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Friday, April 13, 2007

Outline

I think the point of the sermon will be to discuss various ways we, as a church and as individuals, experience the let down after a high point.

First, we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work, literally. As in, we have people to feed, a building to build, children to teach, gospel to preach. We all have to keep contributing. There is so much good to do.

I'm thinking I only need to spend a few minutes on this. I like to talk about the role of mission work a lot. I think it is so valuable.

Second, we need to move beyond the ecstasy of the mystery in our spiritual development. This is what the apostles were faced with in front of the Sanhedrin. It was no longer just about hallelujahs. They had to justify their faith.

Notice they did not rely on the Torah to proclaim this new thing. They relied on the Holy Spirit, which must have felt a little bit like they were working without a net. But they were certain about their faith. Now, to be certain about your faith is not easy, but it is necessary if you're going to spread it.

Third, is really another aspect of the second. For as bad as it is for a movement to have an unexamined faith, it is devastating for an individuals. We cannot have aspects of our faith that we treat like the Emperor's clothes. We cannot have things that we are afraid to question.

I promise, on the other side of the doubt and questioning, God will still be there.

The final point is where we are headed. When our backs our tired from helping other people. When our message is heard, and when our spirit is fed by this examination. When we do these things we will be on a course to change the world. We will be moving from Resurrection to Revolution.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What does it mean?

What does it mean to believe in Resurrection while you are at work? What does it me to believe in the Holy Spirit while you are in the grocery store? What does it mean to believe in God while paying the mortgage?

It is good to celebrate the mysterious in ecstatic praise.
It is good to work in the service of the hungry, the thirsty and the naked.
It is good to press you mind into service to understand the great questions of the universe.

I believe in each of these, we see a little bit of God. And that is good.

But what does it mean to be transformed so profoundly that even in your daily living you believe in these things.

Work in Progress

Here are some ideas I'd like to work into the sermon:

The hard work after Easter does requires courage.

A little bit of the that is to stand up to powerful detractors. (I'm not sure about this, poor me the embattled progressive Christian?) Maybe as a brief jumping off point.

The hardest work, that requires the most courage, is examining our own belief systems.

Evangelism is one path that has taken me to the issue. People are afraid to talk about their faith, and a source of that trouble is not being clear on our beliefs. So their churches don't grow or don't influence the world. Etc.

I changed it to 'clear' from 'certain.' I feel pretty clear on what I believe, but I am not certain about lots of things. For example, I'm clear on what I think about the afterlife. (1) It is not the purpose or focus of Jesus' message and (2) I have no idea what the afterlife is. I'm 100% agnostic on the afterlife. I don't know if it exists or not; I know its existence or nonexistence does not affect me.

So, not working through stuff like, what does faith mean? what does resurrection mean? what does God mean? is bad because it inhibits our ability to tell people the good news we've found at church. But that badness is minuscule in comparison to the badness of not having a fully formed/forming faith. The death of a movement is not as terrifying as the death of a life unexamined.

From Resurrection to Revolution may have been a better title. Hmm.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oops.

Somehow I changed Acts 5:27-34 into Acts 4:1-11. Weird. Even more weird, its a pretty compatible story. In fact, it is the conclusion of story in Acts 4.

27Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28"We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."
29Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

So, I guess it doesn't change anything. I must have clicked on a cross reference somewhere.

Children & Authority

For the children's sermon on Sunday, I'm going to use the story, "The Emperor Has No Clothes." http://hca.gilead.org.il/emperor.html

I wonder what this story will tell them. Does the Church ask them to see clothes that aren't there? If it does, I don't want it to. I want them to have the courage to say what they think and feel. I think they should never fear the truth.

When Peter stood before the Sanhedrin, the authorities felt that there was no need for reform. The old ways were working best, and, unless Peter et al. were heretics (and nobody wants to be a heretic) they should conform to the thinking of the Church. But, silly Peter did not know any better than to tell the truth about what he had seen and felt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Who is the Sanhedrin?

I am preaching this Sunday. The scripture is Acts 4:1-11. The short form is that Peter and the boys are put in front of the Sanhedrin, the religious court, for proclaiming the gospels of Jesus who they claim has risen from the dead. The whole thing is here:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%204:1-11;&version=31;

(biblegateway.com is, btw, super cool. a searchable bible may be as important as printing enough so everyone can have one, seriously.)

One of the first things to recognize about this scripture is that it is frequently misused to attack the Jews. People say, "See, they rejected Jesus. That's why the Jews represented by the Sanhedrin are the villains of the story."

Stupidest reading ever. Did Jesus want to start a new religion? No. But, it is not insane to think otherwise. Within the first few years of the Crucifixion was there a new religion? No, and you're insane to think otherwise. So, this story isn't anti-Jew because everyone in it, heroes and villains, are Jews.

That's what the story is not about. What it is about is faith, and courage, and authority. Stuff I'll be thinking about this week.