the city and bring it back to the palace without spilling a single drop. “If you spill any,” warned the monarch, “the soldier behind you will draw his sword, and remove your head.”

The young man went forward, bearing the cup most carefully. Safely he carried it through the streets and brought it back without spilling a single drop. “Well,” said the king, “what did you see and hear by the way?” “Nothing, O King, the youth replied. “Nothing!” exclaimed the king. “Did you not see the sellers in the market, the drunks and dancers in the taverns, the children by the roadside, the soldiers and the priests and the common people?” “No, Sire”, said the young man…. “I neither saw, nor heard any of these.” “So”, responded the king, “learn your lesson.” “Set your heart on God. Give all your mind to obey Him.” “And just as you fixed your whole being on bearing the cup, and heard and saw nothing beside, so shall you avoid the voice of temptation, and the clamor of the world.”

 Bearing in our hands, the cup of life given by Him, and bearing in our hearts the Christ….are these not facts also in which we successfully can face up to temptation?

 To know the Bible from cover to cover; to pray…not merely to say prayers, but to be men and women of prayer; to pray without ceasing, as Jesus commanded; to react rightly….right away; and to know that “We have no superhuman high priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible” but that (Christ) himself has shared fully in all our experience of temptation….(and) by virtue of his own suffering under temptation, He is able to help those who are exposed to temptation….”

 

To have Him…the Perfect Song…in our hearts, surely that helps when we face up to temptation, as we all most surely must.

God helping us, in the face of temptations, surely we ought to do no less.

 

Let’s pray;

May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body, be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever!

Amen.

 

Sermon Series – March 9, 2014

(Lenten Series 1 of 6)

What Did Jesus Do?

Mark 10:13-31 & James 2:14-17

  #1 WHEN JESUS LOOKED AT PEOPLE

 The first Gospel Lesson has already been read to you, I will now read from James 2:14-17;

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.….

1-“What did Jesus Do? When Jesus looked at people; For the Christian there is much to be learned from a consideration of what Jesus did in varying circumstances.

So it is during Lent, 2014, that I invite you to consider answers to these questions: What did Jesus Do when he was tempted? when he preached? when he prayed? when he taught? when he took part in a demonstration? when he died…and rose again?…and today, what did Jesus do when he looked at people?

I.

The gospels are so filled with accounts of Jesus’ confrontations with individuals and groups, that over the last year or so I have preached on such themes as: Jesus and the Multitude, and Sir We Would See Jesus series to name just a couple.

II.

As we read the gospels…Matthew, Mark Luke and John; as we carefully study the biographies of Jesus; or as we simply browse through the pages, glancing here and there, one thing that comes through loud and clear is that Jesus had a tremendous concern for people.

Never would Jesus have “made it” in a cloistered monastery, never would Jesus have shut himself away in an office, never would Jesus have longed to live on a deserted island, never would Jesus have been content with getting reports on how things were going with the citizens of his kingdom. Jesus spent his earthly life and ministry in daily, hourly, moment by moment contact with people.

III.

Today’s reading from the gospel according to Mark provides a superb example. The 10th chapter of that biography of Jesus finds the Master….first, looking at children; second, looking at a sample adult; and third, looking at people who are financially well to do.

That first familiar tale bears rehearing….

“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them; ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’

“And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13-16)

 

What a world of difference between the way Jesus looked at children and the way his disciples looked at them!

Incidentally, it may be added that more was done by Jesus in behalf of the status of women than by anyone who ever lived before or after.

As Arthur Gossip has pointed out: “It was Christ who gave women her chance, who saw her possibilities, who discovered her value…who emphasized her worth…” (1)

“He who immortalized the woman’s mite; and the woman with the box of ointment; and the cottage of Bethany with its two sisters, Mary and Martha; he who spoke some of his noblest and profoundest words to an outcast woman at a well in Samaria; has done more to liberate and redeem womanhood from servitude, inferiority, and injustice than any other in history.”

For Jesus “looked on women not as property but as people. That appears in all his contacts with them, and in his sayings concerning them. Against the customs of his time, against the commonness of the idea of male dominance which runs through Hebrew thought and practice, he gave to his nation and to the world a new conception of women as persons, equal with men in the sight of God.” (2)

And did he do less for children?

