Bishop Keaton's Sermons
Paul’s plea for unity in the church flows from his understanding of God’s call upon his life. Hence, he writes “Live your life according to God’s call.” This is the clarion call of a man of faith who understands the problems diverse groups of people face living in Ephesus. Yet Paul places the highest priority on behavior God expects of God’s people 24/7, even when our issues are not fully addressed. For Paul, loving God and loving the neighbor stand as God’s non-negotiable.
Healing stories in Mark’s gospel are not fictive. They are real, not imagined. A man asks Jesus to heal his daughter. She dies, but our Lord raises her up. Without permission, a woman hemorrhaging for twelve years touches the hem of his garment and receives healing instantly. She is no longer the same.
Now that it’s just about time for me and my beloved Beverly to say goodbye, I want to talk about “the fields are ripe for harvest. It’s a subplot buried within a famous Bible story of the woman at the well.
Like you, I’ve done my share of good deeds. And I’ve fallen short, i.e. missed the mark as the apostle Paul likes to say. For example, persons in prison haven’t seen me very much. While I have not taken the initiative to minister to and visit with persons incarcerated, no invitation to serve you has ever been rejected. In 2014 at Big Muddy, the men’s choir sang. Every song they sang fed my soul. Minds were transformed by the word and music of songs like “Amazing Grace”, “Our God is an Awesome God” and “Jesus Loves Me”. Wherever the songs of faith are sung, lives are touched.
To Bishop Hee-Soo Jung and his First Lady, Host DS Rev. Deborah Thompson and the rest of his extended Cabinet, host pastor of Albright UMC, clergy, laity, honored guests etc. I am happy to be here. Because God kept me safe and sound on another trip, I’m even happier. God is good, all the time. Thanks for the invitation and/or your presence.
From the kindergarten through the eighth grade, I attended a Catholic school run by Benedictine nuns. We learned a lot. For example, along with Catholic kids, Protestant children learned catechism. Catechism was religious instruction about the Catholic faith in a question and answer format. Of the prayers they made us pray, the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary were repeated constantly. I left St. John’s over 60 years ago. But I haven’t forgotten Hail Mary.
The question Chris Harper Mercer put to his classmates in Oregon highlights the challenge of following Jesus. It’s costly. When his classmates identified themselves as Christians, Mercer replied, “Good, because you’re Christian, you’re going to see God in just about a second.” Mercer executed them on the spot. Sometimes the trouble with Jesus is identifying with him or doing what he asks. Doing so may cost us our very lives.
Psalm 124 fits with the purpose of your 170th Anniversary. En route to the temple, Israel is rejoicing and praising God. Some theologians believe they are returning from Babylon. God’s people may be remembering the capture and destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar and his soldiers. By force, survivors are taken in chains to Babylon. They live, work and raise their children as slaves. Seventy years later, Cyrus captures Babylon. Once Cyrus discovers that Israel is captive, he frees and sends them home. Full of joy, laughter and thanksgiving, the former captives begin marching to Zion with a powerful truth of a gospel song on their lips. “If it had not been for the Lord on our side, tell where I would be? Where would I be?” As a church, you are celebrating God’s deliverance as well. “Through many dangers, toils and snares, the church has already come, its grace that has led you safe thus far, and grace will lead you home.” Blessed be the Lord!!!
Lay and Clergy of 850 churches in the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference welcome the Tierno Family to the Presidency of MacMurray College in the best way we know how, namely through prayer.
Have we heard of the following expressions about vision? 1. Vision is a picture of the preferred future. 2. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) 3. “The essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”
Celebrating 120 Years
September 2014, my Cabinet and I visited one of my small, unchartered mission churches in rural Southern Illinois. It is named Cobden UMC aka Jesus es El Senor.
IGRC and South Georgia Annual Conference Ordination Services
Annual Conference Opening Worship
If any of the CHADDOCK graduates shared my graduation quandry, I had no clear idea of what I wanted to be. My grandmother already knew what she wanted me to be, a preacher. To me, it wasn’t a good idea. I saw my future doing anything but preaching.
