Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday's Sermon



MATTHEW 4:12–23

Sharing the Scripture

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
    the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
    Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”[
a]
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

While scholars disagree about who the author of Matthew was, there is general agreement the book was written by a Jewish writer for a Jewish audience in the last quarter of the first century. This is significant for two reasons as we examine today’s text which marks the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

First, the author points out that Jesus, after hearing of John’s arrest, leaves Nazareth—a Jewish community—to make a home in Capernaum, which is also in Galilee. Jesus’ move fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy about the Gentiles seeing “a great light.” Such a connection to the Hebrew Scriptures is the writer’s way of saying to the Jewish audience, “you need to pay attention to the rest of this story.”

Besides fulfilling prophecy, this account communicates that Jews were not the only people invited to this adventure with Jesus. In the language of Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles, “All Are Called”, not just one group of people.

A third theme of major importance is Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom of heaven on Earth.
As the author of Matthew addressed a Jewish audience, most of the time he used kingdom of heaven instead of kingdom of God. He proclaimed that, “the kingdom of heaven has come near,” continuing a message John the Baptist had been promoting before his arrest (Matthew 4:17). The message is not one of a place after death, but of the presence of the kingdom in the here and now—a message he would later reinforce in what we know as the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This message resonates to this day with Community of Christ and its idea of “the peaceable kingdom.”

A final theme speaks as much to followers of Jesus today as it did when Matthew was written.
According to the text, Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to go with him and they “immediately” left everything—jobs, possessions, even family—to follow him. The author provides no background so we have no details of what made them respond immediately. Some say the fishermen had been disciples of John and heard John’s proclamation of Jesus mission. 

Some sensed something special in Jesus and couldn’t resist him. Others think these new disciples also may have sensed Jesus’ expectation for them to respond quickly and completely because the message of the kingdom on Earth was so important.

I believe Jesus sensed the urgency of the times. Some of his disciples had been John’s disciples first. Now they heard Jesus proclaim the same message “Repent!” In other words, Jesus was challenging the disciples, and all with whom he shared his message, to change…not only themselves, but also their society. They needed to take care of one another…be there for one another.  In other words…live out God’s kingdom on earth. 

We are not told how the fishermen or their families would be provided for during the men’s absence. Perhaps, and we can hope this is so…they took care of one another while the men were away. In some of the other Gospels there are similar examples of the expectation for an immediate response. It appeared the authors wanted to express the urgency Jesus felt to have active disciples reach out to as many people as possible while striving to live out the kingdom of heaven on Earth.

Jesus brought light into the dark places of the world and into individual lives.  He worked hard spreading his message of hope for a better world..one of peace and love and healing as well as acceptance of all individuals.  He challenged his disciples to do the same. His message was one that our church should recognize as “What matters most!” Mission…is what matters most. Mission is not only sharing the church beliefs and baptizing them. It is teaching them by example to take care of one another. 

Unfortunately by the 4th century, that important message had been changed to one of “salvation theology”.  That message only benefited the early church and its hierarchy.  His urgent original message was largely lost in the varied doctrines and dogmas of the various Christianities leading up to the 4th century. 

This Isaiah text functions in Matthew 4:12-16 as an analogy for Rome’s empire. “Galilee owned by or under the rule of Gentiles” now belonged to and was ruled by another Gentile empire. Roman control had been freshly asserted over Galilee in destroying Jerusalem and its temple in 70CE.

Matthew’s Gospel, written in the 80s, cited Isaiah 9:1-2 to describe Roman rule as “darkness” and “death.” It positioned Jesus, at the beginning of his public ministry, as the light or saving presence that shined in the darkness of Rome’s imperial domination. Jesus asserted God’s light or saving rule in Roman Galilee. At first, he did that quietly in small villages. It was dangerous.

The Gospel reflects its imperial world at this point. Roman imperial structures and practices were bad for people’s health. Some 70-90 percent of folks in Rome’s empire experienced varying degrees of poverty -- from the very poorest to those who temporarily fell below subsistence levels.

Understandings of hygiene were limited; social stresses were high; water quality poor, food insecurity was rife with low quality and limited quantities. Such factors resulted in widespread diseases associated with poor nutrition (blindness; muscle weakness etc.) and a lack of immunity (diarrhea; cholera etc.). These kinds of diseases were death-bringing in a world that required physical labor for survival.

