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Name: jacobjuncker
Date registered: April 2, 2012
URL: https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com

Latest posts

  1. Methodist in-Formation: A point of personal privilege (again). — January 16, 2015
  2. Methodist in-Formation: Make preparations — December 7, 2014
  3. Methodist in-Formation: Meet Alice. — November 23, 2014
  4. Methodist in-Formation: Invest now! — November 22, 2014
  5. Methodist in-Formation: Be One, Too: Praise God into Glory! — November 2, 2014

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  1. Methodist in-Formation: We Need Each Other — 1 comment
  2. Methodist in-Formation: Approaching Life: Beyond Ourselves — 1 comment
  3. Methodist in-Formation: Be One, Too: Lead Others to the Promised Land! — 1 comment

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Jan 16 2015

Methodist in-Formation: A point of personal privilege (again).

Original post at https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/a-point-of-personal-privilege-2/

Two and a half years ago, I took my first point of personal privilege on this blog.  Today, I’d like to take my second and third.  On December 9, 2014, Chandra, Stella and I welcomed Beatrice Jane and Teresa Grace into our family; and, for the last month and a week, we’ve been adjusting to being a family of 5.  The parents in our house are officially outnumbered by little people all under the age of three!  At least one is pretty much potty trained and the other two are pretty freakin’ adorable.  Nonetheless, your prayers are appreciated.  Life just got a lot more interesting and beautiful in our house.

I am currently on parental leave, an amazing perk of being a United Methodist pastor, which is why I haven’t posted any sermons in the past month.  I will be back to preaching and writing the second week of February.  Till then, I’m enjoying being a dad and spending time with my family.  Here’s a glimpse of the awesomeness I get to experience everyday!

Click to view slideshow.
Note: you can tell the girls apart by their hair color.  Teresa has blond (and very little) hair.  Beatrice has dark (and a good amount of) hair.

Thank you for allowing me take this point of personal privilege.

Filed under: Fatherhood

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2015/01/a-point-of-personal-privilege-again/

Dec 07 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Make preparations

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/make-preparations/

This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, December 7, 2014.

ReadingMark 1:1-8

Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.


As Chandra and I await the imminent birth of our two daughters, there have been a lot of preparations.  The cribs, both of them, have been assembled and the sheets put on.  Baby clothes have been sorted, washed, folded, and put away in the dresser.  The changing table—which is admittedly, just the top of their dresser—has been stocked.  Baby swings—which have some of the worst assembly instructions I’ve ever seen—are being assembled and put in the living room.  The overnight hospital bags are packed and ready to go.

We’ve been making preparations; and, there’s still more to be done.  The carseats need to be installed in “the bus,” the glider in the nursery needs to be disassembled and fixed, curtains need to be hung, and a dozen other small little “honey-do” projects have yet to be finished.

When you’re expecting a child, you have to make preparations.  It’s important to prepare.  It’s not that all the preparing will allay all the anxiety, fear, or stress; but, it does make the transition a bit less traumatic.

When you’re expecting, you make preparations, so that when the big day comes (and sometimes you don’t know when that day will be), you’ll be as ready as possible.

Make preparations.

While you may not be expecting a child, you are undoubtedly making preparations.  The Christmas season is upon us and there’s much to do: gifts to buy, Christmas cards to send, cookies to bake, houses to decorate, Christmas parties to attend, wish lists to write out, trees to decorate, lights to hang, and you’ve got to visit Santa (right?).  In the life of the church, we’re making preparations.  We’ve hung the wreaths, lit the tree, and started lighting the advent wreath.  Yesterday, Sprague Community Center welcomed some _______ people to their breakfast with Santa event.  Next Sunday, there will be a kids Christmas pageant in the morning, during worship, and a Christmas Sing-a-Long in the afternoon.  And, then, there’s our preparations for Christmas Eve services (5:30pm at Sprague Community Center and 7pm in the Sanctuary).  On this first Sunday of December, we’re all preparing for something as we count down the day s till Christmas.

