Author's details

Name: jameyprickett
Date registered: November 9, 2012
URL: http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com

Latest posts

  1. Wrestled With Angels: Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead? — April 20, 2014
  2. Wrestled With Angels: It Is Finished — April 18, 2014
  3. Wrestled With Angels: Hosanna! Save Us! — April 14, 2014
  4. Wrestled With Angels: Jesus on Trial: Fred vs Fred — March 26, 2014
  5. Wrestled With Angels: An Irish Prayer: St Patrick’s Day — March 17, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Wrestled With Angels: Playing With Dynamite — 1 comment

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Apr 20 2014

Wrestled With Angels: Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?

Original post at http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/why-do-you-seek-the-living-among-the-dead/

(Easter sermon 2014 at Liberty Hill Church http://www.libertyhillumc.org)

Easter 2014This past week as I was preparing to preach on the holiest of days in the Church calendar, I was having an ongoing conversation with an unbelieving friend. There was a time where she claimed belief in God and the supernatural. But those days are behind her and now she has moved on to less “superficial” pursuits. The story of a God who comes to earth, dies on a cross, and is raised from the dead three days later is stuff of mythical fantasies, she would declare.

However, she is not alone. The Apostle Paul says that some see the message of the cross as “foolish” (I Cor. 1:18). Add the story of the resurrection to the message and you get a tale that is difficult for many to believe. A lot of skeptical authors are making big bucks on writing against the fact that dead people don’t rise from the grave.

But they are not the first to raise doubts. Matter of fact you don’t have to go very far from the original story to discover that even those closest to Jesus had their reservations. The women go to the tomb on that first Easter morning not to see if Jesus is playing hide-n-seek but to anoint his dead body. Women went expecting to find a dead body behind a big rock. They come to the tomb because that is where they saw the body of Jesus being placed after he had died. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” the angels ask. They weren’t looking for the living. They were looking for the dead. What they discovered is that he was not dead. The rock had been rolled back. The tomb was empty. Jesus was missing. According to other gospel accounts, the first place they let their minds go is to the fact that someone must have stolen the body of Jesus. The angels remind them, “Remember how he told you that the Son of Man must die and on the third day rise again?” “Oh yea, just before he came riding into Jerusalem, he did mention something about that,” they thought. They run back to tell the other disciples. But the men found their words to be nothing short of “idle tales,” the scripture says. The root word means “delirious.” They thought the women were nuts. When he does reveal himself to the disciples no one says, “Welcome back,” Or, “We knew you come back,” Or, “What took you so long?” Jesus told them he would return but no one believed it and when he did show up, everyone doubted. So, if you find it difficult to believe in the resurrection, you are in great company. Even the disciples found it difficult to believe. Jesus has come to rescue the doubters on this Easter morning.

Besides the whole rational argument, why do we find the resurrection so difficult? Why is it that a lot of Christians are simply practical atheist? We claim to believe in a God that raises dead people but do our lives reflect it? It requires nothing short of conversion to declare that life is more powerful than death and love more lasting than hate. When you are steeped in a world where death seems to have the final word and hate rules over love then it is difficult to believe that their could be another alternative. Experience teaches that death wins. If we were all honest this morning then it would appear that the influence of death’s power is all around us. We see it in division and conflict. We read about it in war. We experience it in the breakdown of our body. It is witnessed in the break-up of marriages. It is seen in the brokenness of families.

If the angels stood before us today and asked, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” We would holler back, “We ain’t. We didn’t come thinking anyone was alive.” Go ahead follow in the footsteps of Peter and the other disciples. Run to the tomb. Peer into the empty darkness and see for yourself. Don’t be afraid of the dark. Stay as long as you need. But let your soul be calm and hear the words, “He is not here. He is risen!”

It takes courage and faith to believe in the resurrection. It is more than saying “yes” to eternal life. It is at the same time saying “no” to the power of death. It means more than choosing not to hate. It means at the same time loving your enemies. It means more than just moving on. It means at the same time choosing to forgive. It means choosing mercy over revenge. It means walking in humility instead of drowning in pride. It means believe that fear will not be the guide of my steps. It means that guilt will not keep me in the past. It means that shame will not hold me behind a rock. It means evil will one day be conquered and tears will be wiped away and death will be no more. Believing in the resurrection accepts as true that new life is possible.

Jesus is risen has brought down empires. It has reconciled families. It has sent martyrs to their graves. Jesus is risen started a revolution of Civil Rights. It has restored dignity. Jesus is risen has been the motivator to pull millions of lives out of tombs. It is the belief that puts joy in the hearts of the persecuted. It restores the righteous. Lifts up the stricken and gives comfort to the lonely.

