A Messiah With Bad Breath?

I found a great story on line a few days ago.  If you have listened to more than a handful of my sermon messages, you will know that the style of the story is a favorite, and one of which I frequently employ from the pulpit.  The aforementioned style, is that of the stereotypical search for answers from a holy man.  Usually it involves some great quest for knowledge, and it ends at the feet of the Holy Man, who the world believes has the answers to all questions.

How to find peace and happiness?  Climb a mountain and find the holy man.

  • How to find true treasure?  Climb a mountain and find the holy man.
  • What’s wrong with the Patriots?   Climb a mountain and find a holy man.
  • What’s wrong with the Red Sox?  Well…   How long do you have?

This story certainly, which I have exploded, embellished, and made exponentially longer… follows that general line of thinking.

It takes place up high in mountain top monastery known across the world.   Once the monastery was known across the globe for its piety and service, and when other monasteries were built, this one was the example.   Overtime, and for reasons unknown to the monks things started to change.

Eventually the monastery fell into disrepair.   Physically the place was a mess. Paint was peeling and windows were broken.  Roofs needed re shingling.   Weeds grew at a dizzying place.  At the same time, things were not quite right among the monks.  They seemed to lose patience quickly.   They were constant little squabbles.   They just seemed to no longer enjoy each other’s company or the monastery.

All this dissatisfaction resulted in fewer monks worshipping together.   Their church, the center of the monastery, used to be their pride and joy.   Sadly over time, the pews became emptier and emptier.   Even the town folk who used to make the trek to worship at the monastery chose to stay away.

The monastery was dying slowly.   The heartbeat seemed to be gone.    The peeling paint became symbolic of a sense of decay that had overtaken the place.   Nothing was crisp, and there was no vitality.

How do you fix the monastery?   Climb a mountain and ask a Holy Man.

That is what the abbot of the monastery decided to do.    He grabbed his belongings and began that trek up the mountain.  As he reached the top, there was the target of his quest.   A man in white robes, sitting in a lotus position chanting out some meaningless mantra, was sure to be the answer for all the man’s and monastery’s worries.

Falling at the holy man’s feet, he immediately asks his questions:  “Why or why has our monastery fallen?   Why is the paint peeling?   Why are we no longer the crown jewel of all monasteries?   Why do the brothers quarrel?   What happened to us?”

The holy man, in the way that holy men do, slowly reached down and grabbed the abbot’s hand.   “My son”, he says, “it is because of the sin of ignorance.”

The abbot was surprised.    Along that journey, he had tried to think about what the answer was himself.   He came up with many.    The monastery needed more gimmicks.   Maybe it needed flat screen televisions and projection systems, which would broadcast the words to hymns right on the wall.   Maybe it was fancy websites, and 24-7 access.   Maybe it was more guitar, or more modern music.   Maybe the abbot needed to crack more jokes at the pulpit, or maybe he didn’t need to dress as fancily.

When the word “ignorance” came out of the holy man’s mouth, the abbot was befuddled.   This never even crossed his mind.   What was he ignorant of, thought the abbot?   Was he ignorant of some new gimmick, conference plan, church growth initiative, or monastery revitalization program?   As he tossed this about in his head, he became excited.   The Holy man had an answer!

“What is it, that we are ignorant?” asked the abbot?

All of a sudden, the Holy Man’s eyes squinted and his browed furrowed.   In a look that resonated with both paranoia and secrecy, the man, looked around cautiously as if some great worry was hiding behind a bush, or rock.     After insuring no one was looking, the Holy Man looked deep into the abbot’s eyes and said; “The Messiah…you are ignorant of the Messiah.   One of you, one of those in your midst, is the Messiah, and you are missing this.”

As the abbot walked home, he tossed it about in his head.   Who is the Messiah?    He started to make the mental listing of all the monks in the monastery.   

“Could it be Brother Treasurer who handles our books?   Could he be the messiah?    Or what about Brother Carpenter, who fixes all the dents and bruises of the church…could he be the messiah?   Maybe it is that brother that sings so well.   Maybe it is that brother that cooks so well.   Maybe it is that brother who seems to have all the theology and doctrine down pat.”

As he worked his way down the mountain, he worked his way through the mental list of Messianic Candidates.   He thought about how one was a little short tempered, and couldn’t be the messiah.   He thought about the time he heard the carpenter swear after banging his finger.  The messiah doesn’t cuss.   He thought about the one who knew the theology, and remembered how bad his breath was.   The Messiah doesn’t have bad breath.

