Partial Presentation Audio from Jan & Jay

 

Script & PowerPoint hopefully  to follow

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10/6/2019 – Guest Speaker Rachael

by admin on October 6, 2019

10/6/2019 – Message & Discussion Audio Rachael

Scripture Base:  1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Philippians 3:4-14

 

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9/29/2019 – Luke 12:49-56

by admin on September 29, 2019

9/29/2019 – Wrap-up Message Audio

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9/22/2019- Luke 14:25-33

by admin on September 22, 2019

9/22/2019 – Wrap-up Message Audio

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9/15/2019 – Luke 14:15-24

by admin on September 15, 2019

9/15/2019 – Wrap-up Message Audio

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9/8/2019 – Mark 9:39-50

by admin on September 8, 2019

9/8/2019 – Wrap-up Message Audio

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9/1/2019 – Luke 18:9-14

by admin on September 1, 2019

9/1/2019 – Wrap-Up Message Audio

I Wish Jesus Wouldn’t Have Said That. 7

Luke 18: 9-14

1 September 2019

 

Innocently unaware of the prejudices held against him, an old black man, staunchly religious, some years ago applied for membership in an exclusive church.  The pastor attempted to put him off with all sorts of evasive remarks.  The old man, becoming aware that we was not wanted, finally said that he would pray on it and perhaps the Lord would tell him just what to do. 

  • Several days later he returned. “Well,” asked the minister, “did the Lord send you a message?”

“Yes, sir, he did,” was the answer.  “He told me it wasn’t any use.  He said, ‘I’ve been trying to get in that same church myself for ten years, and I still can’t make it.’”

 

Jesus told this parable—the Pharisees and tax collector—to those people at that church.  Spoken to those whose self-assurance and assessment of their personal uprightness placed them on a higher level spirituality—high achievers for sure.  From this they were able to be contemptuous toward others.

I’m grateful that there are no Pharisees among us there. 

 

Three major ideas woven into the narrative of everyday scenes of piety at work. 

Prayer reflects theology.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

Worship has a message.  We now live with many years of experience of seeker friendly churches and their overall philosophy of don’t make waves to upset and offend prospective members.   Big bands, fog machines, upbeat songs, positive thinking messages….no crosses, no robes, no stuffy clergy, and for heaven’s sake, no organ music. 

 

Almost 50 years the church that started this entire church growth explosion was Willow Creek in the burbs of Chicago.  Seeker friendly was the key in those heady late 60s, early 70s– Viet Nam, campus uprising, Janis Joplin, LSD.   Cast off the bonds of canned prayers and liturgies.  We want to be free.   And so we became.    

 

About 15 years ago Willow Creek did some hard looking of where they had come and sadly had to conclude that many people who joined as seekers were still just that.  They came to church to be entertained, to feel good, and to sing some songs and pop back home.   But still untouched.

 

Their prayers built them a theology of just being a good person, and living in suburban Chicago you had to be cool, too.   Bill Hybels, the then senior pastor, said that he was slugged in the face with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s phrase “cheap grace.”    All the benefits, so to speak—just enough of Jesus to keep me out of hell.   Bonhoefferà cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, and grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

 

Jesus compares two pray-ers and their pious offerings.  Both pray alone, both pray Biblically, but only one get it.  Gets the substance of religion, the substance of faith, the substance of prayer and only one gets it—justified—right with God.   

 

The tax man pays attention to his self—his inner being, the state of his soul.    Honest to God.   True honesty in prayer concerns acknowledging and accepting your own imperfection.   Pay attention to yourself and allow others to do the same.    Other people don’t need you to point out their problems.

 

Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove has a humorous scene where two aging cowboys Augustus and Call, are arguing over the merits of an occasional failure.   Augustus accuses his buddy Call of being too stubborn to admit he is ever wrong.

 

You’re so sure you’re right it doesn’t matter to you whether people talk to you at all.  I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice.

  • “Why would you want to keep in practice being wrong?” Call asked. “I’d think it would be something you’d try to avoid.”

You can’t avoid it, you’ve go to learn to handle it.  Augustus said.  If you come face to face with your own mistakes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful.  I face mine every day—that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.

 

The publican’s prayer is dry shave prayin. 

 

Humility

Humility, humanity, humor—humus—dirt.

Humility as earthiness may be less a distortion than humility as groveling or timidity.  Spiritual Casper Milqtoasts.    Humility signifies simply the acceptance of being human; the acceptance of one’s human being.  It is the embrace of both saint and sinner.    ML:  simul Justus et peccator.    

 

Beginning with the acceptance that being human—being mixed and therefore sometimes mixed up—is good enough.  Humility involves learning how to live with and have joy in that reality. 

 

Humility is above all honesty.  True humility neither exaggerates nor minimizes but accepts.  Dag Hammarskjold (Markings)à   Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exultation.  To be humble is not to make comparisons. 

