Jacobjuncker

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

Latest posts

  1. Methodist in-Formation: A Story about the Kingdom: The Weeds — July 24, 2014
  2. Methodist in-Formation: A Story about the Kingdom: The Soil — July 18, 2014
  3. Methodist in-Formation: Let’s Dance — July 12, 2014
  4. Methodist in-Formation: In the beginning: we passed the dream along! — June 16, 2014
  5. Methodist in-Formation: …and that’s what it’s all about! — June 12, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Methodist in-Formation: We Need Each Other — 1 comment
  2. Methodist in-Formation: Approaching Life: Beyond Ourselves — 1 comment

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Jul 24 2014

Methodist in-Formation: A Story about the Kingdom: The Weeds

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/a-story-about-the-kingdom-the-weeds/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 20, 2014.

Reading: Matthew 13:24-30

This morning we’re continuing to hear stories about God’s Kingdom.  These parables, or stories, were meant to give us glimpses of how God’s Kingdom—glimpses of how the reign of God Jesus came to usher in might come on earth as it is in heaven.

Last week we looked at the parable of the soils.  We were reminded that the seeds of the Kingdom are graciously given to all; and, it’s our responsibility to “nourish the soil” so that the seeds God scatters might grow and bear fruit, bringing forth God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

This week Jesus tells another story about a sower, but this time, Jesus isn’t so worried about the soil.  In this story, Jesus has something surprising to say about the weeds.

“Everyone who has ears should pay attention” (Matthew 13:9, Common English Bible).

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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.

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Morning Glories are one of my wife’s favorite plants.  Morning Glories are easy to grow and will cover just about anything.  It will take an ugly looking mailbox at the end of your driveway, and turn it into a viney, flowering, beautiful depository for your daily mail delivery.  In cooler climates, like northern Indiana and Connecticut, morning glories are annuals: go from seed to plant to seed in a single season.  The vines die and in the harsh winters so will the seeds.  In warmer climates, where the seeds fall to the ground, survive, and grow again, morning glories can be a nuisance, a prolific weed.  For instance, in Bermuda, morning glories are not planted, they’re uprooted, considered a pesky weed.  It’s interesting to me how something so beautiful and valued can also be something so despised; how something treated as a thing of beauty can also be looked upon as an ugly nuisance.

“Weeds are,” one writers notes, “wonderful plants growing in the wrong place.”[1]  Plants that grow in the wrong place can be invasive, robbing the plants planted in the right place of the nutrients they need to survive.

The lolium temulentum is one such example, and it is the weed Jesus is most likely referring to in today’s parable or story.  Commonly known as the darnel, poison darnel or cockle, this annual plant grows thick deep roots that intertwine themselves with the surrounding plants, stealing water and vital nutrients.  Lolium Temulentum grows in the same regions where wheat is grown.  The plants look very similar, so much so that this weed is sometimes referred to as “false wheat.”  Its seeds are poisonous.  False wheat creates bad fruit.  A wise farmer would do well to protect his crop.  But, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between wheat that is true and false wheat.  The difference is known only at harvest time after the fruit has ripened. And besides, even if you can identify false wheat early, by weeding the field you will most likely pull up the good wheat with it.

What’s the diligent farmer who wants a successful harvest to do when false wheat appears in his field?  Jesus suggests in our Gospel lesson for today that you do nothing.  By letting the weeds grow, you’ll reap a larger harvest.

Let the weeds grow.

After Jesus told the story, he left the crowds and went into the house.  In private, the disciples asked him to explain the story of the weeds.

37-39 So he explained. “The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the [false wheat] are subjects of the Devil, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels.

40-43 “The picture of [false wheat] pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the [false wheat] from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?[2]

When we read this story I think we need to be careful not to get pulled into a false dichotomy.  That is, when reading this parable, we can easily assume that Jesus is suggesting that people are either purely evil or purely good.  To read the parable this way oversimplifies a fact each of us knows all too well that while we all want to be like the wheat—plants that nutritiously gives itself to others—we can more often than not be more like the weeds—plants that greedily take for themselves.

We know all too well, that the words of the Apostle Paul are true.  He writes in Romans 7:21 (Common English Bible): “So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me.”  We each have as much opportunity to do good as we do evil.

