Worship is central at Trinity, and we hope you will come and be with us.
"Praise the Lord !
How good it is to sing praises to our God..." Psalm 147:1
In praise of God, we began an addition to Trinity 2 years ago, and it is now completed!
Our space has widened for our ministries in Christ, and we look forward to serving God in additional way! .come and see !
Recent sermon at Trinity (Pastor Kris Garey): Preaching 8 18 19
Jeremiah 23:23-29 Psalm 82 Hebrews 11:29--12:2 Luke 12:49-56 Jesus delivers harsh words about the purifying and potentially divisive effects of obedience to God’s call. The way of the cross often leads followers to encounter hostility and rejection, even from those they love.
Words from Jesus
Sometimes like today words from Jesus don’t sound like good NEWS nor even good words …
all those divisions in households, and being divided one from another?
Ahhh…. But we can be encouraged by the reading from Hebrews with its strong reminders...
That we by faith go into and pass through what seems
For by faith
the people passed through the Red Sea...
by faith the walls of Jericho fell
by faith...Rahab the prostitute survived …
by faith folks named Gideon, barak, samson, jepthah, Daivid, Samuel, Rahab and a host of others wandered and witnessed and
despite everyone around them in the roman-controlled-world and judging them to be foolish, silly, ignorant, unrealistic, idiotic, missing the point of existence, by following the Lord God of Israel
by holding to worship of One God, not multiple gods of trees, emperors one after another, seas crops…
holding rather to promise of being God’s people, holding to worship of One God holding to passing up normal human quests that we still know: money, position, power, dominating voice, dominating desire, or just wanting to fit in
the people of God passed between the Red Sea’s roiling waters
and found the turmoil did not destroy them…
Yet, we need to remember….
Their faith was one that held not onto results, but rather to God’s Promise..;
Held to knowing that decades of disaster did not remove the wrapping over all of God’s presence to sustain, hold, complete…no matter what else was present
Yet...it must be said...all of these who were commended for their faith, for their dependence upon God, for their trust in God who said to them “do” and so they “did” (although often it took many times of commands to do, as it does for us….)
And who then in”yes” to the call of God found
there was no avoiding of what could still come:
even people of deep faith found they were being driven away, mocked or flogged or put in prison or shunned or ....yes, crucified...or as was a stalwart in faith, Martin Luther King, Jr. killed by gunfire….he who in faith in Christ knew the call to be one against many …and so, for Dr, King, in faith, death, came, because of faith…..
By faith, Dr. King clung to faith, to belief in God whose victory comes, often unseen by believers while they live...
yet is still within the great cloud of witnesses, who sing what wondrous love is this, this love of Jesus that ,
even when we in hesitation, imagine faith cannot be so compelling nor so telling….
For a moment, lets switch thinking and imagine this Hovland kind of being:
Imagine traveling out to Isle Royal, watching for signs of when to go, when to return....you know how it is
you look to see, is wind rising? is rain coming? .
and if you are planning a summer in Hovland picnic... you know how to interpret weather whether great gray bulkhead clouds in the distance....
are rising or whether over the Lake
a storm brewing.
you then would know...
what the weather forecast is and whether or not
to go out to Isle Royale, or to have that picnic or
to simply stay
at home waiting for a better time
Any of us might look and correctly interpret the signs of cloud and varying degrees of gray and varying degrees of lightening strikes...
In seeing Jesus arrive
Here in the Gospel of Luke
it is almost as if we collectively yawn.
pretend we are awake...
and mumble …
“oh all that stuff of Jesus is good --- so all that division suff can’t be true…
Jesus does mean what Jesus says, for
following him requires a willingness from us
to see Spirit of God
and following Jesus, listening to God,
requires our alertness to be
more willing than we usually are to differ and divide from socities normal ways of oppression and dividing out those with plenty, those without…
and so in following Jesus we wil l find
ways to follow
that fathers will think unwise, ways of giving up money or landed-ness or pride;
sons who will think us unloving for giving up too early what would have been inheritance
mothers who will think us unsentimental, to let go the family farm or the family home or the family china or the family reputation of money carefulness
and sisters who might find us ignorant for not striving for positions that count or....
well you get it, I know.
There will be many tugs at us, each of us, Christian or not, and because of being followers of Jesus, clouds will form in our skies, and we will be asked, to fight against hunger. poverty. Homelessness,
earth destruction for human convenience sake.
we will be asked to fight for those who are refugees, as Jesus once was, those on death row, as Jesus once was, those named unworthy of having a name before which to bow...
