What God is Doing (Galatians 1:13-17)Joan MacPherson, May 21, 2017
Part of the Sunday series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
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What God is Doing
I got to spend last week bathed in the Spirit as I listened to preacher after preacher in lectures and workshops through out the day. An extraordinary privilege and gift. The fact that I loved it so much does affirm this peculiar calling of parish ministry that seems to be where I am supposed to be. I have a hunch that there might be a some folks in the pews this morning who think really? Fours days filled with multiple sermons and lectures? You have to be kidding. There may be others thinking, dang, what does that mean for us this morning? Is she going to go on and on without end? You know what I have been thinking? However do I prepare a sermon for this week. I am so full of gratitude and hope I can’t narrow it down to a brief snippet. I preach following on the heals of Evelyn publicly affirming her faith and being baptized. I walk up here after Sharlene has shared her story. The bar is high. Hearts are open. Whatever will I say or do? Then the ah-ha comes. That painful/helpful kick to the ego. This time isn’t about me and what I will do, it is about God and what God is doing. Its not up to me to create its up to me to pay attention and notice.
And what is God doing? Transforming, healing, reconciling, making things new. How do I know about what God is doing and how God does that? By paying attention to Jesus and those who follow him . And how does Jesus and those who follow him transform, heal, reconcile, make things new? Through the hands and feet, words, actions, spending, commitment of the church. And who is the church? Rag tag, diverse, broken people bound together and infused by the power of the holy. And what does the church do? Break down barriers and boundaries to be love in action in and for the most vulnerable people and places.
Paul is our example this morning. He sends a letter to an early community of Christians and as he starts the letter he tells a bit about himself. He owns up to his past persecution of Christians. Paul did some horrific stuff but his human weakness does not prevent God from acting in and through him. That’s the thing isn’t it? It’s about who God is and what God does. God doesn’t see the limits of Paul, God sees a divine creation through whom the holy can be about the ministry of transforming, healing, reconciling, making things new. God’s not going to be stopped by human insecurity or privilege. God’s going to continue to be holy hope and love loose in the world, inviting and encouraging people of all nations, tongues and races to join in the holy way of border crossing, bridge building, peace making, generosity.
And what does God do with Paul once Paul “gets” it and joins in? God sends Paul away from all the followers to offer the hope, grace, love of God to those who don’t already know it. Wait? Paul figures it out, joins in and God’s response is to nudge him out across borders into uncomfortable and unwelcome territory? Yup. Which is just what God is doing with/for/to the church today. Claiming us and infusing us with the power of the holy and then kicking us out into the places and circumstances that don’t know that love, that generosity, that peace, that hope. For Paul that meant going away at once to Arabia - national borders didn’t prevent him from bringing the hope and love of God to those who needed it. What does it mean for Main Street Church? Can we stop the noise of daily living, the fear or the headlines, the lure of consumerism? Can we tune into the Spirit ready to knock us over and pick us up with newness of life and purpose? God’s not going to be stopped or limited by our resistance. God’s underway. We get to join in. How cool is that? Scary but cool. Amen.
Main Street Congregational UCC
May 21, 2017
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13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. (ESV)