Trinity News and Sermons

02/08/15 Sermon Bullets

5th Sunday after Epiphany

• This is my cellphone. (Show phone.) There are many wonderful things that I can do with it including calling people, checking on the news, checking and responding to email, looking up folks’ posts on Facebook, instant messaging Trinity family members on Facebook and other ways, play card games, read Bible passages, pay bills, etc.
• This is my charger. If I use my phone all day long, eventually it will lose power in its battery and have to be recharged. Now, when I plug the phone into the charger & into the electrical outlet, I can still use it, but it will not recharge as quickly or effectively. I need to either put it down and let it recharge or turn it off and let the same happen.
• We are like that. We can do really amazing things and help so many people and enjoy so much of life and give and give and give and live. But eventually we need to be recharged.
• In our Gospel lesson for today, Jesus does the same. Picking up on last Sunday’s lesson where he teaches in the synagogue, then casts out an evil spirit, with his fame spreading around the surrounding countryside – people come to Jesus for healing. Then, he and his disciples go to Simon Peter’s house for a meal, and even THERE he has to heal Simon’s mother from a fever. She feeds them. And all evening, it appears, Jesus spends time healing persons with various diseases and casting out demons. He must have been tired after all that work!
• In the dark of the morning, Jesus goes off into a deserted place to pray. Alone. With the Father.
• The disciples “go hunting” for him and when they find him, tell him that “everyone has been looking for you.” So he leaves his prayer and begins giving of himself again in teaching and healing.
But first he goes off alone. And prays. With the Father.
• This is a pitcher of water. It represents you and me – each of us, with all that we are and have to give. As I pour this water out, I am reminded of the activities of life in which we engage: taking care of the family; making sure our finances are secure; being a responsible member of the Astoria/Long Island City community; cooking for myself or others; working at my job to the best of my ability, commuting to and from work – in all kinds of weather- trying not to lose my temper with that person that will NOT step aside to let folks on our off the train; taking the kids to the doctor; checking up on the parents in another part of the country; helping out here at church in choir, or ushering, or Community Supper or serving on Council. I give and give and give of myself and have little or no time for myself, and eventually- just like this pitcher – I AM EMPTY. There is nothing left to give; no more resources; I’m dog tired and burned out.
• Just like the cellphone, I need to stop. Literally stop – turn myself up and be ready to be filled again with new energy and new life.
• How can I do this?
• Prayer. Prayer is the way we can be recharged, refilled, renewed. If the very Son of God needed prayer in a deserted place in order to continue giving of himself, what makes you think that we can go without stopping, shutting down, and communing with God in a quiet place?
• Hear the words of the first lesson from Isaiah: The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength. Don’t know about you, but that sounds like prayer to me.
• So if prayer is so important to renew my energy and connection with God, how do I do it? Perhaps you have said, “I’ve tried in the past and just can’t seem to get into it or find time for it.”
• Margaret Feinberg has some helps here. She writes:
5 Ways to Jumpstart your prayers this week
• No matter how we choose to pray, prayer is essential for a follower of Jesus. Just as a relationship with your best friend would soon turn sour if you stopped speaking, so too will our relationship with God. Prayer invites us into constant communication with God so our relationship with him can flourish. But, if we’re honest, there are times in our relationships with God where prayer can feel flat, rote or downright lifeless.
• 1. Write them down.
• Instead of speaking your prayers aloud or in your mind, choose to record your prayers in written form each day this week. Pick up a notebook or journal and write down your words of thanks, requests and adoration to God. You can even begin recording your prayers on those blank pages at the back of your Bible—it’s worked for me.
• 2. Snap a photo.
• Start a collection of pictures of things, ideas, and people you need to be reminded to pray for. Each time you scroll through the photos on your phone, in a scrapbook, or on the refrigerator speak words of blessing and prayer over them.
• 3. Memorize and meditate.
• Choose a passage from the Bible such as The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) or Psalm 23, and pray the passage for five minutes each day this week. Ask God to help focus your heart and mind as you pray. Focus on each word as you speak them to God. (Or you can use a mantra that is more simple. Pastor Paul sometimes uses “Jesus Christ. Lord of all.”)
• 4. Only use three.
• Limit the length of your prayers each day this week. Instead of using long-winded prayers, consider limiting your prayers to three words. Rather than thanking God for this amazing day, simplify the prayer to, “Thanks for today.” As you distill your prayers to their simplest form, reflect on what you’re really saying to God and how much you are trusting him.
• 5. Study the prayers of Jesus.
• Whether your prayer life is vibrant and active or struggling and inactive, I’d like to challenge you to prayerfully consider and reflect on the prayers of Jesus. There’s something about these words that breathe life into my tired heart and ignite my prayer life once again. (Martin Luther prayed the Lord’s Prayer every day – and learned something new each time he prayed it!)
• Prayer is vital for life. It helps us slow down and reflect. It slows our pulse & breathing.
• Each of us gives so much of ourselves to life. Living in this busy city, we run around with an ever increased pace that is literally sapping the life out of us. We need to slow down.
• In Mark’s gospel in the second chapter, the religious leaders become angry because it appears that Jesus’ disciples are not honoring the Sabbath laws. In response to their rebuke, Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath.”
• I believe Jesus is telling them (and us) that the Sabbath was created for our own good – not just to Worship God, but to be quiet. Be Still. Relax. And let God nourish us. Remember, Genesis tells us that on the 7th day God rested from all that God had done and THEN called it a Sabbath.
• My last words to you today on this subject are this: Remember that you have two ears and one mouth. Prayer is not just about speaking to God. Just as important is being silent and waiting for God to speak. This takes patience. For me, often I don’t hear from God right away – but through the words of another person – at a later time. But God DOES speak. Be quiet. Listen. Reflect. And be renewed for life!