Haiku for Teresa

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An amazing person with positive optimistic energy.

She truly lived in the moment.

  • our time marches on
  • you are not alone today
  • we will not despair

 

 

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2015-8-23 Sermon by Tezenlo Thong “Corpus Christi”

Corpus Christi

John 6:56-69

“Corpus Christi” in Latin means the Body of Christ. At the continued requests of Juliana of Liege, Pope Urban IV instituted the Festival of Corpus Christi in 1264. The festival is a celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Surprisingly, the Bible does not say much about the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said very little about it. The only imperative statement comes from Luke 22:19, “Do this in remembrance of me.” More surprisingly, the partaking of Corpus Christi has been the deepest point of division in the church. There is so much pain and discord around the celebration. There are many differing views and theological beliefs about communion, especially about the supposed nature of the bread and the wine on the table of fellowship.

The institution of Corpus Christi is not meant for theological dispute and schism. When we celebrate communion, we say, “Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ.” We partake communion so that we may become for the world the hands, the feet and the heart of God. By partaking the body and the blood of Christ, we become God’s hands, feet and heart to serve, to heal and to love as God would. That’s all it is!

Our bodies have limitations. Our bodies do not look like the ones we see in magazines. Rather, ours is a broken one. It has aches and pains. It is wrinkled and worn out. But our bodies can still be the body of Christ. They can still be the hands, the feet and the heart of God in the world. The scars, wounds, pains and aches in our bodies enable us to identify with others in similar situations. Without these, we cannot empathize with the broken, the scarred and the wounded. So each morning as we wake up, our prayer ought to be “Thank you, God, for yet one more day in which I can be your hands, your feet, your heart in the world.”

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church


2015-7-12 Sermon “Troublemakers Needed” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

imageTroublemakers Needed

(Mark 6:16-29; Amos 7:7-15)

There are two ways in which you and I can be troublemakers. One way is by simply causing trouble – creating fear, spreading racism and bigotry, engaging in mass shooting, committing fraud or amassing wealth through ill-gotten gains. Creating trouble for oneself, one’s family and society by engaging in evil.

There is another way in which we are considered troublemakers in a different sense. If you lead an honest and truthful life, refusing to let wicked people go unopposed, unsettling their conscience, you are a troublemaker, because you bring trouble to their consciences. You are a troublemaker because you give no peace to a wicked person. You speak the truth, you stand up for justice and equality, no matter what, and people do not like it.

God’s troublemakers are those who speak truth to power and bring trouble on troublemakers. “Blessed are peacemakers,” so said Jesus. You can’t be a peacemaker without being a troublemaker. You have heard the saying, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” We are taught to be nice and not cause trouble, especially in church. The truth is, nice people seldom make history or bring about change.

As Christians, we stand on the prophetic tradition, a tradition with all kinds of trouble making radicals who made wicked kings, rulers and rich folks uncomfortable. The role of the Old Testament prophet was not foretelling, but forth telling, speaking truth as it is. That’s exactly what Amos did in the capital city of King Jeroboam. On hearing Amos, the chief priest declared, “The land cannot bear all his words.” Indeed, truth is hard to bear. One cannot not be troubled by a prophetic voice.

John the Baptist is considered one of the last prophets. He could not remain silent. He had to speak up against what he saw in his time as evil and immoral. He was a thorn in the flesh and heart of King Herod and Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he married. John stirred things up that others were afraid to do. And it cost him his life.

When there is any kind of discrimination and injustice, the church should be out there stirring things up, crying and demanding for justice and equality for all. The prophetic voice of the church is the voice of God in unjust society. It is the voice of God in unrighteous generation. It is much easier to smile and be nice than to confront someone for wrongdoing. Being a troublemaker is not easy or comfortable, but it’s a part of the Christian calling and discipleship. May God help us to be faithful and bold troublemakers when circumstance demands our unwavering witness.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

2015-5-31 “The Mysterious Divine” Sermon, Tezenlo Thong

“The Mysterious Divine” Sermon, Tezenlo Thong

(Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; John 3:1-17)

Who or what is God? Is it/he/she God, YHWH, Wakan Tanka, Eshwara, Allah, Dark Energy, Gaia, etc.? Throughout human existence, human beings across the universe have been seeking to understand “GOD”. Hence, so many names of God and religious traditions.

