Pentecost 16 Sept 29, 2019

(Ps 146, Amos 6:4-7, 1 Tim 6:6-12) Luke 16:19-31 Dip his finger in the water * Jesus hears his mother, while he’s still in the womb, singing about God filling the hungry with good things, sending the rich away empty (Luke 1:53). We’ve heard Jesus preach “Blessed are you poor, yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, you’ll be filled…” and “Woe to you rich, you’ve had your comfort… Woe to you who are full now, you’ll be hungry…” (Luke 6:20-26). So maybe we’re not shocked to hear Jesus tell this parable today. If it’s a parable. Most consider today’s gospel reading a parable, though Jesus never names it as such. And John Wesley, our Methodist founder believed its not a parable. If it is a parable, it’s the only one told by Jesus in which any character has a name. The name Lazarus means “God will help.” A name that makes sense only if the story is literally true. Or true on a level deeper than literal. I think our story today is a parable. I hope it is, because Jesus occasionally employs hyperbole (exaggeration) in some of his parables – to accentuate his point. And I hope Jesus is exaggerating here to get our attention. But I really don’t know if it’s a parable or not or if Jesus is exaggerating. So I’m trying not to make assumptions….And I remember… The popular book a few years ago by Mitch Albom titled The Five People You Meet in Heaven – about people you meet again in the after-life. Thinking – if St. Luke the gospel writer were to title this story Jesus tells today he might call it– One of the Few Persons We See in Heaven – and The Only Person We Meet in Hell. Elsewhere in Luke’s gospel we overhear Jesus tell a crucified thief next to him on the cross, “today you’ll be with me in Paradise.” Elsewhere we glimpse Jesus flanked by Moses and Elijah of old, transfigured in heavenly light. Here today, Jesus speaks of Abraham and Lazarus, together, in the heavenly realm. But the rich man of our story today is the only person we ever see in the New Testament in hell – more literally Hades – an ancient word for the grey-area of afterlife between what we call hell – and what Catholics and some Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox believers call purgatory. I don’t think Jesus intends to open up discussion of purgatory today. But I will note in passing – in some versions of purgatory the flames are not literal – and in all versions are meant to purge and purify souls so as to be able to ascend to heaven. I don’t recommend ever aiming for purgatory – since we really don’t know if it exists – and if it does, we don’t know how hot those flames are, or how long it might take for purification to happen…. Best not to go there… But I suppose… We can say there is some good news in this parable – in that this rich man today is the only person Jesus ever describes as suffering in the afterlife… Although, there’s also some bad news – in that, apparently, we don’t have to be...

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September 15, 2019

Pentecost 14 September 15, 2019 (Ps 23, Exodus 32:7-14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17) Luke 15:1-10     Lost and Found ***************************************************************** Jesus says “which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one, won’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that’s lost?  We may say “amen!” But will shepherds really leave 99 sheep out in the wilderness? – to seek just one that’s lost?  Not without a mighty good backup shepherd on hand to watch the rest of the flock, I’d think. But Jesus doesn’t mention any precautionary measures – as he expects – ‘of course any of you would immediately get up and go and seek the lost…’ Like the shepherd in the parable, who – When he’s found that lost sheep – lays it on his shoulders rejoicing – comes home, calls his friends, says ‘rejoice with me, I’ve found my sheep that was lost.’ Now I can understand a shepherd being glad to get a lost sheep back alive but – I have a hard time imagining a farmer throwing a party when a lost sheep or cow is found. Farmers I knew up in Vermont might have an extra slice of apple pie, and maybe raise a glass that night – but call the neighbors to come, rejoice,  and have a party? I don’t think so. But – Jesus didn’t ask me – and this is his parable, not mine… And – we probably need to remember – Shepherd and sheep were familiar metaphors for God and God’s people in Israel. The Lord is my shepherd Psalm 23 says– We are the sheep of his pasture Psalm 100 tells us. So if the shepherd represents God, ok – guess I can  imagine God throwing a party… And Jesus, expands the metaphor, saying – And what woman with ten coins if she loses one, won’t light the lamp, sweep the room and search till she finds it? And when she finds that coin, won’t she call her friends and neighbors and throw a party, saying ‘rejoice with me, I’ve found my coin that was lost.’” And again my first thought is – if you’ve lost a day’s wages (the value of the drachma coin Jesus is talking about) and find it again –  I can understand calling friends and sharing the good news – but throwing a party? Maybe end up spending more than you found? Again I don’t think so. But, again – it’s not my parable… And now I’m remembering earlier this summer hearing from a parishioner whose purse had gone missing – apparently stolen or taken by mistake – while she was helping with our children’s clothing exchange. We prayed for whoever had the purse to bring it back… and… Next morning I had a call from a leader of the 12-step group that met in the Bourne church the night before – saying the purse that was lost – has been found.  I called Joan to let her know… And she came over immediately to retrieve her  purse and thank the man who reported it found. Rejoicing there was nothing at all missing… And a party happened, spontaneously, in our kitchen, spilling out into the parking lot – all of us thanking God, feeling blessed… because somehow we could...