Don’t you wish you could just snap your fingers and say
Arise O God, and rule the earth...
or don’t you wish you could snap your fingers and you would hear God say
“let the one who has my word, speak my word faithfully...”
Don’t you wish you could lay your head on the pillow on the couch,
and catch a few zzzzzzs....
just forget what is out there in the world that needs our attention…find some time to look at self and self power…
ahhh but we instead are
look and see
the presence of our Lord.
whose breaks to pieces the strivings of we humans to rely on simple human strengths
and tells us
look instead to the presence of our Lord
tells us, look and see the signals of God’s presence…
and know that you are more important to me
than a father or mother to son or daughter
or families united by marriage...
and know this , God says….
I long to be more
more important than
family of marriage or family in which you grew
when confronted with human design, you will seek my design
when confronted with human lure, you will seek the lure I am
when confronted with human ways of belonging and being
you will seek me
and set aside
human mechanisms of considering who is might
or wealthy or of value
and seek me
the Lord your God
is near by, and far off
and who sees
you and searches the ends of the earth for you
you may know
the present time and the future time and the past time
and in this you can find
end to strain and unity that defies division.
Ah dearest Jesus, help us seek you, know you, find in you
The love we need
To be the people you ask us to be…..
Let us pray
Spirit of God
descend upon us, we pray, unite us we pray, not in seeking what is important in human ways,
but in you. What wonderous love you give, o Lord…help us see…hear, receive
Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Jesus commissions harvesters and laborers to go where he would go and do what he would do. Risking hardship and danger in exchange for the experience of great joy, they offer peace and healing as signs that the reign of God is near.
1After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ ”
16“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
17The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Sermon: it seems we should be talking about dust, today, with the gospel reading, but....
“MUD ! I over-heard someone saying the other day
“Mud…walking that trail in red clay country after all the rain
the mud was just plain stuck to boots
“Mud like that” “ya’ can’t get rid of it
It was so thick on my shoes that I felt taller,
And there was no good way to shake it off ….”
Ahhhhh standing there in line
I thought of the Gospel for today
and the thought stuck with me…stuck to me,
things sometimes stick so tight they can’t be brushed away
Oh we can shake dust off feet like flour off hands
But bad memories? tough times?
…you can shake the dust off feet
But How about our
Shake off the dust of love when a loved one is gone?
Shake off the dust of anger
Or Shake off the dust when feeling disregarded
Or perceived to be less than good enough
Less like dust and way more like mud is what it seems to be,
for feelings, awarenesses, sensitivities and impressions stick …
Yet for Jesus, then, maybe in the season
Where he was mud was rare
Dust more prevalent
The dust of dirt clinging to bare feet or feet lucky to be sandaled feet
Or the dust of old ways that could not give way to new…
OR THE thick suffocating DUST OF
Rome’s E M P I R E which Jesus was challenging…which like MUD had built up to make emperors
and rulers higher than high, so that they felt god-like,
the-be-all, end-all, presumed by themselves and their legions of soldiers to be more like pharaohs of old testament times who enslaved oppressed beat down
In our story of God’s interaction with us, the red sea parted
And the believers in our God fled across what should have been muddy bottom but was firm enough on which to stand and walk and run
And then the waters closed in behind them and chariots of the supposed be-all end-all pharaoh were stuck in mud….
Pharoahs army, defeated….they who had presumed their ruler to be a god, the be-all-end-all of everything
ah Empires that a pharaoh or emperor or even now of money-interests across the world
cling like mud too
to try and
every fiber, fabric, every life in order to gain a stronger and stronger hold
Dear Jesus, I want to ask…
What were you up to ?
There, nearing Jerusalem?
Speaking of peace
In every situation
Where there had seemed no peace for mind or lives
Peace was now at hand
A new wholeness came
and wearied souls who’d feared they could never get it right enough with God …
in hearing you speak of letting
peace rest upon, within
squalid empire-controlled air in which it seemed there could be no way to take a breath
into a freshness of life
Breathing as in Old Testament times in Pharoah’s Egypt land that became cries of the people to God
Whose heavy handed rulers gave not a damn for the welfare of people
As was to the case too
In the time of Jesus
With the Rulers of Rome….