But I’ve just got to ask: what are all those preparations really preparing us for?  Are our Christmas preparations fulfilling some sense of duty or obligation? or are our preparations preparing us to meet God—to see God face-to-face in the Christ child?  What are we really preparing for?

Prepare the way for the Lord

…the prophet Isaiah reminds us.  “Prepare for God’s arrival!  Make the road smooth and straight” (Mark 1:3b, The Message).

Our Gospel lesson for this morning reminds us that the most important preparation we can make this holiday season is not to begrudgingly wrap another gift for a relative we barely like, but to demonstrate and show that God’s love really can and does change our hearts and lives.

John the Baptist—Jesus’ cousin, a spectacle to see with his clothes made of camel’s hair, leather belt, and locust wings stuck in his teeth—“appeared in the wilderness” (see Mark 1:4, New Revised Standard Version) calling “for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins” (Mark 1:4, Common English Bible).

In baptism, we acknowledge and celebrate the grace of God, freely offered to us before we were even aware of it. We confess our sin, accept membership in the family of Christ, and vow to trust in and serve Jesus Christ as our Lord. Baptism is the outward and visible sign of our covenant (holy agreement) with God to accept God’s gifts of freedom and power and to grow in faith through the constant efforts of the Holy Spirit and the life-long practice of prayer, study, service, witness, and worship.[1]

John was calling people to an action that would reveal God’s grace and forgiveness in people’s lives.  “Produce fruit,” cries John, “that shows you have changed your hearts and lives” (Matthew 3:8, Common English Bible).  Show, in the way that you conduct your lives, that God’s love is real and transformative.  Commit to God’s way that hope, joy, peace, and love might come on earth as it is in heaven.

Make preparations.

Be intentional this year not to be so consumed with the busy-ness of Christmas that you fail to live into the Good News that God’s love has come to make a difference in the world, to transform it, to bring glory to God and peace on earth.

As the second verse of “Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice” reminds us, as we make preparations for Christmas, may our lives

“Bear the fruit repentance sows:
lives of justice, truth, and love.
Trust no other claim than those;
set your hearts on things above.”[2]

Make preparations: prepare the way for the Lord this Christmas.


[1] “Baptism and The United Methodist Church”(Nashville: Cokesbury, 2010) <http://www.cokesbury.com/forms/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=851904&rank=1&txtSearchQuery=brochure> Accessed December 5, 2014.

[2] “Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice,” verse 2 (Words by Carl P. Daw Jr.; music by David Ashley White © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; music © 1996 Selah Publishing Co.) in The Faith We Sing (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000), No. 2089.


Filed under: Sermons

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/12/make-preparations/

Nov 23 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Meet Alice.

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/meet-alice/

This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 23, 2014.

ReadingMatthew 25:31-46

I was introduced to “Alice” in yesterday’s edition of the The Day (newspaper) and, given today’s reading, it sparked a massive reworking of this morning’s message.  Why?  Well, because you just need to meet ALICE.


Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.


Meet Alice.[1]

She’s not an individual, per se, but she’s everywhere, including in Connecticut (one of the wealthiest states in the union).  In fact, ALICE is 35% of the households in Connecticut.  In Norwich, ALICE is 50% of the households.  In Sprague, she’s 36% of the households where there’s limited or no transportation options.  ALICE knows every age, race, and ethnicity.  And while you may not recognize ALICE’s face, you most likely know people who know her, if you don’t know her yourself.  We rely upon ALICE every day.  ALICE is our co-workers, friends, neighbors and families.  ALICE is the backbone that keeps small businesses, including nonprofits, standing tall; and, yet, ALICE is often overlooked.  The United Way in six states is working to give her an identity and a voice—because being overlooked without an identity, voiceless, and unheard is a special kind of hell that no one should have to live or endure.

ALICE is an acronym  for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.  ALICE represents thousands of people who work hard every day yet still struggle to make ends meet.  ALICE households are households that cannot afford the basics of housing, food, healthcare, childcare, and transportation.  Just to be clear, “can’t afford” is not an arbitrary feeling.  ALICE really can’t afford even the basics.  It’s not that ALICE households are squandering money on things they don’t need, they’re literally not making enough money to meet a basic “household survival budget” (which in Connecticut, for a family of four—two adults, an infant, and a preschooler—is $64,689 per year) let alone a “household stability budget” (which for the same family of four is $111,632 per year!).

