SERMON TITLE: “Acts of the Spirit: Church of the Spirit”
SERMON TEXT: Acts 11:19 – 12:5
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: July 11, 2021, at First UMC
Next Sunday, while I’m on vacation, the United Methodist Men will be in charge of the worship service, and David Barron will be preaching. Thank you, David! When I get back, I’m going to start a new sermon series on stories about water in the Gospel of John. It seems like some “living water” might help our thirstiness in this summer of drought and heat.
So, this is the final sermon in this series on the Acts of the Spirit. I hope you’ve been enjoying this two-month-long focus on the Book of Acts and the Holy Spirit. Even though we haven’t yet reached the halfway point in this New Testament book, I think we’ve gone far enough for you to see why I’ve called this series “Acts of the Spirit.” In those earliest days, months, and years after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, the Holy Spirit was constantly on the move, empowering the disciples to preach and teach the good news, and encouraging their listeners to repent, be baptized, and to devote themselves to learning more about the Christian faith. In the course of all that, the Spirit gave birth to the church and added thousands and thousands of believers in more and more places. The church was expanded, transplanted, reproduced, and opened up. The church spread from Jerusalem into cities and countries all around the Mediterranean Sea. Before long, the Spirit had planted congregations of the church in what we think of today as the Middle East, northern Africa, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
Today’s scripture reading focuses on the church that the Holy Spirit developed in the city of Antioch, which is in present-day Syria. In those days, Antioch had a population of about a half million people, and it was the third-largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria. Antioch was located about 300 miles north of Jerusalem, which was approximately a 15-day walking distance. I invite you to consider with me the characteristics of this church in Antioch. Let’s see how these characteristics might inform our Ogden First United Methodist Church about how we too can be a church of the Spirit.