If the story ends in death then it is the end. It is finished. But if it ends in resurrection then it is just beginning. In the resurrection our story is just beginning. Our salvation is not just something we can look forward to in the future. It is something that is here today. Salvation is near.

When the angels show up and ask, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” Tell them because we are resurrection people and we believe that life can be found even in places that smell of death. We are resurrection people and we will go to the places that have the look of death and speak life. We are resurrection people and we will not be afraid to speak life into death. We are resurrection people and we are not afraid of shadowy tombs because we know a light that can pierce the darkest of places. We are resurrection people and we will not stop until the world knows that “He is risen!”

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/why-do-you-seek-the-living-among-the-dead/

Apr 18 2014

Wrestled With Angels: It Is Finished

Original post at http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/it-is-finished/

Good Friday 2014 Sermon preached at Liberty Hill United Methodist Church http://www.libertyhillumc.org

good fridayIt is finished. I said those words proudly as a junior in my high school craftsman class. I spent a semester in wood-working building a rocking horse. It was with pride at the end of the class to stand back and declare, “It is finished.” It did not fall apart. It did not wobble. It actually rocked. And it was finished.

An artist who completes a painting can declare, “It is finished.” A carpenter who builds a house can assert as the new owners move in, “It is finished.” A writer who pens the last sentence of her debut novel says confidently, “It is finished.” A teacher who turns out the lights of her classroom the final time after a long school year affirms, “It is finished.”  “It is finished” are powerful words that speak of accomplishment and fulfillment.

They can also be words that speak of defeat. A spouse who walks out of a relationship declares, “It is finished!” A business owner who flips over the closed sign for the last time says, “It is finished.” A report that the cancer is inoperable sounds like “it is finished.”  “It is finished” speaks to finality. It is complete. Nothing else is left to be done. It is finished.

On this Friday night that we call good, we have heard, “It is finished” as the final words of Jesus on the cross. However we decide to take those words, defeat is not an option. When Jesus was asked by his mother to perform a miracle at a wedding he said, “My hour has not yet come” (2:4). When asked by his brothers to make his miracle-working presence more visible Jesus reminds them, “My time has not yet come” (7:6). Speaking boldly in the temple about his relationship with his heavenly Father no one was able to touch him because “his hour had not yet come” (8:20). The gospel writer wants us to understand that Jesus was fully in control of his life. The cross is not a defeat. His whole life leads up to the moment of him being lifted up and being able to declare in the affirmative, “It is finished.” We are told that when just like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness as a sign of salvation for the people, Jesus will be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life (3:14). Jesus says it is only when he is “lifted up” that we will begin to understand who he is and who sent him (8:28). After he rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus pronounces, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified” (12:23). He continues, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (12:32). When Jesus states boldly, “It is finished,” he is not crying defeat but words of affirmation for a life lived on purpose.

Dr. Tom Long says, “People die pretty much how they lived. If someone has been enraged throughout life, we can expect rage at the end. A person who tries to bargain with life, family, physicians, and God on death’s door has probably tried to cut a few deals before” (Accompany Them with Singing: the Christian Funeral). We die much like we have lived.

Jesus took his own story seriously. He turned the other cheek. He loved his enemies. He took up his cross. On that cross we see through the window on the very heart and character of a loving God. It is finished. Peter sobs. Redemption found. It is finished. The women wail. Love fulfilled. It is finished. The crowd stands in silence. Heaven and earth clash. It is finished. The veil in the temple is torn. All are accepted. It is finished. Earth quakes. Heaven weeps. It is finished. The power of sin is destroyed. Satan has lost. It is finished.

Jesus finished so that we can begin. Our guilt he nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14). He took upon himself our shame (Gal. 3:13). His death opens up the way for us to God (I Peter 3:18). His death on the cross shattered the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). It is finished, done, completed, accomplished, and fulfilled, so that; we can live fully, abundantly, and eternally.

What shame is keeping you from living fully? What guilt is keeping you from living abundantly? What fear is keeping you from living accomplished? You don’t have to live with it. He nailed it to the cross. It is finished so that we can begin.

(As we closed out the service, I invited the congregation to come down and put a nail into the cross. The nail represented for them their fear, guilt, shame, or sin that is keeping them from living fully. It served as a reminder that Jesus declared it finished so that we can go on living.)


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/it-is-finished-5/

Apr 14 2014

Wrestled With Angels: Hosanna! Save Us!

