SERMON SERIES: “Opening the Way”
SERMON TITLE: #3: “Open Minds”
SERMON TEXT: Luke 24:36-48
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: April 15, 2018, at First UMC
Most of you are probably aware that April 4th was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What you may not have been thinking about, though, is that this month is also the 50th anniversary of the formation of the United Methodist Church. On April 23, 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren merged with the Methodists to create the United Methodist Church. That union of two denominations came at a time when our American society was conflicted and divided by the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s rights movement, turmoil over Vietnam, and the counter-culture revolution. Generational conflict was rampant.
And, yet, in the midst of all that, the United Methodist Church was born. With the creation of this newly-merged denomination, there was opportunity to improve some situations of injustice. For example, the right of women to serve as ordained clergy was affirmed. And the separate and unequal Central Jurisdiction was eliminated, so that African Americans could be fully integrated in the governance of the church.
Those changes didn’t happen easily. No doubt there was turmoil in the leadership and membership of the denomination. At the uniting conference, one of the sermons was titled “The Unfinished Business of an Unfinished Church.” The people of John Wesley had gone through a lot of change to get to that point, and the 1968 merger was opening the way for what would lie ahead.
For the past couple weeks, we’ve been talking about opening the way of faith. On Easter Sunday, we remembered God’s grand opening of the tomb, which allowed the women to see that Jesus had risen from the dead. Last Sunday, we recalled the two disciples who encountered the risen Jesus on the Road to Emmaus. As he spoke with them and broke the bread, their hearts were opened to believe, and they encouraged others to open their hearts as well.
Today we’ve read another resurrection story. Luke 24:45 tells us that, as Jesus appeared to the disciples gathered in Jerusalem, “he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures.” Let’s think about this concept. What would it mean for us to have open minds of understanding?