Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Follow Me"

Acts 9:1-20,  Psalm 30,  Revelation 5:11-14,  John 21:1-19

April 18, 2010

by James Greene

 

           In this Third of Easter we continue to contemplate and to celebrate that Christ has risen from the dead.  He continues to show us The Way to the Father, through Him.

It is Christ who is The Way, and The One we must follow.  He is the one who calls to us across the ages and across time to follow Him.

 

           I remember when I was a kid and we lived on the Air Force Base, they use to have a small yellow truck with two orange and white checkered flags.  It had a large sign on the back that said “Follow Me”.  It was used at the end of the runway to lead the airplanes to the hanger or to the place where the plane was to be parked.  It was a system that brought order to the flight line with so many different types of air craft that did different jobs. 

           I also remember making a small plaque of plywood in Vacation Bible School.  We sanded it and painted it with clear laquer, and glued the letters on it.  It was a cross on a hill, and the words “Follow Me”.

It was all about trust.  The planes had to trust the little truck.

It was all about purpose.  It was about bringing order out of chaos.

It was all about a Call.  It was a seed, - planted when I was young,  -and only learned the real message of The Call through the years.

 

In the reading from Acts we see Saul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus.  The example of Ananias - illustrates how sometimes, we are called to go and to do God’s work, even in the face of uncertainty.  How also he brings the anointing of the Holy Spirit to Saul.  We see the reference to the early church, as people who belonged to The Way.  This is a phrase that is used throughout the book of Psalms, and in Isaiah.  This is also a phrase that Jesus used to describe his servant leadership as the example of God’s call, in our lives, to follow Him.

Saul is shown and realizes that he has been persecuting Jesus, the Messiah, and the followers of Jesus’ teachings.  God has changed his focus and direction.  He is called to use all of his education to explain and to teach not only the Gentiles, but also the Jews about the message of the Good News of the coming of the Christ.  He has heard the call to follow Christ.        

 

In the reading from Psalm 30, is David’s dedication of the palace.  It also illuminates for us how we must be willing to exalt and to call upon God for our salvation, because of that “willingness”, -- it gives us another view of God’s healing and salvation through His Grace. 

Through the light of the New Testament, we see the outline of the Resurrection

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and a view of what it will be like with the Second Coming and the bringing in of the Kingdom of God.  It demonstrates for us The Resurrection and our salvation in our calling upon God and our healing, where we are brought up from the grave, and out of the pit.

Isn’t this the way it will be in The Kingdom?  Our weeping and loss will only last the night, but we will rejoice in the morning with The Resurrection.  The sackcloth will be removed, and we will be clothed with joy.  It is in, and because of God’s salvation that we will sing, and give thanks -- forever.  What could be more descriptive of The Resurrection and the joy of the resurrection, than this text that outlines and describes the healing and restoring work of God?  Isn’t this what the Great Harvest is all about? Isn’t this the final goal of Christ’s call in our lives to Follow Me?

 

In the brief reading from Revelation, we see all of the legions of angels singing of The Lamb who is worthy, and we see all of creation singing the praise of The Lamb.

It is a picture of the bringing in of God’s Kingdom.  It is a picture of all, - angels,

all creatures (in heaven, and on earth), all the elders, and the four creatures that guard the throne of God.  They are singing to The Lamb, The Christ, who at the end of time has redeemed all of creation.

 

In the reading from John we see the seven of the disciples, after the resurrection, after a fruitless night of fishing on the Sea of Galilee.  They had gone back to fishing.  The Disciples were working together.  They were staying together as a team.  They were doing something familiar.  They were doing something in common.

 

If they had bumper stickers (back then) they would have had one that said: “When the going gets tough,  The Tough go fishing.”

In the daily do’s and don’ts  - wills and won’ts – in the business that fills our days we push back the sorrows, the realities, the unknowns that give us no answers and fill it with the routine of the familiar.  They were in that period where they were to wait for the time when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all people.  They were working while they were waiting.  They were processing while they were doing the routine of something familiar.  How many times do we go work on a hobby when we are processing the information on a major event or decision we have to make.

This is what they were doing.

 

I had an operator who was in the midst of a personal crisis.  I asked them to work on equipment that was routine, and simple.  It wasn’t the technical machine that they normally worked on, because I did not want them to scrap material, and in their condition they were not focused.  The reason was to keep them out of harms way, and keep them busy with work.

  Jesus is training Peter and the disciples to be shepherds of the people.  They are to be the example to the people, just as Jesus is the example to them.  He is feeding

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them when they are tired, and after a long night of fishing.  He is their servant leader.  In his conversation of questions with Peter, he is asking Peter if he “loves him” unconditionally “Agape”.  Peter’s answers areas a friend “Filio”.  Finally he asks Peter if he loves himas a friend”.  He is letting Peter know that he is restored to fellowship with Jesus even with his denial that he ever knew him.  He is demonstrating God’s Grace to Peter.  

   

What does Christ’s call of Follow Me mean to us today?  In the rush and noise of life, we loose touch with God, and get separated from Him in the pressure of everyday living.  It has been said, that an active life is better than a contemplative life.  It is during our times of being active, that we are processing things.  Sometimes, it is our best mentally productive state when we are busy doing manual work. 

(Busy hands are happy hands)

But in today’s world and work place, there doesn’t seem to be any time to pause and reflect while we work.  We are forced into a compressed work week, with 12 hour shifts and no more holidays.  It is an unending tread mill of eat, sleep and work.  It drains our energy and kills our creativity.  There is no room for God’s Spirit or for God.  It is a time like that of the Dark Ages, where there is no Quality in the work we see today.  Machines are more important than the people who run them, and we spend a lot of our time at work fighting off fatigue.

 

As the people of God, our work is consecrated to God.  We are a priesthood of believers, and our preaching is in the workplace, the market place, and in the business of our duties.  We forget that the best sermons don’t require words.  We are to be the examples that Christ has showed us where ever we are in this world.  It is in our actions that we follow Christ.  We are (like Christ) to lead by example.

The Protestant Work Ethic changed the Middle Ages, because with the Reformation the whole world became God’s Temple and work place.  We are called to put our best effort into our work, because we are working for the Kingdom of God.  No matter how small the task,-  the effort requires our best effort.  This was, and is the mindset of that ethic.  Somehow, in today’s world, we see that slipping away in our culture, because we’ve lost the vision of leadership and being the servant leaders to those around us.  Our culture has become worldly, and self focused, instead of Godly and Kingdom Focused. 

Out of the abundance that God has provided for us, we as followers of Jesus are called to share what we have been provide.  Just as Jesus asked Peter, to bring some of the catch, to feed the crew of the Disciples, we are to share our time and our caring for those in the fellowship, as well as in the community, in which we live and work.  The call to Peter – to “Follow Me– is the call to us to Follow Christ.  It is a call to restoration of our relationship with God, and the restoration of the Kingdom,- here,

in the midst of our daily work and preaching that is done …

 

           In the Name of    the Father,   the Son,   and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

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