Saturday, June 1, 2019

Fr. Phil in Loveland: "Figuring out what "as" is

May 19, 2019
St Peter's, Loveland CO
Fr.  Phil Eberhart 


Figuring out what "as" is!


Jn 13:34-35

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you,  that you love each other in that way.  If you love each other that way everyone will know that you are my disciples!"



Good morning and greetings from REZ in Greenwood Village CO.   Today we're playing musical priests!   Fr Michael from Cheyenne is attending his daughter's college graduation in Grand Junction so Fr. Edward is preaching for him.   I heard of the arrangement a couple weeks back and asked for the opportunity to supply here.   I'm afraid we'll have to still do another pulpit exchange sometime because our folks at Rez are needing a Fr Ed sermon fix pretty badly!   So we'll plan another time after all the summer trips and Provincial falderal! 

Happily,  this morning's gospel is one of those nutshell gospel readings that takes a lifetime to really do. 

I've called this sermon,  "Figuring out what "as" is."

Jesus said this is a new commandment. 
But we all know the old one... "Love God with all your heart,  soul,  mind and strength... and your neighbor as yourself. "  in fact we call it The GREAT Commandment!

Here, once again,  Jesus ups the ante!

He takes an Old Testament law and brings it into our lives with even more potency and vigor.   It's no longer adequate to just love your neighbor in any ol' way,  but now AS I have loved you. 

So now we need to figure out was AS is, what it means to love AS Jesus loves.  Seems like a pretty tall order! 

There's a prayer that we at Rez memorized some years back from the prayerbook... 

"Lord Jesus Christ,  You stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of Your saving embrace;  So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love may bring those who do not know You to the knowledge and love of you,  for the honor of your Name.   Amen"

Seems to capture the essence of this new commandment!   Jesus outstretched arms,  a symbol of God's unfailing,  everlasting love.   That there is a "saving embrace" for each and every one of us... and for all who will receive such an embrace! 

If you love each other in the same way I love you... the whole world will know... they'll sit up and take notice!  Love is God's program of evangelism!  It's plan A and there is no plan B!

The Apostle John is renowned for his insistence that we love one another!  Outside of the writings of John there are only three other references that use that phrase in the New Testament.   John uses those exact words 9 times!  Do you think there may be a point coming here? 

Our gospel this morning is the New Command and Jesus says it twice more just in the discourse of that last night! 
And John picks it up in his letters and reiterates it 6 more times!   Kind of like a broken record, huh?   Why,  because we need to hear it that often in order to get it! 

It's said that the Apostle in his old age would sit in the midst of the churches and say,  "Little Children,  Love one Another! "  when asked why that was what he said so often he replied,  "Because if you DO it, it's enough!"

If you do it,  it's enough! 

I want to wrap up with two observations...

First,  in the midst of Jesus agony on the cross there is a moment where he released the unfailing love of the Father over us who crucified Him.  Any one know when that was? 

"Father,  forgive them,  for they know not what they do. "

In those words Jesus pronounced the Love of God over all of us,  over all who had gone before and over all who will come after us!   Henri Nouwen was once heard to comment that "Forgiveness is the name of love among those of us who love poorly!"

Jesus loved profoundly and lived that love out to the death.   He said,  "Greater love hath no man than this,  to lay down his life for his friends."  We laid to rest this week in Denver a young man who exemplified this kind of self-sacrificing love for friends... a young man named Kenrick.  The only son of his parents laid down his life to save the lives of his friends.   

Lord,  let us live such lives!   Because if we do,  all around us will know by experience the love of God the Father! 
We don't have to die physically,  but we have to die to self!

I got to preach my daughter's wedding a couple weeks ago.  From 1 Cor 13, verses we're all familiar with bear well on this subject.   The love of Jesus was a perfect love.  I challenged the bride and groom to use those verses like a recipe for life. I challenge us today to live a life of love in this way,  in the Jesus Way...

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else . Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 TPT

I told Aly and Jenny to consider the words we just heard as their recipe for a long and happy married life.  There's a good mix of real character, of long-suffering generosity... of never-flagging  hope...   and some gracious bull-headed-ness will make something that is both sweet to the taste and good for you and for the world around you. 

