Hunting for Jesus 
Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 10:56 AM - Extra Christy, Easter
Posted by Administrator
I've Been Looking for You!

The Saturday before Easter we had a bunny breakfast and an egg hunt. Children ran to find plastic eggs with prizes and goodies after a pancake breakfast. (No bunnies were harmed in the making of this breakfast.) I struggled to find the way of faith in our familiar ways.

I'll never hear the phrase "You can count on him" the same way again.

by Micah68 on Flickr
The Easter story has a story of hunting for Jesus. Mary wants to know where they had taken Jesus so she can go and get him. Strangely, not recognizing him, she asks Jesus where he has put Jesus. Both the angels and Jesus ask Mary about the quarry of her hunting trip. Jesus reveals himself, not by jumping up and shouting, "Surprise, you found me." but by calling Mary's if he was hunting for her. The sought is revealed as the seeker. The one we call, is calling us.

So it is not that we are "Hunting Jesus" as if he is lost and we need to put him back where he belongs. Our savior can be thought as the "Hunting Jesus" who searches for us.

I hope Jesus finds you. He has been hunting for you. Listen for his calling of your name to ministry and mission. You will find he has been right in front of you all the time.

The First Easter Hunt

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.' When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' - John 20:11-1

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Praise Worthy 
Sunday, April 5, 2009, 06:00 AM - Sermon, Easter, Podcast
Mark 11:1-11

What is Praise Worthy?

This message is available as a podcast recorded live at our worship service. Click the podcast image to listen now or right click the image and choose "Save As" to save this message in mp3 file format on your computer for playing later.

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Shouting Stones 
Sunday, March 16, 2008, 12:20 PM - Sermon, Easter
Palm Sunday
Luke 19:28-40 (not lectionary)

Stop the world I want to get off! How often have you wanted to stop a movement, a trend, a change? We could probably list a dozen easily. The decline of good jobs, the rise in bad divorces, ballooning corporate executives pay, flatting of wages, the rise of violence and decline of kindness, the graying attendance in churches and the rise of challenges to public Christianity, televisions everywhere and neighbors nowhere are a couple that come to my mind.

Pharisees are yelling “stop” here. Rather, they want Jesus to tell his followers to stop. One of the things I learned in college religion classes was talking to an upper classman who criticized my presentation on Pharisees. In the hall after class, he challenged me to see the Pharisees as sincere religious people that were following God the best they knew how. Over the years, I have put myself in particular and Presbyterians in general, not in the role of the palm wavers, tax collectors, sinners, healed or disciples that “get” Jesus but in the role of Pharisees. Pharisee who question, quiz, and quibble with this untrained, populist preacher who was upsetting not only tradition, but the government as well. It would be very difficult for a good Presbyterian to be anything other than a Pharisee in Jesus' time given a chance. We are the good, religious folk, who know how God is to be worshiped from long experience.

I believe that I and most of the good faithful Presbyterian folks I know would not be waving palm branches but Stop Signs out of concern for Jesus' safety from the Roman government as well as from the religious establishment. “Jesus this is upsetting people, palm waving is not an approved and accepted form of worship” Stop them!

Good, kind faithful folks have told me to stop praise worship, to stop the use of credit cards, to stop folks being asked to donate to worthy causes, to stop couples living together, to stop air conditioning, to stop the lottery, to stop stores opening on Sunday.

Here is one of the few times that Jesus says the request is beyond is ability to stop. Even Jesus cannot stop the praise and joy of the people breaking out. The change is coming. Jesus sees that even if he did stop the people shouting praise, the stones would shout. I believe he wasn't talking about stones talking but about the impossibility of stopping the praise and joy of the people who had found their Savior.

My family has an odd tradition of shouting stones. It has recently been passed down by my daughter to children she watches. When the car went into the tunnel we would roll down the windows and scream at the top of our lungs…to hear the echo from the stones. Sadly, we neglected to tell our Uncle of this practice when he traveled with us. He almost jumped out of the car when everyone else in the car started to scream. Waving palm branches seems pretty tame compared to our road trips.

Like my Uncle we are sometimes surprised by the shouting. We want it to STOP! We stand with the Pharisee giving advice to Jesus, “Jesus you have to STOP these people. Folks are going to get upset, it might be the death of you. This is not the way it is done.”

One of things we yell STOP is the globalization of jobs. When products and services are broken in to components and parts of the process are sent all over the globe. We can't stop it. Dwight Murphy summaries Thomas Friedman example of Rolls Royce in The World is Flat

One of these is Rolls-Royce. If the firm's name brings to mind the image of an elegant car, that is years out of date. We're told that “Rolls-Royce doesn't even make cars anymore (that business was sold in 1972 and the brand was licensed to BMW in 1998).” Instead, the company's core competency today has become “making gas turbines for civilian and military airplanes, for helicopters, for ships, and for the oil and gas and power-generation industries.” The business structure based on interconnectivity results in Rolls-Royce's now employing “people of about fifty nationalities in fifty countries… It outsources and offshores about 75 percent of its components to its global supply chain.” It “partners” with other companies and with universities for products, services and research. [by Dwight D. Murphey in the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, pp. 107-114.]

