Posted on Sun, May 5, 2013
Acts 16: 9–15 & Luke 24: 1–12
May 4, 2013
Sixth Sunday in Easter “Make the Bible Alive in Your Life”
Epistle Text: Acts 16: 9–15
9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ 10When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
The Conversion of Lydia
11 We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple clothe. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.
Gospel Text: Luke 24: 1–12
The Resurrection of Jesus
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
So how often does your faith really affect your life, or at least the decisions you make each day of your life?
How do you start your day? In a thankful way? “Good God, IT’S MORNING!” or in a negative way, “GOOD GOD, it’s morning!”
Everyday we have countless of experiences and moments that require us to make a value based decisions dependent upon the context. How many times do we base our values on what we have learned about our Redeemer, or do we just base our decisions and values on what are best for #1 = me?
What about those unexpected experiences that are new and we aren’t sure what to do, what is the foundation of your decision making process? A new problem comes up and we wonder, where we should go, whom should I listen to, or because the questions are new we become to wonder even who we are in this new situation. I often think about our youth in the morning; I take my many years of experience for granted, but for many of our kids, each and everyday is truly a new adventure. Everyday has a number of firsts for them to meet, discern and make a decision as to what they should do; what should they do when it is the first time they meet another student, teacher or neighbor; the first time they read or are taught a new concept; the first time they read about a time in history that helped shape themselves or the land in which they live; the first time they hear a piece of music or see a new scene. Think about it! Having something totally new to face and deal with each and everyday! I think there would be a time of overload at some point, but most kids are truly amazing, and they dive into each and everyday with new wonder and a craving for new adventures or stories.
Our confirmation students have completed their studies, but today is not an ending, but a beginning. They totally understand that upon being confirmed they will now have the full responsibility of being able to vote and contribute to making decisions related to the life of our faith community. It is a big day, and in almost every lesson they had over the past three years, there has been an element of, “What has this lesson meant to you?” and “What is relationship of today’s lesson to your everyday life?” They are just beginning to enter the time in their life when they will be able to think in abstract and creative ways. If there is any time for them to apply what they learned and help them understand what faith is, it is now. All of our kids are leaving the most difficult time in our lives, MIDDLE SCHOOL, and they are all off to the next big step in their lives, HIGH SCHOOL! Are they ready? Will we be able to give them the adequate support and guidance they need? I hope so, now, they will be entering our high school group, and we are presently looking for a new director.
Will they be able to relate the lessons they learned the past three years to the joys and hardships they will undoubtedly encounter in the next four years? I hope so…
How about you?
Are we even able to talk about our faith? Does our faith sometimes call us out to make certain statements that are not considered socially popular? Standing up for the hungry and homeless is quite a stand to take when the rest of society would rather ignore the issue, actively run away from the issue or relegate the homeless to Sand Island, far away from Waikiki so they won’t be seen? People notice when Christians stand up for what Jesus has taught us. People know that it is right to stand with those who are powerless; people notice when Christians find the ways and means to get basic medical aid to the poor. The fact is, whether we are Christian or not, we all know the truth, when one of our neighbors suffers we all suffer. The question is whether we will acknowledge that truth or not. People notice when the church stands up for peace and alternatives to confrontation and violence. People know that if we do not take care of God’s land, then we are only killing ourselves and cheating our children out of the basic resources we have had the pleasure to enjoy. The basic human conscience understands these Truths and acknowledges these values even when our heart or society is afraid to make these kinds of stand.
When people acknowledge truth, love, grace, mercy and love, our heart, mind and soul respond in kind. Sometimes the response is a little strange… every time I am introduced to someone as “Pastor Tim” to a stranger, there is quiet uncomfortable moment, and then the other persons seems absolutely obligated to say something good in front of pastor. It is really uncomfortable! I’m sitting on a place, like yesterday, and my neighbor, after he tells me how he taught chess and oversaw the maintenance of a “swimsuit optional pool” at a hotel for a job, he asked me, “so what do you do for a living?” In those cases, I am brutally honest, “I am a pastor at the greatest church in East Honolulu.” Then, there again is this uncomfortable moment that goes by… and then the guy went on to tell me that he was born a Catholic and has been sober for 27 years… I said, “good for you. Where are you off to?” And then he was relaxed again…
Paul and his disciples on a nice Sabbath morning went out to the gate by the river where he was staying to pray. As he and his disciples prayed and probably sang some psalms, there was a person named Lydia probably working, or cleaning some nice linen there. She heard their prayers and words of praises, and her heart couldn’t remain silent. She had to go to Paul and learn more about this Jesus to whom they were worshiping and giving praise. I would have loved to have listened to Paul, but when they were done talking, Lydia had decided that she and all of her household would be baptized.
It is clear that Lydia was a strong businesswoman who ran her own house. The text says she deals with “purple clothe,” which means she sells cloth to the very rich, the royalty, or people that like to dress like the rich or royalty. Purple is the color of royalty. Not only does she get baptized, but is appears she becomes an important supporter of Paul and his work.
She didn’t have any physical needs, but as soon as Paul began to openly pray, praise and speak about the Good Deeds of Christ, she recognized that even though she had money and social power, there was a huge spiritual hole in her heart. It was a new experience for her to hear the Good News that God loved her more than she ever could understand, and this Jesus of Nazareth whom she heard about in the recent days, was in fact her savior and redeemer.
Nowhere in our society do we get the opportunity to not just learn about God and Jesus’ teachings, but it is at church where we get the opportunity to worship, pray and contribute to the work of the Living God in our world. Beaches are beautiful, but fish cannot tell you in words that are clear to your heart, mind and soul that you are loved beyond words and forgiven in order to live as a Child of God. How is your life changed when you come to the point of saying, “Yes Lord, I believe, Forgive me, teach me more, and lead me each and everyday!” I believe our lives change for the better, and not just for our own personal lives, but also for the Lydia’s and so many others who have never known that they are loved, no matter where they are in their life journeys. Our confirmation students know, they have had it drilled into their heads, but now for you, what does this message of the Gospel mean for you, and what is the message of unconditional love, grace and mercy mean to the way you live your life each day?
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