The Rock Concert

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

The Rock Concert
10 April 2022
Luke 19:28-40
The Rev. Dr. Dianne ES Carpenter

 

You are probably wondering why I have a bucket of rocks this morning. Well, I thought it would be a good idea for us to have a “rock concert”. I see some of you are smiling. Don’t you believe these rocks could sing? Do you think they could even talk? Do you think they could tell you stories about Jesus? Well, you might be surprised to hear what Jesus himself had to say about that.

Jesus was walking with his disciples toward Jerusalem. When they approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he called two of his disciples to him and said, “Go into the next village where you will find a young donkey. Bring it to me. If anyone asks why you are taking the donkey, just tell them, ‘The Lord needs it.'”

The disciples did as they were told and brought the young donkey to Jesus. They threw their garments over it so that Jesus could ride on him.

As he rode along, crowds were lining the streets and they began praising Jesus and shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” They were creating quite a stir and some of the religious leaders didn’t like it. They asked Jesus to keep his followers quiet. Jesus answered them and said, “If they remain silent, the stones would immediately begin to cry out!”

Palm Sunday usually focuses on the Parade… the arrival of Jesus and the recognition of his presence by people who spot him as he enters the city of Jerusalem during the preparations for the High Holy days of Passover.

Think of the lead-up to the big televised parades for Thanksgiving and the Rose Bowl….everyone is anticipating the floats and the celebrities.

However, the throngs of people are not in Jerusalem for Jesus and His disciples or following after Him, but when He is spotted they are enthusiastic and the news spreads quickly.   Jesus knew this might happen so instead of walking in the milling crowd he orchestrates an appropriate entry reminiscent of the anticipated Messiah from the Book of Zechariah – A Prince of Peace who in His humble entry is the exact opposite of a conquering warlord.

But the people begin calling Him their King and shouting cries of “Save Us” and these outbursts are paramount to publicly objecting to the Roman Occupation.  This is perhaps why some of the Pharisees in the crowd have reason to be concerned.  “Shut them up before the Romans hear people calling on You to initiate a Rebellion!”

Jesus answered them and said, “If they remain silent, the stones would immediately begin to cry out!”

I don’t know if you remember the craze of “pet rocks”  – They were the perfect pet- you could name it, take it with you, caress it…

With a society of stones- there would never be social critique- from the right or the left…

Stone is the heart of our planet.  We ride a giant rock in space.  The sand of our beaches is pulverized rock. The Grand Canyons are formed by waters carving their way through the stone revealing millennia of creation- stones the silent sentries of time.

Rocks make an impression in each generation.  Rocks are solid.  Jesus referred to Peter as THE ROCK on which he would build his church.  …..

If these rocks would cry out this morning, I wonder what they would say? One might tell how a little shepherd boy named David used a small stone to slay a giant to show that we can do anything when God is with us!

Another might tell how the prophet Elijah used stones to build an altar to God. The altar was used to offer a sacrifice to God to prove that He was the one, true God not BAAL.

Jacob used a stone for a pillow as he fled his brother’s wrath – only to have a dream of a ladder to heaven- when he awoke he stood the stone up and poured oil on it and called the place Bethel – House of God – the stone became an altar of devotion.

This rock might tell how Solomon had used stones to build a beautiful temple for people to worship God.

This stone might have waited for someone to pick it up and hurl it at the adulterous woman only to be picked up by a little girl and slipped into her bag for later use.

Still another rock might remind us that Jesus once told a story about a wise man who built his house upon a rock. When the storms came, the house on the rock stood firm.

Yes, these stones might have a lot of stories to tell.  However, the answer of Jesus to the Pharisees was If people are silent and unwilling or unable to Praise the Lord, the stones… The Primal creation matter that is chipped from the mantle of the earth

The hard hearted means of punishment

[as in stoning people to death]

The potential Holy Altars of our Lives

Will Praise the Lord

Who among us have hearts of stone ?

Are we unwilling to trade our ENGINES OF INDUSTRY that destabilize the rock of our planet for fossil fuels for ecologically sound practices and products-

Are we unwilling to trade our ladders of success for gardens of manna sufficiently distributed to feed God’s people

In a society of stones there arise voices crying out.  Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., T.S. Eliot, ….….. even we can become the beloved pet rocks of Jesus – His imitators – His champions of a Peaceable Kingdom and part of the foundation for which Jesus the Christ is the cornerstone! 

To our God belongs honor and praise and glory
The people were not silenced
Just as the followers of Jesus lined the streets to praise their King, you and I are here today to praise our Messiah. As long as we tell the Good News of an alternative Kingdom of Peace and Justice… As long as we praise him, there will be no need for these stones to cry out. And I would suggest that we make truly beautiful proclamations when we Praise the Lord in Concert.  I am using the term the way it was used in “Concerts of prayer” invitations… When we refuse to be silenced and we make beautiful harmony together our offering is Good Enough.

Our Jewish brothers and sisters are celebrating Passover beginning on the 15th– Good Friday – just as they were at the passion and crucifixion of our Lord.  Jesus becomes for us the exodus from slavery unto sin and the acceptable offering.

Dear Lord, we know that you would rather hear us praise you than to hear a “rock concert.” So Lord, we lift your name on high! Amen.

2088 Lord we lift Your Name on High

Luke 19:28-40 New International Version

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

The Fire Next Time: Threat or Promise

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

Isaiah 43:1-7; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
The Rev Dr Dianne Carpenter“The Fire Next Time: Threat or Promise”
9 January 2022

The  Judeo- Greek world in which Jesus arrived and Christianity was born had long held that the elements of all life were Earth, Air, Water and Fire.  God breathed life into the first humans in the Genesis account after fashioning them from the Earth itself.  Water and Fire also play essential parts in the life story of our faith.