Using the images of our parable for today, we can be either weeds or wheat.  It depends on whether we use our gifts to serve ourselves (like the weed) or we use our gifts to serve others (like the wheat).  The weeds and the wheat look identical.  We won’t know the difference between them till they bear fruit.

We can be either weeds or wheat.  It depends on how we use our gifts (our time, talent, and resources).  Using our gifts to selfishly serve ourselves makes us more like weeds than wheat.  When we prioritize ourselves—taking for ourselves what was meant to be share with others—we’re more like weeds, false wheat, than real, true wheat.  Rather than helping others mature and grow in the love of God and neighbor we think only about ourselves and what we want.  And so the weeds indulge in the luxuries while the poor go without the necessities.  The weeds want to feed themselves while others starve physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I’m sure we can all think of times when we, perhaps individually or corporately, have been more like the weeds than the wheat.  And in those times, we all thank God for the grace that allows the weeds to grow.

It is only by grace that the weeds are allowed to grow.  God provides an opportunity for the weed—the wonderful plant that is planted in the wrong place—to uproot and find its place in order that it might bear fruit in service to God and those around it.

When we use our gifts to serve others—when we sacrificially give of ourselves that others might be fed and nourished (physically, spiritually, and emotionally), then we, by the grace of God, become more like true wheat bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom.

Therefore hear these words of Jesus from John’s Gospel:

If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything.

“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love…. 12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.[3]

Be the wheat, says Jesus.  Love others.  Give yourselves that others might come to know of God’s great love found in Jesus Christ.  Give of yourselves that others might be at peace with God and one another.  Give of yourselves in order that God’s Kingdom might come on earth as it is in heaven.  Be the wheat; and, when your life feels like it’s filled with weeds, lean on God’s grace.  Allow the love of God to uproot you.  Allow it to transform your life, planting you in a place where you can be productive—sharing and living the Good News of God’s love found in Jesus Christ—bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God.

Let’s pray:

Give us courage to let the weeds grow that your grace might uproot them and turn them into something good.  Help us to be patient, to allow your grace to work in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  Help us to love even the weeds that your grace might abound, that the harvest of the Kingdom might come in all its bounty.  It’s in Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

 

[1] “Are morning glories pretty plants? or invasive weeds?” GardensAlive.com <http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=1131&gt; Accessed July 19, 2014.

[2] Matthew 13:37-42, The Message.

[3] John 15:5b-


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: Parable of the Weeds

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/a-story-about-the-kingdom-the-weeds/

Jul 18 2014

Methodist in-Formation: A Story about the Kingdom: The Soil

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/a-story-about-the-kingdom-the-soil/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 13, 2014.

Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Over the course of the next three weeks, we are going to be looking at a series of parables about God’s Kingdom.

Beginning in [Matthew] 13:3, the word “parable” occurs twelve times in the chapter. The word derives from a Greek word meaning “to throw alongside.” That is, basic to the parable genre is the notion of comparison; one entity is set alongside something else to be illuminated by the comparison. Thus “the empire of the heavens” [God’s Kingdom] is “thrown alongside” or compared to and illuminated by the situations that each parable depicts (13:24, 31, 33, 44-45, 47).[1]

This week, we’ll be looking at the Parable of the Soils, next week we’ll look at the Parable of the Weeds, and the next week we’ll be looking at the remaining parables that close out chapter 13 (mustard seed, treasure, merchant/pearl, net).  The parables will, I pray, teach us a bit about the Kingdom and how it might come on earth as it is in heaven.

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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.

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“What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”[2]

This story seems foreign to most of us familiar with modern farming techniques.  The 21st century farmer knows that each seed must be carefully placed in rows and given the proper nutrients to grow.  The notion that a farmer would simply go out into the field and throw seed everywhere seems ridiculous: wasteful in the extreme.  One must be careful where one places the seed.  The soil has to be just right or the plant will not grow properly: seed thrown on compacted soil is quickly eaten by birds; seed thrown on rocky soil will eventually burn up; and, seed sown among weeds will, most likely, be choked out.  Everyone, even Jesus, knows that if you want to reap a reasonable harvest, one must scatter seed where the land is arable: a place where the soil is loose and nutrient dense.

Everyone, including a poor peasant carpenter in 1st century Palestine (i.e. Jesus) and most especially farmers, knows that to reap a harvest one must tend to the soil.  Or, as it says in one of my “go-to” gardening books:

The role of garden steward is not difficult… One of its most important precepts is feed the soil, not the plants.[3]

Feed the soil, not the plants.