Meet Alice.[2]

A school bus driver, named Laura.  She has one child.  Her husband is unemployed; he’s struggling to find work.  They have bill stacking up, they have to choose which ones to pay this month.

Meet Alice.

A home health aide and waitress, named Rita.  Rita works two jobs while raising three granddaughters by herself.  She’s just barely scraping by: she can’t afford to save for retirement.

Meet Alice.

A mechanic, named Frank.  Frank has two daughters.  He is the primary earner in the household because his wife is the primary caregiver for their special needs daughter.  They’re struggling to pay credit card debt.

Meet Alice.

…perhaps you already have and didn’t even know it.

You need We need to get to know Alice because when meet her and her needs, we meet Jesus: the Human One, God in-the-flesh, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Meet Alice.
Meet Jesus.

Our reading from Matthew’s Gospel reminds us that when we meet ALICE, those who struggle to make it—those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, and a stranger…  When we meet Alice, we meet Jesus.

Our reading this morning depicts the final judgment.  “Here Matthew provides the  [New Testament’s] only detailed depiction of the great, final assize.”[3]  Just to be clear, this morning’s reading isn’t meant to be read as a parable—a fanciful story that teaches us something—it is, instead, meant to be a narrative depiction of things to come.

Jesus will come again in all his glory and be seated at the heavenly throne.  All the nations—the people of the world throughout time—will be brought before the throne and judged not based upon the content of their belief but upon the way they’ve put their beliefs into action.  They will be sorted like a shepherd who sorts through his flock.

It should come as no surprise that Jesus, whose earthly ministry was marked by compassion for others, compassion that led to action (see Matthew 14:14-21), would demand compassion of the nations, of us.  “It is no coincidence that Jesus—who declared that he ‘came not to be served but to serve’ (Matt. 20:28)—demands that service be rendered to those in need.”[4]

The sheep—those who have shown compassion in serving the needs of the hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, imprisoned and a stranger—those who took concern for the body and soul of those in need—will be called righteous for they, being right with neighbor will be “right with God.”  In serving those in need, they will have met the needs of the Savior.

These are the merciful who are blessed (Matt. 5:7), the people whose hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6) leads them to respond with compassion to the hunger and thirst of others.  Jesus teaches that God’s reign—the full revelation of which we await—is characterized in the present, not by powerful works and miracles, but by deeds of love, mercy and compassion, especially toward those in need.[5]

Have you met Alice?

You really should, for when we serve the needs of our neighbors, we meet the needs of Jesus.  When we reach out in love to those around us, especially those in need, we meet Jesus.  We meet the bodily and missional needs of Jesus when we serve those who are most vulnerable.  In so doing, we will be made righteous and God’s Kingdom will surely come.

The front page headline yesterday in The Day read, “Sate United Way chapters confront ALICE problem.”  Friends, ALICE isn’t a problem.  ALICE presents us with an opportunity to meet Jesus.  And, I pray you will take the opportunity to do so.

Let’s pray:

Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, help us not to look for your majesty in the well to-do places of our community.  You remind us that it’s in the lowly places—the gutters, under over-passes, in homeless shelters, hospitals, and prisons—that you are found.  It’s in the face of ALICE that we most clearly meet and serve you.  Give us the courage to see your majesty in the “least of these;” give us the fortitude to see our service to you not as a burden of our resources but as an opportunity to know you more.

We pray all this seeking the wisdom of the Father and the power of the Spirit who reign together with you, King Jesus, One God, forever and ever.  Amen.

[1] To learn more about ALICE in Connecticut go to http://alice.unitedway.org.  And download the report!  It’s long, but well worth the effort.  Read at least the Executive Summary!

[2] The examples that follow were taken from the video “United Way ALICE,” YouTube video 1:53, posted by UWC Community Results Center <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7gPJGu2psw#t=73> Accessed November 22, 2014.

