Saturday, April 18, 2015

sermon, "Let the Story Change You", by Raymond A. Foss, Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church, April 19, 2015

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
sermon, “Let the Story Change You”
by Raymond A. Foss
April 19, 2015

“Let the Story Change You”

As Steve Curtis said last week, Christ was the last sacrifice needed; we were freed from the chains of sin and death by grace.  We are born again.

There is joy in the rest of the story, in seeing Christ Risen, even if at first we didn’t see Christ with us, even if at first we didn’t believe.

Because He rose, we know that it had not all been in vain. There was victory in the resurrection of Christ.

There is joy for all believers in the time after Christ’s resurrection and to His ascension. It was sort of like Jesus’ victory lap, showing Himself risen throughout Galilee, similar to what the prophet Elijah did in 2 Kings 2 in visiting all of the seminaries, all of the training grounds for all Israel’s prophets, with his disciple Elisha.

The eleven disciples, like Elisha in that story, stayed with their Master to the end. Like Elisha, the eleven saw Jesus raised up to heaven. No chariot of fire was needed. Christ ascended himself.

Elisha was asked by Elijah what he wanted (when he said he wanted a double portion of the inheritance of his work as a prophet), in 2 Kings 2:9.

The disciples of Jesus weren’t asked by their Master what they desired. They were given a mission. in Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” That was the Great Commission, His final instructions before ascending to heaven.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

On Good Friday, after the long Holy Week, Pastor Ruth concluded our journey through the seven last words or phrases of Christ with a sermon on “Is This The Finally… ?” on “It is Finished” and “Into Your hands I commit my spirit”. Christ had fulfilled all He came to do; but there was darkness for the disciples on Friday and Saturday. They didn’t yet know Easter Sunday.

We went to sleep on Holy Saturday with Christ in the tomb. We rose on Easter morning to the shouts, “He’s Alive!” “Christ is Risen!” “He is Risen indeed!”

In Pastor Ruth’s message for Easter Sunday, “The End Is Just the Beginning”, they and we learn that the grave was not the end; that the tomb was empty; Christ was raised from the dead and He appeared to the Mary and to the other women.

In Steve’s message for last Sunday, “The Rest of the Story”, he shared the scripture of Christ appearing to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus and in the upper room. He showed how this was fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy. The mystery of that ancient text was revealed in resurrection of Christ. He had to die and He rose again.

In the Luke passage, Jesus filled in the “rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey always said. He connected the dots of scripture, filling in all the blanks that the disciples hadn’t been able to do while he lived and walked with them. Their minds were transformed, their minds were opened.

He was alive, He had risen, and then He ascended to Heaven. So what!?

We have the advantage that the people in Jesus’ time didn’t have. We already knew there was an Easter morning. We know the rest of the story. But that means nothing by itself.

That doesn’t mean anything. It didn’t then, and it doesn’t now. Unless they were changed, unless they were not the duh-sciples who didn’t understand anything the Master was saying. It didn’t mean anything in Jerusalem, in Galilee, in the ancient world.

IT doesn’t mean anything now, either. Unless, unless the fact of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ means we are different than we were. Than they were, before we came to know the truth, the power, the grace of God poured out on us.

The revelation of the coming of Christ and His resurrection on Easter morning means nothing, not even His ascension, until we are changed by that fact.

Transformation is the message of the two pieces of scripture we share today.

Similar to what Steve did last week, we need to step back in time from the scripture read this morning in Acts 3:12-19. In the preceding versus, we read a remarkable story of healing. Peter and John were going to the Temple in Jerusalem. A lame man was begging at one of the gates. Peter and John didn’t have any money to give him, but Peter said a remarkable thing. He said, “‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”

In the scripture Steve read, Peter finished the story. This was no parable. This was a transformative moment available to all those in his hearing. He stated clearly what had happened to Jesus and what God had done in response.

And then he put it on us, to repent of our sins, to be changed by the fact of Christ’s victory over death.

