Sunday, May 8, 2022

Hearing Hope - Acts 9

Hearing Hope 

Tony E Dillon Hansen

Sermon based upon Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, John 10:22-30

Opening prayer

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, and Mothers Day! So we read from Psalm 23, a text often used in funerals. Consider how different it sounds in the spirit of Easter, resurrection, and springtime.

In John 10, Jesus, our good shepherd, tells us the sheep hear his voice and follow. Confirmation students tell me that sheep in their flock know them. Further, Jesus gives life. 

Want more life, read some scripture and read comics. I hear people tend to live longer and people could use a good laugh these days. So daily, I try to read Garfield and I read devotionals - hope. 

Acts 9, meet Tabitha/Dorcas a disciple from the Greek city of Joppa. Disciple meaning a student that witnesses and devoted to good work.

That is what we see here. Tabitha is described as devoted to good works and acts of charity. She made clothes and she was known by many.

Tabitha dies. Peter is summoned, comes immediately and performs this deed. (As opposed to Peter an apostle, is one who is sent.) Peter then calls all the saints and widows to witness what has happened. Tabitha heard Peter, the sheep hear the shepherd.  All in the community heard and witnessed.

God is doing something here; bringing people together to witness the work of God. There is inclusion here - all genders. There are support groups, students, and teachers. The whole community comes together. 

Note: People going to church to live longer as well. Maybe it’s the good news, maybe it’s the community and fellowship. Maybe it’s the support we have.

God is showing and revealing to the whole community. God is helping us understand the role of disciple is to hear God, to serve, and to support each other - to care for my neighbor. No one is left out.

That is so much different than the world around us; seeking to divide and exclude. This world around us measures folks based upon account balances, where you live and the clothes you wear.  This world around us promotes that we can only live and be with certain kinds of people - our measure of self is based upon those around us that have worldly materials and connections. 

That may be all well and good, but what do we do with those materials?  Better question, How can we make our world a better place? Probably not with more division and more measures.

Instead, God brings us together in service to support each other wherever we are on life’s journey.  That is God’s kingdom among us. Hear Jesus calling you to service, community, and yes some laughter and good news. 

That goes beyond church too. UBFM often works with another organization called  Joppa. Their mission comes from this Acts 9 passage. The least of us need the best from us. We all need each other.

People want to hear their name and to be treated with dignity and respect. People come to God from different ways of thinking. Great, let us learn together those ways and  many voices. Let God bring us together.

We all have challenges and we all fail. Thus, we need community - church, to support us along the way, to find God working with us. 

Read again Ps23. Who has helped to restore your soul? Who has led you by still waters and walked with you through the valleys of evil? The paradox of our faith in shepherds as sometimes they are sheep in need of shepherds. As community of faithful people, sheep and shepherds walk together and know your name.

We need Tabithas and Peters doing good works and acts of charity, but mostly, all witnessing together the work of God among us, supporting each other in times of need. 

When you look around the room, notice who is here and who is not.  This is your church, your community. There are more beyond these walls.  Who needs to be welcomed and to hear their name? Who needs support? Look to the left and right at the people and the spaces. 

Our church is not so rigid as to exclude - so we need to reach out into our community. Growing this church is duty of all. To do good works, to hear others around us that need community. We invite them to witness with us, to welcome together, to hear together and to grow together. 

Its Sunday morning. Wake up to good news and fellowship. Get started right for another week. That is why we do church - to hear some hope, to gain life - even laugh with a comic strip.

So in the morning next to a devotional, maybe look at a comic, laugh a little, share them. In fact, come to church and share your laughter.

When we do that, when we truly open our doors, hearts and minds to God speaking and working, then we will truly see God’s kingdom working among us.

Beloved, witness God speaking to you, supporting us, and laughing with this day.

Thanks Be to God.

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