Some Words about My Grandfather

Today, I had the privilege and honor to officiate my grandfather’s funeral. My grandfather, Papaw, passed away on July 28. We’ve known this day was coming, but it still does not make it easy.

As I have done on several other occasions, I was asked to officiate the service and offer a few words of reflection upon this man we miss so dearly. What follows after the jump is the homily from today’s funeral. I provide it for you so that you may get to know this man who will live on through the legacy that he leaves behind. Continue reading

Advertisements

Sermon: True Christian Community

This was one of those weeks that brought forth all the emotions of life out of me. I’ve been sad. I’ve been happy. I’ve been nervous. I’ve been pleased. I’ve been anxious. And I’ve been relaxed. That seems to be the state of a Methodist pastor during General Conference season.

If you followed my posts or seen the news, this week, our tradition of faith has seen better days. The world unfortunately saw us at our worst. We focused on our divisions between conservatives and progressives. We became disinterested in doing ministry together. We lost our way. Yet, in the news of the discord over issues that have defined our nation – such as human sexuality, which we will talk in more detail about on Wednesday – came word that approximately 70 percent of our congregations did not have a profession of faith or a baptism in recent years.

We are a church that is struggling. We are a church that has lost its purpose. We are a church that is dying. Continue reading

The Gardener Never Gives Up

I’m not much of a gardener. I do not have a green thumb. I do not have a good agricultural sense. In fact, if someone asked me how to produce a good fruit or vegetable my response would not be about how one would grow the desired plant. Instead, I would likely tell them to get up early on a Saturday morning, take some money out of the bank, and head to the nearest farmer’s market. The fruits and vegetables would be there for the picking!

To be honest, Abbi and I did try our hand at growing our own vegetables once. A couple of years ago, in the days before Noah, we decided we wanted a garden. We enlisted the help of some friends who helped us to prepare a plot of land. Now, what we had in mind was a small garden where we could plant a few things. Our friend had a different idea. We ended up with a 30-yard long and 10-yard deep garden.

It was probably too big for two amateur gardeners, but we did our best to produce what vegetables we could. We cleared the weeds and prepared the rows. We planted the seeds and watered the land. We sowed some seed in some good places and some, honestly, in some bad places. Before too long, to my own shock, we ended up with a good crop of three-foot long squash, some tomatoes, and a few beans. Continue reading

Sunday Sermon: A Kingdom Prayer

Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication. Can you guess what these four words have in common?

Besides being five-dollar words to start a sermon, these are worship attitudes that are part of a prayer formula known as the ACTS prayer. This is the form of prayer I follow during the pastoral prayer. Each portion or petition relates back to an act of worship and helps us to focus our thoughts and energies.

The prayer begins with adoration. We give praise and honor to God, because of the glory and holiness of God’s name. From there, the prayer moves to a time of confession. It is an act of confessing the sins we have committed against God’s desires. Confession is not a one time act. It is a continual process of naming our sin and seeking God’s forgiveness. Following the confession the prayer progresses to a time of thanksgiving. We thank God for the gift of forgiveness and the blessings given to us. Giving thanks to God is an important act of worship. The final petition is a time of supplication. Here we raise our concerns to the Lord. In my prayers, I like to begin this by focusing on the needs of the world and then moving inward. It is an act recognizing that we are not most important and that we are called to be a global church.

This is just one example of a prayer formula. There are many others. A prayer formula helps to center our thoughts, which helps us to be attentive to the presence of the Holy Spirit. However, there is a danger involved with prayer formulas. They can become ritualistic to the point where we do not understand what it is we are praying. The words become so common to us that we are not sure what they mean, but we know we need to say them.

One prayer formula that fits this description is the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer we are familiar with. We recite it each week in corporate worship. However, the words can be hard to understand. When we pray for God’s name to be hallowed, for instance, what is it we are praying? What about when we ask for the Kingdom to come and God’s will be done? Or to deliver us from evil? What does it mean for us to pray the Lord’s Prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer is found twice in the New Testament in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. Luke’s version is the smaller of the two. In Luke’s description, Jesus is responding to a request from a disciple. The disciple wants Jesus to teach him in the same way John taught his disciples. In those days, a teacher would teach their disciples how to pray. This disciple wants Jesus to teach him how to pray.

