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The everything board / Re: 2 sermons
« Last post by Fat on March 03, 2016, 11:50:07 PM »
Yeoval SERMON 1:
Luke introduces us to this Herod back in Luke 9:7-9. At that point, Jesus had sent out the twelve to practice their ministry. This had further spread Jesus' reputation - right up to the King's ears. …
Chapter 9 of Luke then continues with the feeding of 5,000 men plus women and children; the declaration by Peter that the disciples say he, Jesus, is the Messiah; Jesus saying they are now headed to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will undergo great suffering, be killed, and on the third day be raised; and the story of the Transfiguration, Luke 9:28-36; etc. The following chapters continue to heighten the tension between Jesus and the religious authorities.
David Ewart,
This morning we read
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
Did you wonder as that was read ‘why the Pharisees? Weren’t they so often out to trap Jesus and bring his teaching undone?’
How come they do this?
Turns out that as far as the Pharisees are concerned anyone who is an enemy of my enemy is a friend. That is, the Pharisees are also opposed to Herod - though for different reasons and using different tactics. But in the world of "Who's side are you on?" the Pharisees regard Jesus as on their side as far as Herod goes.

32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.”

From Kerrie’s sermon:
As the Holy Spirit led the inspired authors of the Bible to write, they were also led to fill the pages of the Bible with vibrant images drawn from the culture, natural history, and landscape around them.

Using such vivid imagery as looms, donkeys, water cisterns, grapes, sackcloth, and shepherds, makes what they say both more beautiful and more memorable.

These images stimulate our imagination, animate our interest, and make the abstract clearer.

In short, the biblical authors used the reality around them to enhance the rhetorical impact of what they wrote.

Unfortunately the full impact of this imagery can be lost on modern readers.
Just as the ancients knew nothing of iPhones and aeroplanes, modern readers are likely to know next to nothing about threshing sledges and desert locusts.

What is more, we are in the dark about the connotations that attend such cultural images.

What habits of the fox distinguished it from other predators? ...

The biblical authors knew the answers to such questions and presumed their readers did as well.

To the degree that we have lost touch with the culture, natural history, and landscape of Bible times and we will some of what God wishes to share with us in this word.

.. At times the connotation of a familiar image may solicit exactly the opposite response
from us than it did for the ancients..
( if you take time)…
to learn about ancient culture, you will learn why Jesus called Herod a fox.....

OK - So we’re taking the time.

We find: There were two Hebraic meanings for the word fox:

The first: the implication of “fox” as a crafty animal.

The second, and more important for our understanding of Jesus’ words: ‘A very common use of “fox” in Hebrew is that:  Lions and foxes can be contrasted with each other to represent the difference between great men and inferior men.

The great men are called “lions,” and the lesser men are called “foxes.” ‘

The word “fox” can also have moral connotations, as a saying demonstrates: “Be a tail to lions rather than a head to foxes.”

This saying could be paraphrased, “It is better to be someone of low rank among those who are morally and spiritually your superiors than someone of high rank among scoundrels.”

The phrase, “And infants will rule over them,” from the list of curses in Isaiah 3:1-7 to be visited upon Jerusalem and Judah, is interpreted by the Babylonian Talmud
as follows: “[Infants means] foxes, sons of foxes.”[7]

In this interpretation, “fox” not only assumes the nuance of moral depravity, but also, through the verb “rule,” is linked to kingly reign

 Thus, “foxes, sons of foxes” means “worthless, degenerate rulers who are the descendants of worthless, degenerate rulers.”

Jesus called Herod a fox.
Jesus’ response challenged any plans by Herod of killing him: “Tell Herod I’ve got work to do first.”

Jesus was not implying that Herod was sly, rather he was commenting on Herod’s ineptitude, or inability, to carry out his threat.

Jesus questioned Herod’s pedigree, moral stature and leadership, and put the tetrarch “in his place.”

This exactly fits the second rabbinic usage of “fox.”

When Jesus labelled Herod a fox, Jesus implied that Herod was not a lion.

Herod considered himself a lion, but Jesus pointed out that Herod was the opposite of a lion.

Watching Jesus from the transfiguration of we cannot help but admire the steadfast courage that He displays in moving forward to Jerusalem and the cross on behalf of the world God loves so much.

What strikes us, is the absolutely critical role that vulnerability plays in this kind of courage.

Anticipating the challenge and suffering and not looking away Jesus is making himself vulnerable for the sake of others. And that, I think, is important to note.