The same is true of each of us,  in our homes,  our relationships,  our business acquaintances,  our day to day contacts in the course of every day life! 

Make sure you have all the ingredients!
 > Patience with each other...
 > Kindness in your voice and
> Gentleness in your manner...
> No jealousy or puffed-up pride or self- aggrandizement.  Never "me first!"
 > Trash the shame and disrespect we so often use as weapons. 
 > Put your spouse first,  ... always. Period.
>  No irritability or taking offense now,  you're giving up those rights! 
> No delight when someone else "gets what's coming to them"
> instead,  celebrate honesty... be someone else's safe place... believe the best not the worst...
 > if the other falls,  pick them up... falling is a part of life, but failure need not be. 

This is what the AS is!   Love never fails because love never quits! 

Let's pray...

"Lord Jesus Christ,  You stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of Your saving embrace;  So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love may bring those who do not know You to the knowledge and love of you,  for the honor of your Name.   Amen"

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother's Day - The Legacy of a MOM

Mother's Day
May 12, 2019
Fr. Phil Eberhart


Acts 13:14b-16, 26-39
Ps 100
Rev 7:9-17
Jn 10:22-30

The Legacy of a Mom


I think most know that my own mom is in assisted-living out in Burlington and many of you pray for her, Darlene, and I so appreciate that!   This morning I want to share a bit of my own testimony about her and my Grandmother, Hazel Donner.

There is a verse in Paul's letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, that reads like this:

[2Ti 1:4-7 NLT] 4 I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again. 5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. 6 This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Faith follows family lines!  In scripture elsewhere, we read that the effects of sin move down the family line to the 3rd and even to the 4th generation, but the effects of righteousness flood the family line down to the 1000th generation!

This morning I want to talk about a grandmother's and a mother's legacy.  

A few weeks ago on Easter I was talking with our 8 AM Easter service visitors after the service and called myself an Angli-Bapti-Costal!  Well the Baptist root in there is from my own Grandmother, Hazel.  You share the faith that first filled your grandmother, Hazel and your mother, Darlene.

My grandma was a relentless prayer and gift-giver!  Every time it was possible to give a gift of any kind, as a child - graduation from 1st grade! - my "gram" as we called her, would see to it that I received a book or some kind of bible book mark or something that would move me toward a faith of my own.

She listened to a radio broadcast out of Nebraska called "Back to the Bible."  And they were a small ministry that used their influence and the technology of the day to propagate the message that the Scriptures are to be central to our lives, not peripheral.  The Bible is more than an ornament for the coffee table in the living room or the bookshelf in the library.  Even laying on your desk at work - unopened - it has little power.  But opened, it is one of the most formidable forces in the Universe!

Perhaps the greatest legacy I got from GRAM was her love for the Bible as God's Word.  She didn't sit me down a read it to me, but I was constantly reminded of her faith, by these little gifts she gave me.  And one in particular made a big difference.  Back to the Bible published a series of adventure books - teen adventures like the Hardy Boys or the Nancy Drew Mystery series - called the Danny Orlis series.  I still have a stack of those in my library, because as I finished one of them, I knelt by my bedside as a 10 year old and "gave my heart to Jesus", just like what I saw in the book.

After that the gifts changed, as I told my Gram what I had done, and was soon confirmed in the church in Kanorado, Kansas.  I was now given Bible Study tools and correspondence Bible courses to  study - to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest - we've heard that somewhere, right?  I also still have those certificates of completion I received in the mail, back from Back to the Bible Broadcast!  I was a Bible Study Achiever!  And my Gram's prize pupil.

Ladies, I cannot emphasize too much, the power that you have through faith and love and relentless prayer, to influence the young lives around you, whether your own children or others' children.  Christian comedian, Mike Warnke, once said, "If you have a little grey haired grandmother praying for you ... just give up now!"  God has a special place in His heart for little old grey haired ladies!  I'm tellin' ya.  And even those who are "secret" grey haired ladies!!

The legacy of a mom!  A mom who loves Jesus and His Word!  The power is almost inestimable!  The power to influence a 1000 generations!  How can we wrap our minds around that?

