The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

What if we already have what we need?

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Sermon of June 12, 2005 – Proper 6A

Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7); Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; Romans 5:1-8; Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)

Worship order summary:Sarah laughed

Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7);
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19;
Come, Now is the Time to Worship
I Waited
Healing Grace
Ben and Monte: Romans 5:1-8
Sharon: Sharing
Give Thanks
Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)
I Want to Know You

Worship order working copy:

10:42 flash lights
10:45 cue worship opener
when it’s done, lights 100% except spots off

Monte intro
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)

[Remember the promise from last week’s Genesis reading first, and mention the times they gave up on it]

[cue Sarah laughs]

GOD appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day. 2He looked up and saw three men standing. He ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them.

3He said, “Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant. 4I’ll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree. 5I’ll get some food to refresh you on your way, since your travels have brought you across my path.”

They said, “Certainly. Go ahead.”

6Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, “Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread.”

7Then Abraham ran to the cattle pen and picked out a nice plump calf and gave it to the servant who lost no time getting it ready. 8Then he got curds and milk, brought them with the calf that had been roasted, set the meal before the men, and stood there under the tree while they ate.

9The men said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”

He said, “In the tent.”

10One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man.

11Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. 12Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?”

13GOD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, “Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’ 14Is anything too hard for GOD? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.”

15Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid.

But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”

(Genesis 21)

1GOD visited Sarah exactly as he said he would; GOD did to Sarah what he promised: 2Sarah became pregnant and gave Abraham a son in his old age, and at the very time God had set. 3Abraham named him Isaac. 4When his son was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him just as God had commanded.

5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born.

6Sarah said,

God has blessed me with laughter

and all who get the news will laugh with me!

7She also said,

Whoever would have suggested to Abraham

that Sarah would one day nurse a baby!

Yet here I am! I’ve given the old man a son!

[cue Psalm 116]

1I love GOD because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy.
2He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him. …
12What can I give back to GOD
for the blessings he’s poured out on me?
13I’ll lift high the cup of salvation–a toast to GOD!
I’ll pray in the name of GOD;
14I’ll complete what I promised GOD I’d do,
and I’ll do it together with his people.
15When they arrive at the gates of death,
GOD welcomes those who love him.
16Oh, GOD, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
17I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice
and pray in the name of GOD.
18I’ll complete what I promised GOD I’d do,
and I’ll do it in company with his people,
19In the place of worship, in GOD’s house,
in Jerusalem, GOD’s city.

cue Come, Now is the Time to Worship
cue I Waited
cue Healing Grace
cue logo

Ben reads, Monte replies: Romans 5:1-8 (The Message) – standing in the wide open spaces of his glory. shouting our praise when hemmed in with troubles. being right where God can work.

Developing Patience

1By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us–set us right with him, make us fit for him–we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. 2And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand–out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

3There’s more to come:

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles,

[Monte: Wait: what do you want more than anything else?]

because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary–we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

[Monte: if what I want more than anything else is God himself, I’ll get what I want more than anything else, no matter what happens. He takes it all and makes it the means by which he gives me himself. Consider our current smallness. Our current lack of money.]

6Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway.

[Monte: Ab and Sa – apparently are past ready! But it is in coming to utter not-ready, and awareness of it, that sets the stage for their joy. See next sentence – “far too weak and rebellious.” Wherever you are, wherever your loved ones are, God has us all right in the ideal place to give us himself.]

7We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. 8But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

Sharing: Sharon

Give Thanks

Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23) now, turning a corner – we’re in just the right place for God to act.

35Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. 36When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. 37“What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! 38On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”

Matthew 10

The Twelve Harvest Hands

1The prayer was no sooner prayed than it was answered. Jesus called twelve of his followers and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives. 2This is the list of the twelve he sent:

Simon (they called him Peter, or “Rock”),
Andrew, his brother,
James, Zebedee’s son,
John, his brother,
Matthew, the tax man,
James, son of Alphaeus,
4Simon, the Canaanite,
Judas Iscariot (who later turned on him).

5Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:

[cue Mat 10:5-14]

“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. 6Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood.

[not a change of circumstances we need, but a change of focus. The task is right before us.]

[cue page 2]

7Tell them that the kingdom is here. 8Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

(Matthew 10:9-23) [I was on the way to England, flying over the Atlantic. Thinking about the church, and money. How are we ever going to …? With something of a sigh, I turned on my Palm, and heard these words. Really!]

[cue page 3]

9“Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. 10You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.

[Break through! What’s our mission statement say? Growing relationships with God, self, and others. With what do you do that? You are the equipment! We have what we need!]

11“When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave.

[cue page 4]

12“When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. 13If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. 14If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. 15You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry–but it’s no concern of yours now.

[cue snarling wolf] 16“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves

[Ask for some to be willing to say “baaa!” “Suppose you’re a wolf pack. You haven’t noticed sheep among you. And then you hear … baaa!; Whoa, that’s gonna get some drooling attention!

Now we churches think our business is to attract attention. But the way of Jesus, apparently, is not about promotion! For me, not letters to the editor. I want to confront. But Jesus stayed away from Jerusalem until it was time – avoided confrontation, worked where he could work. Hence, courtesy, gentle conversation, quiet withdrawal, no scene. I read this week that most of Jesus’ work happened within 12 square miles!]

Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. [cue snake and dove] 17“Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation–just because you believe in me. 18Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you–and me–a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! 19And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; 20the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.

[everything that happens turns out for what you want most; and God uses it.]

21“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good,

[… then everything will be alright?]

they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. 22There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. 23It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.

Prayer: to work right where we are. to be content. to quietly grow relationships as our first order of business, and not be fooled by causes.
I Want to Know You

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