Grounded in heritage: Reaching out with the love of Jesus
Pastor Rosemary and Joe
Partners in Ministry
What the Puzzle Reveals April 1, 2018
April 3rd, 2018
What the Puzzle Reveals
(Quoted Scripture is New International Version)
Something new was revealed the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Something difficult to understand with the human mind. This Rabbi Jesus, who had been brutally beaten, crucified and declared dead, wasn’t where he was supposed to be! His body was no longer in the tomb. Where could it be? It’s a mystery. It’s a puzzle.
Mary Magdalene and another Mary, who was a follower of Jesus, arrive at the tomb and find a large stone sealing the tomb. All of a sudden, a big, strong angel from the angel army of God appears. The ground begins to shake, the angel rolls away the stone and sits on it! As if to say, ‘My work is done now, I’ll sit for a while.’ The guards understandably are shaken to the core and faint dead away.
Then the women hear the angel speak. I wonder what an angel’s voice sounds like? “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples. He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7)
The women begin to run back to where the rest of Jesus’ disciples are. They are afraid! This has never happened before, how could this be? Yet they are filled with joy to think their master, who called them friend, who taught them by example; to love, to forgive, to care for others sacrificially, Jesus is alive!
Then another shock! Jesus appears to the two women. Jesus tells them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (v. 10)
Women were actually the first to know and to tell the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus gave women the right to preach over 2,000 years ago! Some men say women are not allowed to preach, read your Bible, guys!
Jesus’ birth, life, death, and glorious resurrection, is a mystery, a puzzle. What does this puzzle reveal about God?
God loves us so much that He came to us in a form we could relate to. A human Jesus, who was the fulfillment of prophecies from Old Testament times. A human Jesus, who reached out his hands to comfort, to heal. A human Jesus, who taught us with wisdom from His Father God, and showed us how to love and how to serve one another.
A human Jesus, who looked at us with eyes of love. A human Jesus, whose love for us held him on the cross.
When we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and God raised him from the dead; this human Jesus connects us to one another and to God.
When we confess that we cannot do this life alone, that we need a Savior, the Holy Spirit that Jesus said he’d send to us in His name, indwells us and enables us to love one another as God loves us: with grace and forgiveness.
Jesus loves you. Jesus loves me. Jesus is waiting for you to find him, to believe in him, so he can give you all of the love he’s been saving just for you!
Pastor Rosemary DeHut April 1, 2018
April 3rd, 2018
The Champion March 25, 2018
March 26th, 2018
Psalm 118:19-29 and Mark 11:1-11
(Quoted scripture is New International Version)
March 1941 was a time when many patriotic young Americans enlisted in the Army. Among them was a man who was not so young, just shy of age 22, film actor James Stewart had just won an Oscar for The Philadelphia Story.
Stewart had been drafted in October 1940, but he’d been rejected because he didn’t weigh enough for his height. Already a highly skilled pilot, having earned his private license in 1935 and his commercial license in 1938. He was deeply disappointed that he couldn’t offer his skills in the Army Air Corps.
Undaunted, Stewart started working with a physical trainer on the staff of MGM Studios. A year later he qualified to enlist as a private. Although he was nearly six years beyond the age limit for Aviation Cadet training, he was soon admitted into the program with a lieutenant’s commission.
The Army was delighted to have an Oscar-winning star in its ranks. They had big plans for him, making public appearances at War Bond and recruitment rallies. But Stewart wanted to fly.
Because of his aviation experience and his celebrity status, the Army tagged him as a flight instructor, assigning him stateside. But Stewart didn’t just want to fly; he wanted to fly in combat. Eventually the Army heeded his pleas and sent him to Europe as the pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber.
Swiftly rising through the ranks, he soon became a major and squadron commander. Although he could have led his squadron from the ground, he chose to fly as many missions himself as he could. By the time the war ended, he was a full colonel and had earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the French Croix de Guerre. He was one of only a few American soldiers who rose from private to colonel in just four years.
Like many veterans, Stewart’s transition back to civilian life was difficult. He drifted back to Hollywood but found it much changed. Struggling with what we’d now call post-traumatic stress disorder, he wasn’t sure if he could act again.
Director Frank Capra, himself a veteran, pitched him a film role: “You’d be playing a guy who’s very depressed, and you decide to kill yourself on Christmas Eve.” Stewart figured he knew all about that, so he agreed.
It’s a Wonderful Life won him his third Best Actor nomination. Although critics panned it as overly sentimental, eventually it became one of the best-loved movies of all time. Jimmy Stewart was back, although he always declined invitations to star in big war movies, and his contracts barred studios from citing his military career in their publicity.
