Sunday, November 17, 2019

Listening to the Voice of Wisdom!

An interesting thing happened Tuesday evening.  Well I think it’s interesting anyway…

Someone asked why we are not calling it Grandma’s table anymore?  Well it is a legitimate question. 

The flyers are cute right they say grandmas table in big bold letters and then in small subscript
A free community meal

The concept is and goes with branding.  If I am new and I see a flyer that says Grandmas table I am not reading anymore because well it is not about me…if I see a flyer that says free community meal, I know that this is for everyone…

We left the grandma image on the flyer so those who knew it as one thing can still see the related image and put the two together…

So, what was the second thing that was interesting on Tuesday?

Someone said, at the free community meal, “How is it I have been in this town for more than half my life and I do not know half the people who are here?”

What does Isaih say…For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth…?

God is up to something new…

Even in the Gospel so ringing of despair there is something new and exciting happening…  The Gospel is so relatable…we all know the end of the world as we know it is coming. By the way, the end of the world as we know it, has come and gone just as what was once today is now yesterday…

It is interesting that in Luke’s Gospel the temple is basically a positive place. We see this evidenced throughout Luke’s gospel; Simeon enters the temple guided by the Spirit, the temple is a sacred space of fasting and prayer, Jesus is found, in the temple, at a young age learning and listening to the elders and people are amazed at his intellect, Jesus even sets forth to keep the temple space sacred and protected proclaiming this is a house of prayer…

So, we are supposed to be shocked when Jesus proclaims that the temple will be turned to rubble and no stone shall remain upon another. Did Jesus’ prediction come true? Technically no for the temple mount still stands. 

But I think more importantly, in spite of dire forecast and predictions Jesus continues to teach in the temple.

One scholar points out; “As revolutionary as his actions may have appeared, Jesus continues to go to the Temple daily to teach. His action was clearly meant to be more symbolic than revolutionary. Perhaps, his content here (in Luke 21) is also meant to be more symbolic. Some scholars claim that Jesus advocated for a restored temple during the time of the eschaton.
In some ways, this selection is less about the Temple’s destruction and more about how Jesus’s followers should react to persecution;
  • Be prepared to “testify” (Luke 21:13);
  • But do not prepare to testify in advance (21:14);
  • Depend on Jesus’s “wisdom” (21:15);
  • Family breakups will be part of this time (21:16);
  • But persevere (21:19).”[1]

Jesus says do not prepare your argument in advance for I will give you the words needed.

“Sing them over again to me wonderful words of Life
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life…”

Jesus speaks of trials and tribulations and the tests his followers must endure and yet he says trust upon me and I will give you the words you need…

Many of us cannot understand what the trials and tribulations might be like, or were like, or how they manifest in our future but think of it this way Jesus says families will be pitted against families…

Well now isn’t that church!  If you do not believe it, I can assure you, it has come to pass over and over again.

The book of acts speaks of it, Paul’s letters speak of it, anintegrated church speaks of it, women in the pulpit speak of it, accessibility speaks of it…anything that was new to the church …families split over.

All these dire predictions Christ predicts is part of being a living church as we change and grow there will always be conflict but we are to persevere.

“More importantly (since it will happen first; 21:12), the persecution that will come—even from family members (verse 16)—will become an opportunity to “witness.” That is key! But they should not make no preparations for this time because Jesus will grant the necessary “wisdom” (verse 15) for those moments. In Luke’s Gospel, the word “wisdom” occurs more than in the other three Gospels altogether.”[2]

And though there are dire predictions for the church as we know it

We are called to stay in the temple and teach.  Let me emphasize we… you see for others are called to sell their churches and find new and creative ways to be church, at this time, we are called to stay in the temple and proclaim God’s radical and extravagant welcome from right here.  This is our call today and this is where we will stay…today…but that does not mean the message is the same that it always was, that does not mean  that our ministries cannot grow and change, it does not mean how we structure ourselves must stay stagnant for Jesus is constantly giving us new words, new wisdom, new ways of being The Federated.

Just a few years ago the national UCC church looked at what the priorities of the denomination are.  They conducted surveys and the results of the national church compared to some things we are doing is quite interesting…

“A survey of 4,000 constituents of the church reveals that they are like-minded about what the UCC's top issues are, and what they should be going forward.