Baptism by water is not unique to Christianity.  The use of water to dedicate and purify, to signify new beginnings, has a place in many cultures.  We know that as a Jewish practice Jesus went to the Jordan where John was baptizing people.

Titus Flavius Josephus was a first century Roman Jewish historian born in Jerusalem.  His father came from the priestly lineage and his mother claimed royal ancestry.  In Galilee he was the head of the Jewish forces until they surrendered in 67 AD to Vespasian.  Flavius Josephus fully defected to the Roman side and was granted Roman citizenship.  He served as an adviser and translator to Titus when Titus led the siege of Jerusalem.

Josephus recorded Jewish history with special emphasis on the first century in a book called The Antiquities of the Jews.  Josephus recorded that [1] John exhorted Jews to begin to live righteous lives toward one another and toward God, which required repentance turning from sin and toward obedience to the law.[2] John required those who responded to undergo an immersion in water-baptism. [3] John insisted that the cleansing of the soul resulted from the repentance and not from baptism. [4] and Josephus said John’s interpretation of the baptism was a consecration of the body.  Josephus is referring to ritual cleansing.

Josephus omits an important element from John’s message.  In the gospels John speaks of an imminent judgment, and that he is a precursor to the one greater than he, whose sandals he is not worthy to untie and one who will baptize with the spirit of holiness.

In the passage from Acts we see that Phillip, one of the Jewish Christians in the church after Pentecost has fled Jerusalem because of the persecution which broke out against the early Christians.  Philip arrives in Samaria where he preaches the gospel, performs miracles in the name of Jesus, and drives out demons in the name of Jesus.

The folk in Samaria have come to believe in Jesus and they are baptized in water in the name of Jesus.  Water-baptism……. a sign of cleansing, a sign of being buried with Christ as they go under the water, a sign of being raised to new life in Christ as they came out of the water.  Water-baptism, the sign of putting to death the old self in the hope of the new self-manifesting and growing.

Have you been baptized and are you living your baptism?

But the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them: they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

John had been baptizing in the water of the Jordan River, but throughout his ministry he made it clear that he only baptized with water.  Someone is coming more powerful than I, I’m not even worthy to untie his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 

While it was water the first time it will be the Fire Next Time

Notice…  He will baptize you….  You who are already water baptized….  You need a further baptism.

While Jesus’ baptism is marked by the descending dove the Pentecost event of the Holy Spirit arriving upon the disciples was Tongues of Fire.

The baptism which will impart to you, the ruach, the wind, the breath, the power of God himself.

Paul will later write that the spirit in us, the power in us, is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
What power was that?  God’s power, God’s Holy Spirit.
And John says, there is someone coming who will baptize you, immerse you, fill you…  With the power.
And not only that…  He will also set you on fire.

Peter and John arrive in Samaria and they notice that while Philip was baptized into the name of Jesus and baptized with the Holy Spirit and baptized with fire…  His converts, the church in Samaria, were only baptized into the name of Jesus.

The Samaritan church was in danger of becoming what nearly 1800 years later John Wesley would fear the Methodist movement would become: a people with the form of religion, with all the right beliefs and practices of religion…  But with no power.

John Wesley’s fear:

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should never cease to exist either in Europe or America.  But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.  And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit and discipline with which they first set out. ”

Peter and John notice that these folks who believe with all their heart in the name of Jesus, do not have the power of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

So, what did Peter and John do-they prayed and the believers in jesus’ name received the Spirit of God and the Church of Christ caught fire in that place.

There is someone coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.  But someone has come, and his name is Jesus

The Jesus event was the beginning of a new era of God’s dealing with humanity- the new covenant.  This is then our double birthright as children of God –to be saved from our sins and to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.  And God certainly wants to give us our full birthright – not just half of it.

The Holy Spirit is pictured in the New Testament as a river flowing from the throne of God and falling to earth.  To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be immersed under this waterfall.  Jesus said that all those who thirst should come to him and receive the Holy Spirit so the Rivers of living water would flow of from their innermost being.

The experience of the average believer, however, is more akin to the hand pump of life struggling and pumping out a few drops of blessing from a dry heart.  To have rivers’ of blessing flowing out from us to all who come in touch with us is the will of God for our lives.

What we need in order to live the Christian life is not just a doctrine but the power of God in our life.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit gives us power for Godliness as well as power for service.

R.A. Torrey’s book The Baptism With The Holy Spirit is a great study of the Holy Spirit.  He states: “The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not for the purpose of cleansing from sin, but for the purpose of empowering for service.”

We cannot live a life that pleases God or that fulfills all his will, in our own strength.  Some people realize this at the beginning of their Christian life others discovered the hard way-by trying and failing repeatedly for many years and then turning to God for God’s power.  Unfortunately there’s still others who after failing repeatedly finally resigned themselves to a life of defeat, believing that is impossible to live victoriously in this life.

