Monday, June 3, 2013

Sunday's Sermon

June 2, 2013
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
1 Kings 9:22-23, 41-43
Psalm 96:1-9
Galatians 1:1-12
Luke 7:1-10

Please pray with me,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

Two men move into a new town.  And as you find when moving into a new house, some minor repairs are needed.  So, of course a trip to the local hardware store is the first trip into town. 
The first fellow walks in to the store and gets his supplies.  As he’s checking out, he says to the clerk, “I’m new in town.  What are folks like around here?”
The clerk asks, “What were people like where you used to live?” 
The man replies, “Welcoming and friendly.”
Well, that’s exactly the kind of folks you’ll find around here.  
The man smiles and leaves. 

Later that day the second man enters the hardware store. 
As he’s checking out, he says to the clerk, “I’m new in town.  What are folks like around here?”
The clerk asks, “What were people like where you used to live?” 
The man replies, “Unfriendly and not welcoming at all.”
Well, that’s exactly the kind of folks you’ll find around here.  

Have you ever felt that way before?  Or experienced that?  It’s amazing how the people around you will reflect the emotions and actions that you bring to them. 

I’ve been a part of several conversations lately where it has come up that this place isn’t as fun as it used to be.  That could be this congregation, this worship, this church…..but there is an impression out there that the fun has gone away.  Coming from a person who spend the weekend laughing to the point of tears in the poconos last weekend, as we created and played a new game called L-ball (it involves a tennis ball and your elbows) ….and laughing just as hard with 31 folks on the ABO trip to Michigan when we had chicken for lunch AND dinner 3 days in a row and belted out Neil Sedaka’s love will keep us together on the bus, it’s hard for me to fathom that the fun is gone. 

But it leads me to wonder….and think….and pray about what God is up to in this place. 

The Psalm for today, Psalm 96, speaks about worship.  It calls all people of the earth and indeed the earth itself to sing praise to God and to worship God in God’s temple.

This section of the psalm is dominated by imperatives that call forth that praise: “sing to the Lord;” “tell of his salvation;” “declare his glory;” “ascribe glory and strength;” and “worship the Lord.” The opening call to sing a “new song” does not elicit a song with fresh lyrics or music, but a song with universal all encompassing scope that declares the extent of God’s sovereignty. Such a song is new in that it breaks out of the category of space and time and embraces all things and all people. 

The reason for the praise the psalm evokes is the identification of God as the one true lord of heaven and earth, the maker of all things (verses 4-6). The song originated in a time and place in which many deities were recognized. Every nation had its gods and claimed them to have sovereignty.

Psalm 96:5 declares, however, that the other gods are merely idols. That is, the images that represented them were the extent of their reality. Only God was real and powerful and therefore worthy of praise.

And that’s who we gather together to worship and praise each week.  This psalm gives a way to state and restate what God’s people believe about the world.  Most importantly, what the psalm says about the world to come shapes the way God’s people live right now. 

This is the power of liturgy….the power of what we do in this place at this time week after week after week.  The liturgy is the work of the people.  All that happens within the context of worship is the work of the people. 

The proclamation only makes sense, however, when it is made in the company of other believers. Together we declare what we believe about the world. As we do, we create a community that not only believes in God’s reign with the head, but also responds to God’s kingdom with the heart.
To live as though we belong to the kingdom of God means that we work to bring justice and well-being, just as God also is working.

What we sing and say and pray in this time and place shapes that we are as the people of God when we leave this building. 

We hear this Psalm on the second Sunday after Pentecost.  Pentecost for the first Christians was marked by an outpouring of God’s Spirit that empowered them to proclaim the Good News so that all people might hear, understand, and respond.  Hearing it this day, invites all of God’s creation to declare the glory of God.  It reminds us that we are called to declare the glory of God….and for us God’s glory is known most clearly in Jesus Christ. 

So here we are.  The body of Christ.  Called to proclaim the glory of God, seen in Jesus Christ. 

We are a community.  One that comes together to worship. 

A community that joins together confessing, praying, singing, hearing God’s word, sharing in the Lord’s just to be sent out again….so we can come back! 

The actions that happen in this place…are all done in thanks and praise to God – together – in community!  Our energy, our passion, our tears, our laughter, our welcoming hugs and greetings are what make this place alive.  How we fill this space, as the body of Christ will speak volumes to all who enter here. 

How do you view this place? 
Has that changed? 

How has your interaction with others, participation in worship changed?   Or is it just those around you who have changed? 

We are the living, breathing body of Christ in this place.  We will not look the same today as we do tomorrow.  We do not worship exactly like we did 10, 20 or 50 years ago….nor will we worship exactly the same in 10, 20 or 50 years from today.  But here’s the thing….all that we do in this place is to the glory of God….all that we do we do as the Body of Christ, loving, serving and reaching out to one another. 

God is at work in this place….the spirit of Pentecost is still blowing strong….may it continue to fill us and this place with joy-filled, Christ-centered, praise to God. 

May we continue to be open to the work of the Spirit in our midst, that we are able to praise God together and show our friends, families and community where God is at work in our hearts and our lives this day and every day. 

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.

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