"What we learned from both surveys is that, as a denomination, we are on one accord with our future priorities and issues. These were the five areas where people said we should place our focus," said the Rev. Darrell Goodwin, who chairs the Strategic Implementation Task Force.
Climate change, racial justice and income inequality were the top three issues identified by two groups of survey respondents — the first group was primarily age 40 and under, and the second group was all ages. The other two issues were immigration justice and religious tolerance.”[3]

We seek to do our part in education and fighting climate change through our green team and their effort. Income inequality we seek out through working with the economic mission group of the NH conference and through our own mission work of the food pantry, kids’ cupboard, and our community meals to name just a few. We help in the efforts of immigration justice by partnering with the Good shepherd church in AZ and their refugee work and other opportunities are presenting themselves all the time. Religious tolerance we seek through our connection with the NH conference of churches and the parliament of world religions.

These are just a few things we do, there is so much more and it is layered among Individual, congregational, denominational work and outreach. This is that voice of wisdom that Luke speaks of…there is no way that the over 4000 people could possibly have agreed on the same things otherwise…

“Luke’s primary distinction (from the other Gospels)—in the second half of the story—occurs in verse 15 (“I will give you a mouth and wisdom” unable to be contradicted). As in Israel’s tradition, Wisdom has her “children” (Luke 7:35), an allusion to John the Baptist and Jesus, the latter of which was, as a child, one who “grew in wisdom” and “divine favor” (2:40, 52). Only within the Gospel of Luke is the “Wisdom of God” a speaking agent (11:49) and, so, in this way, God’s “wisdom” will allow the persecuted followers of Jesus to speak when the time comes (21:15). Jesus says that he will provide that wisdom during that time, a wisdom—in the Lukan tradition—that is even greater than Solomon’s (11:31).

We find more evidence of Wisdom’s role in Luke’s sequel (Acts), an important “commentary” (so to speak) on Luke’s Gospel. In Acts, Stephen is one who spoke with “wisdom and spirit” and he remained unchallenged by representatives from the Synagogue of the Formerly Enslaved (see Acts 6:10). Furthermore, Stephen’s speech provides additional examples—Joseph and Moses—of those who expressed God’s “wisdom” and received favor from rulers (like Pharaoh; Acts 7:10) and the Egyptians (Acts 7:22). Wisdom, indeed, has her children.”[4]

I believe that we can see, with a clear vision, God’s wisdom at play in the Christian church today and I believe this congregation has known and still knows how to listen for that voice of wisdom.

I believe it is essential that we continue to move in this contemporary world where to this day temples fall, families are torn apart, all in the name of Jesus. Sometimes it can be almost humorous if it wasn’t so painful. For we stand in opposition to many churches and many of the faithful... Our mission and our values stand in opposition to those who make the biggest noise and claim to be Christian…

But wait I was taught this passage was about the wrath of God…

“Whenever a disaster strikes, it doesn’t take long for some prominent Christians to blame it on the secularization or moral permissiveness of society.

On a September 13, 2001, appearance on The 700 Club, Rev. Jerry Falwell blamed the 9/11 terrorist attacks on certain groups and organizations he characterized as promoting “an alternative lifestyle” and trying to “secularize America.”1 Austrian priest Rev. Gerhard Wagner wrote in a 2005 parish newsletter that Hurricane Katrina resulted from the indescribable amoral conditions of New Orleans.2 Recently, the Westboro Baptist Church has attained notoriety for this line of thinking.

Anyone who wants to justify their belief that God uses wars and natural disasters to punish people for “attacking” Christianity can find material in Luke 21:5-19 to support this view. This passage presents Jesus predicting the Jerusalem temple’s destruction (vv. 5-6) as well as more general catastrophes (vv. 7-10) that are preceded by an intense persecution of Christians (vv. 12-19).”[5] 

This is the dangerous thing about scripture…if one is not listening for that voice of wisdom…and if one is not speaking love then most likely well…they are not following Jesus’ teaching…If you were taught that because there is a disaster God is angry and God’s wrath is falling upon us. That is not Christian teaching we have grown, we have moved, we have chosen to listen to the voice of wisdom and lead with Love first…

If you read the acts of the apostles. If you read the lives of the saints…if you look at how we choose to respond to our community’s needs…we must lead with love first, for love is the voice of wisdom. Love is the core message of Christ and love is the core lead of the church.

