Sermons: Life’s Journey with Jesus’ Yoke

Matthew 11:28-30
RUMC 08 July 2018
Pastor SeokCheol Shin

Life’s Journey with Jesus’ Yoke

Greetings
          Today is the day of new beginnings for Rockville United Methodist Church and for my life’s journey as well. For the past 5 years I was given the privilege to serve two lovely congregations in Vermont. Now God has brought me here to serve Him through serving you.

Before I give you my message, I want to say how grateful I am to your previous Pastor Paul O’Neil for all he has done for me to have a smooth transition. He has had a wonderful ministry here with you, and I know he will be greatly missed. We have had a number of conversations since April and he has shared with me what a great congregation you are. I know you will continue to pray for him and Janet as they make their new beginning in New Hampshire.

I am thankful that I have Rev. Stan Culy in our congregation. I met him at the Annual Conference a month ago. Like our Good Shepherd, Rev. Culy first reached out to me and gave me a warm hug; I almost called him “Dad.”

I also want to express my appreciation to Sandy Gallup and the transition team as well as all who have helped me to feel so welcomed. Through our emails, facebook chats, phone calls, and prayers you encouraged me to cross over into my “Promised Land!” Yes, I am willing to be in ministry with each of you as we seek to serve God our Lord.

Finding rest in Jesus
Yet, I still can’t believe I am here in Connecticut. Until two weeks ago, I had served very rural communities, and today I am here to serve very diverse communities. What a radical change! Life is often compared to a journey. We never know where life takes us from one moment to the next.

Let us suppose that you are planning to travel to Korea, and this is your first visit there. How would you like to prepare for it? I believe that before you get on that airplane, you will try to get many kinds of information about Korea through internet, traveling books, or friends who know about Korea. Why? It is simply because you want to have a safe and fun time there.

Likewise, it’s better to entrust our life’s journey to someone who knows where we are going and what we are doing. That is our Lord Jesus Christ. Some people may argue, “Why do I have to depend on him? It is my own journey not Jesus’?” For this human question, I have two clear answers to share with you.

First, unlike our physical travel, our life’s journey is unpredictable. As you know, things don’t always go the way we plan, and we never know what happens next. We sometimes struggle with bumps and jostles on our roads. It is such a painful truth that bad things can happen anytime to anyone without any clear reasons, that, we are sometimes afraid of our journey.

Second, we human beings are weak. Let me ask you how strong you are. Can you try to pick up this pulpit? You can try. But how many of us think you can pick up the piano or a car? None can do it! There are many things we can move, but there are many more things that we can’t move or control by our own power and wisdom.

My brothers and sisters, some of you may have some pretty heavy burdens in your lives, and yet, you think that you have to carry them alone. Perhaps, you may have a physical ailment that makes your life hard; perhaps, someone in your family has serious illness and you are worried about it; or you may have been out of work and your family is having financial difficulties. Some others might face the prospect of living life alone after the death of a spouse. I don’t know yet what kind of burdens and worries have been depressing your heart, but it is true that we all labor in our everyday lives, and we are weary physically, mentally and emotionally.

Don’t we want to find a cure for our anxiety and weariness on our journey? Does anyone exist to help us to carry our burdens? Jesus says this morning, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” (v. 28).

If I say to someone, “come to me, my friend, I will take care of all your problems,” then people would laugh at me because they know that I don’t possess any power to resolve all of people’s problems. Then what about our Lord Jesus Christ? Can we count on him to make a good promise for us?

Yes, indeed! We can count on him because he is our Lord God who created all things in the world. Plus, he knows how hard human life is. As the Son of God, he also went through a life’s journey while taking up sufferings and pains during his public ministry in our world. So when Jesus, who knows everything about our life’s journey, makes such a promise, it is not a pep talk but a sure guarantee.

Jesus’ yoke on us
Yet, interestingly, Jesus also says in the following sentence, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (v. 29). Well, yoke is a farm machine to reign oxen and draw them to plow the field. So, it is actually for working. He just promises to offer rest and then suddenly speaks of taking up another burden in the next moment. What we need is a vacation, not more labors. Isn’t it a contradiction?

I think that Jesus uses this parable to explain how he can help us to carry our loads. Jesus’ yoke means his lordship upon us; he is our Lord and we are his servants, and as our Lord, he can lead us and control things that we face in our journey.