Paul goes on to charge Timothy with one of my favorite verses in all of scripture:

6 This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 

Where do we think these things come from?  Power, Love, Self-discipline?  They come through the family line, through the family system - they are modeled for children in the lives of their parents and grandparents!  They come through a home that is the incubator of love.  Last weekend I spoke to my daughter's wedding from 1 Cor 13 about marriage and family being God's "TEST KITCHEN."  And the recipe is given in 1 Cor 13:

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else . Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 TPT

Consider the words we just heard as your recipe for a long and happy married life.  There's a good mix of real character, of long-suffering generosity... of never-flagging  hope...   and some gracious bull-headed-ness will make something that is both sweet to the taste and good for you and for the world around you. 

Make sure you have all the ingredients!
 
 > Patience with each other...
 > Kindness in your voice and
> Gentleness in your manner...
> No jealousy or puffed-up pride or self- aggrandizement.  Never "me first!"
 > Trash the shame and disrespect we so often use as weapons. 
 > Put your spouse first,  ... always. Period.
>  No irritability or taking offense now,  you're giving up those rights! 
> No delight when someone else "gets what's coming to them"
> instead,  celebrate honesty... be someone else's safe place... believe the best not the worst...
 > if the other falls,  pick them up... falling is a part of life, but failure need not be. 
Mom's... we celebrate you this day.

Ladies - if you're a mom or not you have incredible power.  The power of Faith, of Love,  the power of Influence on your children, your grandchildren, other people's children!  Our children here at REZ.  
I still remember my Sunday School teacher from those days in my early childhood.  Mrs. Taylor!!

Never forget the power that you have.

Just look at this...

MOM   and upside down ...   WOW!    MOM... WOW... MOM... WOW!

Let's have all the ladies stand, young, older, mom or not...
Let's pray...

Father, we pray you will bless our ladies here at REZ.  Each one has incredible power wrapped up in a small package!
We pray that you unleash Your Power in each one and through them to all of us, and to everyone around them.  Let them be like the rock thrown into the pond that sees the ripple effect that touches every shore.  Help them to be encouraged this day and refreshed in the many many tasks that they take into their hands.  Grant grace and power to each one, now, in the Name of Jesus we pray.  Amen

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You set the solitary in families: We commend to your continual care the homes in which  your   people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech you,  every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God our Father, you see our children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

and finally,

You have told us, that "no greater love hath anyone than this, to lay down his life for his friends."  We commend to you a young hero, Kendrick, who did just that this past week, in giving his life to save his friends at the STEM School here in Highlands Ranch.  Father, protect us from this violence and growing hatred we see in our culture.  Change hearts and minds to see that You O Lord, are the answer and that in following You there is great reward.  We pray for the families effected by this week's shooting and pray that you will save us from these kinds of activities.  Give us wisdom and peace as we move from this tragedy to a true peace that is rooted in Your ways, Lord Jesus.  In your holy Name we pray,   Amen.                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter 2019 - Fr Phil

Easter 2019

April 21, 2019
Fr. Philip Eberhart



How many of you have seen the movie RISEN? 

I want to do a showing here in the next few weeks. 

It is the story of a roman centurion who is placed in charge of finding the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.  His quest takes him further and further away from the many gods of the Roman pantheon and toward the God of the Hebrews, and to His perfect image and Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Two scenes in the movie are really amazing: 

the first is his interview with one of the soldiers who was present at the tomb, now pardoned and drunk in the back of a bar.  But in relating what happened at the tomb that morning, he suddenly becomes lucid, staring off into an experience that he cannot fathom.  "The stone flew away from the tomb like a leaf!"  "I was looking at a light - like the sun - shining from the tomb"  "...so bright I could not look at it."

the second scene, is when the centurion, bursts in on the hidden disciples and Jesus is there with them.  He recognizes Jesus from the cross and is stopped in his tracks. He drops his sword and edges over to the side of the room and slides down the wall to sit on the floor, a few feet from the Savior, who is showing his wounds to Thomas (and the centurion, by the way.)

One of my favorite verses in the NT is a verse that I used as a text on the day I preached my father's funeral:  It was the verse I was preparing for a sermon during the week he was in the hospital, unresponsive to either I or mom.  It is from First Peter 1:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Friends,  

the event we commemorate and celebrate today is more than just something that happened, a long time ago and far far away!  It more than the stuff of movies, though it certainly is that!