For whom money and legions of armies were by structures of ruling class and tradition and commerce only for those at the very top
In a whole new way brought himself then
Sent first a few
then 70 into the fray
And whole new non-empire, non-revenge seeking, non-gonna-get-you, non-you’re less and I’m more,
non-normal-human interaction and reaction way
was being seen
and was to be
The Way for followers of Jesus…including we….
Jesus, born among us
God, come to be among us
today we are the ones he now forms…
To bring a wholeness and a peace that rests upon and cannot be shaken off
Into a sadly torn and worn world….
Dear friends in Christ
Breath in Christ
Breath out despair….
Breath in Jesus
Breath out what ails…
And be reminded
The kingdom of God
Has come near
Where you are
And will be with you
In every future moment
Tells you in the promise of Jesus
“peace be with you…..
And though we in our frailities may not not quite know it,
And often still lash out and injure others by words or deeds
We too can begin, now, to hold to this:
That when Jesus said
The kingdom of God has come near
The kingdom of God in Jesus
Had come, near, this near, this face-to-face near
beauty to behold inviting us
that we too might live within
“Peace be with You
The kingdom of God is here….and let that peace be seen, be heard
So that we find in whatever sickness there may be
there is wholeness in the midst
That helps remove the dust or mud that clings to hands or feet
minds or hearts
Dust or mud of resentments held
Aloneness clinging tight
isolation despair needing of repair
hating others being hated disliking others, being disliked….
living wildly living hardly….
Whatever clings and seems to stick like mud to packs and boots and cuffs….
Is gradually more and more in Christ undone
Oh I know I know….sometimes we in life cannot scrape away
anger sorrow sense of incompleteness sense of failure disappointment despair
We can hold onto
God’s Good will for us and all others too
The Holy Spirit’s stirring in the midst
For the Promise of Jesus
That the Kingdom of God
And we can
To hear, hold, listen, absorb,
What Jesus has said
So that we not hate
Any not others not selves..
And say as did our Lord command
Peace be with you….
The Kingdom of God has come near.
And so we can
Lay down set down shake off wash off chip away
ideas beliefs dust mud behaviors thoughts about others
And whatever it is that ails us
And say to self and one-another
Peace to you God’s kingdom is near
Peace, rest upon you
For God is here……
And the earth which bows before God, blesses us with showing forth the beauty of God
That we return to joy in Christ
And evil fails to undo what God has done
And is removed
The Lightening light of God creates
Rejoicing………and a new way to wholeness…..
in the midst-ness of our complicated lives
shakes off the dust, chips off the caked on mud….
And we find new ways
In which to live,
Find joy, rejoice… Thanks be to God. Amen.
A previous sermon:
Eyeglasses –I can’t remember what grade I was in when eyeglasses entered my life—maybe it was third grade.
My teacher, Mr. Klein, noticed that I wasn’t doing as well at I had at the beginning of the year. Thinking I just wasn’t paying attention, he moved me from the last row, way to the front. Ick. There I was, out of order, as classmates told me: your ast name “begins with an R, don’t you know our names all start with A and B. You don’t belong here.”
Bad enough—but then there re-figuring out who was distracting, who wanted to pass notes, who whispered funny stuff, who not so nice stuff, who picked on who, who acted up when the teacher was writing on the board. Worse, I couldn’t figure out why I was the only one moved. My folks thought maybe I’d misbehaved, or that I really wasn’t not paying attention. The other kids thought maybe I’d been caught cheating, or wasn’t doing homework.
But it was none of that—I just needed to see better. At some point that year Mr. Klein, because he could now see me bettere, noticed I was always squinting at the board, even from the front row.
Told I’d be getting glasses---knowing I’d be made fun of, and didn’t believe something sitting on my face would help me see, I dreaded the day.
Then came the day, and my Mom took me to get them. They felt so icky on my face. I was sure the clinic staff lied when telling me, “oh those look nice on you.” Walking to the car, I looked down the whole way, so no one would see my face with glasses. As we drove home along our familiar route, I finially looked out the window, and said with a loud voice, “hey Mom look –there are individual leaves on the trees, not just blobs of green, I’ve never seen them here before.” Of course, my mom started crying ..and even pulled over, telling me years later she’d felt terrible that no one had n oticed before that my vision was working right. But those first days I couldn’t stop noticing and exclaiming, “look over there, you can see that from here; look! I can see the the name of that street from here and know from this far away what it says.”
