Easter Message - Who Moved My Jesus? 
Sunday, April 4, 2010, 12:03 PM - Church, Sermon, Podcast
Posted by Administrator
John 20:1-18

We want to move Jesus into our lives while Christ calls us to move into His life.

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Still Life 
Sunday, October 25, 2009, 06:16 AM - Sermon, Podcast
Posted by Administrator
Matthew 19:16-25
Acts 20:7-12

How to keep youth from falling asleep in church.

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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Plan B 
Sunday, October 18, 2009, 06:00 AM - Sermon, Podcast
Posted by Administrator
Acts 8:26-40
Luke 19:1-10

Different ways of coming to faith in Jesus.

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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Making Room for the Disabled 
Sunday, October 11, 2009, 06:00 AM - Sermon, Podcast
Posted by Administrator
Mark 2:1-12

Making A Way For The Disabled

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.

Thanks to Marissa Hover and Mary Lu Ramsey for the transcription below

When I was a teenager and driving around, I always liked to have my friend, Paul, in the backseat. It wasn't because he was good company—he was; the reason I liked to have Paul in the front seat was because he never complained about my driving. No second-guessing, no directions, he was perfectly fine with whatever I did. In fact, at one point I turned left into six lanes of oncoming traffic. I had to tell him later to scream because, you see, Paul is blind. I used to worry about him. I used to worry about what he could and couldn't do and I thought I'd have to watch out for him. Then one night we went to a movie and as he was paying for his ticket, I tried to watch to make sure he got the right change. When we went in, he turned to me and said, “She gave me an extra $5.00.” I didn't worry about how he knew that. I just said, “No, she gave you the right change.” He insisted that she gave him an extra $5.00 so I had to confess to him that I'd been watching and had seen the entire transaction. He still argued with me. It came out that his sister had been in his wallet and had refolded the bills which threw him off.

One time, we were walking from his house just after he got his seeing-eye dog. So, it's a little bit after dusk and we're out walking along and the dog is keeping him on the sidewalk and all of the sudden the crazy dog pulls Paul off the walk and onto the grass and then he pulls Paul back on the sidewalk. I'm walking behind them trying to figure out what this crazy dog is doing and Wham! I walk into a branch. The dog had seen the branch but I didn't. After 4 or 5 times of this kind of thing happening I quit worrying about him too much. How do we treat the disabled? When we think we are helping, are we really? I wondered about the paralytic. I wanted to ask the paralytic,” Did you want to go see Jesus, or did they just take you?” I wonder because it's almost like he isn't there. It says in Scripture, “Jesus saw THEIR faith.” Didn't the guy on the mat have any faith? Jesus didn't see it or comment on it. Jesus saw their faith and said “Your sins are forgiven.” First you come to Jesus and you think you're going to be healed and get all fixed-up, restored, fulfilled, healthy, and Jesus says,” Your sins are forgiven.” But he still can't walk. Here we find out that sometimes even though we have a lot of faith and we go to the source, Jesus Christ; we may not be healed. Instead, your sins will be forgiven.

Back then disabilities and sin were connected. Today, most of us are more sophisticated and have separated sin from disability. We don't think, “You sinned, therefore you can't walk.” Back then it was, “Why can't you walk? You must have sinned” So when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven,” They didn't believe him. They said that only God could forgive sin. Then he said, “Rise, take-up your pallet and walk.” So he stood up and walked. They then said, "Well, I guess his sins are forgiven; Look, he's walking.” In a way, we still do the same thing. The question here is the question we struggle with in almost all of the major controversies and movements throughout our lifetime and hundreds of years before: What is fully human? What is the image of God? Is this person this way because God wants this person to be this way? Is this person this way through no fault of himself or is this person something lesser because of sin: We can see the sin in there life by the way they live and the disease of their body. What about Aids and the view that Aids must be sin? Sin is making them sick and only God can forgive them.

You know how we can tell that we've made an idol of God? It's when we're sure that God hates the same things that we do. That's not God, that's an idol we've made. This is the greatest issue of our time. What is the image of God? Then we'll talk about what human is. What is fully human? What is “a person” who has all the rights? Isn't that what all of our great movements and problems are? What do the gays say now? We want to be fully human. What did the women say when they wanted to vote, to own property and have their own name on their driver's license after they were married? The women said they wanted to be fully human. What did the black people say in the Civil Rights Movement? They said, “We no longer want to be counted as 3/5ths of a person: we want to be 5/5ths of a person. We want to be fully human.” What is the abortion controversy and debate about if not, “When does fully human start? One answer is humanness starts at the time of conception. Does it start a millisecond before conception? Is there a great moral difference between stopping conception a millisecond before it happens and stopping it after? Is it, as the Catholic Church ruled for centuries, a baby becomes human once it moves. The Bible itself makes another distinction. The Bible gives different penalties for causing the death of an unborn baby as opposed to a baby that had been born.

