Faces of Our Faith: Zacchaeus

We had our VBS Celebration during worship this morning! So that explains the chancel covered in camping and rafting supplies, I hope. My sermon was intentionally short and hopefully a little more kid-friendly (even if just because of the length).

I forgot to record Terrance and Amari reading the scripture, for which I am truly sorry because they did a great job.

Luke 19:1-10

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, â€œZacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.

Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”

Jesus said to him, â€œToday, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One came to seek and save the lost.”

Faces of Our Faith: Eutychus

Acts 20:7-12

On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight. There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, ‘Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.’ Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left.Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.

For Reflection:

Imagine you are in the room, listening to Paul preach. Howdo you react to the events that unfold? What are you feeling as you witness Eutychus fall?

Imagine you are Eutychus. How do you experience the events that unfold? How do these events color your relationship with the Church?

What are some reasons people fall away from the Church? What actions or inactions by Christians can drive people away from church?

Before God, name someone who is falling way from the Church, from community, or from a place of belonging. Commit to praying for that person and look forways to encourage them or bring them back to the table.

Faces of Our Faith: Philemon


1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, 2to Apphia our sister,  to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in your house: 

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

4 When I remember you  in my prayers, I always thank my God 5because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus. 6I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. 7I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother. 

8 For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 9yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus.10I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus (Ὀνήσιμος), whose father I have become during my imprisonment. 11Formerly he was useless (ἄχρηστον) to you, but now he is indeed useful (εὔχρηστονboth to you and to me. 12I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 13I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced.15Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back for ever, 16no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self.20Yes, brother, let me have this benefit (ὀναίμην—same root word as Onesimus) from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 

22 One thing more—prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you. 

23 Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you,24and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow-workers. 

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

The Questions In the Bulletin for the listener:

Why is it important to understand the cultural context of Paul’s letters?

In what ways does Paul encourage Philemon to put love above law? What does it look like to do this today?

Imagine Paul’s letter is addressed to the modern-day church. Who are the Onesimuses in our midst? Who are the ones deemed useless or delinquent who need to be welcomed into the beloved community?

Sermon: Pentecost (Year C)

This year’s Pentecost Sunday was also a day to celebrate new members, Andrea and Wilma, and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: â€˜In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Sermon: Tenses, Tension, and Ascension (Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1:1-11)

___________: Since his resurrection, Jesus has been helping the disciples understand…and they almost get it. 

Luke 24:44-47 

Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem…’ 

Acts 1:1-3 

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God… 

 ___________: Jesus ascends into heaven, which is a  

    turning point for the disciples.  

Luke 24:50-51 

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God. 

Acts 1:6-7, 9-11 

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.’ 

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.10While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?’ 

___________: A promised baptism by the Holy Spirit, the disciples bearing witness to the ends of the earth, and Christ’s return. 

Luke 24:47-49 

‘…and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ 

Acts 1:811 

‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’  â€¦suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’ 

June Newsletter and a New Sermon Series

Dear Peace Church Family,

If you were to pull out a piece of paper or open a blank note in your phone and begin writing all of the names of people you have met in scripture, you might be able to produce quite a list. I imagine you would include Jesus, of course, maybe some of the disciples, and perhaps some of our Old Testament heroes of the faith like Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah. You might remember some of the women who came to the tomb to find it empty (you can’t go wrong with “Mary” in that case). You might think of some of the people listed in Jesus’ lineage like Ruth, Jesse, or Solomon.

But what about Puah and Shiphrah? Jonah or Mephibosheth? Philemon or Eutychus?

In the summer months of June, July, and August, we will step away from the prescribed Lectionary and dive into the bold and untold stories of our faith. We will explore the stories from scripture that we often overlook, miss altogether, or take for granted. These are “ordinary” people of faith who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Their stories will help us understand our own stories better, as we too seek to be people of faith, boldly witnessing to God’s goodness and offering our lives to God as he continues to write a beautiful story of his redemption, salvation, and glory.

We will journey with these men and women, from the Old Testament and the New Testament, and we will be reminded of the role we all may play in God’s redemptive story, and be encouraged in knowing that no action or offering is too small when it is God who is calling and blessing us.

I hope to see you each Sunday this summer as we explore the scriptures together.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Becky

Notes: The artwork and visual materials for this sermon series are licensed by A Sanctified Art, LLC in Black Mountain, NC.

All sermons that I preach in this series will be available in video format here on my website, barring any technical difficulties.

The Schedule of Passages:

June 16: Lydia (Acts 16)

June 23: Puah and Shiphrah (Exodus 1)

June 30: Faces of Our Faith Interactive Worship Experience

July 7: Jonah (Jonah 1-4)

July 14: Deborah (Judges 4-5)

July 21: Zacchaeus (Luke 19)

August 4: Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 4, 9)

August 11: Eutychus (Acts 20)

August 18: Philemon (Philemon)

Sermon: Passing the Peace (John 14:22-29)

John 14:22-29

22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ 23Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25 â€˜I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

Sermon: John 21:1-19

John 21:1-19

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.3Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ 6He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’17He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

Sermon: John 20:1-18 (Happy Easter!)

I have been preaching for almost 19 years. In the early years, I preached maybe three or five times a year; in the later years in Henderson, I preached as often as twice a month. Of course, now I preach almost every single week (and I really love that more than I expected).

But I have NEVER preached on Easter Sunday…until today! And I really enjoyed preparing for and preaching today’s sermon.

I hope you had a Sunday full of life and love. Happy Easter!

John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.