John the Baptist pointed to two ministries that Jesus would fulfill-one was to take away sins and the other was to baptize people in the Holy Spirit.  We need to experience both of these.  Most of us want to know that our past failings are not a permanent definition of who we are.  We pray that we can be better in the future and receive pardon in the final analysis

Isaiah 43:1-7  NRSV  Restoration and Protection Promised

43 But now thus says the Lord,
    he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Ethiopia[a] and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
    and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
    and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

 

Acts 8:14-17   New Revised Standard Version

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come[a] upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John[b] laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:15-17   New Revised Standard Version

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,[a] 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his 7sandals. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Luke 3:21-22  NRSV   The Baptism of Jesus

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;[a] with you I am well pleased.”[b]

Pastoral Prayer

Your word of light and hope floods into our lives, O God. We have lived in darkness, in despair and fear, doubt and strife. But on this day of celebration, you remind us that we are marked by you to be witnesses to your light of new hope. As the heavens opened at Jesus’ baptism, so is your love poured out on us. We have brought before you names and situations which concern us, people who face illness and grief, whose lives are torn by poverty, war, alienation, addiction, and hopelessness. We ask for your loving mercy on them, O Lord. Heal them and bind up their wounds. Help us to be people who are ready to be involved in ministries of peace and justice, bringing the light of your hope to those who dwell in darkness and despair. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Benediction

People of hope and peace, go into the world. Bring God’s healing love to all whom you meet. Help with ministries, which promote justice and compassion. In Jesus’ Name, go in peace. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is: WHITE

SURFACE: Place a 10″riser at the center back of the worship table. Place two 8″ risers to the right and left of the center riser, slightly forward. Place three 4″ risers in front of the 8″risers across the worship table.

FABRIC: Cover the entire worship center with a light blue/green fabric, making sure that it puddles on the floor in front of the worship center.

CANDLES: On either side of the 10″ riser, place tall altar/worship center candles. Place a votive candle in front of each of the three 4″ risers.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Place new, small plants on each side of the tall candles and at various places around the worship table. These may be set in small containers or terra cotta pots, but they should be newly grown plants.

ROCKS/WOOD: Place small groups of pebbles around the base of each of the containers

OTHER: Place a brass cross on the 10″ riser. At the apex of the cross place a descending dove. OR you may make a descending dove from poster board or heavy cardboard and place it above the cross on the worship center.

THEME IDEAS

The psalmist depicts God’s glory and majesty. Isaiah shows us God’s strength—divine power is not just for show but is available to protect, support, and nurture God’s beloved children. The story of Jesus’ baptism evokes feelings of awe and wonder. It is impossible to picture the heavens opening and the Holy Spirit descending as a dove without total amazement! And yet, through our own sharing in the baptism of Christ, we are able to experience the intimacy of a God who loves us as precious children, a God who calls each of us by name.

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

Christmas Eve

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

As birth narratives go the Greek Gods had “unnatural” births: Dionysus was born “perfect” from Zeus’ thigh. Athena was born fully grown from Zeus’s forehead, fully armed and clad in armor. No Labor pains here. Also no humanity. Humans need to push to accomplish co-creation with God and that was the plan for Jesus: God fully human and fully divine.

The Isaiah passage is classic for Christmas Eve. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light for a child’s been born for us, a son given to us.  Of course, Isaiah’s not writing about Jesus. For Isaiah, this is a passage of regime change where the powers of one generation are passed onto the next. And every time that happens, there is a possibility, an opening for God’s grace to break through on the stage of human history. Isaiah is saying that this is the opportunity for us as we pass leadership to another generation that children can save us. But that’s a very vulnerable thing to confess and a very anti-establishment thing to confess. As church, as families, we spend so much of our time trying to form the next generation so that they will be like us. And we can get really upset when they’re not. They dress different, use different criteria to define themselves and understand communication media! But the possibility also exists that they might take seriously saving the environment, the creatures and the human race!

The only possibility that God’s grace could break through on the stage of human history were the PUSH principles of: Prayer, Preparation, Persistence and Praise.  In the generations of the People of God, prophets, matriarchs and patriarchs stepped up when called and told the People ”you must Pray, Prepare, Persist and Praise God until something happens.”

The glorious possibility is that God could do something new. God might heal a world as broken as ours is, that would be Good News. A new generation could actually give good advice, and counsel us in ways that stir up marvel and amazement, not just repetition of our hard-learned lessons. People could be set free. The Prince of Peace, who would not be going to war on our behalf and in our name, would bring peace to us and others who would choose something besides war.

How will change happen? Well, part of it has to be letting go of what was before.  Jesus came to help humanity let go of erroneous notions and interpretations of God’s law.

Part of the process of birth is Knowing when to PUSH letting what has grown up inside you get out. And as the mother’s cry fades into the child’s cry we believe in a God who hears both of those cries and wipes all of those tears.  Like Mary we need to let the child out And cut the cord. The child Jesus, this new thing God has done.

Our children never see things through our own eyes. We behold them face to face, but that means we see things from opposite directions, very literally. And what they see and we can’t see is a miraculous opportunity.

Birthing is a painful time. It is a time of great crying. But PUSH we must. And after all that labor, How frightening if we do not hear the child cry!

So Isaiah tells the People of God to anticipate a child with new ideas and possibilities. Isaiah and all the prophetic voices say: Pray, Prepare, Persist and Praise until something happens- Prayer, Preparation, Persistence and Praise. Voila THE child.

Secondly, On Christmas Eve, we think about the stars aligning. So there’s a great light over the nativity. God’s light is always exactly where you need it in the dark. God’s light was in Christ Jesus – and He was God – the same God that was at Creation.

How often are you in a dimly lit place and you’re trying to read something, and the light’s behind you, and you’re in the way you can’t see what you’re reading because you are in the way.

Let the light shine – shift. Shift is not quite PUSH but it could be shove.  You’ve got to shift [PUSH Yourself] to let the light shine on what needs to be illumined. You need to move the light or move yourself, sometimes you need to move heaven and earth for the possibility of salvation.

