Dawning Light from Resurrection to Pentecost

Acts 2:1-4; 32-33; Luke 24:1-10

Celebrating Pentecost
One day of the year that Paul especially honored was Pentecost, the 50th day after Passover, the Feast of Weeks. Something happened that changed the world. 
The result and power of all that had happened in Jesus began to be poured out for humans in everyday life: God fulfilled his promises from creation and throughout Israel’s long history and opened that history wide for all the rest of the world to participate. 
In the incarnation in Jesus, God united God and human. God’s self-giving love embodied in creation and covenant he gave in new form by taking to himself human suffering, brokenness, sin and death. He defeated death by the creation of new life in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. On Pentecost all of this was poured out for all people, beginning with the Jews. God and human were united in a new way by the gift of God’s own self, God’s life, God’s power in the Holy Spirit given to those who trusted in all that Jesus had done. God filled broken human life with love, joy, and hope by beginning the process that will finally defeat death and unite all reality in resurrection, new creation.

Women Following Jesus

Luke 8:1-3

What is God Doing? Acts looks back to Pentecost - a remarkable beginning. Not careful planning and strategy. Not insight by Apostles. Yes, they were prepared by Jesus. But they were carried along by God’s intervention. God waited till Pentecost for the meaning of the feasts. Passover: deliverance. Pentecost: Covenant, Community, Giving of Torah - God breaking in.

Proclaiming Peace to Far and Near

Ephesians 2:14-22

Advent: He came with Good News of Peace
Isaiah looked with hope for God’s intervention – a child, Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). The angel at Jesus’ birth echoed his words: to you is born a baby in a trough, Savior, Messiah, Lord.
What is a Prince of Peace? One who imposes peace – Augustus? Paul’s Advent meditation points to Jesus coming to proclaim peace (Isa 52:7) to those far and near (Isa 57:19).
But Jesus is not just the messenger or a conquering power commanding peace. Paul says Jesus himself is our peace. He’s writing to people in societies of intense conflict, with deep societal divisions and fears: Jew-Gentile, Roman-Greek-other ethnic groups, slave- free, male-female. Acts 19 show explosive fears, superstitions, and conflicts in Ephesus.
Paul had seen the how Jesus (as message and active presence) had brought together Jews, Romans, Greeks, the enslaved, the fearful into a new unity. It was who Jesus is – his life, message, cross, resurrection, Spirit – that embodied a new Adam, human being, the Suffering Servant of Isa 53, and that showed God’s purpose to unite everything in him.

A Guide in the Way of Peace

Isaiah 52:7-10, Luke 1:68,70, 76-79

What Would a Prince of Peace Look Like?
In the context of Advent, the vision of a Prince of Peace may seem obvious. But in Jesus’ time, Augustus Caesar was the great prince of Peace, conquering all: peace under Rome.
Jews chafed under his appointed rulers over the land. God, not Herod or Pilate should rule. Where was Isaiah’s promise: “Your God is King”? When would “the coming one” come?
Jesus’ whole story is that coming (Advent): Birth, ministry, passion, resurrection, all of it. People thought they knew what they were looking for – their own holy, good Augustus. After all, who is a more absolute king than God? They were ready to join the revolution. Jesus comes calling followers to “the Kingdom of God.” What else could it mean?

Finding Jesus in the Temple

Luke 2:41-52

Our passage today is a small glimpse into the process of reconciliation that God initiated through Jesus. Luke, has one of the most vivid descriptions and comprehensive narratives surrounding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of all the Gospels. The text in Luke 2:41-52 is the final of four blocks of text that captures the key events in the infancy of Jesus. It is important to recognize, that Luke is a very careful and deliberate writer. He intends to “draw up an account” of all the things that he has witnessed and investigated as a disciple and follower of Jesus. Luke begins his Gospel with the end of Acts in mind. He is steady and clear in making an ordered testimony of all the events that surrounded the coming of the Lord’s Messiah, Jesus. Luke is trying to make the point, that our expectations will not bind the Messiah, and that Jesus will not only be fulfilling the promise of God’s deliverance, but he will also be undoing our limited expectations of God.

How Slow Embers Catch Fire

Luke 24:13-48

Broken Hopes and Living Hope
We focus on the meaning of Jesus' resurrection from Easter to Pentecost: a living hope (1Pet 1:3). Jesus entered Jerusalem to such hope, all so cruelly crushed in a cross and tomb! How could things go so wrong? How could a movement emerge? Was it wrong? What did Jesus' resurrection mean?
Luke emphasizes the perplexing events. None of Jesus' disciples could grasp his crucifixion or thought anything good could follow it. They were broken-hearted, disappointed. Male disciples hid. The women went to the tomb with spices to cover the smell of death. Then new things began to happen. An empty tomb. Women were told by 'angels' that Jesus was alive. The apostles couldn't believe it. They were amazed. They talked, argued. If only! Why not prevent death? Why not redeem Israel?

Gospel of Gratitude

Luke 17:11-19

Lewis Smedes, who was my ethics professor at Fuller Seminary, described it this way: “Ingratitude decays the spirit, spoils the soul, decomposes life itself.”

In this sermon Amy looks at the story of the lepers that Jesus heale from leprosy. Nine went on their way and only one returned to thank Jesus. What made this man return to Jesus? What did he see and experience when Jesus responded to his cries for mercy with healing grace? And how can we live in gratitude everyday, seeing our lives as gifts from God?