You Belong: For A Purpose – Sermon #05
a2vc.org • Feb 16, 2020 • Rev. Donnell T. Wyche • firstname.lastname@example.org • (734) 649-7163
We Belong For a Purpose
We belong to God.
We belong to each other.
We belong to the church.
All of this belonging has a purpose. We bear witness. We bear witness to God’s love and grace that found us where we were and created space for us to belong. In Acts 1:8, Jesus says,
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
God, who is invisible, wants to make his real presence tangible and that happens through his people, the church, who are being sent. We are sent out to bear witness to God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love. This is what it means for us to be or become a witnessing community. We bear witness to the love of God that made available to us, and we create space for others.
After Jesus’ death, the disciples are gathered together in the upper room, afraid. They are together, with the doors locked, in fear.
Give a bit of the background as you introduce the story:
19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:19-22)
The disciples are disconnected from the community. So they are huddled together behind locked doors, cut off from their original source of life. They are disfavored. They are the disillusioned friends of a fraud. They are discounted.
Then Jesus shows up to reveal that their belonging was for a purpose. When Jesus appears before them, the first word Jesus speaks is peace. The disciples are overjoyed. Peace he offers them again. Then he tells them that their belonging has a purpose. They are being sent. Just as the father sent me, “I am sending you,” he says. Then breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
We belong to create breathing room for those who need it. We can have faith in is God’s breathing room. Space for God to meet someone and offer them the deep acceptance and belonging.
Creating Breathing Room
Room to breathe in hope, peace, joy, purpose, love; room to breathe out sin, frustration, judgment, anger, bitterness, lust, apathy, shame, guilt. outwardly focused people and churches see others, which creates breathing room for those who need it. This can happen as we serve in our communities because we see a need, and we give ourselves and our time to address it.
This is breathing room in a nutshell: people cut off from every source of life, locked in a room, when suddenly, they find that things are different than they were just moments ago, and God is there with them, breathing new life into them, if only they will receive it.
Our Faithful Presence
Let’s return to the disciples locked in a room,
21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-22)
We come towards others through the confessions of everyday life. All of the ways that people confess their sins to you and whether you know it or not are asking forgiveness. You can remind them that what they did is not who they are. You can stand up against lies they may believe about themselves or God along the way, and you can help them recenter my identity on their belonging to God as the first step toward repentance.
Interruption, Obedience, Redemption, and Transformation
In order to receive confessions, we have to be available and present, not only to others, but to ourselves, and most importantly to the Holy Spirit. Simply put, we have to be interruptible. When we consider Jesus, we should be mindful that most of the miraculous encounters that happen in his ministry were the result of interruptions.
How are you creating space for interruptions? How are you being present to yourself and to others? How you creating opportunities for Holy Spirit encounters? What spiritual disciplines and practices are you using to put your self in the presence of God, so that God might speak, and to speak to you, and you might hear?
Courage. To take that final step towards Jesus. 2 Peter 3:9
Healing at the roots. If you’re struggling with depression, come get prayer. Ask the Lord to minister to the roots.
Perseverance in the pursuit of truth. Just because it is messy doesn’t mean God isn’t working. His order doesn’t look like ours. John 16:13
Encouragement. Some of you have been praying for your friends who don’t know Jesus. Keep going. “I’m moving where you cannot see.” Isaiah 56:7
Psalm 103:5 – “…who satisfies with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”