[3] “Exegetical Perspective: Matthew 25:31-46” by Thomas D. Stegman, SJ in Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol. 4 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), p333.

[4] Ibid, 337.

[5] Ibid.

Filed under: Sermons Tagged: ALICE, Love, love neighbor, Matthew 25:31-46, service, serving, United Way

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/meet-alice/

Nov 22 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Invest now!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/invest-now/

This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 16, 2014.

ReadingMatthew 25:14-30

Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.


Most of Americans live paycheck to paycheck; or, worse, we live paycheck to paycheck and are racking up so much credit card debt that we can barely pay the minimums.  Some of us have learned financial basics such as budgeting, saving, and managing debt.  But, the reality is that most have not; so, when the idea of investing is thrown out—the idea of setting aside, locking away, limited resources to hopefully see a gain or profit—the idea seems absurd.

Many people think that investing their money involves taking a risk that they cannot afford. Investment is not gambling on an uncertain outcome. True investing oftentimes yields a profit rather than a loss. It all depends on the way the investor chooses and uses their types of investment options.[1]

Investing is essential for long-term financial stability.


Today’s reading reminds us that investing leads to more than just financial stability, it leads to a life full of joy.

A wealthy man leaves for a long journey.  Before he goes he distributes his wealth to three of his slaves: to one he gives five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent.  While the amounts don’t seem like a lot—5 talents, 2 talents, and 1 talent—the gifts were huge.

To be clear, a talent, here, is not referring to a skill.  In Jesus’ day, a talent was a monetary unit that equaled about 15 years’ worth of earnings by a day-laborer.  Think of it this way: the minimum wage in Connecticut is currently $8.70 an hour.  A single talent would be like giving a minimum wage worker in Connecticut $271,440 (8.70 /hr times 40 hrs/wk times 52 weeks times 15 years).  Five talents equates to $1,357,200.  Receiving one talent, two talents, and five talents was a lot of money—a huge, generous gift.

The man leaves his wealth in the hands of his servants—three people unaccustomed to handling so much abundance—offering no advice nor instruction except that he’d return one day to “settle his accounts.”  The man leaves.

The first servant, the one with over 1.3 million dollars, immediately invests it all in a high-risk venture.  The second does the same.  That approach was too risky and uncertain for the third servant who was much more cautious.  The third servant chose what seemed the safest; and, in the first century, this would have been common practice.  The third servant, a cautious investor, buried his master’s gift in the ground.  In an uncertain economy, the man did what seemed wise.  Let’s be clear, this third servant isn’t bad, he’s simply being careful.  We can all relate to that, right?

When the master returned, he called for his servants.  It was time to settle the accounts.  The first two servants saw a doubling of their investment.  The master smiled, “Well done.”  The third servant brought his gift back to the master.  He was proud that in such a slow economy he’d been cautious, keeping the gift completely intact.  He handed the gift back to the master just as he’d received it: “perhaps, a bit dirtier than before,” the third servant laughed, “but I assure you it’s all here, every penny of it, safe and sound.”  The master is furious; and, in one of the harshest rebukes of the entire New Testament, the master replies, “‘You wicked and lazy slave! (Matthew 25:26a, New Revised Standard Version).

That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

…get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’ (Matthew 25:26-30, The Message)

You have to wonder how the story might have been different if the first two slaves would have lost everything.  What if the risk they took didn’t pay off?  Would the master have been harsh on them too?  I don’t think so.  In fact, he

…might even have applauded their efforts.  The point here is not really about doubling your money and accumulating wealth.  It is about living.  It is about investing.  It is about taking risks.

The greatest risk of all, it turns out, is not to risk anything, not to care deeply and profoundly enough about anything to invest deeply, [not] to give your heart away and in the process risk everything.  The greatest risk of all, it turns out, is to play it safe, to live cautiously and prudently.[2]

Our reading for this morning reminds us that the safest thing a follower of Christ can do is risk it all in service to his or her Lord.  The most dangerous, risky thing we can do is play it safe.

So, I’ve just got to ask: how safe is your faith?  When was the last time you risked everything in service to God and neighbor?

