Faith & Hope

Faith & Hope

This Sunday, we continue our post-Easter series titled Revive Us Again following the Revised Common Lectionary and sourced from Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church. This series attempts to help us hold on to the glory that is Resurrection!

For these three weeks after Easter, we have chosen to preach a series of sermons focused on revival. Setting aside the COVID-19 virus, I suggest we have already been in need of revival. Our world has seemed increasingly partisan. We seem unable to find agreement across the political aisle; we seem challenged to find common ground between denominations and across faith traditions.

Even our own denomination is divided! Last year’s Special General Conference pushed those divisions even deeper, and—before it was cancelled—this year’s General Conference was expected to address a formal split. In the midst of this and perhaps driven in part by this, church attendance across the whole of Christianity is in decline.

Surely, we have a feeling of being in the wilderness. We are seeking sustenance and refreshment. We are seeking God’s renewing and forgiving Spirit. We are in need of revival!

It is a good thing that we celebrate Easter each year because it is so easy for us to get drawn back into the wilderness. We need to be reminded that Jesus is risen! Jesus is risen indeed! We are an Easter people! We are a people of hope! We are a people of resurrection! We are already a people of revival!

Do you remember why Christian tradition is to hold worship on Sundays? It is not the Sabbath; that’s Saturday. We hold worship each day on the first day of the week: Sunday. Why? Because it’s a mini-Easter celebration each week! We are reminded each week of hope and resurrection and revival! We are invited into a worship celebration each week in which we might be reminded of God’s renewing and reviving grace. Let us gather together because we long to live and worship in the presence of the living Christ. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

1 Peter 1:17-23 (CEB)
17Since you call upon a Father who judges all people according to their actions without favoritism, you should conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your dwelling in a strange land. 18Live in this way, knowing that you were not liberated by perishable things like silver or gold from the empty lifestyle you inherited from your ancestors. 19Instead, you were liberated by the precious blood of Christ, like that of a flawless, spotless lamb. 20Christ was chosen before the creation of the world, but was only revealed at the end of time. This was done for you, 21who through Christ are faithful to the God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory. So now, your faith and hope should rest in God.

22As you set yourselves apart by your obedience to the truth so that you might have genuine affection for your fellow believers, love each other deeply and earnestly. 23Do this because you have been given new birth—not from the type of seed that decays but from seed that doesn’t. This seed is God’s life-giving and enduring word.

Consider these questions:

  1. The opening verse of this text references a God who treats us without favoritism. That’s a beautiful ideal, but what does that really mean? In what ways do you think you (and culturally, we) expect special treatment?
  2. The text continues that we are not liberated by perishable things like silver and gold. How do you (or we) rely on these kinds of tangibles to proclaim success or independence? What intangibles might we be better suited to rely on?

Post-Worship Update on 4/28

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

One of my central claims in the Christian tradition is that we must live as though we are changed by our faith. Even in the face of uncertain times, even in the face of anxiety and fear, even in the face of doubt, even when we wrestle—and even when we have nothing to fear, nothing to doubt, and no reason to wrestle—we must live as though Jesus matters. We must live as though Jesus makes a difference in our lives.

When we think through all the things listed above and layer over this with all the personal baggage we each carry, we can easily fell overwhelmed! And when we are flush with the good things, we can easily allow ourselves to fall into the trap of thinking we have all that we need.

I believe that Jesus matters. I believe that Jesus’ presence in the world changed the world. I believe that we who claim our faith in Jesus, his presence (incarnation) and teaching and death and resurrection, must live as though all of this makes a difference in our lives. If we do not live differently because of our faith in Jesus Christ, then I think we have some questions to ask ourselves.

Consider these questions:

  1. What does Peter’s contrast of “perishable things like silver or gold” with “the precious blood of Christ” highlight?
  2. How does what Peter has said lead to his command to “love one another deeply from the heart” (v. 22)?
  3. How do you live your life differently because of your faith and hope?