Zeal, on behalf of both, is indicated when we recall that “An affectionate letter from an Egyptian laborer named Hilarion to his wife Alis, written at the beginning of the Christian era, advises her that when their child is born, she should rear it if it is a boy, but if it is a girl, she should allow it to die.” (3)

Contrast that with the picture of Jesus presented in the gospels, noting for example, these words from Matthew: “Calling to him a child, Jesus put him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven… Whoever causes one of these little ones….to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)

IV.

We have considered “Women and children first”, (-this is the order in which the matter appears in its gospel preaching of today-) but note also, the fashion in which Jesus responded to the male of the species, remembering that the whole picture is simply the way in which Jesus looked at people.

This morning’s reading of the gospel continues: “As Jesus was starting….on a trip, a man ran up…”

There is a profoundly significant bit of question and answer between them, and then this tremendously moving observation by the reporter: (as we have heard) “And Jesus looking upon him loved him….” The remainder of the story is neither so happy nor so promising as the beginning, for as the Bible reports the man’s reaction: “gloom spread over his face”, at what Jesus commanded concerning him, “and he went away sad because he was very rich.”

Yet there is that strangely compelling conviction within each of us that the truth is there….that whatever be our lot, our outlook, our situation, Jesus is such a person that should we run up to the Master, it might indeed be reported concerning us;

“And Jesus looking upon us, loved us…” For you see, this was the way Jesus looked at people.

Very early in his ministry, it was reported concerning him: “So Jesus went around visiting all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting houses, and healed people from every kind of disease and sickness. :As he saw crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. So he said to his disciples, ‘There is a great harvest, but few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out more workers to gather the harvest.’” (Matthew 9:35-38)

“More workers” with Jesus. Remember that!

V.

But one cannot leave the final section of the original passage of that scripture, which occupies our attention this morning without further comment…for the gospel of Mark has pointed out, not only the special care Jesus had for children, not only the love so obviously lavished on individual adults, but an almost unique bit of compassion and caring on behalf of the well to do. How well aware Jesus was of the spiritual dangers of wealth! How strong and unrelenting was his condemnation of profit-making turned religion, and riches made an object of worship!

“How hard it will be for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God!” he said; “much harder than a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

But Jesus didn’t stop there, you see. When his disciples pointed out just how impossible then it would be for the rich to be saves, Jesus specifically opened the door of hope: “…impossible for men, but not for God; everything is possible for God.” And that may have to be our hope, yours and mine, who share in the riches of the most economically favored people on the face of the whole earth. The point is, that Jesus looks upon us, also, with love.

VI.

Read the gospels. See how it was when Jesus looked at people. Children turned away by others, Jesus calls them to himself. Women in a state of peonage, Jesus puts them on a pedestal.

Adults filled with questions and problems, and fears, “looking upon them he loves them.” People in peculiar situations of embarrassing plenty or of enslaving poverty…for each, Jesus has a special care.

That’s how it was when Jesus looked at people. That’s how it is when Jesus looks at people.

VII.

And what of us? What of Us? For a little over a year, I have been saving in my home office, a copy of “WHY?” (Show copy, author unknown)

I did not know when, or in what situation, that this should be read. But when I considered the way it was when Jesus looked at people, I knew the time had come. For now I read it to you.

I read the observations of an Australian, I read what we might see and say when we look at people.

“I walked today through the slums of life, down the dark streets of wretchedness and of pain. I trod today where few have trod and as I walked I challenged God.

I saw the sots in the bar rooms. I saw the prostitutes in the dance halls. I saw the thieves as they picked pockets. I saw men and women devoid of life, living in worlds of sin, and above the din I whispered: ‘Why, God Why?’”

“I walked today down the lanes of hate, hearing the jeers of bitter men, hearing the names as they cursed and spat…

‘Dago’, ‘Spic’, ‘Kike’, ‘Jap’.

I saw the dejected men they stoned. I felt the anguish of their cries. I saw them as they slapped the lonely, as they turned their backs on human need. Snarling, growling were the fiends of hell. These, God called His Sons! Gasping for air, I cried: ‘Why, God, Why?’”

“I walked today through war’s grim dregs….over fields of blood, over graveless men. I saw the dead, the crucified, the headless, the limbless, the pleading, the crying. I saw the pain, the waste. I smelled the odor of rotted flesh. I saw the children gathered around…watching, naked, hungry, weeping, diseased, dirty…the baby trying to nurse from a dead mother. The ruins…

the agony. The despair! Disaster…disaster all around!”

“Blinded with tears, I fled down the streets. I stumbled, and then stopped. I shouted: ‘Why, God, Why?’ Why do you let men sin, hate, and suffer? Unmerciful Father?”

