Archive for May, 2008

Matthew 6:24-34

Fret to the Lord

I.         Way In

A.       I don’t know if any of you are worriers

1.        maybe you get worried from time to time

2.        I don’t know if you every get something in your head

a.        can’t seem to let go of it

b.        it’s always there

i.          in your mind

ii.         just worrying you

c.        maybe even keeps you from sleeping

i.          till you just lie there at night …

ii.         worrying

B.       I don’t know if there’s anybody else that needs to be reminded

1.        about how much good worrying does

a.        … about whether worrying solves anything

2.        maybe you’re different

a.        but I’ve never solved a problem by worrying about it

b.        even when I’ve done my best worrying over it

i.          even when I’ve brought in others

ii.         to worry with me

C.       Sometimes …

1.        Worry, or concern, about some issue…some kind of problem, or situation

a.        may be the beginning of a solution

b.        we all have concerns, worries like that

i.          something doesn’t seem safe …

ii.         doesn’t seem right

iii.        So.  what are we going to do about it?

·         what are the steps to make towards a solution?

2.        I don’t know about you …

a.        but sometimes that’s the hardest step to take

i.          talking about the 1st step from problem to solution

b.        I wonder if we can convince ourselves

·         a process we call “rationalization”

·         that we prefer the worrying to the solution

c.        after all, worrying and fretting keeps us busy

i.          it gives us something to do

·         worrying can begin the process

·         of playing out different solutions or scenarios

ii.         that can move to the solution process

3.        but it’s possible to get stuck in the worrying phase

a.        maybe it’s safer there

i.          we don’t really have to do anything about

ii.         maybe if we worry enough, out loud

·         somebody will take care of it for us

·         maybe somebody will take care of us

·         then we won’t have to worry so…

iii.        maybe if we just keep on praying about it …

·         maybe God isn’t paying attention

·         maybe God needs to be reminded about my problem

·         let me just worry God a little more with this

·         maybe this keeps us from praying about other things

·         maybe this keeps us from having to notice the other things God might have in mind for me

D.       Bridge

1.        Now, I don’t know about anybody else

a.        but do you know what I mean about worrying?

·         about how much good it does

·         even when you fret to the Lord

2.        I have another story to tell you – another parable

a.        about what happened

b.        when  a dedicated group of people

c.        lost sight of their true mission

3.        what does this story tell us about worrying?

a.        listen and think about how worrying about

i.          some-thing

ii.         keeps them away from their mission

II.        Tell the Story

A.       Gospel reminder – more importantly, keep in mind what Jesus teaches when you listen to the story I will tell you

1.        Jesus reminds the disciples…

a.        you can’t serve 2 masters

i.          God and wealth

ii.         you will become a slave to one and overlook the other

b.        yes, you need food, clothing, and shelter

·         but isn’t there more to life than these things?

c.        consider the birds who never planted a single seed

i.          doesn’t God look after them?

d.        consider the lilies of the field

i.          aren’t’ they beautiful?

ii.         do they spend any time worrying about what they’re going to wear?

e.        And if God cares after birds and flowers

i.          even the grass

ii.         that’s alive today and dead tomorrow

iii.        … won’t God provide for you?

f.         Don’t seek after these things

i.          as if God doesn’t know you need them

ii.         that’s how the heathens do

g.        Jesus tells the disciples … and us

i.          God knows what you need

ii.         first, seek after the kingdom of God

        ·         building up the Body of Christ

·         in right living – in community

·         and all of these things will come to you

iii.        worrying about tomorrow

·         is nothing but worry

·         because tomorrow is coming anyway

·         OR we might not even make it to tomorrow

B.       Now listen to a story about how worry got the best of somebody

1.        “The Parable of the Life-saving Station”

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once    a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and    there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little lifesaving station grew.

Some of the new members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.

They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they redecorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club.

Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired life boat crews to do this work.  The mission of lifesaving was still given lip-service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the lifesaving activities personally.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people.

They were dirty and sick, some had skin of a different color, some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal pattern of the club.

But some members insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station.  But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in

those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another lifesaving station was founded.

If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but now most of the people drown!

