Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

The Rest of The Story

January 13th:

The Rest of The Story
Call:       Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22
Text:       Luke 3: 7-14, 18-20
Read:   W&S # 12

                The Rest of the Story

"Good Morning!      I'm not Paul Harvey"

But even though that is clear,
Is it possible for anyone over 50 to have not thought of Paul Harvey
        When he/she noticed the sermon title.

Even Adam's first thought was of Paul Harvey
    He is 26 - only about half of 50.

Paul Harvey was a news man  and he was a story teller
    A story teller with a rich voice
        A voice that he used with a unique rhythm
A voice that is one of the most recognizable of my lifetime
    Right up there with Kennedy, Cronkite, and Cosell
        With James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman,
With John Wayne and Sam Elliot
        Eleanor Roosevelt & Jackie Kennedy Onassis

Paul Harvey was a story teller with few equals.

He had a style all his own.
    A style that served him well and served him long
(from the early 1950s to the late 2000 aughts)

He would tell us a story, but not completely
    Then, after he did a commercial (and I still think of him whenever I see or hear about "Gold Bond")
    He would tell us:   "The Rest of the Story."

Paul Harvey didn't just tell stories to entertain
    He told them to make a point
And while the first part of the story was important
    The point he wanted to make was always in "the rest of the story."

Today, as the title clearly hints,
    I intend to try to emulate - although certainly not equal - his style
In approaching this morning's scripture.

I do so at my own peril
For I do so fully aware of my own   often demonstrated   deficiencies,

[pause]  The initial part of our story is what called us to worship.

A man named John who was called "The Baptizer"
    Had attained quite a high status among many ordinary people in Judea
        So high was their regard for him
            That they wondered whether he was
the Messiah promised by God through the prophets.

John knew fully well that he was not.

And while he wanted people to hear what he had to say
He did not want them to fail to recognize the real messiah when he appeared.

So John told them, "I baptize you with water."
    But the one who is coming is so much greater than I
    That I - as good and as important as you think I am -
am not even worthy enough
to be the servant who unties his sandals.

    That one who comes after me will baptize you
with the Holy Spirit and with fire      Not just with water

    I call you to faith
        But the one who comes after me will separate the wheat from the chaff
        Retaining the wheat and taking it with him to his granary
        But burning the chaff with an unquenchable fire.

If this had been the entire story then we would have been impressed.
    For even the great John The Baptist
        Knew he was not an equal to the one who was coming.

Those listening to John at the time when he spoke
Must have thought "WOW!"
    "This messiah guy is going to be really something.
        We should pay attention to what he says
        And we should follow him wherever he goes."
Those listening to John back then must have thought,
    "Well, what do you know,
It appears that God is about to keep God's promise.
        Our patience has apparently been rewarded."

At the end of the text we learn
that Jesus had been in the crowd
that Jesus had been baptized by John
and that, upon his baptism
    the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove
    and a voice came from Heaven,
        "You are my Son, the beloved
        With you I am well pleased."

Thereby confirming what John had said.

However, as Luke tells the story,
 those back then appear not to have had the advantage of having heard and seen that confirmation
and could not, therefore, have been aware
        that Jesus had been anointed and called Son     by God.

For the voice appears to have spoken only to Jesus himself.
    Remember that it said "You are my Son"
        Unlike in Matthew's telling where it says, "This is my Son."
        And as Luke does when telling of the Transfiguration
            A much later event where the voice speaks to P, J & J

But those of us listening to this story throughout today's world
    Are able to hear the voice's words
    And do hear about the dove's descent.

Because we do,
We do not have to rely on the tentative belief of those originally present
    For we know that the voice of God has made things clear.

Because we hear the end of the text,
We want to respond with "Hallelujahs" and "Amens"
Because we hear the end of the text
We want to proclaim a celebratory feast.

We want to
    Send Carol and Jean to the kitchen to roast the fatted calf
We want to
    Send the ushers out to buy the best wine in Potsdam
We want to
    spend the afternoon and long into the evening
        Feasting and celebrating
        Eating and drinking
        Dancing and making merry.

For we have heard the good news!    The messiah has come!

But there is more to be told
And in a minute, I will tell you,   The rest of the story.

And this is where Paul Harvey would do a commercial.
But it just didn't seem right to interrupt a sermon
    To deliver a commercial message.
So we now return directly   to  the rest of the story

In the first few verses of chapter 3 we find that the story actually begins not with the question of whether John was the messiah
    But rather with
        "the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah
in the wilderness.
        He went into all the region around the Jordan,
            Proclaiming a baptism of repentance
for the forgiveness of sins"
        And identifying himself as
As the voice Isaiah said would cry in the wilderness.

And then we discover that John was bold - really bold
    He wasn't tactful or sensitive
    He was frank and he was blunt

Listen  [3: 7-10]

In calling the crowd a brood of vipers, John sounds a lot like
    Stephen before the Sanhedrin, calling them, "stiff necked fools"
Or  Paul in Galatia getting the people's attention by beginning,
        "You foolish Galatians."

But in the response of the people to the substance of what John said
    JTB sounded more like Peter on Pentecost
        To whom the people also responded,  "What shall we do?"

The key to the rest of the story is that
    John doesn't proclaim a feast
    John doesn't send Carol and Jean to the kitchen
And John doesn't send the ushers out to buy wine.

What John does
is tell them exactly how they can bear fruits of repentance
and what they must do for - and in response to - the one coming after him
    and it's not serving wine and beef.

This is what John tells them to do      [3: 11-14]

The answer to "What shall we do?" is simple
    "Share, care, and be fair"
        Share our coats and our food to take care of others
        Don't cheat or extort other people.

Those are the fruits of repentance
    The confirmation that our repentance was and is real.

When you and I took our baptism vows
and when we confirmed them in our membership vows.
    We claimed to repent

Our lives will demonstrate that we meant what we said
    Only if they reveal that we have shared, cared, and been fair.

And so instead of
    Feasting and celebrating
    Eating and drinking
    Dancing and making merry.
Having heard    "the rest of the story"
    We go forth to do what John told us to do

And it is not always easy
Luke let us know that as well
    For between John's explanation of his not being the messiah
    And Luke's telling us about the voice from heaven and the dove
Luke reveals to us  [3: 18-20]

That's not encouraging
    John was bold   and he ended up in jail

Many of the decisions we make will be between the rhyming rivals
    John's and Jesus' "share, care, and be fair"
And our society's "desire and acquire"

Are you and I bold enough to choose the demands of John and Jesus
Over the demands of our society?

Or are our baptismal vows
    Merely a matter of recited and practiced words?

I guess that our lives from here on out will be
what really write and tell  The rest of the story

I'm looking forward to seeing how I complete the rest of my story
    And how you complete the rest of yours.