As he worked through the countless faults of his brothers, he realized that each of the countless monks had a never ending supply of  faults and issues.   Some were subtle and, boy, some were huge!   They all had defects from big noses, to short tempters.   Some had bad tempers and others bad eyes.   In the end, the messiah was supposed to be perfect, he thought.

As he went back and forth and his headache slowly grew, the abbot had his epiphany.    “Perhaps, Just Perhaps,” he thought, “the imperfection is his disguise!”   He realized that this would be just the way that Jesus would hide among the monks.    He couldn’t wait to return to the monastery and tell his brothers.

Upon his arrival, he had his assistant ring the bell which usually indicated a fire, or call to prayer, and busily readied himself for the now gathering assembly in their dining hall.   When every last monk and town person had gathered into the great hall, he told the crowd of the great news.

As you can imagine the news was met with great silence.   After what seemed like an eternity the silence was interrupted by murmuring.   Everywhere you looked townspeople were looking at townspeople, monks eyed other monks.   Little children where looked over quizzically.   Theories were developed, talked about, tossed away, and returned too.    All wondered who the Messiah was.

“Could it be him?   Could it be her?   Could it be that little girl, or that boy?”  Questions like this soon became the mantra across town.   As the questions continued, something strange started happening.  

People started to walk a bit differently.   “Was he the Messiah?” They looked around at each other instead of burying their heads.  “Was he the Messiah?”  They smiled at that monk that ticked them off so greatly the week before.    They extended their hand to the stranger who stood beside them. “Maybe it’s her!”

They looked at their neighbor and offered a meal.   Instead of complaining about the nasty condition of the paint, they grabbed a brush.    Instead of looking at his neighbor’s lawn as an eyesore, they pulled weeds.  

They got down on their hands and knees to not only pray, but to get to work.

It wasn’t long before the Monastery shined.  People returned.   They became known again across the world.    The people arrived day after day, because they knew.   They knew that within those walls, the Messiah could be found.

I have spent a great deal of time and energy, trying to find that magic potion, special mix, and ultimate gimmick or system.   Perhaps I find too much self actualization as a minister tied to the numbers of butts in the pew each week.   Maybe there is a piece that reads of those cases of church growth and wonder.   Do I need to sell out on my beliefs to fill these pews?   Do I need to shortchange the radical and all encompassing message of Jesus to keep the stranger comfortable but in the church?    I look at those rare stories and say, how can we be different and be true to who we are, while reaching out  and making a place for a world that seems so bent on turning away?

I would love to one Sunday drive into Chesterfield New Hampshire and have to park at the Library, because we have no parking spots.   Wouldn’t it be incredible to see the parking lot of our church on Sundays, be the same as it is on Saturdays, when they line up outside for the food pantry.  

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if hungry people lined up for the food that we offer on Sundays too?

At Asbury, at churches like us, there is plenty we are doing as a church to see that this happens, and we are doing all the right things.   We are sound in our stewardship of all of the assets God has entrusted into our care (be they building, giving, or people).  We are being creative in our outreach.  We are welcoming in our ministries.   We are showing what the Gospel looks like through our action first, and then our words.   We are providing an authentic, relevant, and life changing Jesus to this community and these things matter.

Like all those monks and villagers, we are not perfect.  There are things that we need to be about, that we are not quite there on.   We need to understand if we are reaching everyone we need to.   Are we utilizing the right tools?    We need to continually think about new technologies, new ideas, and new approaches.    Do we have music, worship, a service, and a building that is capable of reaching the people outside this family?  

What are we doing to figure out who those people are?

Are we actively praying for the future that we envision for our church?  Are we practicing those disciplines that take our faith to a new level, and as a result make our message more real?.   Are we praying for our children each and every day?   Are we praying each day that God provides just one opportunity for us to reach out to one of those nameless neighbors?   Are we learning how to be comfortable telling our story? 

These are all things that matter.

 Again, some we are doing.   Some we are doing really, really well, others we are not doing well enough.    This is our journey, our mission, and our challenge as a church.    This is our mission as people of faith; to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of this community and our world.

In the end, all of blood, sweat and tears, may just be noise.  

It will be all noise if we forget the most fundamental truth about church growth, and our great commission.     If we don’t realize and don’t remember that the Messiah is in our midst; we lose.   If DO NOT we approach everything we do, everything we say, and hope and pray with this as our premise; we lose.   If we don’t acknowledge his presence in the pew or in the person next to us;  we lose.

But if we do, and do it on a level that is greater with each passing day, this monastery, our church, shines.  That is the most important church growth program that matters.  