When was the last time you risked sharing your experience of God with a family member, a friend, a stranger?  When was the last time you dared to give of your time, in a regular and meaningful way, to serve the needs of others? perhaps at our Community Meal, Sprague Community Center, St. Vincent DePaul, or another ministry that serves the needs of the community?  When was the last time you made a conscientious decision to sacrificially give of your resources instead of indulging your own needs and wants?  When was the last time you took a chance in sharing your skills, vocation, and career in service to God?

In our reading for today:

Jesus invites us to be his disciples, to live our lives as fully as possible by investing them, by risking, by expanding the horizons of our responsibilities.  To be his man or woman, he says, is not so much believing ideas about him as it is following him.  It is to experience renewed responsibility for the use and investment of these precious lives of ours.  It is to be bold and brave, to reach high and care deeply.[3]

It’s an invitation for us to be disciples of Jesus: to invest our lives that God’s Kingdom might be made as real on earth as it is in heaven.

Dear friends, invest now that the love of God you know in Christ Jesus our Lord might be multiplied and made real in the lives of others throughout the whole world.  Risk it all.  Invest now.



[1] “The Beginner’s Guide to Investing,” by Kelly Anderson, Mint.com <https://www.mint.com/the-beginners-guide-to-investing/> Accessed November 15, 2014.

[2] [2] “Matthew 25:14-30: Pastoral Perspective” by John M. Buchanan in Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Feasting on the Word, Year A, vol. 4 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), p310. Emphasis added.

[3] “Matthew 25:14-30: Pastoral Perspective” by John M. Buchanan in Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Feasting on the Word, Year A, vol. 4 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), p312.

Filed under: Sermons Tagged: Christ Jesus, giving, investment, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus the Christ, Kingdom of God, matthew 25:14-30

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/invest-now/

Nov 02 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Be One, Too: Praise God into Glory!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/be-one-too-praise-god-into-glory/

This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 2, 2014.

Reading: Revelation 7:9-17

Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.


Over the course of the last month, we’ve been reflecting on what it means to be a saint.  I will remind you that in the Methodist tradition, we don’t pray to saints.  We don’t believe that saints have a special audience with God.  And, we don’t have a specific system for determining who is a saint and who is not.

We do believe in saints,though.  We believe saints to be people of genuine faith.  People who live faithfully and share the love of God they’ve found in Jesus Christ with others.  They bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).  They are exemplars of the faith whose ever-developing faith inspires others to grow in love with God and neighbor.  And, as Lesbia Scott write (No. 712, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God,” The United Methodist Hymnal) in her famous hymn, we believe:

They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, on the street, in the store,
in church, by the sea, in the house next door;
they are saints of God, whether rich or poor,
and I mean to be one too.

Over the course of the last month, we’ve honored the saints and talked about some ways in which we can strive to be one too.

This morning, in the last week of our series on the saints, we get another glimpse of what it means to be a saint.  Saints praise God (sing) into eternity.


In our reading for this morning we’re given a glimpse of the saints in action.  It’s a fanciful image that engages all the senses.

“I looked,” writes John, “and there was a great crowd that no one could number.”  The light reflecting off their white robes was as blinding as the sun reflecting off the sea on a bright summer’s day.  They looked like the shimmering sea, they’re waving palm branches, shading the light just enough to see that these people were diverse and different, from every race, nation, and people of the earth; and yet, in their diversity, their voices were joined as one as they shouted:

Victory belongs to our God
who sits on the throne
and to the Lamb

The sound was deafening.  The multitude was shouting.  The angels and elders were singing.  It was an overwhelming scene even for those participating.

One of the twenty-four elders, who attend the divine throne (4:4) and seem to function as divine mouthpieces or criers (4:10-11; 5:5), asks John with the surprised air of one whose country-club party has just been crashed: “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” Taken aback, John reacts like Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones: “Sir, you are the one that knows.”[1]

Gaining some clarity in the midst of the chaos, the elder then told John that the multitude had come from a great “ordeal.”  They were battered and beaten; clothes tattered from living in a world hostile to the people of God.  They’ve come through a great hardship, washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb and were worshiping God.  The putrid smell of blood—metallic, salty, musty—was now undeniable; so pungent that John could taste it.

