Sermon – November 5, 2017

Sanctified Consistency, by Rev. Angela Martin

The Word

Matthew 23:1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

Week Eighteen – July 24-30, 2016

Hosea – Runaway Brides

Think

  • Do you ever notice the people on the side of the highway holding signs for local businesses?
  • Has that ever convinced you to turn in and shop there?
  • Do you think that this method is effective at getting potential customers’ attention?
  • What is the greatest publicity stunt or marketing campaign that you’ve experienced lately?
  • Was it effective?

Listen

After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam faced difficulties in getting everyone to accept him as the new king. Those who remained loyal to the House of David’s heir (Rehoboam) were mostly from the tribe of Judah, so that became the name of a new kingdom with their capitol still in Jerusalem. The other tribes kept the name Israel but declared themselves a new kingdom in the North. An uneasy peace developed with periods of open warfare between the two kingdoms. In Israel especially, the worship of false gods crept back into daily life as the kings and their households abused their power and served themselves above all else.

God was furious with the people of Israel for separating themselves from him and from Judah. But they didn’t seem to care too much about what God wanted. So almost as soon as they declared their independence, God called a prophet (someone who speak truth to power) to stand up for what is right and just in the face of the sin around them.

The man he called to do this was named Hosea and God had a scandalous plan for him to get Israel’s attention. He was instructed to marry an adulteress named Gomer. He bought her hand in marriage and told her that she had to be faithful to him from that point forward. But she didn’t want to marry him. She still wanted to be with her former lover! So she kept running away and going back to her old boyfriend. Each time she did, Hosea went to find her and bring her back to his home.

And here is part of what Hosea was supposed to tell other people about his wife:

She shall pursue her lovers,

But not overtake them;

And she shall seek them,

But shall not find them.

Then she shall say, “I will go

And return to my first husband,

For it was better with me then than now.

(Hosea 2:7 NRSV)

Once this scandalous marriage had gotten the attention of people around them, Hosea explained that his wife had treated him the way that everyone else had been treating God. God was like a husband who always rescued and forgave his runaway bride, waiting for the day she would eventually realize how well she was treated by him.

God promised through Hosea, that once the rebellious people of Israel came to their senses, they would be welcomed back and loved:

And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.

(Hosea 2:19-20 NRSV)

  • What do your parents do to get your attention when it’s time to pitch in around the house?
  • What is something your teacher does to get you to pay attention in class?
  • Do you ever roll your eyes when they do these things?
  • Parents and teachers (or other adults in positive roles) are almost always trying to get our attention because they ultimately care for us. So why is that we often don’t want to listen or do what they say?

Remember

God is crazy about you. And God will go to extraordinary lengths to win back your love. Even when we are unfaithful and show ourselves to only be interested in ourselves and in things that are ungodly, God never forgets us or stops desiring a relationship with us. And when we do come back, even though we may have great shame and regrets, God’s grace means we that relationship is repaired and made new again. You might find the marriage of Hosea and Gomer scandalous. But we need to be grateful that God loves each of us in such a scandalous way.

Pray

Remembering that God loves you too much to ever give up on you, thank God for that kind of grace as you pray. He already knows your sins and your rebellions against his rule of your heart. Ask God to help you be faithful to him.

More.

25 of the Greatest Publicity Stunts. What would you do to get someone’s attention?

Sermon – November 22, 2015

BPUMC_Podcast_LogoThe Most Important Thing: Three Truths“, by Rev. Mike Holly

The Word

Philippians 2:1-13

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Sermon – November 1, 2015

BPUMC_Podcast_LogoThe Most Important Thing: Grace“, by Rev Angela Martin

Pastor’s Message

For we Methodists, grace is the core of our Wesleyan theology. For John Wesley, his beliefs about grace colored everything else he believed. He understood God’s grace as abundant love (demonstrated through Christ) and an active presence in our lives (through the movement of the Holy Spirit); a gift given free of charge, not because of anything we have or haven’t done. In other words, we can’t earn God’s grace, it is given freely.

Wesley even defined grace as having some distinct characteristics that interact with us at various times in our lives. Prevenient grace is the grace that comes before we know or acknowledge God to be in our lives; it is the grace that draws us to God. Who are the saints who drew you to God through their words and actions? Justifying grace is gifted to us in the moment of our belief in God when we are reconciled to him and sanctifying grace accompanies us throughout our lives of faith, maturing our faith and growing our understanding of God and who we are called to be. Who are the saints that continue to help you mature in your faith?

We experience God’s grace through the means of grace – sacred moments where Christ is re-presented or becomes present to us anew. Our sacraments, Baptism and Holy Communion, are means of grace; also, prayer, reading scripture, and worship just to name a few. Sometimes God’s grace surprises us; showing up in places and people where we didn’t expect it. Where have you experienced God’s grace lately?

~Angela Martin

The Word

Romans 5:18-21 (The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language)

Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

Sermon – April 19, 2015

MethodismIt All Starts With Grace“, by Rev. Tom Duley

The United Methodist Book of Discipline is the rule for the order and theology of our denomination. It’s our law book; it’s the way we order our life together. I’m not going to kid you, there’s some extremely dry reading in it. I’m talking about some dusty material. For instance, you can read all about “Audits and Bonding of Local Church Officers,” or you can find everything you need to know about “Administrative Fair Process.” Are those topics important? Yes, but they’re not exactly what most folks think of as real page turners.

But, at the same time some of the most meaningful and beautiful passages I’ve ever read are in our Book of Discipline. The material discussing “The Local Church” and “The Ministry of all Believers” is downright inspiring to me. The Book of Discipline also lays out the United Methodist theological understanding. If you want to know what we believe about God and what it means to be God’s people in the world it’s in the Book of Discipline.

Some of that material is among the most meaningful I’ve ever read as well. Under the section titled “Distinctive Wesleyan Emphases” we read these words. “Grace pervades our understanding of Christian faith and life. By grace we mean the undeserved, unmerited and loving action of God in human existence through the ever present Holy Spirit.” I love that. It’s one of the primary reasons I’m a United Methodist. We recognize that in a very real way we live and move and have our being in God’s grace. Today we will think about God’s grace and the crucial role it plays in the United Methodist understanding of the Christian faith.

~Tom Duley

The Word

Ephesians 2:1-9

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.