Sermon May 3, 2020

Sermon Easter 4A20 ‘In Temple and Home’

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Grace & peace to you. Amen.

For the church liturgical calendar today it is often called ‘Good Shepherd Sunday.’ Now that Christ is risen and is our Living Lord what does that mean? The shepherd image is tremendously comforting about our relationship with the living Lord Jesus. It is not the only image in our selected scriptures for today and given the circumstance of the church in the pandemic world of today I would like to say something about “the church.”

Again, as you have heard before, the ‘church’ is sometimes a reference to a building but the term is more powerfully the earthly body of Christ today in the body of all believers. The church building is a special place my heart loves to be within. But is a greater place when people gather together within.

Also, a church building is not the only place the church gathers.

I would like to highlight some verses from our first lesson. During the Easter season the first lessons are from the Book of Acts. This day and days following Peter and the apostles are addressing the Pentecost crowd. ‘The baptized devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’ These are communal activities not just private practice. It was shared ‘awe’ at what the apostles’ were able to do with God’s mighty Spirit. In their togetherness they also ‘had all things in common.’ Furthermore, ‘they sold their possessions and goods and distributed the proceeds to all in need.’ That must have taken a lot of trust and Christ-like loving compassion to give to those in need. In need of physical life sustenance and need for knowing the reach of God’s love.

Continuing with verse 46 to the first part of verse 47 I highlight with a separating pause after temple: “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple,…

they broke bread at home - and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God…”

When I read ‘they broke bread’ that means to me that they were sharing it with others.

In the temple and in homes they gathered together. The church was living everywhere together.

These days of quarantine have not been easy but I hope we have been able within our homes ‘eaten our food with glad and generous hearts, praising God.’ We have been able to keep the Food Pantry as well as our ‘Blessing Box’ and soup freezers used and refilled generously. We continued being ‘church,’ the resurrected living Lord Jesus within us, in these days, these circumstances. Though physically distanced we are still intimately the church body.

Operating out of our homes is not the complete picture. Again, verse 47: “…, as they spent much time together in the temple,…” The time will come that we will be able to gather closer than six feet, gather within these or other walls called a church, fellowship with ‘breaking of the bread’ side by side before the altar of the Lord and share food and laughter in the fellowship hall as well. We will be side by side or around a table over Bible study, making soups or quilts or doing many of the traditional ministries and maybe some new form of ministry. We will gather.

To our Facebook friends who live far away from us in Bull Shoals, if you do not have a local church fellowship please connect with one if you are able. But like it has been the past few weeks, if you are not able physically to go to a church building, please know you are part of Christ’s body, the church universal in spirit. Make connections by phone and internet and welcome those who can come to your home to share glad and generous hearts with you.

If you have a burden such as hurts or sins that you feel separates you from God read the appointed lesson for today from First Peter Two especially verses 24-25: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

There is ‘great news’ throughout the scriptures but you may highlight for today also Psalm 23 and the gospel lesson from John 10:1-10.

In closing, we are an Easter people of our risen, living Lord Jesus who comes to us ‘that we may have life, and have it abundantly.’ He loves you and calls you by name and wants each of us to continually hear his voice of love, compassion, and protection. He wants each of us to know we are in this together, Him with us and us with Him, the sheep of his fold and his good pasture and sheltering might.

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen.

 

The Sunday date is yet to be determined but look forward to seeing one another in church!

 

 
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