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Weekly Word for Trinity Sunday 2016


Readings:
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

Sermon: “Who Does God See?”

Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday.
What does that mean?
What are we celebrating? (more…)

Weekly Word for Pentecost Sunday 2016


Sermon for Pentecost Sunday 2016: “Peter-Cost”

 

Readings:

Acts 2:1-21

John 14: 8-17, 25-27

 

Sermon:

 

This morning we come to the end of the Easter Season.

The Easter Season lasts fifty days, and it concludes with Pentecost Sunday.

 

What is Pentecost?

That’s a two part answer.

Pentecost was one of three festivals in the Jewish calendar.

The three festivals were first mentioned back in the 23rd chapter of Exodus when God establishes the rules/the laws for the Israelites after their escape from Egypt.

Then in Leviticus 23 God goes into more detail about these three festivals.

The three festivals were all agriculturally based:

  • The festival of unleavened bread
  • The festival of harvest (The Festival of Weeks)-named after the seven weeks after Passover
    • Pentecost was another name for the Festival of Weeks (50 days after Passover).

 

  • The festival of ingathering (The Festival of Booths)- when all the fruit that has been grown is gathered.

Three times a year all Jewish males from around the world were to journey to Jerusalem to “appear before God.”

 

Now for us Christians, Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all the believers,

probably 120 of them,

50 days after Jesus was raised from the dead,

and after Jesus has ascended to Heaven.

 

So what does Pentecost mean to us today?

To me, the story of Pentecost is not just the story of the believers becoming the teachers.

It is the story of Peter and who Peter represents.

 

Think back to the Gospels and the places we hear Peter speak.

At times, Peter sounds like the eager student.

Some would call him the teacher’s pet.

Answering the hard questions asked by Jesus like “Who do you (the disciples) say I am?”

And Peter’s answer: “You are the Messiah.”

But even when Peter scored points with Jesus, he would then do something wrong and even stupid to get those points erased.

There was the time Peter rebuked Jesus in an attempt to keep Jesus from heading to Jerusalem to face certain death.

Not a smart move.

Because Jesus then looks at Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan!”

That can leave a mark!

Then there was the time Peter swore he would never deny Jesus.

And yet, there is Peter denying Jesus three times after Jesus is arrested.

I don’t want to be too hard on Peter.

Because if you really think about it, Peter’s life as a disciple mirrors our lives as disciples.

 

We have good intentions.

We even have good days.

And then there are the days we mess up.

We do stupid things.

We lie.

We cheat.

We slander.

We judge.

We wish harm on others.

 

Our actions deny Jesus and his teachings.

Two steps forward.

Two steps back.

We all act like Peter. Every day.

We give God enough reasons to leave us behind.

To let us fend for ourselves.

And yet God doesn’t do that.

God continues to call on us.

Just like he called on Peter.

In John 21, we read of a conversation between Peter and Jesus post-resurrection.

Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?”

And Peter says “Yes, Lord.”

Before resurrection, Peter denies Jesus three times.

And now he is all into the YES.

 

And with those answers, Jesus gives Peter his new call.

Feed my sheep. Tend to my lambs.

 

Even after the missteps, Jesus still looks to Peter to be a leader.

 

By the time we get to the Book of Act, Peter is starting to become that leader.

In Acts chapter 1 it is Peter who leads the meetings where the disciples choose Matthais to replace Judas.

And then comes our reading for today.

The Holy Spirit has come to the believers.

And they are all speaking different languages.

The languages of all the Jewish people from around the world.

I love the first reaction of the witnesses to this.

“They are drunk.”

This is actually an accusation that was thrown at Jesus back in Luke 7 where crowds called him “a glutton and a drunkard” (7:34).

I have known drunk people in my life, and after a few pints, I have heard them speak a language I have never heard, but still, it’s a pretty harsh opinion.

But look who stands up to the critics.

Look who doesn’t back down.

