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

Acts of Faith

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

September 21:

Call:       Acts 4: 1-11
Reading:    Acts 3:19, 25-26;  4:20
Text:       Acts 4: 7-21;  5: 12, 16-17, 27-32
Closing:    Acts 5: 33-39

                    Acts of Faith

Following Christ,
Being a Christian
    Requires us to choose to do what is right.

But,
following Christ, being a Christian,
    and choosing to do what is right
        can be hard
        can be Hell
        can be uncomfortable

For following Christ, being a Christian,
and choosing to do what is right
means that sometimes
we have to choose   what is unpopular
we have to choose   what upsets those with power
we have to choose   what is not in our immediate economic or social best interest;  and
we have to choose   what upsets those closest to us.

This was obvious from the beginning of the church.

Remember Peter and John
    We talked about them last week
    And told of how they healed a man crippled from birth
[Or more accurately,
they were the instruments through which Christ healed him.]

When we left them last week
    Those two apostles were walking into the temple
    And the crippled man was walking into the temple with them
        Actually he was leaping along the way
        And praising God as he went to worship with P&J.

We were delighted   and those who observed him were in awe.

At least most of them were.

However, as we heard in the Call to Worship
    "while Peter and John were speaking to the people,
        the priests,
the captain of the temple guard,
    and the Sadducees
confronted them.

Why?
    Because they were upset.
 No!        not just upset,     they were incensed
        That the apostles were teaching the people that the resurrection of the dead was happening because of Jesus.

They threw the two followers into jail for the night
    And then the next day they took them
before a larger and more powerful group of leaders

This    was the council,
The council inquired of Peter,  He responded    [4: 7-12]

 Not only did Peter tell them exactly who had healed the man
    He also accused them of killing that healer
This was a bold statement - a very bold and untactful statement.
    And it was not what the council had expected.   [4: 13-17]

In their private conference the members identified their conundrum
    They did not like what Peter and John had done
    They did not like the way Peter had spoken to them
But (to use their own words)
    Everyone in Jerusalem was aware of the healing
        And because of this public knowledge,
they could neither deny it
            Nor could they punish Peter and John.

The best these church and community leaders could hope for was
to prevent  this kind of behavior
and     stop    this kind of teaching
    from polluting "their" city again

And so, they called for the prisoners to be brought back before them, hoping that they could silence the apostles for the future.

Their hopes were immediately dealt a severe blow,
Peter did not fall to his knees grateful for their mercy [4: 18-21]

They may have been afraid to punish the duo,
but they read the riot act to them
and made sure the apostles were well aware of
the danger they faced if the behavior continued.

The leaders' anger had to be stoked when Peter suggested
       that they were requiring obedience to themselves - not to God
And even more when he added,    "As for us,
we can't stop speaking about what we have seen and heard."

So what happened afterward?
They continued to do signs and wonders [5: 12, 16]
The apostles don't sound like they learned their lesson
    And so the leaders again picked them up [5: 17-18]

Then, after an angel let them out of jail, we resume the story,
    [5: 27 -32]

Following Christ,
Being a Christian
    Requires us to choose to do what is right.

But, following Christ, being a Christian,
    and choosing to do what is right
    can be hard can be Hell can be uncomfortable

For following Christ, being a Christian,
and choosing to do what is right
means that sometimes
we have to choose what is unpopular
we have to choose what upsets those with power
we have to choose what is not in our economic or social best interest;  and
we have to choose what upsets those closest to us.

Peter, John, and the other ten knew all this
    They had been told to cease talking about Jesus
    But they continued to do so anyway
They chose to do the right thing despite its cost.

As we move from scripture
    Which sometimes seems so distant that we have trouble seeing ourselves in its stories

And move toward more recent examples we find,
    John Kennedy's book on political courage.
In that book, the man who some years after writing it was elected President of the United States,
Profiled men who risked consequences to do what they
and I think ultimately what history -
thought was right.

