Sunday, July 22, 2012

Come Away With Me (Mark 6:30-34 Narrative)

The hot dust clung to disciples’ feet as they began to return this hot day, the dust of the trail following in their wake. They were tired and hot and sore and hungry, but they smiled when two by two the met one another as they approached the seaside. They could see down the hill a long way. Began to feel the breeze tempered by the great lake. They could see the mass of people clustered in a spot by the shore and knew that is where Jesus must be.

Weeks ago he had sent them off in pairs to preach the messaged of the kingdom. Now they returned. They began to gather around Jesus and tell their stories. Bartholomew and Matthew told of healings. Thomas and Judas spoke of the warmth of the hospitality they had received. James and Thaddeus told how people hungrily accepted the good news about The Kingdom. Phillip and Peter told how even the demons had to obey them and flea! The Kingdom of Heaven was advancing and the kingdom of darkness was retreating!

All this time John and Andrew sat silent and downcast. Jesus lifted his gaze to theirs and gave an encouraging nod to draw out from them the words that filled their souls. “The Baptizer is dead.” They had been disciples of John the Baptist. He had pointed Jesus out to them. On their travels they heard the news from some of the other followers of John. He had been beheaded by Herod.

This revelation brought the chatter to an end. All sat stunned and saddened, but they were not in silence. The crowd was always around them and in this time of quiet the disciples were drowned in their cries. People had been steadily interrupting their stories to receive a healing touch or a blessing from the Master. The cries of the sick and hungry had turned to celebration and rejoicing, but the noise continued. They heard a group reciting their evening prayers, singing the song of Ethan the Ezrahite:

89:1I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
89:2I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
89:3You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David:
89:4‘I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.’”

There was a pause and the disciples knew that the singers had come to the unspoken word: “Selah”
They thought about the promise God had made to David to build for him a house. John the Baptist had been of that house as had Jesus. Where was the throne established for all generations? Where was the promise of God?

Their stunned silence gave way to anger and mourning. They were exhausted from travel and ministry; they were shocked and drained from the emotion of mourning. The crowd kept coming and going, with their needs and excitement and transformed lives. The disciples didn’t even get a chance to eat. They had reached the limits both physically and emotionally. They were too exhausted to sleep, and they didn’t even realize that was the case. Peter and James talked about going fishing to cure the hunger. They wanted to keep going not noticing the way the snapped at each other or how annoyed they were with the people who came to Jesus for healing. They were irritable, worn thin, and needy themselves, but unable to see it.
Again the Prayers of the near by worshippers reached their ears, continuing their psalm.

89:11The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it—you have founded them.
89:12The north and the south—you created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
89:13You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand.
89:14Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
89:15Happy are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
89:16they exult in your name all day long, and extol your righteousness.
89:17For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted.

Jesus motioned for them to get up and in the gathering dark they moved closer to the seaside. The made their way past the worshippers praying:

89:34 I will not violate my covenant, or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
89:35 Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David.
89:36 His line shall continue forever, and his throne endure before me like the sun.
89:37 It shall be established forever like the moon, an enduring witness in the skies." Selah

Again Selah. And Jesus stood there in the silence lifting his face to the sea breeze, reveling in the Selah. Jesus knew what it was to have a renewing rhythm to life.

He was with the Father as the created the heavens and the earth. The Godhead fully participated in rest from the creative act. From the beginning God built the rhythm of night, Sabbath and jubilee right into creation for our sake. Jesus was famous for going off by himself to some lonely place to pray, his own rhythm of communing with the Father continued from ages past. Jesus paused and let the Selah be a clue to the disciples as to their need for rest and renewal.

How many times did he call them to be at peace? To have faith and trust that God was true to God’s word and would care for them even better than the sparrows and lilies? The silence reminded them.
Then he said to them the word that was for that moment for them the good news of the Gospel. Come away with me by yourselves to a lonely place and get some rest. They got in the boat and shoved off into the Sea of Galilee. They made for a deserted spot around the bend of the shoreline. As they did they all leaned back, some propped against the side of the boat, others leaning on the one beside them. Peter leisurely held the tiller and let the breeze carry them along.

Some of the crowd noticed the group of disciples quietly slip away with Jesus. The watched from the shoreline, keeping tabs on where the boat was headed. The word spread and when the boat made land there was a vast crowd, bigger than the night before. There were many people who needed healing. People who were broken and oppressed. People who need a touch of Christ.

The disciples stepped from the boat invigorated by having spent the night with Jesus on the water. They were ready to feel again, to have compassion on the souls so loved by God that surrounded them.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jesus won't be your citizen

Luke 4:21-30

The people in Jesus' home town expected favors from their hometown son.  Yet Jesus had mixed news for them.  He had come to proclaim the good news to the poor, the release of captives, sight for the blind, the year of the Lords favor - and surely the people of a little village like Nazareth were poor and sometimes oppressed.  Yet something in their attitude stopped Jesus from offering the signs of the Kingdom's in-breaking. They expected him to be theirs.

