March 19, 2017 – Thirst

Lent 3  March 19, 2017 Ps 42:1-8,  John 4:5-42 Thirst ************************************************* Jesus and his disciples are heading home to Galilee by way of Samaria. Taking the road less traveled – the much shorter road that most Jews avoided if at all possible. You could save about two days of travel by going through Samaria, but Jews and Samaritans had a lot of bad history. We’re talking family feuds bordering on civil war, going back more than 700 years… But now we’re in the heart of the province of Samaria (once also a name for Northern Israel) – and now the disciples of Jesus have gone into town to buy food, and Jesus is alone, tired from the journey. A Samaritan woman comes to the well. Jesus asks, “give me a drink.” The woman says,“What’s a Jewish guy like you doing, asking a Samaritan woman like me for a drink?” Jews and Samaritans normally don’t drink from the same vessel. And – most Jewish religious leaders would avoid being alone with any woman – (from any nation) – any woman they weren’t closely related to. (Jews and Samaritans were relatives, historically – but they usually related to each other like family you haven’t seen on purpose, for a reason, for a long time…) This encounter at the well comes with a lot of history attached. And some serious biblical symbolism is also in play here….As we remember – Water is often a metaphor for spiritual nourishment in the bible. In Isaiah (12) we hear: “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation…” In Psalm 42 today we’ve heard: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Water and thirst… are words often used as metaphors for spiritual thirst. And it takes awhile, but then this woman does catch on – understands – Jesus isn’t talking about just H2O water and physical thirst… And the wellspring of living water he’s talking about is much deeper… than Jacob’s well. (A deep well, supposedly over 100 feet deep. But just a puddle compared to the wellspring of Jesus..) And Jesus and this woman are both aware… this well carries the names of Jacob and Joseph – common-ground ancestors of both Jews and Samaritans. When Jesus says to her, “if you knew who it was you are talking with…you’d ask, and he’d give you living water…” She says, “Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well?” (Like ‘Who do you think you are?’) And yes, of course he is – a whole lot greater… than great-great-grand-uncle Jacob…. But Jesus seems to enjoy the irony… of letting her figure this out for herself…and… (Biblical History note:) Wells were informal community life centers. People went to the well for water, that basic bodily need. They also went for social networking, to be part of the community. A basic spiritual need. People met, exchanged greetings, shared news, etc at the well… And in the first books of the bible, wells are very strongly associated with courtship and marriage. Abraham’s servant meets Rebecca at a well – it’s a rather long and dramatic scene (in Genesis 24) – after which Rebecca is quickly married to...

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February 28, 2016 – Lent III

Lent 3 February 28, 2016        Psalm 63, Luke 13:1-9, 10-17; Isaiah 55:1-9 ****************************************************************** Even gentle Jesus isn’t sounding so gentle today – telling us in our first reading we all deserve to perish – and will perish, unless we repent. If we were hoping for extra sympathy from Jesus for our fellow citizens who have perished at the hands of wicked governor Herod – sorry – but Jesus isn’t going there today. He isn’t going to feed even righteous anger. In fact, Jesus says, this kind of disaster will happen to everyone, everywhere – unless we make repentance… I hope he’s speaking metaphorically… But I notice he’s making reference to real life events… Jesus is preaching on the universal nature of sin and judgement. Biblical facts-of-life from the get-to. Jesus re-narrates a biblical theme that runs from Genesis through Revelation. All have sinned. All have fallen short of God’s justice, God’s peace, God’s grace, God’s love…All fall short of living the fullness of the life God intends… Notice sin is not described by Jesus as a check-list of bad things we’ve done – nearly so much as the power of cosmic evil that keeps us captive. Keeps us from living lives fully given to God. Sin is anything that breaks or damages our relationship with God and neighbor. So gossip, coveting, envy, judgementalism and such can kill us just as surely as murder or adultery. And even God’s forgiven people need to keep repenting from the power of sin…Which, like addiction, is not something we can ever overcome in our own strength….And God’s people, when we repent become sinners in recovery – yet still also sinners in need of forgiveness…Till fullness of God’s kingdom come… And, still in our first reading, Jesus tells a parable, next, of a vineyard owner who has a fig tree that won’t bear fruit. “Cut it down! Why should it keep wasting soil,” the vineyard owner says. Grape vines and fig trees were often planted close together, and both are biblical symbols for Israel. Fig trees can suck up nutrients nearby grape vines could be using. The vineyard owner has a point. But the gardener says, “Leave it standing one more year. Let me dig in manure all around. If it bears fruit, good. If not, you can cut it down.” It’s often assumed the vineyard owner represents God, and the gardener represents Jesus, pleading for a little more time for this fig tree that hasn’t given a fig – this non-producing asset in the vineyard of the Lord. It’s often assumed the fig tree represents Israel, the church, or both. And something like this seems implied in the gospel’s word today…Which can be hard to hear as good news. Yet… Here we are, in the middle of Lent, listening also to God speaking through the prophet Isaiah… about delighting in a feast of rich foods. And here I thought – Lent’s supposed to be a season for fasting and repentance… So what’s with God saying “come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money, without price…Eat what is good! Delight yourselves in rich food!” And – what’s not to like about this kind of repentance? Why is it then – we also hear God asking, in this same reading – “Why...