Rolls-Royce doesn't make cars. They don't even make gas turbines. They make 25% of a gas turbine. The critical parts like the blades that are grown from a single crystal are made by them. The 75% of the turbine that can be made cheaper, better, and faster by others are made by others.

I imagine folks were betrayed that Rolls-Royce quit making cars. I bet a couple were disgruntled that they lost 75% of the manufacturing of their remaining product: gas turbines. They died to the old way to find new life. They didn't try to shut up the screams of globalization that made the world flat, they found out how to thrive in the world without walls where distance no longer matters. If they didn't, someone else would have done it cheaper, faster, and better. There is no stopping progress in the world as other countries build and invest and come on to the world stage. We are no longer the only actor on the world stage.

Rolls-Royce still makes power. In fact, now that is all they do. They are still the best at what they do. They found out how to be the leader in power generation in this new world. Rather than trying to stop the parade they got out in front and led it. Their core values have not change. How they accomplish being the best, strongest, most powerful engine has changed to fit into the new world.

We cannot shut up the future that is screaming into the world any more than the Pharisees can stop the new King of Kings coming into the world. We don't have the power to stop people from using credit cards, we don't have the power to bring Goodyear tire manufacturing back to Akron. We should not have that power either. Religion is best when it is struggling. It is at its worse when it is powerful; for a struggling religion relies upon God while a powerful religion relies on the powers and processes of this world.

We can welcome the new. We can repent, witness, believe, love, grow , and serve in this century as well as in the last. Just differently. Our focus is not how can we stop the world, but how can we go into this world. Soon everyone will be working for themselves. Reputation will be as important in next years as seniority was in the last for job security. How can the church help people move their reputation from one job to the next? It used to be important in business to be seen as church can we make it church help folks get their daily bread? Can we be in the reputation business? Or will it be eBay reputation points that determine entry into the world wide web of commerce?

How can the church ensure health care follows folks from job to job and covers children and the poor? Churches have made hospitals and clinics in the last century, how can we get health care in this century? Instead of buildings of stone and glass, maybe we need to build a shelter of insurance and co-opts. Or we can leave it to the politicians and pharmacological medical complex to distribute health care.

Christians were behind education institutions. We made high school free in this nation so that farmers could get a job in factories; we moved the nation from farms to cities in a few generations. Now education is needed throughout life to move from factory floor to the world arena. How can church encourage, support and celebrate life long learning?

Churches were the first into nursing homes and the care of the aged. Can we be a part of the spectrum of care now that extends from home health through assistant living into nursing care? Should we have affordable senior housing or leave it to the speculators and developers?

Churches were the hub of the community. Can we move into hospitality, bringing the extended family to strangers living alone together? Some churches have wedding/party ministries that support and extend hospitality.

Do you have your hands over your ears yet? Do want everything to be quiet and peaceful? Do you want to put down the palms and pick up the stop signs? We could, but even the stones will shout. If we don't serve God, God will find others that can serve him in this world. No one has job security in this world, not even Presbyterian churches. Followers of Jesus are ready for the future, the inbreaking of the kingdom, when everything is turned upside down, Christ is there to lead us to God. Wave a palm. Hosanna! Welcome the King of Kings that brings in a new era.

Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sundays! 8:15 Traditional Worship and 10:15 Blended. Mingle in our Gathering Room between services and take advantage of Christian Education opportunities.

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No Thanks, I'm Just Looking 
Sunday, April 8, 2007, 07:30 PM - Sermon, Easter
John 20:1-18
C Easter 1

First Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb, looks and runs away.
Then Simon Peter goes in and looks in the tomb.
Then the disciple that Jesus loved runs, looks and goes home.

They are looking for a dead Jesus. Like single minded shoppers who can't find what they want, they go away. Mary comes back, to look again for that which she cannot find, a Jesus laying dead in the tomb. Is it in yet? When she can't find what she is looking for she asks the one she thinks is a gardener the equivalent of “Is there any in the back?” as if he was clerk in a nursery.

Generations ago, when life was harsher, and group membership cherished, people came here looking for a convent community: a place for them and their family to belong, to be connected to others by promises given and received. Our baptism service acts out that mutual binding of congregation to family. The family promises to nurture and support the congregation and the congregation promises to nurture and support the family. The group is kept together by promises. These people are great, pastors come and go, scandals explode, programs implode and they are sitting in the pews, taking care of one another, visiting, teaching, caring, calling, driving, praying because they are part of them, part of us, no matter what changes occur.

Another idea of church is that of voluntary association, where folks come and go as they wish, as long as the group supports their goals and fits into their needs. No different than the Red Cross or the Oddfellows, people who understand the church this way seek to better themselves or society by joining together with like minded people. Purpose holds these churches together. Mission statements, wrestling about letting the church be the church, working great projects to make an impact on outsiders and advance the cause. These folks are great because they can tell you why they are part of the church in 10 seconds. We are here to bring new people to Christ! We are here to end racism! We are for the children!

