Sunday, March 3 – Why Jesus?

Week #9 is Sunday, March 3, 2019 – Narrative Lectionary Story: Matthew 16:24-17:8

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Theme: Jesus gives a difficult assignment, take up your cross, lose your life. Who wants to be a loser? Then, Jesus gives these disciples a glimpse of glory and a change of heart. On the mountain they hear an echo of God claiming Jesus as the beloved son. Can you be both a loser and a beloved child of God? Why Jesus? Because Jesus is love. 

Video Intro: Trupti Storlie is a mom. Some days life as a parent of a young child is just perfect, full of snuggles and hugs. And, well? Some days can be harried and straining. In this video, Trupti describes the trials of motherhood, and how out of the mouths of babes her daughter spoke God’s love to her. So why Jesus? Jesus is love. Check it out!

Confirmation: Check out the Confirmation Material – Because Jesus is love to go along with the video!

Readers Theater on Matthew 16 that can be used in worship instead of the regular reading.

Sunday School Curriculum: Please contact whyjesusproject@gmail.com to request the curriculum from Epiphany, January 6 thru Transfiguration, March 3. BUT here is a Cross Generational Event for Transfiguration

Music is has been written especially for the Why Jesus? Project, but here are a few suggestions:

Here are Music Selections for Each Week

Other Sermon Ideas:

  • We are Losers in Christ: YouthWorks mission experience organization sold a lot of t-shirts with the word “Loser” on the front, and this Bible verse (Matthew 16:24-26) on the back! I wonder what the life-long impact would be if we wore this label publicly every day, everywhere we went?
  • The Opposite of Love: When are you tempted to make Jesus as someone who is the opposite of love? When do you want (or believe) Jesus to be judgmental or threatening or critical? Who in your congregation has suffered at the hands of a congregation, pastor or parent who used Jesus in this way, the opposite of love? “Read God’s Word now as God’s Word, without skipping anything. Underline heavily everything about what our Savior has done for us. And if you like, write ‘For me’ in the margin. You need this yourself, and it is your duty to preach it to your congregation, as well.” ― Bo Giertz in Hammer of God. Visit this link to read a longer conversation from the same book, between Johannes and Katrina: 
  • The Meaning of the Cross: “But the bridge that crosses the great gulf runs from God to us, never from us to God. We do not travel through the cross to find God; instead, God has traveled through the cross to find us. The significance of this distinction is great.” ― M. Craig Barnes, Yearning: Living Between How It Is and How It Ought to Be or “It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.” ― C. S. Lewis or “Love, not anger, brought Jesus to the cross. Golgotha came as a result of God’s great desire to forgive, not his reluctance.” ― Richard J. Foster or  “I’m not out to save the world, just to be part of it.” ― Phyllis Tickle, Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters or “The more you see God’s heart, the more you see the character of Christ from the very first pages of Genesis. Our dual images of God in the Testaments start to merge together when we see that the suffering of Christ began in his Father’s heart at the dawn of creation, when we see God our Father bearing the cross for our sins. It’s only when we focus the two images into one that we gain spiritual “depth perception” and begin to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of God.” – Lois Tverberg with “Mr. Spock’s God: The Mistake of Western Theology” or “Jesus asks us to become a “nobody” in the eyes of the world. In our own eyes. But because of our death-infected neurosis–the shamed-based fear of being ordinary–we can’t accept Jesus’s offer. We don’t want to take up the cross. It’s too embarrassing. We don’t want to be a servant. No one will applaud or like us on Facebook.  And so we set out to gain the world but end up losing our soul.” – Richard Beck at Joshua Graves’ blog with “Waking Up to Death, Part 3”
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s decision to participate in the plot to kill Hitler: To Dietrich Bonhoeffer, there because no difference between aiding the conspiracy (to assassinate Hitler) and pulling the trigger himself: “I would not hesitate to kill the madman myself! If I saw a lunatic plowing his car into the crowd, I could not casually stand on the sidewalk and say: “I am a pastor. I’ll just wait to bury the dead afterwards.” – quoted in “The Faithful Spy” by John Hendrix (pg. 92). The author of this graphic novel-style telling of Bonhoeffer’s life does a good job explaining his Christian morals and ethics.
  • The Mountaintop, Re-imagined from John Aurelio in Myth Man: A Storyteller’s Jesus.

Children’s Sermon 

Props: None.

Welcome to our children’s time! Who can tell me what this sign means? Make an “L” on your forehead using your fingers. The kids will probably know immediately that this means “loser.” That’s right—that sign mean’s loser, and it’s not a very nice thing to say to someone, is it? What makes someone a loser? [They lose a game, they are mean, they don’t have friends, they are unpopular, etc.] And what makes someone a winner? [They are popular, they are good at things, they are lucky, etc.] If we had to make a sign like that for a winner, I suppose it would be a “W” on your forehead, like this. Make a “W” with your fingers on your forehead.

If we were going to talk about Jesus, what sign do you think you would use to describe him? Would he be a winner (W sign) or a loser (L sign)? When Jesus first came, people expected him to be like a King (W sign), full of power (W sign), with a strong and mighty army (W sign). And in part of our story today, we get to see Jesus as a winner (W sign) when he is transfigured—when he is so holy and close to God that he becomes radiant like the sun—on a mountain in front of the disciples.

But as we hear today, Jesus also told his disciples that they should take up a cross if they wanted to really follow Jesus. Does that seem like something that a winner would do? [No.] Dying on a cross may not seem like something that a winner would do, but it would be something that someone who loves people very much would do, isn’t it? I have an idea—why don’t we change what this sign means (L sign) from Loser to Love. Why Jesus? Because Jesus is love.

Let’s pray—Jesus, sometimes it is hard to know if we are winning or losing. Help us to remember that, as long as you are with us, we have the most important thing—we have love. Amen.

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What is the Why Jesus Project? Check out the FAQ on Why Jesus? Home Page.

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