I’d been seeing before, knowing there were green leaves on trees, words on the blackboard, street signs with names, but I hadn’t been seeing what was there to be seen.
Today, however, isn’t about eyeglasses, its about being a Christian, a disciple of Christ, a learner in the classroom of Jesus, a follower who is looking out from within oneself and seeing differently.
Its about seeing not through eyeglasses, but through God and through faith in Christ.
Remember Namaan, the army commander for the King of Aram, conquorers of the Jewish people in ancient Israel. Namaan was certain he saw what he needed—but his vision of what he needed was off by miles. So when he saw his flesh restored from disease, he found himself saying, “Now I know there is no God in all the earth except the God of Israel…” quite a statement for someone from Aram where multiple gods were worshipped, and having only God would make you suspect of bringing problems for the community. But Namaan now saw differently.
Remember Paul, the apostle? He himself had not seen Jesus in the flesh, was blinded, then given sight again and saw life and all time and God differently—so that when he was a chained prisoner Paul saw this: the word of God is never chained, never prevented from being effective. He’d been given a new way to see not only leaves on trees, but God and the world and all others.
Remember the one leper, whose disease meant separation from all except others with visible diseases of the flesh? As he went on his way, he looked down, and seeing himself changed, healed from had made him isolated, he saw life made new, saw differently, and saw Jesus as the source of being wholly alive, and now, saw existence wholly differently, and turned back to fall at the feet of Jesus.
Seeing differently, is given to us, dear friends, as well. Faith in Christ is not to simply make us feel good, it is to help us see in ways that aren’t like what we’d come to our own.
It means letting God putting new eyeglasses on us, even if the world thinks they make us look weird, or act or speak in ways that are not the norm for society, or even make us different than we’ve usually been.
Looking back, we can see ancient writings of faith that caution us to n ot stay stuck in our own ways of thinking and seeing, noting how we like to see things as we are, not as God is. Seeing as we’d rather be, than being as God would see us be. And Origen of Alexandria who was a Christian in the first century after Christ, a time of great persecution for followers of Jesus, said “holiness is seeing with the eyes of Christ.” Modern writer Robert Barron says it this way: Christianity is, above all, a way of seeing. Everything else in Christian life flows from and circles around the transformation of our vision.”
So we who claim Christ as the ground beneath our feet and the one at whose feet we kneel will, maybe with a sigh of reluctance, put on the lenses that change how we see …and be willing to ask Jesus to heal us from only seeing only as we like to see. And in Jesus, who transforms our vision, we w ill see new ways of seeing, and prayer, worship, action, way of being in the world, and we will look down and see! We too are made whole, and then may not recognize ourselves!
So there were 10 lepers.
Crying out to Jesus for mercy.
And Jesus said in a sort of short hand at the time, “you’re in the process of being made whole, go and show yourself to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.
But one, SEEING that he was healed, turned back to Jesus, praising God with a loud voice.
You see, “Christianity is, above all, a way of seeing.” That’s how my friend Pastor Brian Stoffregren puts it. “Everything else in our Christian life flows from and circles around the transformation God in Christ makes in our way of seeing….and so we see differently, and are seen differently. For our lives, in Christ, flow not from our own decidings, but from Jesus of Nazareth, who gives us a new vision of what God is up to, in all of creation.
And others, even when we don’t know it is happening,
begin to see us, and then begin to see,
even when they don’t know it,
Jesus, who has mercy and wholeness for all.
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Kris Garey
Christ the King Sunday
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family you did it to me.’ 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Jesus our King says, “just as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me….
When we say Jesus is King
What do we, here, in 21st century citizens of a democracy mean?
Royalty of kings and queens and princes and pomp and circumstance are to us here are only a bit of distraction from the reality of life…
Is that what we mean ? Do we label Christ the King like we might label Elizabeth the Queen?
Someone respected, politely nodded to, someone who takes our mind off the worries of the day…but someone who give over who we are to…
Does our saying Christ The King
mean Jesus Christ is, in our lives, pre-eminent, predominate?
Above, and over all…?
the one to whom we give-up all authority?
Who matters more than all else and all others?
Is the one to whom we ascribe magnificence that towers over all of life?
It is easy to put that label on and say, Christ the King,
How do we then let ourselves be changed to subjects standing beneath the King, giving over to the King all our awe and obedience?
Which brings me, of all places, to trees.
You know, trees: birch, spruce, pine,tamarack …
And of all places, to seeds and seedlings…
And to vacation Bible school last August.
