Jacobjuncker

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

Latest posts

  1. Methodist in-Formation: Which Jesus do you want? — April 13, 2014
  2. Methodist in-Formation: Which Jesus do you want? — April 13, 2014
  3. Methodist in-Formation: Surely we’re not blind, are we? — April 2, 2014
  4. Methodist in-Formation: Surely we’re not blind, are we? — April 2, 2014
  5. Methodist in-Formation: Is the Lord really with us or not! — March 23, 2014

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  1. Methodist in-Formation: We Need Each Other — 1 comment
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Apr 13 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Which Jesus do you want?

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/which-jesus-do-you-want/


This reflection was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, April 13, 2014.  It was offered as part of a Palm/Passion Sunday worship service.  It is best to read the message in the context of Scripture.  Links to the readings are below.  You can find a copy of the dramatic reading used in worship, here.

 

Jesus’ Entrance into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus’ Betrayal and Trial: Matthew 26:14-27:17

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 speak and live your Word in the world starting today.  Amen.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

I have a great deal of sympathy for Pilate, at least in Matthew’s gospel.  Pilate was, according to the Jewish philosopher Philo, “inflexible, merciless, and obstinate.”[1]  And yet, in Matthew’s Gospel, we see a gracious side to this autocrat.  After being “amazed” by Jesus during his questioning and receiving a message from his wife asking for mercy on this “righteous man,”[2] Pilate, it seems, does not want to execute Jesus.  But, the chief priests and elders were stirring up trouble in the crowd.  Pilate didn’t want, nor did he need a riot.

It was customary for the Roman procurator to release a prisoner during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the Passover) so he posed a question to the crowd, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?”[3]

Which Jesus do you want?

Do you want Jesus Barabbas? the “well-known prisoner”[4] who “was locked up with the rebels who had committed murder during an uprising”[5]?  Or would you rather have Jesus who is called the Christ?

Do you want Jesus Barabbas? a man who tried to “save” Israel through might and force? a man, a murderer who takes life?  Or would you rather have Jesus, the Christ? who taught that one must love his enemies[6], “turn the other cheek,”[7] walk the second mile,[8] and give to all who ask of you.[9] a man who came to heal the sick, the lame, the blind? a man who came to offer life to a world filled with death?

Do you want Jesus Barabbas? a man who has participated in an up-rising, an insurgency that failed creating chaos and disorder?  Or would you rather have Jesus, the Christ? who calmed the raging sea with a simple command?[10] who fed thousands with just a few fish and a couple loaves of bread?[11] a man who welcomed and blessed the children?[12] who taught that greatness was measured not by might, but in service to others?[13]

Which Jesus do you want?

Do you want a Jesus that looks like you? votes like you? believes like you?  Do you want a Jesus who grants your every wish? who promises wealth? a Jesus who promises power?

Or, do you want Jesus who is the Christ?  The Jesus who taught that the fulfillment of all things hinged on our desire to grow in love with both God and neighbor;[14]  Jesus the Christ who taught that money was not to be horded, but offered in relief to the poor.[15]  Do you want Jesus the Savior of the world?  Who comes not on a high horse, but on a lowly ass?[16]  Jesus the Messiah, who came not receive royal treatment, but who came to serve, “to give his life to liberate many people.”[17]  Do you want the Jesus who taught his disciples to put the needs of others before self?  Are you sure that you really want the Jesus who said, “all who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.”[18]  Are you sure that you really want the Jesus who offers life only through self-sacrifice?[19]

Pilate asked the crowd, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?”[20]  Which Jesus do you want?

It’s time we answer.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

Let’s pray,

Almighty God,

We are inundated with choices.  Help us, O God, to understand that the most important choice is to choose your love that we might follow Jesus, the one called Christ.  No other choice, O God, is more important than the choice to follow Him.

On this Palm and Passion Sunday, O God, we are reminded how difficult that choice is.  And so, where and when we fail to make the right choice–when we choose hate over love and violence over peace and division over unity–extend to us your grace and then help us to extend the grace we receive to others.  It’s through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of the One you sent, Jesus the Christ, our Savior, we pray.  Amen.

Our Choice, Jesus’ Torture and Death: Matthew 27:17-50.

 

[1] “Pontius Pilate,” NewAdvent.org <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12083c.htm>  Accessed April 12, 2014

[2] See Matthew 27:19.

[3] Matthew 27:17, Common English Bible.

[4] See Matthew 27:16.

[5] Mark 15:7, Common English Bible.  See also Luke 23:19 and John 18:40.

[6] See Matthew 5:43-48.

[7] See Matthew 5:38-39.

[8] See Matthew 5:41.

[9] Matthew 5:42.

[10] See Matthew 8:23.

[11] See Matthew 14:13-21.

[12] See Matthew 19:13-15.