People will hear.  People will realize.   People will arrive day after day, because they will know.   They will know, that despite our imperfections (bad eyes, bad tempers, bad breath and all) that there is something different here. They will know that within the walls of our churches, the Messiah can be found.

(Painting by Moretto de Brescia, “The Saint Monk”)

Are You Dating Jesus?

The Rev. Mark White, a Church of Christ preacher, has a great analogy for faith in contemporary times.    He likes to say, that people today are avoiding that true and life changing relationship with Jesus, and instead they are content to just date Him.

Perhaps he is right.   He suggests that we need to look at our relationship and ask ourselves are we truly doing anything more than dating Jesus.    

Getting Ready for the Date

On a date, you dress yourself up; comb your hair and try, with varying degrees of success, to set your best self forward.   When you are sure everything is order, you head off, at your set time and location. 

 Maybe that time and location is Sunday morning at 10am.   You arrive, hoping to relay this immaculate, refined impression and praying that all the flaws and imperfections are adequately hid. 

The First Date…

When you first meet the person you decide to date there is a tingle of excitement and anticipation.   In an attempt to size each other up, you make polite conversation.   There is no talk of anything deep, no politics, and no in-depth talk of religion or theology.   Below the surface of the conversation there is this intense desire to say and to show the right things.   What should I tell them?   What should I allow them to see?   What secrets should I share?

In the end, you enjoy the moment.   You enjoy the possibility of what this relationship has to offer.   You enjoy the time spent together.   You start to contemplate that maybe this is the right person.   You ask yourself; Is this the one, I can see myself with forever?    Was there that magic connection that every TV show and movie tells us we should have had?  

Should you keep your options open?    You, at that point, remember that relationships are hard, and you will most certainly ask yourself if this person is worth the risk, effort, and maybe even the hurt?    Are you willing to let go of all your insecurity and questions and trust this person, or do you continue to search out other possibilities and choices? 

Moving Beyond Dating…

All too often, as people of faith we get stuck dating Jesus, and missing out on the true relationship.      You move away from “simply dating” when you reach that moment when the light bulb goes off in your head.   You move out of the realm of “only dating” when you come to the realization, that there is no other place, in the entire world, that you need or want to be, than in the presence of that person.    Is Jesus where you want to be?

You move away from dating, when you realize the possibilities that you were once contemplating are replaced with near certainties.  You move away from dating, when you realize that the person before you is unique and one of a kind, and will push you to become a better person, or the person you were always meant to be.   You move away from dating when you realize that life without them is unthinkable.  For you, is a life without Jesus unthinkable?

When you move beyond dating, your willing to open up your full heart and soul to the other.   Conversations become more real and more revealing.   When you exchange dating for a relationship, you stop talking about yourself and spend all your attention and effort on learning and understanding them better.   Your focus changes from what feels good for you, to doing everything in your power to make them happy.   Eventually, you realize that this is the person for you, and you gladly and without reservations, give over the possibilities of something else, for that trust-filled, life changing commitment.  Is Jesus your focus? 

Are You Simply Dating Jesus?

As people of faith, that is the relationship and commitment we need to be in with Jesus.   Sadly, as in the case of our romantic lives, something keeps us from surrendering to that commitment.   Maybe we don’t trust what we are feeling.   Maybe it is the life time of bad relationships behind us.   Maybe we are simply afraid of the implications, and fear the commitment.    Hopefully, I can convince you that this leap…this leap of the heart is worth taking, and it’s worth taking today.   

Dating Jesus is Scary…

All relationships are scary.   You never know if you are making a mistake or the person before you is the right one.   How do we know that Christ is the answer?   How do we know for sure?    How do we jump in the pool fully, as opposed to only walking up to the side, and dipping our big toe in?  How do we do all of this?

I heard a story once, about an elderly pastor who was meeting with an engaged couple for some pre-wedding counseling.    The sessions were normal in every regard, but the pastor had some aching suspicions that something wasn’t quite right.   

His concerns were confirmed when after a meeting; the young man approached the pastor, by himself.    He wanted to know how he could know for sure that she was the one.    He wanted to know how he could know for sure that his beautiful fiancé was the person that God intended for him to spend the rest of his life with.

The elderly pastor smiled, gripped the young man’s shoulders and said if you wanted the answer to that question, he needed to meet him at the beach the next morning, at 5:00am.   There, he promised, his questions, fears, and hesitations would all be resolved.   The young man thought to himself that 5:00am was way too early, and hesitated.     To his apparent hesitation, the old pastor simply asked: Isn’t your fiancé worth one lost morning of sleep? 

