Monthly Archives: April 2018

Life Changing Witness

Today in worship, we picked up in the book of Acts where we left off last week. Last week we read the end of chapter 8 and engaged with the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Chapter 9 is well known as the first story in Acts about the conversion of Saul (who we know later as the Apostle Paul.)

This well known story is often used as both an example and an excuse as to who we are as a people that follow Christ. The road to Damascus and the blinding light that stops Saul in his tracks is an experience not every has personally. I have occasionally heard people say about their choosing faith in Christ, “well I didn’t have anything nearly as dramatic as a Damascus Road conversion,” as if Saul’s experience is more real or true than others.

I think I could preach several weeks on the ninth chapter of Acts. I didn’t mention it today, but it has been on my mind whether or not anyone would really want an experience like Saul’s or to a lesser degree like Ananias. Both men were confronted with their own exclusivity, their own stubbornness to be able to look past their own opinions and see others as beloved children of God. Who really wants Jesus to say “oh, by the way, you have been wrong and pig-headed. You need to stop what you are doing and go a different direction, with an open heart, an open mind and an open spirit.” If I were to tell the truth, that’s not on my bucket list….(that doesn’t mean I don’t need it anyway, I can be as stubborn as anyone.)

Today I focused on Saul and Ananias’ willingness to change their minds and to be wrong in what they have believed in the past. Certainly in our culture, changing one’s mind, doing a 180 degree change in attitude, belief and spirit is not usually applauded. That is unfortunate.

Saul’s change of mind and heart and spirit opened up the community of faith to those outside the Jewish tradition. Saul’s willingness to be open to all people was a game changer. I still feel like we need more of that willingness to be open and inclusive in the community of faith and certainly in our world.

This Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church will begin meeting tomorrow and one of their agenda items is to listen to the report from the Commission on the Way Forward and to make a final recommendation to the Special Session of The General Conference in 2019. That recommendation will be shared in July once it has been translated into the many languages needed to share with our world wide church. I am praying for our Bishops and for our Church in this time of anxiety and uncertainty.

You can find today’s worship service here. I am praying that God might change my heart, my mind and my spirit that I might witness in a way that offers love and grace to all.

 

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Easter: Unexpected Witness

The Easter sermon series is based on Jesus’ statement that the disciples are called to witness to the resurrection. For fifty days in worship we say “Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, indeed!” This statement of faith is often made real in what we say and how we live.

This Sunday’s scripture from Acts 8 had one of the believers, Philip encounter an Ethiopian Eunuch. There was far more information than could possibly be shared in one sermon. This story is amazing, beautiful and stunning. People of faith lives were being changed and they were transforming communities in so many ways.

Sometimes it is not easy to realize that a changed life is different than changed understanding. One can intellectually grasp and give a nod to a particular faith stance or understanding without it necessarily changing a life or lifestyle. Jesus’ resurrection invites us to be changed, heart, mind and spirit. That changed life, then becomes a witness and participates in the transformation of the world

Sunday’s sermon and service can be found here.  Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed!

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Easter! The Jesus Who Surprises Us All

The forty days of Lent are over and the fifty days of Easter have begun! Today was Easter AND April Fools Day. Some choose to ignore the latter while celebrating the former. I can appreciate that. April Fools Day can be uncomfortable, awkward and downright mean and cruel.

I read a devotion in one of Edward Hay’s books years ago that said April Fools Day began in the middle ages when the calendar changed. At one point, March 25 was the beginning of the new year and ending on April 1 after a week long celebration. When New Year’s Day was moved to January 1, those who refused to change were called “April Fools.”

Regardless, there is something interesting about Lent beginning on Valentine’s Day and Easter being April Fools Day. In a sense, the resurrection of Jesus is a cosmic joke and trick. On Friday, many thought they had won, Jesus was dead, his coming kingdom was buried. On Sunday, the women, the disciples and the world are surprise by an empty tomb. Grace wins, Love wins, good overcomes evil and love defeats hate.

You can watch the Easter Worship service here.   Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed!!!

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