October 21st | “Inspiration: Touched by the Spirit, Changed by Grace”Luke 24:13-35
It is not a rare thing for the people of SAINT PAUL to be able to share their testimonies of how God touched their hearts in worship or spoke to them through a particular message. Like the two individuals walking to Emmaus, we often find our hearts burning with the Spirit… when Scripture is opened to us.
Last week, Pastor SunHee began a preaching series on our new branding and logo. Some are excited and there are others who don’t see the need. I just think of it as wanting to see my husband in a new outfit, not the same clothes for the last 10-20 yrs. Though they may still be good, it is nice to get a fresh start with current styles and same husband inside.
We are still looking at making disciples by following and teaching others about Jesus. We still believe that following Jesus Christ changes us and can transform the world. How do we describe what goes on here that tells of who our Lord is?
Inspiration Incarnation Intersection
I want to bring your attention to our new brochure in your bulletin today to share with people who we are. There are some great photos and information about us. Share it with friends, neighbors or co-workers that you have told about SAINT PAUL. Big Thanks to Pastor SunHee and Pastor Sam Yoon at Los Altos UMC for investing a lot of time and discernment.
Today we begin with looking at INSPIRATION. When I think of things that inspire, I think of sayings, beauty, music, nature or great talent.
The definition of Inspiration is something that invigorates or animates, it is life giving. The word Inspire means to breathe in, the immediate influence of God. God is present
Our United Methodist Church is rooted in Wesleyan theology of grace– God’s spirit is always reaching out to us in love.
Grace is God’s unconditional love.
Prevenient grace – even before we know God, God is reaching out to us.
Justifying grace is that moment when we know our brokenness and need for grace and choose to follow Jesus. This is that moment of conversion or heart and life change.
Sanctifying grace reaches out to us in our ongoing life as Jesus’ followers as we live into God’s perfection in love. We continue to live into what God has for us as a reflection of Him.
Throughout our lives before and after we know Jesus, God is nearby, reaching out to us.
We see this in today’s scripture as two followers walk to Emmaus, taking a couple of hours. It is later during the same day of Jesus’ resurrection. It has just been days since Jesus crucifixion and just that morning a few women have said that he is resurrected. Sometimes when we are overwhelmed with chaotic things happening you just need to do something and keep busy. They are still talking over what happened, reliving and trying to figure it out in between the ordinary things of their journey. Maybe they stopped to rest or drink something on the way.
We hear that Jesus comes near to them and their eyes are kept from recognizing him. I wonder that strange as it was that they were so focused on themselves, fearful, consumed by confusion and grief that they barely noticed where they were and who was with them.
We see that Jesus enters into their lives and our lives, asking and listening as they pour out their pain and sorrow. In response to them, Jesus doesn’t just tell them what is going on and say, “Here I am!” Jesus explains the things about himself through scripture. Because it is not only about Jesus and these disciples, but them in the whole context of God’s world.
As they get close to Emmaus, Jesus seems to be going on away from them. Here I believe the disciples notice the Spirit’s nudging and invite him to stay and eat with them. Have you ever had one of those hunches, a feeling or nudge to do or say something that leads to much more?
Jesus could have passed on out of their lives but the disciples invited him to stay with them longer. Praise God they acted on it! In the breaking of the bread they recognize him, seeing him at the dinner table doing what he often did and did just days before at the Passover meal.
Jesus not only becomes part of their story, he reorients it so what was tragedy is victory through the power of God. Their story is changed by Jesus’ good news and now part of God’s greater kingdom story.
Last week I heard my nephew’s University Choir. It was incredibly beautiful and made me want to do it more. There are lots of Inspirational music, sayings, scenes in nature, teachings. There are sayings that inspire like “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” by Mahatma Gandhi.
I saw Video clip on Facebook of very different dad’s singing Ariel’s song “Part of your World” from the movie “The Little Mermaid”. It was very sweet and heart warming to see dads singing this song for and with their little daughters.
