The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs

As Aesop tells the story, once a Man and his Wife had the good fortune to possess a Goose which laid a Golden Egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth. The moral being: Much wants more and loses all.


What if there was something more to the story? Is there more?

"Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?" "

We read these words from the Master and hear morals to the story too. So I ask,

Do you love the goose that lays the golden eggs or will you simply love the goose for being a goose?

A Christmas Cubmaster Minute - Silent Night

It is our annual Christmas Cub Scout Pack meeting tonight. Knowing that there are plenty of Cubmasters (and Scoutmasters) looking for something to say. I ran across this story and thought it gave a simple point appropriate for us all...

The story begins in 1818 in a church in the little Austrian town of Oberndorf. Shortly before Christmas Eve, a mouse ate a hole in the leather bellows of the church organ, effectively silencing it. The itinerant organ mender was not due in town for months, and music was needed for the Christmas Eve service. In three and one-half hours, Franz Gruber, the organist, composed music for a poem written by Josef Mohr, a priest. It began "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht" ("Silent Night, Holy Night"). On Christmas Eve, the two men sang their composition accompanied by a guitar and children's chorus. They were a great success.

The great traditions of this season often began as small, simple acts. Franz Gruber, did his best on that Christmas Eve night and created a simple musical number that has helped millions give honor to God on Christmas Eve ever since.

When you hear Silent Night or sing it this year, remember, you don't have to be the best at every thing you just have to do every thing with your best.

Muppet Moment - Bohemian Rhapsody

H/T to Rob Lester (awesome bass player @ Crossroads UMC)

HEY! Don't miss going over to FAO Schwarz to the Muppet Whatnot Workshop and design your own muppet! You can even order your own custom muppet - how cool is that.

Musical Interlude - God Sends Quails

This is my all time favorite album but tonight driving home, this song managed to catch my attention. The whole song speaks to a reality of the spiritual journey, ignored in "pop" Christianity - brokenness.

77s - Sticks and Stones - God Sends Quails

You fail
You try half-hearted and fail
One foot drags behind you
One foot tripping in front of you

You fail
You spit out manna, God sends quails
Dry bones pile up behind you
More wet mirages in front of you

You can't go back
You can't go back

You failed
You sunk like Jonah to the whale
Big mouths follow behind you
Still small voice swallowed up by you

You failed
You picked the right time to fail
Got your past behind you
Got your future in front of you

You can't go back
You can go on

You failed
You picked the right time to fail

Got your past behind you
Got your future in front of you

You can't go back
You can go on

You can't go back
You can go on

You can't go back
You can go on

At The Movies - Polar Express

(My recommendation - just watch the movie - then read the sermon ;)

Here is this great discussion on the roof of the Polar Express between the main character and this bum-like-character who is also ghost-like, maybe even Holy Ghost like. He says the words that express what we all feel at one time or another when it comes to religion or the idea of God in general. We don’t want to be bamboozled. We don’t want to be led down the primrose path. If we’re going to hang our hat on something, especially as something as important as religion which has underpinnings and roots in every part of our lives, well, we want to know as much as we can know that what we believe is real.

Because belief has become a bad word – a scary word – at times, even a weapon. Belief has come to mean a crutch to some. To believe, means to many, that we surrender our intelligence and thoughtfulness. Believing does not fit with our scientific method – though that has not always been the case nor do all accept that premise. Still for others, belief has been used in religion to isolate and coral people. It has led some to say, “I don't fit in there” and “I don't want to go to that church.”

Before we follow the light down the roof of the Polar Express, I want alert everyone in here to an important reality in this sacred place today: Not everyone here believes the same. This church was begun to be a different kind of church. We have sought to be a place not by catagories or litmus tests but to help all on their journey to feel welcomed to connect to God through the Holy Spirit and become disciples of Jesus Christ.

Our journeys, like those of each kid on the Polar Express have been different and along that way, we've had our doubts. Maybe not about God but certainly about the Christian faith and the church. Some have given up and said so long to what they call, “organized religion.” You might be there or have been there. Look, I don't blame you. In your shoes or theirs, I might have found myself the same place.

