Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday's Sermon

A few people asked for this following worship, and so here is the script for today's sermon and the story of the best football game of the season.

May God richly bless you this week.

In Christ,
Pastor Kim

Sermon Epiphany 3
Year B
Mark 1:14-20 and Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Today is a tale of two responses
to God's call
because to hear Jesus,
is to hear God's voice

the responses we hear from scripture are basic
one is the Monty Python, run away
one is to run head first and embrace it
Jonah is the negative example
he ran away
Simon, Andrew, James and John are the positive
they embraced the call
and left everything behind
to care for others

you and I, fall in the in between space
some days we run
some days we embrace

We are invited by Jesus
to come, follow me
and it is worth thing about
Who do we follow?

This week, our nation has a new president
our state as a new senator
please shout out some characteristics
you desire in your elected leaders

anything different you desire in a boss?

Here's what I desire in the leaders I follow
Challenge me to be better
Will take the heat for my mistakes
yet still hold me accountable
you may recall I shared how Col Kucynda
got gnawed on by the wing commander
and simply told me to make sure
I called Job Control before running the convoy home
in the future
More wise than I am
Care about me and others

Jesus easily meets all of these categories
he cares about those he encounters
provides challenging words
knows scripture completely
and makes wise decisions on when to act
and when to be still

In short, Jesus makes things better
so part of me understands that the fab four
Simon, Andrew, James, and John
just simply followed him without a thought

but they didn't know this about him
Mark's gospel portrays this scene
as a complete stranger walking by
issuing a polite command
“Come, follow me”
followed by a promise
“I will make you fishers of other people”

Why do they follow?
Jesus is fresh out of the desert
and his 40 days of temptation
which followed his baptism
and he is still oozing with the Holy Spirit
from his baptism

There is something magnetic
and powerful when you encounter
someone overflowing with the Holy Spirit
it's contagious and you'd like a piece of it

In a way, Jesus was a flashing lure
for these first disciples
and they couldn't resist
sharing and having what Jesus had

Like the first disciples
we too have been invited “Come, follow me”
and received the promise
I will make you fishers of people

You and I are sent by God
to be lures for those in need
those in need of healing
in body, mind or spirit

So, what kind of lure
should we demonstrate?
acceptance and belonging

Truth be told, we resist the call
when we realize the people
we are called to fish for
are not very pleasant to be around

we have our Jonah moments
sometimes because we doubt the needs of others
sometimes because we are afraid
sometimes because we are uncertain of how to act

No matter the reason
after a timeout in a fish's belly
we are infused by God's spirit
to carry out the mission
of proclaiming God's good news

I saw a few examples of proclaiming God's good news this week
the most heart warming was found in ESPN magazine
with writer, Rick Reilly composing the follow
for the Dec 23, 2008 issue

They played the oddest game
in high school football history
last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School
and everything about it was upside down.
For instance, when Gainesville came out
to take the field,
the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that?
The other team's fans?

They even made a banner for players
to crash through at the end.
It said, "Go Tornadoes!"
Which is also weird,
because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill
and cats petting dogs.
More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side
and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by name.

"I never in my life thought I'd hear people
cheering for us to hit their kids,"
recalls Gainesville's QB and middle linebacker, Isaiah.
"I wouldn't expect another parent
to tell somebody to hit their kids.
But they wanted us to!"

And even though Faith walloped them 33-14,
the Gainesville kids were so happy
that after the game they gave head coach Mark Williams
a sideline squirt-bottle shower like he'd just won state.
Gotta be the first Gatorade bath in history for an 0-9 coach.

But then you saw the 12 uniformed officers
escorting the 14 Gainesville players off the field
and two and two started to make four.
They lined the players up in groups of five
—handcuffs ready in their back pockets
—and marched them to the team bus.
That's because Gainesville is a maximum-security correctional facility
75 miles north of Dallas.
Every game it plays is on the road.

This all started when Faith's head coach, Kris Hogan,
wanted to do something kind
for the Gainesville team.
Faith had never played Gainesville,
but he already knew the score.
After all, Faith was 7-2 going into the game,
Gainesville 0-8 with 2 TDs all year.

Faith has 70 kids, 11 coaches,
the latest equipment and involved parents.
Gainesville has a lot of kids
with convictions for drugs, assault and robbery
—many of whose families had disowned them
—wearing seven-year-old shoulder pads and ancient helmets.

So Hogan had this idea.
What if half of our fans
—for one night only
—cheered for the other team?

He sent out an email
asking the Faithful to do just that.
"Here's the message I want you to send:"
Hogan wrote.
"You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth."

Some people were naturally confused.
One Faith player walked into Hogan's office
and asked, "Coach, why are we doing this?"

