Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from May 29, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
I was thinking about our passage from Acts this morning. And it's a fairly familiar passage for anyone that's been in the church for a number of years. It's the story of Paul and Silas being arrested because they cast the demon out of somebody and, and it cost her owners money. You know, is that old thing about show me the money if you want to know where things are going wrong.
And Paul and Silas of course get thrown in prison. And this brings in this whole issue about what the prisons were like then, obviously probably in a cave or down underneath of other buildings. In the furthest back or the most secure room put into stocks, no lights, because after the earthquake remember it says that the jailer had to call for lights, but they had been down there singing hymns and praising God in spite of their situation.
And so it's really, really easy in this passage to get misdirected and think about Paul and Silas as, being these wonderful people that were sitting down there and unjustly imprisoned.
And we forget that they're human. Forget that they're human. If we go back to the beginning of the passage, it tells us that this woman was going around or this girl was going around saying the men are slaves to the most high God who proclaimed to a way of salvation. Wasn’t that the message that Paul and Silas were trying to get out there.
So here it is, she is doing their job for them. And Paul gets so perturbed at her that he commands the spirit to come out of her so she can no longer do that.
So maybe Paul, isn't such a great guy in this passage or Paul is more like all of us than we care to admit. You know, we on one hand say that we are out there trying to spread the love of God in Christ. And yet there are times when we get really upset because somebody else is doing it, somebody else is doing it and we want them to shut up.
We want them to shut up and if we had the power to command them to stop, we probably would.
And yet they're doing exactly what we're supposed to be doing. Exactly. Now, we put that together with Jesus farewell at this prayer for his disciples, from the gospel of John. And we can look at that. And this is one of those passages that our number two daughter would have had a couple of pages scribbled out diagramming the sentences. Because it's hard enough to follow the logic in the prayer itself. Even if you go phrase by phrase, and we think about this as Jesus talking to God, the father saying, take care of these people that you have given me because the world doesn't know me, but they know me because you have sent me to them and they have, and it's back and forth and back and forth.
And it's like, Jesus, just hold it. I can just make this simple. Why are you going through all this convoluted stuff? And we get distracted from the message that's there.
I know you and these know that you have sent me and I made your name known to them, and I will make it known so that the love with which you have loved me can be in them, the love that you have in me may be in them. So we get hung up on all of the rest of this passage and we forget that piece of it, we forget that piece of it.
Now, Paul got a little closer to it at the end of the other passage, when he tells the child look don’t harm yourself, we're all here. And explain it to the jailer directly what he has to do to be saved. That is at least going back to the right message. But the love, the love that God had for Christ and that Christ has for us is something that we often don't pay much attention to. All kinds of folks out there that are saying, you know, they're doing this or doing that because they're Christian.
But where's the love? When I was doing my clinical pastoral education. Now, if you don't know what that is, it means that you're working in a hospital or counseling setting. You go in and you work with a patient. And you come back out and you write up what is called a verbatim, which means you write down every word that both people said as best, you can remember it.
And then you get together with your cohort and your advisor and you go through that and you discuss what went, right? What went wrong? What maybe you could have said a little differently, or maybe what you shouldn't have said that you did. But my advisor always finished, always finished with a question.
Where is God in this? You see as a pastor going into the hospital, if you can't answer the question, where was God in this visit? Then you have forgotten that you're supposed to be carrying the love of God and Christ. And that same thing goes for all of us to claim to be Christians. If something happens and we can't say, where is God in this? And I'm talking about things where we're personally involved, where is God in this? Then we're not doing our jobs as Christian. Because we're supposed to be taking the love of God and Christ into those situations.
The past couple of weeks have been horrendous in this country. Horrendous. I don't need to tell everybody about that. And in our reactions to it, we have to say where is God in our reaction?
Saying you're sending thoughts and prayers is not a Christian reaction. That is nothing more than verbal exercise. Where is God in our reaction? What do we call as Christians to do that shows the love of God in Christ for us in the way that we react, in the way we reach out to others as a result.
There was a post on Facebook about a person that went into the Starbucks in Uvalde and started talking with the barista that was there and asked how can you work right now? Well, I'm not from here. I came here so the baristas from here didn’t have to.
That’s showing the love of God in Christ. He wasn't sending thoughts and prayers. It was taking a concrete action to express God's love through Christ by reaching out and being that love.
We have all kinds of things that happen every day in our own communities. How do we react? How do we show God love in Christ for us in the world?
I don't think any of us, since we're all sitting here today are to travel to Uvalde, Texas, or even to Buffalo, New York or any of the other places. But we have things that happened right here in our community. Maybe not as dramatic, not as drastic. But the question is still the same. Do we live out Gods love in Christ for us?
Oh, I'm getting signals from Debbie back there. I'm trying to figure out what they are saying… Oh the refugees we are helping get started with new lives.
We need to lift this congregation up. For reacting appropriately last week, I said something about Gaylord, with the tornado victims, we sent a check for $200 on Monday to Gaylord Presbyterian church. I got a whole Wednesday from a very surprised pastor from First Presbyterian Church Gaylord that we had sent funds to them.
And by the end of the call he said well, I guess this is the benefit of being part of a connectional church. I said, yes, it's part of the benefits of being a church.
The way we react, the way we act, and sometimes not even a reaction it’s the way we reach out before an action that shows the love of God in Christ for others. And in that we are fulfilling Christ’s instructions to his disciples. We are living out what Paul was trying to do. We are in a very quiet way doing exactly what the girl that was possessed was doing declaring servants the most high hope.
We are given daily the opportunities to express God’s love in Christ for us. Let us pray…