Planting the Seeds
This is the sermon that I preached on May 12, 2013 at Church of the Saviour, Clermont, Iowa. In addition to it being the seventh Sunday of Easter and the Sunday after the Ascension, our Church also marked it as United Thank Offering Sunday and Rogation Sunday. The texts used were Acts 16: 16-34; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21; & John 17: 20-26.
Wow, we are celebrating lots of things today, the United Thank Offering, Rogation Sunday, and the Ascension of Jesus was celebrated this past Thursday. Lots of stuff. But thankfully for you I will keep this short.
The story in Acts about Paul and Silas when they went to Philippi has always made me think of the injustices that happen in our world. They were minding their own business but a fortune telling slave girl was following them around shouting who was telling everyone who they really were. Paul, who must have wanted to keep a lower profile, got annoyed and with the help of the Holy Spirit silenced the fortune telling which got the girl's owners a bit miffed. So Paul and Silas were dragged before the authorities who had them beaten and tossed in jail mostly because of who they were. During the night while praying and singing, there was an earthquake that broke open the doors and unshackled them. Instead of running away, as most all prisoners would do, they remained and used it as a teaching and evangelizing moment to bring their jailer and his household to belief and baptism. They saw their responsibility as being to God and they didn't escape. What would we do if we were in their shoes? Would we wait around to proclaim the good news or would we shoot out of that prison like a rocket? I would like to think that I would stay, but I hazard to guess that I would be afraid enough to get out.
The UTO helps those who haven't been afraid, those people, organizations, and Churches who haven't been afraid to stand up and proclaim the Gospel no matter where they are. Our congregation has been the recipient of a generous grant through UTO, through that grant we said to the local community that in fact, we aren't a dead Church. We are living, we are here, and we will proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. And so we say, 'Come'. Come to us those who have no other place to go. Come to us those who are hungry. Come to us those that are thirsty. Come to us those that seek Peace and Grace.
When they come, they will find a community of believers who might be diverse and sometimes have their differences. And sometimes we do things which might be considered by some to be different or old fashioned like beating the bounds and blessing farms, gardens and those who tend them on Rogation Sunday. But we believe that our diversity is our strength. That God, through Jesus, and with the help of the Holy Spirit brings us all together for our common cause.
So let us remember that Jesus died and then ascended for all of us. That with the help of the Holy Spirit we can do great things, both here in Clermont and in the wider world. That we should not be afraid to do what God asks us to do. Let us remember those things and let us go out and proclaim the Good News to whoever will listen.
In the name of our God the Creator, of Jesus the Redeemer, and of the Holy Spirit who is our guide. Amen.