(Note:  There is only one family that I know of that gets up before 5:00AM, and although I love them to death, I have to unabashedly declare that they are crazy…   Nothing good happens at 5:00am, and I have these deep down convictions that God created us to enjoy slumber [except on Sunday’s of course] 5:00am?  Crazy talk.) 

So that next morning, at 4:30am, the young man hauled myself out of bed, showered, and put on a shirt and tie, and headed to the beach.    There off in the distance was the pastor, in shorts, no shoes, and a t-shirt.   Instantly, he started to regret his choice of attire.

Greeting the pastor, he was immediately met with a question;  “Do you still want to know how you know for sure?”   “Of course” replied the young man.    Then the pastor, again with the smile, instructed him to follow him.   Without hesitation, the pastor walked out to the ocean and stood with waves crashing about his waist.    “Don’t hesitate,” the pastor called out, “Just head on in, shoes, shirt, tie and all”.    After a minute or two of hesitation, the young man did just that.  He joined the pastor by his side. 

“There are two ways to know,” he said.   “The first is to throw caution to wind, and throw all the hesitations away.”   We can’t worry about the silly things, like whether or not we are dressed right, or have the right shoes on.   The only thing that matters is the relationship. 

The young man, thought the answer rather hokey, especially as he stood in soon to be ruined loafers, when he asked about the second way to know. 

The pastor’s smile grew larger.    He asked him if he was sure he wanted to find out.    “Of course,” yelled the young man, “I am standing in the Atlantic Ocean in a suit and tie, I want to know!”.   With that the old pastor told the young man to turn around.   Without hesitation, he did just that.  

As the young man eyed the horizon to determine the great philosophical lesson of the moment, the old frail pastor sprang towards him.   In an instant the Pastor grabbed his shoulders and with all his might forced the young man’s head under water, in an almost bizarre backwards baptism.   The young man, head underwater was flailing his arms and trying with all his might to break the pastor’s hold.    With all his strength the old man, held the younger under the water for what seemed like an eternity.

Eventually the old man eased his grip, and the other surfaced choking up water.  When he had regained his composure, the young man demanded in an angry scream why the older would do something so crazy.

“When you were under water, what were you thinking?”, the pastor calmly asked.

“I was mad, I was confused, I was angry” 

“What did you want?”

“I wanted to get out of the water!”, he replied.

 “More than that, what did you want?”

“I wanted to catch my breath, I wanted to breathe”, came his answer.

With his smile the largest it had been, he grabbed the young man’s shoulders and said; “when you want another, as fully and as badly, as you wanted to breathe two seconds ago, that’s how you will know.  That’s when you know for sure that its real.   That is love.

There are many parables in our Bible to tell us what it is like to discover God’s kingdom.    There are countless stories that tell us, how individual lives are changed.   Beyond the Bible, we all have anecdotes or memories, of how different life was before one came to grips with our faith, and how radically changed lives can become.    Despite this, and oh so sadly, many of us are still just dating Jesus.   We are just toying with idea of him, until we find ourselves wanting him as fully and as badly, as we want everything else…even life and breath.  How badly do you want Jesus?   There are few more important questions than that.

A Point of Reference

As I have told folks on numerous occasions, each and every week I get tons of emails, news clippings and stories sent automatically to my inbox.   The flood of emails that I get from week to week, cover a wide range of subjects from faith to football, Theology to Thai food.   It’s a constant flood of often useless information traveling from my inbox, to my brain and finally to my recycle bin.

Have you ever seen the show hoarders?    If you haven’t you must check it out.    It tells of a horrible mental challenge that many of our neighbors have, which leads them to a point of being unable to throw anything away.    The show will break your heart and the same time it makes you shake your head.  Sometimes the filth and the debris takes entire crews of dozens of people, and the threat of condemning the home, to bring to manageable levels.

Without any intention of downplaying the severity of this particular struggle, and without any intention of poking fun at it, when it comes to the trivial flow of useless information into my world, I am like the hoarder you see on that show.  I cannot delete anything.   Thankfully the piles of information are all stored electronically.  Otherwise, I would be that person whose very life is threatened by mounds of boxes and newspapers.  (If you have seen my home, and know of Stacey’s desire to keep everything in its place, and the house in an eternal state of order, not only would I be that proverbial hoarder, but she would have left me a long time ago.)   I imagine that electronic hoarding is the hoarding disorder for the obsessive compulsive/control freak.   For purposes of this message I have calculated my current file of saved emails in that hoard and as of this week it appears to be pushing a staggering 13 Gigabytes.