18-19 “Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.

20-21 “The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

22 “The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.

23 “The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”[4]

“Everyone who has ears should pay attention” (Matthew 13:9, Common English Bible): feed the soil, don’t worry about the plants.

The Good News of God’s unending love has been revealed to the world in Jesus Christ!  Like the sower in the parable for today, God’s love is scattered liberally, everywhere (prevenient grace).  The Good News that “God is with us” (c.f. Matthew 1:23), the good news that God has come to reconcile us with himself and with one another that we might find hope joy, peace, and love in this world, a world that so often seems to be dark, broken and lonely, is being spread like seed everywhere that all might come to experience and know (justifying grace) the great love of God found in Jesus Christ.  The Good News of God’s never-failing love is being spread that all might grow in God’s love (sanctifying grace) till that’s all that there is.

So don’t worry so much about the plants—God’s got the right and perfect seeds all picked out.  Instead, tend to the soil so that the seeds of the Kingdom might find a good place to grow and take root.

Feed the soil.

Participate in what are commonly referred to as the “means of grace.”  John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, “taught that God’s grace was unearned,” like the sower who seems to carelessly throw the seed everywhere.  But, that doesn’t mean we should sit idly by.  We are to feed the soil.  We are to engage in the means of grace so that the seeds of God’s Kingdom might take root and grow.  The means of grace are meant to open us to God’s love, grace, and forgiveness “hastening, strengthening and confirming faith so that God’s grace pervades in and through [Christ’s] disciples.”[5]

The means of grace are both personal and communal and they can be broken into two broad categories, works of piety (devotion) and works of mercy (service).

Individual works of piety (devotion) include reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, praying, fasting, regular worship attendance, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others.  Communal works of piety (devotion) include participating in the sacraments (particularly, holy communion) as often as is possible, Bible Study, and accountability groups.[6]

Individual works of mercy (service) include doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others.  Communal acts of mercy (service) include seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination, and addressing the needs of the poor.[7]

By participating in these means of grace we tend the soil.  To be sure, we may find some of these practices to be more enjoyable than others.  Some will come naturally, others we’ll have to be intentional about doing.  But, if we want God’s Kingdom to truly come on earth as it is in heaven (see Matthew 6 and Luke 11), if we want the God’s Kingdom to take root in our lives and the world then we’re going to have to feed the soil.  If we truly want to live in a world that experiences (prevenient), knows (justifying), and grows (sanctifying) in God’s love, then we must make sure that we’re nourishing the soil so that the seeds of the Kingdom have a place not only grow but also thrive.  Feed the soil.

Let’s pray:

Gracious God,

We want so desperately for your Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us to tend to the soil that your Kingdom might take root in us and bear fruit in this world.  Thank you, O God, for the seeds of your ever-present love; and, thank you for the Sower, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Help us, O God, tend to the soil of our souls that we might be like the good soil that bears fruit up to a hundredfold for Christ’s sake.  It’s in his most holy name we pray.  Amen.

 

[1] “Commentary on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23” by Warren Carter at WorkingPreacher.org <http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2071> Accessed July 11, 2014.

[2] Matthew 13:3-9, The Message.

[3] The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food by Tanya L.K. Denckla (North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2003), pg3.

[4] Matthew 13:18-23, The Message.

[5] “The Wesleyan Means of Grace,” UMC.org <http://www.umc.org/how-we-serve/the-wesleyan-means-of-grace> Accessed July 12, 2014.

[6] Adapted from the list in “The Wesleyan Means of Grace.”

[7] Ibid.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: Gospel of Matthew, means of grace, Parable of the Sower

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/a-story-about-the-kingdom-the-soil/

Jul 12 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Let’s Dance

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/lets-dance/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 6, 2014 (my first Sunday as their pastor).

Reading: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

It is great to finally be here!  Before I get started, I thought you might want to know a bit more about me and my family.  We’re coming, most recently, from a small town in North-Central Indiana that is roughly 35 miles south of South Bend (the home of Notre Dame University).  As of tomorrow, my wife, Chandra, and I will have been married for six years and one month.  We have a beautiful daughter, Stella, who just turned two.