[13] See Matthew 23:11-12.

[14] See Matthew 22:34-40.

[15] See Matthew 19:16-22.

[16] See Matthew 27:1-11

[17] See Matthew 20:26-28 (Common English Bible).

[18] Matthew 16:24, Common English Bible.

[19] See Matthew 16:25-28.

[20] Matthew 27:17, Common English Bible

 

 


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: Jesus Barabbas, Jesus Christ, Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday, Which Jesus?

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/which-jesus-do-you-want-2/

Apr 13 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Which Jesus do you want?

Original post at https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/which-jesus-do-you-want/


This reflection was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, April 13, 2014.  It was offered as part of a Palm/Passion Sunday worship service.  It is best to read the message in the context of Scripture.  Links to the readings are below.  You can find a copy of the dramatic reading used in worship, here.

 

Jesus’ Entrance into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus’ Betrayal and Trial: Matthew 26:14-27:17

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 speak and live your Word in the world starting today.  Amen.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

I have a great deal of sympathy for Pilate, at least in Matthew’s gospel.  Pilate was, according to the Jewish philosopher Philo, “inflexible, merciless, and obstinate.”[1]  And yet, in Matthew’s Gospel, we see a gracious side to this autocrat.  After being “amazed” by Jesus during his questioning and receiving a message from his wife asking for mercy on this “righteous man,”[2] Pilate, it seems, does not want to execute Jesus.  But, the chief priests and elders were stirring up trouble in the crowd.  Pilate didn’t want, nor did he need a riot.

It was customary for the Roman procurator to release a prisoner during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the Passover) so he posed a question to the crowd, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?”[3]

Which Jesus do you want?

Do you want Jesus Barabbas? the “well-known prisoner”[4] who “was locked up with the rebels who had committed murder during an uprising”[5]?  Or would you rather have Jesus who is called the Christ?

Do you want Jesus Barabbas? a man who tried to “save” Israel through might and force? a man, a murderer who takes life?  Or would you rather have Jesus, the Christ? who taught that one must love his enemies[6], “turn the other cheek,”[7] walk the second mile,[8] and give to all who ask of you.[9] a man who came to heal the sick, the lame, the blind? a man who came to offer life to a world filled with death?

Do you want Jesus Barabbas? a man who has participated in an up-rising, an insurgency that failed creating chaos and disorder?  Or would you rather have Jesus, the Christ? who calmed the raging sea with a simple command?[10] who fed thousands with just a few fish and a couple loaves of bread?[11] a man who welcomed and blessed the children?[12] who taught that greatness was measured not by might, but in service to others?[13]

Which Jesus do you want?

Do you want a Jesus that looks like you? votes like you? believes like you?  Do you want a Jesus who grants your every wish? who promises wealth? a Jesus who promises power?

Or, do you want Jesus who is the Christ?  The Jesus who taught that the fulfillment of all things hinged on our desire to grow in love with both God and neighbor;[14]  Jesus the Christ who taught that money was not to be horded, but offered in relief to the poor.[15]  Do you want Jesus the Savior of the world?  Who comes not on a high horse, but on a lowly ass?[16]  Jesus the Messiah, who came not receive royal treatment, but who came to serve, “to give his life to liberate many people.”[17]  Do you want the Jesus who taught his disciples to put the needs of others before self?  Are you sure that you really want the Jesus who said, “all who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.”[18]  Are you sure that you really want the Jesus who offers life only through self-sacrifice?[19]

Pilate asked the crowd, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?”[20]  Which Jesus do you want?

It’s time we answer.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

Let’s pray,

Almighty God,

We are inundated with choices.  Help us, O God, to understand that the most important choice is to choose your love that we might follow Jesus, the one called Christ.  No other choice, O God, is more important than the choice to follow Him.

On this Palm and Passion Sunday, O God, we are reminded how difficult that choice is.  And so, where and when we fail to make the right choice–when we choose hate over love and violence over peace and division over unity–extend to us your grace and then help us to extend the grace we receive to others.  It’s through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of the One you sent, Jesus the Christ, our Savior, we pray.  Amen.

Our Choice, Jesus’ Torture and Death: Matthew 27:17-50.

 

[1] “Pontius Pilate,” NewAdvent.org <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12083c.htm>  Accessed April 12, 2014

[2] See Matthew 27:19.

[3] Matthew 27:17, Common English Bible.

[4] See Matthew 27:16.

[5] Mark 15:7, Common English Bible.  See also Luke 23:19 and John 18:40.

[6] See Matthew 5:43-48.

[7] See Matthew 5:38-39.

[8] See Matthew 5:41.

[9] Matthew 5:42.

[10] See Matthew 8:23.

[11] See Matthew 14:13-21.

[12] See Matthew 19:13-15.

[13] See Matthew 23:11-12.