It is the stuff of life change!

If we fully grasp the significance of this day, the "weight of glory" that it holds for us who believe and indeed, for all persons;  

If we take ahold of its meaning for us and for others;

If we take the time to ponder the questions it poses to us, especially in our modern world:



         Who is this Jesus?



         What is the meaning of this death?
                  


         What happened to the body?
                 


         If Jesus rose from the dead,


             ...  then what?

When we simply conclude, as the centurion did, that ITS ALL TRUE,
THEN it changes everything!

It changes our whole life!  


It changes our past, our future. 


It changes our brokenness & our success!  


It changes our loneliness, our relationships, our friendships, our companions.  


It changes our eating, our drinking...  


      the bread and the wine.



It changes everything... if it's true. 

 But is it?

Have you come to the conclusion of your quest?  I presume if you are here this morning that you are at least on the quest!  The quest to find the answer to those questions for you.  To find the thing that changes everything about our existence on planet earth.  That explains it all and gives it meaning and purpose.

Peter calls it A LIVING HOPE!  


Alive indeed! Because the Lord is RISEN INDEED! 

Can you imagine the scene in the Upper Room that first night after that morning.  The news had come from the women, from Mary, who had been told to go tell "the disciples AND PETER."  Isn't it interesting that Peter was singled out by the Risen Jesus for the news.  Why?  Not because Jesus didn't consider him a disciple anymore, but because Peter himself probably didn't.  He was in the room, but can you imagine the shame - no leadership here anymore!  Just shame.  Along with the whole crew who abandoned their Lord in His time of need.

And suddenly Jesus is standing there.  Peter hears the corporate gasp of the other disciples and slowly turns to meet the Risen One, face to face. All the color - all the life flows from his body and he falls to his knees, his face buried in the robe of Jesus for shame.

Jesus reaches down and lifts him up with nail scarred hands. He lifts his shamed face to look into the face of His savior.  And he says,...

What do you hear Jesus say to you?

We are all Peter!  We have all betrayed and abandoned him at times in our lives, from day to day.

What do YOU hear Jesus say?
"I told you so!"  


 "You're sure a sorry disciple!"  


 "So... Wha'd ya learn?"
NO!  None of the above.  

What were Jesus' first words to all the disciples?


"PEACE BE WITH YOU!"

Is there anyone here who would sign up for "Peace"?  "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. Not like the world gives, give I unto you."

Now imagine with me again, the moment of reunion.  

Jesus appears that evening to all the disciples.  Peter turns around and sees Jesus there - falls to his knees, his eyes sad with guilt, his fisherman's frame shaking with tears - 

And Jesus - comes over and puts his hand down on Peter's head - and then lifts him up by the shoulders, from kneeling to standing face to face.

 

Peter's eyes are still downcast.  And Jesus says it - "Peter."

 

He lifts his face and their eyes meet, just like three nights ago in the courtyard, right after his denial; but this time, Peter recognizes that familiar lilt in Jesus' voice, and realizes that He - Peter himself, the denier, the coward before the accusation of a teenage girl slave - Peter has been forgiven, and this is all really happening!

Pinch yourself - go ahead, do it!

It's all real.

Jesus wants that reality to sink in here this morning!  Because what happened to Peter and to James and John and all the others will happen to you and to me and to all the whole church.  WE GET HIS PEACE AND JOY FOLLOWS! 

Almost 60 times in the New Testament alone the word JOY is used.  Just when I look up at you I want you to say the Word JOY -  insert it in some of the more familiar examples:

[Luk 1:44 NASB] Elizabeth said: 44 "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.

[Luk 2:10 NASB] 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

[Luk 10:17 NASB] 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

[Luk 15:10 NASB] 10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

[Luk 24:41, 52 NASB] 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" ... 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

[Jhn 15:11 NASB] 11 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

[Jhn 16:20 NASB] 20 "Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.

[Act 13:52 NASB] 52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

[Rom 14:17 NASB] 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

[Gal 5:22 NASB] 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

[1Th 1:6 NASB] 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

[Heb 12:2 NASB] 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And as we heard esrlier, from Peter's own pen:

[1Pe 1:8 NASB] 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

And from John, the beloved disciple:

[1Jo 1:4 NASB] 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

[2Jo 1:12 NASB] 12 Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.