Matthew gives us the Lord’s Prayer in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. This is Jesus’ grand teaching on the law of God that takes place early in his public ministry. Before giving the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said that our prayer time is not about being honored by others, but about being in communication with God.

By giving us the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is giving us a specific prayer formula. These words give us a clue on how we should pray. The prayer is Kingdom oriented and counter-cultural in nature. It is important for us to understand these words, what they mean, and how they call us to a deep relationship with God.

We are going to walk through the Lord’s Prayer by using the translation found in the New Living Translation. This is the translation that we use each Sunday morning. The reason for this is that it uses words that are common to us. When we recite the Lord’s Prayer, we are saying the words that come from the King James translation. It is a translation that dates back to the 1600s. It uses a form of English that is not used today. The King James was an adequate translation for the time, however we want a translation that we can understand. A good translation is true to the original Greek and Hebrew, is understandable, and helps us to see and hear God’s word.

As we work with the text, the first thing you might notice is that something is missing. The King James includes the words “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever,” but these words are missing in the New Living Translation. Did the translators ignore part of the Greek, or is something else going on? The familiar phrase is not part of the original Greek manuscripts. It is a part of a doxology that was likely added to the text. Jewish custom held that a prayer ended with a doxology. The early church likely added a doxology, which was an adaptation of 1 Chronicles 29:10-13, in response to this custom.

You might also notice the prayer has different sections or petitions. The prayer has roughly seven petitions. The first three focus on the Kingdom of God and God’s coming reign, when Christ returns in full glory. The final petitions focus on our current needs as we live in the present reality of God’s kingdom.

Jesus begins the prayer with the phrase, “Our Father in heaven.” The word “Father” signifies a family relationship. Jesus is calling us to see God as a our Father. This was the primary way Jesus addressed God during his earthly ministry, and the churched picked up on this description, such as in Romans 8:15, where Paul writes of the Holy Spirit giving us the ability to try out Abba Father. To call God “Father” is to address God with a term of affection. We recognize that God is our provider, comfort, and strength. The Lord’s Prayer is an affectionate prayer with the God whom we love, adore and worship.

After the opening, the prayer moves to a request of “may your name be kept holy.” It is here we often use the word “hallowed.” We pray that God will be seen as holy and loved by all. It is a petition that asks for all to see that God’s name, which is about character, is true, good, and holly. The petition is kingdom focused in it seeks Christ’s return. We desire that God will establish his eternal rule. Something else is going on here. When we pray these words, we desire that God will help us keep his name holy in our lives. It is a petition that God will guide us in our worship, discipleship, and growth, so we may claim the name of Christ in a deep and committed way.

The next petition directly asks that the Kingdom will come and God’s will be done. This is a very counter-cultural prayer. We live in a consumer-driven culture that says it is about us. This view can often affect how we see the church. No matter who we are or how old we are, we can fall into the temptation of believing that worship, and our relationship with God, is about us. It is about what I get out of worship. It is about what God has done for me. It is about my style of worship or my agenda for the church, and so on. None of this is true to Scripture or true to Christ’s desires. This petition calls us to abandon ourselves and to be aligned with the Father’s will. It is not about what we want, but about seeking God’s will in our lives, our churches, and our communities. In praying these words, we desire that God’s desires will be primary in our life and that we will seek and do God’s will. The call of Christian discipleship is counter-cultural to the message of the world that says it is all about us. The call of discipleship is to abandon ourselves, to hear the Father’s will, and to live in obedience.

Following this petition, Jesus moves to petitions of provisions. These focus on our needs in the world and recognizes our dependence upon God for all things.

It begins with the petition to “Give us today the food we need.” This is also counter-cultural. Often, we go to God with a list of our wants. We want the fortunes of life and the joys of the world. How often do we ask God for what we need to survive for this day? In saying these words, we pray that God will gives us exactly what we need to survive and do the Father’s will. We ask that not when we are in deep need, but every day. These words recognize that God is the provider of all that we have. God gives us exactly what we need. The things we have are blessings that come from God, and this prayer is our recognition of God’s love.

