“Bad Jokes and Good Quotes” June 7, 2020

Posted by on Jun 9, 2020 in Ramblings from Pastor Ken

Notes from the pastor ~    “’Understanding’ art is like having a sense of humour- if you don’t have one, no amount of      explanation is going to make you laugh.” ~ Michael Craig-Martin Jokes and quotes – I have to admit, I’m a sucker for both of them. Now, I’ll leave it to the experts to analyze why that is so, but let’s just say that these two things tickle my fancy; always have, always will. If you don’t count “dirty” and “clean,” then we could say that jokes come in two categories – good jokes and bad jokes. Good humor is clever, it’s original, and it always speaks to real life. Bad jokes, on the other hand, are punny, they are nonsensical, they are silly, and sometimes they are just what we need. To say that we live in a stressful time is an understatement. We are being challenged as a society, as a nation, and as a denomination. Sometimes we need some relief; something that simply takes our minds off things for a brief moment. Sometimes we have to hear, once more, why the chicken crossed the road. That’s the beauty of it; if conditions are right, even the bad jokes are good. Think “Dad jokes.” Bottom line: if it makes you chuckle, even if you’re rolling your eyes at the time, that’s good stuff. Quotes, on the other hand, are works of art. We all have flashes of brilliance in the course of our lives, but only a select few are able to have their words immortalized for all time. Statesmen, authors, philosophers, even preachers from time to time will share the perfect combination of words that causes the world to stand up and pay attention. Unfortunately, if you asked my kids what great words of wisdom I may have imparted on their young minds, they might reply with something like, “Fair is just a thing that comes to town once a year.” Oh well, not all of us are destined for greatness. My point is, in an effort to understand what is going on in the world today and to understand what causes people to do what they do, I found myself searching for what others have had to say about – understanding. The first quote I came up with was one we have heard before from Robert McCloskey: “I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” That was no help at all – or was it? I am trying desperately to understand what is going on in the world today. I feel compelled to figure out the core cause of this swirly mess that humanity  has placed on this earth. I’m trying my darndest to understand how the wrongful death of a man in Minnesota...

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“You Don’t Need to Have It All Figured Out or Why We Need the Trinity” June 7, 2020

Posted by on Jun 9, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“You Don’t Need to Have It All Figured Out, and Why We Need the Trinity”   “You don’t need to have it all figured out. Just be with me.” ~ ‘Jesus’ from ‘The Shack’ by Wm. Paul Young   A bishop was at a church for a Confirmation ceremony. In front of the congregation, 9 young people from the ages of 13 to 16 were lined up waiting to be confirmed. This was a big event; a solemn occasion. Now, the Bishop had decided that in his homily he would quiz the teenagers he was supposed to be confirming. So he asked them, “Who can tell me what the Trinity is?” They all looked at their shoes, in that way that teenagers do. So he called on one young man, “Can you tell me what the Trinity is?” The young man mumbled a reply, in that way that teenagers do. The bishop then said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.” The boy sighed, in that way that teenagers do, and replied, only slightly louder, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The bishop, wanting the boy to speak up so everyone can hear him, said, “I’m sorry, I still didn’t understand.” This time the boy, rolling his eyes, in that way that teenagers do, spoke up loud and clear. He said, “You’re not supposed to understand it. It’s a mystery.” And so, there you have it. The Trinity explained in 10 words or less. And welcome to Trinity Sunday, the 2nd week in this, the season of Pentecost. So, what do we do with this thing we call The Trinity? This concept of God in 3 persons has been a part of our belief system since….well, forever. In today’s gospel text from Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And so they did, and so do we to this day. At baptisms, weddings, funerals – any occasion or ceremony that requires calling upon God’s holy presence, these words are used. Countless hours and millions of words have been spent explaining the Trinity so that we might understand this somewhat abstract concept, but let’s be honest: every time you have heard the Trinity explained or found yourself explaining it to someone else, hasn’t there been a little voice in the back of your head saying, “What’s the point here? God is God, isn’t that good enough? Why do we have to split him up just to bring him back together again?” So, in keeping with our theme of “understanding” this Sunday, I’d like to take a stab at why the Trinity is relevant, why it is important, and how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can truly bless our lives even if we don’t understand it. I’d...

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“To Do What We Cannot Do” May 31, 2020