Although much in demand as an actor, Stewart quietly continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve. Eventually he retired with the rank of brigadier general.
Many would say the character he played in It’s a Wonderful Life, the small-town banker George Bailey who stands up for ordinary people, was his defining role.
It came naturally to him. Because Jimmy Stewart, like George Baily, was a champion.
I didn’t know all this about Jimmy Stewart, until I stumbled upon it this past week. As I read the scripture for Palm Sunday, I began to see similarities between Jimmy Stewart’s life and Jesus. Jesus too was a small-town boy who stood up for ordinary people. So, I wondered what Jimmy’s faith was, and I did some research.
Jimmy Stewart was raised a Presbyterian and remained devout in that faith for his entire life. Stewart’s father, Alexander Stewart, instilled Presbyterianism in Jimmy, carting the family to Calvary Presbyterian Church in Indiana, Pennsylvania every week, making Jimmy promise to go to church in Hollywood, and holding him to it.
Stewart, went against the norm in Hollywood by only marrying once and never divorcing, He and his wife, Gloria Hatrick McLean, were married in a Presbyterian church in Brentwood, California. He also raised his children in that faith. His son, Michael, wrote: “We were raised with that small-town Christian Presbyterian ethic that nobody owes you a living.”
I don’t know about you, but I sure wish parents today would raise their children in the Christian faith and instill in them what Stewart’s son Michael learned!
Jimmy Stewart was a humble man who served his fellow man. He was willing to go to battle and even give his life so that others could be free. I think Jimmy Stewart felt that way, because of his faith in Jesus Christ. I think Jimmy’s faith made him a champion.
Just before today’s reading, in the gospel of Mark, in chapter 10, Jesus tells his disciples, “—whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)
A true champion is a person who is willing to serve others, even if it means risking his or her life. Jesus was a true champion.
In our gospel reading today, we read that Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem as a servant and yet as a king. Let’s contrast Jesus’ entry with that of Pontius Pilate, who was also entering Jerusalem that day.
Two processions entered Jerusalem on a spring day in the year 30. One was a peasant procession, the other an imperial procession. From the east, Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives, cheered by his followers. Jesus was from the peasant village of Nazareth, his message was about the kingdom of God, and his followers came from the peasant class.
On the opposite side of the city, from the west, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Idumea, Judea and Samaria, entered Jerusalem at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers. Jesus’ procession proclaimed the kingdom of God. Pilate’s proclaimed the power of the empire. The two processions embody the central conflict of the week that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate’s military procession was a demonstration of both Roman imperial power and Roman imperial theology.
It was the standard practice of the Roman governors of Judea to be in Jerusalem for the Jewish festivals in case there was trouble. The mission of the troops with Pilate was to reinforce the Roman garrison permanently stationed in the Fortress Antonia, overlooking the Jewish Temple and its courts. Imagine the imperial procession’s arrival in the city. A vision of imperial power: cavalry on horses, foot soldiers, leather armor, helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on metal and gold. Sounds: the marching of feet, the creaking of leather, the clinking of bridles, the beating of drums. The swirling of dust. The eyes of the silent onlookers, some curious, some awed, some resentful. Pilate’s procession displayed not only imperial power, but also Roman imperial theology.
According to Roman theology, the emperor was not simply the ruler of Rome, but the Son of God for Rome’s Jewish subjects.
As we return to the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem in Mark 11:1-11, we come to understand this parade is God’s plan. This parade has been foretold in the Jewish Bible. The people waving the palms and spreading their cloaks and palms on the road would know Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
In Mark, the reference to Zechariah is clear. The next verse 10, in Zechariah’s prophecy, describes what kind of king he will be: “He will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the river (Euphrates) to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus rides in as a king of peace, in contrast to Pilate riding in as a king of war. Yet who wins the ultimate battle? Who becomes the champion over sin and death? Who defeats Satan’s influence over all human beings, Jesus!
We too can become champions over sin and death, if we will proclaim Jesus as Lord of lords, and King of kings over our heart and life. It was God’s plan from when Adam and Eve sinned and had to leave the Garden of Eden. Sin and death began to reign in the hearts of men and women. It was God’s plan to redeem the human race, through the sacrifice of himself, through Jesus the Son. The prophets spoke of it and Jesus fulfilled God’s plan.
We do love the spontaneous joy of Palm Sunday, the parade, the shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10)
We look on with wonder on this Palm Sunday as we remember a very human young man who is willing to become the champion by becoming vulnerable, by letting himself be exploited and abused by others. A young man who loves his friends and his nation and his Father God and the city of Jerusalem. Who loves the gift of his own life so much that he decides to live it out thoroughly, passionately, and courageously.
