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  • The More Excellent Way | Anne Robertson
    we say Well I ve made it this far and I feel pretty good What s the next step In this sermon Wesley details the next step in the mundane business of the day He begins with getting out of bed I told you last week that Wesley made his preachers start their day at 4 am But he didn t want them deprived of sleep he also sent them to bed early The good Christian says Wesley doesn t really consider sleep to be part of the Christian life Often they don t get enough sleep or they sleep too much The more excellent way says Wesley is in defiance of fashion and custom to take just so much sleep as experience proves our nature to require seeing this is indisputably most conducive both to bodily and spiritual health 514 The thing to strive for is enough sleep not too little and not too much God cares about your body and your spiritual health will suffer if your physical health is messed up by your sleep patterns After getting us out of bed he assumes that all Christians next begin their waking hours with prayer It s notable that getting up and going straight to breakfast does not enter his mind for either order of Christian You get up you pray What he wants to distinguish is the kind of prayer that this is Listen to what he has to say The generality of Christians as soon as they rise are accustomed to use some kind of prayer and probably to use the same form still which they learned when they were eight or ten years old Now I do not condemn those who proceed thus though they have used the same form without any variation for twenty or thirty years together But surely there is a more excellent way of ordering our private devotions What is that way To consider both your outward and inward state and vary your prayers accordingly 515 What he s saying is it s OK to pray a standard prayer a prayer from Scripture or from some other source But it is better in private devotions to make the prayer your prayer If things are going well name those things and give thanks If you are hurting or have concerns lift those things before God It doesn t mean we can t use the other He just wants us to consider broadening our prayer life to make it more of a personal time with God Wesley puts his food discussion at lunchtime rather than breakfast so he next moves to the business of the day whatever that might be He sees three ways in which the good way differs from the more excellent way when we do our work The first difference is in motivation The good Christian works whether in paid or unpaid labor to provide for him or herself and the family The more excellent way however is to work out of a sense of God s calling to the task The second order of Christian works to please God and to do God s will The work is exactly the same but the reason for doing it is different 515 The second thing he sees as a difference is the manner or method in which we work To work with diligence and justice is good The more excellent way is to work also with piety and prayer He s not saying don t work with diligence and justice The first way in all of these instances is not something to be thrown out but rather added to He says the person of the more excellent way will seek to Add piety to justice to intermix prayer especially the prayer of the heart with all the labour of his hands 516 The Shakers called it worshipful work Lastly he sees a difference in the spirit in which work is done Wesley asks if you do your business in the spirit of the world or the Spirit of Christ I am afraid he says thousands of those who are called good Christians do not understand the question 516 In today s language Wesley is talking about wearing a mental WWJD bracelet through the day The good Christian considers what needs to be done and does it The more excellent way is to consider how Jesus would go about accomplishing that task Let s say the task is washing a sink full of dishes The good way is to wash the dishes To get the job done Suppose your little five year old wants to help You know that makes it harder to do the dishes you might have to do some of them over and in some cases even buy new ones The more excellent way is to ask what is more important the task or the child 516 Wesley does let us break for lunch but you don t give up being Christian just because you ve stopped for lunch And this is really all Wesley is trying to say in the whole sermon Being Christian is not something you do at certain times and not at others Being Christian is a way of life It means you think in a certain way act in a certain way view the world in a way that is very different from others That means if our faith is real it is going to affect every single bit of our day It will affect our waking and our sleeping how we work and how we play Wesley reminds us that it also affects how we eat Plenty of good Christians simply sit down and eat says Wesley But the more excellent way is to stop and give thanks for the food Good Christians eat in moderation he says but the more excellent way is to eat thankfully to receive every morsel as a pledge of life eternal 517 He recognizes that many people eat