“God, art thou blind…art thou wicked and cruel? God, canst thou watch and do naught? Why must this be?”

“The world grew silent. I awaited reply. The silence was heavy. I started to tremble. I waited long…half rebuking, half fearing.”

“Then I heard from close behind me: ‘Why, Man, Why?’”

And I wonder if too often, the difference is not in the way Jesus and we look at people.

This has been my sermon on behalf of God.

How do we look at people? Nuisances? Scum? Undeserving? Unimportant? Hopeless?

Or can we look at them as Jesus Looked? And, like Him…Love them every one?

More workers with Jesus…Remember that!

—————————————————–

Please join me in prayer;

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. Blessed be God, because He has not rejected our prayer or removed His steadfast love from us. Blessed be His holy Name forever and ever!

Amen.

 

1-Int. Bible, Vol. 8, p. 530

2-Halford E. Luccock, Int. Bible, Vol. 7, p. 795

3-Sherman E. Johnson, Int. Bible, Vol. 7.pp. 468-469

4-Harold Cooke Phillips, Int. Bible, Vol. 6., p. 612

Wellness Notes – April 2014

WELLNESS NOTES

“ When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”—John 8:12

Fourth and last of our series of articles  about “LIFE HAPPENS:  Plan Ahead”, will focus on

“When it’s time to make a CHANGE, how to do it!”

Life does not come with a book of instructions!  Change is inevitable, but can be much more emotionally smooth, if we plan ahead and look for guidelines to empower us.  Since our local faith communities are primarily senior, or with senior parents, we will look at SENIOR CHANGES.  These changes may come in the form of family changes (loss or estrangement of a child or close relative, need to care for grandchildren, distance separating families), divorce, death, illness, injury, financial disappointments or choices creating crisis, change in ability to care of self or home, change in vision or hearing, spiritual disappointment or theology change, or emotional and mental health changes that create loss of focus or plans.   Any of the above create a need to realign our thoughts, dreams, goals, and plans.  HOW WILL WE DO THAT???

Two resources recently crossing my desk are the following:  Foxy Old Woman’s Guide to Living with Friends”(could include men, too!) by Cynthia Cary; and “the Boomer Burden, dealing with parents (or own) Lifetime accumulation of Stuff”  by Julie Hall.   Either may be found in the library or Amazon. 

Both address thoughts on the following:

  • When change happens:  Where will I live? Have you thought that one out?   Some options are living alone & loving it, living with extended family with shared expenses, retirement living settings (remember they are no longer called “A Home”), or group home settings.  Do you want to live with children or have them live with you? What about smaller homes or RV’s.  How about sharing a home with several friends with similar needs.   Look at your finances, health status, emotional needs, and happiness. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO AN OPINION AND SAY IN THE PLAN!!  Planning & thinking ahead prevents chaos.
  • How do I know the time is right for change?  Awareness of the aging process begins the thinking process.  Is there a decline in mobility, vision problems, loss of interest in favorite pastimes, irritability, hearing loss, confusion, repetition, short term memory loss, fatigue, unopened mail, unusual spending, fear of financial change, discomfort or fear where you are living, depression or anxiety, or falls?   The next step is to look at living situations, consider options (have lunch at living settings & assess), seek help evaluating finances, speak with Doctors about health changes, open the conversation with family or friends, and  keep a journal or notebook of questions, changes, concerns, and ideas for your future. 
  • Important factors to consider may be the following:  Who are my allies & resources? What are my contemporaries doing?  How can I begin making plans so MY wishes are met?   Am I  aware of scams and those looking to deplete my funds.?  Do I  have an updated Will and Life Plan Documents?  Begin sorting, marking, & giving away items of importance.  Be good to yourself and consider, talk about, and write your wishes.  Begin planning BEFORE the above changes become difficulties.  Look at the resources in your community (you may need to change communities to receive the benefits you need).  Consider your vision of the next 5,10,20 years and begin planning for each stage.  Look at family history and longevity as you make financial and life plan goals. 
  • As “Foxy” states:  WAKE UP, ENVISION THE FUTURE, SELF ASSESS, CREATE A SUPPORT SYSTEM, ENERGIZE YOUR VISION, MAKE CONSCIOUS PLANS, LIVE YOUR DREAMS, and have SWEET ENDINGS. 

Prayer, Planning, Patience, Positive Attitude, and Protecting your dream and assets will make change manageable.

