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

Can't Stop!

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

April 26:

Call:       1 John 3: 16-18
Reading:    W&S #93
Text:       Acts 4: 5-22
Closing:    Acts 4: 19-22

                Can't Stop!

I am convinced      that God loves me - and you
I am convinced      that God is good to me - and to you
I am convinced      that God has a sense of humor.

For when exploring Cooper's question
"What is the longest hymn in the hymnal?"
I thought it would be fun to use the answer
    And construct a service around it.

To be honest,   it was a bit of a lark
    Something unusual that sounded like fun

Larks are, of course, always gambles
But this one was a low risk gamble  For me - and for you.

After all, I have only nine Sundays left after today, and thus,
    If you don't like it
        You don't have to worry about it being repeated
    And I don't have to worry about your taking steps to get rid of me.

But God's incredible goodness and God's sense of humor
Combined to create a heavenly chuckle at my mistaken belief
that using this hymn was my own idea
And     that I was using it primarily as an attention getter.
God had to have a pretty broad smile
As the Holy Spirit transformed this "lark"
into a message, a lesson, and an instruction
    for me, at least - and hopefully for you.

For the hymn provides a look into Peter's thought process
    As he responded to the Sanhedrin after his arrest.
        For healing a lame man in Christ's name

That arrest and response make up today's text   [Acts 4: 5 - 22]

Arrested,       threatened,     and admonished,
    Peter told that powerful and judgmental body
        Exactly what they did not want to hear:
            That the healing of the lame man
            Was because of Jesus Christ the Nazarene
        And he added a piercing verbal jab
            "The one whom you rejected."

These words amazed, astonished - and irritated -
those before whom Peter and John
had been brought for trial.

However, after recovering from their amazement,
And after admitting to themselves
that they were in a bit of a quandary
because people had seen     the powerful and positive results
of what Peter and John had done,

those powerful people demanded, ordered, and decreed
that Peter and John
        Stop all speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus.

And again, Peter
       The guy who had on the night before the crucifixion,
denied even knowing Christ,     spoke boldly
    "It is up to you to determine whether it is right ...
        To obey you rather than God."
    "But as for us
        We  can't     stop   speaking
            About what we have seen and heard."

And I think     that in the poem that is our hymn this morning -
    A hymn   which I use in full   for the first time my 20 years
Charles Wesley captures and introduces to us
Peter's thought process.

With a few direct quotes
And with many altered to prose,
This is what    I hear  Peter thinking:

We saints on earth
    As well as the saints above
We in the church below
    As well as the church above
Must ever and always give to God
    Glory,      praise      and love

And we must do that
    even when it is difficult or frightening to do so.

"I" (and again this is Peter)
was transformed when Christ the righteous one arose

For the legalistic wrangling of the past expired
And I began to live,
    To live my second life,
    To live my real and living life
    Then    with my heart I first believed,
    believed with faith divine,
    power with the Holy Ghost received
    to call the Savior mine.    Mine, mine, mine!

    I felt my Lord's atoning blood
    close to my soul applied;
    me, me he loved, the Son of God,
    for me, for me he died!

Peter had to have felt just like Wesley
    He was no longer the same man he was
        When        in the courtyard of the high priest,
        He had denied having anything to do with Jesus.

But with Christ's resurrection
    Peter had started to live a new, better, and more real life
    Peter had felt the atonement through Jesus' blood
And Peter had come to understand and be in awe of the fact that
        It was for him, him, him, that Jesus had died.

That recognition and understanding transformed Peter

And so as he stood before the Sanhedrin
    There was no way he could stop talking about Jesus
    There was no way he could stop giving Jesus
        Glory,      praise      and love.
And There was no way he could hide those facts from his judges

Instead of silence, Peter,  like Wesley,    prayed
    That thousands of tongues would sing
        His great Redeemer's praise!
    As well as singing
        The glories of his God and King,
        And the triumphs of his grace.
Instead of keeping his thoughts and faith to himself,
    Peter,  like Wesley,    continued to pray.

    My gracious Master and my God,
    assist me, and help me, and give me strength, to proclaim,
        and to spread       through all the earth
        the honors of thy name.

Peter knew his own failures
    He remembered that time in the courtyard
    He remembered his loss of faith while walking on the water
And yet by the time he found himself in front of the Sanhedrin,
          He had come to recognize that Jesus had "charmed his fears"
        And had bid his sorrows cease;
That is why he saw Jesus' name as music in his sinner's ears,
    And as life, and as health, and as peace!

Christ had canceled Peter's past sins
    And set him free from the prison of control
        By human fears and human weaknesses
Christ had done this for him
    And can do it for even the worst among us.

Through listening to Christ's voice
    The dead, the sad, and the humble can   Receive new life
Through listening to Christ's voice
    All nations can                 Receive new life
Through listening to Christ's voice
    Even harlots, publicans, murderers, and those
who are sons and daughters of lust and pride can    Receive new life

For all can be      and all should be
       saved through faith alone,   and justified by grace!

And so all of us
whatever our sufferings and challenges -
whatever our sins and failures -
should  our tongues employ
        To give that glory, love, and praise
        And to sing     and to leap for joy.

All of us should know           Our sins forgiven;
And anticipate our heaven below         For His love is heaven.

Charles Wesley was born about 1700 years
    after Peter stood before the Sanhedrin
    And bravely told those people who were judging him
        That he would not and could not
        stop speaking   about what he had seen and heard

But Wesley's poem explains how and why Peter was able to do it.

You and I need to be inspired by Peter's actions
    So that we too can adopt this hymn
    And find    our hearts and our souls
Our faith and our character         in it.

Then when we face troubles that require the courage of our faith
    We can trust that it will be there for us to draw on.

And too, we need Peter's example and Wesley's hymn
    To remind us that in our every days lives
    We shouldn't be able to stop speaking about Jesus either.
After all,
    That is what we have been commissioned to do

Oh, Oh, Oh   that we might be among the thousands of tongues
    Singing of glory, love, and praise
Right along beside the apostle Peter and the poet Charles Wesley.