So this moment in time – the end of 2021, while we contemplate the Birth of Jesus of Nazareth and the labor necessary to birth his agenda of LOVE that is Peace with Justice in all areas of Human interaction – this is the time to push: to Pray, Prepare, Persist and Praise Until Something Happens to create a more just social order – until the Kingdom comes on Earth as it is in Heaven.

 

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

I want my sight back

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

This Gospel passage clearly features a Blind man…..

A woman goes into a large retail chain store to buy a rod and reel for her grandson. She doesn’t know which one to get so she just grabs one and goes over to the register. There is an “associate” standing there with dark shades on. She says, Excuse me sir ….. can you tell me anything about this rod and reel?”

He says, “Ma’am I’m blind but if you drop it on the counter I can tell you everything you need to know about it from the sound that it makes.”

She didn’t believe him but dropped it on the counter anyway. He said “That’s a 6′ graphite rod with Zebco 404 reel and 8 lb. test line……It’s a good all around rod and reel and it’s $20.00.”

She says, “That’s amazing that you can tell all that just by the sound of it dropping on the counter. I think it’s what I’m looking for so I’ll take it”

He walks behind the counter to the register. The woman opens her purse and drops her wallet while reaching for a credit card. When she bends down to pick it up, she unintentionally passes gas.

At first, she is embarrassed but then realizes that there is no way he could tell it was her … being blind he wouldn’t know that she was the only person around.

He rings up the sale and says, “That will be $34.50.”

She says. “But didn’t you say it was $20.00?”

He says, “Yes ma’am, the rod and reel is $20.00, the duck call is $11.00, and the catfish stink bait is $3.50.

 

BLIND FARMER’S FRIEND 
This passage is about a blind man… and I have a story

Aiden, a blind farmer was often taken for a walk in the fields by his kind neighbor George.

However kindly the neighbor might have been, he was undoubtedly a coward. When a bull charged towards them one day, he abandoned his blind friend Aiden. The bull, puzzled by a lack of fear, nudged the farmer in the back. He turned very quickly, caught the bull by the horns and threw it to the ground with a bump that left it breathless.

“Aidan,” said the neighbor, “I never knew you were so strong.”

“George, if I could have gotten that fella off the handlebars of the bicycle I’d have thrashed him properly.”

I Want My Sight Back

Or do we?

Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
The Rev. Dr. Dianne Carpenter
24 October 2021  

For the past several weeks the dialogue between people and Jesus is in response to their desire for something.  The rich young ruler wanted to know how to ensure eternal life.  The Zebedee brothers wanted to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand in the Kingdom and today a blind beggar wants to see!  The common thread is that God is the source of our desires.  This is, however, clearly a miracle account… or is it.

This summer I shared with you the power of God asking King Solomon what he wanted when he became king. [What did King Solomon want?…]  It is the precious question that God repeats down through the ages-how do you want to be “reformed” and “reshaped?”  How do you want to be renewed and made more…. Perhaps this is a story of discipleship.  Being “reshaped” in Jesus’ image.

The situation:  In today’s story Bartimaeus is line-camping outside the walls of Jericho as an outcast member of the have not class, waiting for Jesus, an angel investor who may be able to give Bartimaeus the hope he needs.

Now a couple of rousing choruses of Joshua fought the battle of Jericho [let’s sing it….]  may come to mind but that account takes place as Israel coming out of captivity in Egypt and wandering in the Sinai crosses into the Promised land in the dim history of Israel occupying the area.  Some people actually believe the Battle of Jericho to have been folk lore or myth. 

In whatever way the Jews laid claim to the area, we know that it had been a walled city for many centuries. Jericho is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the city with the oldest known protective wall in the world.    Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history. Jericho was thought to have the oldest stone tower in the world as well, until excavations at Tell Qaramel in Syria discovered stone towers that were even older.

Many springs in and around the city have attracted human habitation for thousands of years.  Jericho is described in the Hebrew Bible as the “city of palm trees”.  From the time of Joshua to the time of Jesus, Babylonians and Persians occupied the city until it served  as the private estate of Alexander the Great  after his conquest of the region.  In the middle of the 2nd century BCE Jericho was under Greek rule as part of the Seleucid Empire, The Syrian General Bacchides built a number of forts around Jericho against the revolt by the Macabees. One of these forts, was later refortified by Herod the Great, who named it Kypros after his mother.

Herod had to lease back the royal estate at Jericho from Cleopatra, after Mark Antony had given it to her as a gift. Then Octavian assumed control of the Roman Empire and granted Herod absolute rule over Jericho, as part of the new Herodian domain. 

Jesus has been followed by the disciples for 3 years and now He is only 5 days out from Jerusalem.  And crucifixion.  Out of this rich history, from his spot in the Jericho dirt, Bartimaeus shouts, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”  Remember Jesus often tells people not to tell what they have seen but this blind man has figured it out and he is shouting…  Jesus is the MESSIAH!!!!  Bartimaeus’ behavior is a lesson in how to have a successful spiritual startup and how to search for, find and develop a growing relationship with God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  We have been talking about how we grow in spirituality from basic tenets of faith to harmonious kingdom living, a faith JOURNEY.