As my faith has deepened over the years of learning about Jesus, and pondering the meaning of his life, I see in the drama of this day something of the nature of God. God loves like that. God loves us like that. God comes into life where it is lived, into your life and mine, wherever we are, whoever we are; young, middle-aged, old, healthy or sick, happy or sad, confident or scared to death, serene or anxious. God comes and bids us live our lives, following Jesus, with intentionality and the vulnerability of great love, with passion and courage and gratitude. Jesus sets for us the example of how to become a champion in the world we live in.
I’ll close with a story of some real champions. You may have heard this wonderful story before, yet it is worth repeating. It’s an incident that occurred during the Special Olympics. Nine children competing in a Special Olympics race, lined up for the 100 yard dash. The gun sounded and the race was off. Only a few yards into the race, one of the children fell and began to cry. For some reason these challenged children did not understand the world’s concept of competition and getting ahead and taking advantage when a competitor was down.
The other eight children stopped running and came back to their fallen comrade. A young girl with Down’s Syndrome kissed him and brushed him off. The children lifted him up together, arm in arm, they ran over the finish line. The audience rose to their feet in applause. There was not one child who became the champion that day, there were nine children who became champions.
The definition of a champion, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: a warrior, a fighter, a defender, one that does battle for another’s rights or honor.
Jesus did all these things. Jesus was a warrior who fought Satan for the hearts of men and women. He did battle with Satan, and just when Satan thought he’d won when Jesus died on the cross; Jesus conquers the grave and God raised him from the dead in glorious victory over sin and death!
Jesus is the champion of my life. I pray that he is the champion of your life as well. We cannot conquer Satan’s influence over our earthly life, unless we recognize Jesus as champion of our life and our world!
Pastor Rosemary DeHut
March 25, 2018
March 26th, 2018
A Fertile Heart March 18, 2018
March 19th, 2018
A Fertile Heart
Jeremiah 31:31-34 and John 12:20-33
(Quoted scripture is New Revised Standard Version)
John Wesley wrote to his people called Methodist the following Rule of Conduct: Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.
How did John Wesley come to believe and write these words, and to live them out in his life? John’s heart had become fertile ground because of the way he was raised and nurtured, so when those seeds of faith were planted, they grew and flourished in ways which brought people to Jesus. And in ways which established the Methodist Church, which this body of Christ is a part of.
In last week’s sermon I reaffirmed what I often say; ‘We are today whom we have been.’ The way we were raised and nurtured, the words spoken to us and the things done to us, what we’ve experienced up until this moment; all influence who we are. I hope you had a chance to watch the segment Oprah Winfrey did on 60 Minutes about the work being done in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She confirmed her epiphany of realizing that instead of saying, ‘What’s wrong with that child?’, we should be asking ourselves, ‘What happened to that child?’
What happened to John Wesley that made him the man he became? For John Wesley, his heart became fertile ground for those seeds of faith to be planted simply because of the way he was raised, nurtured and educated. He was loved and disciplined by his mother Susanna Wesley, in such a way that the seeds of faith and service could be planted and grow.
John was expected to become proficient in Latin and Greek and to have learned major portions of the New Testament by heart. Susanna Wesley examined each of her children before the midday meal and before evening prayers. Children were not allowed to eat between meals and were interviewed singularly by their mother one evening each week for the purpose of intensive spiritual instruction. For John and his 8 brothers and sisters, their hearts became fertile ground because of their mother Susanna. Fertile ground where seeds of faith would continue to grow and the result would be the Methodist church.
Every year at this time my mother starts seeds indoors to be planted in the garden when the threat of frost is over. She also plants vegetable and flower seeds directly in the garden. It always amazes her and many of us, how you can plant this little seed and it grows into plants which may delight our eyes with the beauty of flowers; or delight our taste with vegetables or fruit.
Botanically, we know quite a bit about seeds and how they germinate. We know that a seed consists of a protective seed coat, some kind of storage tissue with nutrient reserves, and a dormant plant embryo. We further know that under the correct conditions the dormant embryo can be “awakened” to germinate and grow into a mature plant. Some Botanists say that in every seed there is an on/off switch that will let the seed grow. In reality, that seed has to be planted in the ground and die to what it has been in order to become what God created it to be.
At some point the seed is turned “on” and it begins to sprout. In time, what was once a seed is transformed into a flower, fruit, vegetable, or grain. Jesus used this illustration of wheat being buried in the fertile ground, in our gospel reading today. In order for that seed to grow, the ground has to receive it and nurture it. Before we look at Jesus’ words, let us examine how our heart can become fertile ground for those seeds of faith to grow.