McKendree University Commencement Prayer for the 2015 Graduates Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton May 9, 2015
My maternal grandmother died in 1967. She taught me a lot “By Faith in Jesus name”. Every time my grandmother had a chance, two things she believed were driven into my mind, heart and spirit. First, she wanted me to be a preacher like my grandfather. Second, she wanted me to attend college.
A few weeks ago, our group from Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference traveled to the Holy Land. We were not able to walk down the hilly Palm Sunday route.
If God can save the Hebrew children from snakebite by looking at Moses serpent of bronze on a pole; and God can save the world through his Son not condemn it through his perfect love; if amazing grace can save us through faith in Jesus Christ why is it so difficult to do what the Son of Man desires namely “Lift Him Up?” Lifting him up is a no brainer if one believes in the promise of John 12:32 “And I, when I am lifted up will (not might) draw all persons unto me.”
Born in Moline, Illinois June 1, 1842, his parents were Methodists. Twenty years later, this young man was class valedictorian and graduate of Illinois Wesleyan with a B.A. degree. Garrett Biblical Institute handed this scholar a B.D. degree in 1868. After one appointment in Pekin, Illinois he left town for Louisiana. Pastoral ministry, in a place nicknamed “The Big Easy”, was an exciting opportunity. Soon, trouble ensued in New Orleans. This Anglo –American pastor became an advocate for African Americans.
It’s not Christmas or his birthday. Yet, Paul receives a gift from his church at Philippi. Scripture does not tell what the apostle receives. It’s a mystery, but Paul is touched and grateful. His gift comes at the right time.
Born in Moline, Illinois June 1, 1842, his parents were Methodists. Twenty years later, this young man was class valedictorian and graduate of Illinois Wesleyan with a B.A. degree. Garrett Biblical Institute handed this scholar a B.D. degree in 1868. After one appointment in Pekin he left Illinois for pastoral ministry in “The Big Easy.” Soon, trouble ensued in New Orleans. This white pastor became an advocate for African Americans.
If any city of the world understands the gospel of deliverance, it is Jerusalem. One of the oldest cities in the world, “Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times.” Experience has taught her citizens or inhabitants that countless nations and conquerors will always be interested in possessing her.
If any city of the world understands the gospel of deliverance, it is Jerusalem. One of the oldest cities in the world, “Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times.” Experience has taught her citizens or inhabitants that countless nations and conquerors will always be interested in possessing her. Now the capital of the state of Israel, the Holy City Jerusalem, was captured from Jordan in 1967 during the Six Day War. Even today, tensions are being played out between Christian, Moslem and Jew in Zion. All of this begs the question. Who is the next conqueror waiting in the wings to capture or liberate Jerusalem?
The prophet Isaiah leaves no such mystery regarding God’s urgent appeal to his people. In his prophetic writing, Isaiah uses the voice of God, nature, humankind and life events to cry out, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God, etc.” The King is coming. God is desperate to be a redemptive force in the world and in our lives. To experience this needed redemption God requires that individuals and nations, “straighten up and fly right.”
Today, we’ll talk about one of the hardest pronouncements the loving Lord makes to the people of God. What our Lord does and says in Matthew 25:31-46 can make one love him or hate him. Imagine the magnificent scene of the Last Judgment.
In 2012, your former pastor, Janice Ringenberg invited Bishop Palmer to be guest preacher for the 125th Anniversary. Schedule and a new assignment made that impossible. So the invitation came to me. Ringenberg emailed a second invitation to my secretary Tuesday, September 14, 2013. When she requested a visit in August or September 2014, I declined. My calendar had already been scheduled. Undaunted, Pastor Janice asked if the Bishop could come any time in 2014. Anytime was a winner.