 

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant

Wellness Notes – March 2014

WELLNESS NOTE

“My Spirit abides among you; do not fear“Haggai 2:5

 Third in our series of addressing “Life Happens:  Plan Ahead”, is “How not to be blindsided by LOSS!”

Loss occurs in our lives in many forms.  Loss of self esteem, Loss of dreams, Loss of a plan, Loss of a job or beloved pet. Loss of a love or life partner (through separation, divorce, or death).

You can probably add to this list from your experiences.  Seldom does one progress through this earthly life without some sort of loss, and as we have stated, “Life Happens”, so to look toward prevention and wellness, we must learn to PLAN AHEAD!!

Excellent resources that can be roadmaps for dealing with loss are the following:

*“Life after Loss”, A personal Guide Dealing with Death, Divorce, Job Change & Relocation.  By Bob Deits.  This is an excellent classic in crisis intervention with wise guidance.

* “How to Survive the Loss of a Love” a resource when emotional injury takes place and a guide to healing is needed.  By Bloomfield, Colgrove, & McWilliams.

* DivorceCare: and Grief Share:   A series of support groups and seminars with a non-denominational focus on recovery. Check online for group nearest you.

Each of these resources follows a common thread.  A prevention mode, considering the following:

·         Be AWARE:  Look for beginning stages of depression, disease, difficulty in a relationship or job.  Dig deeper into ‘cause & effect’ and begin making changes BEFORE a crisis occurs. 

·         Surround yourself with a support system.  Communicate concerns (early) with family and friends, utilize resources of Pastoral Guidance, Self-Help reading and support groups, online information and resources.  Be a cheerful receiver of a helping hand or shoulder.

·         Strengthen your spiritual resources.  Pray, Scour the Scriptures, Utilize books, articles, and online information sources for creating a strong, inspired, ‘ready’, emotional health.

·         Know that every emotional loss has a huge impact on your life. “Loss is not the enemy. Living in constant fear of it is.  It takes most people at least 2 years to begin returning to a normal life after a major loss. “(Deits).  Loss is natural and you WILL recover.

·         Play the “What If” game.  If my pet dies, what steps will I follow?,  If I lose this job, what will I do next?, If my spouse dies, what steps shall I follow next?, If I am alone, what, where, & how will I enrich my life next?, If I suffer loss, who will I ask to help me?     Take time to answer these questions NOW.  Prevention paves the way from pain.

·          Attend to your personal WELLNESS.  Do not lapse from eating well, exercise, vitamins, friendships, utilizing respite opportunities, looking for moments of JOY, and care for YOU.

·         Break the conspiracy of silence around loss. Affirm that “I can get through any loss successfully.” Know that grief takes work and tools for that job are available.  Seek them.

Alice Stephenson BSN, RN, PN 

Preparing for ER Visits & Hospitalizations – Wellness Notes

WELLNESS NOTES

“My spirit abides among you, do not fear” Haggai 2:5

The second in our series of “LIFE HAPPENS” articles will discuss the following:

PREPARING FOR ER VISITS AND HOSPITALIZATIONS

Emergency  Room visits are not something one plans for,  but as life happens, that time might come. To be certain you are not caught unprepared in an accident or sudden illness we can do some thinking ahead.   

·         Place a card or sticker on each home phone & cell phone with your home address & phone # in an emergency if 911 is called you (or anyone) will be able to tell them where to come.

·         Assure your identification, Insurance cards, phone numbers of important family members or friends, Small pad of paper & pen, & current medication list are all in your wallet or purse where whomever goes with you to the ER can find them and take them with you. 

·         Include a card in your above cards with the name and address of nearest medical facility.  If a neighbor or family member must drive you, they will know where to go.

·         Advocate for yourself by asking questions, make certain Medical Personnel understand your symptoms and questions, and if possible have someone prepared to write down what is told you for future reference.

·         Check NOW to see if your insurance covers ambulance, ER, Urgent Care, or non-admission visits.

Hospitalization may be expected or emergency.  Thinking ahead makes that stay so much more comfortable.   Consider having the following packed, convenient, and up to date to take to the hospital:

·         Insurance and ID, Authorizations, Directions to the hospital with address & phone # for family.

·         Personal toiletries, Chap Stick & lotion that you know works for you, toothbrush, tooth paste, comb & brush.

·         Bathrobe, slippers, socks, comfortable discharge clothes—all labeled with permanent marker.

·         Names & Addresses and Important numbers , paper & pen you might need while in the hospital

·         Current Medication list (do not take your medications except inhalers)

·         Glasses with case, dentures, hearing aids with extra batteries, (ask nurse for container for these & label it. )                      

·         Cell phone & Charger

·         Advanced Directives and Living Will copy.