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March 8, 2015 – “I Should Have Known…You Were Temptation”

Sermon: “I Should Have Known…You Were Temptation” Story #1 At the conclusion of the sermon, the worshipers filed out of the sanctuary to greet the minister. As one of them left, he shook the minister’s hand, thanked him for the sermon and said, “Thanks for the message, Reverend. You know, you must be smarter than Einstein.” Beaming with pride, the minister said, “Why, thank you, brother!” As the week went by, the minister began to think about the man’s compliment. The more he thought, the more he became baffled as to why anyone would deem him smarter than Einstein. So he decided to ask the man the following Sunday. The next Sunday he asked the parishioner if he remembered the previous Sunday’s comment about the sermon. The parishioner replied that he did. The minister asked: “Exactly what did you mean that I must be smarter than Einstein?” The man replied, “Well, Reverend, they say that Einstein was so smart that only ten people in the entire world could understand him. But Reverend, no one can understand you.” Story #2 A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block 100 times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES.” When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note. “I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.” *** My talk today assumes a lot about you, its audience. I believe and I trust that in coming to this church on a regular basis, you seek to become closer to God, to live a life that is more and more in tune with the precepts of our faith, to learn more about God and his Son Jesus and to be God’s disciples in our society and our world. If these, or some of these are not our reasons to be here, then I wonder what has drawn us to this place, this worship, this morning. Because today’s message is about sin and the temptation that causes us to sin. Sin is common to all people, but God is faithful and just to forgive us for these sins. But it is also incumbent on us to improve our relationship with God, and work diligently to become the children he wants us to be. Now, if you’ve been paying attention so far, or have read through the bulletin already, you are aware that this is a talk on temptation. First of all, so as not to put an immediately negative spin on the word, I should point out that not all temptation is negative. Food can be tempting…look at any menu in any restaurant…or a recipe book with color pictures…offers for new employment can be tempting, moreso if your current employment is unsatisfactory. A swimming pool can be tempting on a hot day. Remember those? These and so many other examples offer choices that, should we yield to them, do not compromise the health of our faith. And even the other kind of temptation...

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March 8, 2015 – Cataumet UMC Sermon

Peace be unto you from God our father and our lord and savior Jesus Christ. Life can be at times like a donut. It can be so good and you want more but you always end up with the hole. You can spend an awful lot of time trying to fill that hole, but you never will. You can never fill the hole in the donut. Lent is a time of looking inward and reflecting on who we are and where we are going The forty days of lent is similar to Jesus’s forty days in the wilderness. There he could Have had all of his wants and need’s met by giving into Satan’s offers but he chose A different path and by doing so he made a choice of what was important. The final result of his choice would be a rendezvous with destiny on a hill outside Jerusalem. In Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he points out that many of us, live in the world That is more about what we are , than who we are: We live for what is on the outside than what is on the inside. Is it about how we look on the outside as people or how are deep inside ourselves? Is it about where we live ? What kind of car we have, How much money we have, Our achievements Or that we fit in with what is considered normal These things are not important. They are only things that will make us feel better for a short period of time and leave us empty and wanting for more ,an endless cycle, that cannot ever be filled by what is by what is available to us in the physical world. There was a story in wed. cape cod times on a young women in Hyannis. I will now share that story. Gabby Gould found it unacceptable that some of her fellow students at Barnstable High Did not have a warm coat to ward off the chill of this year’s frigid winter. For the past five Years , she had been saving money from B-days, babysitting, and other sources . She had saved about 1200.00 dollars. She was considering spending the money on Attending a convention to meet some of her favorite. T.V. series, the Supernatural. or to attend a class at Four C’s. She did neither, Instead she spent all but $1.11 On purchasing 45 winter coats , to be given to students in need of warm clothing. By her selfless acts she brought real help needed by class mates and others in Her school and community. The gift of those coats brought her far more than that Trip could have given her because of the lasting impression it made on others lives. Becoming of the world and not in it makes a difference. In Jenna Woginrich’s book, Cold Antler Farm,a young woman’s story of how her life was changed when she walked away from a world of Success, and into A life of a farm women. The changes made her fall in Love, with LIFE and what is really Important instead of with the superficial elements that many of her friends felt were She found the meaning of her life and sharing the community of her...

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March 23, 2014 – Third Sunday in Lent

Lent 3 March 23, 2014 (Genesis 29:1-12, Exodus 2:15-21) John 4:4-42 ************************************************* John 4:4-42 But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He...

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