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/more-excellent-way (2016-02-16)
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  • What's It All About? | Anne Robertson
    your soul with all your strength and your neighbor as yourself Love as it is lived out in acts of justice and mercy Love that lo and behold can be performed by a Samaritan as well as by a Jew Have you ever really sat and thought about how scandalous that passage is not only to the Jews of Jesus day but to us now here Remember that the Samaritans were considered heretics by the Jews They were the ones with the wrong doctrine the wrong theology the ones that mixed heathen practices with the worship of Yahweh and according to Josephus even dedicated the temple on Mt Gerazim to Zeus But Jesus makes the Samaritan the hero of the story saying to all It s about love as it s seen in justice and mercy It s not about pure doctrine And it s the Samaritan that inherits eternal life as those with the correct theology and who ve kept themselves pure walk on by What must I do to inherit eternal life the lawyer asks Lift up the fallen care for the wounded love your neighbor period We need to hear the scandal of that message again and again and again Love is all that is asked of us Love God love your neighbor love yourself We need to examine ourselves and our churches and ask what happens and what takes precedence when love and doctrine collide Or perhaps in our context when love and the Discipline collide What is it all about It s all about love from beginning to end And just like most of God s people before us we too have forgotten There s a wonderful story from the tradition of the desert fathers and mothers who flourished as hermits in the early centuries of the Christian church The story is told that Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him Abba as far as I can I say my little office I fast a little I pray and I meditate I live in peace and as far as I can I purify my thoughts What else can I do And the old man stood up and he stretched his hands toward heaven His fingers became like ten lamps of fire And he said to him If you will you can become all flame There isn t a lover on this earth who doesn t know that love is a fire And it s not a controlled burn either deciding I ll burn here and I won t burn over there When somebody is completely in love it burns everywhere and it spills onto everything For that reason lovers are only fit to be with each other because the rest of us are so tired of hearing about it They become all flame And I think that s what Abba Joseph was trying to say to Abba Lot It s nice that you have the spiritual disci plines down well but the real goal of all of it is love To become all flame in our love for God and for each other To become the burning bush that will draw others to us to ask how can they burn and burn and yet not be consumed To be so completely loving that we don t think twice when we see the wounded by the side of the road We don t think Will I be pure if I touch We simply go and bind the wounds and pour on wine and oil and take them to the inn When we fail in that we fail in everything I came to learn that lesson as unfortunately I learned most of my lessons the hard way I was at work It was my very first job at the rare book library at Brown University For about a week we had been seeing two workmen who were coming in and installing an alarm system in all the doors and windows Towards the end of the week Thursday to be exact I started to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach which means either food poisoning or God is trying to say something to me And I felt that what God was trying to say to me was that I should go to those two young men and to tell them that God loved them and that I loved them My answer to God was instantaneous I said No That s crazy God I was newly married 22 years old I m going to go up to two strange young men and say I love you I don t think so And God and I had this conversation for most of the day with God urging me on and me saying No God you ve had a lot of good ideas in your time but this is not one of them And I did things to occupy myself to get rid of the feeling I succeeded and at the end of the day I went home without having embarrassed myself Friday morning I came into work and the staff was buzzing with the news They said Did you hear Did you see on the news I said No what They said You know those guys who ve been coming in all week putting in the alarm system And you know the shorter one the sandy haired one He never went home last night He went directly to the Jamestown bridge And leaving his car running he got out and he jumped to his death He left a note Can you guess what it said It said no one loved him People can t we get it Can t we manage to remember what it s really all about While we argue about Discipline paragraphs people are jumping off of bridges for lack of love They re shoot ing others because hate rages in their hearts Can t we get it Can t

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/whats-it-all-about (2016-02-16)
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  • Ephesians | Anne Robertson
    Lens The Gospel According to David The King Repents Kings Job Why Be Good Psalms Become Thanksgiving Lamentations Where is the Hope Ezekiel Can These Bones Live The Repentance of Believers Where Are The Shepherds Jonah A Big Fish Story Apostles Creed Sermons Matthew Booking Passage By Their Fruit Don t Go Back the Way You Came Epiphany Get Out of the Boat Guard Your Heart Is God Fair Jesus The Son Mount of Olives Sealed in the Tomb Temptations The Canaanite Woman Mark Blind Bartimaeus Clearing the Temple Eating With Sinners I Believe The Living Christ Whatever It Takes Luke Conceived By the Spirit Counting the Cost Going Out of Your Mind Mother of God Mt of Transfiguration Revealed Rock Concert The Duty of Constant Communion The Shepherd Channel The Shepherd Channel Transformation in Whoville Ups and Downs Who s In Charge John Immigration This Must Be the Place Wade in the Water Water Into Wine Lazarus Come Out Stay in the Machine Where are the Shepherds While It Was Still Dark Acts God s Cleansing Love Holy Spirit Sharing the Load Singing In Prison Romans Apart From the Law Maker of Heaven and Earth Tower of Love Who

