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

What He Told Them

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

May 10:

Call:       John 15: 9-12
Reading:    W&S # 201
Text:       Acts 10: 34-45
Closing:    1 John 5: 1-12

            What He Told Them

I had to laugh at myself as I prepared to structure my remarks for this morning.

The laughter resulted when in the middle of that process,
    I realized that Justin
- my older son and a keen observer of his father -
    was right.

Ever since I helped him move into his freshman dorm some 22 years ago,
    And in the process and much to his annoyance and maybe even embarrassment,
explained how much better I could have organized it than the people who had been doing it for years,

Justin has kidded me about my tendency to
    Frequently suggest
that I could have organized something better than someone else had done it.

Now, every time I find myself doing that,
    I think of Justin
    And I simultaneously wince and smile

Still, I am convinced that sometimes ...
This week,  I decided that I could improve the lectionary.

Now, as many of you know
(although I was well into my 40s before I had ever heard of it)
    The lectionary is a three year list of suggested scriptures

For each service, the lectionary offers four scriptures
    Generally: gospel, psalm, OT, and NT

It is a tool - a valuable tool - for pastors
    For it prevents us from using the same scripture
        Over and over again
    And it prevents us from repetitively preaching on the same topic week after week.

Ninety per cent of the time, I preach from the lectionary.
    Today is one of those times.

Actually, I have been preaching from the lectionary
    Since the first Sunday in Advent
    And will continue to do so through June 21
        My next to the last Sunday here.

But for quite some time this week
        I felt that those who put it together   got it wrong.

For today's scripture from Acts
    Touches on and summarizes
both Christ's ascension
and Pentecost.

And we haven't yet gotten to those events.
    Next Week       we celebrate Christ's ascension
    The following week  we wear red and celebrate Pentecost

Doesn't the lectionary have it backwards?

Shouldn't this scripture be used
after those celebrations and not before?

That's what I thought.

But those who developed the lectionary probably have
    Greater minds than mine
    More knowledge than I
And maybe even have a more developed faith than mine.

Thus I prayerfully did just what we talked about doing last week,
    I asked the question    "Why?"

I read,     I prayed,   I thought,  I listened.

And on Friday morning I finally received an answer:

Because by putting the scripture today rather than after
    Christ's ascension and Pentecost
        Which is where it would belong chronologically,
The lectionary authors have provided us with
an important introduction to ascension and Pentecost,
        An introduction that alerts us many centuries later to
        The width,  the breadth,    and the expansiveness
            Of the events.

And thus, by putting this scripture where they have put it,
    The authors of the lectionary
    Have provided us with an opportunity
        To more fully grasp what was being done.
    And to more fully understand
the importance and inclusiveness the events

Now, the words of the scripture

Our text is Peter - sometime after the ascension and Pentecost
talking to Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and his household
This is what he told them.  [Acts 10: 34-43]

He began by acknowledging:  I really am learning
- not I have learned    - not I know
Even for Peter learning was a continuing process.

What was he learning?
Peter was learning  that God
does not show partiality to any group
    not to the Jews;  not to those already following Jesus
Peter was learning  that God is Lord of all    of everyone,             Not just of a few
        Not just to those who look and talk like you and me
        Not just to those who have been perfect.

By placing this scripture before the ascension and Pentecost
    The authors of the lectionary are helping us to understand
        That these two special events were not one day things
        But are continuing in their impact and obligation

Peter tells this gentile Cornelius about Jesus
    Explaining that
        Christ's disciples were witnesses   of everything he did
        Witnesses whom God not only chose
but whom God also commanded to preach and to testify

This encounter does not end with Peter's words. [Acts 10: 44-48]

The Holy Spirit came upon everyone who heard the word
God was being praised in a variety of languages
Their response was to be baptized.
The command to preach and testify.
The Holy Spirit coming on the listeners.
    They are    ascension and Pentecost all rolled into one.

Now we really learn from what Peter told Cornelius - and us.
    He told them - and us -  that when Christ ascended
and     when the HS came on Pentecost
    the magic and the power of those two events
were        for         everyone
and     the love Jesus talked about in the passage from John which called us to worship
        was for all.

For people who      were not present at the original events.
For people who      were gentiles from other nations
For people who      were our ancestors.
For people who      are us and are like us.

Even with the Holy Spirit
And even as we embrace and accept the responsibility
to do what Christ at his ascension told us to do,
it won't always be easy

There will be times when we stumble
But we cannot let ourselves give up

My "Justin Goes to College Story"   reminds me of that

When we returned to the school for Parents Weekend
    I was determined to not embarrass Justin again
    I promised myself I would keep a low and quiet profile

I loved my son
    And did not want to take any chance of embarrassing him.

I did well for much of my visit
    I was quiet and soft spoken
I made no improvement suggestions.

Then we went to the entertainment the school had provided.
    The fellow was quite a good comedian and magician.

As the show built to its end he asked for a few volunteers

Remembering my resolution to avoid embarrassing Justin
    I stayed still
    My hands remained politely folded

And then he looked right at me and said,
    "I need a big guy, how about you?"
A protest would be the more embarrassing option
    And so my low profile "do not embarrass Justin day"
    Ended with me on stage in a large wig and with a shiny dress over my outfit singing     "Stop in the Name of Love"
        As a Supreme
Backing up the entertainer's Diana Ross

Not exactly "low profile"

But I never lost my commitment to not embarrass Justin again
    Nor have I lost my commitment to be a witness for Christ
    Preaching and teaching and testifying that He is Lord of all.