There are two, different sermons on this page
Sunday, 9 Jan 2011; Epiphany 1 Year A
Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-- 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. :39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
Going, sending, and telling are parts of everyday life. Before Christmas people sent Christmas cards, perhaps telling people of some of the things that have happened in the year. People may tell one another what gift they would like. Family and friends go and visit and are visited. In our readings today we have going, sending and telling.
Before Acts 10.34 God sent an angel to Cornelius who asked him to tell Simon Peter to come to him. Cornelius sent 2 servants to summon Peter.
Just before they arrived God gave a vision to Peter telling him to kill and eat unclean, non-kosher, meat. This was a sign to tell that God accepts everyone, even non-Jews/Gentiles. The Holy Spirit told Peter to visit Cornelius, and we then come to Acts 10.34-43, when Peter tells Cornelius and a large crowd that had gathered, 10.27, the good news of Jesus, vs.36-43. This was a message sent by God, v.36. This was known to Cornelius, vs 37. Why? Because people had told one another about Jesus. Peter said that he, himself was a witness of everything Jesus did, v.39, and of the resurrection, v.41. Jesus told the disciples to tell others just as he had told the prophets to tell people about Jesus.
Peter's message was not in vain because the whole crowd came to trust in Jesus and they received the Holy Spirit, which was a sign from God that they were true believers, vs. 44-48.
At Christmas we remembered that God sent Jesus to earth. In our gospel reading God sent Jesus to Galilee to be baptised by John. Not because Jesus had done anything wrong he needed to repent of, but to identify with people, and especially those who were being baptised. People who wanted to turn away from their sin, to be forgiven, and make a new start with God. Just as the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentile crowd in Acts 10.44 to give them the gift of faith, so the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus to equip him as he began his public ministry.
The events of Acts 10 are radical, a defining moment in the early church. It tells us that the gospel of Jesus is for everyone, even Gentiles, or non-Jews. This is still relevant for us today. The gospel is for everyone and anyone in Knebworth, and beyond. Not just the religious, the young, the old, those who like the BCP, or Holy Communion, or hymns, or choruses etc.
There is still a belief, held by some, that are lives are made up of different compartments. So there may be religion, politics, home, work, community. Some think that these are, or should be unrelated. Illustrate by the man who stopped coming to church because I preached about the injustice of children enslaved in producing cocoa and promoted the Fairtrade option. If our faith doesn't influence all of our lives we need to think about if it is truly Christian. The Christian faith is about living, going, sending, telling. It is not a private religion. It calls us into God's people and challenges us to be salt and light, visible, distinctive and purifying in our world.
History is full of examples of Christian who transformed society.
There is William Wilberforce who fought to have slavery abolished. Also, Lord Shaftesbury who promoted Acts of Parliament that prohibited employment of women and children in coal mines, provided care for the insane, established a ten-hour day for factory workers, and outlawed employing young boys as chimney sweeps.
In the mid 18th Century Sunday schools were instituted by Christians to provide education for children working the other six days. In the 19th century the Church of England was responsible for most schools until the establishment of free, compulsory education towards the end of that century.
The adoption of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire drove an expansion of the provision of care. The First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. urged the Church to provide for the poor, sick, widows, and strangers; it ordered the construction of a hospital in every cathedral town. Medieval hospitals in the UK were charity in concrete form. While the modern hospital provides medical care, many medieval hospitals were founded simply for the poor. They provided a home for those too handicapped or elderly to work - people who might otherwise have to beg in the streets if their families could not care for them. Other hospitals took in the stranger. They were hostels for pilgrims and other wayfarers.
Antiseptic surgery was first championed by the Christian doctor Joseph Lister against tremendous opposition. It was based directly on the theories of Louis Pasteur, who was also a Christian. Antiseptic surgery sought to kill germs, primarily by the use of carbolic acid.
The most famous champion of vaccination was a Christian doctor, Edward Jenner, who did his work against fierce opposition. In effect he wiped out smallpox which, at the time, killed one in three of those who contracted the disease, and often badly disfigured those who survived it.
James Young Simpson, who championed use of chloroform as an anaesthetic in Britain was also a professing Christian. Asked by a reporter what was his greatest discovery, he replied, "When I learned Jesus Christ had died for my sins."
Yes, but how? How can we live for God and tell others?
Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit to help him to do good, and heal people, Acts 10.38. God was with him by the Holy Spirit.
Cornelius and the crowd were filled with the Holy Spirit, to bring them to faith, and give them the gifts they needed to praise God, vs. 44ff.
God has given every believer the free, undeserved gift of the Holy Spirit. To help us to trust in Jesus, to worship him, to give strength to live for him in every part of our lives, to gift us to serve him and give us the courage and words to speak about Jesus.
Later this year we will be launching the Just 10 Mission, based on J.John's talks relating the 10 Commandments to life today. It will be an excellent opportunity to invite people to church, to tell them about Jesus.