And finally in the JUDE DOXOLOGY:  (GET YOUR BELLS 

AND KEYS READY AGAIN)  [we're going to do something here that is unusual in church...   Imagine your team just won the World Series or the Super Bowl!  That is the scale we're talking about here!  Get ready -

I want your outside voice!]

[Jde 1:24 NASB] 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.

AND WE ALL SAY.  AMEN!

AMEN. Alleluia!

ALLELUIA!  THE LORD IS RISEN!!!

      THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED.   ALLELUIA !!!!!!!!!!

(SUSTAINED STANDING OVATION FOR JESUS!)

(CHEERS AND WHISTLES)

Hallelujah!  The Lord is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed!  Hallelujah!

Let us pray: 
Lord Jesus Christ, on this day you have overcome death and the grave.  You have come back to life and brought us with you from the dead!  We who were dead in our sins, worship you.  We who doubted, believe.  We who walked with you without knowing Who you were, have our eyes opened. We hear you say, Peace be with you.  


We receive your Peace - the peace that comes in Your Presence.  

We walk in the fullness of JOY!  Joy that You have given us!



Help us to come fully to believe in You, Lord Jesus.  To have a Living Hope. to be Inheritors of the imperishable.  Make us truly yours, Lord Jesus.  Help us to see in your death, the grace for our whole life.  Restore us to fully walk with you in our day to day, listening to your voice, hearing your words, filled with love for you and for others, and obeying you in every way, because we love you, Risen Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. 
In your Name and for the sake of Your Kingdom, we pray.
Amen.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

PALM SUNDAY - FR. PHIL - THE HOME STRETCH

Palm Sunday
April 14, 2019
Fr. Phil Eberhart


The Home Stretch


This morning is Palm or Passion Sunday.  We've just heard our own voices cry, "Crucify Him!"  We've traveled a week in an hour - from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the waving of Palm branches and "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!:   Hosanna to the Son of David!"  to  "Crucify Him!"  

On Palm Sunday of 1996 I entered the pulpit of this church for the first time as Priest-in-charge.  This is 23 years on now and a lot of water under the bridge.  Amidst the comments about my taking this charge, was one by Bishop Bill Frey, who simply said to me, "Watch out for triumphal entrys!"

Friends, God has used these 23 years in many people's lives, to touch, to heal, to deepen, to send, to activate and reactivate people for the Kingdom of God.

I can't preach long this morning because of all that we've got going on.  So much of the whole Holy Week message is simply contained in the actions we partake in, the processional, the reading, the foot washing and communion on Thursday, the observance of the Crucifixion on Friday, the stories of God's People on Saturday and the Resurrection on Sunday next.  I've entitled the sermon  "THE HOME STRETCH."  

For Jesus this last week of His life here on earth was a Home stretch!  We think of the horses in a horse race when we hear that term, and the supreme effort it takes to do the last bit of the race to the finish line.  The distance from Hosanna, Lord! to "It is Finished" was the Home Stretch for Jesus Christ.   I would encourage you to read through the synoptic Gospels, Mark, then Matthew & Luke as they share the story of this last week, and then go to John, later in the week and reread the last almost half of John, from Chapter 12 to 21.  Just like Jesus, my friends, the more that we put into the Home Stretch this week, the more we will get out of it, next Sunday.  As we move through the darkness of the three days, walking with Jesus from the Upper Room to the Garden of Prayer, to the trial and condemnation, to the crucifixion - taking it all in - and then sitting in the dark Friday and Saturday, like the disciples did in the Upper Room.

We ask the same questions now as they did then... what do all these things mean?   How shall we now live our lives?
The power of the resurrection on Sunday is magnified for us as we take part in the journey of Holy Week - as we read and meditate on these accounts, what Jesus said and did.

So, like on Ash Wednesday, I invited you to "the observance of a Holy Lent"  now I invite you to the observance of this Holy WEEK.   7 pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening as we get ready for the greatest moment of our faith - the Resurrection of Jesus!  Consider it all, brothers and sisters.  Consider it all.

Let's pray...

