Fourth Sunday of Easter
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
April 20, 1997
(When we read a text like today's, it is tempting to ask, "Why can't the Church today have the power of the early Church?"
I. AS A CHURCH, WE ARE TEMPTED TO SEPARATE AND DISINTEGRATE.
A. We are tempted to sing and song which is not in harmony. 1. Sometimes we prefer to sing out our own agenda. a. Many prefer the agenda of personal comfort, a low level of commitment, or involvement...a certainly of sacrifice. b. Some prefer the agenda of personal power, the Church becomes a political "pond" in which we are determined to get our own way. c. Some prefer the agenda of being served, rather than of being a servant. 2. It can be disconcerting to step out of our agenda...our comfort zone. a. It can be very convenient to worship only now and again. b. It can be very comforting not to increase church giving for years. c. It can be non-threatening to only come to worship, and stay uninvolved in the other 90 per cent of congregational life.
B. What is the result of this lack of "oneness" or harmony in the Church: Simply the loss of our ability to exercise the power of God among us. 1. That power is certainly available to us! a. The power of Pentecost is undiminished to this day. b. The ability to be bold in our proclamation is no more difficult today than it was in Jerusalem after the resurrection. c. That boldness and power is ours in God's Word and Sacraments. 2. ILLUS: Space Shuttle Launch: After the tragic explosion of Challenger, what courage must it have taken to be the first to climb into the shuttle and lift off? Unless the risk is taken, no launch will occur! 3. The result of a lack of "oneness" or "harmony" of mind and heart is: a. Lack of zeal to speak of Christ. b. Unwillingness to bring our time, talents and treasures to the Lord for His use. c. A community primarily concerned with their own needs. d. Most tragic: The people who would have received Christ in Pagosa Springs, but who, because we did not speak, will not know Him.
II. GOD UNITES US AND EMPOWERS US FOR WITNESS.
A. We are called to be united in our hearts. 1. To be totally committed to a common vision of serving Christ with all the resources we have received from God. a. ILLUS: What would happen to an athletic team that only practiced once each week? Poor performance, poor esprit de corps, bickering and descention on the team. b. One in heart means seeing ourselves as God's team. c. One in heart means pooling our resources to accomplish together what we cannot accomplish alone. (Acts 4:32) 2. We are called to be on one heart in our willingness to be bold in our God- given ministry. a. To stand as the first Christians stood, they too were afraid of all the same things that scare us, rejection, ridicule: BUT THEY SPOKE! b. To stand boldly proclaiming what Christ has done for us at the cross and at the empty tomb. c. To stand boldly in support of one another, love by giving ourselves: 1.) To give our prayers for our brothers/sisters in need. 2.) To give our dollars for the mutual support of our common ministry. 3.) To give our time in service to the mission of the Church. 4.) To give our hearts to Christ and to one another in boldness.
B. We are called to be united in our minds: 1. One in mind means continual study and growth in the teachings of Christ. a. Every member in Bible Study and Worship. b. Every member knowing the Christian faith well. c. Boldly standing in the apostle's teachings about our Lord. 2. ILLUS: We are broken vessels - the only way to keep a broken vessel full is to constantly fill it. 3. Being of one mind is to love one another boldly in our encouragement to live lives reflecting the Spirit of God who lives in us. a. Let's stop ignoring the sin of our brother/sister - like a parent who ignores a child playing in the traffic of a busy street - care enough to correct, help and guide. b. Let's stop overlooking the indifference to God's Word and Sacraments among our people...to say we care about their eternal destiny. c. Let's begin again to love deeply by speaking the truth in love as did our Lord.
C. What shall it be for Our Savior? Boldness or Blandness? Power or Impotence? Growth or Decay? Dissension or Unity? 1. As a Christian congregation do we: a. Live in the world and visit Christ? b. OR do we live in Christ and visit the world? 2. As a Christian congregation and family do we: a. Offer to ourselves, our community and our world a song sung in harmony of heart, mind and voice? b. OR the discord of descention, strife, impotence and decay?
Wonder no longer at the boldness of the first Christians! What they received from God, we at Our Savior have received. Let us unite our minds in the Word and Sacraments of God and thereby grow bold in our willingness to give ourselves to the mission of Christ's Church. Let us grow bold in our love for one another and our willingness to become involved with one another. Let us sing a song of Godly harmony, a concerto of Christ's love for us on the cross that is reflected in our love for one another and for the lost of the world all around us. Let it be said of us..."(vv. 32-33). Amen
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