[14] See Matthew 22:34-40.

[15] See Matthew 19:16-22.

[16] See Matthew 27:1-11

[17] See Matthew 20:26-28 (Common English Bible).

[18] Matthew 16:24, Common English Bible.

[19] See Matthew 16:25-28.

[20] Matthew 27:17, Common English Bible

 

 


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: Jesus Barabbas, Jesus Christ, Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday, Which Jesus?

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/which-jesus-do-you-want/

Apr 02 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Surely we’re not blind, are we?

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/surely-were-not-blind-are-we/


This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

Reading: John 9:1-41, 1 Samuel 16:1-13

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 speak and live your Word in the world starting today.  Amen.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

It’s the question you ask yourself when, after working hours on a term paper (or the bulletin), print it out, and find a typo on page 3, the third paragraph, second sentence.  It’s the question screamed at referees when they miss or make a bad call.  It’s the question we ask irritatingly of our spouses when they can’t seem to find the ketchup—which is right in front of your face—in the refrigerator.

Are you blind?

It turns out that answering that question truthfully is harder than one might naturally assume.  And, I’ll prove it.  I’d like to give you a test.

How’d you do? Are you blind?

Yes!

We may not call it “blindness.”  But, we all fail to recognize things.  All too often, we fail to see.

Perhaps you have had the following experience: you are searching for an open seat in a crowded movie theater. After scanning for several minutes, you eventually spot one and sit down. The next day, your friends ask why you ignored them at the theater. They were waving at you, and you looked right at them but did not see them. Just as we sometimes overlook our friends in a crowded room, we occasionally fail to notice changes to the appearance of those around us. We have all had the embarrassing experience of failing to notice when a friend or colleague shaves off a beard, gets a haircut, or starts wearing contact lenses.[1]

Perhaps, you’ve experienced not being able to find your mouse cursor on the computer screen.  Perhaps, it’s the crack in the ceiling or the smudge on the wall that’s been there forever so you no longer notice it even though it’s getting bigger!

Blindness is more than the lack of sight; it is also the inability to perceive or understand, a lack of awareness.[2]  Regardless of how well our eyes work, we all suffer from what social scientists call inattentional and change blindness.

Inattentional blindness is the failure to notice something that is fully obvious—right there in front of you, when your attention is engaged on something or someone else.

Change blindness is a failure to notice a difference between what’s there right now and what was there a moment ago.[3]

The reality is we’re all blind.  When it comes down to it, we are all far less observant than we think we are.  We all fail to recognize all that’s going on around us.

For instance, another test: did you notice that I took my socks and shoes off?  Did you notice I changed my stole (purple to red)?

We’re all blind.  Regardless of how well our sight might be, we all—all too often—fail to see what’s truly going on around us.  We’re so caught up on a specific detail that we can’t “see the forest for the tree.”  Our attention is so focused on a specific thing that we often miss the most important things and fail to see what’s happening all around us.

Like Samuel, who wanted to choose Israel’s next king based upon the son who best looked the part.  Or, like the Pharisees and neighbors who had constantly walked past the blind beggar, who failed to recognize even the blind beggar’s name and couldn’t believe that he could now see.  We too are all too often blind to what God wants or to what God is doing.  We are blind.

God wants us to see.

[Christ] came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”[4]

Christ came to heal us of our inattentional blindness— our inability to see the mighty hand of God working right in front of us.  Christ came to heal us of our change blindness that we might see the difference God is making in our personal lives and in the lives of those around us.  God wants us to see.  Christ came that we might see.

Christ came that we might see, know, and experience the love of God: that we would no longer live blind to the ways in which God has blessed and cared for us and all the world.  Christ came that we might have eyes to see past the brokenness of our own lives to see the wholeness that comes with a life lived in love with God and neighbor.  Christ came that we might see: that we might no longer be blind to the things that matter most; that we might learn to live as people who have eyes to see the coming of God’s Kingdom and might walk and work toward it.  God does not want us to go through this world blind.  God wants us to see.

The healing of the man born blind is a great example of the way in which God wants us to learn to see.  I think it’s important to know that the man doesn’t speak a single word in this story until after the healing.  The man does not acknowledge his blindness.  The man does not profess any type of faith.  The man says nothing.  All the man does is open himself to the improbable possibility that this man, Jesus, can do something extraordinary with this ordinary mud.  The man opens himself to the possibility that washing himself in a pool he’d been to often could heal him.  The man opens himself to the improbable possibility of God.  And, that’s how he came to see: that’s how we’ll come to see.

We can’t be like Samuel or the Pharisees or the blind man’s neighbors.  We can’t have inattentional or change blindness.  We must open ourselves to the improbable possibility of God.  We must open ourselves to be surprised by God’s grace.  We must open ourselves to the possibility that God can restore us to wholeness no matter how broken we might be, that in our weakness Christ makes us strong, and through our death God lifts us to new life.

