What on Earth does Maundy Mean?

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Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries) is a Holy Week tradition.  Most Christians celebrate “Maundy” and we in the western church have ours on the Thursday before Easter.  This a church term is from the latin word “Mandate” or commandment and speaks to Christ’s command to take care of the poor.

For the last 1000 years or so, the Church would have Maundy to wash the feet of the poor as an act of servanthood.  This evolved into a service around the scripture’s story of Christ washing the feet of his disciples. Later was added the gift of Holy Communion, (or Eucharist) described at the last supper discourse.  After that last supper, they sang a hymn and went into the garden to unknowingly wait for the crucifixion.  We remember this in the silence of Saturday before the feast and joy of Resurrection morning.

What is truly represents is what the photograph shows-IT IS ABOUT WORK OF THE CHURCH.  The sacraments, caring for people and worship are the work and craft of the Christian disciple.  Holy Thursday is a work day in the highest sense of the Kingdom of God.  Faith in Christ is not a possession, it is a calling a compulsion to be like Jesus.  Maundy shows the privilege and responsibility to serve as the plain scriptural command of Jesus.

On this Holy week you are invited to attend this special service at 6:30 at our church, Cheatham Memorial UMC in Edgewood Texas.  If you are not in our area, find your place in a faithful congregation to share a service with.  Our website with the particulars is cheathamumc.net.  Our table is open to all who claim the name of Christ and this service is open to all who simply want to worship as a sign of devotion to Him.  Join us and experience the story beyond a mere reading. It may sound corny but Jesus is waiting for you here.

Blessings to you and may every week be Holy Week as you rejoice in the Risen Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

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Sermon Brief: Mark 10:17-31 “O Come on….You Know this”

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This is the first of two in a series of sermons with the goal of clearing the clutter that we tend to pile around the Bible.  Join with us as we explore these stories together.

Did Jesus ever tell a joCamel-and-needleke?  Some people act like He was only the man of sorrows and that sour, and harsh actions are Christian service.  Jesus was constantly at dinner with people and speaking to diverse groups.  He was fully human and fully God, yet capable of weeping.  It is reasonable to think that he would also laugh.  Some believe that this  comment about rich people  was a joke!  Granted, the punch line is lost to the centuries BUT that does fit.

Scripture is dealing with life and death seriousness in our story today but Jesus is not afraid to laugh the truth into this crowd. Still this is not a comedy but a love story.

Click Here for Mark 10:17-31  The text will tell you where I am coming from .

Slide1This is a picture of 19th century graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband, who were not allowed to be buried together. On the Protestant part of this cemetery Colonel  van Gorcum, of the Dutch Cavalry. His wife, lady van Aefferden is buried in the Catholic part. They were married in 1842,the lady was 22 and the colonel 33, he was a protestant and didn’t belong to the nobility.  This caused quite a commotion in the day.

After being married for 38 years the colonel died in 1880 and was buried on the protestant part of the cemetery against the wall. His wife died in 1888 and had decided not to be buried in the family tomb but on the other side of the wall. Two clasped hands connect the graves across the wall telling a love story that is bigger than the grave.  The barriers weren’t brick-class, denomination/style, family relationships, background, or gender-they were spiritual.  Even in death they found a way.

Their love story reflects the love story that the Gospel has for us.  Jesus is in the region of Judea and across the Jordan. He is teaching at a furious pace to prepare his followers for the crucifixion.  His inner circle of disciples is trying to “get it” and temple staff members are there to make sure they don’t.

A man rushes up and asks the central question of all life, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus starts listing the 10 commandments,  but the man hastily interrupts-saying Come on, I know this. Jesus “Looked at him and loved him”.  He saw his spiritual brick-wall and told him to give away all of his riches and follow. The man clung to his money and went away sad, unrepentant and unredeemed.

Jesus rounded up his disciples, laughed and quipped about running a camel through the eye of a needle being easier than that rich guy entering into God’s kingdom. Jesus laughed the truth into them that God gives us the gift of possibility where we have none without on our own strength.

Good old clumsy Peter piped in that they indeed left everything to follow him. He was trying to live out of the rich man’s spiritual problems instead of his own. Thus pointing out that they were way ahead of that rich guy. Of course Christ’s closest ones there wasn’t whole lot of riches to leave behind.. I am sure that Jesus just shook His head.

The point is not what they lost by following but what they gained, which was everything, Nothing we can lose by faith can compare to What Jesus Gives us. Indeed the more we leave behind by faith the higher the capacity to reap spiritual riches. “But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Come on… we know this!  but it is hard to walk away from our walls.  Our real separation is not brick, class or background but a Spiritual relationship with God that show us and then removes the false separations built in our own minds.  Even in death Jesus found a way to overcome the wall that is sin/separation, and he did that through the Cross and our inheritance of an empty tomb.

So what do we learn from this?  The love story of Jesus is bigger than the grave

We have walls between us and God of our own making.  God is assertively reaching over them to grasp our hands.  Of course we have to live inside our own walls, not those of someone else.  God reveals our separation, our sin, and the Grace of Jesus removes them one brick at a time. Keep reaching!  Grace reaches back when we risk losing something personal to gain everything.  The empty tomb is a better place to live than the grave yard.