So, what I have been saying is everything Jesus predicts here is not the core message remember Jesus says you will always have floods and famine and war yet I will be with you…

“That assurance of God’s faithfulness to us in the face of difficult times is the real concern of this passage is confirmed by Luke 21:12-19. Jesus details the persecution that his followers can expect to face: arrests; persecution; trials before government authorities; betrayal by family and friends; hatred on account of Jesus’ name; and even execution. Throughout his Gospel, Luke depicts Jesus as a prophetic figure who risks rejection and death as a result of his prophetic message (see especially Luke 4:16-30). Anyone who follows Jesus can expect the same hostility that Jesus and Israel’s great prophets endured. Indeed, the Acts of the Apostles (written by the same author who wrote Luke’s Gospel) provides numerous examples of early Christian leaders facing precisely the sort of troubles that Jesus describes in 21:12-19.4
But does Jesus in Luke 21:12-19 tell his audience they should lay blame on a particular person or group of people, on their society, or even on their enemies, for such treatment? No. He says that persecution is “an opportunity to testify” (21:13)”[6]

It is through our ministries, our connection to the community. heck it is how we support each other…and this church does that so well…this church does so much so well. I believe it is truly because we listen to the voice of wisdom, we lead with love, and we act upon it then we share it…

They will know we are Christians by our love by our love…and they do!

[2] Ditto
[4] Ditto
[6] ditto

Sunday, November 10, 2019

God of the Living!


We are creatures of habit and it’s not all good. We are also creatures who tend to turn a blind eye or often see what we want to see.

We have ramps we are accessible church…yet becoming an accessible to all church “is as much about becoming attitudinally welcoming to people with disabilities and mental health issues as it is about working to make our buildings physically and programmatically accessible to persons with disability.”[1]

Questions get asked like …” why do we need to be a racial Justice Church?”  Then we hear the news of a group of people being asked to move because a prejudice man is uncomfortable…” I thought we were passed this” and yet it happens

Why do we need to be ONA “They can get married now” well it’s because people still use the word, they… or sit in a City council meeting and proclaim “they got a queer running for president!”

“Why do we need to be a wise congregation I have had an awful experience with someone with mental illness and I do not want to invite that here”  a person who has firsthand been affected by mental health issues writes on the WISE congregation gathering …”Being impacted myself by mental health conditions in my own family, I know these conferences do make a difference. It reduces the stigma about mental illness and increases our understanding of mental health conditions and how our congregations can respond. You will experience personal stories; receive practical steps to engage in a mental health ministry in your congregation; and be introduced to the WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged) Covenant for congregations for mental health.”[2]

It is about making sure how some people and congregations were or are adversely affected by mental health doesn’t happen again…it is about being proactive.

For many people these topics and many others feel dangerous, it is threatening to feel the world shift and move towards more accepting loving stances when somewhere in their heart they feel safe and want things to stay just the way they are.

“the people in the Gospel narrative could smell the danger in Jesus.  They needed only sniff the air around him, or notice the people who traveled with him to sense the threat.  They had life arranged about the best way it could be.”[3]

Life was arranged the best way it could be hmm in whose opinion? We have no need to change or grow.  We will just stay here and be the same way we always were because what we believed in the past is just as relevant today as it was then.

So, here is a group of people. Everyday good people and then along came Jesus, and along comes Jesus…” Everywhere Jesus went, by his words and by his acts he dismissed some of what people most treasured”[4]

This is not about people being evil, or bad, but about people afraid to lift up the new and the sacred which a bright light is being shined upon. They want to keep their well let’s call it what it is was…sacred cows. Refusing to open their hearts to see how love can transform old ways into something new and beautiful.

Throughout his chapter in Luke we are seeing those most threatened by Jesus.  Those who, by shifting to Christ’s way of love and moving in the world would require them to give up…Give up the but we always done it this way…Give up the “it’s my way or the highway” …Give up their ways of surviving by being unjust.  This would be the scribes, priests, elders, and Pharisees.