One of the projects that our VBS group did was plant seedlings around Trinity. We knew that our construction was meaning many existing trees were being lost…but we’d gotten several handfuls of seedlings—and we knew the little hands could help us plant, and then might be around to see what we labeled seedlings
grow into the towering magnificence of trees that shade and cool and give refuge…and provide beauty that ease the eye and provide the means to build new with strong timbers…
The kids got into it, of course, finding good spots for planting, using tools and hands to dig…looking at the seedlings and realizing they were tiny versions of the trees that they were planting in the midst of.
So little hands turned over dirt, and placed in roots; and small feet tamped earth to help secure growth…and then see small hands worked with big hands to secure netting and protection for the seedlings with their labels…
And then those little faces turned upward and looked up the length of the trunk of the trees around them…up and up and up… and one voice I heard said, “that tall? Way up there? That is what it’ll be? WOW….way way way above us?”
I wish I had a seedling now.
Maybe it would help
We label both a seedling and a mature tree “tree” ---
One is small, looking insignificant, is held in our hand…one draws our eyes up, makes us want to try and determine height, to stretch our arms around to guage measure…only to find that trees like redwood or douglas fir or even our own spruce or maple can be far beyond our measuring.
Christ is King.
A label we use for it can help us try to say that God is above our measuring. But we get stuck in our human thinking/relating/comparing.
Maybe, in our relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit…we sometimes view it like a seedling in our hand…something small, delicate, with potential to grow, something we can look at, or can look away from, something we can look forward to, but not something that changes our specific day or our specific moment…
Christ is King…KING
in our lives
we are to look up and let our eyes not stop seeing that above us towers Christ
and to look down and see that what roots us is Christ…
and we come to know, the ground we are to stand upon is Christ..
and in awe and wonder---realize a little more fully
we are that before the one whose directions to us, admittedly, we often pretend not to know……
we are to kneel with our lives …
The Gospel today reminds us
Christ sits not on a gilded throne of man-made construction,
but on a throne of his glory.
And that Jesus isn’t
King for the sake of popularity
But for the sake of the world which God has created, and for God’s love
To be known.
For in Christ, who God is
Becomes so prevalent,
and that only the glorious love of God making all things shine forth with love will do.
God, who we sometimes keep at seedling size or pencil thin strength,
Is to be for us pre-eminent with
Magnificence more than we can face,
And the joy is this: we already now live within the Rule of our King
And can dare
To be living so that the Rule of God is
prevalent and preeiminate in our lives and changes us
so that our very lives repeat…
this is what our King says:
I will seek the lost. I will bring back the strayed,
I will bind up the injured. I will strengthen the weak
I will save my flock.
Not only those who think like we do, not only those we like,
Not only people who give us place and power in life that we are accustomed to,
But all people will be gathered before God, by God.
And all will have one shepherd, Christ the King.
But just in case we think that means we can be who we want to be
Live as we want to live
Act as we want to act
Let our tongues say what we want
Let our hearts have pity for some and not for others,
I will judge. I, God says, not you, will judge.
Between those who have ravaged, and those who have tended.
Between those who have allowed there to be ravaging, and those who have stepped in.
Between those who nod to those usually acknowledged as worthy, and those who INVITE those most often left out.
And you know what?
From the outside or from labels,
We can’t know who is ravaged, who needs tending, needs someone to step into their life, needs invitation, needs being acknowledged as a child of God.
We can’t tell from the outside of someone what imprisons them, or what need of healing they have…
But we can tell
That Jesus says,
As you would do for me, Christ your King…
Do for others.
Be God’s love, shining forth.
Do to others this: do God’s shining love.
Into our lives
Christ has come.
What does that look like?
We can see it as a sweet little decoration to life,
Like a seedling
Or we can imagine it to be what it is, and let the Reign of Christ rule our lives and us:
And then with eyes of our hearts enlightened
We can turn and see in our self what we see in others…
People in need, loved in whatever label we bear so that labels lose their meaning, and we all share the love given by the one to whom every knee shall bend. Amen.
April 2, 2017 "Jesus is the onewho brings life" (Pastor Kris Garey)
- Ezekiel 37:1-14 The dry bones of Israel brought to life
- Psalm 130 I wait for you, O Lord; in your word is my hope. (Ps. 130:5)
- Romans 8:6-11 Life in the Spirit
- John 11:1-45 the raising of Lazarus
Jesus is the one who brings life.