One of the men whom Kennedy profiled was Edmund Ross.

Ross was a US senator from Kansas - and a radical Republican.

Now, it may seem strange in today's world
to use the word radical in the same sentence as either
    "Kansas" or "Republican."

But, immediately after the Civil War
    The radical Republicans in congress were in power
        And they wanted to hurt the South.

In fact, while they mourned Abraham Lincoln
    They also recognized that his death left a vacuum in power
    And they were determined to fill that vacuum.

They continually clashed with Lincoln's successor
His name was Andrew Johnson
        He was a self made former tailor from Tennessee
        He had little education or sophistication.
    Congress had little respect for him.

Vetoes and veto overrides marked the hostile interaction between
    Congress who wanted to punish the southern states
And The President who wanted to follow
Lincoln's attempt to reconcile with the southern states.

Things came to a head when President Johnson
fired his Secretary of War, Edmund Stanton
This was in violation of the "Tenure of Office Act"
which congress had passed to give themselves more power.
And     which Johnson was convinced was unconstitutional
        Which it was -
        As the US Supreme Court later determined.

And so the House of Representatives impeached Johnson
    And a trial was held before the Senate

The trial was presided over by the Chief Justice

The senators were the jurors
    the verdict did not need to be unanimous,
    but two thirds of the senators had to vote for conviction in order to remove the President from office.

The Republicans had such a majority in the Senate
that with all Democrats opposed
six Republicans could to vote against conviction
        and Johnson would still be removed.

However, if seven voted to acquit him ... he would remain.

And there were six Republicans on record as opposed to removal
So, the vote came down to the undeclared Edmund Ross,
junior senator from Kansas.

Now Ross did not like Johnson
And he had voted to override several of Johnson's vetoes
    But he had doubts about the constitutionality of the TOOA
    And he had questions concerning whether the charges against the President
        Amounted to "High Crimes and Misdemeanors"
        The standard promulgated in the constitution.

And finally, he was worried that a vote for conviction would be a vote for partisanship over justice.

Ross later described his state of mind as he cast his vote
    ["Profiles in Courage" p. 118]
Then, as Kennedy wrote, [118-119]

People in Kansas were angry
Other Republican Senators were furious
Two years later, Ross was defeated and out of the Senate.
**
Moving from 1868 to 1947, we meet Happy Chandler
    The Commissioner of Baseball

Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers
    [and a man who was quoted in the movie "42" as saying
        "God is a Methodist."]
wanted to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball
    by signing Jackie Robinson to a MLB contract.

The other owners, however,  were opposed

The responsibility of approving Robinson's contract
Rested with Chandler, the former governor of Kentucky

But despite his southern roots
Chandler approved the contract, explaining,

"One of these days I am going to have to meet my maker.
And I got to thinking
that if he asked me why I wouldn't let Robinson play,
answering that he had the wrong color skin
    just didn't sound good enough."

When Chandler's contract expired, it was not renewed.
Being a Christian   requires us to choose to do what is right.

But, following Christ, being a Christian,
    and choosing to do what is right
can be hard;    can be Hell;    and can be uncomfortable

For following Christ, being a Christian,
and choosing to do what is right
means that sometimes
we have to choose what is unpopular
we have to choose what upsets those with power
we have to choose what is not in our immediate economic or social best interest;    and
we have to choose what upsets those closest to us.

Edmund Ross understood this concept
And he chose to do the right thing despite its cost.

Happy Chandler understood this concept as well
And he too chose to do the right thing      despite its cost.

Do you and I understand that being a Christian requires this?
Are we or are we not like Peter and John and Edmund and Happy?

Are we prepared to choose to do what is right
Even though unpopular with the powerful and the loved
And Even though it is not in our economic or social best interest?

In other words are we - you and I -
prepared to be Christians - even when it is difficult?

Kennedy described actions like these as "acts of courage."

For those of us who choose to follow Christ
    They are "acts of faith" which is our source of courage.