·         List of available housing for loved ones (such as Taylor House in Flagstaff or hotels by Mayo)

·         Let Admissions know which family or friends may be told your personal healthcare information.

·         Plan for transportation upon discharge and ask Dr. for post hospital prescriptions so they may be filled BEFORE discharge. (be sure pain meds are there when you arrive home)

DO NOT TAKE:   Jewelry, credit cards, cash, electric appliances (shaver, hair dryer or curling iron), or personal electronic devices (except possibly Kindle or Tablet). 

EDUCATE yourself on the procedure or test your will be receiving before admission if possible.  Utilize the Hospital Library, Parish Nurse or Physician, Websites like www.mayoclinic.org  or WebMD for accurate information.

ADVOCATE for yourself or make certain you have someone with you who will.  Get questions answered, don’t be afraid to ask Nurses or Doctors to clarify information. It is wise to have someone stay with you the first hospital night.   Ask to see Social Service or Dietitian if you have discharge questions or need resources.  If possible let your Faith Community know of your needs for prayer, Pastoral Visits, confidentiality, or equipment.  

LIFE HAPPENS—-BE PREPARED—MINIMIZE FEAR AND CONFUSION

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Joys and Concerns – January 19, 2014

JOYS AND CONCERNS    January 19, 2014

 Prayer Requests

 Always in our Prayers: Peggy F. whose blood pressure is now under control: Randy B. experiencing pain; Paul L. having relief from pain; Anne C. dealing with cancer; Barb after cataract surgery; Louse, George’s sister, recovering from a mini-stroke; Ollie B. continued healing of hip infection.

Prayers of love and support for losses of loved ones by Joan’s brother and Joni’s friend and family.  And prayers of love and support for Camerons family.

Prayers of love and support for those experiencing extreme cold!

Praise for visiting relatives and loved ones.

Travel mercies for Steve & Kathy N., George and Joann R.

Blessings on our military and support personnel around the world.

 

January Birthdays to celebrate

 

Judd R                                                                        1-3

Laurie L                                                                     1-6

Allison B                                                                    1-11

Susie L                                                                       1-23

Peggy F                                                                      1-25

Central West District Churches to pray for in January

Trinity UMC, Phoenix           Asbury UMC, Phoenix

Pioneer UMF, New River

      Thank you for Cathy Wilson of Chosen People Ministries being with us today.

 Join Haven UM church 24/7/365 at www.havenchurchjerome.org.

Church Blog – January 9, 2014

New Year Reflection

Some people like to talk about new resolutions, some about new opportunities, or new starts, and such are good and appropriate ways to begin a new year. I like to think about the beginning of a new year as the beginning of a new cycle in the rhythm of life.

For us, as followers of Jesus and the church, we live in a rhythm of renewal, worship, encouragement, service, and rest. Are there parts of this rhythm that you are missing? If so, you’re missing out on some of the blessings in the life of discipleship.

This year, I invite you to prayerfully consider your life of discipleship. What portions are weak and need strengthening? What parts are hard for you? What parts are fun? Where do you find joy in your faith?

Our life together means we encourage each other and we keep moving to be closer to God, more faithful, more holy. That’s often hard work, sometimes frustrating, frequently frightening, sometimes incredibly blessed. Let’s help each other this year grow to be more like the people God has called us to be. This year, let’s let nothing stop us from reaching out to the hurting, the lost, the hungry, the homeless, and the ones who just don’t know they have a place to belong in the kingdom and at Haven UMC.

Grace and peace,

Pastor’s Mike & Janet Keffer

 

Planning for the Unexpected – Wellness Notes

WELLNESS NOTES

This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”   Psalm 118:24

The New Year begins with the suggestion that we make an effort to be better prepared for what we face when “LIFE HAPPENS”.  The Wellness Ministry would like to take the next few months to prompt each of us to think about preparing for the happenings of life.  By being better prepared, we may avoid guilt, stress, regret, and subsequent illness as we journey on.   We will look at the following issues:

Jan:  How to think ahead for the unexpected     Feb:  How to prepare for ER or Hospitalizations    March:  How not to be blindsided by LOSS     April:  When is it time to make a change & How to do it.

