Faithlife Sermons

This Holy Story: Power

This Holy Story (Eastertide 2019)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  22:04
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  • Frame the next few weeks
          • Talked about the resurrection last week and how it’s easy to have it become a nice story, an idle tale. Even the disciples felt that way.
          • But, maybe there’s something more to this story - something deeper to what we witness on this day.
          • This is not something we can explain or prove in scientific ways, but is something that we can just live.
          • Between now and Pentecost, we’re going to linger in Acts, and explore what it means to live into this story - to let it be and let it be part of us. These were folks trying to do the same things that we were - live into the resurrection.
  • Context in Acts 5
          • Ananias and Sapphira and the apostles healing others: big things are happening in the early church.
          • The most powerful of Jerusalem were aware, and intimidated. They seek to silence the apostles, sending them to jail, but an angel released them, and we come to here.
  • This story has power...
          • These are the powerful leaders of their day, and they want to sequester the message.
                  • They want to maintain control
                  • They want avoid the blame, and likely lose their power
          • They know what this may mean for them. What is happening has consequences for them as leaders.
  • …but it’s not the exact power we expect
          • This is of course Jesus’ thing throughout all the gospels - his resurrection witness is similar to his journey on earth. Coming to Jerusalem on a colt, giving space for those pushed off to the side, and meeting all people with healing and restoration.
          • This power is meant for healing and forgiveness, not wielding for vengeance.
          • God’s most powerful act, the story most powerful is that at the moment when it would seem most likely to exert a judgmental violence God does the opposite.
          • "What God promises and accomplishes is life rather than death, freedom rather than confinement, repentance and forgiveness rather than murder and revenge.” (Brian Peterson)
          • That is power. This most powerful story, this most holy story, is one of mercy. It’s one of giving not taking. And in that, it shakes the foundations of human domains because too often this holy story is the opposite one that we set into motion.
                  • We all too often preach the cross more than the resurrection.
                  • One is tactile and violent and can tell a story of retribution. It’s one, even in its backwards way, that gives us as humanity the power. We can be the ones to place Jesus on the cross.
                  • The resurrection doesn’t tell that story. It tells us the story that in spite of everything we might try to receive otherwise, God will grant us mercy. God will change nature itself in order to do it. And will continue to do it in a way that’s consistent to who Jesus has always been.
  • So how do we live into this?
          • Our temptation may be to follow the world’s authority. To live ways that define in political terms - of retribution, of vengeance.
          • What would it be like instead to answer only to God? To live in mercy? In grace? To move towards life and not death? To hope and not despair?
          • We might be able to unravel some of the deepest knots in our lives and culture if we slowly start pulling on this powerful message.
          • It may mean those who have considerable power in human terms will resist as they do here, because the resurrection is a holy story that demands releasing our hold on aggressive power. But in the end what do we hope for?
          • So this week, just tune your hearts and minds to where this is happening… where are people living towards the cross, and whose living towards the resurrection?
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