So, they are trying to trick Jesus with a series of questions to show he is either out of his mind and should not be paid attention too or that he is a danger to the system.  That he will disrupt the status qou and therefore is an enemy not just to the religious system but also to the public systems. So, they first asked him about his authority and then about if its ok to obey roman law.

Then we come to today where he is questioned by the Sadducees.

Walter Brueggemann reminds us that the Sadducees “are the big downtown priests who are cozy with governors and emperors and bankers. They traffic in power. They are the pushers and movers who have learned to compromise, and they know how to get things done. They realistically live in this world, as this is the only world there will be. It is Good as it can ever be, and we must keep it and maintain it. They do not want change, certainly not the kind that Jesus offers, they notice that ‘the people,’ the ones they try to keep in their place, are getting uppity around Jesus.”[5]
But you can’t say that out loud…you cannot proclaim we want to stay stagnant …we want to stay just where we are…we do not want change and more importantly we like our position of Authority and Supremacy for that would expose their own fears and their true intentions and so they hide it with theological questions.  They try to make Jesus an enemy of the Torah…” of the tradition, of the sacred trust of Moses, whereas they are the true conservatives who conserve the old conviction”[6]

Yikes talk about your back to Egypt committee….
So, these men twist an ancient law that is something absurd to even further absurdity…at least in this day and time…

Levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10

When brothers reside together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, taking her in marriage, and performing the duty of a husband’s brother to her, and the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed to the name of the deceased brother, so that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. But if the man has no desire to marry his brother’s widow, then his brother’s widow shall go up to the elders at the gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.” Then the elders of his town shall summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying, “I have no desire to marry her,” then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, pull his sandal off his foot, spit in his face, and declare, “This is what is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” 10 Throughout Israel his family shall be known as “the house of him whose sandal was pulled off.”

This was about keeping lineage and making sure families didn’t die out technically this is a few pages before Moses’ final speech.

But we can hear how these traditionalists twist the writing and the law to make it into something it was never intended to be to try to trap Jesus. These men are the main group that do not believe in the resurrection.  Resurrection was a new concept sweeping the area and these men do not want change they do not believe that it is possible for the spirit of God to be stirring up something new and beautiful.   They believe the old ways and the old interpretations of the sacred scriptures are the best ways and well, all others are simply wrong.

In order to prove the concept of this newness in God is wrong they twist the scripture and ask if these seven brothers all have had the same wife and they are all raised from the dead (which they do not believe) who is married to her when they rise.

I am sure they are thinking ha-ha now we got him because this resurrection concept makes this law unworkable. It is very clever you see tradition makes doing new things unworkable.  Tradition says surely God would never allow something new and beautiful to violate our religious assumptions about how God works in this world or how we are called to work in this world.

“they sense, as Jesus surely knew, that resurrection is dangerous business. It is not just about the dead person being resuscitated. It is about God’s power for life that moves into all our arrangements, shatters all our categories by which we manage, control, and administer. It speaks about God’s will for new life”

New life and new things and new ways of being children of God.  This is scary stuff even to people today. Too some I am scary for just being a happily queer married Pastor.  To some being a person of color. Any color with an education is threatening because it threatens their white supremacy world. I mean I can go on but you hear it …right???

So, what does Jesus offer what does Jesus answer in this midst of fear and stagnation. Jesus tosses in a reference they understand Moses…wait a minute what is the book of Deuteronomy?  It is a speech of Moses reiterating the law and so Jesus throws Moses back at them at the very beginning of Moses ministry at a burning bush when Moses asks God who are you God says I Am, present tense Living moving God…ok…I am the God of The God of Abraham, The God of Isaac, the and the God of Jacob…

Not I was the God of I am the God of present tense though these great figures of the past are gone from our sight they are not Gone from God the fact that the dead are raised is why Moses referred to these people this way so Jesus is actually saying…

The resurrected Life really isn’t a new concept at all but because our God is a living God and we are children of the resurrection we are seeing with new and renewing vision.

Our God doesn’t stop being this new thing.  God doesn’t stop offering new life…God is with us among us and enlightening us day by day. Helping us Grow and see a broader vision challenging us. each of us in different ways.  It is really kind of exciting.

