Author Topic: Sermon for Easter 5C at Wellington this morning  (Read 13090 times)


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Sermon for Easter 5C at Wellington this morning
« on: April 24, 2016, 02:54:36 PM »
Psalm 148, Acts 11:1-18, Revelation 21:1-6
Gospel John 13:31-35

(Wearing T shirt with Uniting Church logo + ‘Uniting for the Common Good’)
Before I start—2 things—
Firstly; You may have noticed this shirt I am wearing during the Family talk. —I tried to get a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) or an ‘Ask me about Jesus’ type T shirt but couldn’t in Orange op shops on Wednesday—in the Christian bookshop I was told that Jesus T shirts are long gone out of fashion. —this one comes close and as we said—This shirt identifies me as a Uniting Church Person.
I’ll come back to this later.
So the family are driving along in the car—it’s a long journey and somewhere along the way one of the kids asks that fatal eternal question. “Are we there yet?”
Of course Dad’s answer is pleasant “it’s a while yet—just be patient”
Five whole minutes pass and a voice from the back seat asks again “Are we there yet?”
“It’s a long way—you’ll have to wait like the rest of us”
Of course you all know where this is going—pretty soon it is a chorus “are we there yet, are we there yet…”
Dad looks angrily at mum as if it is her fault.

He slows the car, pulls off the tar and stops.
 He turns round in his seat?
Who hasn’t heard this reading of the riot act?
“Right—I have had it. It is a long way—I am not putting up with you asking ‘Are we there yet’ every ten seconds. We won’t be there till dark. If one more person asks ‘are we there yet’ I will stop the car and put you all out and you can walk. You got that?”
They drive along for something like 15 minutes in total awkward silence.
Then a thin little voice comes from behind “Is it dark yet?”
I’ll come back to this too.
I used part of Psalm 148 this morning as our call to worship.
God commanded, our Psalmist says in the first half of the Psalm, and the sun, moon, stars, heavens … were created. At God’s Word they were put in their place and they all cry out in praise.
The psalm goes on to describe the more earthly parts of creation.
Verses 7 to 10
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
    sea monsters and all ocean depths;
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
    strong winds that obey his command.
9 Praise him, hills and mountains,
    fruit trees and forests;
10 all animals, tame and wild,
    reptiles and birds.

Good and bad, wild and tame—and I note reptiles in there—I’d go so far as to say Unclean and Clean—all things praise him.
11 Praise him, kings and all peoples,
    princes and all other rulers;
12 young women and young men,
    old people and children too.

All people, from the top to the bottom of the pecking order.
13 Let them all praise the name of the Lord!
And then God’s own people unite in praise too.
14 He made his nation strong,
    so that all his people praise him—
    the people of Israel, so dear to him.
Praise the Lord!

The message is there for Peter to see but he doesn’t get it. Well, not right away at least.
Peter is so wrapped in tradition that he forgets the words of the Psalm—all these things are God’s and praise God, but when commanded to take and eat; Peter proudly, defiantly, says. ‘No way God! Nothing profane has ever touched my lips.’
One, two three times Peter denies the possibility (There seems to be a Peter pattern here with the three times thing)
I reckon Peter may have been able to remain stuck there but for God’s intervention.
11At that very moment …

11At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were.
Of course all this is in the past tense—Right now Peter was trying justify his change of prejudice—from the very same position he had held. Prejudice about food, prejudice about race, Prejudice about who could be God’s disciples… and he’s being seriously questioned, read attacked,  by a group of high minded church folk who accused him pretty much of fraternizing with the enemy—‘I mean these people were the Gentiles and you are not just speaking with them but <shock—horror> you are talking about eating their food’.
And guess what: These officious questioners were not the Jewish hierarchy—these were the good New Testament Christian Church people in Jerusalem——seems the church has always had them.
So they heard Peter’s story and I’d infer from the reading that he had another six brother witnesses along—They heard his revelation that the Holy Spirit had come upon the Gentiles in exactly the same way as their own experience.
We heard his impassioned plea—and for Peter it must have been a great turning point.
17If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”
Now a new relationship of kinship in the family of Christ suddenly becomes possible.
18When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
This is a ‘Wow!’ moment in Christendom. I believe it is the same realization of family which started the dismantling and eventual abolition of slavery.
That this person is a creation of God just like me, worthy of God’s love,  saved and adopted into Gods kingdom just like me—a Brother or sister follower of Jesus—well it was and it is a world changing revelation.
Let’s skip ahead to the Revelation reading—to the time described by John when the New Jerusalem, the New Heaven and the New Earth are created—something else is new—a far closer relationship between God and Us—when God again dwells amongst his people as he did in Jesus—but a whole lot better.
4he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” 5And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”
Sounds heavenly doesn’t it—We pray for it to be so often, and we will again in our prayers of the people, We pray, perhaps not realizing the magnificence and wonder of what we ask.
Your Kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

And perhaps not realizing the implication (because it isn’t quite spelt out) that working at this is our daily bread as much as the physical food we eat.
Jesus said to the disciples after the Last Supper;
34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Well, was it actually a New Commandment at all—In Matthew 22, When a lawyer asked Jesus a question to test Him, 36"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
I seem to remember Jesus reply;
38"This is the great and foremost commandment.

What then was different to make it a NEW commandment?
Jesus added something:
34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
As we know from this Easter season, this was a great love—not just love as we love ourselves but love beyond self—self sacrificing Love. It was love—not to the Letter of the Law but Love taking the spirit of the Law as far as humanly possible and beyond.
Matthew 5, Jesus speaking:
40"If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41"Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 
Jesus love went so much further even than that—all the way to the cross.
And now here is the kicker—Jesus says:
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
He did not say:
have lots of meetings, by this shall the world know you are my disciples.
Neither did he say: keep records of each other’s wrongs or; focus on the differences you have; or grumble about each other. People will know you follow me if you do these things.
He didn’t say we’d be identified as Christians if we wear a T shirt with What Would Jesus Do written on it—or one which has the Uniting Church symbol showing—nor did he say that a church needs a 10 000 watt amplifier system with a 22 channel microphone mixer and a lighting system with a direct connection to Bunnerong Power station to show how properly we worship him.
Instead he said to keep his commandments:
Love one another.
Be patient with each other.
Do your best to listen and understand.
Be merciful and work for peace.
By this shall everyone know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Paul talked about love as the most important gift God gives—he writes in 1 Corinthians 13 (NRSVA)
The Gift of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

And he goes on to describe how love works.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
And Jesus says:
34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Well I said I’d come back to my initial story— I want to leave you with the same question those kids kept asking in the car:
Are we there yet?

« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 02:57:02 PM by Fat »


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Re: Sermon for Easter 5C at Wellington this morning
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2016, 12:49:26 PM »
Another good one for your flock or any flock.  I saw Him asking for an end to racism, not only in people themselves, but in religion in your sermon.



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Re: Sermon for Easter 5C at Wellington this morning
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2016, 01:52:37 AM »
And we 2000 plus years later and we still have a long way to go.