I have had the privilege of serving under appointment in The United Methodist Church for the past 6.5 years; and, I firmly believe that God has called me—through Bishop Devadhar and Bishop Coyner, all the way from Indiana—to be your pastor.

I shared a little about myself in the Newsletter a few months back: I love to woodwork, cook, and garden.  It’s a little late to get a garden in this year, but we hope to have a large one next year.  I am a Trekkie.  I have seen every episode of every season of every spin-off of Star Trek except The Original Series (TOS) which I am currently working my way through.

We’re going to have more opportunities to get to know one another in a few weeks.  Starting next Sunday, there will be signups for us to meet in small groups so that I can learn more about you and Lee Church.  But, if there’s one thing you need to know about me for this morning, it’s that I’m not the greatest dancer.

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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 live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.

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I can clearly remember the dread on my wedding day.  I was anxious, nervous.  There was really no question: Chandra is the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with.  I knew that then.  I know it now.  So my fear wasn’t driven by the commitment I was making.  It wasn’t fear about professing my love to Chandra in front of my friends and family.  It wasn’t the ceremony itself that scared me.  It was the reception.

Chandra’s and my first dance and the dance Chandra and I would end the reception with before we left for our honeymoon: they scared the ba-geezies out of me.  I’m a terrible dancer, just ask my wife.  My kind of dancing is the “Hokie Pokie” and the “Chicken Dance.”  I don’t even like the “Electric Slide” nor do I like the “Cha Cha Slide.”  I’m a terrible dancer.  And, if given the choice, I’d rather not dance especially in front of other people.

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In our Gospel Lesson for today, Jesus pines the fact that his generation—and, perhaps, ours—often wants things, especially faith, “my way.”  “To what will I compare this generation” (Matthew 11:16a, Common English Bible)? says Jesus.  They’re like spoiled little children, who refuse to dance or move regardless of the music that is played.  They refuse to dance to the rhythms of God’s grace thinking they know a better way to live and be.  And the unfortunate thing, in refusing to dance to the beat of God’s love, they—oh, let’s be honest…  We are wearing ourselves out by trying to “walk to the beat of our own drum” instead of listening for and following God’s lead.

Christ came in order that we might hear the beat of God’s heart and learn to dance to the rhythm of God’s unending love.  Christ invites us to join him in the dance.

If you’re a horrible dancer like me, the invitation is a bit scary.  But, listen carefully to what Jesus has to say:

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads” (Matthew 11:28a, Common English Bible).  Come to me all of you who can’t seem to keep up with the inconsistent and harsh rhythms of life.  Come to me all of you who are tripping over your own feet.  Come to me all of you who can’t find a reason to dance.  Give me all your fears and failures “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28b, Common English Bible).

“Learn from me” (Matthew 11:29b, Common English Bible).  I will help you find the beat.  Watch my steps.  Follow my lead.  Don’t worry about stepping on my toes.  Don’t worry about falling.  Don’t worry about being akward.  I’m here to help you find the beat so that you might come to know it and move along with it.  “I’m gentle and humble.  And you will find rest for yourselves” (Matthew 11:29b, Common English Bible) just follow my lead.  And when you’re too ashamed to hear the beat, look to me, and I’ll keep you in step.

As you learn the rhythms of God’s grace, you’ll find that all of this dancing—which seems tiresome—will no longer be a burden.  It’s through this constant movement that you will find rest. By following my lead, you’ll experience a joy and peace that defies all understanding.  Follow my lead.  Lock step with me and you’ll find yourself “cutting up a rug” and enjoying life (real, abundant life) like you’ve never done before.

Christ’s invites us to join him in the dance.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced dancer.  It doesn’t matter if you trip over your feet or step on your partner’s toes.  It doesn’t matter if you dance like Fred Astaire or jiggle like Jell-O. The invitation is the same for all whether you’ve got it figured out or not.  Jesus is inviting us—even terrible dancers like me—to dance in order that we might discover the beat of God’s heart and internalize the eternal rhythms of God’s love.

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As we begin our journey together, I hope you’ll recommit (or, perhaps, for the first time, commit) to the dance.  I hope you’ll reaffirm your commitment to learn from Christ that we might live lives full of grace so that a hurting world might come to know the heartbeat of God, the love of God, found in Jesus Christ.

As we begin the journey together, I pray you’ll join me as, together, we learn to dance to the rhythm of God’s grace.

