Mark 9:38-50

Mark 9:38-50
Whoever is not against us is for us.
We as human beings tend to separate into groups—"us versus them" in politics, among Christians and among nations. Jesus brought people together. Even when people wanted to be separate, he always kept the door open.
Jesus, thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Bless us as we attempt to show those qualities in our daily lives to all people and in all circumstances. Amen
Mark 9:38-50 (NRSV)
38 John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us."
39 But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.
40 "Whoever is not against us is for us.
41 "For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
42 "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.
43 "If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
45 "And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.
47 "And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell,
48 "where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
49 "For everyone will be salted with fire.
50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

James 5:13-20

James 5:13-20
Are any among you suffering? They should pray ... Are any among you sick?
The first several times I read this passage, I read it as if the author was telling us, "pray and you will be healed." Though we continue to pray for healing, I read it now as "you who are suffering or sick, pray to remind yourself that Jesus is with you."
We have the promise that we will be "raised up," as the promise of eternal life with God.
Healing God, thank you for walking with us. Amen.
James 5:13-20 (NRSV)
13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another,
20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

THE MOST FUNCTIONAL ENGLISH WORD

THE MOST FUNCTIONAL ENGLISH WORD

Well, it's shit... that's right, shit!
Shit may just be the most functional word in the English language.

Consider:
You can get shit-faced, Be shit-out-of-luck, Or have shit for brains.

With a little effort, you can get your shit together, find a place for your shit, or be asked to shit or get off the pot.

You can smoke shit, buy shit, sell shit, lose shit, find shit, forget shit,
and tell others to eat shit.

Some people know their shit, while others can't tell the difference
between shit and shineola.

There are lucky shits, dumb shits, and crazy shits. There is bull shit,
horse shit, and chicken shit.

You can throw shit, sling shit, catch shit, shoot the shit,
or duck when the shit hits the fan.

You can give a shit or serve shit on a shingle.

You can find yourself in deep shit or be happier than a pig in shit.

Some days are colder than shit, some days are hotter than shit,
and some days are just plain shitty.

Some music sounds like shit, things can look like shit, and there are times when you feel like shit.

You can have too much shit, not enough shit, the right shit, the wrong shit or a lot of weird shit.

You can carry shit, have a mountain of shit, or find yourself up shit creek without a paddle.

Sometimes everything you touch turns to shit and other times you fall in a bucket of shit and come out smelling like a rose.

When you stop to consider all the facts, it's the basic building block of the English language.

And remember, once you know your shit, you don't need to know anything else!!

You could pass this along, if you give a shit; or not do so if! you don't give a shit!

Well Shit, it's time for me to go. Just wanted you to know that I do give a shit and hope you had a nice day, without a bunch of shit. But, if you happened to catch a load of shit from some shit-head..........

Well, Shit Happens!!!

Psalm 19:7-14

Psalm 19:7-14
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure making the wise simple.

This Psalm has a very high estimation of the law. The law is God's gift to humanity. But we, God's children, cannot keep the commandments as we would want to, and as the Psalmist seems to imply is possible, so that "then I shall be blameless." What then are we to do?

We talk of the two uses of the law. The first teaches us how to live. The second use reminds us that no one is perfect. Though we try, we cannot keep the law perfectly, so we need God's forgiveness. And God has given himself to us in Jesus. Jesus' death on the cross demonstrates God's love for us and relationship with us, as no attempted keeping of the law can.

Gracious God, remind us of your never-failing grace given to us by Jesus. Amen.

Psalm 19:7-14 (NRSV)

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
The rabble among them had a strong craving ... but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.

God provided the people of Israel with all they needed to survive with daily manna and quail. But they wanted more. We have been programmed to want more—larger portions and more variety. Regardless how much we earn, we want more. I have three wonderful vehicles, but I feel an urge for a convertible and a motorcycle. I have a 25 ft. RV with a flat tire, so I bought another RV, now I have two. “WHY”, “WHY”? ? ? I have 13 different smokers and grills, one’s too big, one’s too small, I need an infarred, I need one that takes bigger logs. I want is different than I need! ! !

A friend of mine has a son who went to college. A month into his freshman year, he was bored with his school's cafeteria. "There is no variety," he said. His mother and father, from another generation, were blown away with both the quality and variety.

God, thank you for all that you provide. We give thanks for our abundance. May we work in ways that enable others to be blessed with enough food to meet their needs. Amen.

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29 (NRSV)

4 The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, "If only we had meat to eat!
5 "We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;
6 "but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at."
10 Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses was displeased.
11 So Moses said to the Lord, "Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?
12 "Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child,' to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors?
13 "Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, 'Give us meat to eat!'
14 "I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me.
15 "If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once--if I have found favor in your sight--and do not let me see my misery."
16 So the Lord said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you."
24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent.
25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
26 Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.
27 And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."
28 And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!"
29 But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!"

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
Years ago, when I was serving a small two-point parish, I got invited to attend a meeting at our church-wide headquarters in Chicago. At dinner that night, I proudly told my three daughters that I had been invited to a meeting there. What my daughters heard was, "We're going to Chicago!" I had no idea how we would afford to take the whole family, but I could tell that all of us or none of us were going.