Jesus is the one, who brings life.
Join me, so we remind ourselves:
“Jesus is the one
who brings life.”
Could words like those have words of Lazarus
When from the tomb he came back into life
All his being -- Body, mind, and soul—again alive
Made vital again, released from death that had meant end.
When to word of Jesus responding…
Did he with unbound eyes look up and say
Jesus is the one who brings life…
His sisters had out of the depths of great despair cried out…
…despair had pitched their voices high
Sorrows darkened day, crumbled hope
As brother Lazarus on stone of death was laid
And tomb with stone was walled away
Bones had begun to dry, sinews and flesh to erode away.
And out of their depths Martha and Mary cried out…
Then word was heard of Jesus walking their way…
Martha and Mary, they can’t be blamed for saying, that day
“you could have kept life, for Lazarus…could have kept him here, with us, you who were among his friends, You could have …”
Martha and Mary found voices again that day that turned from words to weeping
Not knowing that
ahead along their road they would find themselves finding this:
“Jesus is the one who brings life”
the one who brings life in the very midst of this life…
Wept with them…was disturbed for them, was with them in sorrow…
He, who is the one who brings life…wept.
Jesus had come to be with them, in the midst of danger to himself and his disciples, had come witness to the presence of God, there, in tomb now closed up by stone, bones and ligaments and flesh were in the midst of decay…
And Jesus stepping across the divide that kept Lazarus from life
brought him from death
called to him …
And then commanded, “unbind him, let him go,”
do you suppose
Lazarus then spoke words like these:
Jesus is the one who brings life!
Come out our Lord had said
And Lazarus to life returned …
Do you suppose
Each of us here
Has met a time or will
When from deepest depths we cry out as if forsaken,
when death to future or present or good
Causes a dying to our will and bones and energy and future
So that sinews fail to hold us strong and words of hope die upon the tongue?
A pastor I met last summer at a wedding told me this:
30 years or so earlier he had married a young couple, and got to know them well as they were in his church…A decade went by…then came the day he sat in their kitchen the day they had heard that one of their children was gone, and they knew not how…taken? Lost? Fallen? Died?
More decades went by…and he was with them again, there in that kitchen, for an answer had come…and their newest tears were from knowing their child was not to return to them in life…
The pastor said, the wife and husband had found words, early on in their years of sorrow filled road, to say something like this, and they were words they repeated as decades wet by:
- wept, you know. And weeps now we know, with us. His tears help our tears flow, his tears help us have strength to be parents for our other children, spouse for one another.
- wept, you know. And no matter the dark, he brings life even if it is so far removed from what we had thought we’d ever survive…
So we have air, to breathe, and breaths that we can mostly breathe.
And we have tears that flow with the tears of our Lord.
And so somehow, in the midst of all that is deepest depth, the devil has not stolen from us one another, nor taken our Lord from us. ”
Ahhh….it was never made easier for them, the pastor said, but it was possible to cling to life.
At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus spoke into all time
let them go
and we, from deaths unclear
or plain as day that loom in our lives
are released …
and bones that wouldn’t hold us up, come together bone to bone, and the bones that had seemed to brittle to hold, creak, but let us rise…with sinews, flesh, skin and breath
The Lord has spoken. The Lord has wept and weeps…and
Jesus is the one who brings life --
Now in this life, in this moment, no matter what it is that has brought death or a kind of death to you or any of us…Jesus is the one who brings life.
in the midst of all, to all…
Life can be weary land, weighed down with stones of sin and death and sorrow
…but Jesus, the one who brings life, is our rock as we walk the weary land that life can be, and is the one who defeats the power of devil, the power of sin, the power of death of any kind, and says to us, you are unbound…
Jesus is the one who brings life.
Thanks be to God.
Preaching Sunday, March 26, 2017 (Pastor Kris Garey)
- 1 Samuel 16:1-13 David is chosen and anointed
- Psalm 23 You anoint my head with oil. (Ps. 23:5)
- Ephesians 5:8-14 Awake from sleep, live as children of light
- 1 Samuel 16:1-13 David is chosen and anointed
- Psalm 23 You anoint my head with oil. (Ps. 23:5)
- Ephesians 5:8-14 Awake from sleep, live as children of light
Today, the sermon comes before the Gospel reading, that when we hear the Gospel, we may each ponder it…seeking to see…
For while it is a couple of thousand years after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, and while we who know the Gospel stories know each one leads and points us to Jesus….
sometimes it is easy to skip listening, to not see in our minds eye the story within the words ….
