Monday, February 12, 2007

Sermon Notes 2/11/2007

“Blessings and Woes”

Jeremiah 17:5-10 & Luke 6:17-26

It’s hard for me to believe, but I have been in ministry now for nearly 15 years. I started out as a camp counselor, then served as chaplain/director of a day camp, and then into youth ministry. I remember one of the early admonitions I had regarding youth ministry. I was told in a semi-humorous tone that I could talk about anything, except sex and God with the youth. I was dumbstruck because these were the two most important things youth want to know about. I guess I hoped someone would have told me something similar when I started full-time adult ministry. ‘You can talk about anything except salvation and money.” Adults have the most questions and worries about these two. And today is one of those sermons.

When Jesus walked to that level place to meet with the people they knew the background scriptures from Jeremiah. “I the Lord test the mind and search the heart to give all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.” The joy of that passage is we know what it is to be faithful to the heart and mind of God. It is laid out earlier in the passage. For those who need to plug their ears because we are going to talk about money now is the time.

First, the blessing for those who put their trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. What does this say to us, to have trust in the Lord, for our trust to be the Lord? What does this say about “trust funds”?

Second, we have the curse for those who put their trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. How do we keep our focus on the Lord?

Jesus knew the people knew these texts and carried them in their hearts, and once again Jesus does what Jesus does best. When the people come to him for a particular need to be filled, such as healing and the casting out of demons, so that they may be made whole, Jesus gives them something different. He gives them wholeness but not the way they wanted to understand it. The disciples used their spiritual gifts of healing and casting out of demons to bring the people in, and the crowds gathered. We, too, are blessed with disciples gathered here in the church, and we need to use our spiritual gifts. You have noted several places in the past few weeks where you can do spiritual gifts inventories

and know that I will be asking you to submit those in the very near future in March.

We have need to give people what they are, which means giving them the truth.

Blessed are the poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. (Poor in the Greek translates to “if you can think of anyone who has it worse than you, they are the poor)

Blessed are the hungry for you shall be filled (in an age when we are all full, this applies to those who haven’t eaten in several days, have eaten just one meal in a couple of days, and are truly hungry)

Blessed are you who weep for you will laugh. (How powerful a message when we have already heard of several deaths in our community this morning)

Blessed are you who are excluded, reviled and hated for the Son. Rejoice for your reward is in Heaven. (Have you ever been told you aren’t welcome in church, have you ever been asked not to speak because the truth was too painful for others, have you ever done something in the name of God that got you shunned from the community?)

Woe to you who are rich you have your consolation. (Do you have a positive net worth? Do you have money in the bank? You’ve had it all already)

Woe to you who are full for you will be hungry. (This is a tough one for I have already been reminded this morning that I am full grab belly and shake my excess waistline and I know I am condemned here too. Harry Ulmer often reminds us that we are facing a plague of comfort in the United States today. In our comfort we don’t have hunger, and we do not seek after the true need for Jesus Christ. In coming to our curse we will realize the true hunger for the Spirit that was consumed by our comfort at being full.)

Woe to you who are laughing, for you will mourn and weep. (In our laughing we fail to recognize the hurts and pains we have with one another. Jesus reminds us of the Great Commandment to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He then condenses it even further telling us to love one another. If we are relating to one another in love we will hear the hurts, the pains and the sorrows of one another and share in the hurt, we will no longer laugh, but be mourning and weeping for those in need.)

Woe to you when all speak well of you for that is what they did to the prophets. (We remember Jeremiah and the ways in which the leaders of the community sought his advice and then laughed at him behind his back for being a crazy delusional prophet. We remember Jesus being welcomed by the Priests only to then reject him and have him killed.)

We are given the fullness of life, though it is not what we expected. Jesus comes to us to bless us and remind us of the curse we carry for ourselves.

This is a tough message, one that should cause us all to think seriously about what we are leaving out of our lives, that we may seek after Jesus Christ, who can make us whole again.


At February 13, 2007, Blogger John Wesley said...

Dear and Gentle Reader,

I would like to invite you to visit my humbly journal, as I start my tenure upon this continent. I have been elucidated by your musings and wish to make your most courteous acquaintance whist in the Americas.

I am most curious about the manner in which clergy conduct themselves in the colonies, as I am a newly arrived pastor and do not wish to offend the faithful and the savages. So prithee hense to my journal and let us hold each other accountable in our mutual love of Christ.

I remain God's most humble servant,

John Wesley


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