Does that mean I've got some kind of evidence or iron clad proof to give you? No. Do I no longer have any doubts? No. Fact is as Pastor Chris Bryant noted - “With greater faith comes greater challenges to that faith.” Sounds kind of like Spiderman's Uncle Ben and the idea “with great power comes great responsibility.” I can't tell you how many conversations I have had with people who said they admired my faith – who talked about wishing they had the faith to step out and do something like start a new church. But the truth is, I don't see a great faith in me because surrounding me, day in and day out, are the doubts that have always haunted me. If my faith is somehow bigger than yours – you need to know, my doubts match the intensity.

READ Luke 1:5-20

I'm wondering why the angel give Zechariah such a hard time? I mean what did he do that was so bad that the angel says he can’t speak until the words that the angel said would come true? Well, maybe, in the same way the main character in the Polar Express can’t hear the bell, Zechariah can’t speak.

You see, both were presented with things their senses told them was real, but both had heart issues... and they struggled with believing in their heart and so struggled to move believing into having faith and so, acting. Maybe it doesn’t matter what God does or doesn’t do to some regard, because until we believe in our heart we’re deaf or blind or mute in some way to all that God is really up to.

THE POWER OF BELIEF… (Scene: boy at the North Pole, picks up the bell)
Belief can change everything… Belief affects everything. I do believe that belief is a doorway through which an entire new world is opened up to us. Can beliefs be wrong? Yes. Yes they can. If you saw my Facebook page this past week, quite a conversation began over a quote from a 17th century priest I posted. History tells us he made mistakes and was called on the carpet, suffered consequences, owned up to them and found the grace to live by faith.

That’s why I’m especially comfortable in a faith (Christian faith) and a particular strain within that faith (United Methodism) that encourages thinking and discussion and at times even debate. I’m willing to think and let think while I hang my hat on the essentials which is why the creeds of the church are so important.

Is your bell “muted” because of disbelief? May these bells be a reminder of a place where you can come, regardless of how much or how little belief you have and hopefully find welcome, find strength, find encouragement and maybe if you don’t have it now, someday also find belief.

(H/T to Pastor Chris Bryant at City On A Hill UMC for his work providing the foundation for this series.)

Polar Express Begins Journey @ Shelton Elementary Tonight!

Don't miss tonight as the Polar Express begins the holiday!

5-8pm at Shelton Elementary School on Cedarcrest Road. Don't miss it!

This Holiday Help Your Family...Believe

This Sunday at Crossroads UMC is going to be a blast!! I so can't wait! But to make the most of it, let me encourage your family to take advantage of the Polar Express Resources for Families at Home Word Ministries.

You'll not want to miss the 'special guest' who will be helping out for sure. ;)

A Season of Influence

It was the early 1930's and it was Christmas Eve. As late Christmas shoppers hurried along the street, a crippled newsboy stood on crutches offering papers to the passersby. He looked happy, and his crutches were decorated with evergreens.
One man greeted him with a cheerful smile, "My boy, you surely have the Christmas spirit." The boy replied "What's the use of looking and acting sad? Sure, I am poor and lame, but that's no reason for looking glum. I won't get presents like other boys at Christmas, but I can have fun, too. So I decorated my crutches just to make them seem special for Christmas."

I remember distinctly the Christmas that I did not get “The Six Million Dollar Man.” It was the hot toy! The toy we all just HAD TO HAVE!!! I remember my parents look of disappointment in me and I remember I did not care. Today, I do not even have that action figure. It all seems so long ago and thankfully I have grown up a lot. My parents had a lot to do with that and so did all those around me.

Today, I am on the receiving end of those same cries of things that just have to be had. Hopefully that makes you feel better, knowing that pastor's kids are no different than other kids – after all they are kids! It is what we do as a community that shapes the attitudes and ideals that our children develop. Who is it that surrounds our kids? Not just their peers but who are the families? Above all, what is the message?

When I look at the stories of Jesus' life growing up, there is not much history given to us. The physician Luke, gives us the best glimpse of Jesus' formative years. In the first two chapters of that history, Jesus is surrounded by everyday people like shepherds. He lives in the company of family and even hangs out with the most educated men of his day.

Such were the influences that surrounded Jesus. Mary and Joseph did not appear to take for granted those who might have influenced God's Son.

In a time such as we live in today, we need to hear again Jesus' words, words to strengthen faith and bring hope, words of influence reminding us things are nothing compared to a connection to God, "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? (Luke 12:27-28, NASB)”

If we seek joy, it will elude us. If we seek to share joy, as Jesus did, we will find it. This Christmas, whether you have little or much, it makes no difference. It will be what you share that counts.

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