Posted by on Jun 9, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“To Do What We Cannot Do” A sermon based on the writings of Luke the Apostle from the 2nd chapter of Acts Wow – Pentecost Sunday. To some, it’s just another religious holiday where everyone brings out their red clothes. But to others the season of Pentecost marks a turning point in the Christian calendar. It is a change; a change much in the same way that the moment the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, something happened. Something happened that we are still a part of to this day. You see, we have the word of God; we have the life and teachings of Christ; but with the gift of the Spirit, we have something special. As Amba Keeble writes, “The Holy Spirit puts the ‘super’ into our ‘natural.’ What is special about a life in the Spirit is that we are empowered. We are empowered by the Spirit– empowered to do, not just to be. With the gift of the Spirit we are empowered to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ. With the gift of the Spirit, we become the church. So, Pentecost Sunday – What’s it all about? What’s the big deal? Let’s start with some definitions and get the boring stuff out of the way. Pentecost comes from the Greek Pentecoste  which means “fiftieth.” For Christians, Pentecost is the 50th day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but this wasn’t a number that was chosen at random. It all started with a promise and a command. In John 14, Jesus makes a promise to his disciples, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. This Companion is the Spirit of Truth…He then goes on to say, You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you. Later, in Luke’s gospel Jesus instructs them, saying, Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power. And so they do – and he does. And so it was that as the disciples gathered together for the Jewish festival of –you guessed it – Pentecost, that is when Jesus made good on his promise. I think most of you know that I was raised in the Methodist tradition; an Ohio Methodist, to be precise. In those days, there wasn’t a town of any size that didn’t have a Methodist church or two. They were like Starbucks now days – you might even find two Methodist churches across the street from each other, and folks were OK with that. Now I’ll grant you the fact that I might not have been paying attention as well as I could have in those days, but I received a good education nonetheless. We covered all...

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“Enough of This Silliness” May 31, 2020 pastor notes

Posted by on Jun 9, 2020 in Ramblings from Pastor Ken

Notes From the Pastor ~ I’ve had enough of this silliness. It has to stop. In the part of town where Margie & I live, Monday is garbage pick up day. Just like clockwork, garbage cans appear from out of nowhere and are lined up like little soldiers on the street awaiting the moment that the trucks come roaring in to empty them out. It happens every week and it’s a sight to behold: tidy, neat, and uniform – that is, until yesterday. From a distance, I thought that someone had jammed a long handled broom into one of the bins and it was sticking up like a flag on a pole. As I drove closer, however, it proved to be something else entirely. What it proved to be – waving in the wind – was a helium Mylar balloon. Can you imagine that? Decorating a garbage can? It’s just silly. I was able to slow down enough to read a big sign that was taped to the top of the container. I couldn’t quite catch it all, but the words, “Thank You” were printed biggest of all. In keeping with the silliness theme, my daughter who lives in New Orleans posted a video clip of an event that had occurred recently. In short, the film was simply a single man with a trumpet standing in the middle of the street playing the greatest version of Happy Birthday I’ve heard in my life. The caption read, “We have the greatest people. Thank you, Kermit! You never know when New Orleans music will pop up.”  And in the words of Mike Delgado, who filmed the event: “It hasn’t all been bad. Here’s the great Kermit Ruffins playing on my street. It made everyone’s day!” But wait – there’s more. Come to think of it, I found myself in front of our neighbor’s house a few weeks ago, along with 3-4 other cars full of folks to wish LuAnn a happy birthday. The silliest part of all is that I decided on a whim that this would be the perfect time to bring my banjo and show off my new found (and non existent) skills as a banjo picker. Silly – just silly. It was so bad that we left LuAnn in tears. So, if there is a point to be made here, let it be that my wish and my prayer for you all is that the stress and the worry of the times we are in may act as a trigger – a trigger to your spirit. It’s my wish that we laugh at the dumb jokes, call for no reason, write letters, drive through town waving palm branches, bake cookies, and mow the grass without asking permission. Now’s the time to be silly now and then. Now’s the time to call upon the Spirit that our God placed...

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“The Gospel Is All About Jesus” May 24, 2020 with Jonathan Booth

Posted by on Jun 9, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“The Gospel Is All About Jesus” A sermon on John 17 by Jonathan Booth Friends from McCabe, Sheridan, and Amity – greetings. It is so good to be “with you”. It is a privilege to preach in the Easter season because much of what we hold dear and foundational to our faith is contained within the Easter narrative. Our lectionary reading gives us just the first eleven verses of John 17, but I would encourage you to read all 26. The whole chapter is precious. There are parts of God’s holy word that is just such a revelation of intimacy and this chapter is one of those. Here in John 17, the whole chapter is a prayer of Jesus. The prayer makes me want to take off my shoes, to kneel, and wonder at what God teaches us when Father and Son relate to each other. St John allows us to tiptoe into the closing minutes of the last supper and listen to Jesus as he prays to his father. As this intimate prayer ends Jesus goes out to the garden of Gethsemane, to Golgotha, and to a Garden tomb as Easter unfolds. Normally when I get the opportunity to preach among you it is peppered with some humor and banter but today the overarching emotion that I want you to hear is empathy. I want you to hear that Jesus understands, I want you to hear a timeless message, not the latest news bulletin and I want you to feel the nearness and the love of God. Let us begin. “After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” A week or so ago on Mother’s Day my wife’s father, my father in law died. I spoke to my mother in law earlier today and she asked me what I thought heaven was like. I replied I don’t know… I’m not sure. I don’t mean I don’t believe it because I do. I just mean I cannot conceive of what a home for eternity looks like and why a body isn’t necessary. I did say that one of the strongest things I feel is life is but a blip compared to eternity. Then there is the question not only of heaven (oh and by the way, if Jesus says he looked up to heaven then that’s good enough for me I’m happy to live with the premise that heaven is UP!) Next, he says “Father the hour has come”. Recently I watched again, “The Lord of the Rings.”...

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