Jesus’ healings were acts that repaired imperial damage and enacted God’s life-giving empire in restoring people’s lives. They anticipated the completion of God’s working that created a world, envisioned by Isaiah, in which all people enjoy abundant good food (Isaiah 25:6-10a) and physical wholeness, where “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them” (Matthew 11:5; Isaiah 35:5-6).

Perhaps here in this scripture we get a glimpse of Jesus' kind of existence.  From his earliest days through his adult life and ministry, Matthew's Jesus is an itinerant preacher, a constant wanderer.  Jesus did not opt for the comforts of the familiar but embraced God's call to find those who were in need of a healing ministry wherever they might live. From the first and in consonance with prophetic promise, Jesus ministered in an ethnically diverse land.

In an ever more mobile and diverse culture, Jesus' moves are in some sense familiar to many of us. 
The dislocation of a new place and new neighbors can be both thrilling and intimidating.  New surroundings can provide us a new start, a nearly blank slate that might allow us to recreate how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves.  New surroundings also can cause us to question every dimension of our selves.  Moving causes us to ask anew, "Who am I?"  The richness of diverse communities can help us understand others better but also ourselves.  In Matthew, Jesus' experiences must have shaped his perspective, helping him understand a community as both an insider and an outsider.

In Capernaum, Jesus picked up the proclamation of John.  John's arrest in 4:12 marked a critical transition but not an entirely new path.  The basic proclamation of both is identical: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near" Later Jesus sent his disciples to preach the same message.  At the same time, John himself promised that Jesus would be a more powerful and important figure in this story.  So what is the shape of this reign of God?  How was Jesus uniquely bringing it about?

These men were unlikely to be individuals of great social power or individual wealth.  These fishers were not among the elite of ancient culture.  Though Jesus' disciples would play a vital function in the earliest days of the church, on this day they are utterly ordinary individuals called to an extraordinary task.  I imagine that they would not have completely understood what it would mean to become fishers of people at the moment, yet they followed without hesitation.  Many came to John seeking his baptism; here Jesus calls a small cadre of those disciples to follow his itinerant path of preaching and healing.

Having begun to assemble his disciples, Jesus turned to his work.  He taught in the synagogues.  He pronounced "the good news of the kingdom."  He made the sick and infirm whole.  These were the defining characteristics of Jesus' daily labors in Matthew.  Teaching, proclaiming the kingdom, and healing were integrated components of his ministry.

"Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near."  Spoken nearly two millennia ago, how does this promise now function for us today?  Is the kingdom of heaven still drawing near even today?  In a world of violence and war it is hard to see that connection…but it is there. We hear much from the media about the violence and war but little about those serving needs worldwide.

It is vital to observe the close connection of preaching, teaching, and healing in Jesus' ministry.  The proclamation of the kingdom was not solely verbal, not just a teaching but a series of actions designed to bring wholeness to individuals and communities. We are challenged to follow his example. We are challenged to preach teach and heal the immediate world around us.

The reign of God has dawned not only because Jesus spoke it into existence but also because he was willing to heal the sick and make whole the broken.  Thus, it is not a point of embarrassment for us that Jesus proclaimed the dawning of God's direct rule over the world so very long ago, for he believed deeply and enacted powerfully God's reshaping of the world.

How then are we to proclaim today, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near"?

Unfortunately, for many people today, such utterance is characteristic of the wild-eyed preacher who has lost contact with reality. Perhaps, these few verses proclaimed this Sunday can help remind us of Jesus' life-giving words and deeds.  Perhaps, these few verses proclaimed this Sunday can help remind us to proclaim the drawing near of God's reign not as a threat but a life-giving promise.

Let us ask ourselves: When have we sensed Jesus saying, “Follow me” and how have we responded? How has our life been changed by following Jesus message and teachings? How have we experienced the kingdom being near us? How does that feel? What might “immediately” following Jesus look like today? What value, if any, do we see in the author of Matthew using Isaiah’s prophecy? Into what new or different mission might God be calling the congregation to follow Jesus teaching and example?