Today you are invited: hear afresh, listen anew, see unfolding the very presence of Christ in the life of a man and a community…and you…
hear of Jesus finding a man born blind, of Jesus giving the man new wholeness…and of people continually doubting “who, how, where, when, why….”
This morning, listen, hear, see…
as Jesus catches sight of a man born blind…
And the disciples, walking with Jesus, ask, as we so often do,
Not “how can we help?” but rather, “who is to blame, he or his family?”
Hear, today, that a man who cannot lets Jesus, a stranger, touch his troubled eyes….
Then follows the command he hears—go and wash…
And return to where he’d started from, except, can see!
But others remain blind to this good news…
For they had known the man and categorized him as blind for right reason, some unknown sin, and now they cannot recognize him without his loss of vision….because to their way of seeing, this healing SHOULD NOT have happened, so they determine it COULD NOT have happened.
So we h ear, most voices in the story refuses and refuse to accept that healing had happened, refuse the word of the man, of his family, …refuse to accept that Jesus was from God, and that it was he who ended the blindness of the man…
Repeatedly, those voices ask, “who was the man who touched your eyes, what did he do? What do you say about him? Where is he, this man who must be a sinner too?.”
The man who now can see answers what little he can, but does not satisfy, for those other voices want Jesus to have been charlatan and sinner…When they can not get the answer they want,
Those other voices drive out the man who had been blind..
Only for Jesus to again
seek and find him
And assure he who had not been able to see
That he is in the very presence of God, there with him…
And the man who sees now says, “Lord I believe” and worships.
It is a mystery, divine.
Jesus present, bestowing gift of healing and release and faith
Giving new wholeness …
Can you take a little more mystery?
Ask, “where are we, in this story?” ..ask, “Where am I?”
Maybe we too at times suspect another as “not worthy” of the benefits of healing and faith, among those who question God’s bestowal of new life? Maybe we too doubt it when it occurs…
And maybe we are ones who also need new ways to see, to believe, to worship, to follow, now and in the future…
Dare we ask, “Where do I stand, in this gospel story? And where do I long to be?”
We gather in worship.
Within the very presence of Jesus.
Who gives us the gift of bestowing on us
His living presence in the Eucharist, the meal and drink of Holy Communion…
For you and us to see
Just as he was to the man born blind
in some divine mystery way, the actual presence of Christ, for us to touch and feel and take in, in bread and wine.
In our gatherings together.
in these Lenten days, we are on our way
to Holy Week, when in worship on Maundy Thursday we will languish as we recall Jesus at supper with his disciples, the night before the cross, saying of bread and wine, this is my body, this is my blood, do this ….
We are on our way to Good Friday
To encounter Jesus on the cross
When at great cost of innocent suffering and death Jesus saved and redeemed, rather than leaving us lost and condemned…
Today, this 4th Sunday in Lent we journey to Holy Week, with two more Sundays before we arrive…
And through our journey, the holy Spirit proclaims to us what we proclaim to all the world: Jesus who was slain, has slain sin and death and the power of the devil…and gives new life.
In the Gospel of John
who seeks and finds
those who need eyes
with which to see The Lord,
faith with which to worship
the one who seeks us.
1As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
18The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
Oh boy, folks trying to follow Jesus,
Now what do we do?
Sermon for January 29, 2017, Pastor Kris Garey -- the Sunday readings are
The offering of justice, kindness, humility
Lord, who may abide upon your holy hill? (Ps. 15:1)
Christ crucified, the wisdom and power of God
The teaching of Christ: Beatitudes
Oh boy, folks trying to follow Jesus,
Now what do we do?
The world will think we are crazy if let ourselves really hear what we hear
of the commands we hear from God in all these words from the Bible…
The world will think we are crazy…foolish at best….or just plain nuts
Sort of like if all of a sudden, when it is almost February, we started standing out in the middle of Highway 61
And singing a Christmas song--perhaps…
(sing softly…) Do you hear what I hear? * readers, see note below if you aren't familiar with this Christmas song...*
Do you hear what I hear, Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king…
The world would tell us
It’s almost February
Get over it, move on…we don’t sing Christmas songs anymore!
Save it for when the time is right
But we could respond to the world…
Do you hear what I hear?