After this prayer of need, Jesus asks us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. This petition recognizes we have sinned against God. With these words we confess our sin before God and each other. Sin is our moral debt, as one writer put it, in our relationship with God. We are praying that this debt will be be forgiven. As well, we seek God’s help so we may be able to forgive those who have hurt us. We cannot expect God to forgive us and then not forgive our brothers and sisters who have wronged us. Forgiveness is a two-way street that is both equally received and equally given.

The final petition is a petition of protection. We pray that God will keep us from temptation and protect us from doing wrong. Each of us are faced with temptations on a daily basis. The temptations we face are different, but they are common to us all. Temptations seek to keep us from the kingdom and hinder our relationship with the Father. We need God’s protection and guidance during times of temptation. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul writes that God is faithful in helping us through any temptation we may face. By saying these words, we pry that God will show us the way out and, even more, that we might be willing to take the way out of temptation when it comes.

The Lord’s Prayer is a deep prayer. I hope that after today these are not empty words we say each Sunday, but are meaningful and powerful words. They are words of commitment to the Father. Words that signify we are in desperate need of God’s provisions and care. Words that articulate our desire to live for God’s will and not our own.

When we pray this prayer, allow it to bring you to a deeper connection with the Father, through the life and mission of the Son, through the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit. May these words guide us to a deeper level of faith, as we seek to live in the present reality of the Kingdom of God.

Sunday’s Sermon: The Kingdom of God is Here!

This past week, the Commonwealth realm celebrated the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne. She became queen in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI. Known as the “Diamond Jubilee,” celebrations included a weekend concert, a procession of the Royal Family through the streets of London on Tuesday, and an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace later that day.

I watched some of the festivities on CNN. You could see the joy felt by those who gathered to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. They weren’t there to meet a celebrity, but to meet their monarch and head of state. CNN commentator and British native Pierce Morgan called it a “patriotic” event. Indeed, it was exactly that.

This was also a very public announcement. The festivities announced that this kingdom, and the Royal Family, were still a powerful and influential force. Queen Elizabeth II is not going anywhere and neither is the commonwealth’s kingdom.

While the celebration was a powerful public announcement that captivated our attention, I yearn for a different kingdom to be our focus. Friends, the British kingdom is not my type of kingdom. Neither are the powers of this world my type of authority. I hope the same is true for you. That is because we are citizens of a greater kingdom. Our kingdom is not of this world and cannot be defined by the powers of this world. The kingdom we are citizens of is the Kingdom of God.

Today, we are making a public announcement of our own. That is that the Kingdom of God is here, as we await it to come in its fullness.

This announcement might be hard to understand. There are several reasons for this. As we embark on this new sermon series on the Kingdom of God, we will wrestle with why it may be hard for us to fully comprehend God’s kingdom. One of those reasons is important to discuss this morning. That reason is the fact we ignore the Kingdom of God in the church today. It doesn’t matter if it is at our two churches, within the United Methodist Church, or throughout the American church. For too long, we have failed to fully pay attention to the Kingdom of God, which leads to us not being able to recognize it in our presence.

This is dangerous and leads to a disturbing consequence. To ignore the Kingdom of God is to ignore the majority of Jesus’ ministry and teaching. We have a tendency to view the teaching between Jesus’ birth and Passion as unimportant. This certainly wasn’t Jesus’ intention. His preaching focus was to express what the Kingdom of God looked like, while inaugurating the kingdom in the presence of his followers and detractors.

His words about the Kingdom of God are important for us to understand, because we are living in the present reality of God’s reign here on earth. Because of this, Jesus calls each of his followers to live as people of the Kingdom of God. This is a calling not just for Sundays when we are inside the church, but it is a daily calling lived out in our personal lives, with our families, and in how we interact with and serve our community and world.

When we proclaim that Jesus Christ is our Lord, we make a statement that says that Jesus has authority and dominion over us. Living as kingdom people is our response to this affirmation of faith. This isn’t a new idea, but it is the recognition of what Jesus and the early church saw as one of the most important statements that the church can make. That is that God reigns in our world today and has dominion in our lives.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to unpack what it means that God reigns and how we are called to live in response. Today, our focus is on what it means that the Kingdom of God is here. Next week, we will focus on what it means to await the kingdom to come in its fullness.