The Bartimaeus Principles are as follows: You must refuse to stay put, to slow down or shut up.  If you want to model the Jericho Startup, this is where you begin.  The crowd, including the 12, are shocked by Bartimaeu’s outburst.  They tell the upstart startup to be quiet.  But Bartimaeus refuses to stay put; he is not going to let others put him in his place-, what others, even the disciples, think is his proper place.  It would have been easy to follow the conventional wisdom that says that everyone should stay in their place.  We do that today, people should stay in their place… or place a glass ceiling over them…

But Bartimaeus ignored the crowd and called out even more loudly, addressing Jesus as the son of David thus acknowledging his royal lineage- which was politically risky-and also explains what he wants: “have mercy on me.”  There are spies everywhere….   Bartimaeus sensed correctly-that Jesus is willing to make an investment in people when they are determined to seek spiritual wholeness.  Something akin to being “reshaped”

Jesus stops dead in his tracks and says, “call him here.” Bartimaeus, refusing to stay put, immediately throws off his cloak, springs up and comes to Jesus –  [we are getting older… do we understand what an acrobatic feat this was ]no easy maneuver for a blind man.   He throws off his ONLY protective clothing… Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” and Bartimaeus replies, “My teacher, let me see again.”

The word “again” catches my attention.  Could Bartimaeus have been the victim of an accident or violence?  Does he understand what he has lost?  Is he seeking “restoration?” We have all lost things, started to doubt things – little things like “was the world really created in 7 days”  and big things like “Is there really a God” In any event It’s a stunning request, one that must have made the crowd gasp, but Jesus doesn’t hesitate. “Go” he commands. “Your faith has made you well.” No pre-requisites as for the young ruler…

Bartimaeus could have sat in the dirt content to be on the sidelines as an observer.  It might have happened that Jesus comes and Jesus goes and opportunity is lost.  Like it is so often for people in our world.  Imagine a busy street full of going and coming….  But Bartimaeus knew that in order to be an overcomer, he must be willing to come on over.  He could not stay put when Jesus passes by.

Of course, Bartimaeus regains his sight instantly, but the next comment of the gospel writer is telling: “He followed him on the way” (52).  He didn’t know where Jesus was headed. No knowing…

He had been sitting; then he is standing. Now he is following. He refuses to slow down. Bartimaeus understood that “following” was the natural and necessary product of “seeing.” That one follows the other.  He would not be like those who want to grab and hoard whatever spiritual blessings they can without expressing gratitude in the form of discipleship and service.  He will not slow down. Although the text doesn’t say so explicitly, it is likely that Bartimaeus continued to refuse to shut up.  People have certain characteristics…

We know that the crowd attempted to silence him. We know he was not afraid to speak against accepted standards of protocol.  

It’s not plausible to assume that, given his sight, and reveling in his new life as a follower of Jesus, he kept his good news to himself. 

It is inconceivable that Bartimaeus would shut up, never to offer a testimonial, never to express “customer satisfaction”, never offer thanks and praise to the

One who has so radically changed his life.

As a follower of the way, he is someone who has learned how to make a go of his new life.

Jesus is willing to invest spiritual capital in those who are blind and want to see, who will not stay put, slow down or shut up.  He sees the potential for a return on his investment.  Which brings us to the question of the extent to which Jesus puts his investment at risk when he invests in us.  Creation was God’s investment.  Do you invest for the long haul or pull out when things drop?

When you are someone who cannot see, who is sitting in the dirt among the spiritual have nots and Jesus passes by, you do not let him get away.  You do what Bartimaeus did.  You do not sit back and let things happen to you.  You go out and happen to things.

Do we want to be able to see? This is the precious question that God repeats down through the ages-how do you want to be “reformed” and “reshaped?”  Perhaps this is a story of discipleship.  Being “reshaped” in Jesus’ image.

Jesus grants Bartimaeus’ wish because Bartimaeus had hope against all hope and faith in god’s power to change his life drastically, dramatically.  His gratitude caused him to become a follower right at the moment that Jesus was entering the city for the last time-to be crucified.  If he had not experienced the power of Jesus in his life…

 

Mark 10:46-52 NRSV The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher,[a] let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Job 42:1-6 NRSV Job Is Humbled and Satisfied

42 Then Job answered the Lord:

“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
    I will question you, and you declare to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:10-17 NRSV Job’s Fortunes Are Restored Twofold

10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money[a] and a gold ring. 12 The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15 In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. 17 And Job died, old and full of days.

Hebrews 7:23-28 New Revised Standard Version

23 Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save[a] those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other[b] high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a

The Blank Check 
17 October 2021
Mark 10:35-45
The Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter

Have you ever been approached, as Jesus was, by someone asking for a blank check?  Who would dare ask for a blank check?  Do you even use checks instead of money transfers? It’s a metaphor… That’s what the sons of Zebedee did one day when they said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  Who would dare approach any of us ask any of us for carte blanche?  Well, our children, our grandchildren… zoey… the IRS no they have a formula.

Jesus did what I would do… He asked for a little more information, “Well, what do you want?”

And they said – without embarrassment – “We want to be greater than any of the other disciples!  We want more power than the other 10 disciples… We want to be Great among men – oh and by the way you can choose who is at your right hand and who at your left, but just keep it in the family and that will be fine with us.”  Translation from the Greek…

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, had traveled with Jesus for three years and still they wanted to assume positions of leadership that would give them great prestige, satisfy their egos, and give them power over others. They were filled with themselves and confident. They sure didn’t need any courses in self-esteem, did they? And yet, they are not very different from many of us who desire nothing more than to follow Jesus, if only He will give us what we want and not challenge us to change the way we live.

Jesus says, “Sorry… not up to me- there is no vacancy to apply for and no appointment to be made.

But the wheels have been set in motion.  The others heard the request and began to ask: “Who do they think they are?”

Great! A recipe for discord 101! – Ambition to grab the glory, regardless of your colleagues.  Nepotism, hiring relatives who are not particularly qualified because you can.