And here is where it gets uncomfortable.  My town, Sebewaing, is a small village like Nazareth.  We also long for Jesus to do something for his church long struggling.  Don't we have a claim on him like the people of Nazareth?  Moreover don't we think that America has a claim on him? We tout our status as a Christian nation and make impassioned speeches about American Exceptionalism, but Jesus refuses to be called a good ol' boy, or the citizen of a place or kingdom.  He tells his neighbors that he is a prophet like Elijah and Elisha who went to the gentiles.  This angers them to the point of murder.  Would some in our churches be enraged if Jesus said that about the US?

Where do we find him then? He is serving the poor and disenfranchised and not the expectations of those who would lay claim to him.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Planning Helps - Remembering the Saints: 21st Century Worship Resource for All Saints' Day -- November 1, 2008

Planning Helps - Remembering the Saints: 21st Century Worship Resource for All Saints' Day -- November 1, 2008: "Remembering All Saints' Day

We who walked in the darkness of doubt;
Darkest and deepest

We who sought to catch just a moment of your presence;
Chasing the wind, gasping for air, drowning,

You, Lord, have called us:
Voices and grandfathered whispers off yellowed pages,
Guides in the desert, faceless faith still being shared,


You, Lord, have lifted us up by your hand:
Wrinkled strong hands of grandmother's grace,
Quiet prayers spoken, lifting us up from despair,


You, Lord, have shown us light:
The light of a million candles sharing their faith.

The light of saints past,
the living tradition of the redeemed,
the resurrection"

Wow! A resource for those with the awesome responsibility of reading the text and at the same time engaging the congregation! I am impressed.

Proclaiming It: Your proclamation should capture the awe which the visionary John is trying to convey. He's telling us details of a scene we can't hope to witness in this life. It's not your grade school essay about your family's summer vacation. Read the passage to yourself several times and try to imagine the scene in your own mind. My father once said that when they make a movie of the Book of Revelation, it should be a Cecil B. DeMille production. Well, there's your assignment: All the grandeur of a Hollywood epic, conveyed with your voice alone.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Do I revamp this sermon from three years ago, or preach something else?

JN 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, `A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."

The Lamb

Andrew and John turned gave each other a look, speechless as Jesus walked away. They had been disciples of John the Baptizer for some time and they had heard him say some incredible things. That was what was so exciting about being around him. He preached that something was coming. At night around the fire he would tell his disciples of the Messiah who was coming. At those times he wasn’t ruthless or abrasive, rather clothed in vulnerability he would impart to them his passion for the one who comes.

This was what John and Andrew were thinking about as they watched Jesus walk away. Could this really be the one that the Baptizer had been telling them about so long? That night around the fire they talked about it.

“What does he mean the Lamb of God?” Andrew asked John. Andrew was a man of action; John was a thinker and a dreamer.

“Think about the Passover Lamb sacrificed so that death would pass over. Or think about the lamb Isaiah talked, the servant of God about being led before the slaughter with calm, Or think about the conquering lamb who will one day lie down with the lion.”

“That’s what I mean, which one?”

“All of them I think, rolled in to one,” John replied.

“Did you see him? The man our Baptizer spoke of?” Andrew asked.


“Did he look greater than our teacher? Did he look like the long awaited messiah? Did he seem to you to be a man of miracles, a man who has seen the presence of God?”

John remembered this man, he remembered seeing him baptized by John a few days earlier. Then today as he watched him walk away, the man turned and glanced over his shoulder. Their eyes met. And he saw him.

Have you seen him? Have you seen the Lamb who can take a way the sins of the world? Cast the eyes of your heart upon him. Look to that secret place in your heart where the spirit communes with God and you will see him looking back at you as well. He is powerful, he is amazing, he is God’s Son, Chosen, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World to take your sins away. He is looking at you? Do you see him?

As they were staring into the fire, thinking, The Baptizer came up behind them and spoke.

JN 1:32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, `The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."




John points Jesus out to his disciples:

Look the lamb who takes away the sins of the world - The lamb of sacrifice. I came baptizing in order to find him. He will baptize with the Spirit. The work of God is proclaimed the rest of the story is the disciples work of response. “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.” - D. Willard.

The disciples follow Jesus:

Where are you staying - that question will take a while to answer.
Come and see - Come have dinner with me. Come to my table, I will feed you. Spend the night. Are we willing to go after him or are we content to look with our eyes only.

The disciples point Jesus out:

They run to find their brothers, Andrew finds Simon - we have found the messiah!