Today, we can have confidence knowing that we can proclaim that the Kingdom of God is here. When we say that the Kingdom of God is present, we recognize God’s dominion in our life and in our world. The realities of the Kingdom of God is available to all. Upon receiving the free gift of faith, we become recipients of the Kingdom of God. It is not for a select few, but for all who desire to be in relationship with God.

The Kingdom of God is here, but it does not look like how we may want it to look. When we think of the Kingdom of God, we are faced with the temptation to place the world’s powers and ideas on top of God’s kingdom. To do so makes our ideas and desires an idol that we turn into a god to be worshiped. Of course, this is wrong, because it places something of us above right worship with God. It also doesn’t embrace the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, many of us continue to fall into this temptation.

For example, you might have heard, at some point, the idea of the Social Gospel. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, the Social Gospel was a prominent movement that still has its advocates today. The Social Gospel stressed justice and reconciliation ministries as the prominent way to share the message of Christ’s love. A lot of good results and Christian organizations came about because of this movement. However, I find the Social Gospel lacking depth. Don’t get me wrong, as Christians we must be about justice and reconciliation. Justice and reconciliation without the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is not true justice.

There is also another type of temptation that we face. We often see God’s kingdom embodied in the political and governmental structures of the United States. For a long time, the American church believed that America was New Jerusalem and the best thing God has ever given the world. This belief continues today when we act – either openly or privately – that our ideology or partisan political party is representative of God’s desires. This is a common narrative on both the right and the left, but it is misguided and lacks true focus. The Kingdom of God rises above partisan discourse and is not defined by any world power. God’s reign on earth has something to say about the many issues we face, but does so by challenging the basic power structure that is dominant in our world and country. The Kingdom of God is not Democratic. It is not Republican. It is not wrapped in the American flag. God’s grace, law, and desires challenges our world views and calls us to be witnesses of a greater truth.

That greater truth is that the Kingdom of God is present. Friends, we are a part of it today. This is what Jesus tells the Pharisees in our passage from Luke. The Pharisees approached Jesus with a question about when the Kingdom of God would come. They knew Jesus taught about the Kingdom, so they wanted to know why they had not seen it yet.

Perhaps like us, the Pharisees were expecting something like the British royal procession. They expected God’s reign to begin with a grand entrance and celebration. We want that as well and maybe that is another reason why we struggle to recognize that the Kingdom of God is here. God’s kingdom doesn’t come through the ways of the world. This is what Jesus tells the Pharisees. The Kingdom of God is here today because of the foolishness of the incarnation and the cross. Jesus’ incarnation and crucifixion serve kingdom purposes and usher in God’s reign.

At the incarnation, Christ, the Son of God, humbly entered the world as its king. Christ took on the form of a servant, the form of a human, in Jesus and came and walked among us. That act inaugurated the Kingdom of God, because it announced that Earth’s true king had arrived and came to bring others into the kingdom through faith. God’s reign was reestablished in a world that had turned its back on God. This is the true picture of grace that God freely sent his Son.

What about the crucifixion and the resurrection? What kingdom significance do these moments play? The crucifixion is Jesus’ victory over the powers of this world. When He took on the most horrific form of punishment ever imagined, he defeated the powers of this world. They could not defeat the King of Kings, and because of this the kingdoms of this world are no longer in power. God’s reign is here. The resurrection gives us the hope that this is true. When Jesus rose from the grave, it was proof that the powers of this world had been defeated and will be completely defeated when Christ returns. These are not separate events, but together public proclaim that God’s reign in the world is present and active.

If God’s kingdom is alive and present, then where is it? God’s kingdom does not live in the physical realm, but in the spiritual. Yet, God’s kingdom is still very visible to us. Jesus alerts us to this. When we confess our faith in Jesus, the kingdom becomes a reality in the depths of our soul. The Kingdom of God lives in our hearts and can be seen in how we, as individuals and a community, live our lives through our words, actions, and deeds.

As followers, we are called to be transformed by aligning ourselves with God’s desires. This is what we see in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus teaches not only what the Kingdom of God looks like, but how we are to participate in the bringing in of the Kingdom of God today. We should take seriously Jesus’ command to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” because the Kingdom of God is here. We should serve others as if we are serving Christ, because God’s reign is present. We should love our enemies, proclaim justice and reconciliation, and desire for all people to experience repentance and transformation because Jesus is our Lord and King. Friends, we take seriously Jesus’ words not because they are written in red, but because they show us how God desires us to live as witnesses and bringers of the Kingdom of God as kingdom people.