But Jesus did go on to describe the job vacancy that was all too vacant. People who want to be in control need not apply, the only opening at this time is for workers, servants, people with hands on gifts and minimum wage aspirations!  People who love the Kingdom call and God more than they love themselves.  That’s the job description!  Being co-workers with Christ.

While Jesus was modeling humility, the Zebedee brothers were jockeying for the best job, lifetime security with benefits!  If anyone was going to be in the top 1% it was going to be them…  Sign the check and leave the glory to us…

Ever heard: “It’s lonely at the top?”  I know, I’ll cope somehow…

“You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them.  And then he asked, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  There’s the challenge… give away your shirt, walk the extra mile…

“We are able,” they said.

Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Little did the sons of Zebedee know, at this time, that Jesus was speaking of his own death as well as of their martyrdom.  But these two men, who were so interested in assuming positions of leadership, did go on, after Pentecost, to become martyrs. In other words, they eventually drank from the cup that Jesus drank from — and they learned what it means to serve.

But that’s just the point.

Jesus called his followers servants.  If we are truly striving to be a follower of Jesus – if we are striving to be a successful follower of Christ – we must become servants.  As Christians we are striving to be successful servants.  Aspirations of being #1 have no place in servanthood.

  1. Develop a Servant Mentality: not our social training – take control, ignore the need of others VS My purpose on Earth is to serve God
  2. Have a determination to serve: To be the one who gives – not necessarily from abundance
  3. Make a commitment to Following God: We all follow something – science, authority al a military [If I was supposed to have a wife…] commitment is more than coming to God.  Baptism as an infant was not our commitment so we ask teens to take on that commitment at confirmation. Getting married is great, exciting – how many have recommitted their vows years later.
  4. Start serving where we are: Now, Do people know why you serve the world – have you told someone about Jesus… Talk about our faith

Last week we heard about the rich young man who wanted it all — the worldly wealth and prestige he already possessed — as well as the gift of eternal life. You can have eternal life if you follow me, Jesus told him, but first you must sell all that you have and give the proceeds to the poor. A sacrifice was required of him, just as it was required of the sons of Zebedee, and just as it is required of us.

To become a servant takes sacrifice. Not somebody else’s sacrifice, but our own. Leadership in this world is often based on who you know, on fame, on wealth or access to wealth, and a willingness to make what are often referred to as “tough decisions.” This usually means the decisions you make are tough on other people, but good for you.

Corporate CEO’s are often called upon to make tough decisions and they do. They will lay off hundreds or thousands of workers, close manufacturing plants in America and open up new shops in foreign countries. These decisions result in great profits for the CEO and for stockholders, but they lead to joblessness and homelessness for their former employees. Very brave people in government make tough decisions all the time about American troops, while the decision makers are thousands of miles away from the front lines, and we see their bravery as they march from one press conference to another.

We might say, “Well, I am not interested in being great,” and that’s wonderful — but if we want to follow Jesus we will still have to learn how to become a servant and to make the sacrifices that have been appointed, for us to make.

Paul tells us that Jesus Himself had to learn obedience and it was a painful experience, even for him. As Paul says in v. 8 of today’s lesson: “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” And though He has taken our sins upon Himself, He has not relieved us of our responsibilities. …., “And having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Obedience & faithfulness — these are flipsides of the coin that belongs to God — the coin of the realm — the currency of the kingdom.  No blank checks even for the omnipotent, powerful God who takes on our human form.

“The story in today’s gospel, with two brothers jockeying for positions of power in the Kingdom, takes place five days before Jesus’ crucifixion. Four days before his betrayal and trial. One day before the clearing of the temple, and a few hours before the Triumphal Entry.  If the Disciples were going to start practicing the teachings of Jesus in their lives it ought to be now. But it doesn’t happen. Moments before the most crucial events in their life they are a bickering, petty, bad-tempered quarrelsome lot. We need to learn from this not-so-flattering moment in the life of the disciples.

How is it that critical moments can be so close at hand and we are off wondering what’s in it for me?”

Today Jesus is inviting each of us to let go of all of those things — those desires for things we think we just have to have — those things we think we most definitely deserve — and to come and walk with him.

Instead of saying, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you,” we still have time to say, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” A number of cups are laid out before us — wealth, power over others, prestige, bitterness, resentment, or the cup that Jesus drank from. The choice is yours and Jesus is simply asking you and me today: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

The greatest sacrifice, and the only sacrifice that leads to our salvation was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And the greatest sacrifice that we can offer to him is the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart — a heart softened by the love of God. It is easy to stand up for Jesus and carry signs condemning the sins of others. But to stand up for Jesus and serve the least among us, with joy in our hearts, that is the mercy that Jesus Christ desires. All the money, power, and prestige in the world cannot prepare you for this adventure — but with His love burning in your heart, there’s no telling what might happen next. . . Let the journey begin, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

The Blank Check

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

Job 38:1-7, (34-41)
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this  that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?  Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind?  Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the water skins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together?

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,  when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert?  Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?

Hebrews 5:1-10
Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.

He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.  And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.  So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;  as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

The Blank Check 
17 October 2021
Mark 10:35-45
The Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter

Have you ever been approached, as Jesus was, by someone asking for a blank check?  Who would dare ask for a blank check?  Do you even use checks instead of money transfers? It’s a metaphor… That’s what the sons of Zebedee did one day when they said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  Who would dare approach any of us ask any of us for carte blanche?  Well, our children, our grandchildren… zoey… the IRS no they have a formula.

Jesus did what I would do… He asked for a little more information, “Well, what do you want?”