As humans, we are part of moments of inspiration that give us a glimpse of the divine.
And people will also fail. We are imperfect with moments where we are much less than loving soon after.
In a recent SAINT PAUL Youth study on Simon Peter, we looked at Matthew 16:13-23. He has a moment when he recognizes Jesus as the Messiah and Jesus praises him. It shows him thinking to himself, “I must be Jesus’ most favorite disciple.” Then seconds later Jesus speaks about his suffering and death and Peter scolds him and Jesus rebukes him saying get away from me Satan. Peter then thinks, “I must be Jesus’ least favorite disciple.”
With the internet we can search and watch amazing performances, singing, see art, beauty and read. We do this again and again because these glimpses barely quench our thirst. Instead we can drink deeply of God who is the source of Inspiration. He will not fail. He is faithful. His love is unending.
This God invites us into a personal relationship through Jesus Christ. He wants to fill us with living water that quenches our thirst so deeply that we will become springs of water to others.
Let those moments of inspiration large and small take you back to be with God in scripture, worship and prayer.
Like the disciples, Jesus joins us on the journey. He enters our story and sets our story in God’s larger story. We go from not recognizing Jesus to open eyes that see him, hearts on fire, seeing more with the eyes of Christ and knowing God’s heart.
We began this visioning process back in April to consider who we are as SAINT PAUL. We shared stories of what brought us here, why we stayed and what we love about our community. Leaders told their stories of coming to worship and praising God. Through the music, preaching, testimonies, communion and the Holy Spirit’s presence, we meet Jesus in worship.
Jesus comes near, scripture is opened and hearts are warmed. We find our lives and story molded by God and becoming a part of God’s greater story, plan and Kingdom purposes.
Jesus comes near and “Jesus’ story becomes our story”. Through Inspiration, we are touched by the Spirit and changed by grace. Again and always, that unconditional love of God is always reaching out.
When our Worship leaders meet, I often ask them to think of a meaningful moment in worship. It may be music or testimonies. Perhaps it was particular sermon series like Prayer, Christianity 101, Heroes, Why? Seeking God’s will or Forgiveness. Or it may have been special Sundays like Small Group Sunday or special evening services leading to Christmas and Easter.
A special moment for me was at a Christmas Eve service. I saw the faces of people in candlelight and O Holy Night was sung. The words “Fall on your knees…” brought me into a sense of awe. I was reminded of other times when God had been so faithful and brought me through hard times. I felt so grateful.
Perhaps you remember Holy Week footwashing, placing stones that represent your burdens at the foot of the cross. Maybe it was the testimonies of our youth, Felino Bautista, Lisa Yalung or of faithful stewardship. Recent teaching about Forgiveness pulled me deeper into the Spirit and life with Jesus. There are songs that stay with me, expressing my deepest longings like Psalm 16.
These are points on the walk to Emmaus with Jesus when scripture is opened and our hearts are warmed. We know more deeply who God is. We are touched by the Spirit and changed by grace. Jesus’ story of love, mercy, suffering and victory reframes and becomes our story.
Many of you have shared your testimonies. I love the basic format from the Alpha study:
What is happening in your life?
How did you experience God, or where was Jesus in the situation?
What difference did it make in your life?
Isn’t this the same story as the walk to Emmaus?
Life is that road to Emmaus where Jesus comes alongside. Invite Jesus to stay.
Our core values are Inspiration, Incarnation and Intersection. Let’s say those words together. God’s inspiration is with us throughout our lives if we would be open.
Last week Pastor SunHee said that the bottom line is that there are multitudes of amazing stories here at SAINT PAUL just waiting to be shared. We know that to be true.
Your story is part of SAINT PAUL’s story and God’s great story! The Holy Spirit is mightily at work here! Know your story.
I encourage you over lunch or dinner today to share a meaningful moment in worship with others.
Next week we will look at Incarnation. Once we are inspired, what do our lives look like as people following Jesus?