Born in Moline, Illinois on June 1, 1842, his parents were Methodists. Twenty years later, this young man was class valedictorian and graduate of Illinois Wesleyan with a B.A. degree. Garrett Biblical Institute handed this scholar a B.D. degree in 1868. After one appointment in Pekin, he left Illinois for pastoral ministry in “The Big Easy.” Soon, trouble ensued in New Orleans. This white pastor became an advocate for African Americans. As pastor, DS, publisher and delegate to General Conference, he initiated open seating at his worship services, started schools, established a hospital, worked with the Freedman’s Aid Society and published the Southwestern Christian Advocate “to promote Methodist work among African Americans.”
160, 12, 1, 2, 73, 25, 1; “No,” I am not calling a play like a quarterback. Neither are the numbers for the Illinois State Lottery. Rather, they are numerical expressions of “A Celebration to Remember.” Chatham United Methodist Church is 160 years old. You don’t look your age. For 600 years of service, twelve disciples receive an honorable mention. Each member has been with Chatham UMC over 50 years. There is one pastor. You offer two services. Including supply pastors, 73 ministers have served this church since taking its first breath in 1854. Sara Isbell is the latest iteration. Has she not declared with prophetic imagination your identity; “We‘re a Matthew 25 Church?” Last but not least the number 1 represents God and community. Leading, we honor “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all;” following, we are at “one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.” Think on these things.
What does this mean for a congregation on the journey for 150 years? “You have not because you ask not.” One songwriter declares that the people of God regularly, “forfeit their peace, bear needless pain”; because they refuse to, “take everything to God in prayer.” Whatever your needs church, you have to, “keep praying and not lose heart”, like the widow before the unjust judge.
When I see the blood, I think Christ our Passover. He is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. When I see the blood, I know forgiveness of my sins. When I see the blood, I know Christ is a rock in a weary land, a bridge over troubled waters. When I see the blood, I know Christ is a God of our weary years and a God of our silent tears, a God who will let the oppressed go free.”
God applauds Abraham for his courage and faithfulness. Abraham names the place “The Lord will provide.” A man after God’s own heart, discovers again and again, that everything's gonna be alright. Today, Jews, Christians and Muslims honor Abraham as their spiritual and biological ancestor. Today, Jews, Christians and Muslims speak of the bosom of Abraham as a place of rest, repose and happiness. Today, Abraham’s courage, faith and trust in the Lord proved four little words, “The Lord will provide.”
How could we not have been drawn closer to Presbyterians experientially? You invited us to dinner. You asked us to stay a while. Legislatively speaking, you asked us to participate in washing dishes and cleaning besmirched (dirty) linen. You dared to be transparent - dared to be vulnerable -dared to show your courage and faith - dared to show your hope in Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God.
“Jesus Wept.” As a child and teenager, it is the one verse of scripture I knew by heart. Over time, things have changed. Verses of scripture longer than two words have been learned. More importantly, I learned “Jesus Wept” had to do with the unexpected death of Lazarus. Most importantly, “Jesus Wept” held wonderful insights for families wrestling with the death of loved ones. Three insights have compelled me to say more. Consider the power of presence, the power of empathy and the power of resurrection.
Paul’s letter to the saints in Ephesians has some advice for us. While his salutation suggests his message is for the saints who are in Ephesus; his practical theology is applicable for gifted saints of the church universal, Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference notwithstanding. Who are the saints?
Thanks for the invitation to preach at the 190th Anniversary of Rochester United Methodist Church. That’s a long time. You don’t look your age. That’s because generation after generation of new disciples choose to cast their lot with this congregation.
MacMurray College Baccalaureate, Psalm 150, May 3, 2014.
Image wise, this is where Palm Sunday fits. It begins the final week of preparation for surgery, a sacrificial act, engineered by God to save the world. With scalpels of false witness, a death sentence, mocking, flogging, a crown of thorns, crucifixion, death and resurrection, salvation and healing will come anew to the world. Again, Palm Sunday is preparation for surgery. God will preside over the passion, death and resurrection. God will make everything alright.
