Detours

Detours are terrible things in my opinion. They WILL not allow me to get where I’m going in a timely fashion. They make me late…they make me slow down…they make me angry! That being said, there have been times when I have seen amazing things on detours that I obviously wouldn’t have seen had the road taken me the way I wanted to go. The wise men…and Mary and Joseph are all directed in dream to take a detour after Jesus is born to avoid the wrath of Herod. I wonder what that was life for them?

Reading Matthew 2:1-23

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Christmas with Matthew

When we have Christmas with Matthew we get a very unsentimental version of the story we celebrate tonight. Matthew’s version is earthy, real and touches us where we live…which, of course, is the whole point of the story in the first place!

Reading Matthew 1:18-25

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Great Value Series Part 3: Questioning John

Many people, not just John, found Jesus to be an enigma. Many do today. What’s an enigma? Someone or something that is profoundly puzzling or mysterious. I’m wondering if part of what makes someone or something an enigma has something to do with one’s perceptions. John, in the wilderness saw Jesus, the Messiah as one who would ‘clean house’ so to speak…be a mean Paul Bunyan, chopping down trees and burning them. Jesus says, “You’re a good man, John the Baptist, the greatest who ever lived, but the Messiah is not a maid who cleans house. The messiah is not someone who comes to meet your expectations but rather someone who comes to meet the needs of all those…ALL those on the fringes of society. The messiah is not about massacre but rather forgiveness, healing and mercy.”
So…does Jesus REALLY answer John’s question? Yes and No. Well isn’t THAT an enigma?! You can decide for yourself.

Readings –  Isaiah 35:1-10   Matthewe 11:2-15 

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Great Value Series Part 2: “Dear John…”

John the Baptist is NOT a welcomed presence in our Christmas-y time. And yet here he is…again as he is every year…daring to suggest that repentance is required to even get to Jesus in the first place. Imagine a Christmas Card…on the front it says Merry Christmas and on the inside: Repent or else! Nice.
And so what I do is write a ‘Dear John…’ letter to Dear John. No love lost here!

Readings Matthew 3.1-12

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Great Value Series Part 1: Advent Now and Again

I was in Walmart the other day and was really hungry. I was looking at the deli ham and grabbed the largest, cheapest pack I could. After all it said, GREAT VALUE. The fact of the matter is: it was NOT the Black Forest Honey Baked Ham is claimed to be. It was a knock off brand if I may. During the Christmas season, there are lots of knock off brands…cheap substitutes for what Christmas is all about which do not recognize Advent is a real season…and that there is one every year, now…that also points to one THEN…in the future when Jesus comes in all his glory…AGAIN! This series will attempt to take advent seriously, but will hopefully not show a solidarity with the ‘war on Christmas’ either.

Readings    Isaiah 2.1-5  Matthew 24.36-44

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Steady, Lord, Steady A ‘Triple A’ Guide to a Steadfast God

In a world where things sometimes seem bleak and where it is easy to become pessimistic and cynical , we have a steadfast God who is available, accessible, and affordable. And His love “endures forever”!

Readings from Ecclesiastes 1:9 and Psalm 136:1-3

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Remember the Lunchroom

“Teenage Royalty” can be found in the film “Mean Girls”. Was that you or were you on the other side? Did you sit with the right people. Maybe you were a jock, a techie a nerd? Were you the “royalty” of the school sitting in the seats of honor? Or maybe the seats of the uncool, seats of shame. It was also found in the stories of the bible. Listen as Pastor Bob unpacks the story of Jesus in the “lunchroom”.

Readings: Luke 14:1, 14:7-14

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The Road

The Road – Last week we thought together about the power of Jesus among, within and for the unclean.  This morning we will begin a 4 week series that will be focused on several service groups who have intentional ministries and visions to serve the least of these among us here in Syracuse.  We will engage in a Q and A with the people from The Road today.  They are the new faith community in the ole Methodist Church on the turnpike who passes out the PB and J sandwiches downtown.  We will also have a chance to pray for these good people.  Our hope in this series is that we may be lead as a faith family to be more intentionally and sustainably engaged with some of these groups.

Readings:   Matthew 22:34-40    Matthew 25:31-46

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A Story of the Unclean

Tombs are unclean. Pigs are unclean and it was an unclean spirit that knewJesus in this story. AND…the story takes place in a land of the ‘unclean…’ a Gentile land. So what? So Jesus helps us see who he is and what he can in and with and for the unclean, which, like it or not, may include you and me!

Readings: Luke 8:26-39

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Dead End

I was talking with Margaret Evans the other day and she was telling me she could only talk a minute because she was on the way to the funeral home…AGAIN! This was her third time in two weeks. She lost 3 life-long friends that quickly. These stories from Scripture shed some light on the reality of God’s gracious activity…especially for Margaret, and for all of us when “grief is raw.”It is precisely in situations of great need, when there’s a dead end, literally, that God’s grace breaks in.

Readings: Luke 7.11-17 and 1 Kings 17.17-24

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