Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sermon Notes for Easter IV

Preaching in a tiny congregation, so it's just notes, and by the time I give it, just my memory.

I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18,
Acts 8:26-40

We are anxious people.

We wonder where peace can be found.

Jesus in his post-resurrection appearances: “Peace be with you.” We offer one another the “peace of the Lord” at every Eucharist.

The (usual) counter-intuitive answer: Peace comes through surrender and loss.

Jesus: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
John: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us--and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”

The laying-down of life includes the ultimate sacrifice, and it meant that much for Jesus, but it is not limited to that, which gives us more opportunities to lay our lives for one another than we might have imagined.

  • We lay down our life when we forego our “right to be right.”
  • We lay down our life when we make the effort to actively listen to others, with both our heads and our hearts.
  • We lay down our life when we get far enough beyond ourselves to see the big picture (factoring in the interests of people we don’t even know and will not ever meet in this world).
  • We lay down our life when we accept disappointment with grace and humility.

The earliest Christians certainly learned very quickly to lay down their lives. Most of their leaders did make the “ultimate sacrifice.” In the meantime, they regularly risked ostracism, imprisonment, and death in other to demonstrate their faithfulness to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.

Narrative background for Acts reading.

They were ordered to keep quiet about “all things Jesus,” but they could not/did not. They had seen the lame walk, the blind given sight, and the dead raised. How could they possibly obey a command to be quiet about that?

But … in witnessing that about which they could not keep quiet, even to the point of their own martyrdom, those disciples knew peace. Deep peace.

That peace is available to us as well. We need only cultivate the habit of laying down our lives.

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