Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for this Sunday; Acts 2:42-47

Scripture for May 7 is Acts 2:42-47

You can read this Scripture here {NIV2010 and ESV}

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A few years ago, American neuroscientist Antonio Damasio made a groundbreaking discovery. He studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. All these men and women seemed normal, except for their ability to experience emotions. All of them had something odd in common: they could not make even simplest decisions. Each of his patients/subjects could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, they could list pros and cons for every decision. Even in the cases where decisions should have been easy to make from the logical perspective, these men and women found it very difficult, if not impossible, to make them. Can you imagine going through life without being able to decide what you will have for lunch or what shirt you will put on in the morning. With well-defined rational decision paths, these men and women faced tremendous difficulties making simplest decisions.

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These experiments demonstrated that emotions, not logic, drive every one of our decisions. Even when we believe that we are making a logical decision, the process of choosing is based on emotions.

So what’s in it for us at Kingswood United Methodist Church?

I just said some words that could be easily verified by Uncle Google, that sound like jiber-jaber, and the emotional side of everyone in this congregation wants to take a nap.

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The passage we read this morning describes the Christian community as it began, and I love that passage! They were doing theology, they were living together, they were eating together, they were praying together; this is the kind of community that every pastor I know would give their right arm for.

I wonder what reason the newcomers in today’s reading gave for why they decided to follow Jesus. What would they say if we were to ask them, “Why did Jesus have to die?” What would they say if we were to ask them what the Resurrection meant for them?

I also wonder what their first gut reaction was when they heard the Apostles preaching. I wonder what it felt like to experience the fellowship with Jesus’ followers. What did it feel like as they began learning about Jesus and growing in their new faith?

Based on what I know about that period of time, I am willing to guess they heard the Disciples’ preaching in the Temple Courts by chance because they were devout Jews and they happened to be there  in the right place at the right time. The reason they came back is because that encounter gave them a glimpse of the Living God. They experienced the presence of our living God in their own lives and they became convinced that, in the words of Paul, “…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [them] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

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As products of the scientific age of discovery, when we encounter nominal Christians, or even unbelievers, we give them facts about the Messiah. Jesus walked this earth. By his incarnation, life, suffering, execution and resurrection Jesus gave birth to the Church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death and made with us a new covenant of faith. Those are the facts.

We also tell them how we live out our faith and devotion to Jesus in our daily lives, and how much work Kingswood UMC does in the community. We tell them about Hope Dining Room and the Food Closet. Great accomplishments.

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Unfortunately, when a visitor comes to our doors, they are not looking for the facts. Our visitors may even be putting on a façade to hide their woundedness, while the real reason they walked through our doors is because they are looking for salve to apply to their wounds.

The Church is supposed to be the answer to our woundedness; church is a spiritual clinic where we gather to heal our emotions and our souls. I will venture to say that most of us are here today because at some time in our lives we saw Jesus while we were emotionally wounded, and that encounter happened among other Christians. The reason people make a decision to come back for a second time is because something stirred in their soul when they were with us; they saw our living God among us.

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That is why churches were packed in the 1950s. As a nation, and as a part of this world, World War II brought us to the edge of the abyss and extinction. Those were emotional times. Most everyone knew a family that had lost a child, most everyone knew a young woman or a young man who lost a husband or a significant other in the war. There were GIs who came home, who had been forced to take the lives of others in the war. Everyone was emotionally wounded in some way. People got together and helped each other to heal these wounds. That is why churches were packed; God was a part of this healing process.

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Today’s Scripture is set at a time shortly after the people of Jerusalem demanded the death of their Messiah, and then they saw the redemption of Creation in the Resurrection of Jesus. Those were emotional times. People were emotionally wounded by these events and by their role in these events. As a result, it was easy for them to see God in the aftermath of Crucifixion and Resurrection.

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As I stand before you, we are divided as a nation. As I stand before you, our United Methodist Church is arguing about who belongs and who doesn’t. As I stand before you, we are all wounded and it is easy to see the presence of the Holy Spirit moving among us. We are also isolated from our neighbors. We look different from the community around us, we talk differently from the community around us. Our challenge is to find a common language, our challenge is to offer a place for all to heal their emotional wounds, our challenge is to be the best of what God created us to be.

Do you know what the healing touch of Jesus feels like? Does Jesus live in your heart?

{Transition to the Sacrament of the Holy Communion}

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