Because as a culture, we don’t often equate vulnerability with courage and strength. With care, love, and concern, perhaps yes, but not often with courage and strength.

At our worst, we see vulnerability as a sign of weakness, something to be avoided at all costs. Hence political candidates not only avoid any level of profound candour, let alone vulnerability, but increasingly seem to be rewarded by behaviour we would label blustering and bullying. I see the contrast so well exemplified by the ongoing stoush between Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

At our best, we recognize the need to be vulnerable to those we care about most deeply. But we don’t often see vulnerability as essential to living a courageous life.

And yet in this passage I think that Jesus demonstrates that vulnerability is essential to courage, stands at the core of the Christian life, and invites us to discover the peculiar strength of being open to the needs of those around us.

Adapted from ‘In the Meantime’ - David
In this passage, Jesus chooses the image of a hen gathering her brood of chicks to her for protection and safety to illustrate his love and concern for God’s people. Beyond the provocative feminine imagery that invites re-imagining some of our views of God it’s also an image of unparalleled vulnerability.

What hope does a hen have – what hope do the chickens have? And yet the chicken’s only hope is the hen.

Jesus’ choice of this image helps us realize that it is our vulnerability that spurs our courage and nourishes our strength simply because you can and will do things for those you love that you simply would not or could not do for yourself. And so Jesus continues on to Jerusalem not to prove himself fearless or a hero, not to make a sacrifice for sin to a judgemental God, not even to combat death and the devil. Rather, Jesus marches to Jerusalem and embraces the cross that awaits him there out of profound love for the people around him, like a mother’s fierce love that will stop at nothing to protect her children.

This brings me to the other pictures on the sheets this morning.

There are people, Uniting Church people, who are putting the church on the line while acting for the vulnerable – Now I am not sure how you feel about that – I really have trouble with how I feel too.

The gospel is not only about the cup of water given in the name of the Lord or binding up the wounds of the fallen; it is also about conquest over the powers of this world. There are battles to be won and in the end Christ will be seen to be the victor. Those who, like the editorial writers for some of our leading newspapers, would relegate the church to the role of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff when a fence needs to be built at the top are taking the side of the enemies of the cross of Christ. Wherever there is injustice, proclamation of the Gospel will inevitably bring Christians into conflict with the powers that be.

I cannot preach – I’d go so far as to say I am not showing that profound candour so desperately lacking in political candidates, but I’d like to briefly explore some of the reasoning that some of those who I respect and count as friends will cite as they take part in civil disobedience or act in defiance of the Law in the name of the Uniting Church. Whether it is concern for the environment, refugees, political prisoners, war, slavery, wage justice, ethical trading and … it is a long list.

Firstly; WWJD – What would Jesus do?

Second; They say ‘If we don’t who will?’

Third; they see this as critically important both in the short term for those downtrodden, abused, degraded, abandoned and forgotten and in the long term for the future of all mankind.

Forth; For evil to exist it is only necessary for good people to do nothing.

Well it could be a long list as well.

Personally – I cannot do these things – I’m more the ‘everything in order and decorum’ we see as we unpack Paul’s letter to the Corinthians for instance – I inwardly groan when I see things which may make people think less of the Uniting Church – but at the same time I have a great respect for those who stand up to the foxes of the world.

What can we do in Yeoval –
Do we march in protest against amalgamation?
Do we head to parliament house in Sydney and occupy a politician’s office to stop the sell off of … whatever is on the auction block?
Could we quietly correct someone when they say loudly that refugees/immigrants should go back where they came from – telling them that perhaps where they came from isn’t there any more – it has been bombed out of existence? Could we remember that Jesus was a refugee too?

What if the Coal seam gas company wanted to mine in Yeoval? Who would stand up? WWJD?

The word Courage comes from the Latin cor – “heart” – and defines courage as living from the heart.

Christian courage, then, might be the kind of whole-hearted living that comes from believing that as God’s children we are sufficient for the task and that those around us are also God’s beloved children and therefore deserve our love, empathy, and respect.

Jesus invites us to be who we are called to be for the sake of those around us? 

What sort of community could be built on such a foundation?

And just a reminder; As we heard from Paul: (Philippians 3:21)- Jesus wields 
“the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.