The Pharisees, who thought they could see everything clearly, asked, “Surely we’re not blind, are we?”  They were too prideful to understand that they couldn’t see.  They were unwilling to open themselves to the improbable possibility that God would come to a poor blind beggar in their neighborhood.  They were unwilling to open themselves to the improbable possibility that God would come to them.  They’re arrogance in thinking they could see, made them blind to the coming of God’s Kingdom in Jesus Christ, God-in-the-flesh, who was standing right in front of them.  They were unwilling to open themselves to the improbable possibility of God in their midst.

“Surely we’re not blind, are we?”  Yes!  Now, let us open ourselves to the improbable possibility of God.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

Let’s pray.

God of Light and Sight,

We think we can see.  And, while some times we can, all too often we’re blinded by our own arrogance in believing that we can see.  When you, O God, open to us new possibilities, we dig in our heals and say, it’s never been done that way.

Help us, O God, to open ourselves to the improbable possibilities of your eternal love for all.  Help us, O God, to be willing to follow where you lead.  Open our eyes that we might see.  Open our ears that we might hear.  And, having seen and heard, give us the courage to do what you’ve shown and told us to do.

Help us, O God, to be light in a dark world.  Give us the strength and courage we need to be like Christ so that all might come to know of your great love.  Help us, O God, to follow your way in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Help us to live as he lived, even as we pray the prayer he taught us to pray…

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

 

 

[1] “Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events,” Daniel J Simons & Christopher F Chabris in Perception, 1999, vol. 28 (p1059-1074) <http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~cfc/Simons1999.pdf> Accessed March 28, 2014.

[2] BLINDNESS. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/BLINDNESS> Accessed: March 29, 2014.

[3] Daniel Simons in “Inside NOVA: Change Blindness,” YouTube video, 4:07, March 3, 2011, posted by “NOVA PBS” <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkrrVozZR2c> Accessed on March 28, 2014.

[4] John 9:39, The Message.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, bindness, change blindness, inattentional blindness, John 9:1-41, sight

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/surely-were-not-blind-are-we/

Apr 02 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Surely we’re not blind, are we?

Original post at https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/surely-were-not-blind-are-we/


This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

Reading: John 9:1-41, 1 Samuel 16:1-13

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 speak and live your Word in the world starting today.  Amen.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

It’s the question you ask yourself when, after working hours on a term paper (or the bulletin), print it out, and find a typo on page 3, the third paragraph, second sentence.  It’s the question screamed at referees when they miss or make a bad call.  It’s the question we ask irritatingly of our spouses when they can’t seem to find the ketchup—which is right in front of your face—in the refrigerator.

Are you blind?

It turns out that answering that question truthfully is harder than one might naturally assume.  And, I’ll prove it.  I’d like to give you a test.

How’d you do? Are you blind?

Yes!

We may not call it “blindness.”  But, we all fail to recognize things.  All too often, we fail to see.

Perhaps you have had the following experience: you are searching for an open seat in a crowded movie theater. After scanning for several minutes, you eventually spot one and sit down. The next day, your friends ask why you ignored them at the theater. They were waving at you, and you looked right at them but did not see them. Just as we sometimes overlook our friends in a crowded room, we occasionally fail to notice changes to the appearance of those around us. We have all had the embarrassing experience of failing to notice when a friend or colleague shaves off a beard, gets a haircut, or starts wearing contact lenses.[1]

Perhaps, you’ve experienced not being able to find your mouse cursor on the computer screen.  Perhaps, it’s the crack in the ceiling or the smudge on the wall that’s been there forever so you no longer notice it even though it’s getting bigger!

Blindness is more than the lack of sight; it is also the inability to perceive or understand, a lack of awareness.[2]  Regardless of how well our eyes work, we all suffer from what social scientists call inattentional and change blindness.

Inattentional blindness is the failure to notice something that is fully obvious—right there in front of you, when your attention is engaged on something or someone else.

Change blindness is a failure to notice a difference between what’s there right now and what was there a moment ago.[3]

The reality is we’re all blind.  When it comes down to it, we are all far less observant than we think we are.  We all fail to recognize all that’s going on around us.

For instance, another test: did you notice that I took my socks and shoes off?  Did you notice I changed my stole (purple to red)?

We’re all blind.  Regardless of how well our sight might be, we all—all too often—fail to see what’s truly going on around us.  We’re so caught up on a specific detail that we can’t “see the forest for the tree.”  Our attention is so focused on a specific thing that we often miss the most important things and fail to see what’s happening all around us.