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/Ephesians (2016-02-16)
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  • The Holy Catholic Church (Apostles' Creed Pt. 9) | Anne Robertson
    connecting to Mel Gibson s The Passion when they don t particularly connect with the Church He said and I agree that the church has almost completely forgotten that we are not founded on a set of principles or doctrines We are founded on a person Jesus Christ Nobody these days is particularly interested in propositions but they are very interested in relationship which is what the Christian church is uniquely positioned to offer if we will but remember At the core of our faith is not a what but a who Paul says the same thing in Ephesians and in other places when he talks about the Body of Christ We are all one body like it or not The hand may not really understand why the gall bladder exists and the mouth may be completely baffled at why the stomach keeps yelling about what the mouth keeps sending in But they are all part of one body that has one common purpose That is the image of the holy catholic church a body an organic unit What we learn from Paul s image of the Body of Christ is that church unity is not some utopian ideal that we strive for but never attain It is not something we can ignore and say we don t want any part of It is our reality Dietrich Bonhoeffer a German pastor and theologian who was executed b the Nazi s said it well in his work Life Together He said Christian community is not an ideal which we must realize it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate For me that means learning to get along with other Christians is not an option and church splits are nonsense There might be a rift in the family but you are still family like it or not It is as crazy to say we re not part of your church anymore as it is for your arm to proclaim that it is no longer part of your body We are all bound together in one body and if those body parts don t work together the whole body falls to the ground in a heap If we refuse to work with another church our work is hindered We can still do some things just as those who have no use of their arms or legs learn to do a lot with a pencil in their teeth But anybody can tell you it is sure a lot easier with arms and legs that are fully functional In the United Methodist church we try to work this concept into the actual structure of the denomination We talk about being a Connectional system and our belief is that what happens to one of us happens in some way to all of us The central unit of the United Methodist Church is not the local church It is the Annual Conference which is a collection of United Methodist Churches

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/holy-catholic-church (2016-02-16)
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  • Philippians | Anne Robertson
    101 The God Lens The Gospel According to David The King Repents Kings Job Why Be Good Psalms Become Thanksgiving Lamentations Where is the Hope Ezekiel Can These Bones Live The Repentance of Believers Where Are The Shepherds Jonah A Big Fish Story Apostles Creed Sermons Matthew Booking Passage By Their Fruit Don t Go Back the Way You Came Epiphany Get Out of the Boat Guard Your Heart Is God Fair Jesus The Son Mount of Olives Sealed in the Tomb Temptations The Canaanite Woman Mark Blind Bartimaeus Clearing the Temple Eating With Sinners I Believe The Living Christ Whatever It Takes Luke Conceived By the Spirit Counting the Cost Going Out of Your Mind Mother of God Mt of Transfiguration Revealed Rock Concert The Duty of Constant Communion The Shepherd Channel The Shepherd Channel Transformation in Whoville Ups and Downs Who s In Charge John Immigration This Must Be the Place Wade in the Water Water Into Wine Lazarus Come Out Stay in the Machine Where are the Shepherds While It Was Still Dark Acts God s Cleansing Love Holy Spirit Sharing the Load Singing In Prison Romans Apart From the Law Maker of Heaven and Earth Tower

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/philippians (2016-02-16)
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  • Christ the King | Anne Robertson
    had a Queen long before I ever saw her and my mind was instantly filled with all the images of queens that I had ever read They might be old and wise or young and rebellious or even beautiful and mean like the Queen in Snow White But every last one of them wore jeweled crowns long layered gowns in expensive fabrics and ermine trimmed robes or satin capes You can imagine my dismay when I first saw Queen Elizabeth walking around London in street clothes and a hat Why be queen if you re going to go around in street clothes and a hat It was no surprise to me that the British monarchy ended up in trouble The issue I had with the Queen is the same issue that many have with God becoming flesh the church word for that is incarnation becoming flesh God has glory and power We imagine thrones and golden streets and mansions What good is being God if you re going to go around in street clothes and a hat The great God become a human baby A human baby in a poor family A human baby from a poor family in an occupied country Born in a stable We are mystified And yet something within us wants it to be true I seem to be getting all my illustrations from the British monarchy but do you remember King Edward VIII Do you remember that in 1936 he gave up the throne of England in order to marry the American commoner Mrs Wallis Simpson The thing that impressed people was not that two people got married or even that a King married a commoner The thing that really made people stand up and take notice was that a King gave up his throne and had to live in another country in order to marry the commoner There was wonder and bewilderment but somewhere deep down was a sense of gladness that someone would value love above wealth and fame and glory I think something like that might even be the central longing of our country right now As two men struggle to become President of the United States there s an undercurrent of desire that someone would take the high ground and step aside for the good of our nation We all want our candidate to win but at the same time we would like to see that someone who could have glory might give it up not because it s better for them but because it s better for us We may or may not see that happen in our current political scramble But in this one season every year we have the reminder that Someone much more important that Bush or Gore has done such a thing solely out of love for us Someone more important than the King of England has given up glory and a throne so that we can experience true love first hand That Someone we believe