And they said – without embarrassment – “We want to be greater than any of the other disciples!  We want more power than the other 10 disciples… We want to be Great among men – oh and by the way you can choose who is at your right hand and who at your left, but just keep it in the family and that will be fine with us.”  Translation from the Greek…

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, had traveled with Jesus for three years and still they wanted to assume positions of leadership that would give them great prestige, satisfy their egos, and give them power over others. They were filled with themselves and confident. They sure didn’t need any courses in self-esteem, did they? And yet, they are not very different from many of us who desire nothing more than to follow Jesus, if only He will give us what we want and not challenge us to change the way we live.

Jesus says, “Sorry… not up to me- there is no vacancy to apply for and no appointment to be made.

But the wheels have been set in motion.  The others heard the request and began to ask: “Who do they think they are?”

Great! A recipe for discord 101! – Ambition to grab the glory, regardless of your colleagues.  Nepotism, hiring relatives who are not particularly qualified because you can.

But Jesus did go on to describe the job vacancy that was all too vacant. People who want to be in control need not apply, the only opening at this time is for workers, servants, people with hands on gifts and minimum wage aspirations!  People who love the Kingdom call and God more than they love themselves.  That’s the job description!  Being co-workers with Christ.

While Jesus was modeling humility, the Zebedee brothers were jockeying for the best job, lifetime security with benefits!  If anyone was going to be in the top 1% it was going to be them…  Sign the check and leave the glory to us…

Ever heard: “It’s lonely at the top?”  I know, I’ll cope somehow…

“You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them.  And then he asked, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  There’s the challenge… give away your shirt, walk the extra mile…

“We are able,” they said.

Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Little did the sons of Zebedee know, at this time, that Jesus was speaking of his own death as well as of their martyrdom.  But these two men, who were so interested in assuming positions of leadership, did go on, after Pentecost, to become martyrs. In other words, they eventually drank from the cup that Jesus drank from — and they learned what it means to serve.

But that’s just the point.

Jesus called his followers servants.  If we are truly striving to be a follower of Jesus – if we are striving to be a successful follower of Christ – we must become servants.  As Christians we are striving to be successful servants.  Aspirations of being #1 have no place in servanthood.

  1. Develop a Servant Mentality: not our social training – take control, ignore the need of others VS My purpose on Earth is to serve God
  2. Have a determination to serve: To be the one who gives – not necessarily from abundance
  3. Make a commitment to Following God: We all follow something – science, authority al a military [If I was supposed to have a wife…] commitment is more than coming to God.  Baptism as an infant was not our commitment so we ask teens to take on that commitment at confirmation. Getting married is great, exciting – how many have recommitted their vows years later.
  4. Start serving where we are: Now, Do people know why you serve the world – have you told someone about Jesus… Talk about our faith

Last week we heard about the rich young man who wanted it all — the worldly wealth and prestige he already possessed — as well as the gift of eternal life. You can have eternal life if you follow me, Jesus told him, but first you must sell all that you have and give the proceeds to the poor. A sacrifice was required of him, just as it was required of the sons of Zebedee, and just as it is required of us.

To become a servant takes sacrifice. Not somebody else’s sacrifice, but our own. Leadership in this world is often based on who you know, on fame, on wealth or access to wealth, and a willingness to make what are often referred to as “tough decisions.” This usually means the decisions you make are tough on other people, but good for you.

Corporate CEO’s are often called upon to make tough decisions and they do. They will lay off hundreds or thousands of workers, close manufacturing plants in America and open up new shops in foreign countries. These decisions result in great profits for the CEO and for stockholders, but they lead to joblessness and homelessness for their former employees. Very brave people in government make tough decisions all the time about American troops, while the decision makers are thousands of miles away from the front lines, and we see their bravery as they march from one press conference to another.

We might say, “Well, I am not interested in being great,” and that’s wonderful — but if we want to follow Jesus we will still have to learn how to become a servant and to make the sacrifices that have been appointed, for us to make.

Paul tells us that Jesus Himself had to learn obedience and it was a painful experience, even for him. As Paul says in v. 8 of today’s lesson: “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” And though He has taken our sins upon Himself, He has not relieved us of our responsibilities. …., “And having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Obedience & faithfulness — these are flipsides of the coin that belongs to God — the coin of the realm — the currency of the kingdom.  No blank checks even for the omnipotent, powerful God who takes on our human form.

“The story in today’s gospel, with two brothers jockeying for positions of power in the Kingdom, takes place five days before Jesus’ crucifixion. Four days before his betrayal and trial. One day before the clearing of the temple, and a few hours before the Triumphal Entry.  If the Disciples were going to start practicing the teachings of Jesus in their lives it ought to be now. But it doesn’t happen. Moments before the most crucial events in their life they are a bickering, petty, bad-tempered quarrelsome lot. We need to learn from this not-so-flattering moment in the life of the disciples.

How is it that critical moments can be so close at hand and we are off wondering what’s in it for me?”

Today Jesus is inviting each of us to let go of all of those things — those desires for things we think we just have to have — those things we think we most definitely deserve — and to come and walk with him.