The Lord says to the prophet Jeremiah that He will make a New Covenant with the people. In Jeremiah 31:33-34, God says, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” That New Covenant will be Jesus Christ, God’s One and Only Son.
When we receive Jesus into our heart, our heart becomes the fertile ground for seeds of faith to grow. Without Jesus, our heart remains barren, where nothing can grow and our natural sinful inclination of human selfishness continues to reign. Without Jesus, our heart remains empty and unfulfilled. Many unbelievers do not recognize this emptiness because their heart is filled with the things of this world. Yet Jesus tells us the things of this world will not give us abundant life now, nor eternal life when we die our earthly death.
We read in John 12:24-25, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world, will keep it for eternal life.”
Joe Gibbs, the coach of the Washington Redskins when they won the Super bowl in 1992, knew that without Jesus in our heart there is a vacuum, an emptiness.
In 1992, the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl with an explosive victory over the Buffalo Bills. Seventy-five thousand people gathered on the mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument to cheer their team and Coach. Four days later, Chuck Colson called the Redskins’ office to see if any football players could attend a rally at a prison the next day. Many of the players had given their life to Christ. Joe Gibbs, the head coach, answered the phone and told Colson that all the players had left the city for a well-deserved rest. With his characteristic humility, Joe Gibbs asked Colson, “Will I do?”
Colson immediately accepted the offer by the coach of the championship Washington Redskins. Five days after winning the Super Bowl, Joe Gibbs could have opened any door in Washington DC but he was willing to walk behind the locked steel doors of the penitentiary for the District of Columbia to speak to men about his faith in Christ.
Joe Gibbs stood up to speak to the cheers, whistles and applause of 500 prisoners five days after he had won the most prestigious event in pro sports.
He told those men: “A lot of people in the world would probably look at me and say: Man, if I could just coach in the Super Bowl, I’d be happy and fulfilled… But I’m here to tell you, it takes something else in your life besides money, position, football, power, and fame.
The vacuum in each of our lives can only be filled through a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I’m telling you, we’ll spend the rest of our lives in a meaningless existence. I’ve seen it in football players’ eyes, and I’ve seen it in men who are on their deathbed. There’s nothing else that will fill the vacuum.”*
I echo Joe Gibbs’ statement. I too have seen the emptiness in the eyes of people who cling to their ‘this world life.’ They are devasted when they lose their health, their money, their job, their position, power and success. I’ve witnessed deaths where there was no faith in a life beyond the grave. The fear and desperation in their eyes is hopelessness. They have lived a meaningless existence and now they have no hope of what is to come.
I was called into Long Term Care in Ontonagon to pray over a woman who had no family and no faith. She was unconscious and in her last minutes of life. As I began to pray, she began to moan and twist and turn in her bed and a cold dark presence was in that room. I continued to pray and she began to calm down, but as I left, there was still a shadowy presence. She died about an hour after I left her room. I do not know to this day if she ended up in heaven or hell.
This is why I believe so strongly in our Christian Kids’ Club, our Christian education for children and youth. We may not know what goes on behind the closed doors of the children’s homes, but we have influence over them for 2 hours every week. If they attend summer camp at Camp Michigamme, we have another chance to create fertile hearts in which the seeds of faith can be planted and grow; fertile hearts that are nurtured in God’s love.
Jesus said in John 12:32, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” I believe this meant not only lifted up on the cross in His crucifixion, but also lifted from the grave in His resurrection, which is the cornerstone of our faith, as well as lifted up when He ascended back to His home in heaven.
If we do not teach the children about Jesus’ sacrifice of love for all people’s sins, who will? Yet the sacrifice of living for the world, must be the first to go, in us and in the ones we teach. We have to ‘die to self’ in order to have a fertile heart where seeds of faith can grow.
A fertile heart is one which has bowed before Jesus and confessed. ‘I am a sinner, Lord Jesus. Forgive me for my sins. I give you my heart. Take it and mold me into the person you created me to be. I chose to die to self that I may live for you. Help me to witness to others what it means to live for you and not for the things of this world. Amen’
Pastor Rosemary DeHut March 18, 2018
References: *Billy D. Strayhorn, From the Pulpit, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
March 19th, 2018
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Sunday Service 11:00 A.M. Central Time (nursery available)
Phone Number: 906-932-3900
Pastor: Rev. Rosemary DeHut
Pastor Rosemary is in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays
~~ For the renewal of the church Spirit of promise, Spirit of unity, We thank you that you are also a Spirit of renewal. Renew in the whole Church That passionate desire for the coming of your kingdom Which will unite all Christians in one mission to the world. May we all grow up together into him who is our head, The Savior of the world. Amen. ~~