Alex Stone - May 22, 2022

Opened the Heart

If the Third Sunday of Easter was about hearing God’s call for the first time, then this week is about carrying on that conversation. God doesn’t tap us on the shoulder and then leave us alone to figure it out from there. God is a constant presence, guiding, advising, hinting, strengthening us for the journey into discipleship.

From Series: "We Are Witnesses"

Now we turn to the book of Acts if we didn’t already on Easter Sunday. Now we consider how we will live as the church in the new reality that Easter brings. Now we make our commitment to be witnesses of the kin-dom. As mentioned in the general introduction, the writing for the preaching notes in particular and the series in general is influenced by the work of Dr. Darryl Stephens, Bearing Witness in the Kin-dom: Living into the Church’s Moral Witness through Radical Discipleship (United Methodist Women, 2021). This was the text for the Spiritual Growth Study of Mission u sponsored by the United Methodist Women in the summer of 2021. You might check with your local unit to see if any attended Mission u last summer and what they might share with you about the book and the course. A part of what that text was designed to do was to help us understand what it means to be a witness. Now is the time to decide how you’re going to invite the worshiping community to make the commitment to become witnesses for the kin-dom. It might be at the end of series or it might be here. Or it might be left as an open invitation with appropriate follow-up to provide the newly committed a way of keeping and living out the commitment. What challenges face your community that need a word or a presence from the faith community? What actions or statements might be made to show where you are standing and whom you are standing with in this complicated environment? Behind this approach is the understanding that a life of faith is a life of fruitfulness. Even as we are in the business of changing the world, we are being transformed too. And wherever we are on the discipleship journey, we can make an impact; we can be witnesses for the kin-dom of God. Worship issues a challenge to live out our faith daily. It is where we make our promise to the God we praise that we will follow; we will represent the faith; we will be witnesses. The worship team, then, works to put hands and feet to this desire, this commitment. The prayers get specific about what’s really going on in the world and in the neighborhood. We include the individual faith journey but expand it at the same time. We invite people to look beyond themselves into a wider community.

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