— Taken from Personal Evangelism 101, by Brent Hunter

III.      So What?

A.       This is basically a true story

1.        describes the way Life-saving stations developed into yacht clubs

2.        When my family lived on Long Island, at the ocean

          a.        somebody bought the building on the beach that used to house the rescue squad

i.          they had it moved into the village

ii.         and made over into a lovely residence

B.       What was the thing that got these folks worrying?

1.        for them it was the building

2.        How does this apply to us?

a.        To me?

b.        You?

c.        The Church?

C.       I want this to start a process for us

1.        For me.  You.  The Church.

2.        What’s worrying us?

a.        How can we move from worry to solution

i.          or at least…getting on with our life

D.       Are we willing to trust in God

1.        and seek after his will for us

a.        Micah 6:8.  He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

b.        this is “seeking the kingdom of God, and God’s right living.”

        i.          and all these things will be given to you

ii.         So let it be.  Amen


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Trinity Sunday

Matthew 28: 16-20

Unity in Trinity

I.         Way In

A.       I don’t like coming up with a sermon title

1.        But it is a good discipline

a.        I’ll tell you that I read the text for Sunday early in the week …

b.        then keep it in my mind all week as I prepare the sermon in my head

2.        By coming up with a sermon title on Monday

a.        I get it in time for the bulletin

b.        and it helps me keep the text in my head

i.          while I gather examples and descriptions

·         to put together into an outline – usually on Saturday

·         so I can share my thoughts with you in an organized, thoughtful, and hopefully a compelling or inspirational way

c.        Maybe it occasionally gives you something to anticipate

i.          if you read the bulletin ahead of time

ii.         or, WPC only, happen to catch the sign out from early in the week

3.        So today, you have “Unity in trinity”

a.        Aren’t you surprised folks didn’t line up at the door this morning waiting for the church to open?

b.        Come on, now really, is that a compelling sermon title, or what?

i.          well, it’s the one we have, isn’t it?

ii.         so let’s go with it.

B.       This is Trinity Sunday

1.        A day set on the Christian calendar

i.          to celebrate doctrine, not God

ii.         another, ‘whoop-de-doo,’ right?

iii.        I hate to start out so cynical and sarcastic

·         but Trinity Sunday is a little hard to get excited about

C.       Why trinity?

1.        It’s at the core of our Christian faith

a.        the nature of God, “in three persons”

i.          Father, Son, Holy Spirit

ii.         three-in-one, three-and-one

·         God the Creator

·         Jesus the Savior, the human One

·         Holy Spirit, the present One

b.        the PCUSA General Assembly charged a group of Presbyterians (alright, it was a committee) with preparing and presenting a document on The Trinity.  In sovereign love God created the heavens and the earth and called and formed the people of Israel to be a light to all the nations. In costly grace the Lord Jesus Christ ministered among us and was crucified and raised for us and for our salvation. In transforming power the Holy Spirit renews and sanctifies us, draws us into new communion with God and each other, awakens our praise and worship, and equips us for the service of God in the world. The Triune God does all this through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:13)  … About this the church must have no doubt: The doctrine of the Trinity proclaims to us the very heart of God, made known to us and to the world in the self-sacrificial love of Jesus Christ and poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

c.        Not scholarly enough for you?

i.          Augustine wrote a book called, “On The Trinity,”

·         bet. 380-430, a  bishop and scholar

·         one of the greatest theological minds ever

·         one of the greatest works ever, made up of 15 books

·         describes the intricacy and mystery of the triune nature of God

·         “On the Trinity” took him about 16 years to write

·         even so he was rushed on the last 3 books because somebody got their hands on the 1st 12 and published them

·         you can buy this on Amazon.com or at the bookstore if you want a good ‘scholarly’ explanation

d.        A colleague in another part of the country told me of an elder who was concerned about the faith statements of one of their church’s confirmands

i.          this elder was concerned about allowing this teenager to join the church

·         they didn’t express a full knowledge of the Trinity

e.        the scriptures read today from 2 Cor. and Matthew

i.          the basics of everything the Bible says about the Trinity

ii.         everything else is the human effort of understanding

·         Augustine covers most of that human exercise

·         expands on the Nicene Creed of 325

·         both of which address the proper understanding of the Trinity, over and against common heresies of the day