Only we as individuals and a congregation can answer these questions. But let us ask them.

Sunday and a Sermon

I slept well again last night. I got up shortly after 5:00, got myself dressed and Missy and myself fed. Then I got the paper and read it. It is raining out today. 

I speak today at church. I had not realized I was scheduled until last Tuesday so I thought I would just work up the sermon after I got home from the hospital That worked out o.k.

I don't know how it will go. I didn't put a lot of work into it. I usually get it together a week or two beforehand. I will just do the best I can. We will also eat out somewhere after church...either Great China or Just Us. Whichever is fine with me.

Keith called last night and he got the header on my Outlook on the desktop fixed. It was simple and really I should have seen it myself. I did have a nice visit with him though. He had been studying for an exam and that was why I had not heard from him since I was in the hospital.

I am waiting until 8:45 to take my Acetaminophen. I want it to work best during church school and church.I am still pretty sore.

I see the Florida kids are still under tornado warnings. I have the weather on this morning following the progress.

More later....

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday and Breakfast Out

I slept pretty well again last night. I didn't get up until almost 6:00.

Bob came over at 7:00 and after I had taken some more Tylenol, we went to Eggberts for breakfast. That was the first time I had been out of the apartment since Thursday except to take Jim's paper over to him and to take the newspapers over to Marilyn's mailbox.   I had an omelet this time with a biscuit. By that time the Tylenol had taken effect and I was feeling less sore.  The soreness is the only problem I have. It really isn't pain...as such. It is just sore where the surgery was done.

I won't do much today. When my Kindle is charged, I will download another book. There is certainly  nothing on TV.

Tomorrow I will give my sermon at church.  Then Bob and Phyllis and I will eat out somewhere.

More later....

Well my system is fully working again..thank goodness.  Maybe now I will begin to feel better. I don't think I will do anything but read today.  I want to be able to feel even better tomorrow. It will be a bigger day.

More even later...

I read most of the afternoon. Then I decided to bake some cookies. After that, I went back to my Kindle and did some organization on it.

Bob came over around 5:00 and stayed until shortly after 6:30. He had not had a nap. He had a nice visit with Denise, his daughter, instead.  

After he left, I took my shower and lay with Missy on the sofa until 8:00. I noticed Scott and Ginger were under a tornado warning so I texted them about it. Scott was home and aware of it but Ginger was in the operating room and was not aware of the danger.

I finally just went on to bed....hoping for the best.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday and Doing Better

I was absolutely exhausted last night. I went to bed at 8:30 and slept until 6:00...unheard of for me.

I woke up twice in the night to go to the bathroom but got right back to sleep. It had been such a big day. Bob came over and stayed until 6:30. When he left I took a sponge bath and lay down on the couch for a couple of hours. Then I went to bed.

When I got up and dressed Missy was ready for her breakfast. In all the excitement, I think I forgot to give her the evening treats.

Karan was here when I got home from Bartlesville waiting for me. She was ready to run errands.  She didn't stay long. She went out to the nursing home to visit David. I sent him the socks they gave me at the hospital. They have non skid bottoms. She came back after that and checked in on me again. Then she went to give blood. When she checked in on me after that, she brought me some cut up fruit. I had some of that with my oatmeal this morning.

She is going to bring me a cinnamon roll and Utopiachino after their exercise class today. I am not up to going or I would.  I can't lift more then 10 pounds for awhile and the exercises would probably be too much for me right now.  Yesterday afternoon while I was working on Sunday's sermon Missy wanted up on the daybed behind me. She can no longer jump up there so I picked her up and sat her down there. Then I remembered......she weighs 18 pounds.  I hope I didn't hurt anything.

I had several phone calls while at the hospital. Marilyn called and also Judy and Joyce called. That was good of them.

I will eat my beans and cornbread for lunch. Bob will be on his own, I guess. He had his day before yesterday and didn't want any more. I will freeze the other container.  They will be good another day.

More later....

It turned out Bob came over for soup and brought a relish dish and crackers.  I warmed up the soup.