Salvation is a personal gift but is lived out in our church families.  Congregations build walls too.  When we hide behind the walls of style, denomination and tradition we slap God’s nail scarred hands away and retreat into our four lonely walls.

Unity is as tough now as it was in Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Like then, we are living in a world of change and are left to witness to an unchanging God  in our ever changing cultural reality.  How, by looking at to Jesus as our ground and goal rather than trying to cling to people.  By gladly preparing our church for the next generation instead of trying to make them look like us.  Focusing our vision is  listening to God rather than just making better plan.

At Cheatham Memorial we are unveiling our new vision statement at Charge Conference next week.  This is more than a glib slogan but a way of discerning.  Slide3

We settled on “Welcome Home!”  This is what I want to hear when my time on earth is done and what we want others to hear when they step through our doors.  Rather than just doing good things, we will test our ministry and ask if we are following Christ, serving the community and unifying the body as we do them.  If the answer is no then we are probably only serving ourselves and need to re-think.  Live in Christ, you cant lose.

Let us work according to Christ’s mission and we have already succeeded. and when we quit telling God, as the rich young man did, how smart we are and move toward disciplined listening we will grow in Grace and live a life of significance.

 

This is a follow up to our sermon from Sunday and I pray it touches your heart.  Please find a church that gives you a hearty “Welcome Home”.  If you find yourself in our corner of East Texas, Come and see us!

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Sermon Brief: October 4, 2015 “Tell Them the I AM sent You”

 

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Before health education and restrictions on the tobacco industry nearly everyone smoked . People who did not smoke often carried light to share for others as a courtesy.  As a kid, I was fixated on the Zippo Lighter.  They clicked, flicked and snapped into a flame that did not consume the fibers in the center of the little chrome grid. This was cool and weird at the same time, just like the “burning bush” that confronted Moses.  God had a mission and a direction for Moses.  He had a cool-weird Zippo lighter moment and had the presence of mind to listen and follow.

Our smoking habits have changed.  Lighters are not as commonplace BUT  Jesus is still the way, the truth and the life.  He is the God of all creation and that does not change with the whims of culture.  God is the source of direction for our lives.  Even when we lose our way, God is still speaking to his people.  The greater question is, are we listening?

Click here for our Sermon Text: Exodus 3:1-15

Here are some of the high points:

  • Moses has lost his way.  Born into hiding, prayed into being a prince of the most powerful nation in history. He had everything all figured out until he killed a man.
  • He fled Egypt at about age 40, he could be 70- or 80 years old, trapped in the sheep business. His direction is to water and pasture for the sheep. The Big picture direction of his life was lost
  • God called through an angle in the guise of a fire. Like a zippo, the flame is alive with sound sight and the very voice of God but it is not consumed This is a holy moment on a holy patch of ground.
  • The message: GO to Egypt, bring the message of victory and release, deliver them. Your marching orders, your credentials and your provision is simply from “I AM. Tell them I AM sent you.  This is a derivation of the Yahweh, the name of God.  They would understand.
  • There is no question that this burning bush moment is God’s direction, authority, and provision.  He may question his sanity or his faith but this is to far out there to be anything less than God.  He shows more than a little doubt of self or his ability but the mission is all there.

Wouldn’t you and I have a less anxious life if we followed God’s clear direction with such surefootedness.

A young man that is now a certified lay minister and holding down a church asked me a question.  We were have a parking lot conversation with another pastor who was accustomed to saying “God told me” this and that, whether choosing a song, sermon, or a car.  He often spoke this way and  I knew him as a man of God committed to the Gospel and prayer.  The young lay pastor  was quiet in this conversation as our neighbor was telling us what God had told him to do.  After this pastor left, my friend quietly asked.  “Brother Joe hears from God?  How does he know its God and not someone else?”  This is a great question .

Moses has some hints for listening for God’s voice in this story.  I have never heard Charlton Heston’s voice booming a message out of the rafters or had writing magically appear on the wall but I hear God’s voice in my spirit. Many of my friends and colleagues have been re- assured of their life’s direction in many different ways.  How do we hear?  How do we know it isn’t a misleading voice?

Good questions!  People are dying from a lack of direction. Suicide, depression, missed opportunities, lost wages to unproductivity burden us when we lose our direction and flounder in our faith.  It can all be crushed by simply knowing and following God’s direction by faith.  Before you get too excited though, God makes us work for it and we will battle with doubt most of the way!

We are seldom blessed with an angelic and fiery message.  We live by faith and not sight.   God’s message is subtle, silent and sure we have to listen for it.  Consider these when you are discerning your life-direction.

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Walking in faith and seeking God’s direction begins when we pay attention to God in your everyday life, create time and place for prayer, know your own story.  The light of Christ is your, portable, powerful and shareable.  Jesus isn’t I was or the I will be he is the ever present and eternal “I AM”.  Jesus is your portable, powerful, eternal and living flame.  Carry it well and share!