Don’t get me wrong, dear friends. Jesus Christ doesn’t only send me here to take it easy with everything. If I am only here to take a vacation, sooner or later I might look for another location. He drew me to work here along with you, and as his servant, working for God is my joy and my rest!

If all we need is physical rest, we can always take a nap. If we need only emotional rest, we can always go on a vacation. But where can we find our spiritual rest? Where can we find true peace and joy? Jesus promises this morning, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest… Take my yoke upon you… and you will find rest for your souls.”

Ready for our new journey
My dear brothers and sisters, I want you to know that I came to you not by my own will but guided by Jesus’ yoke in my heart. I am thankful for my new appointment here along with you, my new family in Christ. So, reflecting on his message for this morning, I would like to say to you, “Come to me, my sisters and brothers, and I will give you God’s love.” And please, welcome me and show me God’s love. As we come together in the name of Jesus Christ, we may have rest and peace for our life’s journey together.

Thanks to God’s grace and love, we are now ready to start our new journey and new ministry together. May God bless all of you here today as we welcome each other in God’s love, submit our lives to the Lord, and work for Christ’ saving ministry to the world. Amen.

 

Sermon: Palm Sunday 2018

Palm Sunday 2018
Mark 11:1-11
RUMC
25 March 2018

On December 4, 1977, the world witnessed the coronation of his Imperial Majesty, King Jean Bedel Bokassa I of the former Central African Republic.  The price tag for this very poor African country was a whopping $25 million dollars.  At precisely at 10:10AM, the procession started with the blast of trumpets and drum rolls.  The first to walk down the red carpet was eight of the king’s twenty-nine children.  They were followed by the heir to the throne, the king’s eldest son; Jean Bedel-Bokassa II who was dressed in a white admiral’s uniform.  Queen Catherine, the favorite of the king’s nine wives, was next in line.  She wore a $73,000 gown laced with pearls.  Now when the selected family was in place, the king arrived in his imperial carriage drawn by six majestic horses.  As the Marine Band played “The Sacred March of His Majesty” the king walked down the red carpet where he was cloaked in a thirty-two pound royal robe that was embroidered in gold and pearls.  As he sat on his $2 ½ million dollar eagle throne, the golden crown worth millions of dollars was placed on his head.  But this was all for naught, because the king was deposed a couple of years later.

Today’s scripture text is also about a procession, but it was not as pompous as the one I described above.  Jesus’ triumphal entry was more significant in that it started the events that resulted in our Christian faith, where it has changed the lives of countless numbers of people down through the ages.  And when we keep Christ’s word in our hearts, praise him with our lips and our lives all during the week, we truly honor him.

My text is Mark 11:11-11.
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  11Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

The first Palm Sunday procession really marked what we know as the beginning of the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

  • It culminated in his death.
  • And his death led to the resurrection.
  • And his resurrection led to his ascension.
  • And his ascension led to a spiritual kingdom.
  • And someday he will take his rightful place as the King of Kings.

But on this first Palm Sunday, Jesus’ choice of transportation was a young donkey.  In Biblical times, the donkey served as a symbol of peace.  For instance, if a country were at war, ambassadors would travel on that particular animal to a certain location and work out a peace treaty.  On the other hand, victorious kings and generals would enter the conquered city on a majestic horse.

As modern day disciples, most of us know the Palm Sunday story, but there is a question that needs to be asked.  Has Jesus received a welcome or a hosanna in your life?  Is he truly the king of your heart?

As people of faith, we are wired to worship, which is really an innate longing to connect with God.  John 4:24 tells us, “God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”  Psalm 103:1- “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”

At our Sunday morning church service, we try to sing praises to God and thank Him for his blessings.  But what about the rest of the week?  What about when we are in the car, or at home, or on the way to appointments?  Do we honor and thank Him or at least think of Him?

I would like to bring to your attention a person whose life was the epitome of prayer, praise and worship.  He was Nicolas Hermann who lived a long time ago in the country of France.  When he was older, he entered a monastery in Paris where he changed his name to Brother Lawrence.  Now Brother Lawrence was an unusual monk.  He didn’t care for theology or long prayers.  He had difficulty following theological discussions and was usually bored with all of that, but he felt very much at home in the kitchen.  And it was while he cooked or washed pots and pans that Lawrence would have conversations where he would praise and thank the Lord.  This may sound odd for a monk, but Lawrence was concerned with knowing God, not trying to understand the complexities of theology or the deep mysteries of the Bible.

