Voice in the Wilderness: Cheryl Kerr
Featured Musician:Jennifer Knapp
“On Love” from her album Letting Go
PSALMIST: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
UMC Discipleship Ministries: Ways to celebrate Pentecost at home
Picks up where last week left off.
Have we got the message yet? Love one another. Seriously, how many times are we going to say the same thing?
What is the difference between friend and servant?
Friend = mutuality, intimacy
Servant = hierarchy
Can a boss be an employee’s friend?
How can Jesus be both Lord and friend?
“What a friend we have in Jesus” is a classic hymn, written in 1855 by Joseph Scriven.
Typically, we don’t associate obedience as a trait of friendship.
Obedience is often seen as a result of domination. A dog obeys. A friend doesn’t.
Obedience often comes on heels of violence.
Jesus’ obedience is not about perpetuating violent, abusive, coercive relationships.
What does Jesus’ obedience look like?
not typical system of hierarchy.
Obedience means obeying commandments.
Commandment is “Love one another.”
To be obedient is to love.
To love implies a lack of hierarchy, subjugation, or coercion.
The way to judge between Christian obedience and Abusive obedience is this, “Is the motivation for this obedience love?” I obeying this perceived instruction, am I loving my neighbor? Am I loving myself? If so, it’s Christian obedience. If not, it’s abuse.
Friends are sought by Jesus, not the other way around
“Students wishing to learn the Torah sought out a rabbi whose teachings they wanted to emulate. The choice was theirs. but Jesus reverses the order. The decision is his. He chooses his followers” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 325).
There is no room for negotiating terms of friendship on our part. There is no place for choosing when and where we should obey. It is a command for all times.
There is no room for elitism for being selected. Friendship is a cause for special treatment. It is a demand for higher expectations.
There is no room for wearing out friendship. The friendship is Jesus’ choosing, so we are not the ones in control of what shape this friendship may take.
Thoughts and Questions
Jesus wants to be our friend. It can feel like such a trivial, sentimental thing (see ‘Buddy Jesus’). But think about how many actual friends you have. How many people can you actually count on. Not just to hang out every once in awhile, but to do things like help you move, pick up your kids, show up for dinner on a Tuesday, cry with you when you get crappy news. These people are precious. This is a level of relationship that cannot be overestimated. And the astonishing thing is, Jesus is initiating this friendship with us. Not the other way around.
A way of thinking about the Cross beyond blood atonement. It is the sign for perfect love.
Do we get it yet? It feels like we’ve been saying the same thing for a few weeks, it’s because it’s REALLY IMPORTANT. It’s like John, or maybe just the lectionary, has been writing in CAPS LOCK for the last couple of weeks. This reminds me of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan from the movie Rush Hour, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”
“So let me say it again, love is about obedience, obedience is about love, and God often surprises us about what this all looks like. Can we say that on Sunday? Actually, Working Preacher, saying it is the easy part; it's living it out that will take everything we've got. - David Lose
Very small piece with little context
Go back to at least 10:1 to introduce Cornelius, a centurion.
Literary Context - Acts chapter 10
Angel of Lord tells Cornelius to find Simon, who was in Joppa at the time.
Meanwhile, Peter has a vision as well.
“Heaven opened up and something like a linen sheet being lowered to the earth by its four corners. Inside the sheet were all kinds of four-legged animals, reptiles, and wild birds…”
The voice tells Peter to kill and eat, but Peter refuses because it is unclean.
“The voice [replied], ‘Never consider unclean what God has made pure.’ This happened three times, then the object was suddenly pulled back into heaven.”
Immediately after the vision, the Spirit tells him, “Look! Three people are looking for you. Go with them because I have sent them.”
Peter goes, along with some believers from Joppa, to see Cornelius and to teach his household.
Peter (10:34) “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him. This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ.”
Peter’s explanation of good news (10:38-43) “Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone oppressed by the devil because God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did… They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him up on the third day and allowed him to be seen, not by everyone but by us… He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God Appointed as judge of the living and the dead.”
“While he was speaking the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the word”
Dramatic experience through the sermon. Peter’s teaching (which had nothing to do with blood atonement, I might add) was the conduit for the Holy Spirit.
“The circumcised believers were astonished.”
Sometimes the Holy Spirit surprises us.
We on the “inside” are sometimes astonished by how God uses those on the “outside”
Peter asked “Surely no one can stop them from being baptized with water, can they?”
Reminiscent of last week, which happened two chapters ago, in chapter 8.
Ch. 8 - Ethiopian encounters the Holy Spirit and is baptized
Ch. 9 - Saul encounters the Holy Spirit and is baptized
Ch. 10 - Cornelius and his household encounter the Holy Spirit and are baptized.
Each time, there is preaching, teaching, and the mentoring of one who is experienced.
Each time, the one receiving the Holy Spirit is a complete surprise.
Next scene - Jerusalem Church is mad
The establishment is upset at who is being let in.
Thoughts and Question s
How does the established church respond to new ideas? New People? New forms that are opening through the Holy Spirit?
Chris Strickland’s Twitter question: “Alright my Methodist friends and fellow Twitter theologians, how can a lay person preach from Acts 8:26-40 when we cannot answer the question, ‘What is to prevent me from being baptized?’”
UMC “By Water and the Spirit”
Practice reading this one - easy to get tripped up
Skip verse 6
Integration of faith, love and commandments/obedience
Kind of Q & A - see p.434 (C. Clifton Black, NIB 12)
Love of God and Jesus as the son of God are inextricably linked
Who is the God you love? The God revealed in Jesus.
Remember this is written to fellow Christians
Love of God leads us to love of Jesus which informs v.2 “obey his commandments”
Love God...love one another
reaching out to lepers
sparing prostitutes hypocritical judgement
self-giving, not self-preserving
“They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” - foundational hymn of this text
Scholtes, the author of this hymn, volunteered as a white priest to lead a half white Irish and half African-American parish on the Southside of Chicago in 1968
Family of God - “Whoever believes Jesus is Christ” - radical statement
Christians who think and act differently: conservatives, liberals, evangelicals, rioters, policemen and peace marchers, politicians and preachers
Abuse of Love - dangers of “taking up the cross”, “redemptive suffering” etc.
“So how exactly is fulfilling God's commandments not burdensome or exploitative? ...Genuine love is invited, not forced, motivated by faithfulness rather than fear, counts not as "loss" but gain in some deeper way, and leads to more just and loving relationships.” Bonnie Miller-Mclemore, Feasting on the Word – Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.
Thoughts and Questions
God’s commandments may not be difficult (v. 3), but that does not mean they are easy
Christ remains at the center of our faith- the hub which unites love, faith and action. Is Christ always the center of our worship? Our mission? Our programming? Has “Christ” become taboo? Are we overly concerned with inclusion that we are afraid to declare our particularity?
We be one family of God is a very difficult challenge? How do we hold one another in “love” instead of deciding who is and who isn’t a Christian?
We often think of love in great and mighty acts (self-sacrifice, Gift of the Magi, etc) or in the lives of great people (MLK Jr, Gandhi, etc). Perhaps we need to remember consistency of love lived out more often in small ways.
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING AND GET IN TOUCH:
Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).