2.        There’s at least one Presbyterian elder somewhere who thinks you ought not be able to join the church until you have a full understanding of the Trinity

a.        as far as I’m concerned, the best we can do is affirm a faith in God,…

i.          whose nature is a mystery

ii.         who is the maker of all things, is in all things, and who came among us – living in the person of Jesus Christ

iii.        You have the basic texts before you

·         today’s NT scriptures

·         you can find The Nicene Creed in your hymnal

·         You can ask me for a copy of my sermon from June 2001 if you want an outline of those 4th century heresies

·         but don’t worry too much about ‘understanding’ the Trinity

b.        instead, listen to what Augustine says in chapter 1 of his 15 books

i.          “We are Nourished by Faith, that We May Be Enabled to Apprehend Things Divine.  The following dissertation concerning the Trinity, as the reader ought to be informed, has been written in order to guard against the sophistries of those who disdain to begin with faith, and are deceived by a crude and perverse love of reason.”

c.        Faith, the Bible says in Heb. 11, is the conviction of things not seen.  And it says that our ancestors, by faith received approval, and we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible

i.          theology is “faith seeking understanding” (Anselm)

·         for me, the key is, knowing when faith is enough and understanding is too much

D.       Bridge

1.        Jesus doesn’t talk about the Trinity much

2.        when he does, it’s about mission

II.        Tell the Story

A.       Today’s Gospel reading finds Jesus giving his disciples their commission

1.        emphasizes that there were only 11 at this point

a.        we’ve already talked about what happened to #12

2.        Jesus gathered them on top of “the mountain”

a.        to get them away for a while, a retreat

3.        Remember that this was only a few days after Jesus’ resurrection

a.        and when they saw him

i.          they worshipped him

ii.         but “some” doubted

·         the Greek says merely that “they worshipped and they doubted”

·          evdi,stasan does not mean “doubt” like we think of as unbelief, but to the Greeks, it was more like “second-guessing”

·         may be more proper for us to understand that the disciples worshipped Jesus at this time, event though they were uncertain about the mystery of the resurrection

·         I don’t know about you, but I’m not afraid of a theological understanding of resurrection and trinity where mystery doesn’t get in the way of understanding – in other words, an understanding rooted in” faith”

4.        “And Jesus came and said to them…”

a.        even though he knew they lacked a full understanding of trinity

b.        hey, they still didn’t understand the resurrection

c.        nevertheless, these were his people

i.          with whom he is trusting the commission that drives the church, then and now

5.        With all authority of heaven and earth, Jesus sends the disciples saying,

a.        GO

b.        make disciples of all nations

c.        baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

d.        teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you

e.        remember, I am always with you

III.      So What?

A.       This is what’s known as the Great Commission

1.        Jesus’ instruction to the church

2.        or to the ones who would become the church

a.        and the ones who would spread the church to all people

i.          the church is the people, remember?

B.       Jesus wasn’t worried about the disciples having a full understanding of the Trinity

1.        He didn’t say “understand”

a.        He said, “Go”

2.        He didn’t say, “argue about it”

a.        He said, “Go”

3.        He didn’t say, test people on their theological knowledge, or try to keep them out until they understand it as well as you do

a.        He said, “Go”

4.        He didn’t say “stay here until you get this all figured out.”

a.        He said, “Go”

C.       There were a few times when Jesus told the disciples not to say anything yet, but now they were ready.  It was time

1.        You and I need not worry about whether we fully understand the Trinity

a.        and we need not worry about how well we can describe it

2.        It is enough to have faith in a God who …

a.        Created us and the world into being for relationship with him

b.        Redeemed us in the life of the Son, whose living shows us the way of reconciliation and forgiveness

c.        and a God who is the Power of Spirit among us, giving us life and hope

3.        This is the God who sends us to

a.        Go

b.        Disciple

c.        Baptize

d.        Teach

e.        and, Remember that God is with us always

i.          Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Forever.

ii.         So let it be.  Amen

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Acts 2:1-21

Called by your name to church

I.         Way In

A.       Christians celebrate Pentecost as …

1.        the day of the coming of the Holy Spirit among the followers of Jesus

2.        and the birthday of the church

a.        not the building, but the people

b.        “Here is the door, here is the steeple …”

i.          Remember, the church, is “the people”