Truth be told, it isn’t just reckless obsession that drives this need to save everything.  Every now and then one of the many emails gets me thinking, or open’s an eye.   When I read it, an eyebrow gets cocked or there is a spark that gets set off in me.   Sometimes I go and I search for more information or detail in hopes of maybe turning things into a sermon, blog posting, or children’s message.    Sometimes it’s simply that weird combination of ADD and Obsessive compulsiveness that has me on day long treks researching the interesting or peculiar. A large number of my sermons often result from these Lewis and Clark like expeditions through cyberspace.   So, in the end…   this obsession may just be a colossal act of faith.

Today’s message is a message that got sparked from something that was briefly mentioned in an email that came across my world this past week.   In that email, a UMC Pastor named King Duncan mentioned a small metallic disk, sitting in the middle of a desolate field somewhere in Kansas. 

I have since learned that this disk, sitting unnoticed by you or I is probably one of the most important pieces of metal on the planet.    That piece of metal, whose existence you probably never heard of before this moment, is critical to our functioning as a society, as an economy, as a country, and as a civilization.    Without a doubt it is just that important.   That little metal circle, represents something called NAD 27, or the North American Datum of 1927,

As I researched this disk further, I discovered that National Geodetic Survey has published this statement on the NAD 27:

NAD 27, as it is called “is “The horizontal control datum for the United States that was defined by location and azimuth on the Clarke spheroid of 1866, with origin at (the survey station) Meades Ranch. The geoidal height at Meades Ranch assumed to be zero. and were derived from the through a readjustment of the triangulation of the entire network in which Laplace azimuths were introduced, and the Bowie method was used.”

 Despite sounding super official and intelligent, that explanation might as well have been written in Swahili, as it makes absolutely no sense to me.     It certainly doesn’t express why this little brass circle, not much larger than the circumference of a softball, is so critically important to each of us.   I started to think that I had stumbled on a true mystery.  Maybe I have even stumbled on a great conspiracy.

We have all heard of Martians being housed at Area 51, maybe this disc is equally as important.    Maybe it marks the spot of the hidden treasure of the world, or some secret repository of all the CIA secrets of the last hundred years.   Maybe if we understand this disc, we understand the whole JFK assassination, The Amelia Earhart mystery, and even the true whereabouts of Elvis Presley.     Maybe it’s just that important!

 Despite my dream of becoming this generation’s Indiana Jones, the mystery proved to be something less sinister, but still interesting and compelling.    That small disc, sits in  north central Kansas on the private, and unused field of a farmer.   That disc also marks the exact location where the thirty-ninth parallel, crosses the ninety-eighth parallel.  That little disc is the reference point of every single calculation on Latitude and longitude in this country.    Every single GPS calibrate mark or movement is based off of the exact location of that disc.

When your Tom-Tom tells you to make the turn onto Elm Street in 100 yards, you can thank that disc.    When a plane flies overhead without colliding with another, thank that disc.  When you call 911 and the ambulance knows where to go, thank that disc. When someone asks you where you live, and you say Chesterfield, Keene, Brattleboro, or Denver for that matter… you do so because of that disc.  Every street map, state line, or county border owes its existence to that little brass disc, sitting in the middle of a field in Kansas.

Consider this; I heard last week on NPR that the Tappan Zee Bridge that spans the Hudson River is falling into disrepair.   The story caught my attention because every few months my family and I cross that bridge on our way to Stacey’s brother’s home in New Jersey.   What is unique and sticks with people about this bridge is its length.    Due to some state laws that the original bridge designers circumvented, the bridge crosses one of the widest points of the Hudson River.     From bank to bank the bridge spans three and a half miles.

After additional research, I found that starting within the next ten years, the state of New York is hoping to rebuild this bridge at a cost of close to $10billion dollars (by some estimates, not NPRs).   Their plan is huge.   According to the report, they have some serious challenges to overcome.  The river floor is mucky and muddy, not at all good when it comes to a sturdy foundation for a bridge.   The bridge gets a massive amount of travel each and every day, and somehow they need to figure out how to reroute all this travel.   Lastly, and probably most critical is the fact that if the bridge is to be replaced by a newer better designed one, than there needs to be two crews and that start at either side of the river, and meet in the middle.

