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


2015-7-19 “From Compassion to Passion” Sermon by Tezenlo Thong

From Compassion to Passion

(Mark 6:30-34, 53-56)

We all have compassion. But the level of compassion may vary. Some are naturally more kind hearted and easily given to compassion. Others are a little skeptical and judgmental than others. One day after ministry, Jesus was feeling exhausted and was getting ready to retire for rest. But there was a large crowd. And when Jesus saw them he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

Both compassion and passion have the same root meaning. Compassion comes from Latin word com (with) and pati (to suffer). In its original meaning, compassion means to suffer with. It means to feel sympathy for. Passion also comes from Latin pati (to suffer). It means suffering or martyrdom. In Christianity, the Passion refers to the period between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.

I once read an author who differentiated compassion and passion this way. Let me paraphrased it. When we watch tragedy on the TV we are moved. Or when we read tragic news on daily newspapers we are touched by it. We are sometimes moved to tears. That’s compassion. Feeling sympathy for people in tragic situation is compassion. But how many times do such tragic pieces of news move us to action? Passion is when we decide to do something about that which touched our hearts. Passion is translating our sympathy into action. True compassion is not empty sensationalism. It does not end with pity. It becomes action.

Jesus opened his eyes to the people around him, and he didn’t look away to avoid becoming one with the people. He became emotionally vulnerable and shared in their pain. He took action. He translated his compassion to action. His compassion became his passion. We are called to be compassionate and merciful as he was. Indeed, we are called to show compassion rather than condemnation. We are called to put our compassion into action. Our emotion or feeling of sensation and pity needs to become practical compassion.

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

2015-5-3 Messages received from Sermon Fear Factor vs. Love Factor

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Fear Factor vs. Love Factor

(1 John 4:7-21)

Messages received:

  • Are you driven by fear or love?
  • Are you serving God with fear or love?
  • Fear means no joy
  • Can acting in fear make your service harmful?
  • Love means welcome
  • Can acting in love make your service more effective?

2015-5-3 Fear Factor vs. Love Factor, Sermon by Tezenlo Thong

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Fear Factor vs. Love Factor

(1 John 4:7-21)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

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What drives your life? What drives our church? What drive our society or the world? Is it love? Or is it fear? Probably, most of us would say that it is definitely fear that drives everything. We are living under constant fear. We are being bombarded with news that drives us to live in fear. We fear for another economic collapse, terrorist attack, cyber attack or scam, religious extremism, political and social unrest, hyper partisanship, extreme weather patterns, etc.

The feeling of fear can be a good thing. It can help us to avoid dangerous situations. Or help us to be cautious in life. However, fear can also be incapacitating. It can inhibit us from achieving our goal or attaining our potential. Fear can strain our relationship with others. The writer of first John invites us to live a life that’s driven not by fear but by love.

What drives your life – love or fear? In other words, is your life driven by fear factor or love factor? There are some people whose lives are driven by the fear of the other. The fear of people of a different religion. The fear of people who do not think or believe like us. The fear of people with different skin color. The fear of people of different ethnic origin. The fear of “illegal” immigrants. The fear of conservatives or liberals. Even in our religious belief, it is possible to live in fear. The fear of being punished by God. The fear of going to hell. The fear of God not loving or forgiving us.

The scriptures this morning call us to live not in fear of others but to love one another. Love and abiding in Christ go hand in hand. If we say we love God but do not love others we do not abide in God. For love comes from God. “If we love one another, God lives in us,” writes John.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

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

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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

2015-4-26 “Following the Shepherd, Loving the Sheep” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

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Following the Shepherd, Loving the Sheep

John 10:7-18

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. As a result, each year on the third Sunday after Easter we read from the tenth chapter of John’s gospel. The other passage from the Old Testament that goes with the gospel of John is Psalm 23. The Good Shepherd Sunday texts, as I see them, has two parts. The first talks about the shepherd’s love for the sheep, and the second part contains loving the sheep.

The shepherd so loves and is so devoted to his sheep that he would give his life for the sheep. In other words, the good shepherd’s love is self giving and sacrificial. And the shepherd commanded us to love one another in the same way that he has loved the sheep.

You cannot follow the shepherd without loving the sheep. This assertion is stated over and over again in the Bible. To follow the shepherd is to care for and love the sheep. In John 13:35, it says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” At another time, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” To which, Peter answered, “Yes. I do love you.” Jesus responded, “Then, feed my sheep.” Following the shepherd and caring and loving the sheep always go hand in hand.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

2015-4-19 Messages received from Called to Enhance Life, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

 

Called to Enhance Life

Acts 3:3-15

Messages received:

  • Bring healing to others and heal yourself.
  • One person can make a difference by good deeds and actions.
  • One person can make a difference with ill conceived deeds and actions.
  • Small acts of kindness can be powerful.

Simpson United Methodist Church

 

2015-4-19 Called to Enhance Life, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

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Called to Enhance Life

Acts 3:3-15

 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

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Today’s text in the book of Acts begins with the healing of a man who was lame from birth. We see two groups of people in the text: one group kills life; another group restores life. The religious leaders killed “the author of life” who came to provide abundant life. But God raised him from the dead. Following the resurrection, Peter and John healed a handicapped person. By doing so, they enhanced his life and restored his social status.

The story begins with a place called Beautiful in the gate area of the Jewish temple. In that place called Beautiful, there is someone whom society considers not so beautiful, because he was born handicapped. He is considered by others as an eye sore in a temple entrance. He is considered a burden to society. Life does not seem to have much value.

Peter’s healing not only makes the man to walk, but more importantly restores him fully to society. Here is a man whose life was considered worthless and a sore in the eye by society. By healing the man Peter and John enhanced the quality of his life. Healing brought wholeness to this once discarded man. It raised his social status and value in the eyes of others. He is no longer a second-class citizen, but a fully functioning member, equal to everyone.

In your action, word and attitude you either enrich life or diminish it. You either kill life or add meaning and purpose to life. You enrich life by visiting a sick or bereaved friend or church member. You enhance life when you bring joy and comfort to someone who is feeling lonely or hopeless. You enrich life when you enable someone to experience God’s love by your love and kindness.

Everyone is a child deeply loved by God who created her or him. Whether poor or rich, young or old, female or male, everyone carries God’s image. And everyone deserves respect and dignity. We are called not to kill or destroy life but to enrich and nurture life. In your word, action and attitude, don’t diminish life, but enrich the god-given life.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

 

2015/3/22 messages received from Sermon “Our Renewal Comes From Dying” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

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Our Renewal Comes From Dying

Messages received.

Our renewal comes from using the big and especially the small opportunities God provides us:

  • sacrifice
  • acts of kindness to those less fortunate
  • giving of blessings to all in need
  • not ignore but do good
  • be generous of all we possess
  • let God’s love flow through us
  • Follow Jesus, follow God, let your soul rejoice and be happy!