The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

AIM for Evangelism

February 8, 2009
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

1 Corinthians 9:16-23 and Mark 1:29-39

Jesus said, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” – Mark 1:38

My sermon outline:

• Without vision, the people perish, so the saying goes (not exactly Proverbs 29:18, but true enough)

This Tuesday Larry King will interview Capn Chesley Sullenberger, who splashed into fame on 1/15/09 when he and the crew of USAirways flight 1549 successfully ditched in the Hudson river six minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia (birdstrike). Amazingly Capn Sully had the vision of bringing the aircraft down safely... he AIMed for salvation and achieved it, saving the lives of the 155 on board.

• 220 years ago William Carey AIMed to spread the gospel among “the heathen” that is to take the message of salvation in Christ to the subcontinent of India.

As Jesus in our reading from Mark, he saw that his mission was to proclaim the message beyond the walls of his own home. Wm Carey then spent the next 41 years -- more than half of his life -- in India.

As Paul in our reading from 1 Cor sought to relate to people so that he might bring them to salvation, Wm Carey got to know the people...
• published 1st newspaper in India
• founded over 100 schools (think about that alone!)
• wrote dictionaries and grammars of 5 Indian languages
• completely translated the Bible into 6 languages (parts into 29 more)
• through his witness the burning of widows was outlawed

• Paul talks a little bit about how and why he did the things he did, spreading the gospel. Lemme give you a little acronym for what he did:

First off he acknowledged that not only did he not make up the gospel, it wasn’t his idea to spread it... he is commissioned, he is sent... the word for that is APOSTLE. He is a witness of the risen Christ, apostolically sent by God to the nations.

Second, Paul imitated Christ in Jesus’ INCARNATION. Jesus Christ (who was fully God) put on flesh and lived among us. Paul sought to relate to the Jews on their terms, speaking their language as it were, following their customs (not difficult since he was indeed Jewish) in order that he might reach some of them with the good news of forgiveness of sins in Jesus. Paul sought to relate to the gentiles – those outside the faith – on their terms, speaking their language, following their customs, in order that he might reach some of them with the good news of fullness of life in Jesus. Like Christ, he put aside pride and station, seeking to relate to as many as possible, in order to save as many as possible.

Finally, Paul bore a message... he was on a MISSION, taking as his own commission the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I have made you alight for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Is. 49:6)

Paul AIMed to reach people for Christ.

• So once again we as a congregation have a need to examine what we’re AIMing at... Like Jesus, we know it involves going into the surrounding area, & like Paul we know it involves relating to people where they are, so that we may best bear to them the gospel of salvation...

It may be through children’s ministry or even VBS, it may be through a new worship service, it may be through some kind of local mission. Over the next weeks and months lets sit down at the table together, pray, put our ideas out there, pray some more. I suggest we start Wed 630 outside the church office...

• No matter what direction we end up AIMing, in the end we must always be about introduce folk to Jesus, who touches us and makes us whole.

• Hymn 367 He Touched Me

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 73 in worship. Beautiful weather

Expect great things from God.
Attempt great things for God.
- William Carey, 1792

Historical note: Tomorrow (February 9, 2009) marks the 300th anniversary of the fire at the Epworth parsonage. 5 year old John Wesley was dramatically rescued out of the burning building, "pluck'd like a brand." The saving experience was formative in his life.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

On Scriptural Authority

February , 2009
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

“Souper Bowl of Caring” Sunday

On Scriptural Authority
Deuteronomy 18:15-20 and Mark 1:21-28

Jesus taught with authority, and not as the scribes... and they were astounded at his teaching. From Mark 1:22

My sermon outline:

• Today the #1 team in football will be decided. (#1 until next year...) Steelers could take the lead (tied @ 5 championships with 49ers and Cowboys. AFC champs.) Cardinals seeking first win.

I’m supposed to mention SB. American male. No one should make SB or anything else their reason or ground for being.

• Two texts today, story of Jesus exorcising an unclean spirit and being revered as one with authority (sadly apparently out of ordinary).

Text from Deuteronomy, God laying down the rules through Moses, saying how things’ll be... I’ll provide from among you prophets who will speak my words.

@ first glance no connection, but each passage speaks to authority

& if we are to be bearers and defenders of the faith (yes we ought) we must be able to speak with authority as well.

• Common objection to Bible is why should I give any authority to a book written by a bunch of men 2000 years ago, and translated who knows how many times since then? And what about the other gospels? DaVinci Code (03) introduced the average American to the Gnostic gospels, Philip and Thomas and Mary Magdalene, even Judas – why are these writings not biblical? Do they have any authority?

Granted, I’d bet that most who are asking those questions have not read Philip or Thomas or Mary or Judas, and admittedly I haven’t either, but I have researched about them, and can answer why they are not considered authoritative scripture...

• In science: reproducibility and peer review. Can other people get same results, and draw same conclusions?

• In study of ancient texts: reliability is on age (older = better) and quantity. 4 texts from 4th century not as strong as 25 texts from 2nd century.

In general the majority of the NT books are also the earliest writings and most copied, and in general, the gospels not included are fewer in quantity and they’re not as old.

• Additionally for the most part the Early Church Fathers held to the canon we know...

By mid 2nd century the 4 gospels were in their current form, and Irenaeus had a list of 21 NT letters he granted scriptural authority. Early 3rd century Origen had a list of 27, pretty much the same, and in the 300s the church was pretty unanimous about the canon.

The Gnostic gospels are not on the ECFs lists, so they either didn’t know about them, they hadn’t yet been written, or they agreed they weren’t canonical.

• Bottom line: the Bible as we know it was selected early on and while we don’t have originals we have many early texts that agree, and it’s upon them that today’s translations are based. There is textual reliability.

• John Wesley believed the content of the Bible leads the reader to trust it’s true, by reason of its miracles, prophecies, teaching, and character.

• & we cling to the Mosaic promise of God inspiring and speaking through folks today,

And the witness that on Christ the solid rock we stand...

Furthermore that when we gather together the Lord is among us

& when we gather in Holy Communion & ask the Spirit’s blessing, God is uniquely and specially and sacramentally present.

Here, O Lord, (in sanctuary, at Communion table) we see thee.

• Hymn 623 Here O My Lord I See Thee

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 75 in worship.