3.        we gather today and remember that…

a.        God sent the Spirit among the people,

b.        formed a community gathered under the Holy Spirit

c.        and, hearing the word of God proclaimed by the preacher, Peter

i.          they came forward by the thousands (about 3,000 v.41) …

·         all were baptized

·         and they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers

4.        This is the story of the birthday of the church

B.       So why are we here?

1.        Pentecost isn’t one of the big days that draws in our “CE” friends

a.        You know, the Christmas and Easter Christians, CE

b.        that’s a reason to be here

2.        Mother’s Day…that’s a nice day to be in church

a.        that’s a reason to be here

3.        It’s Sunday, right?

a.        And this is what we do.  We come to church on Sunday.

b.        that’s a reason to be here

4.        But why are we here?

a.        keep thinking about that while we look at today’s text …

II.        Tell the Story

A.       Context

1.        When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place

a.        Jews gather at this time of year for the festival of שבועות, Shavuot

i.          “7 sabbaths” after Passover = after 49 days it begins

ii.         then, on the day after the Sabbath, which is the 50th day

iii.        an offering is made to the Lord marking the end of the harvest

b.        the Greek name for this day is πεντηκοστή μέρα, “50th Day”

i.          so, the Greek scriptures and the subsequent English translations call this day Pentecost

2.        This is why there were people from all over the known world there

a.        this is the list that always causes the liturgist great joy not to be reading

i.          because they were there from (name some of the places)

B.       The text

1.        people from all over the known world were gathered in Jerusalem

2.        suddenly from heaven there came a violent wind

a.        wind filled the house they were in

b.        tongues of fire rested on them

i.          fire, but it rested on them

·         remember Moses and the burning bush

·         that was “burning but not consumed”

ii.         that same type of fire

·         burned

·         marking something holy

·         but not burning it up

iii.        burned but not consumed …

·         a resting fire

·         fire of power and light

·         burning, but not consuming

·         generating light, but not heat


c.        they were filled with Holy Spirit

i.          they were speaking in other languages

3.        the crowd was bewildered, confused because of the sound

a.        the sound “like the rush of a mighty wind”

4.        the crowd was amazed and astonished because …

a.        they heard the Galileans speaking, but each one heard it in their native language

i.          the Galileans were probably speaking in common colloquial languages like Greek or Aramaic

·         but the residents of all these other places (go back to list of nations)

·         heard the words the Galileans were saying in their own native tongues

5.        and because they heard it in their own languages

a.        they knew that the Galileans were speaking about God’s deeds and power

6.        “What does this mean,” they asked?

a.        some said, “Don’t worry about those guys from Galilee, they’re just a bunch of country guys who came to the big city and got drunk”

b.        others said, “no, they are filled with new wine.”

i.          not drunk

ii.         but filled with the Spirit, and guided by the Spirit

7.        and because everybody could hear the Galileans speaking in their own languages …

a.        they could all hear Peter’s sermon about the promise God revealed to the prophet Joel in the scriptures

i.          about the out-pouring of God’s Spirit

ii.         sons and daughters will prophesy

iii.        young ones will see visions

iv.       old ones will dream dreams

v.        everyone, men and women, will prophesy

vi.       God’s power will be revealed

vii.      and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”

III.      So What?

A.       God’s people were filled on this day of Pentecost some 2,000 years ago

1.        they were filled with the Holy Spirit

2.        people thought they were drunk

3.        but they were not drunk…

a.        they were filled with new wine

b.        exuberantly open to new possibilities

i.          guided by the Sprits’ revelation of visions and dreams

ii.         so much so, that others, who could not understand the holy possibilities

·         of imagination inspired by God

·         that they could only be drunk according to the ones who were without that imagination

4.        God was opening their minds to visions and dreams

a.        new imaginations of God’s endless possibilities …

i.          for renewal of our minds by God’s spirit

·         imaginations of possibilities for:

·         fellowship

·         spiritual growth

·         worship

·         ministries of mercy and compassion

B.       This is the Spirit that guides God’s ministry, which is known to us in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ

1.        certainly enough to gather us here today in God’s name

a.        but really…

i.          why are we here?

·         why am I here?