We are in the midst of that and it's only to get worse, friends. The question of what is human, what is the image of God, what names someone worthy of humanity or not; is only going to get worse. How many parts can you replace in a person to still remain a person? How many parts? How many organs? How many limbs? How long before a computer is human? If you talk and interact with a computer and cannot tell whether it was human or not, how far is it from being human? If you're in to Google, check out the China-Brain project. They plan to have a motion-laden computer by April of next year. Is it human? What makes a human? What is the image of God? Is it the first breath or the conception? Now, we have cloning. What are we going to do with cloning now? I swab my mouth and I've killed a thousand potential cells that could have been clones and fully human given the right environment and nurturing. Am I a murderer? Is it all right to do that? All of these questions go back to: “What is the image of God?” What if we, at some time, are able at birth or before birth to choose genetically every part of our child's humanity and we choose for them to never need glasses or have a problem with obesity? We might choose for them to be right-handed and choose for them to be a perfect human specimen. Then what about those children who are conceived in the usual way and don't have the stacked deck? Who would be disabled?

In the movie clip we're going to see in second service, they have a child who isn't up to snuff, that isn't programmed, isn't safe and we see very graphically him being locked out of the daycare. The daycare says their insurance won't allow them to take the risk. What if he got hurt? Disabled it's all in the definition. Depending on the definition; anyone of us could be considered disabled and not fully human, not in the image of God,

Here is where the church and faith and Christianity have so much to offer the world. Yet we are still arguing and discussing and worrying over the same old controversies. We're not even close to the issues we need to be talking about, such as: How does the image of God relate to cloning? What are ethical ramifications of companies patenting parts of DNA in our cells that makes us human? Do you think slavery is bad? How about someone who owns an entire species and their DNA code? In the future, if you need a cure for Parkinson's or diabetes—well, there's a fee for that. If you want to do research on cancer- well, you can send money over here.

We have so much over the world because we know what makes us human. We have the answer. We know exactly and we say it every week. We know exactly what humanity is. Our very core bedrock belief is that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. So when people ask us what human is, when humanity begins and what the image of God is we have an answer. We say, “Jesus Christ! We know him and we would like for you to know him too.” Well how is he human? If we think about it we could tell them how is anyone human, how is anyone fully human? I would say this: It isn't in the genes. It isn't in the number of weeks that it takes for development. And it isn't in any other genetic trait you list. It isn't whether they can walk. It isn't whether or not they have a certain disease that we've assigned to a moral category. Being fully human is how close you are to the fully human, Jesus Christ. The closer you come to him, the closer you are to being truly human.

Jesus Christ showed us that to be fully human you should take the worst that the world can give you and die on behalf of others. No greater love has anyone that he would die for those he does not know. The crosses all over our sanctuary answer that question. If you look at the cross, you have the answer. We ask how much has he died for others. How much has she sacrificed for the good of the community and humanity? How much has she given of herself to help others? That is what humanity is and Jesus saw that in our scripture today. What made the disabled broken, sinful, less-than-a-man “human”? THEIR faith; THEIR sacrifice; THEIR work; THEIR love for him; what makes humanity? The love of others. The love of God. This is still the greatest commandment. We need not be scared of the future. We need to claim the future in our faith. We know what the image of God is. It's not a list of DNA given from some corporate company that says, “This is it”. It's not a list of perfect traits. It is not a certain skin color. It is love for humanity as Jesus Christ loved humanity. When you love like Jesus Christ, then you are fully human. When you love like Jesus Christ, you make others that you love fully human. Go with love and be in the image of God and be fully human. Share that humanity with those you love.


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The Way We Role 
Sunday, September 27, 2009, 06:00 AM - Sermon, Podcast
Posted by Administrator
John 4:1-30, 39-42

Gender Roles and Why Men Shouldn't Be Ministers

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.

Transcribed by Marissa Hoover and Mary Lu Ramsey
Bulletin title: Truth Will Makes Us Free

On the front of our bulletin is a picture of an actual poster from Thailand of how to ride an elevator. In all the pictures there are normal stick figures except the last one. That one has a skirt and a smaller stick figure. It's obvious from the poster that women are to care for the children. Is this the way we roll? Role differences. This would be an appropriate sign if the last picture didn't have a skirt. They put a skirt on a stick figure to say caring for children is women's work. We know that isn't true. Today we don't think twice about fathers caring for their kids.

It was a little different when my daughter was younger. I was at home taking care of our daughter while Bette Lynn was working. I'd take my daughter to the grocery store and I'd take her to the doctor's office. It never failed; everywhere I went they'd take the baby from me. They were absolutely horrified that I was trying to take care of a baby. Some of you have met my daughter, Rachel. She came out screaming and hasn't really slowed down. The child was very vocal and she would let you know what was going on. She would scream and I'd spent enough time with her that I knew what the screams meant; whether she was hungry, needed changed or tired. So, we were at the doctor and she started the “ I- really-don't-want-to-be- here” cry. The women were going on and on. I told them she was just crying because she's upset and they're telling me to feed her. I told them that it wasn't her hunger cry and they looked at me like I had just grown antennas. So, they tried to give her a bottle and she kept screaming. So they thought she was just wet and they changed her. She still kept screaming. That's what I was trying to tell them. They just wouldn't listen.