Like Samuel, who wanted to choose Israel’s next king based upon the son who best looked the part.  Or, like the Pharisees and neighbors who had constantly walked past the blind beggar, who failed to recognize even the blind beggar’s name and couldn’t believe that he could now see.  We too are all too often blind to what God wants or to what God is doing.  We are blind.

God wants us to see.

[Christ] came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”[4]

Christ came to heal us of our inattentional blindness— our inability to see the mighty hand of God working right in front of us.  Christ came to heal us of our change blindness that we might see the difference God is making in our personal lives and in the lives of those around us.  God wants us to see.  Christ came that we might see.

Christ came that we might see, know, and experience the love of God: that we would no longer live blind to the ways in which God has blessed and cared for us and all the world.  Christ came that we might have eyes to see past the brokenness of our own lives to see the wholeness that comes with a life lived in love with God and neighbor.  Christ came that we might see: that we might no longer be blind to the things that matter most; that we might learn to live as people who have eyes to see the coming of God’s Kingdom and might walk and work toward it.  God does not want us to go through this world blind.  God wants us to see.

The healing of the man born blind is a great example of the way in which God wants us to learn to see.  I think it’s important to know that the man doesn’t speak a single word in this story until after the healing.  The man does not acknowledge his blindness.  The man does not profess any type of faith.  The man says nothing.  All the man does is open himself to the improbable possibility that this man, Jesus, can do something extraordinary with this ordinary mud.  The man opens himself to the possibility that washing himself in a pool he’d been to often could heal him.  The man opens himself to the improbable possibility of God.  And, that’s how he came to see: that’s how we’ll come to see.

We can’t be like Samuel or the Pharisees or the blind man’s neighbors.  We can’t have inattentional or change blindness.  We must open ourselves to the improbable possibility of God.  We must open ourselves to be surprised by God’s grace.  We must open ourselves to the possibility that God can restore us to wholeness no matter how broken we might be, that in our weakness Christ makes us strong, and through our death God lifts us to new life.

The Pharisees, who thought they could see everything clearly, asked, “Surely we’re not blind, are we?”  They were too prideful to understand that they couldn’t see.  They were unwilling to open themselves to the improbable possibility that God would come to a poor blind beggar in their neighborhood.  They were unwilling to open themselves to the improbable possibility that God would come to them.  They’re arrogance in thinking they could see, made them blind to the coming of God’s Kingdom in Jesus Christ, God-in-the-flesh, who was standing right in front of them.  They were unwilling to open themselves to the improbable possibility of God in their midst.

“Surely we’re not blind, are we?”  Yes!  Now, let us open ourselves to the improbable possibility of God.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

Let’s pray.

God of Light and Sight,

We think we can see.  And, while some times we can, all too often we’re blinded by our own arrogance in believing that we can see.  When you, O God, open to us new possibilities, we dig in our heals and say, it’s never been done that way.

Help us, O God, to open ourselves to the improbable possibilities of your eternal love for all.  Help us, O God, to be willing to follow where you lead.  Open our eyes that we might see.  Open our ears that we might hear.  And, having seen and heard, give us the courage to do what you’ve shown and told us to do.

Help us, O God, to be light in a dark world.  Give us the strength and courage we need to be like Christ so that all might come to know of your great love.  Help us, O God, to follow your way in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Help us to live as he lived, even as we pray the prayer he taught us to pray…

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

 

 

[1] “Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events,” Daniel J Simons & Christopher F Chabris in Perception, 1999, vol. 28 (p1059-1074) <http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~cfc/Simons1999.pdf> Accessed March 28, 2014.

[2] BLINDNESS. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/BLINDNESS> Accessed: March 29, 2014.

[3] Daniel Simons in “Inside NOVA: Change Blindness,” YouTube video, 4:07, March 3, 2011, posted by “NOVA PBS” <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkrrVozZR2c> Accessed on March 28, 2014.

[4] John 9:39, The Message.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, bindness, change blindness, inattentional blindness, John 9:1-41, sight

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/surely-were-not-blind-are-we-2/

Mar 23 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Is the Lord really with us or not!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/is-the-lord-really-with-us-or-not/


This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, March 23, 2014.

Reading: John 4:5-42Exodus 17:1-7

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 speak and live your Word in the world starting today.  Amen.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

It wasn’t the first time.

They had complained, the first time, after just three days of travel in the desert (see Exodus 15:22-27).  It had been three days since they had joyously celebrated the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army when they came to a place called Marah which literally means bitterness.  It was an apt name for the water there was bitter and unfit to drink.  So, the people complained to Moses: what will we drink?  God instructed Moses how to make the water sweet and the people drank.

The second complaint session against God and Moses—we might call it “pastor bashing” today—was on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left the land of Egypt.  They had come to the desert of Sin (see Exodus 16).  The people were hungry so they complained:

“Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this [insert your favorite curse word or insult here] desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”[1]

God provided quail and manna for the people.  Interesting side note: manna means “what is it?”  God provided the people bread to eat, but it wasn’t what they were accustomed to nor was it something they recognized.  It was so different that they asked, what is it? and the name stuck: manna.  At any rate, the Lord provided.