In Chicago, there was a church I wanted to visit. I planned to get there before worship to take a look around. But when I enthusiastically said, "Let's go!" first my oldest daughter's hair wasn't dry. Then one of her sisters was having a shoe issue. The other didn't want to be along at all. My wife told me that this is what families often go through on the way to church, but I wouldn't know, because I got to leave the house early on Sunday mornings.

By the time we were in the pew, it was not just my daughters who were crabby, but me, too. But then something truly of the Spirit happened. The organ came to life and the congregation began to sing, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty...." Tears came to our eyes. The tension left us as we worshiped the one who is indeed "holy, merciful and mighty." I never forget that, while some sermons have been remembered through history, countless hymns have. I am thankful for the power of music to stir our souls and help us experience communion with the creator.

For hymns that move us, holy, merciful and mighty God, we give you thanks. Amen.
John Hogenson
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Which wert and art and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye made blind by sin thy glory may not see,
Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
Perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Blest Be the Tie that Binds

Blest Be the Tie that Binds
On a spectacular May afternoon, just two weeks before graduation from seminary, a classroom of soon-to-be pastors were trying to focus. But even though their bodies were in class, their minds had already moved on to the next chapter in their lives. The professor sensed this, stopped lecturing, and said, "Those of you who already have calls, share a little about where you will be going."

Her question instantly energized them. The first person brightly said, "I am going to a small two-point parish in a rural community in Iowa," then somberly added, "The bishop tells me that they might not be able to stay open."

The next person said, "I will be the first called pastor to an inner city church in Detroit." Pause. "The intern there last year had to come home early because he was shot."

As each of them shared the challenges of their new calls, the mood in the room changed from energized to somber ... until this master teacher said, "Stand up. We are going to sing 'Blest Be the Tie that Binds'."

Together, they began to sing, "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the unity of..." The professor made her point without even saying it. On our own, we cannot possibly meet all of the challenges of the world. Together, and with the help of God, we can.

Gracious God, bind us together with you and with one another, so that together we can be your body of your Son, Christ our Lord, at work in the world. Amen.

Blest Be the Tie that Binds

1 Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
the unity of heart and mind is like to that above.

2 Before our Father's throne we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.

3 We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear,
and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.

4 From sorrow, toil, and pain, and sin we shall be free;
and perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity.

Mark 9:30-37

Mark 9:30-37
I share this story told to me by one of my divinity instructor’s.

One summer I worked as a camp counselor. One of the weeks, the kids who attended all had Muscular Dystrophy. Each counselor was paired with a camper. Because I had worked as a nursing assistant, I was assigned one of the most disabled campers of all: "Stevie."

Stevie had spent his life in a wheelchair. A brain injury meant he communicated at a level much younger than his age. There was so much that Stevie did not have ... but there was also much that he did have. He had a huge heart and a huge love for people. Stevie would have me stop at each table at every meal so that he could greet people and tell them that he loved them. Stevie had an amazing ability to make people feel good about themselves. What amazed me during that unforgettable week was that the person who seemed to have the least gave the most to others.

In Mark 9, the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest. But again and again, Jesus turns their -- and our -- expectations upside down. Jesus told them that if they welcomed a child, they welcomed him; that a poor widow gave the most; that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. We live in a society that idolizes actors, actresses, sports stars and wealth. Jesus says all of that is meaningless. In his kingdom, it is humble acts of selfless service that matter most.

Jesus, give us your wisdom, so that we may see what is truly greatest in your kingdom. Amen.

Mark 9:30-37 (NRSV)

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;
31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again."
32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?"
34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.
35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all."
36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them,
37 "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

Mark 9:30-37

Mark 9:30-37
Much has been written about greatness. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Everybody can be great, because everyone can serve." Mother Teresa said, "We cannot do great things. We can only do little things with great love."

In Mark 9, Jesus tells his disciples, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." Yet no sooner had Jesus said this than the disciples began to argue among themselves about which one of them was the greatest.

While volumes have been written about greatness and leadership, precious little has been written about service and humility. Jesus, as he always does, turns the disciples' (and our society's) idea of greatness upside down.

Jesus meant it when he said, "Whoever wants to be first of all must be last of all and servant of all." Reggie McNeal has said, "Jesus' idea of greatness always revolves around humility and service." This is the life to which Jesus calls us.

Creator God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, move us to truly desire the life of humble service to which your Son our Lord calls us. Amen.

Mark 9:30-37 (NRSV)

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;
31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again."
32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?"
34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.
35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all."
36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them,
37 "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Some people love conflict; most hate it. It is generally agreed upon that we live in one of the most polarized societies of all time. It seems that the Republican and the Democrat, the left and the right, are intent on proving the other wrong.

A simple reading of scripture shows us that conflict is thousands of years old. James writes, "Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from?" In asking this, James is much like the parent who asks his children a question, even though they already know the answer.

Earlier, James essentially said that conflict, disorder and wickedness come from our own greed, envy and selfishness. What is James' solution? "Draw near to God and God will drawn near to you."

Jesus calls his followers to a different way of life—a radically different way of life. Jesus tells us love our enemies and bless those who persecute us.

The entire law and scriptures are summed up in the command to "Love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and our entire mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves." Living and loving this way is not easy, but it is the life to which Christ calls us.

Gracious God, forgive us for those times when our insistence on having things our way separates us from one another and so from you. May we live and love in the way to which you have called us. May we draw near to you, so that we may live harmoniously with one another. Amen.

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a (NRSV)

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.

15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.

16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?

2 You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.

3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.