Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

Abe, Mo, Rae, and Chuck

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

August 18th:

August 18, 2013
Call:  1 Peter 5: 1-3
Text:  Hebrews 11:1 - 12: 2
Read:  Worshipping With Chuck (week four)

The people in Potsdam read our sign

I know that because it is not uncommon for people
to comment to me    or ask a question of me
    about the sermon title..

Of course that started only after people finally figured out
    That the words  were the sermon title.

And I must say that in a community
    As well educated and as well traveled as this one
    The fact that that took any time    amazed me.

One person actually  thought they were clues
    And asked me if anyone had yet figured the puzzle out
Another person encountered me in the post office
    And asked me in a tone that revealed she had been stumped
        "What are the words above 10:30?"

This week,
those who drove, rode, peddled, or walked past the sign
        Undoubtedly tried to figure out
            Who         Abe, Mo, Rae, and Chuck     were.

I suspect that most of them     (and virtually all of you)
    Concluded that Abe was the Abraham of Genesis
        The first of the Jewish people
    And not the 16th president of the United States.
I suspect that most of them (and again virtually all of you)
    Concluded that Mo was Moses of Ten Commandments fame
    The one whom God called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt
        And not some one who performed slapstick comedy
            With Curly and Larry.
[And Norm, not the Yankee closer and future Hall of Famer either]

I suspect that many of them (and even some of you)
    Struggled to figure out who Rae was
Although I believe too,   that a good many of you finally concluded
    That that was my informal name for Rahab
        The Canaanite prostitute
who protected the two men Joshua sent to scout and spy and  who in doing so, saved her own clan
when the Israelites captured Canaan

[And before someone objects,    in light of her profession
 to my using a familiar form of her name.
I would remind you that she is named as an ancestor of Christ
    In Matthew's setting forth His family tree.]

Lastly, I suspect that few in the community (but almost all of you)
figured out that Chuck was the man with whom we have been worshipping, Charles Wesley
    not:    Brown from the "Peanuts" comics
    not:    Norris from action movies

I mention these names
    Because the first three are all in the cloud of witnesses
        That the author of Hebrews describes
            In his attempt to explain "faith."
    And the fourth name in the title would have been
if the letter had been written
a couple of thousand years later.

To me the cloud of witnesses
is one of the most exciting bits of writing in the NT letters.
In fact, it hardly seems like a writing

For it is meant to be heard more than read
    And is more effective that way.
For this part of the book
    It is more sermon than letter
    It is an exhortation - not an essay.

Because it is an exhortation, I am going to read it as such.

I want you to listen
    For these are not my words
    But rather words from a letter that was written and spoken
        For instruction and for inspiration.

Words that are from our scriptures.

[for those unable to hear me well enough
    please feel free to follow Hebrews 11 in the pew Bibles.
I will be sharing virtually the entire chapter, not just the verses in the bulletin.]

[Read 11: 1-38 (off the chancel) then return to read 12: 1-2]

That is quite a cloud   That is quite an impressive list of witnesses
But those words were written nearly 2000 years ago
Since then there have been many more people
who have laid aside every weight
and the sin that clings so closely

And having done so,
have certainly been added to that great cloud of witnesses.
[Chuck's name appears in the sermon's title to remind us of this.]
Some of these additional witnesses were scriptural:

    For it was by faith that Stephen refused to stop telling the story of Jesus Christ
        And as a result was stoned to death.

    For it was by faith that Paul traveled the then known world
        Taking the story to the gentiles
        Suffering beatings and imprisonments along the way

    For it was by faith that Barnabas reached out to Paul
        Taking him under his wing
        When others were afraid and refused to trust him

But some witnesses lived long after the time of the scriptures
    Having been inspired by the scriptural witnesses

    For it was by faith that Francis of Assisi gave up his wealth
So he could serve Christ unburdened by the demands that riches make on us

    For it was by faith that Martin Luther protested the church's sale of indulgences
        And posted his written theses on the door of that German church - starting the Reformation with pen and hammer.

    For it was by faith that John and Charles Wesley gave birth to the Methodist movement
Of emotional as well as intellectual relations with Christ
Of rejecting the idea that some were predestined to not be saved or justified
        Of service and love for the poor and disadvantaged
    And suffered shunning by the leaders of the Anglican church
        The church through which they had been ordained.
And there have been still others    closer to us and less famous

    For it was by faith that Peter Douglas Gorrie, Samuel Call, Jesse Peck, and Jabez Stallwood
        Served this congregation more than a century ago

    For it was by faith that Sam Davis and Russell Clark
        Served this congregation two to three decades ago

    And it was by faith that lay people like Dr. Stevenson and Leah Theobald and John Van Ness
Served this congregation alongside (and sometimes ahead of) the pastors with whom they worked

Therefore, since you and I are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
    Shouldn't we    lay aside every weight?
    Shouldn't we    lay aside the sin       that clings so closely?

Since you and I are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
    Shouldn't we    run with perseverance the race set before us

Since you and I are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
    Shouldn't we (as the writer of first Peter commanded)
        Be examples to Christ's flock    - not lord it over them

And finally,
Since you and I are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
    A cloud of witnesses even larger than that in our text
    Shouldn't we ask ourselves whether
Our faith is such that we might possibly be
A witness in that cloud for others?

Don't we owe that much to Christ?