Though Lawrence has been gone a long time, he does teach us that worship can be done anywhere and anytime.  It doesn’t always have to be in a church.

Here are some meaningful quotes:

  • Worship means to feel in the heart.
  • Without the worship of the heart, liturgical prayer becomes formal routine. ~Aelred Graham. 

Palm Sunday is about how we honor and praise God.  When we receive this palm, which is in the shape of a cross, think of it as a symbol of Christ’s victory over death and how we are to honor him in our hearts.

I have some thoughts on how we can do that.

  • Try to speak non-memorized prayers from the heart like Brother Lawrence did in the kitchen. Have a conversation with God.  For example:
    “Dear God, it is nice you are here today and taking this time to listen to what I have to say.”
    “Jesus, as I drive down this highway, I need to talk about some things that bother me”.
    “God in heaven, I have not lived the way I am supposed to, but would you hear what I have to say.”
  • Another thing we can do to improve our worship is find a place at home to be your place of prayer.
    My favorite spot is in the living room where I take out a small cross and set it on a table.  You may want to light a candle or have an empty chair as an invitation for Jesus to sit in.
  • Borrow a Hymn book from our library. Read some of the hymns and use it as your devotional.  It would truly bless your heart.
  • Take this palm home and put it in a place as a reminder to honor the Lord with your prayers and your life. Let it be a reminder as a Christian that you can do small and helpful things for others, as your life honors the Lord.

Let me close.  Earlier I had spoken about King Bokassa’s pompous coronation ceremony, but it is Christ’s legacy that continues.

May this Palm be a reminder that we are to honor and praise the Lord.

  • Here at church
  • In our homes.
  • In our schools.
  • In our place of employment.
  • In all the places we frequent.

May God help us this week as we honor and praise the Lord.

Sermon: Sir, We Would See Jesus

Sir, We Would See Jesus
John 12:20-26
RUMC
18 March 2018

When I was in US Army Chaplain’s school, we had to complete lots of written assignments.  One exercise my instructor graded with the word “BLUF” in big red capital letters.  Does anyone know what that means?  I certainly did not at the time.  I later found out, this stands for Bottom Line Up Front; it is thing we want people to remember or the most important idea.

In today’s gospel text, we have an example of BLUF; Jesus told his followers what he thought was worth remembering or most important.

My text is John 12:20-33: Jesus’s words is a message for us on how we are to put him first in our lives and truly live out the gospel.
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

It was the final week in Jesus’ life and the time of the Passover; when thousands of pilgrims had converged on Jerusalem to celebrate this important Jewish festival.  Among this number were certain Greek speaking Jews who wanted to see Jesus.

Now I suppose the reason they wanted to see Jesus was that they could tell he was different.  He was nothing like the teachers of the law or for that matter, Greek philosophers. While at the same time, it appeared that Jesus had the answers to life.  And it was here, our Lord told present and future believers the BLUF, Bottom Line Up Front, that true discipleship is costly when he said, “those who love their life will lose it and those who hate their life will keep it for eternal life.” 

2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are Ambassadors for Christ and because of this special relationship with God; we can point people in the right directions.  Let me give three examples of those lived out these words and placed the kingdom of God ahead of their own interests.

The first involves an incident that took place on May 29, 1914.  This was when the cruise liner, the Empress of Ireland, accidentally collided with a coal freighter and began to sink.  Like on the Titanic, there were not enough life preservers.  However, there happened to be 167 members of the Salvation Army on board.  Realizing the grave situation, they all gave up their life preservers to others saying, “I can die better than you can.”  The reason they could confidently say that was because they were confident in their relationship with Christ and not fearful of eternity.

My hope for all of us that as we live out our lives to the Lord and do it with confidence as we seriously commit Christ’s words to our hearts.

My second example was an individual who put the gospel before his own personal needs and comfort. Dr.  Thomas Lambie had a dream and saw a man with an extended a leprous hand; the message from the dream was, “Take that hand.”  When Dr. Lambie awoke, he knew this was a sign from God and accepted the call.  Once in the country of Ethiopia, Dr. Lambie realized that a leper hospital was needed, but Ethiopian laws would not allow land to be sold to foreigners.  So he gave up his American citizenship to buy the needed land and built the hospital.  Later in life, his American citizenship was restored because of his great work among the lepers.

In Dr. Lambie’s discipleship he gave up comfort, prestige and country for those in need.  And the thought came to me, could we do the same?  Again this goes back to losing one’s life for the gospel.