Lord, Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the Cross, that everyone might come into the reach of your saving embrace.  Let us so enter on the observance of and meditation on your Holy acts, that we might be clothed upon by Your Spirit, and thus reach out our hands in love to those we know and those we meet, to bring those who do know know You, Lord Jesus, to the knowledge and love of you, for the Honor of Your Name.
Amen.

LENT III - SIN IS SIN IS SIN

Lent III
Mar 24, 2019
FR. PHIL EBERHART 


Sin is sin is sin!


I had a unique experience yesterday...

I attended to rally at the State Capitol to defeat the currently proposed so-called "sex-ed" bill.  I was watching the speakers from the back of the crowd,  probably 300 folks.  I and my friend were approached by Fox 31 News to be interviewed and we went aside to do that.   As we were being interviewed a young man came and stood just within ear shot and began heckling and calling us names,  so I left the camera shot and engaged him.  As I did so the camera swung around and...

So, I was on the channel 31 news last night engaged in a debate with a former Episcopalian altar boy,  who now rejects God and the scriptures in favor of this radical political action agenda we are seeing at the state house.  

As I read the scriptures to prep for the sermon I was struck by the comments of the Apostle Paul in this paragraph in his letter to Corinth this morning:

6Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

Paul then lists out the sins of the nation as they were in the wilderness...

Idolatry, sexual immorality,  presumption (putting the Lord to the test) and grumbling against God! 

You know,  the more things change,  the more they stay the same!   The further we go down the road of civilization,  the less progress we actually make.   I think we could likely use the same "big 4" list for our modern American culture! 

The interesting thing to me here was the words of Jesus in the Gospel:

2And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?
3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Jesus is very clear and concise here.  He always brings the point back to the hearer ... to you and me.  To my individual sin and culpability before God! 

One of the earliest scriptures I was required to memorize as a college student with the Navigators was 1 Cor 10:13...

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
KJV, of course!

The point here is that we're all responsible for our own sin - all individually sinners in the big picture, all sinners that don't get to point fingers at others and say they are "worse" sinners than I am,  and to thereby justify myself in some way. 

Jesus never let anyone off the hook in that way,  ever. We don't get to compare ourselves to others,  in any way,  for good or ill.  We stand before God like Moses in front of the holiness of God at the burning bush...  each and every one of us will stand there. 

And our sin will be covered or it will be uncovered! It's that simple.  Jesus came back twice to his injunction to his hearers:

unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

God is no respecter of persons... your sin isn't greater or lesser than mine.  We're both sinners.  And we can both find grace and forgiveness at the cross!  Jesus didn't spend a lot of time mentioning particular sins because he knew we all wanted him to!  We're all anxious to get the light and heat of God's fire off of us and onto the Real sinners!  

Jesus here calls us to the work of repentance,  to name our name,  no one else's!  To stand in the place of Moses in front of God...  take off your dirty sandals,  even the ground here is holy! 

Friends, we are in Lent. The days we're living in are evil,  because of us!  We're studying Nehemiah and his first response was to repent!  That's a good example! Nehemiah spent months in prayerful repentance before he made a move!  It's time for us to spend some time in prayerful repentance of our own and to remember the memory verse...

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Jesus is the way.  Where you have temptation fix your eyes on Jesus,  the author and the finisher of your faith!  He is the way, He is the truth and He is the life! 

Whether our sin... my sin ... is covered or exposed in God's presence depends on a choice.  Your choice,  my choice.  And the choice is simply to believe what Jesus Christ did and said on my behalf. 

To believe it and to receive it as my own.

And we must do that today!  Today is the day.  Every "today" is the day!  His hands are open wide on the hard wood of the cross.   Won't you and I come into the sweep of his saving embrace?  

This is our task individually and together in our day,  and then to be his hands and feet and eyes and ears and mouth in the world around us.  They're starving for this,  ... hungry and thirsty for they know not what ... or even why! 

As I got to my car I was approached by another individual.  A homeless man panhandling for change,  and he came with the most apologetic manner I'd ever encountered.  I have him all my parking change and touched his shoulder and said,  "I have three words for you... Shame Off You!"  He broke down and cried as I told him he was God's child and that God loved him and wanted him whole and healed.  He hugged me and thanked me and went his way. 