A shepherd boy, singing to the mighty king
A child a child shivers in the cold
It’s about Jesus
Which is about
All of us
for we all are born cold and naked and vulnerable
Unless maybe we are kings in palaces, as in the Christmas song
Where the mighty king in a palace warm…
is being told by a mere shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear
A song a song
With a voice as big as the seas….
the same that Micah tells us
What does the Lord require of you
do justice, love kindness walk humbly with God…
Its foolishness to our world
Oh come on !
That’s for folks who ain’t got plenty to protect….
Love kindness ??
Sure, as long as the kindness finds a way to benefit me…
As long as first I get my fair share or bigger of what I know I deserve !
And into all of that worldly thinkin’ and doin’ and livin’
Comes the call of God
With a voice bigger than all the seas
“Do you hear what I hear?
Pray for peace children everywhere”
Only the voice of God doesn’t stop there
With praying for peace…
Rather God insists of us…
“be ye makers of peace…”
And Jesus said
Blessed are the poor in Spirit,
which is us, for we
too, mourn and need mercy and
want to be pure in heart but know we fall short
and know that we want to avoid being persecuted.
Blessed are you
When people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account…
So were we to stand somewhere and sing out
Do you hear what I hear…
Like shepherd children to mighty kings and rulers…
Do you hear what I hear?
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold…
for a child somewhere is in need
and a child somewhere longs for peace
what would the world say?
The Apostle Paul
who himself heard and fell to the ground at the sound of the voice of God bigger than the sound of all the seas…
found himself writing,
“God makes foolish the wisdom of the world”
for the wisdom of the world would tells us:
Be wise: Store up just a little bit more
Hold back just a little bit more on kindness
until someone else is kinder to you first;
Wait with your mercy -- for down the line there will surley be someone else who needs it more
than the person in front of you now…
and you wouldn’t want to waste your mercy
now, and not have it later, would you?
– there will always be a need for mercy so don’t waste it now…
you wouldn’t want to waste your mercy
But into all of that
that the world’s way of wisdom would say
Do you hear what I hear?
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise…
The apostle Paul was writing of the upside down way of God coming to us as an infant
Shivering in the cold
And was writing to us of the upside down way of God
In the form of Jesus
Crucified naked and vulnerable in dying for all to see
Those watching would have said
Foolish foolish foolish man
He could have avoided that
He could have just said what they wanted him to say
He could have just given in and not spoken up for the poor and those in mourning and those who are meek in status and those who hunger and those who strive for peace…
Foolish foolish foolish man, those watching would have said
And still today would say, so say…what? Do justice to others first? Giving kindness first? Walk humbly? Foolishness they would saya
Somehow of a sudden
They hear what we who are followers of Christ hear
even when it challenges us and forces us to re-think what the world tells us…
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song
That God has been singing to us and for us throughout eternity
Love kindness, therefore, do kindness,
Walk humbly…not on your own, though…the prophet Micah said
Walk humbly with your God…
With our God…
So that we know as we go out foolishly into the world to proclaim what Jesus asks of us…
That we are blessed Blessed by God
Not only to be a blessing Although yes for that as well
But blessed also by God That we may know
When we are poor in spirit, like now, challenged by the call of God to be what we can’t manage to be on our own ,
that we are to obey, still, for we are in the kingdom not of the world, but of God
and we may know that when we mourn,
even if the comfort feels at the moment not enough, we can trust it is with us still..
and we can know
that we receive the mercy of God
who doesn’t wait for a right time
Or the right act or the right kind of following
But rolls out his welcoming to all red carpet of mercy and kindness.
Do you hear what I hear?
Rejoice and be glad ! Blessed are you ! Holy are you !
Now, in this moment,
This very moment for Jesus is with you
Jesus is with us The Holy Spirit is with us!
fear not being foolish in the name of Jesus…
for we, in the name of Christ, are to be foolish in the eyes of the world,
doing so for we are the kingdom of God,
hearing the voice of God above Satan’s disdain and above all the world’s clamor.
Hear it, for the voice of God is louder than all, and brings mercy to you. Rejoice and be glad ! Amen!
*("Do You Hear What I Hear?" is a song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker who wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis..see note below). Regney had been invited by a record producer to write a Christmas song, but he was hesitant due to the commercialism of the Christmas holiday. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists including Harry Simeone Chorale and Bing Crosby. You can hear it on YouTube)