The scene is overwhelming.  Yet, this one fundamental truth is undeniable even amidst this astonishing vision: saints praise God.  They shout praises to God.  They sing!

In the midst of whatever is going on around them, believers always sing.  Day or night, in desert or oasis, whether in prison or free, during calm or storm, they sing: “Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb.” […]

Sometimes the world tricks them into refusing to sing. “My second-grade music teacher told me I couldn’t sing.” “I don’t know the words and tunes to these new hymns.  How can I sing them?” “My voice left me years ago; I can’t sing anymore.”  Revelation overcomes such trickery with the music of the heavenly choir reminding the saints—living and dead—that the good news is heard, even over heard.  The saints’ cry may not always come in four-part harmony, but it’s always a joyful noise.[2]

Saints are never shy about singing God’s praise.  I am reminded of one of my college professors, William Placher, who had a great mind for theology, but a horrible voice.  At every chapel, his voice could be heard above all the rest out of key, off by a beat.  It didn’t matter.  He sang.  Saints are never shy about singing God’s praise even if it doesn’t sound all that great.

They find every reason, even through hardship, to give God the glory.  “Even in the midst of evil, war, social upheaval, famine, luxury, and greed saints cannot keep from singing!”[3]

The Westminster Shorter Catechism—a Q&A on and statement of faith written in 1647 and 1648—asks in its first question: “What is the chief end of man?”  What is the primary purpose of humanity?  Why are we here?  For what reason was humanity created?  The answer, it suggests: Humanity’s “chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  Saints understand and live this.  They find their purpose in living lives in praise to God.

Saints refuse to give up when life gets tough, when faith seems impossible, when it’s easier to follow the selfish ways of the world than to love God and neighbor.  Saints are those who see and seek God’s presence in all things.  They encourage others on their faith journeys.  And in the not giving up, in the seeing and the seeking, and in the encouraging they cannot help to give God all the glory.  They can’t help but shout their praise; because when you see and experience God you can’t help but sing!

One of the most familiar and ancient hymns of the church is known as the “Doxology.”  The word literally means a word of glory.  It’s a song of praise that every saint learns to sing even if they never know the words…

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise God, all creatures here below.
Praise God above, you heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

This song of praise (and others like it) will be sung now until forever by the saints of God.  Saints praise God now and into eternity.  That’s what saints do; I mean to be on and I pray you do too.

Let us pray.

O God, on this All Saints’ Sunday, as we celebrate the faithful who have gone before us, give us a reason to sing.  Help us not to become too overwhelmed by the world around us that we lose sight of you and forget to sing.  Give us a reason to sing that we might sing of your glory now and into eternity.  Amen.


[1] “Exegetical Perspective: Revelation 7:9-17” by Christopher B. Hays in Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 4 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), p221.

[2] [2] “Pastoral Perspective: Revelation 7:9-17” by Tom Tate in Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 4 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), p220.

[3] Ibid.

Filed under: Sermons Tagged: All Saints' Sunday, Praise God, Revelation, Revelation 7:9-17, saints, saints of God, Saints praise God, Season of the Saints

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/be-one-too-praise-god-into-glory/

Oct 30 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Be One, Too: Lead Others to the Promised Land!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/be-one-too-lead-others-to-the-promised-land/

This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 26, 2014.  This message is meant to freely flow from a moment with children to a conversation with adults who are all seated in the round at tables.  It’s a new style of preaching for me in a new experimental worship experience we’re trying for the next few weeks at Lee Memorial.


I need all the kids to join me over here.  I need your help this morning.  I’m blindfolded.  I can’t see; and I need to get to the center table so that I can talk with all the big boys and girls.  Can you help me?

Where are we going?

We all need help from time to time getting where we’re going.  We need people to point us in the right direction when when we can’t see; when we’re lost and don’t know where to go.  We need people—in the church we call them saints—to help us on our journey so that we can be our best for God and neighbor.

