2016-05-22 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
TRINITY SUNDAY – May 22, 2016
It’s Trinity Sunday…or the 2nd Sunday in the Season after Pentecost…and I’m hoping that your Holy-Spirit “glow” has not worn off yet….cause it’s a long season ahead of “growing up” in our journey of faith…so that we might do those “greater things” that Jesus promised we would do…
We’ve heard it in our gospel reading today…Jesus in his final words to his worried disciples…he kept on breathing on them…and saying “Peace be with you”…and then he promised that if he went away (again! Wasn’t it hard enough to lose him the first time?)…that if he went away, there would be another advocate who would come alongside them…to be a comforter, consoler…to be one who would stick closer than a BFF…remember FEF?
And the FEF would actually empower these scared, hapless, disciples to do “greater things.”
Jesus said: “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I AM going to the Father…I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Greater works! Greater things!
** do we really believe this? Ie. recall “crash helmets” in confession prayer **
[Insert your name here…. “Ryan who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and, in fact will do greater things…]
You might know how I am prone to “re-naming” our church in different seasons…last summer I called us FPC – – First Pentecostal Church cuz I hoped that during the Season of Pentecost that we would be more…shall I say…Pentecostal?
[ie. 50th day – – tongues of fire, good news, hospitality, amazed, in wonder]
So this year…I’m wanting us to go with GTBC.
Greater Things Baptist Church!
For the next 27 weeks, I want to urge us to “be” and “do” those greater things.
But you may ask…what did Jesus mean?
What are these greater things?
I think both…quantity and quality…because the HS was going to be able to come alongside every Jesus follower, and the likeness (quality) of Jesus was quantatively going to be able to get a greater sum of work done…rather than Jesus being “limited-ly” present in the moment…each and every disciple of Jesus could be in each and every moment…being that presence of peace, reconciliation, healing and hospitality…
That’s where the word “Christian” came from in the early church!
There were all these people doing what Christ did…. = “little Christs.” = Christ-ians
And that…my friends is GOOD NEWS…that ought to blow our minds and ENLIVEN our imaginations as we begin a new season of Pentecost.
Be renewed in the truth that not only are you named and beloved as a child of God…but to add to this, the Jesus life is being formed in us, through the power of the Holy Spirit…or as Paul the apostle puts it:
“The Love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
>>>>>> This is our focus passage of the day so let’s look a little closer at this proclamation from Paul…how does a guy, who never met Jesus, grow into one of the most famous Jesus-followers in history?
We always need to de-mystify Paul…and figure out how he “gets it”…for as we figure out how he “gets it,” it renews us in how we “get it” as we be GTBC – –
Paul…who sometimes takes a bad rap as a hothead… “judgy” against women…or religious people… or certain socio-economic groups….but to read Paul as judgy is to read him all wrong…Paul is not judgy….
Paul is a God-fearing and dearly devoted religious Jew.
And in the midst of his passionate desire and life-goal to be keep his beloved religion PURE…he got so passionate that he persecuted and approved the killing of these “little Christs” who were getting out of hand (compromising the certitude of his “got it all figured out” religion).
But in the midst of his persecuting ways, Paul got his mind blown. Well…to be more specific…he got his eyes blown…remember? On his way to kill some Christians in the city of Damascus he gets knocked off his horse and blinded by God…and when the scales fall away from his eyes…his heart, mind, body and soul are healed and he becomes a wild and crazy [perhaps even obnoxious?] Jesus follower…and for the rest of his life, he devotes his life to proclaiming the good news that Jesus has changed the cosmos…and God no longer plays favourites….God is making all things new…and wanting the whole world to know that love is the answer…grace is the answer… Paul’s project of “destination death” has been upended by Jesus’ agenda of “radical resurrection.”
When we read Paul or put into practice his teachings…our overarching banner always needs to be shored up by 2 Cor. 5:17 . . . . “If anyone is in Christ….new creation! – – the old order has passed away and all things are made new!”
Paul wasn’t mad at the world…he wasn’t mad at sinners….he wasn’t even mad at the religious hypocrites…he was on a lifelong quest to proclaim that IN CHRIST…because the HS had shown up after Christ’s ascension…God was in the business of taking dead relationships, dead ways, dead ends…making all things new.
And thus we come to Romans 5…Paul’s letter to the cosmopolitan Church in Rome. It’s a church that he’s heard about…but a church that he’s never gotten to in his missionary, encouragement journeys. And he’s heard that this cosmopolitan church is filled with Christ-followers of various backgrounds and perspectives…different political and socio-economic leanings and biases…different stances on how inclusive or exclusive “little Christs” ought to be and ending up in a tizzy of strain and struggle because each side is trying to get their way…and trying to convince each other that “my Christianity is better than your Christianity.” [My Jesus can beat up your Jesus!]
Hmmmmmm….sound anything like North American Christianity in 2016? Hmm?
Sound anything like the history of FBC Edmonton over the past 123 years?
[we’re cute…but we ain’t perfect!]
And Paul doesn’t bash the Roman Church with a theological “do’s and don’t’s” missive…he smothers them with a love letter of passion and exuberance.
So…25 years after getting knocked off his horse…and passionately proclaiming this mind-blowing message of what God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit are doing in the world….he tells the bickering Church of Rome to set their hearts in the right place…
It starts with peace….remember Jesus breathing peace on the frightened disciples in the upper room?
25 years later, Paul is still preaching peace…
v. 1 “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
…and we stand in grace…because of grace…
And THUS WE BOAST…(in the best sense of the word)…
“We boast in our sufferings, [Little Christs boast in our suffering] knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope….
And hope does NOT disappoint…
Because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
The key to comfort, consolation, and correction – – for troubled hearts and divisive posturing in the church.
God’s love. Poured into our hearts. A Holy-Spirit-Gift.
Greater Things Baptist Church – – the good news of Jesus…the good news of Paul is that because of NEW CREATION…because of the Holy Spirit hovering over our lives, the world, all creation…
it’s not a matter of “try harder” or “be more religious” or “do this, but don’t do that.”
We are being made new…A NEW POWER IS AT WORK…as God’s love is poured in and poured out of us.
Beloved daughter, beloved Son…do not be afraid…do not be disappointed…Jesus says, it is I! God’s love has been poured OUT into your hearts, through the Holy Spirit that I have given to you.
God’s love poured out into our hearts…so that we might be GTBC.
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts…and thus, because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, loving and empowering us…we can pour out love for one another…both within….and outside of this community of faith.
So…GTBC…your mission, should you choose to accept it…is to allow this love that has been poured out into your lives…to be poured out for others….
[P A U S E] → Q: But how? [silence, prayer, palms up, heads up, blessing, worship together]
>>> When we allow the Holy Spirit to breathe on us, we are reminded that there is enough to go around…
Peace is breathed on us by the presence of Jesus through the power of the HS;
We embrace the reality of Paul’s worldview – – hope, suffering, endurance, character, swirl together in the circumstances of our lives and the Spirit hovers over it all, mystically and practically taking these things and showing up…in love that is poured into our hearts.
I really like Peterson’s way of translating Paul’s letter, Romans 5:
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
In Silence: Imagine where God is going to send us to pour out these vessels that have been so generously poured into…
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let his Presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
God is there for each and every one of us.
~attributed to Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897)