It was a joyous, most worshipful and high holy moment for the three Kings when they met the Christ child face to face. In his presence, the Wise Men were transformed, welcomed, inspired, loved, respected, fulfilled and given a new lease on life....They had met a babe in Bethlehem destined to change the world, not just Israel. Two thousand years later, that same Messiah - that same babe in Bethlehem has touched our lives too. We are no longer the same. The babe of Bethlehem, born King of the Jews, is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ too. He has touched our lives.
Will the imposition of ashes really cause us to ponder the state of our own souls? Will the imposition of ashes turn us to the right if we know by self-examination that we would not be prepared for God’s coming; if “He comes like a thief in the night” today? Can these ashes reminiscent of cremation jar us, call us, motivate us to engage in prayer and fasting like the people of Nineveh? God heard their cries. God saw their true acts of repentance and saved them. So can it be for us!!
For 2,000 years Christians have declared the tomb is empty because Jesus was raised from the dead. The church has chosen to believe the post-resurrection testimony of these who walked, talked and followed Christ. Post-resurrection testimony from Jesus’ disciples and friends is all I need to undergird my belief that Jesus got up from the grave early Sunday morning with all power in his hands. A familiar Easter song sums up what I think about the Empty Tomb, "...he lives within my heart!"
Martin Luther King, Jr. passed on great values to his children. All four of them proclaimed him as a best buddy, playmate, teacher, talker, hugger, one who loved them and their mother, one who involved them in his ministry and/or a father who loved them with an undying faith. Dr. King worked, played, prayed, lived and died with the hope “that (his) four little children (would) one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content their character.” That’s still a hope deferred.
In a young man at Springfield First UMC, the apostle Paul, Pete Rose, the Pharisees and Sadducees plus the hundreds of women and men baptized and equipped for the coming of the Lord by John the Baptist, we have been able to see what can happen to human lives, in part and the whole, if we could only repent. The “R” word is a good word.
The question for the Jurisdictional BMCR is, "Given the tragedies and triumphs of BMCR these past 45 years, what season is it?" Is it a time to live and and a time to die; a time to pluck up and a time to plant; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time for war and a time for peace; a time to keep silence and a time to speak? For these and other concerns, ...we are in the season of staying focused on the unfinished agenda.
Ultimately, the greatest source of Paul's thanksgiving about the Thessalonian church may have been lay empowerment. How so? Paul had so effectively interpreted and promoted the idea that Jesus Christ was the Messiah that a stream of Jews left the synagogue and began following him. Some of the Jewish officials rebuked Paul by inciting crowds to riot, throwing him and his cohorts in jail, pursuing him in other cities and threatening to kill him. He became persona non grata. Thus, Paul never visited Thessalonica again. Through prayer, personal messengers and two epistles, Paul provided leadership in absentia. Without the Lead Pastor or his Associates present, the church still grew exponentially: lay leadership. ... One songwriter put it this way: "it is no secret what God can do. What He's dones for others; He'll do for you."
To guide the elders overseeing the work of the church, Peter offered some practical advice. All of it had to do with best practices related to behavior, attitude and/or leadership style: TEND THE FLOCK.
When the Son of Man comes -- for you, for me, our church -- will he catch us with our faith work undone? Will He find Faith?
The late Dr. Howard Thurman, in his book entitled, Jesus and the Disinherited, states if the majority church wants to be relevant to the "disinherited" in their midst, a telling question must be answered: "What does the gospel have to say to the man or woman who lives with their backs against the wall?" A question like that has challenged the very heart of campus ministry decade after decade. "What does the gospel have to say to students who live with their backs against the wall?"
Jeremiah's suffering reveals the ultimate genesis of God's healing in his life. Like so many others and Christ who came generations after, Jeremiah engaged in redemptive suffering on behalf of the people of God. He was like a good shepherd who lies down for the sheep. In that faithfulness, he found his joy and peace.
God is happy when God’s servants “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” God is pleased when we “love God and neighbor.” But we serve a God who challenges us to go beyond the surface meaning of things to discern his Word for our lives. Put differently, how we can learn to see as God sees? How do we teach ourselves to “look beyond the outward appearance and upon the heart?” How do we ferret out God’s message in the ordinariness of life?