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at ways in which we can be better equipped to do this. In the meantime, I would like to tell you ways in which you can prepare for this.
Pray. Pray for yourself, that God will fill you with his Holy Spirit and give you the power, words, and opportunities to live and speak for him.
Pray, also, over the next few weeks for specific people who you would like to see come to faith and for the opportunity to talk to them.
Pray, too for the planning and implementation of the course, that God would lead and guide us by his Holy Spirit, so that people may come to trust in Jesus and worship him, with us.
Year B Easter Day 16/4/06
Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-- 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. :39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
At the end of this is a list of some first/Christian names and their meanings that can be printed and handed out/displayed on "Power Point" to get people thinking about the meaning of people's names. Also on a Word document
Muhammad Ali was Cassius Clay before being given the name by Elijah Muhammad, his new name meaning "beloved of Allah." The media entrepreneur who controls the branding rights to Elvis Presley, "American Idol" and the soccer star David Beckham has added Muhammad Ali to his list. Robert Sillerman, the chief executive of the entertainment company CKX, said on Tuesday 11/4/06 that his company had paid $50/£28.6 million for an 80 percent stake in Ali's name, image and likeness. The other 20 percent will be retained by Ali and his company, GOAT (which stands for "greatest of all time").
We are given names by our parents. It may tell us something about ourselves but we soon identify with that name.
There is one name that is more valuable than money. One name that is given to us by our Heavenly Father. One name that we are to own publicly. That name is Jesus. In the Bible people's names were often made up of other words that described them. Sometimes people would be re-named to reflect their nature, e.g. Barnabas Acts 4:36.
The word Jesus ( Greek ), Joshua in the Hebrew means "God is salvation".
Verse 43, "everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
This doesn't mean that we have to re-name ourselves "Jesus" or "Joshua" or even "Christian". It means that we are to be joined with Jesus. Joined with Him as we suffer for following God. Joined with his crucifixion when we die to ourselves. Joined with Him as we rise to new life this Easter morning.
The resurrection of Jesus is Good News!!
It shows that the way to God is now open. Through Jesus' death and resurrection we can be friends with God. Through Jesus' resurrection we can know the life of God in us by His Spirit. Through the resurrection of Jesus we need not fear death and can look forward to receiving new, perfect, resurrection bodies like His.
This Easter morning let us really trust in the one who has opened the way to God, defeated death and gives us new life.
Additional illustration : Mark Lindsay, a British actor, chosen from a hundred actors to play John Lennon in a biographical movie, was fired shortly after he was hired - because his name wasn't Lindsay. He had taken that name only a few years before when he joined British Equity and found another actor there with his real name: Mark Chapman. Another Mark Chapman had murdered John Lennon in front of his townhouse in New York City, December 8, 1980.
Ann, Anne Grace - Mercy
Audrey - Strong
Barbara, Bobbie- Strange
Beth, Bethany- Worshipper of God
Cynthia- Moon Goddess
Daphne- Laurel Tree
Denise- Form of Dennis
Elizabeth- God's Oath
Grace- Blessing from God
Hanna- Hannah Blessed by God
Jane- God's Gracious Gift
Jean- Form of Joan
Jillian, Jill- Young Child
Joan -God's Gracious Gift
Jennifer - White Wave
Judith, Judy- Praised
Juliana, Julia, Julie, Juliet -Youthful
Kate, Katherine, Kathy, Kathleen.- Pure
Lesley- The Fortress
Michelle- Feminine of Michael
Olivia, Olive- Symbol of Peace
Patricia- Noble Woman
Rose, Rosalie- Rose
Ruth- Friend to All
Sarah- True Princess
Sophie - Wise
Susan- Pure, graceful, simple
Ulrica - Ruler of All
Veronica- True Face
Winifred- Friend of Peace
Yvonne- Young Archer
Zoe- Life Giving
Alan, Allan- Handsome One
Andrew- Manly, Valiant
Angus- Strong and Unique
Benjamin- Son of Right Hand
Brian- High, Noble, Strong
David- Swift, Nimble, Beloved
Dennis- Wild or Crazy
Edward, Eddie- Happy Protector
Frederick - Peaceful Ruler
Gerald- Spear Carrier
Harold, Harry- Power
James, Jimmy- Supplanter
Jason- God is my Saviour
John- God is Gracious
Joshua- God is Salvation
Kenneth, Ken- Handsome
Louis, Lewis- Warrior
Marcus Mark, Marc- Warlike
Matthew- Gift of the Lord
Michael- Like God
Nicholas- People Triumph
Peter- Rock or Stone
Philip- Horse Lover
Raymond- Wise Guardian
Richard- Powerful Ruler
Robert, Robin- Bright Fame
Samuel- Answer to Prayers
Sean- Heavenly Generosity
Timothy- Honour God
William- Determined Guardian