You have the authority, God has the direction for you!  I AM knows you by name

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Thoughts from the Back Porch: A work in progress…

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The view from the porch

This is a book outline and a work in  progress.    The hope is to describe a way to grow closer to God and, as a result, have a less anxious and more fulfilling life through establishing a sacred space and time to train your body and mind to be aware of God’s presence.  My example of this is my back porch.

Everyone needs a back porch.  This is any place of solitude where you can shake photo_4off the world’s garbage and think God sized thoughts. Mine is actually my back porch, complete with a desk and prayer benches. It is my “Friday office”.  It is where I write and study on my off days. Yours might be anywhere but if you don’t have a sacred space of your own, I hope this blog can be your back porch and provide you a safe starting place to seek God.  The ultimate goal of this exercise is to recognize God wherever we are.

Follow along and comment where you wish and see where this goes.  Better yet, apply the principles and watch your awareness of God grow.

Read it and use it thoughtfully but remember, “Thou shalt not steal”.

Copyright Alan Van Hooser 2015, so there.

Sermon Briefs: September 13, 2015, “They Won’t Know it ‘Till You Show It”

This second of sermon slides 9-4-15five sermons that explores the discernment of God’s will/vision and then making it our mission to do.  Following God’s plan makes for a less anxious and healthy life as well as connecting us to eternity. 

Passion is essential to knowing God’s Vision for our lives.  We have to want it before we can know it or share it.

The Fisherman’s lesson….

I am a stick and earthworm sort of fisherman but found myself on the Walmart fishing aisle looking at plastic worms.  Real fishing folks know that if they could talk a fish into the boat, there would be no fish out there to catch.  There is always someone on the fishing aisle to talk to.

On this day a gentleman fishing had this passion to teach me the ways of plastic baits and he had to get out or it might cause him physical harm.  He told of big fish and many adventures along with my need for 7 1/2 inch watermelon colored worms with a circle hooks.  This was the answer to life’s questions and the way to slay the most elusive fish. He told of these magic worms with such passion that I was ready to chew on one just to share the experience.

In the back of my mind I thought that if I presented Christ with the passion that this fellow had for rubber worms, we would be short of parking spots and seats on Sunday.  Passion is essential for mission.  Too often Christians become Walmart talkers instead of Kingdom fishers.  As Paul said ( 1 Corinthians 4:20) “For the Kingdom of God does not exist is talk but in power.  Passion is a key ingredient to discernment.  We are Christ’s love in Action and not Christ love in talking.  Faith is learned by DOING!

Check out this worship video that reinforces the sermon:  The Fishless fisherman’s society, courtesy of EZ Zwayne,  Click Here

LESSONS FROM THE GOSPEL, Click here to follow my notes:   John chapter 21:1-19

  • Jesus gave them coaching before they recognized him-“hey use the 7 1/2″ Watermelon Flip Tailed Worms!”THEY FOLLOWED AND PROSPERED-THIS WAS NOT ABOUT THE FISH BUT THE FISHERMEN
  • Peter was led by passion over the gunnels and into the lake.  He wanted Jesus! The rest were left to row the boat-That takes passion too.
  • This fishing advice became advice for life. They were fishing for survival and not recreation. Follow Me.
  • Jesus didn’t send them to a conference or form a committee, he identified himself clearly and in him, defined the role of a disciple.
  • Jesus met them on the beach, where they were living the day-to-day
  • The Mission was that of Love and Nurture. Peter the bold, passionate and clumsy, was asked if he loved Jesus three times, and received his calling, first to love Jesus, then to feed and pastor Jesus’ people
  • Peter accepted this ordination fully knowing the danger and difficulty of his mission.  His calling was simply, “Follow Me.”

SO WHAT?  What do we do with all of this?

  • Jesus is meeting us where we are, to tell us  we can handle life , to do what needs to be done.  Follow Him.  Do the Life in Christ with Passion! Want it!
  • Live a balance of study and action, inreach and outreach, and reflect our passion outside with a clear focus on Jesus’ direction
  • Don’t over think-JUMP IN, live by faith with grace enough to share

sermon slide passion sept 13 2015

PUT YOUR FAITH INTO PRACTICE WITH THIS EXERCISE
Don’t complicate this Process.  Talk to people God Brings your way.
  • Fish-Practice the power of letting someone speak for 2 minutes or more uninterrupted. Inhale each time you are tempted to speak.
  • Concentrate-listen for something spiritual to be said in this conversation
  • Know-You are a beloved child of the living God-God put you in this conversation.
  • Invite-JUMP IN! Tell them about your church family, and your faith. Bring them to church and sit with them
  • Lead by following-Don’t lecture them, tell of how Christ works in your life everyday. You grow when your show your passion.  This may be loud and rowdy, but more likely it will be quiet and conversational.fishing 1

Write a comment of this encounter and I will mail you a 7 1/2″ watermelon colored fishing worm!  Yes, Really.   Follow Jesus with passion. Who knows, You might change the world.

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