And Hogan said, "Imagine if you didn't have a home life.
Imagine if everybody had pretty much given up on you.
Now imagine what it would mean
for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you."

Next thing you know, the Gainesville Tornadoes
were turning around on their bench
to see something they never had before.
Hundreds of fans. And actual cheerleaders!

"I thought maybe they were confused," said Alex,
a Gainesville lineman (only first names are released by the prison).
"They started yelling 'DEE-fense!'
when their team had the ball.
I said, 'What? Why they cheerin' for us?'"

It was a strange experience for boys
who most people cross the street to avoid.
"We can tell people are a little afraid of us
when we come to the games," says Gerald, a lineman
who will wind up doing more than three years.

"You can see it in their eyes.
They're lookin' at us like we're criminals.
But these people, they were yellin' for us!
By our names!"

Maybe it figures that Gainesville played better
than it had all season, scoring the game's last two touchdowns.
Of course, this might be because Hogan
put his third-string nose guard at safety
and his third-string cornerback at defensive end. Still.

After the game, both teams
gathered in the middle of the field to pray
and that's when Isaiah surprised everybody
by asking to lead.

"We had no idea what the kid was going to say,"
remembers Coach Hogan.
But Isaiah said this: "Lord, I don't know how this happened,
so I don't know how to say thank You,
but I never would've known there was so many people
in the world that cared about us."

And it was a good thing everybody's heads were bowed
because they might've seen Hogan wiping away tears.

As the Tornadoes walked back to their bus
under guard, they each were handed a bag for the ride home
—a burger, some fries, a soda, some candy,
a Bible and an encouraging letter from a Faith player.

The Gainesville coach saw Hogan,
grabbed him hard by the shoulders and said,
"You'll never know what your people did
for these kids tonight. You'll never, ever know."

And as the bus pulled away,
all the Gainesville players crammed to one side
and pressed their hands to the window,
staring at these people they'd never met before,
watching their waves and smiles disappearing into the night.

During that football game,
the parents of Faith High School
were fishing for Christ
being the perfect lure, for the situation
sharing love, kindness
acceptance and a sense of belonging

Filled with the Holy Spirit to follow Christ
they answered God's call

This week may God's love so empower you
that you recognize people in need
and go fishing with love, kindness, healing, forgiveness


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I got a Rock

While traveling with Sean for his application to the American Pistolsmith Guild and the annual S.H.O.T. Show; we were able to visit his parents as they participated in the Alifiah River Rendezvous; aka a pre 1840 Fur Traders re-inactment camp.

It was a throwback to simpler times; tents, food cooked over an open flame and to my surprise, an induction into the sisterhood. The women of the Clan of the Wolf, invited me outside on Monday morning to receive a gift of a hearth stone, and then surrounded me with prayer and hugs. Below is the text of the simple ritual:

A thousand blessings to you on this your kerchting day. Upon this day you will don your spousal crown which will signify to all your position as a wife. Care for your post well, know the strength of a wife is silently powerful. Firm as a rock, steadfast as oak, soft as down, and gentle as fervent prayer. With your feet upon your hearth stone, know from this day on you are the keeper of the hearth. From kindle to smour you will order the heart of your home. As this kertch is placed upon your head, pinnacle wise symbolic of the three that will guide you and keep you all the days of your earthly walk. On this day and all that come walk proudly in thy Kertch, provide will for your family; speak not ill of him thou ill he may be, be not boastful, but do be self assured and know the community of women all the days of your life.

There is power in ritual, to be connected to something bigger than ourselves, hundreds of years old, that leagues of others have been through. I have come to appreciate the history and traditions of people more over the years. They connect us to another way of living and remind us that some day, what we do will be evaluated by those who come after us. I pray we will giving them a solid rock on which to stand.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy 2009

And so 2009 is off to a good start; the Huskers won their bowl game.

There is something about the new year, it is a time filled with great hope and expectation that this year will be different, more perfect, new and improved.

Many of us will make resolutions to improve areas of our lives: eat better, increase physical activity, read more, spend more time with family, etc. We like the fresh start to the new year, a chance for the clean beginning.

As Christians, we celebrate this fact every week, every day. Worship is the best way to begin one week and end the previous. Right at the beginning, we make the transition and leave the old sinful ways behind. Every week we experience the power of confessing, "man, I didn't get that right, I need to do better" followed by "In the name of Christ your sins are forgiven." The gift of God of a fresh start is indeed amazing grace. Add into the mix, the sacrament of holy communion, and we are nourished and refreshed to go back into the world to be a beacon of light when others are afraid.

Come to worship God, because you need something to sustain you during the economic challenges our country faces. Hear the word of God and celebrate the gift of God setting up camp in our neighborhood; Joy to the World the Lord is Come.