 

I thank you, God, that I am not like all the rest of humanity …..

To be humble is not to make comparisons.  And to pay attention to yourself.

 

Seeing first one’s own defects and short comings is humility.  The fruit of that vision is tolerance.

Desert Fathers.   Moses the Black. 

 

A brother at Scetis committed a fault.  A council was called to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go.  Then the priest sent someone to say to him, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you.” So he got up and went, taking a leaking jug filled with after and carrying it with him. 

  • The other monks came out to meet him and said, “What is this, Father?” The old man replied: “My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the faults of another.”  When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.

 

This is how God’s Kingdom works.

Jesus tells this story to those who have contempt for and despise others—the rest, the leftovers, those guys not like us.  He tells it to serve as corrective to those pious and holy misunderstandings of how Yahweh works.  For those who wish to justify themselves this is more than a mere moralism; it is the definitive statement of how God’s justice and reign reveal human self-righteousness and hypocrisy.   Jesus says that the only justification that matters is God’s alone.

 

So how do we put up with ourselves?   The Desert Fathers were a marvelous group of men (and some women) who in their desert sojourn with themselves and others discovered that the secret to putting up with yourself lies in compassion, which begins with putting up with others.   

 

I am sure that Jesus didn’t just use this story as a onetime sermon illustration.  My guess is that he told it a lot and around the telling a community of thieves, rogues, adulterers and even tax collectors gathered to find relief from the burden of imperfection.    They discovered that we are like others not in our virtues and strengths, but precisely in our faults, failings and flaws.    Evagriusà The nearer we draw to God, the more we should see ourselves as being one with every sinner.

 

The main benefit of struggle and failure is that it helps protect us against the ultimate enemy of all spirituality—conceit—the self-centeredness that claims absolute self-sufficiency, and the pride that denies all need for God.

 

God can exercise his mercy when we avow our defects.  Our defects acknowledged, instead of repelling God, draw him to us, satisfying his longing to be merciful.  When we understand this we come to realize that those things by which we feel unlovable are exactly what we have to offer God to attract him.

 

That is what the community of a spirituality of imperfection looks like.   Instead of trying harder the word Jesus says is “Give up.”   Rest back in the arms of God.    Paul Tillichà Just accept the fact that you are accepted even though you are unacceptable. 

 

So what do your prayers sound like?   I’m thankful God that I’m not like them?   God be merciful to me a sinner?   The latter is known as the Publican’s Prayer and has a rich history in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Jesus Prayerà  Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.    

 

 A long time ago in Czarist Russia a pious man went on a pilgrimage seeking the way to eternal life.  His travels brought him to the hut of a holy man called staritz.  The holy man taught the pilgrim the Jesus Prayer as the way to eternal life now.   How many times should I pray that?   Start with about 15,000.     Let the prayer saturate yourself and you will discover that this is how the Kingdom of God works.

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8/25/2019 – Luke 2:1-14

by admin on August 25, 2019

8/25/2019 – Wrap-up Message Audio

 

 

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8/18/2019 – Philippians 2:5-11

by admin on August 18, 2019

8/18/2019 – Wrap-up message audio

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8/11/2019 – Luke 10:25-37

by admin on August 11, 2019

8/11/2019 – Wrap-up Message Audio

 

I Wish Jesus Wouldn’t Have Said That

Luke 10: 25-37

11 August 2019

Let’s make this clear at the outset…and worth repeating every Sunday, because we forget…Jesus had a very high estimation of the importance of grace in life.  The spiritual life…Xns call it discipleship…..is a process of exultation: lifting up, clearly emphasizing that it is God who is the active agent; and the disciple is the one who is lifted up.  Our spiritual journey is less about the work we do to reach God, than it is about creating a space in our lives for God to reach us. 

 

What Jesus Kingdom project is about is the making of that space, that hallowed ground, in our lives which allows God to roam free.  

What Jesus ministry and mission are about is the creation of a transformed self.  It is the best that is in us and constantly prods us to think and act better.  

 

On more than one occasion I have called the Xn life: a qualitatively different life.  Meaning?  It’s doable for starters, and it’s completely foreign to our default positions

 

I Wish Jesus Wouldn’t Have Said That—he redefines our locus of gospel concern—calls it “neighbor.”  Today let’s consider the story of Good Samaritan.  To even call it the parable of The Good Samaritan is to already set the table for a usual understanding.  That’s much of our problem with Jesus—we think we already know it all, that we know this stuff, that once we label it, we got it.  Notice however that neither the word “parable” nor “good” is even mentioned.  Be open to hearing this in a new way today.

 

 

WHAT? 

Luke’s chapter 10 begins with the mission of the 70, to go 2×2, on ahead…the advance team.  Travel light Jesus tells them, only a comb and toothbrush.  And tell people this:  God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep.  The group returns all giddy at their success, but Jesus cuts short the celebration saying that the great triumph is not “your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and his presence in you.”  It’s not what you do for God, but what God does for you—that’s worth rejoicing.