In the original email where I learned about this disc, there was a story about a bridge built 80 years ago, that when they got to that middle point, where 14 feet off the mark of each other.      It turns out that both crews had different calculations as to where they were in relationship to that little brass disc in Kansas.   

Now, pushing a century later, the location of that disc, and each side’s position in relationship to it will more than likely be determined by complex computers and satellites floating in outer space somewhere.   In the end, however, that position will be considered and known before the first brick is laid or car detoured.  Knowing that location of that disc is the step one in a $10billion construction process.   Without it, there is no step two.

To finally make my point, NAD 27 is a universal reference point for construction workers, engineers, and so forth.     According to that email, bad things happen when we don’t know our exact location, or when using King Duncan’s words, we practice location by approximation.    It can be costly and dangerous.   Things fall apart.

It can be said that when we look around and see a world that is broken and screwed up, it’s because we have lost sense of where our reference point is.    It seems like everything that was once a point of order is now rapidly starting to shake.    We can’t trust our government, our economy, or our jobs.    We certainly can’t trust our pensions or our 401Ks.    We can’t wake up and expect our houses to be worth what they were when we went to bed.

We see families failing around us.   We see children being lost to a crazy desire to grow up too fast.   We see friends turn to the material things to fill the gaps and to ease the fear.  We can’t control things and we are afraid, and for some reason we think the best thing we can do is to stock pile the gadgets and the toys in hopes that these things will make us feel better.   Maybe they will make us feel powerful.   Maybe they will make us feel strong.   In truth, we have lost our point of reference, individually and collectively.

In Matthew 16, Jesus poises a pair of very simple questions to Peter.   First Jesus asks Peter who the world thinks he is.    A prophet, John the Baptist, or Elijah are some of Peter’s responses.   Immediately thereafter, Jesus asks him a direct question. He asks him “Who do you say I am?” 

Peter’s reply was unquestionable and adamant; “You are the messiah, son of the living God”.    Peter’s testimony was open and shut.  In the moment that follows, and as a result of Peter’s adamant declaration, Jesus puts on Peter’s shoulders incredible glory.   “You are a Rock Peter,” Jesus says, “Upon you, I will build my church and not even the gates of hell will overcome it.”   

These are powerful words that were given to Peter.   Sometimes I shudder to think of the level of responsibility that was given to Peter in the moment.    I wonder how I would have reacted if Jesus appeared to me in this moment, and said those same words to me.

The truth is that he is.    Amidst all the craziness of a world trying to move around without a frame of reference, or a world trying to determine their location by approximation, Jesus is asking you the same question.       Jesus is standing right here and right now, and asking the same question that he asked Peter.   Jesus is asking each of us;  “Who do you think he is?”

Who do you think he is?

When you ask that question, you will get your frame of reference.  You will get your point of measurement.   You can decide for yourself that Jesus was just a good teacher teaching good things.    Perhaps he was a prophet.   Perhaps he was a great philosopher, a sage, or a teacher.    Maybe he was indeed the son of God.   The truth is, that each of us has to answer that question, and how we answer that determines what comes next.  

Are you willing to sacrifice everything for the person you believe this 1st century Palestine man to be?  Are you willing, because of this man, to very loudly stand up and tell the world that what they think is right isn’t?  Are you, because of this man, able to say that they way you live your life, the way you travel your day to day, and the way you spend your money will be different?  The way you answer that question is of critical importance, and you will indeed have to answer it for yourself.

I know that each of us cares for that little church on the hilltop, called Asbury, and we care, we hope, and we dream that someday the rest of our neighbors, the rest of our community, and the rest of the world, will embrace what we have come to embrace through this place and places like it.  We all know that through God’s grace and efforts this church will rise or fall. We are his hands and feet to this community.  

Yet, we need to realize that in order for that to happen, in order for the church to be built upon our backs, we need to answer the very same question.  It was a question for Peter, Paul, and all the apostles before they traveled the world.   It was a question for Martin Luther and a question for John Wesley.    It was a question for Jonathan Daniels, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr, Billy Graham, Bill and Gloria Gather, Mother Theresa, and Joe and Mary Smith of East Somewhere, USA.   

It is also a question for you and I. I, like Peter, have made my answer known.   Today, I remind you that he awaits your answer too.

Who do you say this Jesus, is?  

Rev. King Duncan Sermon, Dated 2002
The Tappan Zee Bridge in the Wrong Place, NPR Original Broadcast (http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/08/19/139749870/a-big-bridge-in-the-wrong-place)
NAD 27 Scientific Detail (National Geodetic Survey) http://www.towermaps.com/nad.htm
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