He then went over to Braums and bought my milk. I took a nap after lunch and he went out to church to check everything out and to see Denise, his daughter, after that. Missy and I lay down on the sofa and took a nap. Karan came by and brought change from this morning. Actually she left the entire $20.00 and evidently bought my cinnamon roll and Utopiachino.  That was sweet of her.

Even more later....

In the afternoon, Marilyn R. came over and visited me and brought me a "get well" card. While she was here, Gay and Adele and two friends came too.   Gay thought I was doing very well. She had had this same surgery years ago. I took some Tylenol in the afternoon to alleviate some of the soreness so I was feeling pretty good at that time. 

By the time Bob came over, my Tylenol had worn off and I was pretty sore again and feeling exhausted.

Bob came over at 5:15 and stayed until 6:45.  When he left, I took my shower and lay on the sofa with Missy and read my Kindle. I had downloaded the book I didn't get to finish in the hospital...the one on Leslie's tablet. After I finished the book, I went to bed.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thursday and Home Again

It's been an experience, that for sure!

I got down there at around 6:00 AM  and didn't have to wait long to go to the pre-surgery room. I was prepared for surgery and the anesthesiologist came in with his assistant. They visited with me about the anesthesia and when I asked what sort of recovery I could expect, they told me Dr. Peaster would be in to discuss that with me. But that didn't happen. They took me right into surgery and put me under.  I awoke in my room and felt fine. Leslie was there and I told her I was feeling fine and had no pain.. just a little stinging feeling.  We talked for awhile and then she had lunch with me and afterward left to go home..

This morning I woke up at 3:00 feeling that I needed to go to the bathroom. I was catheterized but I sat on the commode anyhow. Then I noticed quite a bit of blood and fluid on the bed. I didn't know if that was to be expected or not.  The aides that were in there were new and they didn't know either. Evidently the nurse was involved elsewhere so I just asked them to change the draw sheet and that big pad on the bed and I went back to bed when that was finished.  I figured I would ask him about it when he made rounds in the morning. Surely he intended to give me some post op instructions.  That didn't happen either. I told the nurse I needed to talk to him and I wanted the IV and catheter taken out so I could go home. A catheter is an invitation to an infection. She said if he didn't come by 9:00 she would call his office.

He came at quarter of 9:00. He asked me how I felt and I said "Fine..no pain of any kind, I am happy with the surgery . But I do have questions." First I told him about the experience at 3:00 AM.  He said that was perfectly normal,  I said that would have been good to have known at the pre-op period before the surgery......if there had been one.  He ignored that comment. He asked me what I took for pain and told him anytime I had pain, which was seldom... I took Aleve. He suggested Tylenol since he did not want my blood thinned. I said fine,I would get some. I asked him when he was going to remove the packing and get me ready to go home and he said, as he was going out the door, that the nurse would do that. I had lots of other questions but he was leaving. It was 9:00 and I was really angry. He spent less then 15 minutes with me.

I asked the nurse at 9:00 when she would be able to get it done and she said she was dispensing meds and would do it when she finished.  It was 10:30 before she finished. When she came in and heard my story, she suggested I had a valid problem with him. The woman in charge of Patient Relations called him and suggested he had better call me since I was angry. He called me and told me that he had had that discussion with me in recovery.  I told him that I didn't even remember recovery...had no memory of it at all. He insisted that I was perfectly lucid at the time. I told him my first lucid memories were in the bed in my room. I was perfectly happy with the staff. They did everything they could to keep me comfortable. But that doctor has a lot to learn about patient relations.

The nurses instructions: I am not to drive for a week. I am not to lift more then 10 pounds. I will need to shower instead of bathe. There's more but that's the gist of it.  She also said I could do my sermon on Sunday.

I am perfectly satisfied with the surgery but any doctor should know that the recovery time is no time to give instructions to anyone.  I am to go back to see him in two weeks. If everything is going well, I may just skip that.

Leslie took me to lunch and then sent flowers.

Here are the flowers:

Aren't they pretty?

I have been working on Sunday's sermon. In the excitement of the week, I forgot I was scheduled. 

So more later...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday and Surgery Day

I slept well until 3:00 AM and from then on it was off and on...mostly off.

