Waynedale United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

April 30, 2017 Sermon

“Vision: God’s Plan for Faith!”
Matthew 28:11-20
Ted Jansen  April 30, 2017  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        One day two accounts were shared that were different explanations of the fact that Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified on Friday was no longer in the tomb where they placed Him. 
            The first account was that Jesus Christ rose from the dead three days after His crucifixion.  He appeared to the women early in the morning and later appeared to His disciples.  On one occasion He invited one of the disciples to touch His scars.  Jesus was no longer in the tomb and showed Himself to many people before He left earth.  Is this a true story?       
            I ask that question because there was another accounting that began to be told.  We discover this other “story” in Matthew 28:11 – 15.  We read from Matthew’s account that indeed the tomb was empty.  This is the fact that we cannot deny. 
When the guards saw the empty tomb they went to the chief priests and elders and told them.  These religious leaders had heard Jesus talking about being raised to life on the third day and now the tomb was empty.  They were not sure what to do.  They did not want the news that Jesus was alive to be true.  They decided to have another account be shared of what happened.  First, these religious leaders needed to pay the soldiers a large amount of money, money that should have been used for the temple or religious purposes.  They needed to be motivated into telling a story that was made up by the religious leaders who did not want it known that Jesus was alive.     
The religious leaders said it was the disciples who came during the night and stole his body.  These disciples broke the Roman seal, knowing that it could have caused them their death, moved the stone in the middle of the night quietly and they did all this while the Roman guards who were on duty and were to be awake and vigilant, had fallen asleep.  These disciples took the body and did something with it, hid it and created the story about Jesus being alive.  That was the story that the soldiers were to tell.          
            The religious leaders told the soldiers that if they got into trouble with the Governor for “falling asleep” and letting the disciples take the body of Jesus they would make sure the governor did not come after them.  The governor would be satisfied, according to the religious leaders, which probably meant they would give a lot of money to him to be quiet and not do anything with the soldiers.  So the soldiers took the money and began telling others their “story.”  Matthew says that this account was being told for years about the empty tomb.   
            What do you think?  Which account is true?      
 
2.)        If Jesus’ body was stolen in the middle of the night by the disciples then all that we know in the New Testament from the book of Acts until today is based on this deception.  Jesus did not come back to life but was placed in some other tomb and died. 
If Jesus’ body was resurrected then the 2.2 billion people today who claim that Jesus is alive have a vital and living faith, not in the memory of a dead man but in the living Lord of all history!   
The message of the Resurrected Savior is like a wind that began blowing that day when the tomb was empty.  Jesus is alive.  Jesus is alive.  Jesus is alive.  That wind was the truth of God’s love for each person in the life of the risen Christ. 
When the church was born 50 days after the Resurrection a mighty wind, the wind of the Spirit, blew the message of Jesus Christ to the hearts of many.  That wind continues to blow today across the years and across the miles to lives who are open to hear.     
 
3.)        As I thought of the wind of the Spirit, as I thought of the wind of the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ an image came to me of wind.  Wind and a sailboat. 
Here is a picture.  (Pic 1) I want to talk about the hull, the rudder and the sails.  Each of these have a specific function to make the boat go. 
            The hull is the frame, the structure, that is stable, secure and sea worthy.  It is designed to hold people and make the boat move people in water.    
            The rudder is at the back of the boat and guides the hull in the direction that is desired.  The rudder can move but generally stays in one position with the direction that is desired.  You move the rudder when you want a new direction.     
            The sails are soft, flexible, strong, made out of different fabric so that they can catch the wind.  The sails are supported by poles and ropes that are flexible.   The sails have to be able to move all around to be able to catch the wind, as it changes. 
 
4.)        Have you ever been on a sailboat?  If so you can identify with these images and experiences, if not let me try to put you in a boat type of mood with a few puns. 
Why do seagulls fly over the sea? Because if they flew over the bay, they'd be bagels!  A boat carrying red paint crashed into a boat carrying blue paint and the crew were marooned.  Where do you take a sick boat? - To the dock.  
 