Instead of saying, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you,” we still have time to say, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” A number of cups are laid out before us — wealth, power over others, prestige, bitterness, resentment, or the cup that Jesus drank from. The choice is yours and Jesus is simply asking you and me today: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

The greatest sacrifice, and the only sacrifice that leads to our salvation was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And the greatest sacrifice that we can offer to him is the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart — a heart softened by the love of God. It is easy to stand up for Jesus and carry signs condemning the sins of others. But to stand up for Jesus and serve the least among us, with joy in our hearts, that is the mercy that Jesus Christ desires. All the money, power, and prestige in the world cannot prepare you for this adventure — but with His love burning in your heart, there’s no telling what might happen next. . . Let the journey begin, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

Who’s Walking the Earth

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

Hebrews 1:1-4 NIV    
God’s Final Word: His Son

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

Hebrews 2:5-12 NIV
Jesus Made Fully Human

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,  a son of man that you care for him?  You made them a little[a] lower than the angels;  you crowned them with glory and honor  and put everything under their feet.bc

In putting everything under them,[d] God left nothing that is not subject to them.[e] Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.[f] But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.[g] 12 He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

Mark 10:2-16
New International Version

Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses command you?” he replied.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

The Little Children and Jesus

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 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. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Job 1:1, 2:1-10  N R S V
Job and His Family

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

Attack on Job’s Health

One day the heavenly beings[a] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan[b] also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan,[c] “Where have you come from?” Satan[d] answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to Satan,[e] “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” Then Satan[f] answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives.[g] But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan,[h] “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.”

So Satan[i] went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job[j] took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse[k] God, and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Who’s Walking the Earth
3 October 2021
Job 1:1; 2:1-10; Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12; Mark 10:2-16
The Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter

 

One day the Devil challenged the Lord to a Baseball Game.  Smiling the Lord proclaimed, “You don’t have a chance, I’ve got Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and all the great players up here.” “Yes”, laughed the devil, “but I have all the umpires!”
Lucifer – Netflix     

In the beginning after the 7 days of creation… God and Adam and Eve walked in the Garden… and then there was that little garden incident with the apple and the snake… and suddenly we human beings were walking the Earth… immortality was lost, and human beings began getting into all kinds of trouble… or so the saga of the Old Testament begins.

Fast forward… the conversation between God and Satan…. And the story of Job – a very interesting account of a man who is afflicted… in every possible way after a difficult to hear conversation…

We know Satan – the personification of evil- walks the earth!  But who is this the God who seems to allow the evil to persist, to make wagers on humanity’s ability to remain faithful… I will return to this distant God…,

Then we hear the New Testament readings… Jesus walked the earth and cure the ill, raised the dead, fed the multitudes that followed Him and died for our sin of separation from God and our tendency to wander off and walk like Satan- who walks the Earth.

Today we walked the earth….  Today we celebrate the Lord’s last supper, we commune with millions of Christians worldwide…  we have friends in the pews- potential friends in our community…

Though these pews have been filled on many Easter Sundays most of those people are missing today.  Over the years new seekers have joined us… Yet I know that (sick list) Jackie Young (exploratory cancer surgery)

Awaiting test results: Allin Thompson (bone scan)

Healing: Billy (spinal injuries from car crash); Zachary (broken back); Dr. William Smith Marianne, Ruth Zeller, Brian Mielke, Ginny and Bob, YuCha and (died) your sister, your nephew, your sister-in-law, your spouse- have died from old age, from violence and from illness – suddenly…         

Some have moved away because of work, and some have stayed away …. Because of painful memories, doubt in our spiritual journey or lives out of control … some have simply retired to distant places.

Americans are in flux …. some of us are seeking employment…. all of us are seeking leaders to save us.

Is the best advice to “curse God and die”? or to become childlike and Christ seeking… Job do not have the experience of an up close and personal Jesus- God with us but even Job stays engaged

Even when it is not always pretty and even when it is awful …. our God stays engaged.

God – that same God that seemed insensitive in the story of Job – comes up with the only solution for evil realities in this world – Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us – Jesus is Walking the Earth – apprenticed to being human – limited by time and space – leading the way back to the Kingdom that God intended before Satan and evil infected the world.

Jesus is the God that is engaged – That is why as brothers and sisters in the faith we testify that God sustains us in the truly terrifying situations of this world.

Jesus calls us to Peace that passes understanding while wars rage and young men and women die…Jesus offers healing thru medical knowledge and answered prayer – especially as we have experienced the ministrations during the past year and a half of a global pandemic– even abroad thru doctors willing to enter into mission to underdeveloped countries.

Jesus calls us to prioritize our lives.  To comprehend that our firm foundation is an understanding that God is source and goal of our lives.  That all else is fleeting and that the most important ASPECTS OF OUR LIFE are the simplest.

The Man on the Fence – A Parable (Author Unknown)

There was a large group of people gathered. On one side of the group stood a man, Jesus. On the other side stood another, Satan. Separating them was a fence running through the group.

Both Jesus and Satan began calling to people in the group.

One by one, each having made up his or her own mind, went to either Jesus or Satan. This kept going for a time.

Soon enough, Jesus had gathered around him, a group of people from the larger crowd, as did Satan.

One man joined neither group. He climbed the fence that was there and sat on it.

Jesus and his people left and disappeared, and so too did Satan and his people. The man on the fence sat alone.

As this man sat, Satan came back, looking for something which he appeared to have lost. The man said, “Have you lost something?” Satan looked straight at him and replied, “No, come with me.”

The man said, “But I sat on the fence. I chose neither you nor him.” Satan said, “That’s okay; I own the fence.”

As we are drowning in the materialistic and egocentric definitions of life… Our faith calls us to celebrate life and the common human experiences of life.  We all need hope, food, clothing, meaningful work.  Jesus calls us to the table that we might be fed by faith and equipped for who and what is walking the Earth.

Instead of cursing God and dying… Jesus told a captive people to Walk up and down the world and baptize – incorporating people into God’s family – with whatever gifts we have at our disposal…

 

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