C.       Why are you here?   Let me tell you a parable I heard last week. (Wee Kirk Conference speaker, Rev. Tom Letts)

1.        Abbott & new monk

2.        A: Why are you here?

a.        M: Answering a call to devotion and prayer…

b.        A: Very nice, now go to your room and think about this for 30 days

3.        M.comes back

a.        A: Why are you here?

b.        M: theological answer

c.        A: Very nice, now go to your room and think about this for 30 days

4.        M. comes back

a.        A: Why are you here?

b.        M: theological answer

c.        M: Listen to the scriptures

i.          Lazarus’ death

ii.         Jesus, “Lazarus, come out”

·         unbind, etc.

d.        A: Now, why are you here?

e.        M: theology. answer about being bound, etc

f.         A: Very nice, now go to your room and think about this for 30 days

5.        M. comes back

a.        A: Why are you here?

b.        M. more theol. answer

c.        A: very nice, Listen to the scriptures

i.          Mary Magd. going to the tomb where Jesus was buried

ii.         encountered, Jesus but did not recognize

iii.        Jesus said, “Mary”

iv.       then she recognized him

v.        Jesus “why are you weeping, my child”

d.        A: Now, why are you here?

e.        M: theol. answer about recognizing Jesus, new life, etc.

f.         A: Very nice, now go to your room and think about this for 30 days

6.        M.comes back

a.        A: Why are you here?

b.        M: with tears of joy and fulfillment in his eyes

i.          I am here because Jesus has called me by name

·         like Lazarus and Mary

·         my Lord and savior knows me and calls my name

·         that’s why I’m here

c.        A.  Very Good.  Now let us go and be about our Lord’s work

D.       Friends, Beloved, this is why we are here

1.        Jesus, our Lord has called us each by name

2.        to this place

3.        to be filled with new visions and dreams

4.        new possibilities by the power of God’s sprit

E.       Called by name

1.        for imaginative discipleship

2.        so may it be.  Amen

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Luke 24:44-53

Hidden in the Gospel

I. Way In

A.       Our opportunities

1.        We got back from Vanderkamp last night

a)       Two of our youth, and me – on a Presbytery Confirmation retreat

(1)     about 25 other kids from around the presbytery

(2)     learning about the Bible, the church, and spirituality

(3)     preparing the youth for their confirmation in the church

2.        Monday nights at our Alpha Course (Westminster)

a)       we gather for fellowship and food

b)       and we discuss our faith in Jesus Christ

3.        Our Sunday School and Vacation Bible School

a)       provide opportunities for our children and young people to learn the basics of the Christian faith

4.        We have a Women’s Bible Study

a)       and many other opportunities

b)       for education, and preparation

B.       Opportunities to open our minds to understand the scriptures

1.        as Jesus did with his disciples before he ascended to heaven

C.       Hidden in the Gospels

1.        The ascension, as I read before from Luke’s gospel isn’t in all of the gospels

a)       only Luke and Mark

b)       you will also find the account in the 1st chapter of Acts

c)        but Matthew and John are silent about the ascension

d)       In the same way, you won’t find an account of Jesus’ birth in the gospels of Mark and John

(1)     the first time we see Jesus in either of these books, he is grown, and baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River

2.        Does that mean that there’s some question as to whether Jesus really ascended into heaven?  NO!

3.        It means that we have to study the scriptures

a)       not just pick and choose the parts we want to know

b)       it is critical for us to know about the structure and content of the scriptures in order to develop a mature faith

4.        In this way …

a)       We’re not surprised or suspicious to find the “baby wrapped in swaddling clothes” in only half of the gospels – and missing from the others

(1)     because we understand that Mark is more concerned with writing “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ,” leaving the details of his birth to the other writers

5.        nor are we surprised or suspicious to find the ascension in only half of the gospels

a)       because we know that the Book of Acts …

(1)     also written by Luke

(2)     is a continuation of Luke’s gospel

(a)     see what it says in the 1st chapter

(b)     that the 1st book (the gospel) is the account from Jesus’ birth to his ascension

(c)      and this is where this book begins

b)       so not only is the Ascension recorded in the scriptures (2 gospels and Acts)

(1)     but Jesus prophesied that he would return to “his father’s house” to prepare a place for us

(a)     and we have evidence that all of  Jesus’ prophecies were true

D.       So it is significant to notice that today we read of the very last thing Jesus said and did with his disciples while he still remained on earth

