The Sunday Sermon: May 9, 2021 – Sixth Sunday of Easter
Scripture: Colossians 2:6-7
Easter Life: Disciple Makers
The youngest “churches” were trying hard to get with the program – Jesus’ divine program as they heard it through Paul. They were not repaying evil for evil but always seeking to do good to one another and to all. They were discovering their new freedom in Christ to love and to serve and to become slaves to one another. They were putting other’s interests ahead of their own, and taking a genuine interest in one another, in the welfare and lives of others and the world in which they lived. They were engaging the Empire and the culture around them and not conforming to this world, but transforming their minds by renewing them and discerning the will of God.
Why? Because Jesus Christ proclaimed that the process of making the world a just place was not off in the future, but here and now, already begun. He disclosed the Kingdom of God on earth now and told us there was more work to be done on it. He called his followers of old to participate cooperatively with God and get with the program. The first communities, founded by Paul on Christ’s teachings, were trying. And so are we …
Pray with me …
We’ve been to the province of Galatia and the cites of Thessalonica, Philippi, and Rome on our Eastertide journey so far this year. Two more weeks until Pentecost Sunday, two more cities to visit. In our travels this morning we find ourselves in Colossae, in southern Anatolia (what is now modern day Turkey). The writing is one of the “disputed letters of Paul,” with questions about style and vocabulary and what looks like a later setting than Paul’s lifetime. Both Paul and Timothy, a companion and missionary partner of Paul’s, are named as the author. Most likely, Timothy may have written the letter before or just after Paul’s death, claiming the authority of Paul, which was a common and perfectly acceptable practice. But, true to the nature of the Spirit of God, the ambiguity of this book’s authorship lifts up yet another aspect of our Easter Life, yet another example of we are getting with the program of Jesus: by making and sending disciples into the world.
Listen for the Word of God. Read Colossians 2:6-7. The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
We don’t get a direct “you shall do this” command in Colossae this week, but we are told what we must do. In many ways, these two verses so early in the letter sum up everything that Paul (or Timothy) has to say in the rest of the letter. The “so then” that the verses begin with refers to the well grounded-ness of the readers faith that Paul expressed in verse five, “I rejoice to see .. .the firmness of your faith”. His basic encouragement, then, is that the Colossians carry on in the fashion they were taught and have come to believe in, becoming even more steadfast in the faith. Paul (and Timothy) have “made disciples” and these disciples are expected to become even more faithful and reliable.
What about us? What are we doing to “make disciples?” How are we doing at “sending disciples” into the world? Well …
Presbyterians are not alone, to be sure, but we get a pretty bad rap – and often justifiably so – for not being good disciple-makers. We have difficulty even saying the E-word, most often, changing our work and the names of our Committees and Teams to something like “Church Growth Committee” or “Member Development Team.” Still … we have our moments. And we have our people. To one degree or another each one of you are success stories. You’re here, aren’t you? I’m a success story, nurtured in another denomination, but “discipled” in the Reformed faith. I think of Christiaan Faul, a chid of this church, who went into Seminary and continues his theological studies in a doctoral program at Union New York, but all the children and youth who have grown up here have left with a profound sense that there is something “More” that guards their way and guides their heart. I believe that. And, there is another group that we do a pretty good job of nurturing, discipling, and sending: the Seminary students that have been a part of our church life here at Pewee Valley Presbyterian for ten of the past eleven years.
Andrew Black, Karol Farris, Jenna Wissink (now Heery), Chrissy Westbury, Austin Wicks, Brandon Oullette, Shawn Harmon, Ashia Huelsenbeck (now Stoess), Violet Sears. Every year we’ve interviewed one, two or four or five students, I share my pride in this congregation’s ability and willingness to provide a very rich and real experience of congregational life in the Presbyterian Church. And while I know it’s narcissistic, I believe the students who leave hear share that with the next group. We have had some incredible men and women, year after year. We invite, we teach, we learn, we disciple each other and we send … them. And the time has come again. This morning we add to our list of “past” students and we send another disciple back into the world: Ellen Sherby. She didn’t come to us a novice in the faith, to be sure, but we must believe that her faith and her discipleship have been strengthened and that we are not a part of who she is and how she will “get with Jesus’ program” in her life beyond Pewee Valley.
Ellen has a few words she’d like to share with all of us now … listen again for the Word of God. (Invite Ellen forward)
Ellen: Just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, in the last year through your learning and service in this place, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor
Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / May 9, 2021