Original post at http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/hosanna-save-us/

Palm SundayOn Palm Sunday Jesus makes a short journey from a land where people recognized him as the one who healed the sick, cured the blind, and raised the dead to the city where the people will reject him, his friends will betray him, and the leaders will kill him. The Gospel of John tells us that the crowd that is cheering, “Hosanna, Save us!” is the same people who witnessed his miracles. They saw him raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus with his followers of sinners and outcast are arriving in the holy city with shouts of liberation.

He begins his short ride from the Mount of Olives. It is the same path that others have taken who have ridden into Jerusalem as conquerors. The prophet Zechariah foretells the day when the Lord will place his feet on “the Mount of Olives and the mount will be split in two” (14:4). It is on that day that the Lord will descend from the Mount into Jerusalem and will become “king over all the earth” (14:9). The people held captive by Roman oppression remember the prophecy and are anticipating the day when the Lord would redeem. It is a day of celebration. A day when all the hopes of the people are focused on God’s chosen One who will redeem the world and usher in God’s reign in Jerusalem.

This day is the beginning of Passover. It is when the people remember their salvation from slavery in Egypt and the release from the hardship of oppression. They retell the story of Moses and how he led the people to freedom to a land promised by God that would flow with milk and honey. They say again how the Lord defeated Pharaoh and set the slaves free. Jesus rides into Jerusalem like Moses descending from the mountain. He rides in as a liberator ready to set the world right and to bring God’s reign on earth. The people who have gathered to wave palm branches and make a way for Jesus know that Rome was the new Egypt and the Roman Emperor was the new Pharaoh. Their hope was Jesus being the new Moses sent by the Lord to lead the people to freedom.

At the same time that Jesus is coming through the gate on the east side of Jerusalem, Pilate is marching in from the west. Rome’s representative is holding the reigns of a war horse surrounded by the powerful and lethal Roman guard. The flags are flying. The clank of the armor can be heard through the crowd. The beating of the drums sends vibrations along the ground. The grand display was Rome’s way of saying to the people, “You may have your story of liberation and freedom but remember you are still enslaved, still under our control.”

Imagine yourself as a bystander standing on top of your house watching as both of these scenes unfold. Jesus is riding in on a humble animal while Pilate gallops in on a stallion. The crowd on the East is peasants, outcast, and sinners. The crowd to your West is upper-class, politicians, and religious leaders. Your heart longs for Jesus to be your liberator but your head reasons that he does not have a fighting chance. Standing at a distance it is clear to see how the crowd could turn so easily when Jesus did not live up to there expectation. The shouts of “Hosanna, Save us!” will quickly turn to “Crucify him!” when Jesus refuses to meet the expectations of the people.

It is difficult to discover the salvation of the Lord when we are confused about what it is we need saving from. We wave our palm branches and shout our praises of “Hosanna!” but do we truly understand what we really need God to save us from? How quickly our shouts of “Hosanna” can turn to “crucify him” when our expectations are not met?

We have a tendency to turn against God when we don’t get from God what we want or think we need. We peek at Jesus and say, “This guy is going to save us? He is going to be the one to rescue us?” We want Captain America, not Jesus. We don’t want someone who is stupid enough to get himself killed even if it means he comes back from the dead. We need a savior who never dies. We want someone who can reflect the bullets. We want someone to help us avoid the pain. Instead we get a Savior who shows us a way through the pain.

Don’t close yourself off to the way God wants to come to you today. Don’t let your expectations of what you need saving from or how you think salvation ought to look to keep you from missing out on God’s redeeming grace. Don’t be surprise if God doesn’t answer your cries of “Hosanna, save us!” in ways so utterly unexpected that you have to look back and tell yourself, “I never saw that coming.” Go ahead and cry out, “Hosanna, save us,” but leave the results of how it happens in God’s hands. If God will use the cross as a way to save the world, we must stay open to all the unique ways in which God will come and rescue us.


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/hosanna-save-us/

Mar 26 2014

Wrestled With Angels: Jesus on Trial: Fred vs Fred

Original post at http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/jesus-on-trial-fred-vs-fred/

fred phelpsFear serves as an unwanted guide in a lot of areas of our lives. It keeps us from trying new adventures. Fear hinders our decisions about doing something different with our lives. It keeps us behind the walls of security when faith is calling us to risk. Fear can ruin relationships. It makes us insecure. It causes us to have a poor self-image.

There are times when fear is positive. We instill the fear of strangers in our children. We want them to be afraid of busy streets and hot stoves. A healthy fear stems from actual danger and requires a response. The fear subsides when the danger dissipates. There is no shame in healthy fear when you know you made the right decision for the health of your self and/or your family.