Regular Funwriters may see that part of this was written by Kerrie (another sermon on the same readings for the same day - we are busy sometimes)
The everything board / 2 sermons
« Last post by Fat on March 03, 2016, 11:47:46 PM »
The first was for the small congregation in Yeoval on the 21st of February and the second a week later for another small congregation in Molong. They referred to the lectionary readings for Lent 2C and 3C respectively.
The everything board / Re: A New Year awaits
« Last post by EverJack on January 01, 2016, 11:02:32 AM »
By the way......  Happy New Year, Don and Kerry.
The everything board / Re: A New Year awaits
« Last post by EverJack on January 01, 2016, 10:32:47 AM »
I'll try to write something, Don.

The everything board / A New Year awaits
« Last post by Fat on January 01, 2016, 08:44:57 AM »
Ian has made sure somehow that this forum remains.
Let us commence 2016 with a challenge to write something.

The topic is broad - "New Year"
A poem, an observation, an essay, a short story or even a novel.
Over to you Fun Writers.
The everything board / Re: Sermon for Bracken House Aged care in Dubbo this afternoon.
« Last post by EverJack on November 21, 2015, 01:43:12 PM »
I totally agree.

The everything board / Re: Sermon for Bracken House Aged care in Dubbo this afternoon.
« Last post by Fat on November 14, 2015, 03:16:06 PM »
To be able to help anyone at all the Church needs both big and tiny givers but it should never treat one as more important and neither should anyone expect special treatment because of the size of their gift.
The everything board / Re: Sermon for Bracken House Aged care in Dubbo this afternoon.
« Last post by EverJack on November 14, 2015, 02:04:31 PM »
Another good sermon, Don.

It's not the amount that the big givers give, but the small amount that is given by ones who can't afford to give.

The everything board / Sermon for Bracken House Aged care in Dubbo this afternoon.
« Last post by Fat on November 10, 2015, 03:51:50 PM »
Reading OT:1 Kings 17:8-16
8Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9“Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” 11As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

Gospel: Mark 12:38-44
38As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! 40They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
41He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

We have this afternoon two stories of widows—and this is a subject many of you know first hand.

And yet how much harder would it have been in the days of the Old Testament or in Jesus day:

The was no Centrelink then.

No unemployment relief money.

No social security. 

No pension.

Actually we don’t have to go back  all the way to biblical times—this is a time within living memory—hard times many, or dare I say, most, of you would have known.

In fact—in Old Testament times the Law made provisions for the poor, the handicapped and Widows;

The fields were left every third year for the support of the poor and every seventh year one tenth of income was set aside to look after poor and widows.

It was each persons duty to God to look after those less fortunate than themselves. From the top of society to the poorest and most helpless.

In many ways people in Jewish community who had no way of supporting themselves were probably better off than they would have been in 1930s Australia.

The widow in our 1st Kings 17 scripture was unfortunately not living in any Jewish community—she lived in Phoenician territory and things were harsh. So harsh in fact that as we heard—she was going home to make a last meal for herself and her son and then she expected that there would be no more and they would die.

What she gave to this stranger Elijah was not just everything she had -  it was her life.

It is interesting that the biblical word ‘chera’ we read as widow was a term which meant ‘robbed’ Her husband was gone—her livelihood had been stolen from her.

As I said—this Old Testament woman lived  in Phoenicia but in Jerusalem it should have been different.

Widows should have been looked after.

Jesus came and saw that these pumped up upstarts of scribes were, as he puts it ‘devouring widows homes’, abrogating their responsibilities, treating those who should be honoured so callously and all the while putting on such a show of piety.

He not only gave them a serve—he then went and sat right by the temple treasury where he knew what was going to happen—it wouldn’t have been just one widow but possibly a number of them had this in common—they had been robbed and now the very ones who should help were robbing them again.

So our widow comes and furtively puts in two tiny coins—two mites. Two halfpennys—a total of a penny I guess you could say. It was all the money she had.

Giving into the temple was to support the priests AND the poor and widows. This woman was supporting the very institution which should have been supporting her.

How could they allow such a travesty—those who should be looked after are being robbed over and over and the very ones who should be helping are instead devouring.

Righteousness and justice in the bible are interchangeable terms—it is about setting things in the proper order—putting right what is not right. These scribes strutted their righteousness but didn’t do justice.

This was important stuff—and the lesson was applied by the Christian Church right from its earliest days.

So much so that the early church set up deacons whose job it was to oversee help to widows, the handicapped and the sick.

William Temple said “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.”

If our church sat an exam, I wonder how our report card would look?

The everything board / Re: Sermon for Belhaven Aged Care facility this morning.
« Last post by EverJack on October 20, 2015, 06:07:58 PM »
LOL......  I agree, but I'm sure you got your point across.    ;)

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