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September 15, 2019 – Cataumet

ANNOUNCEMENTS Council and Finance meeting – Wednesday, September 25. Upcoming concert: The Kempters, Americana Worship, at the Bourne UMC the evening of October 10th. This concert will be preceded with a meal. More information coming soon. ADDITIONAL ANNOUNCEMENTS Bible Study has resumed on Thursdays, 1pm, in the Perry Room at the Bourne church. EVENTS EVERY WEEK Sunday   7:45 am  Choir practice Sunday   9:00 am  Worship Sunday    7:30 pm  AA Meeting Monday   9:30am   Osteo Exercise Monday   7:30 pm  N/A Meeting Tuesday      9:00am   Exercise Tuesday  7:00 pm  AA Meeting Thursday  9:00 am   Exercise Thursday   7:00 pm NA Meeting Saturday  9:00 am  Osteo...

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September 15, 2019 – Bourne

THIS WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH Sunday, September 15th:                  11:00 AM    Worship Service Thursday, September 19th:                9:30 AM    Men’s Breakfast                                                       Thursday September 12th:                 1:00 PM     Bible Study Saturday, September 21st:               10:30 AM     Leo Branca Service Sunday, September 22nd:                 11:00 AM     Worship Service THE NEXT MENS BREAKFAST will be 9/19/19 at 9am at The Corner Café in Pocasset. FINANCE/CHURCH COUNCIL MEETINGS have been rescheduled for 9/23. DINING FOR A CAUSE on September 24, at Stir Crazy Cambodian Cuisine, from 11:30am – close, 20 % if your bill will be donated to UCC. OUR PUMPKIN PATCH WORK PARTY is next Saturday 9/28 9am, to prepare for the arrival of the pumpkins the next day. Please let Marsha know if you can help. A LITURGIST IS NEEDED for Sunday, September 29, please sign up on the table in Crain Hall. BIBLE STUDY meets Thursday at 1pm, in the Perry Room. PRAYER GROUP will meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month.        ...

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September 8, 2019

Pentecost 13   September 8, 2019   Psalm 139, Isaiah 40:27-31, Luke 6:31-38, Romans 12:1-13                      Present *********************************************************** Present ourselves as living sacrifice – holy scripture tells us – And as human experience tells us – the main problem with living sacrifice is just that – it does tend… to crawl off the altar… We’re celebrating our heritage today. Reflecting on all the living sacrifice – given (for the most part) quite willingly – on the altar of worship, prayer, and humble serving of God and neighbor – over the past 225 years in the life of our Bourne Methodist church – over the past 250 years in the life of our Cataumet Methodist church (at least 188 of these years as Methodists)… It’s often said “showing up is half the battle.” True enough – whether we’re talking about finding a job, making friends, staying married, or being the church – showing up is one of the most non-negotiable-of-necessities… And when we’re talking about being a healthy church with good vital signs – showing up bodily – hearts and minds, hands and feet, eyes and ears engaged –  may be pretty close to 100% of the battle…Since – When we show up willing (or even willing to become willing)… God does the rest… Which is why – Showing up – body and soul – really is our spiritual worship – as the letter to the Romans tells us. All the rest follows as we let God be God – let God change our minds – transform our hearts – guide our bodies and souls – so we can be non-conforming to the world as it is – and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Getting into the mind-set of Jesus is how we begin to know the will of God – the good, perfect, and beautiful will of God… Transformation of our minds begins with showing up for God. Once we show up we can begin to live-into the rest of the message – and really – Be humble – for we are all one body… It’s humbling – in a good way – to know – We can’t do faith alone. That’s why the New Testament’s favorite metaphor for church is “the body of Christ.” The body of Christ where all of us are members of the one body – and members of one another. No matter what our individual spiritual gifts may be, no member can fully properly function on it’s own. And, as Christian author Rachel Held Evans has said, “The good news is you are a beloved child of God – the bad news is you don’t get to choose your siblings.” And the even-better-good-news is – we don’t need to choose – since God does a far better job of choosing our family in Christ than we can ever possibly do on our own. And (I suppose)… the so-called ‘bad news’ is also that – it doesn’t take long to figure out the church – which is also now our family – is made up entirely of flawed humans beings, like us. Differently flawed, but best to assume – no more  flawed than we ourselves. (As Jesus says today – judge not, then we won’t be judged ourselves.) We thank God for the faith,...

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