We are a resurrection people and because we believe in a living God …we proclaim death is conquered “Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God being Children of the resurrection.”   So that even touches on our all saints celebration…

Brueggemann puts it this way Jesus is saying; “Of course there is a resurrection. Of course, there is a coming of a new age. Of course, the power for life will prevail. Of course, the world will not fit into our little categories. And this is true, not because of magic or tradition or Torah. It is true because of the character and purpose and faithfulness of God will make all things new.  And then he delivers his central message: Now he is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.”[7]

So, you see this is the main crux of it God wills life.  God wants us to be a life-giving people and so we are constantly seeking new ways God is calling us to live.  How do reach out, out do we better serv?  How do we shift for the work is never done?  If we believe we have conquered our own traditions, moved past our all the margins and divisions that we have create then look further, for when one division falls…when one thing has been conquered, something new will come into our vision.

This is the challenge of living into a resurrected life.  This is the challenge of a lving God. A Living spirit. God walking with us , moving with us and moving us up into something bigger brighter and different. 
Some has said the church is dying …some has said that Churches all over will be shutting hteir doors…This is partly true.  The Church we once knew is dying.  The church that was always right no matter what is dying.

But there is new life in the church as it is discovering …that this place…our buildings..our becoming places of refuge and life for the communities beyond our walls.  We are unique in the fact that our community hall is a separate building from the sacnturary but it is how we build community.  It is how weare connected to the far flung edges of our community.  The community house is our face of the living God reaching beyond our walls and challengeing us to seek new ways to be the church to the community around us.

Simply by offering that space we are living the resurrected life and we will continue to grow and be challenged in many ways.

Let us breathe into our challenges.. .whatever they may be…and allow life to flow into us

That sacred life that is the living God
The God of the living!

[3] Brueggemann, Walter, Samuel Wells, and Thomas G. Long. The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011. Pg. 159

[4] Ditto
[5] Ditto
[6] ditto
[7] Ditto 361

Sunday, November 3, 2019

lets thread that needle

As you know I read commentaries.  I research places. I wonder about Jesus’ journey and what it means for us today.  As I wrote this sermon I got lost.  I got lost in little stories of surprise and blessing and then it dawned on me…This is a little story of surprise and Blessing.

This story of Zacchaeus is found only in Luke’s Gospel. Taking the story at face value raises a few questions. “Why is Zacchaeus so interested in Jesus? How does Jesus know Zacchaeus name? What transpired to prompt Zacchaeus to make such excessive restitution to the poor and to victims he may have defrauded? When is Zacchaeus’s speech in Luke 19:8 made—on the way to his house or after Jesus’ visit?”[1]

Soo many questions and probably none of these will be answered. I don’t know maybe some…we will have to wait and see.

Who is Zacchaeus?  Well, we are told he is more than just a tax collector he is the chief tax collector and “Because the lucrative production and export of balsam was centered in Jericho, his position would have carried both importance and wealth.”[2]

So, here is a wealthy influential man in the very rich city of Jericho.  The town is very rich. It is a vacation spot for the rich and famous;

“At the time of Jesus, Jericho was known as an oasis city. In fact, Herod the Great built his winter palace near here because of its warm climate and fresh water springs. The Bible describes Jericho as the “City of Palm Trees.”
Since Jericho catered to the rich and powerful during the time of Jesus, homeless outcasts often lined the roads in and out of town because it was a good place to encounter the well-to-do traders and political elites.”[3]

It isn’t but a few paragraphs before this Jesus encounters an affluent ruler.  A man well to do, rich even. When inquired how to enter heaven Jesus lays out the basic rules and the man, seemingly not content for quote “I do all those things” Jesus invites him further to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. At which he becomes very sad for he was very rich.

This is where Jesus tells us how difficult it is for the rich to enter heaven and it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle…Now we are literally four paragraphs later and it seems we are about to thread that needle…

One commentator puts it this way: “the man’s name will give us a clue: it is an abbreviation of Zachariah, “the Lord has remembered’, so despite the fact has so much going against him as an “Affluent tax collector’, we feel optimistic about the outcome of the story.”[4]

There is some comedy being played out as well. I mean it is obvious to us even today.  Not much explanation needed.  Here is one of the most rich, influential people in town sees Jesus coming and one translation states; “and he was trying to see Jesus (‘which one is he’); and he couldn’t, because of the crowd, because he was small in stature.” (Luke19:1-4)

Here is the big rich influential man and yet well can’t you just picture him jumping up and down and trying to see and no one is paying him any attention or moving out of the way.  So, what does he do?  He runs up ahead and climbs a tree.