We are indeed people of a kingdom – God’s kingdom. This will be our focus in the weeks ahead. For today, know this: We are called to align our lives and our mission with that of the Kingdom of God. The challenge is for us to not just say that the kingdom of God is real, but to live it out and proclaim in everything we do and everything that we are.

When this happens, something amazing occurs. The church moves from being a noun to being a verb, full of action and power that is a fruit of our relationship in Jesus Christ.

As we embark on this journey of looking deeply into the Kingdom of God, I want to invite you to ponder what this means for your life, our churches, our community, our denomination, and our world. Ask yourself these questions: How has the Kingdom of God affected my life? How am I being a witness of the Kingdom to those whom I interact with? How might we share the Kingdom with our community and world?

Sharing the Wine

Tonight, I had the opportunity to preach at Licensing School, which is where I am this week as a participant. It was a humbling honor to preach to the servants who will go into the mission field shortly. The sermon comes from John 2:1-11 and is entitled “Sharing the Wine.” Continue reading

Sunday’s Sermon: Breathe in Life. Breathe Out Mission

This morning, we are all doing something that is important to our physical lives. We probably do not realize we are doing it, but it is crucial to our existence. If we were to stop doing it, even if for a moment, we would immediately feel the impact.

Each of us are breathing.

The continuous motion of breathing in and breathing out is important to us. By breathing in, we inhale the oxygen we need for our brain to function properly, our lungs to inflate, and our heart to pump blood throughout our body. A normal breathing rate is about 10 to 15 breaths per minute – a breath every six seconds or so. Most of the time we are not paying attention to the fact we are breathing. Unless you are physically exerting yourself or trying to pay attention, breathing happens quite naturally.

Breathing is analogous to something I would like discuss today. I believe it is analogous to something that is just as important when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s breath is the key to life, physical and spiritual. God’s breath is the Holy Spirit, and we are called to breathe it in. As we breathe in the Holy Spirit, we receive God’s love and law in the center of our heart. As well, we are equally called to express outward, to breathe out, that love and what the Spirit has done inside us. We breathe in life from the Holy Spirit and breathe out into our many connectional points our gifts as as a witness of Christ’s love for us and for our world.

Today is the Pentecost Sunday. This is the Church’s birthday. At Pentecost, we believe that something powerful, something breathtaking, something so important happened that it launched the movement of the Church into the entire world. Pentecost comes at the end of the 50 Days of Easter. There are 50 days from Easter Sunday to today, which we call the Easter season, that focuses on the hope of the resurrection. The timing of Pentecost is similar to how the people of Israel originally celebrated the festival. Originally, Pentecost was a celebration that remembered how Moses received the Law from God at Mt. Sinai. This celebration came 50 days after Passover, when the people of Israel were rescued from slavery in Egypt. According to Leviticus 23:15-22, at Pentecost the people of Israel would offer the first part of their grain crop to God. N.T. Wright says it was an act of gratitude of God’s blessings that they had already experienced and an act of prayer that this blessing would be seen with the remaining crop.

Our Scripture passage from Acts takes us to Pentecost, where Luke reports that the Disciples were together in one place. We believe it might have been the same room where a few weeks earlier they shared the Passover meal with Jesus. Wherever it might have been, what is important is this: they were waiting for something to happen. At his Ascension, Jesus told the Disciples to head to this place to wait for the promised gift to come.

What was this promised gift? Jesus tells us in John 14:16-17 that it is the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, they were waiting for. Jesus told us that when he left, we will not be on our own. The Spirit will come and guide us in our walk with Christ. Jesus promised the Disciples, and us, that God would never leave them, because the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is as fully divine as the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit can, in some ways, be an enigma to us. We understand the Father Creator, who is the author of true love. We understand Jesus, who is our Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit is unfortunately overlooked. I believe it is because the Holy Spirit can be confusing to us.

