May reflects God’s promises

given on Sunday, May 4, 2014

May Reflects God’s Promises: Do we?

May 4, 2014

 

The Word . . . Acts 1:36-39                        NKJV

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

 

. . . and Thoughts: May reflects God’s promises;

All our lives we have viewed the rainbow as a symbol of God’s promise not to flood the earth and destroy all that is in it. It reminds us that God loves us and wants to protect us.   When Noah was able to get off that ark and survey the flooded land, God delivered a rainbow, a promise to him and his family:

 

[Insert scripture here.]

 

Last Sunday we all left the sanctuary with little concern in our hearts about a flood even though we knew the forecast included a chance of severe weather, but it was still just a forecast, not a reality. But as we drove away the promise that jumped into our minds was that of the meteorologists who said there might be severe weather.

The clouds were building and thoughts of rain, hail and tornadoes started cluttering up our minds. Quickly the spiritual renewal that comes after worship shifted into the human response mode that comes when a storm is approaching.   It was April last Sunday, and we all know that with April showers come May flowers, so why did an approaching storm throw us into a state of apprehension?

God made a promise to Noah that he would never destroy the world again, yet over the past several years, the storms experienced here in the US have been so destructive. In fact the phrase that reporters have been using all too often is, “this is a once in 500 year . . . (you can fill in the disaster).”

That descriptor was used in 1993 after the flood here in the Midwest; and over the last two decades, that line has been used after the Joplin, and Moore, OK, tornados, then it was the Colorado flooding, the North Eastern blizzards, and again this week after the flooding along the Gulf Coast. And these once-in-500-year disasters are all meteorologically based. Consider all the personal disasters individuals and families must experience. Yet, regardless of how dark one’s life becomes, God’s promises remain and sustain the faithful through all life challenges.

No challenge compares to that the earliest Christians experienced with the death of Jesus. Peter shares the sense of utter loss in Acts. Yet he, too, had to re-evaluate his own commitment, square his shoulders, and continue his ministry to a new Christian community in its darkest days:

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

The same question is asked repeatedly when disaster hits: What shall we do? The answer is simply “DO!” The disciples struggled, fear hit, chaos swirled around them, yet God promised to be with them. Peter tells even us what to do based on God’s promise:

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

God’s promise is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of himself residing within us. Regardless of the 500-year disasters, the clouds and the rain, the personal traumas, or even just a busy, exhausting week of daily life, God promises to be with us by the promise of a gift, the Holy Spirit.

 

The Word. . . I Peter 1:3-4, 17-21

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, . . .

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

 

. . . and Thoughts: Do we reflect God’s promises?

 

Last Sunday, still in April remember, we left church and drove home. Travel time maybe only 20 minutes, but the sky was busy and a sense of excitement stirred in the air. The weather was changing and the eyes were pealed to the sky or the TV.

Such weather changes charge me up, too. I get a tingling and a surge of energy when I sense the shift in winds or watch the clouds swirling in all the different shapes and colors. Fear is never part of it, maybe because I trust God’s promise revealed by the rainbow, but I do what has to be done to prepare.

When the winds rushed in, the sky darkened, the rain pelted the windows, and the pea-size hail bounced in the grass: I was revved up. And then it moved on, taking away the danger, and clearing the skies. I did not see a rainbow, but I did not need to see it. Now, was the time to do something and we resumed plans to meet friends for early supper.

God’s promise to keep us safe from total destruction has always been reflected in the rainbows we see so often in the spring showers whether in April, May, or even any stormy day of the year. April showers bring May flowers, but sometimes we need a reminder that God’s promise to be with us is always there even in the darkest hours of a storm.

After supper, we realized that the peace and quiet inside with friends and good food was very different than what was outside. We witnessed the tornado on the TV screen, we saw the pouring rain outside the windows, but we did not sense any fear. In fact, as we got into the car, we had no rain or any reason to worry. Until, that is, we pulled out of the parking lot and onto the highway.

Then we drove right into the worst of the storm. Swirly/rotating clouds, downpours, winds, and everything a mid-western storm can throw at you. Fear was not part of the drive. Then we saw it. The rainbow appeared even in the midst of the storm, a piece of the rainbow showed up to remind us we were safe–reminder of God’s promise.

Today, a bright and beautiful, storm-free Sunday in May, the flowers are blooming and life is good. God’s promise is real and we are filled with the Holy Spirit when we accept Christ into our lives and are baptized into a lifelong relationship with God. God is with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. . .

This May, God’s promise is the same as it was for Noah and at Jesus’ crucifixion. No storm can destroy God’s promise as long as we maintain our faith and remember our baptism through which God granted us the Holy Spirit. Nothing can destroy God’s promise except we ourselves by failing to do what God calls us to do for those who may need us in all the ways that we can for as long as we can.

Through the ritual of communion, Christ’s family joins together to remember God’s new covenant with us through our baptism. By joining together in this ancient, holy ritual we continue our relationship with God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Communion (p. 15): Remembering God’s promises

Closing prayer:

            Dear Father, creator of the rainbow,

Thank you for the safety you provide

during life’s frightening storms.

Thank you for the beauty of a rainbow

among the dark clouds hanging above us.

Thank you for the promises you make

in the dead of winter for spring to return.

Thank you for the spring rains

to nourish these lands for May’s flowers and more.

Thank you for the safety of your promise

of eternal life even as we do your calling today.

Bless each and every one of your children

while we learn how to do for others

demonstrating the gift of your grace.

Amen.

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