1.        he opened their minds to understand the scriptures

2.        because, now, if you begin with reading the book of The Acts of the Apostles…

a)       their work was to be about the birth of the church

b)       which beginning we celebrate on Pentecost Sunday – next week

II. Tell the Story, “So, today we find Jesus…”

A.       Context

1.        up to verse 44…Jesus was with the  disciples in Jerusalem

2.        after his resurrection

3.        having just come into the locked room where they were hiding from the religious officials

(1)     for fear they might be the next ones executed by crucifixion

4.        having proven by his wounds that he was their risen and living Lord

B.       Today’s text:

1.        “Then he said to them…”

a)       these are the words I spoke to you while I was with you

b)       that all of the prophecies must be fulfilled

2.        Then he opened up their minds to understand the scriptures

a)       that the prophecies must be fulfilled

(1)     “thus it is written…”

(a)     Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the 3rd day

(b)     and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed …

(i)       in his name, to all nations

(ii)      beginning in Jerusalem

3.        Now, Jesus’ part has been done

a)       Jesus himself was the living fulfillment of the prophecies having to do with his death and resurrection

4.        Now the prophecies must be fulfilled, and this part was the work of the disciples

a)       So Jesus said, “You are witnesses to these things.”

(1)     I will send upon you what God has promised

(a)     that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit

(i)       which comes “next week” at Pentecost

5.        Then Jesus led them out of town, “as far as Bethany”

a)       Jesus lifted his hands and gave them his blessing

b)       then he withdrew from them

c)        and was carried up into heaven

6.        the disciples worshipped him there

a)       then returned to Jerusalem with joy

b)       and they were continually in the temple blessing God

III. So What?

A.       Jesus had done his part, the rest of the work of Jesus’ ministry

1.        was passed along to the disciples

a)       and it comes down as well to us

2.        to go and do the great commission

a)       teaching and preaching and doing …

b)       the things Jesus taught

c)        beginning in Jerusalem, then into all the world

3.        in order to do this,

a)       their minds had to be opened to understand the scriptures

b)       and so do ours

B.       If we consider what happened at Pentecost the “birth “ of the church

1.        then, what is happening at the Ascension begins the gestation period

2.        the disciples have received their commission and their ministry has been blessed by Jesus

a)       and where this reading begins with them hiding from the religious officials,

(1)     for fear of their own persecution

(2)     in a locked room

b)       this reading, and Luke’s gospel, ends with the disciples being “continually in the temple blessing God.”

3.        Now, with their ministry affirmed, directed, and blessed by Jesus

a)       they are no longer afraid

b)       but boldly begin their ministry – which will lead to the birth of the church

(1)     before they were hiding from the religious officials

(a)     the keepers of the old ways

(b)     the holders-on to dusty traditions and rites

(i)       that had become systematized and institutionalized so as to be barely be recognizable as worshipping the Living God of reconciliation, and community-building

(2)     now they were openly worshipping in the temple

(a)     out before the adversaries of their Lord

(b)     and, as you can see in reading on through the 7th chapter of Acts where they stone Stephen to death

(i)       these are to be their own adversaries and persecutors as well

c)        Yet you will find, as we know it is written in the scriptures that:

(1)     despite warning after warning from the “religious officials” to cease and desist from any teaching of Jesus …

(a)     the disciples could not, and would not be stopped from this preaching and teaching

(2)     even as they witnessed their friends persecuted, even unto death, for doing so

(a)     even though they knew this would likely lead to their own persecution and death

C.       Our minds have also been opened to the understanding of the scriptures

1.        and we are called to none other than the mission of Jesus Christ in his church

a)       teaching God’s word

b)       offering hospitality and ministries of compassion and mercy that bring healing to a hurting community and world

c)        and radically being the church that recognizes all humankind as being made in the image of God

(1)     welcoming and receiving all in His name

(2)     especially in a world that is too quick to separate and divide people by

(a)     the color of their skin

(b)     the language of their voice

(c)      or the fatness of their pocketbook

2.        THIS is the radical gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ

a)       the One we belong to

b)       and the One who’s work and ministry we are bound and committed to carry forth

c)        in JESUS’ NAME

d)       so let it be with us.  Amen


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