Sermon Notes 091822
Suggested Lectionary Texts
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 , Psalm 4, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Luke 16:1-13
18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. 19 Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: “Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?”) 20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” 21 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. 22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored? 1 O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people!
1 Timothy 2:1-7
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all–this was attested at the right time. 7 For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus the Way to the Father
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Finding Our Way Home
Over the past few weeks, we have studied many verses in different chapters in Luke, and in our conversations, we have considered what it means to be loyal, how to “go the distance”, and what happens when we become lost.
Sometimes we are called to travel far from our homes to do the work to which we are called. For most of us, no matter how far we travel and how long we are gone, there is still a special place that we call home. One time when I made a trip home to the flatlands of Indiana, I became involved in what I would call a “wild-goose chase.” There are three important things that will help you understand this story. 1. Central Indiana is very flat. 2. Out in the country, there are few trees to block the horizon. 3. Blimps, like the Goodyear blimp cover big sporting events. So now let me describe my wild-goose chase. My husband and I were out for an evening drive to visit some of our old favorite places. We caught a glimpse of a blimp in the sky. We decided that we wanted to get closer so that we could get a better view, so we started trying to catch up to the blimp. It is probably important to note that neither of us had lived in Indiana for quite a few years, and we had lost our understanding that the unobstructed sky and landscape seriously corrupted our perspective of how far away the blimp actually was. But we were on a mission . . . (we believed we would reach the blimp) until we realized that we were out in the “middle of nowhere” and our gas gauge was showing that we were in need of gas. Only when we could no longer go on, did we end our chase and look for a gas station.
The words from John 14:1-3 are very comforting and are used often in times of sadness, particularly for funerals. However, verse 4 is very interesting and thought-provoking. In fact, Thomas, in the next verse immediately says, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Do we know the way?
It is so easy to become lost even when we are traveling to a place that we have been to many times. We are confident. We turn when we . . . What if that place that always marked our turn is gone, or if the highway has changed? When our landmarks are hidden, we become uncertain about which way we should turn. We made this trip so many times, yet we are suddenly lost.
I would guess that most of us have had the experience where we needed to ask for directions to someplace. The world has changed with GPS, but before that, we would try to make sense of a location from a map or many of us would simply ask someone. This is not a task that just anyone can do well, but we ask the first person we see anyway hoping that we can get the help we need.
First, when you ask someone for directions, we don’t always listen as well as we think we did. More importantly, the person who knows the way makes general assumptions that you “know” things. One time when I asked for directions, I was told to go to the corner where the bank used to be and turn right. They tend to skip obvious details or use terms with which you are uncomfortable. For example, “go north for three miles.”
Now, this sounds very easy, but what if you don’t know which way north is? You might laugh at that, but if you are honest I’m sure that I’m not the only one who is sometimes totally turned around and has no idea which way is north. After all, part of being lost is being confused.
The funniest part is that too many times we ask for directions, we say “got it,” thank the person, get in our car and think, “I have no idea” or we go and make the first turn and then we think, “I have no idea.” Because I have had those issues, I appreciate Thomas voicing his thoughts in verse 5. For Jesus, who knows the way, it is obvious, but for the disciples and us we need more details. In the next verses, 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip and Judas also ask for further clarification as we read the remainder of the chapter.
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Of course, they did not have the benefit of knowing what was to come for Jesus’ mission was not finished. We know what comes next, but we still struggle to understand. This is where we must rely upon our faith and believe that Jesus will return and take us to God. We are blessed because we are a resurrection people. Each month, as part of our communion liturgy we say: “Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again.” 28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. Christ will come and lead us home.
Let’s consider the loyalty issue and whether we are ready to “Go the Distance.” In my opening story, why did we continue driving even though we never seemed to get any closer? We could clearly see the blimp ahead of us, and we were strongly motivated to continue our quest. What if others had only been told about the blimp being in the area? Would they have been as earnest in their journey as we, the ones who “saw” it were? Abraham and Sarah continued their journey of faith for many years before they were blessed with their son. Imagine if they gave up and when the road seemed endless. They were committed to going the distance, no matter how far they were asked to travel.
Some of us know that Thomas would need visual confirmation at another crossroads of his journey. Jesus said to him, Thomas because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29) We read God’s promise in scripture and we join together as a fellowship of believers so that we may support each other on our journey. When we consider our own calling, we must reconcile our own actions. Do we have the endurance to “go the distance”?
As we celebrate our homecoming, we are sharing today because of a decision made by people 137 years ago to go the distance. Many of your ancestors, began worshiping at Rose Park in 1885 (137 years) on land donated by Captain and Mrs. William A. Rose. Today, Rose Park UMC continues to witness sincere Christian faith through weekly worship and service to our community and missions, as we follow Jesus’ commandment to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves.
Over these years, many have come, many have gone. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14 For us who have gathered today, we are committing ourselves to continue the mission begun in 1885, to go the distance. Sometimes there have been/are/will be many who accompany us, but during the journey, many will wander from the path. We are called to remain steadfast as we travel along the road less traveled. The journey of Rose Park UMC began many years ago, continues today, and will continue as long as believers gather to the name of Jesus. I want to close with the closing stanza of the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Let us pray:
O Lord Jesus Christ, you have said that you are the way, the truth, and the life. Do not let us stray from you who is the way, nor to distrust you who is the truth, nor to rest in anything other than you, who is the life. Teach us by your Holy Spirit, what to believe, what to do, and where to take our rest so that we may go the distance and lead others to the Word. Heavenly Father, what a glorious future You have purposed and planned for all who trust in Christ, as our God and Savior. May I never doubt Your Word, but enable me to be steadfast in my daily walk, and strong in my Christian faith. Help me to be productive during my time on earth and enable me to carry out Your work and Your will, knowing that my toil is not fruitless in Christ. Thank You for the truth of the Resurrection and the knowledge that this mortal body will put on immortality, at Your appointed time. Help me to remain occupied in the work that You have prepared for me to do, to Your praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.
BENEDICTION: For the past, present, and future members of the Rose Park UMC, we give thanks, O God. In memory of those who once served, in appreciation of those who now work, and in hope of future reaping from our sowing: To God be the glory: in the name of Jesus, through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and unto the communion of the saints. Sing God Be With You.
Blessing: Gracious Lord, Thank you for bringing us together as a family. May our bodies be nourished by the food that we are about to share. Bless all those who donated to the feast so that they will be blessed by their efforts as we enjoy memories of good food, good times, and loved ones: past, present, and future. Amen.