Thank you for your help this morning.  I think I’m where I need to be.  You all are little saints.  And for the parents that have a hard time believing it, hang with me for the next few minutes…


Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.


I can tell you from experience that it is hard to blindly follow someone (especially, if they have yet to be potty trained).  I can only imagine what it must have been like for God’s people.  You’ll remember that God’s people where in exile, enslaved to the Pharaoh of Egypt when God calls Moses to lead God’s people out of slavery to the Promised Land: a land which was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a land that the people had dreamed of but never knew how to get to.

With many miracles, God lead the people out of Egypt.  For 40 years, the people of Israel blindly followed God to a place that they’d only known in their dreams.

It was hard for the people to follow when they didn’t know where they were going.  They complained.  They had what we call in our house whiney butts.  They complained a lot: and, just like in the Juncker house, complaining didn’t get them very far.

It was hard for the people to blindly follow God through the rugged terrain of the desert to a place they’d never been.  God led them through the wilderness on a path that was anything but straight: a path that on several occasions doubled back on itself; a path that was many times longer than it needed to be (no offense God, but you could have taken the expressway instead of the scenic route that didn’t end up being all that scenic—no one likes looking at that many rocks!).

It was hard for the people to follow God when they didn’t know here they were going.  It was especially difficult when the days turned into week after week after week.  They felt like giving up.

But, when the journey got hard, Moses was there to encourage them to keep moving—to keep walking to the place God had promised.  Moses didn’t know where it was, but he had faith that God would keep God’s promises.  And that’s what saints do.  They encourage us when things get difficult.  They keep us moving toward the Promised Land

In our reading for this morning, the people of God are nearing the end of their journey.  It’s been hard, but Moses has diligently led and encouraged the people to finish the journey.  They’ve nearly reached the land God promised them and their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  It’s literally right in front of them.  God leads

[Read Deuteronomy 34:1-12]

Saints lead others to the Promised Land even if they never make it there themselves.  Their reward—their deepest satisfaction–isn’t in arriving at a certain point, it’s in serving God and helping others along the journey.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, remarks in his notes on verse five that

Moses the servant of the Lord died—He is called the servant of the Lord…a man eminently useful, who had served God’s counsels in bringing Israel out of Egypt, and leading them thro’ the wilderness.  And it was more his honour, to be the servant of the Lord, than to be king in Jeshurun.  Yet he dies.  Neither his piety nor his usefulness would exempt him from the stroke of death.  God’s servants must die, that they may rest from their labours, receive their recompense, and make room for others.  But when they go hence, they go to serve [God] better, to serve [God] day and night in [God’s] temple.  The Jews say, [writes Wesley] God sucked [Moses’] soul out of his body with a kiss.  No doubt [Moses] died in the embraces of his love.[1]

Moses walked with God and he lead others, encouraged them on the journey toward the Promised Land.  That’s what saints do, even if they never fully enter into it.

Saints encourage people to embrace the love of God found in Jesus Christ.  They encourage people on their journey till all are, in the words of Jesus, “complete in showing love toward all.”

I wonder what it might be like if each of us committed today to encourage three people for the next month along their faith journey?  Who would you encourage?

As the Bell Choir plays, I invite you to consider that question.  Who will you encourage?  What three people will you walk along side as they journey toward God’s future?  How might you encourage them? reminding them that they are children of God; a person of sacred worth; a person with a gift and a calling that’s meant to be shared with and transform the world.  Who will you encourage?  I invite you to consider that question in the next few minutes.

[Bell Choir: “How Firm a Foundation”]

Don’t share it with anyone, but whose name did you write down?  Before we sing our last song, I’d like us to pray over those names.  Let us pray…

[1] Notes on Deuteronomy 34:5 in Wesley Notes on the Old Testament by John Wesley at Wesley Center Online <http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/john-wesleys-notes-on-the-bible/notes-on-the-fifth-book-of-moses-called-deuteronomy/#Chapter%2BXXXIV> Accessed October 23, 2014.

Filed under: Sermons Tagged: children of God, Deuteronomy 34, john wesley, Moses, saints, Season of the Saints

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