I finally got up at 4:30 and just gave up. I am not supposed to wear any makeup or jewelry today so all I had to do was dress, wash my face and and brush my teeth. I am just wearing jeans and a sweater to the hospital. Last night the nurse called and moved my arrival time for the surgery to 7:00...instead of 8:00. I am taking my billfold and slippers and a directive. I will need my ID and insurance cards and I am supposed to wear non slip slippers when I am back in my room after the surgery. I will wear my same clothes to go home tomorrow.  

I finished the book "Hidden Figures" and Karan and I went to see the movie last Monday afternoon. It was very good and very wholesome. Just goes to show you you don't have to have violence or sex to make a really good movie.  The trouble is...now I have nothing to read in the hospital.

Both my boys called last night to wish me well for the surgery. I called Leslie about the change of time. Bob will take me the 15 miles to Tyro where we will meet Leslie. That will keep her from having to come over here to pick me up and then drive back over that way to take me to Bartlesville.

I will text Bob in about 15 minutes to wake him up. We need to leave here by 6:00 to get to Tyro by 6:15 or 6:20. Then Leslie and I will go the rest of the way to Bartlesville and Bob will come back home.

Before I leave I will feed Missy and take my two pills with a half cup of water.

I will not be posting more today. I will be back online here tomorrow sometime.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday and Hair Day

I slept well again last night. It has been so good to get good sleep lately. I hope it continues. My surgery is tomorrow. I don't know what to expect.

This morning Bob and I will go to Independence and I will get my hair done. I want to go to their Walmart store and get some Progresso soup and a few more things while I am there. I may be eating that cornbread and beans for awhile and soup will be a welcome change.I will put some of the ham and beans in containers for Bob and later this afternoon I will bake the cornbread and take some of it to Marilyn R, my neighbor too. I fixed a half pound of beans so there is plenty.

Then Bob and I will eat at Big Cheese. 

This afternoon after we get back to Coffeyville I also need to pay my car insurance. It is due tomorrow. Since I will be on my way to Bartlesville tomorrow for the surgery, I will need to get that paid today.

Gay and Adele are to come to see me on Friday if I am up to it. I will just play it by ear.

I'll get back to this later. I want to get dressed and ready for the day.

I have had my breakfast and gave Missy hers and her treats too. 

I had my hair done in Independence and then Bob and I went out to Walmart there and I bought a few groceries. We also went by Sayer's Ace Hardware and Bob bought some sale jelly. Then we had lunch at Big Cheese pizza  and we came home to Coffeyville and I took Bob home.  I am drying my clothes now. I went by the bank and made  a deposit and then went by Shelter Insurance and paid my car insurance. I will bake some cornbread in a little while and see if Marilyn wants some too. I will dish her up some of the ham and beans if she does, I'll take it over.

I believe I am ready for the surgery now.

So more later...

I got the cornbread baked and the ham and beans divided into four bowls. I gave Marilyn some and some cornbread and Bob will come over to feed Missy after he gets back from taking me over to Tyro to meet Leslie.  He will come over at noon and warm up his cornbread and beans here at my apartment.  I will eat mine on Thursday. I also bought some Progresso soup for my lunches at the Independence Walmart store this morning. .  I have cereal and oatmeal for my breakfasts. I am not to eat or drink anything after midnight tonight. In the morning I can have a half cup of water to take my two pills. That's all. 

The nurse called this evening to move my surgery appointment up an hour.  I am to be there at 7:00 AM now. ....instead of 8:00 AM.  So Bob will run me over to Tyro at 6:00 and we will meet Leslie at 6:15 - 6:20 something like that.  I called Leslie to let her know. Both my sons called this evening to wish me the best for the surgery. Ginger texted me. I have the best kids. Leslie will stay at the hospital during the surgery and keep the boys informed about how it is going.  She will come back over there on Thursday to take me home. I'm supposed to have someone there with me the first day and night but I will be fine. I keep my cell phone right next to the bed and if anything unforeseen should happen, Bob is just four blocks away.  I'm not concerned.

There is nothing on TV tonight. I have been all over the dial and cannot find anything to watch. So I am going to go to bed early. I set my alarm for 5:00...my usual arising time. I did that just in case I overslept. It's 8:30 now and I usually go to bed at 9:00.