No Exceptions – Sermon by Chris Cotten

Sermon 5/31/20

Today’s Gospel Reading

John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained

Good Morning,   How’s everyone doing? Luckily most of us here can at least get outside in our yards or to the lake or somewhere to get some fresh air  so were are”t quite as stir crazy as those living in the big cities.

Cowlitz County has enough places we can get out and stay socially distanced.

It’s Pentecost! The most exciting day in the lives of those who were following Jesus up to that point.  Can you imagine just walking into where we are recording right now and you hear a roaring wind in the building, look up just as I get excited and started speaking in Italian, Dor over there at the Piano started speaking in German and the Pastor Behind the camera starts speaking in French all very excitedly and at the same time.

You might call 911 or at least some other church members to come check us out.  Since we are streaming we might even make the evening news.

Pentecost is looked on by many as the beginning of the Christian church.  It was an exciting vision of what we see and hear throughout Scripture showing the community of God’s people as being central to his work in the world.

We look at Both New Testament Readings for today and exciting things were happening.    Since there were Jews from all over the world they suddenly heard people sharing Jesus in their own languages. 

As in any situation people started speculating. These might have been some of he locals.     Aren’t those guys from Galilee?  I sure didn’t realize those guys could speak any other languages.[i]

Ah, they’re probably just drunk. 

So Peter jumps in to explain the situation before things get to far out of hand to explain.  I have a theory about Peter.  He was learning to be pretty quick on his feet because he sometimes had some impulse control issues.  First thing he said was They’re not drunk, It’s only 9 AM in the morning.

He then quoted the prophet Joel.

 In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

 and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.

The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.

Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Wow, way to go Peter.  He had the right scripture ready to go.  The same Holy Spirit had descended on Peter that had filled everyone else and given him just the right words to say.  Many of what we now look at as spiritual gifts were prophesied by the Prophet Joel in the Old Testament.

What the large diversity of believers that day said was Jesus was for everybody.

As Paul writes in Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

God calls on us the church in America to lead out in diversity.  Many times our hearts are divided according to language, race and ethnicity’s well as other differences. In fact there are so many differences any more we can’t keep track of all of them.

Pentecost challenges all of us to examine our own attitudes towards others especially those different from ourselves and to reject and repent of any prejudice that lurks within us so that we can open our hearts to all people.

What Peter went on to say was every one who called on the name of God (in this case Jesus) would be saved.  Many new believers were added to the church that day.

And all believers are given Spiritual gifts to serve our Christian Community.

However it doesn’t say that everyone will get all the spiritual gifts.  Thank goodness.  That would be confusing and highly competitive. 

My favorite Chapter Romans 12 speaks of the church as one body with many members

Working together to make the whole body function well. 

During Lent this year here at Bethany Lutheran in Longview most of us took Spiritual Gifts Assessment.

We had several excellent Temple Talks on the subject but due to the Corona Virus we weren’t able to meet as a group and discuss the subject.  

I have done this assessment a number of times and still sometimes come out with a feeling of “What Do I do with This?”  Which ones are natural and God given? Which ones tie in to my passions? 

Pastor Megan has agreed to let us use our Table Catechism Time on June 16 at 5:30 for a group discussion on the subject. 

If you missed taking the assessment you can contact the church office or myself for a copy.

We will be meeting on Zoom and Pastor Megan will give further instructions on Zooming in.

So today as we celebrate the event of Pentecost let us consider our own participation in the fellowship, worship, and mission of our church.

  Let us each to renew our commitment to live as an active member of the body of Christ, using our gifts to build the church

and share the love and justice of Christ in his mission to the world.

Thanks be to God Amen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *