As you go

Drawn In, Sent Out: The Life Breath of the Spirit

  • Mark 16: 1-8
  • Luke 24: 44-53
  • Matthew 28: 16-20
  • John 21: 24-25

Introduction

This worship culminates our summer worship series. We will hear a short portion at the end of all 4 Gospels in worship. Before we get to the Gospels for today, let’s begin with two questions:
First, What is our summer worship theme?
We have heard many members share some personal reflections of how they are being “Drawn In and Sent out as the Life Breath of the Spirit.
The second question is: What have you heard and seen this summer that has inspired or struck you about how we are being “Drawn In and Sent Out as the Life Breath of the Spirit?”

Throughout the summer we blessed and sent or welcomed back many among us. As we hear the Gospels today, remember it is not one person who is being drawn in and sent out as the life-breath of the Spirit. Everyone is being drawn in and sent out. There is also a communal character to this rhythm of the Spirit’s breathing within us. WE are being drawn in and sent out. WE become the Life-Breath of the Spirit. Jesus prepared his first disciples for this rhythm of the Spirit’s breath. And Jesus continues to prepare us in this rhythm of the Spirit’s breath.  

Jesus’ resurrection and the ending of the four gospels

The Gospels reveal the ways Jesus draws us in and sends us out as a living breathing Spirit-filled community of faith. Jesus gives us breathing lessons.

[Exercise of breathing in……breathing out…]

First we go to Mark’s version of the Gospel story, in particular we hear the original ending of Mark’s Gospel which was the first Gospel to be put into writing. We know that Jesus called disciples to “Come and follow” to be drawn and sent out. We know they often misunderstood Jesus and wanted him with them forever. We know Jesus was crucified and his body placed in a tomb. Their hopes and dreams for Jesus seemed doomed.

Hear Mark’s Gospel ending. 

Mark 16: 1-8  They went out…..and were afraid

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus’ body.
Very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another,
‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’
When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large,
had already been rolled back.
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe,
sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed [or afraid];
you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.
Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

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Fleeing and fear are possible responses to the great responsibility that Jesus left us.
But do we really have a clue what those first followers of Jesus went through? We know how the story turns out; they didn’t! They were faced with the choice to flee in fear or to follow in faith – that is to be drawn in and sent out with the life-breath of the Spirit. In response to the risen Jesus we too continually face the choice of fleeing in fear or following in faith. 
Lest we be critical of the women who “went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”, we do well to remember that it was the women who remained last and returned first when Jesus was killed.

This next song is a word not just for those who fled in fear on that first day of Jesus’ resurrection. It is a song for us today.

“Don’t be afraid,” in Sing the Journey #105 (sing through twice)

Luke 24: 44-53  Led out and blessed….return with joy…and blessing

[Children’s Time…..cf. Labor Day with Easter….]

After Jesus was raised from the dead he had a lot of work to do to prepare his followers for when he wouldn’t be with them. Jesus taught his disciples that he wouldn’t be with them as Jesus in the flesh – Jesus with skin and bones and blood. We might say that Jesus was giving the disciples breathing lessons.

[Breath in….Breath out…..]

Do you know what happened to Jesus and what he told his followers to do after he left?
Listen to how Luke tells us what happened at the end of the Gospel.
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Then Jesus 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. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what God promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’

Then Jesus 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.
———————–
What did Jesus do for his followers? Jesus explained the Bible to them…
   Jesus led them out and blessed them…
Blessing….say ‘yes’ to God’s Spirit at work in us…participate in what God is doing…
What did he tell his followers to do? “You are witnesses…wait for the promised Spirit”
Learn how to breath with Jesus as the Holy Spirit…
What did they do? The disciples “worshipped Jesus…
They returned to Jerusalem…with great joy…
   and were continually in the temple….blessing God.”

This summer we have been worshiping Jesus with joy and blessing each other and God.
Prayer: Jesus, keep showing us how to breath your Holy Spirit as we worship you and bless each other in your name. Help us be your witnesses and to do so with joy. Be with each one of these dear children and help us walk with you in all that we do. Amen
Hymnal #544 “When we walk with the Lord” (verses 1 & 4)

Matthew 28: 16-20 – As You Go

Matthew’s Gospel ending is unique as well. Hear again Matthew’s inspired and inspiring ending we know so well. 

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw Jesus, they worshipped him; but some doubted.

Jesus came and said to them,
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Listen a second time to Jesus’ words

Jesus came and said to them,
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
As you go, therefore, make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Did you hear anything different this time? What did you hear differently?
“Go, therefore, and make disciples…”
“As you go, therefore, make disciples…”

What difference might that slight change make for us who hear it today?
What does Jesus promise you “As you go?”
“Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
How is Jesus with us always?
As the Holy Spirit…..the Holy Spirit as the breath that draws us in and sends us out.

Last night over dinner with some Lutheran friends I heard a great quote from Martin Luther who said that the Hebrew word ‘spirit’ gives us ‘bold undaunted courage’ to follow Christ (Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Public Church, 54).

This summer, at the Mennonite Church USA conference in Columbus, Shane Claiborne challenged us to stop complaining about the church we’ve experienced and start becoming the church Christ imagined.

As our breathing lesson for this task let us sing from Sing the Journey #63 “Lord, you give the great commission.”
SMC story sermon – WDNisly – 9/6/09 – p. 5

John 21: 24-25  world could not contain the Word…the Word is Love…

The fourth and final Gospel was written by John. The last word of John’s Gospel is a great final word for us today. 

—————————-

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them,
and we know that his testimony is true.

But there are also many other things that Jesus did;
if every one of them were written down,
I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

—————————-

John reminds us of the great truth that the world cannot contain the Word…

The world cannot control the Word.
The world cannot defeat the Word.
The world cannot destroy the Word.
What is the word that cannot be contained or controlled, defeated or destroyed?
The Word is Love….for God is Love…God’s Love is manifested in Jesus Christ.
The Love of God is greater far
than tongue or pen can ever tell;
it goes beyond the highest star,
and reaches to the lowest hell;

O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
the saints and angels’ song.

When we worship God together we are grounded, formed, blessed, and inspired in this eternal Word of God incarnate in Jesus Christ. Here we are all drawn in and sent out as the life-breath of the Spirit.

How can we not sing the lord’s song in a foreign land? It is God’s Word of Love!

Sing the Journey #44 “The Love of God.”