Sermon Notes (Page 2)
Nearly every week, Sermon Notes are provided to help us prepare for upcoming sermons. Feel free to use these Sermon Notes in your personal study or in a group!
I think the notion of walking in the truth…the truth of who we are and whose we are…is probably a fairly appealing notion to most of us. Our spirits, I believe, inherently yearn for this type of authenticity. But day to day reality has taught many of us that this is probably easier said than done. There are all kinds of things and forces and entities that tempt us to step outside of our truth, sometimes unnecessarily puffing ourselves up…sometimes tamping down the essence of who we are.
Perhaps you have noticed that some portions of this week’s Scripture seem more familiar than others. Some of this is due to sheer repetition — as in the case of John 3:16 or Psalm 23. Other occasions are due to certain material actually being repeated in the scriptures. Our passage on Sunday has two very instances of this!
There was an activity at camp where we handed out cups, upside down, to each of the campers on the field. We turned on the sprinklers and hoses and told the campers to collect as much water as they could with their cups upside down and help each other fill their cups. Of course, they were a little confused and soaked as they ran around trying to figure out how to get water into their cup. It wasn’t until we had told them that this is kinda how we do life. We run around with our cups empty. It’s not until we consciously flip our cup and make room for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to enter into the cup and into our lives.
Being “born again” is language that most of us are probably familiar with but many of us may not have adopted or used. What was Jesus talking about in being born again? How might that be meaningful for our lives as Christians who continue to seek to follow in Jesus’ way and live lives of faith, love and service in the world?
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, a day that is recognized as the birthday of the church. This day typically gets overshadowed by other significant religious holidays, like Christmas and Easter, but today is a celebration nonetheless. In this week’s scripture reading on Acts 2: 1-21, God sends the Holy Spirit through Jesus gifting the disciples and everyone around a baptism through the Spirit. God breaks the binary, otherness, in which language, nationality, gender, sexuality, race, culture, ability no longer holds us back from understanding one another, and unites us so that we can be one in the Holy Spirit. This is the birth of a new church. A celebration in oneness.
On Sunday, we’ll spend time with the second account of the ascension from Acts, reflecting on that head scratcher of a question asked by the “two guys in white” who appear after Jesus is taken up: “Why do you stand looking up to heaven?”
In our reading for this Sunday, Jesus continues with that language and presses this point, the life-giving connection between him and his disciples, as he prepares them for his upcoming departure. It’s as if he’s saying, “Even though I won’t be here in person, our connection is real and will be more profound and necessary than ever.” And then, as one often does when giving last minute instructions, he circles back to something important and something he’s said before, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
On Sunday, we’ll ponder the words of this rather remarkable individual, Philip the evangelist, an outsider on many levels, who asked, perhaps hesitantly or perhaps boldly, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” It’s a great question. What indeed? We’ll explore ways in which worldly forces, external and internal, might try to put up barriers for those who seek to enter fully into life with Christ, all the while mindful that the divine response to such questions is generally quite different and always grounded in radical grace.
Jesus is the good shepherd. What does it mean for us to be sheep? What does it mean to have a shepherd? This week we’ll spend some time in the shelter of Psalm 23…remembering all those who have gone before us who have known and cherished this psalm and reflecting on the ways we know and are known by the ultimate shepherd, Jesus.
Into the midst of this angst and struggle, Jesus comes to the disciples with a word of greeting, “Peace be with you.” He then emphasizes the fact that he’s there in the flesh. Jesus invites them to touch him…something they couldn’t do if he was a ghost! And then he does something equally delightful…he asks for a snack. They get him a little leftover fish and find themselves “joyful, disbelieving and still wondering.” Isn’t that a great description? How often are we, just like those early disciples, a mix of joy and disbelief and wonder?