5.)        As you look at the sailboat picture I invite you to consider three aspects of the church.     
            a.)        The church has a hull.  That is the form we have, it is our building, the way we organize our life together.   Our hull needs to be secure, safe and worthy of navigating the world in which we live.
            Where two or three are gathered in my name, Jesus said, there I am with them. (Matthew 18:20)  That is our hull, the gathering of people. 
            b.)        The church has a rudder.  This is what sets the direction for the church.  This is our mission, our goals, our vision, our strategies.  This is what we determine so that we are all moving to a common destination.  
            We are a church that makes disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.  That sets our direction.  That is our rudder, guiding us to that destination. 
            c.)        The church has sails.  These are what is used to catch the wind, the Holy Spirit, to propel the church.  The sails are people moved by the Holy Spirit, they are methods we try, they are the ministries we have.  At times, like sails, we need to move the sails, try a different position so that we can catch the wind.  That is the essence of sailing and the church.  We need to be able to move to catch the wind of the Spirit to give the church its power.  
            Our vision, are the sails that we are setting, for the next few years.  God has breathed His Spirit to be a church that is “Joyfully Connecting People to Christ and Community!”   We need to set our sails in new ways so that we can move according to God’s plan for us.  So, as we try new positions for our sails let us affirm how we are connecting people.
 
As we think of the church as a sailboat I want to share three phrases about sailing that apply to the church.  They are: “Turn into the wind!  Leaning is good!  All hands on deck!”       
           
6.)        Turn into the wind!  (Pic 2) When you are sailing and it is time to make a 180 degree turn it is best to turn into the wind.  When you do this the sails, for a moment, are not catching the wind, but this pause allows you to move the rudder fast and be ready to set it.  This also allows you to loosen your grip on the rope that the sails are attached to.  They will move quickly around and you have to be careful not to be hit by the pole that holds the sails. Then when you turn you catch the wind again and move ahead after your boat has turned.    
If you turn away from the wind there is no pause time and the wind is blowing full force on your sail.  You are at a vulnerable point when you move the rudder because you can be capsized because the full strength of the wind can tip you over.  You have not loosened the ropes and the rudder is not in a new position.  It all happens fast.      
I know about this because one time when I was sailing I did not turn into the wind.  I turned away from the wind and I had to drop the ropes and rudder and scoot to the center of the boat in a panic because I thought I was going over.     
As a church we must turn into the wind.  That means we face the challenges, and the struggles that we have.  We must face our need for renovation, our need to reduce debt, our need to continue to reach out.  We must turn into our community that has changed in many ways but still needs the love of Jesus Christ.  We turn into the wind.     
 
7.)        Leaning is good.  When sailboats are operating the way they are designed they lean.  This is good, desirable and proper. When you are catching the wind the boat is leaning and moving.   (Pic 3)  
This leaning can cause both excitement and fear, as you are on the edge of the water.   The boat cuts across the water, the rudder stays firm and the sails catch the wind.  You are leaning.    
            When the church is operating as it is designed it can feel exciting and scary.  Churches as they catch the wind and hold the rudder will lean.        
 
8.)        All hands on deck!  When you have a big sailboat you need more people.  If you have a small sailboat you don’t need others, you can operate alone.
Here is a picture of a crew on a larger sailboat.  (Pic 4)  The sailboats that compete in the America’s Cup and other races have a crew of seventeen people.  Each one has a specific job to do from winching sails, to getting ropes, to checking speeds, to steering the boat.  When decisions need to be made all the people on the boat need to be ready for action.  The phrase “all hands on deck” declares that there is a need for everyone to do their part.     
            The church is not filled with small one person sailboats.  Each church, including all those who call Waynedale UMC their boat, needs to have “all hands on deck!”    
Each of you is needed to do the work of the Lord on this boat!  All hands are needed to be ready to get the rope, hoist a sail, steer the boat, encourage each other, be ready as we fulfill our mission of making disciples to transform the world and do so as we joyfully connect people to Christ and Community. 
 
9.)        As we look to our future may we hold the truth of the Resurrected Lord and Savior.  Let that message blow into our hearts. 
            May we realize that the Spirit of God empowers us to do the work of the church.  May the Spirit blow. 
            We are going to sing the chorus, “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.”  I want us to sing this several times and I pray that as we sing we might ask the Lord to help us turn into the wind, that we might affirm that leaning is good and that Lord, you can have my hands to do my part for your work at Waynedale UMC.   
            Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on me.