Let’s pray:

Gracious God,

The rhythms of this life can be harsh and inconsistent.  The beat of our day-to-day lives can be tiresome.  Teach us to dance.  Help us to hear the beat of your heart.  Help us to know your unending love.  Help us to turn our burdens and our struggles over to Christ that we might be free to move to the rhythm of your grace.  Teach us to dance!  Lead us step by step.  We pray all this in the name of the one who never lost the beat, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: dance, grace, Jesus, Jesus Christ, rhythm

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/lets-dance/

Jun 16 2014

Methodist in-Formation: In the beginning: we passed the dream along!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/in-the-beginning-we-passed-the-dream-along/


This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, June 15, 2014.  What follows below is the outline used for the sermon.

Reading: Genesis 50:24-26

I know this may come as a big surprise to many of you, but I’ve really struggled with what I might say on this my final Sunday among you as your pastor.  Which is why this will be the shortest message I’ve ever given.

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

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It was the end.

Joseph was about to die.  So, he called for his brothers.  They’d not always seen eye-to-eye.  Remember, these were the brothers who threw Joseph in a pit, thought about killing him, but instead decided sell him into slavery.  Joseph called his brothers to his bedside. Regardless of what had happened in the past, Joseph loved them nonetheless.  And, in his final moments, he reassured them: “God will certainly take care of you” he told them.  God will “bring you out of this land to the land he promised our ancestors… And, when God takes care of you, don’t forget to take my bones with you” (adapted from Genesis 50:24-25).

Joseph knew that God would make good on the promise God made to his father (Jacob), grandfather (Isaac), and great-grandfather (Abraham).  Joseph trusted that God would provide and he asks his brothers to not leave him behind when all God’s dreams come true through them.

Like the sons of Jacob, it’s no secret we’ve not always seen eye-to-eye.  While there have been tremendous joys, glimpses of God’s kingdom in Culver over the past two years, there’s no hiding the fact that there have also been times of great struggle.  Don’t lose hope.  God is always faithful.  And, it’s my prayer that one day you’ll look back on our time together and see God at work, preparing you to do great things for Christ’s sake; and so I, like Joseph, simply ask that when God’s promise is realized in your midst, that you’ll take me with you.

I truly believe that God is calling Wesley Church to be a beacon of God’s love in southern Marshall County and the world.  I continue to believe that God has strategically placed Wesley Church—in between the only schools in the entire district! in proximity to almost every child in the southern part of Marshal County and parts of three other counties—to be a place where all—especially, children—might come to know of God’s great love found in Jesus Christ.  I continue to believe that God is calling Wesley Church to be a church where young and old and everyone in between might find a safe place to grow in their love and commitment to God and neighbor.

I truly believe that God will unite Wesley Church once more in order that God’s Kingdom might come in Culver as it is in heaven.  God has great things in store for you and the city God has placed you in.  That’s my parting prayer: a dream that I know God can accomplish through you.  And when you see God’s dreams become a reality, don’t forget to take me and my family with you.


Filed under: Sermons

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/06/in-the-beginning-we-passed-the-dream-along/

Jun 12 2014

Methodist in-Formation: …and that’s what it’s all about!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/and-thats-what-its-all-about/


This week has been interesting for me to process.  As I stare down the end of my last week at Wesley United Methodist Church, I’m met with a mix of emotions.  The week has been full of meetings.  I have yet to finish packing the office.  And, there’s still several loose ends to tie up so that everything is in order for the next pastor.  And yet, for all the mixed emotions and craziness, the highlight of my week was watching the church welcome children for Vacation Bible School (VBS).

This was the second consecutive year we’ve done Vacation Bible School.  It was great to see an abundance of volunteers (this year) welcoming the children.  This evening, we celebrated the children and all they had learned at VBS with a cookout.  After we ate, the children sang.  It was beautiful.

Music was an important part of the week, I learned at the cookout that at the end of their music time each day, they’d sing a silly song: the “Hokie Pokie.”  They all but begged the music teacher to end tonight’s “concert” with their favorite silly song.

And, as I watched them sing and dance to their favorite silly song, I smiled and thought to myself “…that’s what it’s all about.”


Filed under: in-Formation

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/06/and-thats-what-its-all-about/

Jun 10 2014

Methodist in-Formation: In the beginning: we lived the dream!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/in-the-beginning-we-lived-the-dream/


This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, June 8, 2014.  What follows below is the outline used for the sermon.