It was now the third time.

The people of Israel had just broken camp and were emerging from the Sin desert when the criticism reached new heights.  The people were no longer complaining.  Now they were arguing, demanding: “Give us water to drink [now.  Don’t you know it’s your job to provide for us!]… Why did you bring us out of Egypt [?] to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”[2]  The people were getting hostile, Moses feared for his life.  God instructs Moses to take the other leaders.  Note: he does not take the complainers.  He goes ahead of the people with other leaders, strikes a rock and water gushed from it.  The people drank.  God provided.  That place became known as Massah and Meribah—the place of testing and quarreling.  The place where the Israelites asked, “Is the Lord really with us or not?”

Is the Lord really with us or not?

To those of us removed by millennia, it’s hard for us to imagine that the Israelites would ask such a question.  These people had seen God work among them in amazing ways.  Enslaved by Pharaoh, con-scripted to make bricks for a home that wasn’t their own, the people of Israel were led to freedom by a murderous fugitive who was called by God through a burning bush to lead God’s people into the promised land, the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  After God worked many signs and wonders through Moses—plagues that plighted the Egyptians, but left the Israelites unharmed—Pharaoh released the people.  It’s a powerful story of God’s provision and care that the people, even though they had lived it, had forgotten.

After being released from Pharaoh’s oppressive rule, God led the people with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.  God’s presence was ever with them in a visible and tangible way; and, yet, they still questioned God’s presence among them.

They had danced in celebration the day that the waters parted and they fled Pharaoh’s army on dry land through the Red Sea; and, yet, they still questioned whether or not God cared.

It’s really quite remarkable that these people would question God’s provision even after God had provided “sweet” water at Marah and a supply of quail and manna as they entered into the wilderness (desert) of Sin.

It’s quite remarkable, really, to think that these people—a people who had seen God do many miraculous things to protect, to provide for and to care for them… It’s quite remarkable, really, that even they could fail to recognize the nearness of God’s presence and his eternal care.  It’s quite remarkable until you realize where they’d been: a place of bitterness (Marah), a place of testing (Massah), a place of quarreling (Meribah)…a wilderness of sin.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

We’re reminded, in our Scripture reading for today, just how short-sighted we can become when we put our own, immediate desires before God and others.

God had provided for the people in miraculous ways, but by focusing on their own desires—even though there may have been a legitimate need—they couldn’t recall all the ways God had already provided let alone rest assured that God would provide again.

When we spend all our time looking at ourselves, we fail to see God standing right in front of us.  It doesn’t matter if God’s presence is made known in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, it doesn’t matter that we’ve seen many miraculous signs and wonders, when we focus on ourselves—our own desires and our own wants instead of what God desires and what God wants—we’ll never see God at work and we’ll never sense his presence (not even if God’s standing right in front of us).  In fact, we’ll find ourselves in Marah, Massah, and Meribah—we’ll find ourselves in a place of bitterness, testing, and quarreling.  And, we—like the people of Israel—will ask: “Is the Lord really with us or not?”

God was with the people that day, even in the midst of their thirst, even in the midst of their anxiety about the future, even in the midst of their accusations and threats.  God was with the people providing a way for all their thirsts to be satisfied, but they couldn’t see it.

Rather than accept the many previous signs of God’s presence and deliverance, they “hardened their hearts” (Psalm 95:8), and so let their hearts keep going astray (Psalm 95:10). Rather than openness to providence and possibility, they settled for quarrelsomeness (meribah in Hebrew, Exodus 17:7). Rather than “accepting the freedom and power” God gave (see baptismal vow 2), rather than “putting their whole trust in God’s grace” (see baptismal vow 3), they chose a way of self-preservation and conflict.

The woman at the well thus stands in stark contrast with the people at the mountain. The moment she heard of the possibility of “living water” from Jesus, she sought it, accepted it, welcomed it, and trusted Jesus to offer it. “Sir, give me this water, so I may never be thirsty.” By contrast, the people at the mountain continued to question whether Moses or even, perhaps, their God, had led them out of Egypt only to have them perish in the wilderness.[3]

Is the Lord really with us or not?

The answer is an unequivocal, yes!  Yes! The Lord really is with us.  Yes, the Lord really does care and God will always provide for us.  He may offer us “manna”–we may ask, what is it?–but God will always provide.[4]  We just need to turn our gaze from ourselves.  All we have to do is stop the navel gazing, look up and, like the woman at the well, we’ll find Jesus—Immanuel, God with us—sitting right in front of us.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

It’s my prayer for the Church (this church and the local church) that we might be a little more like the woman at the well instead of like the people in the wilderness; that we might stop concerning ourselves with our own desires; that we would get past our personal interests, for all that does is lead us to a place of bitterness, testing, conflict.  It’s my prayer for the Church that we might concern ourselves with the needs of a stranger so that, like the woman at the well, we too might find God really with us.  For it is only by looking up and serving the Christ in others that we’ll find our hungers and thirsts truly satisfied.

