Third Sunday of Easter

Service Date: 
30 April, 2017

Worship was led by Mrs. Jenny Carpenter

Hymns: 

Rejoice and Sing 292  When morning gilds the skies

Rejoice and Sing 722  I'll of salvation take the cup

Rejoice and Sing 353  There's a wideness in God's mercy

Rejoice and Sing 41  For the beauty of the earth

Rejoice and Sing 195  Lord of the dance

Sermon: 

Readings

Psalm 116 (Found at Rejoice and Sing 721)

Acts chapter 2 verse 14a and verses 36 - 41

Luke chapter 24 verses 13 - 35

NEW LIFE FOR ALL

  

Have you ever heard an exciting piece of news and wanted immediately to pass it on? In this world of tweets, all kinds of important and totally unimportant messages are being sent all the time. I had a wonderful Easter Sunday this year. I shared in the St. Mark's Dawn Service on the Green at 5.45 am followed by breakfast (bacon rolls and coffee)then proceeded to Stephen Hill for a further breakfast ( cereal, fruit, boiled eggs) and a 9.30 Communion Service in preparation for leading the 11am Easter Service there. Not only did we affirm the Easter Good news “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!” but there was a further joyful message- our minister, Will Fletcher, announced his engagement to Helen, and we saw her ring to prove it! In the window between the end of the Communion Service and the start of Broomhill's 10.30 service, I drove to Broomhill to share the news of Will's engagement, only to be told “Will is engaged. He e-mailed Josie and asked her to share the news with the Broomhill congregation.” Shades of the ending of the Emmaus story!  Then I drove back swiftly to Stephen Hill for the 11am service!

 

How do people encounter the living God? It is often a deeply personal experience. The psalmist wrote “For you have rescued my life from death, my eyes from tears and my feet from stumbling. I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.”  This sense of a new lease of life, joy after sorrow and help in negotiating difficulties seems to me to encapsulate the experience of encountering the risen Christ.  “The Walk to Emmaus” easily gets into my 8 “Desert Island Bible Passages”. Cleopas and his wife ( why ever not?) are joined by a stranger as they make their desolate way home.They share with him their  dashed hopes and  sense of emptiness and bewilderment. He accompanies them and carefully points them to passsages of scripture which show how Jesus life has echoed the prophetic literature : the inevitably of his death but also the assurance of the final victory of good over evil, of life over death. “Did not our hearts burn within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the Scriptures to us?” Ref. To Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme.

 

This morning on Radio 4 Mark Tully was interviewing the former Master of the Order of Dominican Friars, which is primarily a preaching order. He stressed that preaching should be done not from a pulpit six feet above contradiction but on a level with the congregation. It should aim to help them in their exploration of faith and life rather than pronounce dogma or direct practice. Not “I know it all! Do as I say!” but rather as one beggar telling another where to find bread. I am simply trying to make sense of what has happened, is happening,will happen.

 

That's what Peter was doing in the Pentecost sermon. No, we are NOT drunk. He, like Jesus on the Emmaus road, finds a passage in the OT prophetic literature which seems to have happened. The POURING OUT of the Spirit . And this isn't just for the privileged band who were already followers of Jesus. NO!

Acts 2 v. 39   For the promise is for you, for your children, for all who are far away, EVERYONE WHOM THE LORD OUR GOD CALLS TO HIM”.

All are in need of salvation; all can be saved, all can know they are saved; all can be saved to the uttermost” became the Mantra of Methodism.
 

It's based on this foundational sermon of Peter's.
 

Peter implicates all his hearers in responsibility for the death of Jesus – this Jesus, whom YOU crucified.  Cf  Ah, holy Jesus how hast Thou offended? 'Twas I Lord Jesus, I it was denied Thee. I crucified Thee!

 

It hits home. In response to the cry “What shall we do?”  Peter says

REPENT

BE BAPTISED in the name of Jesus Christ

SO THAT YOUR SIINS MAY BE FORGIVEN AND

YOU WILL RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT ( to help you grow in love)
 

For the promise is to you , yes YOU, ALL OF YOU! No matter what sort of a life you have been living. There's already been reference to Joel's prophecy that God will empower by his Spirit young and old, male and female, slave and free.

 

FOR YOUR CHILDREN. Responsibility to transmit the good news of Jesus Christ. Gospel's Story. Finding new ways to express it that connect with today's context.

 

FOR ALL THAT ARE FAR OFF  Gentiles? Missionary imperative, backing up the Great Commission at the end of Matthew's gospel. Peter's vision – Cornelius. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Wesley... “I look upon the whole world as my parish”   I consented to be more vile – open air preaching. Missionary imperative – David Livingstone, Mary Slessor, James Chalmers.

 

EVERYONE THAT THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL.  Power of prison chaplaincy. Appeal to people little regarded – Dalits in India. Slaves in the Caribbean.

Pentecostal churches because they emphasise the empowerment of the Holy Spirit appeal to people who are not necessarily well-educated and in influential jobs.

“Whosoever will may come!”   

“O for a trumpet voice on all the world to call,

to bid their hearts rejoice in him who died for all!

For all my Lord was crucified, for all, for all, my Saviour died.”  C. Wesley

Resurrection Preaching is about the offer of new life in Christ.

A life in which he offers to accompany us, prompting us by the Holy Spirit, enabling us to grow in grace so that we become more and more the human individuals that God intends us to be and that this world becomes more evidently God's world where love, trust, justice and peace prevail. This is our Easter faith and hope.  Alleluia!