The third example was someone that I knew.  Her name was Sybil, and I first met her at the San Antonio Ft Sam Houston Army Chapel while I was in Physical Therapy training.  There were two things unique about her: one, she was confined to a wheel chair, and the second thing was that she had a certain glow about her.  I would attribute her glow to the close walk she had with the Lord.  Because she had that special spiritual presence, I would bring my Army friends over to her house, and she could talk to them about their faith.  Though she was physically handicapped, she wasn’t spiritually.

To me it was obvious that Sybil had given up her old way of life (any type of sin, any negativity, and the self-centeredness she might have had) in exchange for a personal relationship with Christ.  Just knowing her, she has inspired me, to the same.

These are three examples of those who put the Kingdom of God first.  There are countless others down through the ages who had done the same.

Consider this story.  Once there was a hen and a pig who were in deep conversation when they walked past a church.  The pastor’s sermon -“How can we help the Poor?”- was written on the outdoor sign.   After a moment’s reflection the hen said, “I know what we can do.  We can give them a ham and egg breakfast.”  But the pig protested and said, “The breakfast would be only a contribution for you, but for me, it would mean total commitment.”

Let me close.  This week, as we go through all of your daily activities, consider our individual walk with the Lord.  Ponder what it means and how we are to lose one’s life for the gospel.  What kind of a change in attitude would that be?

  • Perhaps make peace with your Maker or someone you don’t like.
  • Confess your sins to the Lord.
  • If an opportunity for service comes your way, and you know it’s from God, say yes.
  • Dive deep in your faith and let the peace of God rule in your hearts.

When you do this, other people will begin to notice.  Our scripture text at face value seems absurd, but if we want fulfillment, we need that change in attitude to follow Christ.

GSM Praise Concert – Crossing Jordan

The Grove Street Music Project is proud to present the Christian Rock Group Crossing Jordan live at Rockville UMC: 7 pm Saturday June 23, 2018.  Rockville United Methodist Church, 142 Grove Street, Rockville, CT 06066.  Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Purchase Tickets Here.

Rockville United Methodist Church is a small but very active church located at 142 Grove Street, Rockville, CT 06066.  Our members volunteer to help the community year round.  Sunday service is at 10:00 am.  Guests are always welcome to our services.  Our Fellowship hall is available for rent; we have full kitchen facilities. http://www.rockumchurch.com/home/.

Crossing Jordan is a contemporary/rock/worship band from Long Island New York.  Throughout their career, Crossing Jordan has had the opportunity to minister with Stellar Award Winner Micah Stampley, Gospel Rap Artist Trip Lee, and Speaker Duffy Robbins. They have also been a part of Creation Festival Northeast in 2011, 2012 and 2014. They have released their debut album, “Walk with Me” in May 2010 and have most recently released their brand new Worship Album “God of Love” in October 2015.

 

 

Meal Packing Event – Rise Against Hunger

Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) 
Meal Packing Event
Saturday April 21, 2018 
3 to 5 pm

In two hours volunteers will measure, weigh, seal, and package over 10,000 meals of rice, vitamins and protein for distribution to impoverished countries and areas affected by disasters.   Sign up to help pack meals or make a donation at our Rise Against Hunger RUMC Page.  This is a fun, family-friendly, hands-on volunteer event that provides everyone who participates with a sense of accomplishment.

 

Baked Potato Bar Fundraiser

Baked Potato Bar
Sunday April 8, 2018
following service

Join us during fellowship for our Stop Hunger Now fundraiser. Baked Potatoes and all the fixin’s provided by the Joy’s. Bring your appetite and checkbook to help with this very good cause.

A Blank Canvas for your appetite!

Stop Hunger Now – Now Called “Rise Against Hunger”
April 21, 2018
3 to 5 pm

Register to participate or donate to help us:

 

 

Men’s Palm Sunday Service

Men’s Palm Sunday Service and Breakfast
March 25, 2018
7 am
Free

The men of Rockville United Methodist Church and the surrounding towns are invited to attend Communion Service followed by Breakfast on Sunday, March 25, 2018. The communion service will begin at 7:00 am in the sanctuary of the church and will be immediately followed by breakfast served in Fellowship Hall.

Our speaker this year will be Pastor Paul R. O’Neil of RUMC discussing his recent visit to Israel.

There is no charge for the breakfast, but we will need to know how many men are coming from your church by Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Please call the church office (860) 875-6562) with this information.