Eventful day downtown yesterday.  Quite an extraordinary day.  Let's pray. 

Our Father and our God



We come with repentance and humility before you today, asking for forgiveness and for reconciliation.  Help us to remove our dirty sandals in your presence. Give us clean hands and pure hearts to do your work as you send us into the world as your ambassadors.  Help us to see our own sin, not that of others first.  Go with us as we go and stand and speak and heal in your heart name, Jesus Christ.   Amen and amen. 

Lent I - WHOSOEVER !!

Lent 1 2019

Lent 1
March 10, 2019
Fr Phil Eberhart

Deut 26:(1-4),5-11
Ps 91 or 91:9-16
Rom 10:4-13
Lk 4:1-13

Whosoever !!


Good morning!

Welcome back so soon. Many were here for a grand occasion last night for the double ordination and confirmations we had here. What a beautiful night! What a short night! I think i got about 4 hours sleep. Speaking of temptation! Almost rolled over and went back to sleep. Then i remembered... oh yes... you're preaching this morning!

I want to talk about a word this morning. It's a word that comes up in our epistle reading. The letter from Paul to the Roman church. Chapter 10 is in the middle of a section about Paul's heart's desire! The word is WHOSOEVER.

It's a great King James word. Others translate it who ever or whom ever. Whosoever occurs 163 times in the OT and NT. What I discovered is that the word mostly means "all." And as we all know "all means all!" So in Romans Paul is quoting the prophets when he says " whosoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved."

It's interesting that this is in the middle of his letter to the gentile church in Rome! He returns for a moment to remind both his gentile readers and the eventual Jewish readers that the Jews are included in his whosoever! In fact he goes so far as to say that the salvation of the Gentiles is tied to the salvation of the Jews and vice versa

"A partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved."

Whosoever is a very inclusive word! We hear a lot today about inclusion ! Everyone wants to be a part of something big. And we have the biggest deal going! God so loved the world ... that whosoever could come, Jews, Gentiles, slave, free, Male, female, ... black, white, brown, yellow, red, green or blue! There's no more need for discussion! It's time to simply GO ... do it. Go in any way you can, at all times, to every place. Go tell the story, your story, His story! And how they come together!

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And Paul goes on to commission each of us...

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Let me repeat myself... It's time to simply GO ... do it. Go in any way you can, at all times, to every place. Go tell the story, your story, His story! And how they come together! People are dying to hear!

The WHOSOEVERs of this world are empty and restless, "looking for love in all the wrong places." And ours is the ultimate message of God's love, for all the world, all the who - so - evers that we run into every day - and never say a word to.

Bishop Bill talked last night about the power of the gospel coming through relationships. Through connections. Do you know that is our written mission. Www.rezanglican.org "Connecting people to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom!" Let's just go and do it.

Let's pray...

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace! So clothe us in your Spirit, that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you,  for the honor of Your Name.

Amen.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Face to Face Transformation - Fr. Phil Eberhart

Transfiguration Sunday - Last Epiphany
March 3, 2019
Fr. Phil Eberhart

Ex 34:29-35 Ps 99 1 Cor 12:27-13:13 Lk 9:28-36

Face to Face Transformation


Have you ever looked in the mirror and tried to see Jesus?  I have to tell you... it's kinda hard!

One of my favorite things is to collect pictures of Jesus.  I have about 6 or 8 paintings and need to expand the collection and put them back up in my office some day... but I want to see what people think Jesus looked like.

I'm a little jealous of the painting that Brian and Barbara Felt have in their home, the Head of Christ that is referred to in Heaven is For Real, as the person that the young boy, Colton, met in heaven.

So what's the point of all the ramble here?  This morning is the Sunday of the Transfiguration - you probably figured that out from the readings!  Lots of talk about mountains and shining faces, clouds of glory with voices coming out of them and ... 
disciples who didn't get it.

My point is that Jesus wants to transform us into His image and likeness.  No we're probably not going to look like Him in a mirror sort of way - we will look just like we do now, for better or worse - but there will be an inner change, an inner transformation or transfiguration into His image.  So what IS THAT IMAGE?