I found an update for a list that first came out in the mid ‘90s of Ten Good Reasons Why Men Should Not be Ordained in the Church.
#10) A man's place is in the army.
#9) When men have children, their duties might distract them from their responsibilities as a parent.
#8) Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.
#7) Man was created before woman. It is, therefore, obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
#6) Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games or watching basketball tournaments.
#5) Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshippers.
#4) An ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled then men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
#3) Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
#2) Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, change the oil in the church vans, and maybe even lead the singing on Father's Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.
#1) In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.

This is just a flip of what has been talked about with women's ordination. Previously in our church and still in other church bodies, women are not to be in positions of leadership. There are just as many good reasons if you look at it the other way. In John, we have a story that we may not see as unusual, looking at it from our prospective. Back then, though, it was an amazing thing that Jesus spoke to the woman. She came to the well in a very traditional role; a subservient role; a role that is still prevalent throughout much of the world today: women are in charge of getting the daily water going to the well, filling up the pots and taking water back home. That was women's' work. Jesus talks to her and engages her in that role. He asks her for a drink. That's another huge event because Samaritans and Jews didn't use the same utensils, they didn't talk to each other and things were very racial. Did you notice what happened after her encounter with Jesus? It says that she left the water jar there and went back to the village. She told them, “Here's a man who told me everything I've done. He couldn't be the Messiah, could he?” She left the traditional women's work of carrying water, of providing, cooking, and cleaning she left the jar there but took with her the good news of the Gospel. Here in John is the first place where Jesus reveals himself saying, “I am Christ.” In a tremendous upsetting of roles, the Samaritan woman is now entrusted with the Good News and goes home to spread the good news. She may not have done it as forcibly as we would have thought, but she was effective and brought people to Jesus Christ.

How much in the church have we missed because we put men and women in different places and don't allow them to exercise their gifts and callings the way that Jesus did in this Scripture. How often do we look beyond the way people present themselves, as to whether they are man or woman, or as to what their gifts or callings are? Jesus wasn't like that. He was up against a lot more male domination and traditional roles then we will ever imagine. Yet, he still found a way to bring out the gifts of men and woman. The first scripture reading we had was so powerful. It packs into it so much. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female we are all one in Jesus Christ. Jew and Greek. We have religious, cultural and ethnic differences? The Bible says there are none in Jesus Christ. When you are in Christ, your ethnic background and identity is not as important as your identity in Jesus Christ.

There was a huge division in the early church between the Jews and the Greeks. Remember, the Christians were still meeting inside of the Jewish synagogues. They were like a little club “The Jesus Club”. They started bringing in their friends, some of them Greeks, and the Jews at the synagogues said the Greeks had to be Jews and follow all the Jewish laws which caused a big fight as reported in Acts. We find, in Galatians, there is no Jew or Greek. It's the same way we also see a division between economic status, between classes, between those who work with their hands and those who work with their heads, those who are retired and those who are still working, those riding the bus and those with their own transportation, between all of the economic classes, between slavery and the free there is no slave or free in Jesus Christ. We are all one. Finally, there is no male or female in Jesus Christ. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist or that there are no differences any more than we lose our ethniticity or heritage. It doesn't mean we lose our social status and our place in life when we say there is no slave or free. It does say that those differences are not important when we're in Christ.

When I started out in Presbytery 25 years ago, it was right about the time the first women were being ordained. When Presbytery met we'd have about 100 ministers and elders attending -- all men. At the worship service, we'd sing as a huge male chorus. It was an amazing thing. Gradually more and more women joined in leadership roles as elders and ministers. Now when you go to Presbytery it sounds just like church. It sounds like all of God's people singing praises to God. It's not that we lost anything or that we're doing anything better it's that we have grown, become more inclusive, working together in Jesus Christ. We are all singing the same song praising God. We have great things to offer people.

It's in the scripture about how many husbands the Samaritan woman had. Some discuss why it is she had all these husbands. We automatically assume the worst. We think of how she must not have good morals. Why? What if there were other reasons? What if her first husband was a drug addict and she left him? What if her second husband beat her? What if the next husband was elderly whom she married to care for until his death? What if one of her husbands was gay and she married him thinking she could change him and make him all better? What if one of her husbands cheated on her with her best friend? That kind of changes the story. It helps us to understand why she doesn't want to set herself up for hurt #6. Back then a woman had to be with a man for any kind of life or economic status. Our church can be a place where we don't discriminate against gender or have a double standard, either.

Also in the gospel of John, Chapter 8, is the famous story of a woman caught in adultery. It says in John 8:3-4 that she was caught in the act of adultery and there was a man involved. However, only the woman is brought before Jesus for punishment. Perhaps that is why Jesus is lenient. The church needs to be a place where there is safety and acceptance of gender, without double standards. We can offer a good and safe space for the community and an example for our world of how we treat one another, realizing that in Christ there is no male or female. Amen.

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