Imagine the sight of one of the richest and most influential people in town scrambling up a tree like a child excited to see a parade pass by.  Then Jesus stops right under the tree looks up and all are expecting Jesus to scold the man or rebuke him but instead Jesus calls him by name.

Jesus calls him by name.  He is so famous that even though Jesus is just passing through he knows him by name…maybe he was informed by someone in the crowd or perhaps that is just how Jesus spirit was working that day.

I can’t imagine his excitement. Can you?  One of the most famous preachers and teachers of his time walks up to him, ok under him, and calls him by name and says I am going to your house today!

“Jesus looked up and said to him ‘Zacchaeus! Quick – down you come: because today I must stay in your House!” (Luke 19:5)

There seems to be an earnest in Jesus command.  Jesus is not asking for an invitation; he is not given any warning for the man to prepare his house.

What happens next is totally amazing to me, Zacchaeus hurry’s down. Maybe he even swung from a branch and leapt down. “And he Joyfully gave him hospitality” he wasn’t put out.  He wasn’t in a panic trying to impress. 

What would you do to try and see just which person in the crowd was Jesus??  How would you know? I wonder how many times Jesus has walked right by us or we walked right by Christ and did not even know which person they were.?

Just wondering?

I also wonder how many here have heard Jesus call them by name? What did that voice sound like?  Did we know at the time it was the voice of God or not till much later? Hind sight and all you know…

When we did hear the call of Jesus, the call to ministry did we answer joyfully, were we prepared to offer Joyful hospitality?  Or did we maybe grumble and set about our duty?  Did we put conditions on the call or bargain with God?

“he came down in a hurry, and joyfully gave him hospitality”

What a blessing… I’d like to think I would be like wow, congratulations. Tell me all about it after he is gone but nooo

peopled grumbled, they complained that he had gone into the house of a man that’s a sinner!!!

Wait a minute who said he was a sinner?  Whose call is that to make? Is he a sinner just because he is a chief tax collector? Tax were reviled by the Jews of Jesus' day because of their perceived greed and collaboration with the Roman occupiers. But how often can perception be skewed by our own prejudice?

In the direct translation to hearing these grumblings Zacchaeus says; “Look, Lord; I am giving half my possessions to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I’m giving it back fourfold.”

Unlike the NSRV the action is in present tense.  In spite of what people believe this man is walking the walk even from his position as a chief tax collector he is giving half of his possessions to the poor. 

 And if someone can show he has defrauded them he gives back with interest “Four-Fold”.

Jesus proclaims that salvation has come unto this house that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham!  He is a member of the family.  Even though the family had him set as an outsider Jesus proclaims the outside is in.

The last shall be first and the first shall be last.  We do not often think of the rich and the affluential as being the last.  But that is because we judge, we have divided, we have chosen who is us and who is them.  It is hard not to do.

Jesus said it would be harder for a rich man to enter into heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle and yet here we stand Jesus has just thread that needle.

When we look at Zacchaeus and the rich ruler…

“the similarities, but mainly the contrasts  between the two characters are remarkable, particularly regarding the matter of wealth- the idolatry of one verses the freedom of the other, the sadness of the one verses the joy of the other…Zacchaeus’s response to Jesus illustrates that the miracle can occur, that the wealthy can gain freedom from possessions that possess them, just as the blind come to see, the lame to walk, the demon possessed to be restored , and the dead to be made alive.”[5]

There is an old hymn that says ;
I sought the Lord, and afterwards I knew
He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found of thee.”[6]

I have asked many questions throughout his sermon. Most will remain unanswered by me.  For each of us must choose how we respond when Jesus calls us by name.  When Jesus invites himself into our house. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. It doesn’t even matter what you think of oyu.  How will you respond to Jesus?  With Joyfull hospitality or will you walk away sad?

Will you let Jesus thread that needle?

[1] Texts for Preaching. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Pr., 1994.
[4] King, Nicholas. The Bible: a Study Bible. Buxhall, Stowmarket, Suffolk: Kevin Mayhew, 2013.

[5] Texts for Preaching. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Pr., 1994.
[6] Ditto