Monday, July 21, 2014

Sermon What, Me Worry?

I am way behind in my blog, here is the most recent sermon 
(July 20 at United Church of Beloit) 

What, Me Worry? 

Sermon Series: Lord, It's Hard to be a Christian
Isaiah 44:6-8
44:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
44:7 Who is like me? Let them proclaim it, let them declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be.
44:8 Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.

Matthew 6 Do Not Be Anxious

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

{series- Lord it's Hard to be a Christian..based on '10 hardest things to do in sports}

Back in High school my best friend and I enjoyed playing tennis. We never had lessons, just what we learned in gym class, so we hadn't learned how to put top spin on the ball or anything, but we could serve and volley. but the scoring never made sense...which goes Love, 15, 30, 40, game or deuce, advantage in.

Q: How many tennis players does it take to change a light bulb? A: "What do you mean it was out, it was in!"

Q: Why should you never fall in love with a tennis player? A: To them, "Love" means nothing. 

Our OT lesson from Isaiah –God says even tho things stink right in this moment, it won't be like that forever....Fear NOT!


From Sermon on the Mount...Jesus' wonderful 'sermon” that begins with the Beatitudes, this passage is right in the middle of the 'sermon”.

One day I was sitting outside and some birds flew very close to me, so close that I was startled. And it reminded me that the Sermon was preached outside...Maybe a flock of birds flew near by as Jesus was speaking and he said...consider the birds of the air...

Good speakers, good teachers use what is available, what their audience can see and hear and relate to. So Jesus said Look at the lilies blooming right over there...consider the birds flying by....doesn't God take care of them? And you are of more value than they are! So God will take care of you too!! why worry!

Now there is a lot of irony in me preaching on “do not worry”. You see I'm a worrier. It's one of the things I do best. And I read this (and I have read this many times...) and it hits home every time. Do any of you worry? (I KNOW you do....)

Author Francis Chan writes in the book Crazy Love, “Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.

Worry come from fear. We worry when we are afraid...afraid of what we might hear, of something bad happening, of losing control...

yet the bible says over and over...Fear Not.

I was very worried this week..about a few things, but especially about someone I am close to who was in the hospital...and I prayed hard.

Prayer helps with worry. Prayer helps calm and helps remind us that God is in see worry and negative emotions trigger adrenaline and stress hormones. So prayer and physical activity -taking a walk- help dispel those and replace them with dopamine and other 'feel good hormones”

So when I begin to worry, I remind myself to pray....and it helps. If it can help me, a world class worrier, it can help you! And reading the bible helps too. Because pretty soon you will find a “fear not...” and those reminders of God's love and being with us no matter what! The Bible and prayer remind us God is in control and is indeed big enough, powerful enough, loving enough to take care of us, no matter what.

God being with us always was the theme of the NACCC Annual meeting this year, that we attended a few weeks ago. Thank you again for allowing Martin & me to represent you all. The bible lecturer was fantastic, one of the best we've heard. Dr. Richard Cleaves..from Cheltenham, UK and teaches at the University of Winchester.

He spoke on how to read the scriptures...using the Jewish perspective...saying among other things... “It has been the tendency in Protestant circles to seek a definitive meaning in Scripture. This is quite different from the Jewish approach – for the Jewish approach asks questions of  Scripture. And it is in the questioning that the truths of Scripture emerge.”

He quoted Walter Brueggemann “....a recurring Christian propensity is to give closure to our readings  and  interpretations, it is recurringly Jewish to recognize that our readings are always provisional, because there is always another text, always another commentary, always another rabbinic {commentary}midrash, that moves beyond any particular reading.” 

when the Pilgrims were about to launch their journey to the New World., their pastor John Robinson said, “I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from His holy word.”

I believe that the movement of seriously looking at the Jewish traditions and context are a part of the way that more truth and light is breaking forth!

People very often take scripture and look at a verse or two or even a chapter...but asking questions, keeping in mind the context and the ancient traditions helps us to remember to look at the big picture, the whole story. When we look at the whole story, it challenges us to think big picture. To put things into perspective. To know that if God cares for flowers and trees and birds...well I guess maybe God's going to make sure we are OK too.

I get that my standing here saying “God will take care of us” sounds pretty hollow when this week there was a commercial jetliner shot down, Palestinians and Israel are bombing each other, YOUNG children are pouring over our borders desperate to escape the abject poverty and violence at home.. and a major corporation is cutting thousands of jobs. It sounds shallow to say “God is with you” when these things are happening...

And there have been times in my faith walk when I struggled with these kinds of things. When it feels like prayer doesn't even get as far as the ceiling....and I know most of us have had those feelings. We all have had losses...

But I can not believe that God CAUSES awful things to happen...

"God does not cause our misfortunes. Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people, and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and being mortal, living in a world of inflexible natural laws. The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God's part. Because the tragedy is not God's will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes. We can turn to him for help in over-coming it, precisely because we can tell ourselves that God is as outraged by it as we are."-Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

“Do not be anxious...Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness...”
and we can help bring the Kingdom to people who are in need of help! We can do this out of the love that we have and compassion. Because we know what it's like to lose a job, lose a loved one.

Also in the news this week locally at least...were articles about Meals on Wheels, Caritas, Love INC and the Book Bag Bash and Project 16:49. all of these are missions of this very church. I don't think it's a coincidence that they have all been featured recently. We and all people and other churches who contribute to these organizations need to be reminded that we are instrumental in this community. We individually and especially as a church are making a difference. If we keep our focus on the Lord, on our mission, we will continue to help bring the Kingdom of heaven to people here in Beloit, and the surrounding area as well as in the rest of the nation and world. And this church will continue to grow and thrive to serve the next generations!

Just like in tennis, we start with Love―except, in tennis love is nothing.
in life, Love is the beginning, It's the foundation..the Love of God...God who is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega...
God who created the heavens and the earth, and so loved God's creation..he gave Jesus. Jesus who wept with his friends, Jesus who reminds us to not be anxious, but to seek first the kingdom of God and ALL things will be given to us.

No comments:

Post a Comment