 

Now all of a sudden comes this beloved story as practical counsel on what it means to have God’s presence in you.

 

V25à A legal expert poses a question: how do I get in on this salvation stuff?

V26à Jesus asks two questions in return (answers questions with questions)

V27à  Shema Israel.

V28à Jesus: no pro–simply do this and you’ll get it

V29à plot thickens:  now I need to justify myself:  who’s my neighbor?

V30à An anonymous man (anyone, everyone) got mugged and robbed on the Jericho road. He was abandoned for dead. (raises purity issues)

V31-32à Just by coincidence: priest, Levite.

V33à  BUT…..a guy form the wrong side of the tracks acted as God does.

V34-35à Gave first aid, took him to safety, provided for continuing care

V36à Jesus: of the three, which was the real neighbor? 

V37à Stuck with a dilemma the man answers the third man.  Go and be like that.

 

SO WHAT?

  1. The question from the legal guy intrudes abruptly into the story line here. His concerns are certainly parallel to Jesus emphasis on hearing and doing, but the plot could easily continue with the next story, Mary and Martha with Jesus on the road. What’s up with intrusion? 

 

Kingdom opportunity, and God’s work in life, might just be considered intrusive. Certainly the Samaritan driving down the road hadn’t planned on stopping.  It just sort of happened.  Look at the way the first two religious men handle the situation:  dead guy on the road?  Dealing with that would be inconvenient. 

 

Do abrupt intrusions inconvenience you?  How might all this interruption be invitation from God to pry into our closed up comfortable thinking?  The big R-word looms here: risk.  It was MT who called the poor of the world “Jesus distressing disguise.”

 

  1. There’s a lot of ambiguity lurking. The law student comes with a question about salvation; discovers that it’s centered in the Torah (Shema Israel) and is invited to actually try it out and do it. However, at stake here is the precise definition of neighbor.

 

Jesus never actually gives the answer instead he leads the man to discover it for himself.  Jesus’ parable begins ambiguously on purpose: a certain man = no one in particular.  He ends up in the ditch, stripped of his identity: he could be a friend, or he could be an enemy.  Depending on which one you choose, how does your selection determine your action?

 

This ties in directly to a favorite theme in Luke—carefully observant people press to justify themselves, either by citing rules or precedent. It says so right here in the book; we’ve always done it this way before. But even more importantly, self justification arises when we are in the context of others.  It’s the pressure for togetherness that often prevails, short-circuiting our Kingdom thinking.  If we just all hold hands and sing KumByYah everything will work out. 

 

  1. To speak of the parable of the Good Samaritan already controls the way we hear this story. I already said good never appears here.  How interesting that GS laws are passed in state legislatures by many people who have no idea of this story.

 

Here Jesus is not giving a little talk on morality or the legality of helping others.  He is saying observing the law of God (Shema Israel) is about the KofG activity of mercy and service.  These two go together.  Once again the theme: way of life vs. body of belief.

 

Jesus two questions: what’s in the Torah? How do you understand it? are divisive; they are the launch pad of controversy.   We could argue till the cows come home about the meaning here.   Jesus is a whole lot more interested in the doing.  The will of God is no secret—doing it is possible.   (Which is what the Robert Schuller principle is about.)

Isn’t it more fun to stay sidetracked?

 

NOW WHAT?

  1. What do you think the victim here thought when his help came from his enemy?

The concept of neighbor shifts from being a tag I may or may not apply to somebody to being a quality or calling that I take upon myself and actively live out.   Quality.  Jesus invites us to and empowers us for that qualitatively different life.

 

Any idea that faith is a private matter is absolutely wrongheaded. It’s an easy cover-up for never attending to spiritual growth.  That’s why discipleship is a long haul project.   How many people do you know who have been church members their whole lives but you’d never know it.   Qualitatively different life. Counter-intuitive.

 

The way to eternal life?  Notice—the way, not the arrival.  The way is to allow yourself to become an active instrument and channel of that same boundary breaking hospitality that God in Jesus is all about. 

 

  1. It’s the Samaritan who shows compassion and therefore does Shema Israel. Watch for rationalizations that keep Jesus teaching at bay. Jesus scandalous question is: who proved to be the neighbor? Prove = acted accordingly. 

 

According to what?  The Kingdom values.  Name some:  mercy…..risk….generosity….human concern…..practical attention.

You know you’re in Kingdom territory when you feel and know your limits are being stretched.   

 

In our current social upheaval over immigration, who belongs here and who doesn’t and our proclivity towards certain nationalistic slogans and ideological thinking—those who follow Jesus Christ could use a good dose of neighborliness.  Let this scene we’ve talked about today shape your conversations this week about immigration.  Let Jesus words form all your heart, your soul, your strength…..and your mind.    Think before you talk. 

 

THE SIMPLE PATH

The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

 

 

 

 

 

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