PLANNING FOR THE UNEXPECTED:   A recent article in the “Huffington Post” , originally from “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A life transformed by the Dearly Departing”,  is written by an experienced Palliative Care Nurse who states that no matter what stage of life we are in there is no need for regret.  By addressing the following five common regrets,  we may find ourselves not up against the unexpected and facing what is handed to us with a more positive outlook and less stress and DISTRESS.

1.  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.    Regret provides only suffering and sadness, taking up positive energy and precious time.  Adjusting our choices and being at peace with the past and remembering that each new moment is a new choice, gives us more positive direction.  Health brings a freedom few realize.  Working toward a healthy lifestyle helps us choose to realize more of our dreams and lean on God’s guidance to be true to ourselves.

2,  I wish I had not worked so hard.   This was heard most often from men,  but more and more is the norm for most adults.  Work to increase income that only creates a more complex lifestyle equals regret.  Choosing to balance work with family, friends, and healthy endeavors pays dividends.  Simplifying lifestyle and making conscious choices to create spaces for our priorities brings us to a more expected happy outcome.  “Life is short,  eat dessert first”!!

3, I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.    “Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others”.   Suppressed feelings can lead to stress, bitterness, resentment, and illness. Choosing to express ourselves, with kindness and clarity, as well as listening to others is truly courageous.

4.  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends:  We move, we change jobs, we get busy, we let life get in the way of the golden friendships that frame our lives.  Make a priority of making a phone call, writing a note, texting a message, jot an e-mail.  Put time on your calendar for these communications and when you have a ‘nudge’, act on it.  Write a Valentine letter & a July 4th Letter as well as the annual Christmas note.   “Make new friends & keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold”.

5.  I wish that I had let myself be happier. Happiness is a choice.  Sticking in old habits, patterns, and comfort zones, effects our emotions and even physical lives.  Laugh more, have stillness in your life, and, don’t let fear of change lessen all that life can be.  Break loose and BE HAPPY.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,Parish Nurse

Dr.  ‘Rick’ Brothers,  Parish Physician

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving  – A Time for Caring

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.                        ~Melody Beattie

What is popularly commonly known as the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. It became an annual tradition in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed this national day of Thanksgiving, setting aside time for Americans to reflect on their blessings.

But, too often, in the hustle and bustle of dinner preparations, parades, football games, and shopping preparations we neglect to take the time to enjoy our time with family and friends or to express words of thankfulness and gratitude for the love and happiness we experience in our lives. It is often healing to take a few moments to reflect on those things we are grateful for, even during difficult times or times of pain. Thanksgiving has the power to draw people together, creating a lasting sense of peace, togetherness, and community.

Roshi Joan Halifax in the Legacy of Wisdom states that the secret of life comes down to three words: “… appreciate your life”. She and Brother David Steindl suggest that practicing gratefulness will help us to accept what is in the now, allowing us to experience joy and life outside of ourselves and our own suffering.

But many may struggle to find gratitude or express words of thanks while caring for a loved one with serious illness this Thanksgiving Day. Gratefulness may seem like a foreign word for those that grieve the loss of a loved one this holiday. May we each take a moment to reach out, express our own words of gratitude for each of them, and offer a helping hand to those who are hurting today. May each of us take a few moments today to count our simple blessings.

As I count my blessings on this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for …Our wonderful children and grandchildren, Janet’s mother, and other family members and their health and happiness; our friends and the support they provide us during good times and bad; and our Haven Family and the joy and caring they have brought to our lives

We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving Day. May the beauty of Thanksgiving bring peace and abundant blessings to you and your family today and every day.

Pastors Janet and Michael

Wellness Notes – Advent

“They wanted to hear Jesus Speak”  Luke 21:38

Advent is the time of anticipation of Jesus coming.  We  anticipate hearing Him speak during this Holiday time.  Often we fear we cannot even hear our loved ones, let alone Jesus, speaking to us, with all of the noise, hurry, bustle, stress, sadness, grief, and disappointment obstructing our hearing.  Possibly our Holiday Wellness can be improved by just simply looking at the word ADVENT:

A—Anticipate positive things during this month, allow the words of Jesus to come through.

D– – Increase your devotional time,  that your stress levels will decrease and depression vanish.

V–Visualize joy, visualize wellness, visualize absence of pain, visualize presence of peace.

E— Energize your life by decreasing your sugar intake, exercising daily, and getting adequate rest.

N– Note the positive things happening around you, write notes of gratitude and connection.

T—Take Time for yourself!   Allow a few moments in each Advent day for reflection, prayer  planning, and peacefulness.

Allow the Advent Season to speak to and strengthen your spirit.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant