Sermon May 1, 2022: Why Are You Troubled? (Eastertide 2)

Enlightening Images from Pixabay

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/704987415

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3hVVxVY52o

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: (St. Teresa of Avila:)

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world…
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.


HYMN Blessed Assurance
Alan Jackson – Blessed Assurance (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vfqYwfTqlE

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Almighty God, through Jesus Christ you overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Grant that we, who celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may, by the renewing of your Spirit arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN He Is Lord
He Is Lord, He Is Lord! He Is Risen From The Dead – The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxwzmr_aWx8

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Why Are You Troubled?
Luke 24:36-53
Series: Instructions for Resurrection and Revival

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Saturday Video AudioWesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Luke 24:33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. 37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

49 And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” 50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

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HYMN 347 Spirit Song
Spirit Song OLPS OCDC Pentecost 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpRG6cTPB2E

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

BENEDICTION: Please recommit your life to the service of Jesus as Lord with the words of The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

It is the evening of Easter Sunday. And Jesus appears to the disciples, and he asks them this question: “Why are you troubled?” I’d like to answer that question, they’re troubled, because they’re in shock, and it’s going to take them a while to adjust to something that shouldn’t be a surprise – the resurrection. He did explain it to them. But it’s going to take some time for them to adjust to the deepest, truest meaning of Easter. And let’s take a look at that experience.

But before we do, I’d like to tell you about a day in the fall, back in 1976. I moved to Louisville, Kentucky. We moved too late for me to begin seminary in the fall, and they said, “That’s no problem. Just apply for the spring.” So, I applied to enter the seminary in the spring. And I was invited to a meeting with the Registrar and with the Dean of Students. And I was working at a clothing store, selling Big & Tall clothing. I made $98 a week. But I had to take the bus.

So that morning, I took the bus to the seminary. Went up to the office of these two esteemed men. And they sat down and gave me quite a shock. They said to me, in the fall of 1976, “We want you to understand that even though we are a Southern Baptist seminary, you don’t have to be Southern Baptist to go here. But we do notice you’ve just gotten out of college, we know you were a part of many small groups, in your college experience. But we’ve noticed that you’ve only been a Baptist for three months. Although that doesn’t matter. But we’re deeply concerned – you’re here to study to be a pastor, and it doesn’t seem that you have any experience with what it’s like to be in a church.

Secondly, we’ve seen your grades. We’ll be honest with you, they’re not that good. This school is hard. And we have many students who come here. They were straight A students back in their colleges, but they get here and it’s graduate school, it’s a lot harder. And they feel all kinds of stress, trying to measure up, and we’ll be frank with you, many of them just don’t make the grade.

We’re worried about you. And in fact, every semester, there are some students who struggle so much with the rigors of this schoolwork they begin to feel suicidal. And every year it seems somebody doesn’t make it.

And we are really worried about you and that’s why we are going to deny your application to come to this school. We hope this doesn’t bother you too much. You can apply again for the Spring if you want. You can apply again, but we wanted you to know how we feel.

And then one of them looked me in the eye and said this, “Based on our assessment, you will never amount to much as a pastor.”

Well, friends, it’s good to have a warning about how hard it is. Let me share a little bit more information. I was shocked that day, but when I reapplied, I was a Southern Baptist. What do you know? And I was accepted.

The school was hard. But it’s ironic. The harder the classes, the better I did. By the time I graduated as a part of my master’s degree, I had 12 hours at the Ph.D. level in New Testament theology. I got an A-minus on the first seminar, but I was happy that I got an A on the second one. And the very last one, I got an A-plus ranking me over some of the dozen Ph.D. students taking those same classes with me.

So I guess the grades worked out. And I never did feel suicidal, although that day I might have felt a little bit like that. But you see, here’s what happens when you receive a shock, because everything you believed to be true, everything you hoped would happen, all of a sudden it comes crashing down. It takes some time to get used to it. It takes some time to get used to it.

And I’m somewhat thankful for that day for two reasons. The first is that no matter what people say, church politics is always involved in church life. But the second thing is this by their own rules in order to begin classes in the second year of the three-year Master’s program, I had to have a job in a church. And I would like you to know this seminary has the second largest student body of any seminary in the world. And I worked really hard to find a Southern Baptist Church that entire first year, that would hire me to do anything, even to be the janitor. And I finally gave up.

And I called the Methodist Church, and within a week, I had my choice of two youth pastor jobs, and I’ve never looked back. And I’m so thankful to be a part of the United Methodist Church, which was God’s plan all along. And whenever I meet a Southern Baptist. I thank them for the wonderful education I received … but I’m also thankful that I was supposed to be a Methodist with a Baptist education and I’m blessed.

But that particular day, I walked out on the street in front of this big building and I waited for the bus to come, and I rode the bus down to the place where I work. And I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do. I’m really quite thankful for that.

I have a good friend who was a licensed commercial electrician before he went into the ministry. If I had had a certification as an electrician, I don’t know that I would have stayed in the ministry. If I was a licensed public school teacher, I don’t know that I could have stayed in the ministry. But the reality is I had no options and I did not know what to do – so I continued on, in the ministry. I couldn’t quit, because I had no other options.

And of course, the bus arrives 20 minutes before the store opens. So for 20 minutes, I literally paced in a large circle in the parking lot saying, “Lord, what do you want me to do? Lord, what do you want me to do?” And I had no answer.

This is how the crucible works. You see, life puts us in a situation that is not what we expected. Life puts us in a situation that is not what we desire. Life puts us in a situation where all hope is lost. And that life situation heats us up, and everything we thought was stable and certain begins to melt. That’s how the crucible works.

When we read about this in the Bible, it talks about the refining of precious metals, and it says that the refiner’s fire comes upon us and we melt. And you know what happens?
The impurities in the metal rise up to the top. It’s not so pretty, but as they rise up to the top, the refiner is able to scrape the impurities off the surface of the melted metal. And what’s left is pure … because of the troubles we go through. You see, I don’t think God causes our troubles, not so often. I should not have been so naive when I applied to go to this school. I should not have been so expected that they would just tell me, “Oh, you are so wonderful!” because they surely did not.

Nonetheless, God can use the difficult times that come upon us. And if you look back on your life, probably God has used those difficult times. But when you’re going through them, it’s not so good. I believe Winston Churchill is the one who said, when you’re going through hell, be certain to keep going … but this is how the crucible works. This is how “Fridays” work. This is how Good Friday works. And you’re going to be in that heat for a while until you understand that Easter has come.

Now, the scripture we’re looking at here is on Sunday afternoon of Easter Sunday. It’s still all brand new to the disciples. They don’t get it. And just to refresh your memory, last week two of them walked on the way to Emmaus with Jesus. And he opened their eyes to understand what was going on. And it says in verse 33 of Luke 24, “And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them who said, ‘The Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon.'” In Mark, it says the same thing. The women went to the tomb, came back, said he’s risen. Peter and John run to the tomb and he’s not there. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and she tells them. According to Luke, the Lord also appears to Peter to Simon.

And Mark is a little gloomier than this record in Luke. It says they did not believe. It was still too much for them to wrap their heads around. They could not understand what was happening. And now the two men get back from Emmaus, verse 35, “They told what had happened on the road and how he was known to them in the breaking of bread.” Mark says, “And still they did not believe.”

But here in Luke, we have this hopeful thing, verse 36, “As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened and supposed that they saw a ghost, a spirit. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do questionings rise up in your hearts?” Isn’t this good news? Why are you troubled?

And he goes on to say this, “See my hands, see the place where the nails went in, see the feet that it is I myself. Touch me, handle me, and see,” – please note these words – “for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Let me tell you about the very first Christian heresy. You see, the Bible is very clear, but it sometimes takes us a while to understand it. God guides the church, but it sometimes takes the church a while to understand it because we have this very human tendency to choose to believe something that is more comfortable and convenient to us. So the very first heresy in the Christian church, the very first time the Church decided to believe something that was comfortable and convenient, was to say that when Jesus came back at Easter, they were wrong in thinking that he came back in a physical body. That he actually was a spirit. This sort of lovely, glowing, floating image without any physical body.

Friends, resurrection has a physical body. I’ve never met a ghost, but it’s my understanding you can put your hand right through them. But Jesus says touch me. This is real. The disciples go, “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.” Look at verse 41, “While they still disbelieved” – I don’t understand – “with joy, they were happy and wondered, ‘what could this be?'” Jesus changes the subject. Have you anything here to eat?

Now please keep in mind when this first Christian heresy – it was known as Gnosticism – began to spread after the first Easter when the disciples talked about what happened, they made certain to tell the Easter story so that people later could get it. Verse 41, Jesus asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” Now, I’d like to invite you to sort of let that sink in. The refreshments are important. They gave him a piece of broiled fish. The picture you’re looking at there is roast tilapia because the fish they raised in the Sea of Galilee is a form of tilapia. (I’m going to look forward to having some roast tilapia as soon as I can!) And when I do, I’m going to remember how Jesus, knowing that this would be a controversy, put in their experience the explanation. So the disciples would be able to say, “We saw him eat a piece of fish. It was real. Oh. It wasn’t our imagination. He wasn’t a ghost. This was real.” Jesus Christ rose in a physical body. Because in that physical body, he took the fish and he ate it right there before them. Friends, I guess this is the first potluck after the resurrection. But Jesus ate the fish as proof to help them with their understanding later because there was going to be a lot of confusion over this.

And then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you. That everything–“ please, notice that word, everything. “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” You think you understand, but here’s the thing that the new disciples needed to understand. Your understanding needs to be based on the scriptures. But you don’t have to do that all by yourself. Look at verse 45: Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And on down through history to you and I, He continues to open our minds to understand the scriptures.

And He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

You may not understand everything in the scripture yet, but understanding what is in the scripture is the very best way to go through this time when you struggle with understanding.

What does the scripture say about this? And that’s a good question for every single one of you to ask your pastor. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before. I’ll say it again. When the pastor looks at you and says, “Trust me, it’s in the Bible somewhere,” the very first thing you should say is, “Pastor, let’s find it and read it together before you say another word.” And when you say that to me, I will say, “Thank God for the internet,” because that’s the reason why we say, “Well, I know it’s in there somewhere.” We’ll find it and read it together and understand it, because if our understanding is based on what the Scripture says, I think we’re going to have a firm foundation for understanding what is happening to us in this life. So I invite you. Look me right in the eye. Maybe you should wait till after the sermon so the sermon isn’t longer! … but you can look me right in the eye, and you say, “Pastor, I believe every word you said, but you told me that I needed to ask you to show us where it is in the Bible,” and friends, you should say that. And we will do that, because if our faith rests on the Scripture, it has a firm foundation in times of trouble.

So one, two, three principles. (1) Why are you troubled? (2) Understand the Scriptures. And here comes number three: We’re all asked to wait. I hate to wait. I don’t know if you have noticed or not. I will not get in line at a Church meal until the line goes down to almost nothing because I hate to wait. I also like to take firsts and seconds the first time through! So I don’t like to wait.

But Jesus says to them, “You need to wait.” And in fact, it’s Easter Sunday. They’re going to wait for 49 days, 7 Sundays, until the day of Pentecost. Jesus gives them time to adjust to a new understanding of what it means to be alive in Jesus Christ. Jesus gives them time for the Scriptures to sink in. Jesus gives them time to pray. And brothers and sisters, when you and I are struggling to understand what God’s doing, God will also give you time. I say this with the deepest and greatest sincerity.

Most of the time, in my experience, it’s the devil that tells you to hurry up and make up your mind. Kind of like a used car salesman that is selling a car that has something wrong with it: “I need you to hurry up and make up your mind.” Jesus says, “Take your time, think and pray, understand the Scriptures, and then you’ll be ready.” Jesus will give you time.

And here’s verse 49. Here are the words where Jesus says you’re going to need to wait: “I send the promise of my Father upon you, but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” When it’s time for you to serve and to go to work, the Holy Spirit is going to come. The Holy is going to be within you. The Holy Spirit is going to do the hard work and the heavy lifting. But for right now, stay in the city. You’re not ready yet. Let the Holy Spirit in the scripture get you ready. Stay in the city until you’re clothed with power from on high. And then he led them out as far as Bethany. And lifting up his hands, he blessed them. And while he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. He ascended into heaven.

Now, I don’t know if you can see that little black square on the bottom of the picture. It has that little circle that’s going around and around and around. Have you seen that on your cell phone? It takes some time for things to load, and we have that time. Wait for God. Wait for God.

And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple blessing God. I guarantee you. Where’s the best place for you to wait for God? Right here, in church. I’m glad you’re here today. The early disciples did the same thing. They were continually in the temple, praying, singing and blessing God.

Now, let’s remember what the Crucible is like. For a while, we are not going to understand everything. There’s at least one person here that says, “Pastor, I’m there. I’ve never understood everything.” But, for a while, we are not going to understand everything.

Just like me that day in the fall of 1976. Lord, I don’t know what you’re doing, but the heat that comes upon us causes what does not belong to rise to the top. And I’ll tell you, friends, it’s not pretty. Take a look at the cauldron on the screen. You see all that clinging to the sides there. It’s not pretty. But when the heat comes upon us, impurities become visible — because when the heat and the pressure come upon us, what shouldn’t be there begins to separate from what God needs. And it rises to the top and becomes visible. And God can work with it.

And I’ll be honest with you, if there’s a reason why we go through hard times, it’s to help God to work with it. Doesn’t make them easy times, but it’s to help God to work with it. On that day, making circles in the parking lot, I had no options. I had no hope of a job better than the one I had that day. $98 a week, just barely enough to pay rent. I had no hope of anything better. I had no choice that day but to believe that God had some purpose for my life. I had no choice that day but to hope that God would work this through. I had no option but to wait. And when I was helpless to let the Holy Spirit work. And you know something? It all worked out just fine. But in the moment, it wasn’t easy.

And therefore, I want to say to each one of us … if you’re going through a difficult moment, friends, I understand it’s not easy. But we need to hang on and let God work with what in life is not perfect. In fact, what in life is far from perfect. We need to hang on and let God work.

And so the disciples this day– let me remind you of what Jesus said to them. They were disbelieving with joy. “Here you are, Jesus. But we don’t understand. This doesn’t make any sense.” Well, it’s not going to make sense for a while.

But here are three things he told them to do. I think those three things will also help us in the dark night of the soul, in the dark time of troubles when we too are struggling and we say to God, “Lord, I don’t understand.” In your time of testing, I hope these three suggestions from Jesus will also speak to you.

The first one is to hang on to your faith and have faith.
The second one is to pick up the Bible.

I recommend the words of Jesus as the place to begin. But when you’ve read all of them, you can read all the rest and base your understanding of what is happening to you on what the Bible tells us. You may read through 100 verses before you find one that speaks right to your heart. But it will be worth the time it takes in a time of testing and heat and pressure and discomfort and even suffering. Base your understanding of what is happening on what you read in the Bible. And know that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to open up the Bible for you to understand.

Then finally, wait. We don’t get answers to our prayers immediately. Sometimes, we do. But sometimes, we have to wait. In this case, they are asked to wait and think and pray for 49 days.

The next time I complain to you about something being too hard to bear, I would appreciate it if you’d look me right in the eye and say, “Have you waited for 49 days? I’ll come back and ask you in 49 days if God has not helped you to understand better what you’re going through.”

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we have not suffered the way the disciples suffered. They gave three years of their life in the hope that you were the Christ, the Messiah. Then all of a sudden, on a Friday, you died … and all of their hopes were lost. It took them some time to stand firm in their faith. It wasn’t easy. But Lord, in time you delivered them from that season of hopelessness and fear and dismay and disbelief. And you strengthened their faith and you worked things out. And Lord, in my life you have done the same so many times. Lord, is not always easy to believe, hope and wait during a hard day. When we’re in the Crucible, when life is painful and difficult. It is not always easy for us to endure, to stand firm in our faith. But I pray, Lord, that you would comfort us and remind us of the truth your Scripture brings to us … that out of waiting, a seed will sprout and bear fruit in its proper time. And so Lord, we pray that you would continue to work in our lives for all the time that it takes, maybe three days, maybe 49 days. Lord, it may take us longer! But please help us to understand the meaning of everything that comes to us in this life. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

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