However, we live in a society that knows how to use fear as a manipulation tool. Fear becomes toxic. Politicians speak in extremes to spark fear. Religion preaches fear to control. Manipulators know that our fears give clues to what controls us. Our culture of fear presses upon us the apprehension of death, panic of failure, dread of rejection, or the alarm of insignificance as a way to get us to buy the latest product, support a particular politician, or follow a unique worldview. It takes prophets to speak out against such fear. But prophets have away of disappearing in the night when their voice gets too loud.

While praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is arrested and dragged to the home of the high priest. Before he arrives, the whole Sanhedrin have been shaken out of their beds and told to assemble in the home of Caiaphas, the high priest. All this would take place between one o’clock and three o’clock in the morning. The crowd that had celebrated his arrival into the city would be sleeping in their beds as their righteous ones would condemn Jesus to death. His disciples had fled. He was left along with the seventy members of the Jewish High Council. We are told before the trial even begins that they are looking for a reason to put him to death. He has spoken out one too many times against their culture of fear and went too far in demonstrating the radical love of God.  The mock trial was a “he said, they said” demonstration of lies until finally he speaks. “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One,” asks the high priest? In the confidence of God when asked by Moses, “When people ask me who sent me what am I to tell them,” Jesus replies, “I am! And more than that, you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And with those words the one who claimed to be the Messiah of the Jewish people was condemned to die. The men who were recognized for their knowledge of God and God’s way would put God on trial for blasphemy. Why did they treat Jesus so harshly? Why were they willing to believe lies about him? Why were they willing to do anything to have Jesus condemned and put to death? It was fear. Jesus is a threat to their way of life. He challenges their interpretation of scripture with his teaching. He forces them to rethink their understanding of the reign of God. He confronts their practices by healing on the Sabbath, eating with sinners, and interacting with the wrong people. Jesus has put a crack in the very foundation they built their life on.

Fear sees people for what they are, not who they are. The religious leaders saw Jesus as a threat that must be stopped. The closer an issue or person comes to challenging our way of life, the stronger the fear becomes and the more relentless we get in trying to destroy it or them. Fear unchecked can easily turn into hate. We fear before we hate. Hate becomes the consequence of fear. A child taught to fear someone different will grow up to be an adult who hates the difference. Hatred is taught through fear.

No better example of that than in the man who died this month. Fred Phelps and his congregation at Westboro Baptist Church were a perfect example of people who struck out in fear through hatred. They would force the next generation of the Phelp’s family to hold up hate filled signs at funerals, concerts, and other events that were meant to be places of healing or joy. Witnesses say the children at these rallies looked depleted, depressed, and defeated. They demonstrated a spirit of poverty which of course is what living in hate does to a person. When fear controls it leaves us powerless and the only way to feel powerful in the midst of fear is through hating those we have learned to fear. Fred Phelps was convinced by hate that people deserved death.

FILE PHOTO  Fred "Mister" Rogers Dead At 74Out of a divine sense of humor that Reverend Fred Phelps dies on the birthday of another Reverend Fred. Fred Rogers taught us to love those in our neighborhood. As an ordained Presbyterian minister his lesson came out of the pages of scripture. When confronted by an expert in the law about what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus responds by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish traveler is robbed, beaten, and left by the road side to die. A priest and a Levite walk by and both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan comes by and sees that the man is nursed back to health. Of course, Samaritans and Jews hate each other and Jesus tells this story to a Jewish audience. Jesus uses those whom the Jewish leaders despise as a hero in a story about loving your neighbor. Love not hate is how we are taught to respond to those who are different from us.

Both Fred’s claimed to be followers of Jesus. Mr. Rogers taught us to love our neighbor. Fred Phelps taught hatred bred by fear. Only one shows us Jesus. Jesus says we will be known as his disciples by how we love one another (John 13:35). Later the writer of I John will say, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear” (I John 4:18). If you spend your entire life avoiding things that scare you, you are setting yourself up to hate yourself and others. Choosing love over hate gives you back control over your life.

Fear sees people for what they are, not who they are. Love sees people for who they are, not what they are. The Jesus way is the way of love. Where in your life is fear controlling you? Where in your life has fear left you powerless? Where in your life do you find yourself make excuses for your fear? Where do you see hatred revealing itself?


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/jesus-on-trial-fred-vs-fred/

Mar 17 2014

Wrestled With Angels: An Irish Prayer: St Patrick’s Day

Original post at http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/an-irish-prayer-st-patricks-day/

Irish Blessing(Photo taken from phone while in Longford, Ireland)


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/an-irish-prayer-st-patricks-day/

Mar 11 2014

Wrestled With Angels: Life is Pure Adventure

Original post at http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/life-is-pure-adventure/

boat ride

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/life-is-pure-adventure/

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