Rebuild the World: Acts 18.1–4 and 1 Corinthians 1.10–18

public action and serviceDelivered at Ames UCC
on April 24, 2016
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be
heard rather than read.

Please join us for worship
at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays

(We move to 10:30 a.m. starting Sunday, May 15, 2016).

JESSE JACKSON
I keep running into Jesse Jackson. It started happening years ago. I would be flying from Portland to New York, with a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare. And there he would be, either walking though the airport or getting onto my flight. He’s very tall, with a commanding presence, even when just talking to the other men in his entourage. Who also seemed very tall.

As a younger person, I didn’t know who Jackson was other than a famous black preacher. I was probably in my 30s when I first realized he was standing next to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he was murdered.

Then I started to run into Jackson at my seminary, where he earned a Master of Divinity. He spoke at a couple of events during my time there and last year at a conference in honor of the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma. Continue reading

As If: Acts 3.1–10

Delivered at Ames UCC on April 10, 2016
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be heard rather than read.
Please join us for worship at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays.

ACTION
Remember how last week I said that in light of Jesus’ death and the Easter mystery, the disciples are now trying to find and make meaning of Jesus’ work, life, and death, as well as their own? That’s not how the Acts of the Apostles actually reads. I believe it is true. I believe that they had to have had a crisis of faith after Easter, one that made them rethink everything. But we don’t get to hear those words or attend those meetings. What the author of Luke–Acts, again about 50 years after Easter, offers is a lot of public action.

Here is what has happened up until and just after today’s passage:
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Making Prayerful Meaning: Acts 1.1–14

lovecallsDelivered at Ames UCC
on April 3, 2016
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be
heard rather than read.
Please join us for worship
at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays.

MEANING-SEEKING
We humans are seekers of meaning. We are makers of meaning, too. Through science, art, religion, family, and friends we both interpret and create the world around us. In doing so, we come to know what to expect in life. Or, when something unexpected happens, we either try to make it fit within our existing expectations or reform the expectations all together.

The book of the Acts of the Apostles begins with the greeting “Dear Theophilus” and references how the author has already described the life and work of Jesus up to his ressurection. That was the gospel of Luke. Luke and Acts were written together, in the 80s, to describe the full arc of the Jesus movement.  They are a well-constructed history of Jesus making an argument for his messiahship. There is no sense or claim, especially in Acts, that these words came together through divine inspiration or dictation. Instead, the author researched the alleged happenings and is now interpreting those stories of Jesus for his audience. He is explaining the meaning of Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection as well as the actions of his followers.

That’s a pretty good description of my job, and Pr. Hannah’s. You searched for and hired people trained in Christian history and theology and ritual in order to continue to find or make meaning in the stories of Jesus and his disciples with you.
Continue reading