Saturday, July 27, 2019
Sermon Summary (7/14/19) “Peter: Walking With Jesus in the Storms” (Mt 14:22-33; Ps 100)
This sermon could have been entitled, “Peter, Sinking Like a Rock.” I mean, if your nickname is “Rock,” what do you expect when you step out of the boat? But three of the four gospels tell of the story of Jesus walking to the boat on the water and stilling the storm.
I grew up picturing the gospel stories in real time as if the writer was an instant reporter, but the gospels were written decades later and the first hearers of this story was the first century church. New converts were not eye witnesses. For them, Jesus had been left on the shore, and the church was in the boat being storm tossed, “battered” by the storm. Some would say that a better translation would be “tortured.” The church was in truth being tortured by the Roman Empire, and Jesus was absent.
Jesus comes walking to them on the water as he comes to us through history in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Peter steps out in faith but even then his faith wavers and he begins to sink. We criticize Peter, yet he was to only one to step out. We can understand that this was a new thing. Never before had one been seen walking on water. And when he wavered, he knew who his Savior was, “Lord, save me!”
The response of the church in the boat, too is vital to the story. 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
They worshiped him! The church worshiped him. It is important to note that Christianity is not a solitary religion. When we are baptized, we are baptized into a church. We step into the boat. To use Jesus’ metaphor of the vine, “I am the Vine, you are the branches,” we are grafted onto the Vine which is Christ. We are the body of Christ. We are in the boat, and we are called to worship him. We recognize him as “Truly you are the Son of God” and we worship him. We need to be there. We need to be in the boat and worship him.
“Make a joyful noise all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness, come into his presence with singing. Know that he is God. It is he that made us and we are his. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Ps 100)
He is Lord. Worship him.
Saturday, July 20, 2019
Sermon Summary (7/7/19) “Peter: The Call” (Luke 5:1-11)
We are embarking on a new sermon series: Peter, flawed, impetuous, passionate, imperfect Peter. He wants to believe but denies Jesus. He wants to be a faithful follower but loses faith. He wants to be a leader and runs away. Peter is a lot like us. We will learn much about ourselves as we study this great disciple.
How do we know about the flaws of Peter? Normally, we would never write such things about our heroes, yet it’s there in the text. More than likely, Peter told the stories about himself.
Today’s story is about the call of Peter. All the gospels tell the story with John’s a little different. But it is in John that Jesus says, “You are Simon. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated Peter.)” (John 1:42) So Peter is called Simon, what his Mom named him; Cephas (Aramaic for Peter) and Peter (Greek). Cephas and Peter mean Rock. Not only was it a term of affection, but of expectation. Later Jesus would say, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” (Mt 16:18)
According to Luke, Jesus begins his ministry in his hometown Synagogue where he is rejected. He moves to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee where he is widely acclaimed because he spoke as one with authority. He then casts out demons, heals the sick, including Peter’s mother in law, then proclaims the good news throughout the cities.
Then one day he comes to the seashore where Peter and Andrew are cleaning their nets after fishing all night. He steps into Peter’s boat, teaches the crowd, then tells Peter to push into deeper water and let down his nets. ““Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” Now, you would think a hero would have no hesitation about obeying Jesus. You can almost hear him say, “What does this carpenter from a landlocked village like Nazareth know about fishing?” Finally he relents.
And when they did so, they caught so many fish that they began to break their nets and filled another boat to hold all the fish. Peter falls at Jesus’ feet saying, ““Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” reminiscent of Isaiah’s vision of God on the throne, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man with unclean lips living among a people with unclean lips ;yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) “Jesus tells them, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.” So may Jesus be our priority. Amen.
Saturday, July 13, 2019
Sermon Summary (6/30/19) “Just Fruit” (Gal 5:13-25)
In 1890, Eugene Scheffelen released a hundred Starlings in Central Park just because they were mentioned in a Shakespeare play. Did he know that a hundred years later that I’d have a dead Starling in my ceiling or that there would be a 100 million aggressive Starlings in America? Certainly not. Just one the nearly infinite unintended consequences that result from what we do. The worst, of course, are those that affect our friends, our loved ones, our relationships.
The pinnacle of Jesus’ teaching was relationships: The Royal Law, the Golden Rule, just about every teaching in the Sermon on the Mount involves enhancing our relationships, Since just about every thing we do has consequences, how do we avoid that unintended harm that we see in our society daily?
Our passage for today is from Galatians, sometimes called the Magna Carta (the Declaration of Independence) of the Bible, freeing us from the law. “You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters.” (Gal 5:13) He adds, “only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but become slaves to one another.”
If your highest calling is to serve one another, you are less likely to harm one another. Paul goes on to say, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command; “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:14)
“Live by the Spirit.” Living by the Spirit is cooperating with grace, accepting the suggestions of grace in our actions. Living by the flesh is cooperating with the powers and principalities, the cosmic forces of darkness that permeate our world. “If we are live by he Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal 5:25)
But here’s the deal, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. “ Hear this, “against such there is no law!” The fruit are the results of our choices that come from cooperating with the Spirit and there is no limit! We can love as much as we want! We can spread as much joy as we want! We can be as kind as we can be! We can exercise as much self-control as possible! With such there are no unintended consequences! Our relationships are enhanced by the fruit of the Spirit.
Here’s the thing. God knows its hard to be loving, to be kind. That’s why he has given us the Spirit. “Walk by the Spirit.” Your relationships will be better for it. Amen.
Saturday, July 6, 2019
Sermon Summary (6/23/19) “Proclaiming Jesus” (Luke 8:28-38)
In 1988, I attended a retreat, several impactful moments, one in which the leader read the story from Mark about Blind Bartimaeus, Jesus asking, “What do you want me to do for you?” We then retired to our rooms, writing the question at the top of a paper, rested 30 minutes, answered the question and then immediately turned over the paper, writing down Jesus’ reply. I was amazed, amazed at what Jesus had already done for me or would do simply for the asking!
We don’t spend enough time reflecting on what Jesus has done for us. And, we certainly don’t make the effort to tell others what he has done for us. In our Scripture from Luke, Jesus casts the legion of demons from the Gerasene, then tells him 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
That’s the way the word was spread in the first century, one on one, or to a small group, “this is what Jesus has done for me.” If you recall the story of the woman at the well in John 4, she says, “Come and see and man that knows everything about me.” Jesus had restored her self-worth. “Come and see.”
The circumstances today, in this post Christian world are not much difference. The word, if it is ever going to be told, will be by us telling others what Jesus has done for us. What is your story? What has Jesus done for you? Who needs to hear it? Rosemary would have told you that God gave her hope. She could not understand how a person could go on without Jesus. We all have a story and others need to hear our story.
We live in a broken world and Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the answer to the deepest longings of the human heart. Who needs to hear it? Maybe you know someone down and out, who has lost hope or lost a job or lost a crop. Maybe you simply need to say, “I go to church. Church is important to me. Church makes a difference in my life. Jesus makes a difference in my life. Won’t you join me this Sunday?”
We are called to tell the nations. It is not the bishops who will tell, or the preachers that will get them to church. It is the people whose lives have been changed by Jesus. Who needs to hear you say, “Come and see”? Amen.