SERMON TITLE: “Witnesses of Restoration” (Series: “50 Days for the Earth”)
SERMON TEXT: Acts 1:1-12
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: May 24, 2020, at First UMC
Today is the final Sunday in our “50 Days for the Earth” series. This year, the 50-day season between Easter and Pentecost has also included the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. So, we’ve been thinking about our Christian beliefs not only from the point of view of the resurrection of the crucified Jesus, but also in regard to the revitalization of our climate-changing earth.
Reflecting on the Doubting Thomas story, we talked about how God’s power to change a dead-looking bulb or seed into a vibrant flower, vegetable, or fruit tree increases our ability to believe in God’s power to raise Jesus and us in resurrection. Psalm 23 reminded us that the Lord is our Shepherd, who comforts us when we walk through earth’s dark valleys, and who cares for sheep all over the world.
Next, we considered the disciples who encountered the risen Jesus on their walk to Emmaus. They finally recognized him when Jesus broke the bread made from wheat, grown in the earth. Then we read the story of Peter raising Dorcas from the dead. Dorcas was a woman who sewed clothing from linen, which is made from flax, just as much of our clothing comes from nature’s crops like cotton or renewable animal fur which is spun and woven into wool. Last Sunday, we read about the Apostle Paul, preaching in the city of Athens. He told them that God is not an idol of stone or metal, shaped and limited by humans. Rather, the God who raised Jesus from the dead is the one who created all of heaven and earth. This Lord of heaven and earth is the one who calls us to respect, revitalize, and restore God’s creation.
Now, today, on this final Sunday of the Easter season, we come to the story of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. Just before Jesus was taken up into the cloud, his disciples were asking about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Jesus’ answer was much more expansive. He wanted them to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. Believing that Jesus’ mission applies to us as well, let’s ponder this story for a while. Let’s think about what it might mean for us today to be witnesses of restoration.