Let’s pray:

Ever-present God,
We are inclined to want things our way…

We make demands of you, O God, and those around us.  And, when those demands aren’t met, O God, we question whether or not you and others truly care.  We become bitter and we become known as a people—a place—of testing and quarreling.

O God, we tend to grumble when “our needs” are not met.  Help us to focus less on ourselves that we might clear some space to grow in love with you and the people—the world—you love and have come to save.

Help us to be more like Christ that we might find our greatest satisfaction—the slaking of our deepest thirsts—in doing your will.  Help us to set our desires on the altar so that your kingdom might come on earth as it is heaven.  That, O God, is how Christ taught us to pray.  That, O God, is the prayer we offer to you now as we once again proclaim our trust in and dependence upon you.  May we faithfully live into the prayer Jesus taught us to prayer, the prayer we offer to you now…

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.


[1] adapted from Exodus 16:3, Common English Bible.

[2] adapted from Exodus 17:2a, 3, Common English Bible.

[3] Taylor Burton-Edwards “Preaching: Notes for Exodus 17:1-11 and Romans 5:1-11” for the Third Sunday in Lent (March 23, 2014) at GBOD.org <http://www.gbod.org/lead-your-church/lectionary-planning-helps/third-sunday-in-lent4> Accessed March 21, 2014.

[4] Jesus said, consider the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field: see Matthew 6:25-34.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: complaining, exodus 17:1-7, john 4:5-42, wilderness, woman at the well

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/is-the-lord-really-with-us-or-not/

Mar 23 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Is the Lord really with us or not!

Original post at https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/is-the-lord-really-with-us-or-not/


This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, March 23, 2014.

Reading: John 4:5-42Exodus 17:1-7

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 speak and live your Word in the world starting today.  Amen.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

It wasn’t the first time.

They had complained, the first time, after just three days of travel in the desert (see Exodus 15:22-27).  It had been three days since they had joyously celebrated the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army when they came to a place called Marah which literally means bitterness.  It was an apt name for the water there was bitter and unfit to drink.  So, the people complained to Moses: what will we drink?  God instructed Moses how to make the water sweet and the people drank.

The second complaint session against God and Moses—we might call it “pastor bashing” today—was on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left the land of Egypt.  They had come to the desert of Sin (see Exodus 16).  The people were hungry so they complained:

“Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this [insert your favorite curse word or insult here] desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”[1]

God provided quail and manna for the people.  Interesting side note: manna means “what is it?”  God provided the people bread to eat, but it wasn’t what they were accustomed to nor was it something they recognized.  It was so different that they asked, what is it? and the name stuck: manna.  At any rate, the Lord provided.

It was now the third time.

The people of Israel had just broken camp and were emerging from the Sin desert when the criticism reached new heights.  The people were no longer complaining.  Now they were arguing, demanding: “Give us water to drink [now.  Don’t you know it’s your job to provide for us!]… Why did you bring us out of Egypt [?] to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”[2]  The people were getting hostile, Moses feared for his life.  God instructs Moses to take the other leaders.  Note: he does not take the complainers.  He goes ahead of the people with other leaders, strikes a rock and water gushed from it.  The people drank.  God provided.  That place became known as Massah and Meribah—the place of testing and quarreling.  The place where the Israelites asked, “Is the Lord really with us or not?”

Is the Lord really with us or not?

To those of us removed by millennia, it’s hard for us to imagine that the Israelites would ask such a question.  These people had seen God work among them in amazing ways.  Enslaved by Pharaoh, con-scripted to make bricks for a home that wasn’t their own, the people of Israel were led to freedom by a murderous fugitive who was called by God through a burning bush to lead God’s people into the promised land, the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  After God worked many signs and wonders through Moses—plagues that plighted the Egyptians, but left the Israelites unharmed—Pharaoh released the people.  It’s a powerful story of God’s provision and care that the people, even though they had lived it, had forgotten.

After being released from Pharaoh’s oppressive rule, God led the people with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.  God’s presence was ever with them in a visible and tangible way; and, yet, they still questioned God’s presence among them.

They had danced in celebration the day that the waters parted and they fled Pharaoh’s army on dry land through the Red Sea; and, yet, they still questioned whether or not God cared.

It’s really quite remarkable that these people would question God’s provision even after God had provided “sweet” water at Marah and a supply of quail and manna as they entered into the wilderness (desert) of Sin.