Have we understood the Mysterious Divine? Do we know who or what God is? Someone said, “A comprehended God is no god.” That is comforting, because we have the tendency to comprehend God completely, fully to our satisfaction and liking.

For this Trinity Sunday, the lectionary texts portray a mysterious God who is awe inspiring, fearsome, and beyond description and comprehension. In the words of Amy Jill Levine, “God is free to be; God is a verb; God is being.” God is free to be what God is and wants to be. Conversely, that mysterious Divine, we believe, is not only majestic, but also loving and gentle like the wind; transcendent, yet immanent; mighty, yet graceful; and most importantly, calls or invites us to know, feel and share with others.

In the end what is important is not how much we know or how we know; what is truly important is how that knowing of the mysterious divine changes us, shapes us and make us to be better persons in the world.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

2015-5-10 Sermon “Chosen for a Purpose”, Tezenlo Thong

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Chosen for a Purpose

(John 15:9-17)

Life is made up of choices.

 

For high school graduates, it’s time to choose which school to join. Every two years, there are major elections in this country when citizens get an opportunity to choose politicians. Out of so many people, you chose your husband or wife to live and love for life. I can go on, but the point is that life is made up of choices. In this today’s passage, Jesus says, “You did not choose me; I chose you for a purpose.” We are chosen for a greater purpose.

1. We are chosen for love and to love

Paul says, “Faith, hope, and Love. These three outlast all other things, but the greatest of these is love. Love is superior to knowledge, it is more fruitful than understanding all mysteries, it is above all prophecy and more powerful than the faith that can move mountains.”

We live in a culture that uses the word “love” a lot – a culture that overuses love and under employs it in practice. Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” We are called to love because of the love of God.

2. We are chosen to bear fruit

“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received–only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage” ― Francis of Assisi.

Again Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” We are chosen to bear fruit – fruits that will last forever. If love will remain, then whatever we do in love will also remain. Bear fruit – fruit that will last. Gal. 5:22 tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love….” Love is one of the fruits of the spirit. So if we have love we have the fruit of the Spirit. We have all been touched by someone’s love. We all have experienced what it means to be loved. The good things that we do out of God’s love are the fruits of the Spirit. Bear fruit – fruit that will last.

3. Chosen or called into friendship

Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants. Instead, I call you friends.” In the Old Testament, Abraham is called God’s friend. Jesus has called his disciples students, followers or disciples. But here during the last supper, he calls them friends for the first time. I’m sure many of you have experienced losing a friend to death. We grieve for lost friends because we love them. Also, part of friendship is allowing our friends to help us. And we have a friend who always walks with us in all the ups and downs of life. Proverbs 18:24, “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” In our moments of trial, temptation and hardship, we have a friend who is always there.

We are called to extend that friendship to others. You may have heard it often said that people are not looking for a friendly church; they are looking for friends in church. Extend friendship, fellowship and human connection to those who are lonely and seeking for a human connection and community.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

2015-4-26 Messages received from Sermon “Following the Shepherd, Loving the Sheep” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

shepherd and sheep2

Following the Shepherd, Loving the Sheep

John 10:7-18

Messages Received:

  • We need to live God’s love.
  • Community is Love – take care of those in need.
  • Self-giving and mutual concern, the mission of all Christians.
  • Caring church members make it easier to know God is a presence in our lives.
  • God = Love
  • Life and lessons of the congregation is explaning the love of God.
  • SUMC is a “resting place of love”.  We are sheltered by God’s love.
  • Your fellow Christians need your attention.
  • Humankind needs your attention.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church