How many of you read the Gospels through regularly? I know many read the Bible regularly but do we do what James encourages us to do:

[Jas 1:22-25 NLT] 
22 But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

"If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free" - there is the challenge isn't it? And then do it!
Jesus said that the one who DID His Word, was the one whose house was built on bedrock.  No storm can assail it!  Let the storm's come as they will.

Paul gives us the secret in Rom 12:
12 Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you,[a] but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. (The Passion Translation)
How do we start to look like Jesus?
The writer of Hebrews gives us a giant instructional clue...

Chapter 12 
As for us, we have all of these great witnesses[a] who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us[b] and the sin we so easily fall into.[c] Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race[d] with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.[e]
We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.[f] His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his,[g] he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation,[h] and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!
So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls,[i] so that you won’t become worn down and cave in under life’s pressures. (The Passion Translation)

There we have it again:   Consider Carefully , Fasten your gaze, ... "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of your faith!"

What do spend time with?  How do you read the Bible? Just a verse here and there, a glance in the morning, the verse of the day?  Sure God speaks to us through these "snacks" but do you ever sit down and have the full meal deal?

Look intently - Consider carefully - Fasten your gaze!

On the mountain top, the disciples saw a lot - they saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus - in all His glory - shining face, clothes like lightening and all - kind of a pre-cursor for the Apostle John who would have another of those kinds of revelations late in his life on Patmos.  Read Rev. 1 some day!

They saw and apparently heard what they were talking about!  How Jesus was going to bring to fulfillment all that they stood for - the Law and the Prophets - in his soon departure from Jerusalem.  That may be why he said, "IT IS FINISHED!"

But the disciples, just like us so often, completely missed the point of the conversation, so God just makes it plain:  We're not going to make a new tabernacle - it's not about camping here on the mountaintop and staying in the glory - It's all about Jesus!  "This is my beloved SON ... LISTEN TO HIM!"

This is about Jesus and His Word to us.  Daily Bread!

What does Jesus look like, face to face?  Have you gazed?  Have you heard, read, marked, learned and inwardly digested?

Let's just look at 3 verses: Our reading from 1 Cor 13

Love is large and incredibly patient.[f] Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.[i] Love joyfully celebrates honesty[j] and finds no delight in what is wrong.[k] Love is a safe place of shelter,[l] for it never stops believing the best for others.[m] Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never fails!

If you ever wonder what Jesus looked like, try this portrait!  This is the kind of portrait that will lead us to look like HIM!  And its all over the place in the New Testament - and its the fulfillment of all the Torah teaches and all the Prophets speak about - in Him it was FINISHED.

Paul tells us that Jesus is the "visible image of the invisible God!"  And we are charged with coming to look like HIM.  We are HIS BODY, Paul says, "The fullness of Him who fills all in all!" (Eph 1)  

One final scripture, where Paul is talking to the Corinthians about Moses and the veil we read about this morning in Exodus 34.

2 Cor 3 (TPT)

16 But the moment one turns to the Lord[i] with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see.[j] 17 Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit,[k] and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.
18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus.[l] We are being transfigured[m] into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another.[n] And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Friends, I don't want you to make the mistake that the boys did on the mountain.  Take the sermon and make it into a religious exercise!  The key is what God said on the mountain, "This is my beloved Son, listen to Him."
The work of the Holy Spirit is called that because it's NOT OUR JOB to make ourselves look like Jesus. It's our job to LISTEN TO HIM and the Holy Spirit will make us new, different, transformed, Spirit-filled - all the things we want in our character, all the changes we need in how we live with others, all the ways others see us, here in the church and out in the world - will be transfigured when we "mirror" Jesus face to those around us.

The whole world is waiting for it.

Please pray with me...

Loving Father God, Beloved and Beautiful Jesus, Indwelling Holy Spirit - envelop us this morning in the cloud of Glory and let us hear Your Voice speaking to us deep inside our hearts.  Speak to us of your love that transforms us into your likeness. Overshadow us and give us your glory, wave after wave of glory, glory upon glory, by the power of Your Spirit.  Come, Holy Spirit and touch our hearts and lives - change our minds in transformational renewal.  We want to see Jesus when we look in the mirror! And let others see Jesus in us!
For His Kingdom's glory and the fame of His Name.
Amen