Reading: Genesis 42:1-6, 45:1-8

Our journey through the book of Genesis is rapidly coming to a close.  To remind you of the journey thus far:

In the beginning, it was all good; but that goodness didn’t keep us from tripping ourselves up.  We fell hard!  Nevertheless, God made a promise; and, God provided!

For the remaining three weeks of the study, as we finish out the book of Genesis, we will be looking at Genesis’ last narrative.  It tells the story of Joseph, the dreamer.  Last week we reflected on the importance of sharing our dreams; this week, we’ll look at the commitment and attitudes required for living our dreams; and, next week, we’ll talk about passing our dreams on.

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Let’s pray.

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

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This week we pick up Joseph’s story at about the mid-way point.  The cliff-notes of the story up to this point goes something like this: Joseph dared to share his dream.  It was an unlikely dream that all of his brothers, even his father, would bow to him one day.  It seemed like a selfish dream; and, his brothers were offended.  Wanting to get rid of him—trying to dash Joseph’s dreams—the brothers sold their youngest brother into slavery.  Joseph was a slave in Potiphar’s house.  Proving himself, Potiphar puts Joseph in charge of his entire household.  Potiphar’s wife seduces Joseph, but when he refuses, she makes a false claim against him.  Joseph is thrown into prison where he interprets the dream of the royal cup-bearer.  When Pharoah has a dream that no one else can interpret, his cup-bearer refers Pharoah to Joseph who has now been imprisoned for several years.  Joseph interprets the dream and becomes like a son to Pharoah.  He is put in charge of the royal storehouses; and, then the famine hit.  It affected the entire region.  It takes several years before the effects of the famine are felt in Canaan.  But, it does and Joseph’s family hears that there is a surplus in Egypt.  Joseph’s brothers come to buy food for their families.  And they bow to Joseph.  The dream that Joseph shared in the beginning, came true.

Joseph lived the dream; and, the promise of Scripture is that you can live the dream too.  But, let’s be clear, I’m not talking about a personal dream, or a professional dream, or a financial dream.  I’m not even talking about the “American Dream.”  I’m talking about the dream God has planted inside of you that will draw you and others closer to God and neighbor.  It is a dream God has planted in all those who seek to follow God’s will and continue Christ’s work: a dream that only you can fulfill, a dream that will make heaven as real in your life and this world as it is in heaven.

Had Joseph refused to believe in the dream God had given him, the people of Israel would have starved.  Had Joseph ridden off the dream, there would have been no food in Egypt.  Had Joseph given up on the dream, he may have remained a slave and prisoner forever.  But, Joseph was committed to God’s dream; and it was that commitment that enabled Joseph to live the dream.

W. H. Murray, a mountaineer, writer, and World War II prisoner of war, wrote:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits to oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the [commitment], raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’” [1]

Joseph’s commitment to the dream enabled him to make the most out of every pitfall and prison he found himself in.  Joseph’s commitment to the dream allowed him to see what others might consider an insurmountable obstacle and burden as an opportunity to live the dream.

…don’t be upset [Joseph said to his brothers] and don’t be angry with yourselves that you sold me here. Actually, God sent me before you to save lives. God sent me before you to make sure you’d survive and to rescue your lives in this amazing way. You didn’t send me here; it was God who made me a father to Pharaoh, master of his entire household, and ruler of the whole land of Egypt.[2]

God has a dream for each of us.  “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord…”[3]  God has a dream for you that a dream that will bring peace, not disaster; a dream that will give you a future filled with hope.[4]  We see it in Joseph’s life.  And, the promise is good for our lives as well: all we have to do is commit to God’s dream in order to live the dream.  The dreams we commit to are the dreams that always come true.  What dreams are you committed to?  What dreams have yet to come true?  Are you really committed to them?

 

 

[1] W. H. Murray as quoted in “The Power of Commitment & Pursuing Your Dream” by Bruce Rogow, PsychCentral.com <http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/23/the-power-of-commitment-pursuing-your-dream/> Accessed June 6, 2014.

[2] Genesis 45:5, 7-8, Common English Bible.

[3] Jeremiah 29:11a, Common English Bible.

[4] Adapted from Jeremiah 29:11b, Common English Bible.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: Dare to Dream, dream, Joseph

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