It’s quite remarkable, really, to think that these people—a people who had seen God do many miraculous things to protect, to provide for and to care for them… It’s quite remarkable, really, that even they could fail to recognize the nearness of God’s presence and his eternal care.  It’s quite remarkable until you realize where they’d been: a place of bitterness (Marah), a place of testing (Massah), a place of quarreling (Meribah)…a wilderness of sin.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

We’re reminded, in our Scripture reading for today, just how short-sighted we can become when we put our own, immediate desires before God and others.

God had provided for the people in miraculous ways, but by focusing on their own desires—even though there may have been a legitimate need—they couldn’t recall all the ways God had already provided let alone rest assured that God would provide again.

When we spend all our time looking at ourselves, we fail to see God standing right in front of us.  It doesn’t matter if God’s presence is made known in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, it doesn’t matter that we’ve seen many miraculous signs and wonders, when we focus on ourselves—our own desires and our own wants instead of what God desires and what God wants—we’ll never see God at work and we’ll never sense his presence (not even if God’s standing right in front of us).  In fact, we’ll find ourselves in Marah, Massah, and Meribah—we’ll find ourselves in a place of bitterness, testing, and quarreling.  And, we—like the people of Israel—will ask: “Is the Lord really with us or not?”

God was with the people that day, even in the midst of their thirst, even in the midst of their anxiety about the future, even in the midst of their accusations and threats.  God was with the people providing a way for all their thirsts to be satisfied, but they couldn’t see it.

Rather than accept the many previous signs of God’s presence and deliverance, they “hardened their hearts” (Psalm 95:8), and so let their hearts keep going astray (Psalm 95:10). Rather than openness to providence and possibility, they settled for quarrelsomeness (meribah in Hebrew, Exodus 17:7). Rather than “accepting the freedom and power” God gave (see baptismal vow 2), rather than “putting their whole trust in God’s grace” (see baptismal vow 3), they chose a way of self-preservation and conflict.

The woman at the well thus stands in stark contrast with the people at the mountain. The moment she heard of the possibility of “living water” from Jesus, she sought it, accepted it, welcomed it, and trusted Jesus to offer it. “Sir, give me this water, so I may never be thirsty.” By contrast, the people at the mountain continued to question whether Moses or even, perhaps, their God, had led them out of Egypt only to have them perish in the wilderness.[3]

Is the Lord really with us or not?

The answer is an unequivocal, yes!  Yes! The Lord really is with us.  Yes, the Lord really does care and God will always provide for us.  He may offer us “manna”–we may ask, what is it?–but God will always provide.[4]  We just need to turn our gaze from ourselves.  All we have to do is stop the navel gazing, look up and, like the woman at the well, we’ll find Jesus—Immanuel, God with us—sitting right in front of us.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

It’s my prayer for the Church (this church and the local church) that we might be a little more like the woman at the well instead of like the people in the wilderness; that we might stop concerning ourselves with our own desires; that we would get past our personal interests, for all that does is lead us to a place of bitterness, testing, conflict.  It’s my prayer for the Church that we might concern ourselves with the needs of a stranger so that, like the woman at the well, we too might find God really with us.  For it is only by looking up and serving the Christ in others that we’ll find our hungers and thirsts truly satisfied.

Let’s pray:

Ever-present God,
We are inclined to want things our way…

We make demands of you, O God, and those around us.  And, when those demands aren’t met, O God, we question whether or not you and others truly care.  We become bitter and we become known as a people—a place—of testing and quarreling.

O God, we tend to grumble when “our needs” are not met.  Help us to focus less on ourselves that we might clear some space to grow in love with you and the people—the world—you love and have come to save.

Help us to be more like Christ that we might find our greatest satisfaction—the slaking of our deepest thirsts—in doing your will.  Help us to set our desires on the altar so that your kingdom might come on earth as it is heaven.  That, O God, is how Christ taught us to pray.  That, O God, is the prayer we offer to you now as we once again proclaim our trust in and dependence upon you.  May we faithfully live into the prayer Jesus taught us to prayer, the prayer we offer to you now…

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.


[1] adapted from Exodus 16:3, Common English Bible.

[2] adapted from Exodus 17:2a, 3, Common English Bible.

[3] Taylor Burton-Edwards “Preaching: Notes for Exodus 17:1-11 and Romans 5:1-11” for the Third Sunday in Lent (March 23, 2014) at GBOD.org <http://www.gbod.org/lead-your-church/lectionary-planning-helps/third-sunday-in-lent4> Accessed March 21, 2014.

[4] Jesus said, consider the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field: see Matthew 6:25-34.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: complaining, exodus 17:1-7, God’s presence, john 4:5-42, Lord, wilderness, woman at the well

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/is-the-lord-really-with-us-or-not-2/

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