Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sermon: May 25 (on St. Paul)

“Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries.”

Servants & Stewards – Paul does not put himself and the other apostles on a pedestal, as those to be looked up to but instead wants the Corinthians to see them in the light of service and stewardship because they are trustworthy. Paul writes to them to encourage them, but how did Paul write his letters, where did it all come from?

I will be using the images and words from the Godly Play class on Paul’s Discovery, for the Holy Spirit was active after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as Paul discovered on the road to Damascus. He knew Jesus in a new way and explained as such in his letters, but I am getting ahead of myself…

Leaving Tarsus – Paul’s Birth - I

In the beginning, a baby was born, named Saul by his mom and dad, after the first king of Israel. They lived in Tarsus by the sea. He learned to make tents as his father did. He read the Torah with his parents. He wanted to know more. When he was old enough he left Tarsus to go and learn more…

Studying at the Temple - II

He went to the Temple in Jerusalem. There he prayed, he studied. Under Gamaliel, he learned much about the Torah and how to be a Pharisee. He worked hard to keep the laws of God and had no patience for those who did not. He was determined to stop those following the way, who believed Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. He was there at the stoning of Stephen, and from there he left to catch more of those followers in Damascus.

Experience on the road to Damascus (Baptism by the Holy Spirit) – III

On the way to Damascus, a bright light knocked him down, a voice asked Saul “why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked, “who are you Lord?” “It is I Jesus, whom you are persecuting but get up and go to Damascus and you will be told what to do.” He had to be helped to Damascus for Saul could not see. For three days and nights he stayed on Straight Street until he heard another voice. “I am Ananias. I was sent by Jesus to lay hands on you and bless you.” And something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes. They ate together and after he regained his strength, Saul preached at the synagogue about the Good News he experienced.

Escape from the Damascus (Paul’s journey in the Desert) – IV

But they did not want to hear such news and they tried to arrest him. They blocked the gates of the city. But the followers of Jesus helped him escape. They got him to the city wall. Tied a rope to the basket and lowered Saul down, outside the city wall. Saul disappeared in the darkness into the desert of Arabia to pray and discern what God was calling him to do now. God came so close to him in that desert and Saul came so close to God that he knew what he was to do. To go and spread the Good News, to go the ends of the earth and share how he had changed, how hate had given way to love, and he would share that with the new churches, writing letters and visiting.

Letters to New Churches – V

Saul began to write letters to churches to help them. He traveled by boat, he walked across land. He went to Jerusalem and met up with Peter, James and John and many others, now called Christians. At first they were suspicious of him but they told him to go and continue his mission and to speak the Good News to the gentiles. Saul even changed his name, to the Roman name, Paul. He helped start churches and he wrote letters, Ephesians & Philippians, Thessalonians and Corinthians and in his letter to the Romans, he told them he would visit them and go on to Spain.

The Final Journey to Jerusalem – VI

Paul returned to Jerusalem to pray at the temple. But some did not want him there, a fight broke out, and the Roman Soldiers rushed in and arrested Paul and saved his life. He told them he was a Roman citizen. He was held for two years in Caesarea along the coast. He was then taken by boat to Rome to be judged by the Roman courts. The boat sank en route but Paul was saved. He continued the journey to Rome.

Paul’s Death – VII

There in Rome, Paul was kept prisoner. He was guarded but he could go and visit friends while the courts decided what to do… Some say he did go and visit Spain, most believe he was executed after the great fire in Rome in the year 67. But Paul lives on traveling to the ends of the earth because his message of how he found love after giving up hate on that road to Damascus, how Jesus had changed his life; his story and his letters are still being read today.

St. Paul said, “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries.”

And now we are entrusted with that ministry of service and stewardship, to tell the Good News of our lives, of how Jesus has touched us and opened our eyes. Amen.

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