Peter.

And as Peter stands up to the critics, I think back to Jesus’ call on the seaside:

“Feed my lambs.”

“Tend my sheep.”

And now Peter is stepping up big time.

It is Peter who now has the amazing ability to quote scripture.

And Peter isn’t interpreting scripture for the sake of interpreting scripture.

He is making sense of the moment.

Not just for the witnesses but for the believers as well.

Will Willimon says this is a pattern that is repeated throughout Acts.

The believers are confronted by a crowd,

some understand what’s going on and some who don’t.

An apostle speaks and interprets the gospel through a sermon.

 

So in our reading Peter quotes Joel.

A peculiar choice.

It’s not like the people were walking around Jerusalem going “Man! I wish someone would drop some Joel knowledge on us!”

 

Why is Joel important?

Because in Peter’s eyes the crowds criticisms are a fulfillment of prophecy.

And it is Joel who said that in the last days there would be an outpouring of the Spirit on everyone (Joel 2:28-32).

 

So Peter is starting to put the pieces of the Kingdom puzzle together.

And then he makes a bold statement:

What the crowd is witnessing IS SOMETHING NEW.

“We are not filled with new wine.”

“We are filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“God is running through our veins.”

 

And Peter starts to connect the prophets of old to Jesus.

 

At that moment, after all the miracles, all the teachings, after the Resurrection, Peter and the people finally GET IT!

And once they get it, their world changes.

And their call changes.

 

The students, the believers, are now the Witnesses, the Teachers.

They are the ones charged with taking the Word to the people.

 

Pentecost is the story of a God who still has business to attend to.

It is a story of a man, a disciple, who steps up and becomes the leader.

It is a story of God who continues to look to us like he looked at Peter and calls us to follow Peter’s lead.

 

We are not celebrating Pentecost like it was a day in the past.

We celebrate Pentecost because that God is opening up new horizons.

We celebrate that God is an intrusive God.

And by that I mean, God is in our lives.

God is working in us, for us, and through us.

 

So on this Pentecost, let me ask you a question that spawned in my head from our reading from John.

 

Do people see God when they see you?

Do they see the love and grace of God in what you say or do?

Do they see the hope they need to exist in this world today?

Do they see the open arms they need to know that they are loved?

 

The crowd, the people, in Acts needed to see the God that was working in Peter and the believers on that Pentecost.

The People needed to see the God who was coming to them, speaking their languages,

bringing the kingdom to them.

 

Pentecost is not a onetime event in the past.

It is an event every day.

The Spirit pouring out in our lives.

Sending us out.

Calling us out!

To step up like Peter,

Like the disciples,

 

Step up

Step out

And share the Spirit! (more…)

Little Lutherans/Youth Breakfast SUNDAY JUNE 5th


All of our Little Lutherans (Pre-K-5th grade) and Youth (6th-12th grade) are invited to come on Sunday, June 5th, to breakfast which will begin at 8:45 AM and lead right into Sunday School at 9:00 AM. While the children are in Sunday School, parents are invited to join other Grace parents at McDonald’s for fellowship starting at 9 AM.

The Grace April 2016 Newsletter


The April 2016 newsletter is here! April 2016

The New Church Sign Is HERE!


IMG_0194We are happy to announce our new church sign is up and it is absolutely stunning.

2015-2016 Cub Scout Pack 57 Calendar is here!


Now that our website is back and better than ever, here is a copy of the Cub Scouts schedule for 2015-16. 2015-2016 Scout Calendar

Open Arms New Prayer Shawl Ministry


The Ella Bunting Open Arms Group has begun a prayer shawl ministry that will donate shawls to those going through chemo & radiation treatments. The Group is looking for people to donate their time to make knit or crocheted shawls. These can be any pattern you are comfortable working with. Sign-up sheets are outside the church offices, contact the church office, or contact Leslie Miller to be a part of this new venture.