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/christ-the-king (2016-02-16)
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  • 1 John | Anne Robertson
    Where Are The Shepherds Jonah A Big Fish Story Apostles Creed Sermons Matthew Booking Passage By Their Fruit Don t Go Back the Way You Came Epiphany Get Out of the Boat Guard Your Heart Is God Fair Jesus The Son Mount of Olives Sealed in the Tomb Temptations The Canaanite Woman Mark Blind Bartimaeus Clearing the Temple Eating With Sinners I Believe The Living Christ Whatever It Takes Luke Conceived By the Spirit Counting the Cost Going Out of Your Mind Mother of God Mt of Transfiguration Revealed Rock Concert The Duty of Constant Communion The Shepherd Channel The Shepherd Channel Transformation in Whoville Ups and Downs Who s In Charge John Immigration This Must Be the Place Wade in the Water Water Into Wine Lazarus Come Out Stay in the Machine Where are the Shepherds While It Was Still Dark Acts God s Cleansing Love Holy Spirit Sharing the Load Singing In Prison Romans Apart From the Law Maker of Heaven and Earth Tower of Love Who s the Judge 1 Corinthians Here I Stand Resurrection of the Body The More Excellent Way What s It All About Ephesians Holy Catholic Church Philippians Christ the King 1 John

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/1-john (2016-02-16)
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  • Courage | Anne Robertson
    we call it compassion When love meets frustration we call it patience When love meets power we call it humility And when we bring the power of love to the experience of fear we call it courage Of course when any kind of fear strikes our instincts tell us to run and hide Or scream as the case may be That instantaneous gut reaction to save our own hides is natural and doesn t represent a real choice at least not initially We don t naturally face down our fear Not without practice and the stronger the threat the more natural that is We saw that on Monday Bombs went off and most people ran away without thinking But then some of them stopped to allow what had just happened to register And then they had a choice as we always do Once we have stopped our instinctive flight from whatever has frightened us we have choices The noblest is courage and I ll return to that in a minute But we can also choose to keep running We can choose not to deal with whatever threatens us Now in some cases that reaction just represents common sense A burglar breaks into your home and you call 911 A black widow spider would call for second thoughts But when we can stick our heads in the sand and pretend it there is no threat when we draw the curtains withdraw into ourselves and use various means of hiding from the world because of our fear that is the choice of cowardice It is the purely human choice more often than not There is also a more sinister choice There are some who are faced with fear that become envious of its power Perhaps some circumstance in their lives has made them feel powerless and suddenly they see the potential of using fear to their own advantage Those people embrace fear as a means of enhancing their own power over others and the fruit of that embrace we call cruelty It might be the actual bombs of a terrorist but it might also be the emotional cruelty of a bully the threats and beatings of domestic violence or the iron grip of a tyrant It might even be the manipulations of religious leaders who use the threat of hellfire and damnation to keep followers in line and submissive A colleague once lamented to me It s really hard being a liberal pastor You can t threaten your congregation with hell to get them to do what you want Fear is a powerful motivator and a potent weapon and those who crave power are pulled toward it like a moth to a flame When we see unspeakable cruelty as we witnessed this week and ask Why you can bet that fear is at least part of the answer Those who commit such acts were at some point normal decent human beings who were confronted by fear and made the choice to embrace

    Original URL path: http://annerobertson.org/courage (2016-02-16)
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