A newer idea of the church is that of buyer's club. We get together as a co-op and buy a clubhouse and staff services to bring holy services to us when we need them. Weddings, funerals, baptism, emergency visitation, counseling, are all cheaper when bought in bulk and the savings are passed along to the members. Folks come when they need service, crisis, for hatching, matching and dispatching. These folks are the most proud of their membership in a church, but least familiar with the church. When someone tells me about their church, I often ask, “Oh yes, who is pastor over there now?” most times they can't tell me, they haven't had any need of holiness lately, so they haven't had to look up the clergy that is clerking there now. Strangely, it is encouraging to talk to these good folk for they often have a very reverent vision of the church. They like their church, because they make a good product over there, which isn't a bad thing to be known for.

Most of us are a mixture of all three, at various stages in our life, and sometimes at various hours in the day we find ourselves looking for promise, purpose, or product in our holy experience. We might come one Sunday because our commitment to choir, ushering or Sunday School teaching. Another time we might work because we are committed to giving children and youth a witness to Christian love and caring or a prisoner a window to hope in the future and forgiveness of the past. Another day we might need a wedding or just an encouraging word on a discouraging day of caring for an aged parent.

Our Easter message today is that it is difficult to find something that you are not looking for. If you are looking for a dead Jesus, you will mistake the living Lord for a gardener. If you came to see the lilies and sing the Hallelujah Chorus, you will see them here. If you came looking for encouragement to live purposely for justice, mercy and goodness, we have the One Great Hour of Sharing that relieves suffering after disasters in the United States and the world, and brings help out of poverty in the Self-development of people. If you are looking for people who have chosen to be a Christian community despite the demands of self and secularism and the divisions of politics and holy wars, you will find a caring community flourishing here at Goodyear Heights in the deacons, Sunday School, choir, Karios, Men of Luke 17, Alive youth, 60, secret sister, Presbytery women, Lunch bunch and other groups formal and informal.

Whether you came here looking for the fulfillment of a promise made on your behalf at your baptism long ago, an attraction to our purpose of mission and ministry in Goodyear Heights and the world, or because you like the stained glass windows and the great music at Easter, in the name of the Risen, living Christ, wherever you are looking for him, thanks for looking for Christ here.

Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sundays! 8:15 Traditional Worship and 10:15 Blended. Mingle in our Gathering Room between services and take advantage of Christian Education opportunities.

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Sunday, April 8, 2007, 04:00 AM - Sermon, Easter
Mark 16:1-8
Easter Sunrise

There is a pre-school with a huge picture of an ear on the wall. It appears the preschoolers can walk into it. It is there for telling. Instead of tattling on every little thing to the teachers, they can go over to the ear and tell the ear what Ricky did or what Susie said. It helps the preschoolers with their need to tell even thought it is just a drawing on the wall.

At some time most of us learned not to tell. We learned what was private family matters, confidential among professionals, and topics not for public discussion. We also learned what we could talk about, the weather, sports team, maybe the latest round of American Idol, and with some the most popular post on YouTube. We don't talk about religion or politics, although sometimes you can sneak politics in under the guise of entertainment and religion if framed in a horror story of the extremes of too much or too little religion.

This morning we have a story of telling. The original ending of Mark was 16:8, “They did not tell anyone because they were afraid”. A story of politics and religion too fearsome to tell, even though they were instructed by an angel to do so: That Jesus was not dead, but risen, and gone ahead to meet the disciples back in the old stomping grounds in Galilee.

We are left entrusted with the greatest news, for Mark's gospel leaves us hanging. They didn't tell anyone because they were afraid, not even the ear drawing on the wall. Can we remember what it was like to be in pre-school, when we were fearlessly bursting to tell trivia as news, good, bad, and embarrassing? Or how about a little later, waking the parents up on Christmas morning because it was almost dawn and time for presents! Or calling family and friends that we got the job! As the filters and constraints of society and age have descended upon us, it seems most of our lives are passed in an elevator, traveling with others in comfort, but without speaking to one another about anything, much less things that matter.

Easter means We have something to tell.
Death is not the end of the story; Christ has defeated death there is life beyond death

God bends everything to his good purpose, the greatest evil, the killing of Christ, God with us,
is turned by God into the greatest good, salvation for humanity, life after death

Jesus Christ is not dead but alive and ready to meet us in our life

We have read the last chapter of the book of history, and death is defeated and God wins

Nothing can separate us from the love of God, not military and political power, not betrayal,
nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God shown in the resurrection of Jesus.

Let Easter be a time to focus on telling. That Jesus is not dead to be visited at the tomb on Sunday. But he is alive, and not only that he is waiting for you at home, at work; he is not just alive he is in your life! A live Christ is a fearsome thing compared to a dead Jesus. But life is a fearsome thing, we need all the good news we can get, and the news that Christ is alive and waiting to meet us where we are going, is news to tell everyone. Tell the world, Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed and waiting to meet you in your life. Amen.

Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sundays! 8:15 Traditional Worship and 10:15 Blended. Mingle in our Gathering Room between services and take advantage of Christian Education opportunities.

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