Peter was changed by the power of the resurrection. Peter was changed by Holy Spirit indwelling within him. That is the same Holy Spirit that lives within us. This man was changed forever by the power of Jesus’ name alone!

In the 1 John 3 scripture, we internalize the rest of the story, that this didn’t end with the first disciples. We know we are children with Christ, children of God, washed clean by His blood. We are freed from the chains of sin. We are made righteous, as Christ himself is righteous. We are able to change, we are called to change.

What about you? What about me? Are we changed, are we different because of that moment when we believed, when we believed the truth of the Easter story?

There’s Got to Be A Change!”, as the Rev. T.D. Jakes might say. There has to be a difference in us because of the truth we believe, because of our calling.

We must be active, doing the work, shedding the old skin of our selfish, unforgiving ways. We must be like the image on the cover of today’s bulletin; being born again, a new creation entering the world because we are changed from within.

If we are new creatures because of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our salvation in and through Him alone, we need to truly be new creations in Christ. We must live changed by the reality of our joy, of His message, and His commissioning of us to spread the Good News, to go and make disciples to the ends of the earth.

We have to be visibly transformed by the fact of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We must be heartened by the truth of salvation. We must be different, Easter People, doing the will of the Father, following the example of the Son. We need to be walking differently, out into this world.

So. . . we each must hold those scriptures up as mirrors on our lives, the Acts, the 1 John 3, and the Matthew scriptures, and ask ourselves:
-          How are we different because of this story?
-          What are we doing, each day, to make disciples in Christ’s name?
-          How are we fulfilling the calling of Christ?

That is the challenge in these words of scripture we shared today. We need to be manifestly different because of the victory of Christ Jesus. We need to be raised by the power of the Holy Spirit leading us onward.

We need to boldly witness to the power of Christ’s holy name bringing about healing and resurrection here in Patten, out there into the world, to the ends of the earth, until Christ comes again in victory.

April 18, 2015
Second Sunday after Easter
Acts 3:12-19
1 John 3:1-7
Acts 3:1-19
Matthew 28:18-20
2 Kings 2:1-11
and sermon, “Let the Story Change You”
by Raymond A. Foss
Children’s Message
-          mystery box – sunglasses and mint/candy
by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog
“God’s Whisper” blog
“Sweet, Sweet Spirit”
“Do Lord”
“My Life Is In You Lord”
“Your Love, Oh Lord”
Offertory, “O How I Love Jesus”
closing song, “The Dancing Heart”
song after departing blessing, “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Patten, ME
April 19, 2015
First Sunday after Easter
Isaiah 52:13-15
Luke 24:13-53
Walk to Emmaus
Christ Appearing to Disciples
and sermon, “The Rest of the Story”
by Steve Curtis
Children’s Message
-          mystery box – large candle
-          “Shine the light as copies of Jesus”
by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog
“God’s Whisper” blog
“Trees of the Field”
“Trading My Sorrows”
“You Are My All In All”
“Agnus Dei”
Offertory, “Behold the Lamb” of Thanksgiving
Communion, “You Have Been Given” and “I Sing Praises”
closing song, “The Power Of Your Love”
closing songs, “My Tribute” and “The Strong Name of Jesus”
song after Departing Blessing, “Trading My Sorrows”
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Patten, ME
April 12, 2015
April 5, 2015
Easter Sunday!
Surely the Presence
Greetings and Announcements / Opening Prayer
Let The Glory Come Down!
Matthew 28:1-10 (The Message)
John 20:1
John 20:11-16 (Amplified Bible)
and sermon “The End Is Just the Beginning…”
by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog
“God’s Whisper” blog
“I Believe in Jesus”
“Go To The Rock”
“Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”
“Fairest Lord Jesus”
Matthew 28:1-10 and
Offertory, “He’s Alive”
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Children’s Message
Communion, “The Old Rugged Cross” and
Because He Lives
closing song, “This Is The Day”
Departing Blessing
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Patten, ME
April 5, 2015

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 37,180+ of my poems at Poetry Where You Live.

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