When we think of the Holy Spirit, we are thinking of the power of God that works in relationship with each of the members of the Trinity. All three work together as one and not as separate units. The Spirit comes to us as a guide that leads us to a relationship with the Father, by faith in the Son. He also guides us in our witness of Christ by our words, our actions, and our deeds. It is the Spirit who convicts us of our sin and brings us to a place of repentance. Even more, it is the Spirit who writes the love and word of God on our hearts.

There is much more that we can say about the Spirit, but we can summarize it all by this: by sending us the Holy Spirit, Jesus is telling us that we are never alone. God’s presence is with us, shaping us and directing us in what it means to be children of God in our lives and interactions with others.

This is whom the disciples were waiting for in the Upper Room. They didn’t know when the Spirit would come, but they were praying for His arrival. On Pentecost, the Spirit came and it overtook each of the disciples. Luke tells us that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Their entire being was shaped by the indwelling of the Spirit within them. It transformed each of them in ways none of them could have expected. In that moment, the Spirit came and redefined their lives to a deeper relationship with God and understanding of their faith.

God breathed on the disciples in perhaps the same way that he breathed on Adam in Genesis. In that moment, God’s breath (in Hebrew: ruah) created life. In the same way, God’s breath created new lives in the disciples. They were now defined by their life in the Spirit and were set for a new journey. The Spirit came and changed their life to where they would never be the same again.

We are invited to breathe in the Spirit today and everyday. Breathing in the Spirit is the act of recognizing that we cannot live this life on our own. We need God’s help. Even though our basic instinct might be to do it our own way, we need the Spirit’s direction and guidance to work through the difficult situations in our families, to wrestle with tough work situations, or even to walk through another day of life when you really don’t want to get out of bed. The Spirit is there beside us through all of it. All it may take is for us to see this is by simply praying that God will open our eyes to His presence and guide us through our days and moments.

The Holy Spirit isn’t just our guide. The Spirit is also our teacher for each of us. When we breathe in the Spirit, and allow the Spirit to lead us, we are allowing the Spirit to disciple us and shape us. We are desiring the Spirit to transform us into the image, and the person, God desires us to be. This takes place when we ask the Lord to shape us, teach us, and mold us by the Spirit’s direction.

What would it look like if we took in that breath from God? What would our life look like if we breathed in God’s presence instead of the things that we so often allow to dictate our lives, such as money, bitterness, jealousy, our livelihood, or even our own self and desires?

Friends, we cannot just breathe in the Spirit. We also have to breathe out what God has done in us through the Holy Spirit. Breathing, as we said, includes both inhaling and exhaling. The inhaling process is breathing in the Spirit. The exhaling part is the fruit of the Spirit that we share with our communities and those we interact with. When we live by the Spirit, as Paul says, it transforms us into people who are known by our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. There are other fruits of the Spirit. Fruit will look different based on who we are and how God has gifted us. Some will produce some form of fruit and others will produce another. However, whatever fruit we produce, we are called to share it with others as an act of witness of God’s love.

That is what Peter does in our text. When the world mocked the disciples for being drunk, Peter witnessed to the change that had taken place in their lives by proclaiming the truth of God’s love, of the message of Jesus Christ, and the promise of the Holy Spirit. By quoting a passage from Joel and proclaiming about Jesus, Peter is witnessing to the transformation that had occurred in his heart. He breathed out the change that had occurred in him so that others might experience transformation and faith in Jesus Christ in their own life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is what the church has been doing ever since that moment. The mission of the church is the continuation of this breathing out as an act of witness. Our mission – no matter the size of our congregation – is to breathe out into our communities God’s love by our gifts, our presence, our prayers, and our service. We are not too small to participate in this breathing out, nor are we too old or young. Each of us have a part to play in being the living witnesses of God’s transformative grace and love in our communities.

All that is asked of us is that we pray that God will use what he has given us, so that others might know him. It’s a dangerous prayer, as a pastor I heard preach once said, but it is an important prayer, because in that prayer lies our desire, both individually and corporately, to be used by God in the same ways that disciples were used to launch the mission of the church.

Breathe in the Spirit’s transformation and breathe out the fruit of the Spirit as an act of witness. This is a process that doesn’t just happen once, but is a daily receiving and giving.

Friends, breathe in the Spirit and experience the indwelling presence of the Lord in your life. As well, breathe out what God has done in your life in the hope, as Peter had, that others will experience transformation in their life and come to know the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.