1. This is Pentecost Sunday which is the closest thing the Christian movement
has to an official Birthday.
a. The story is found in Acts chapter 2 – let me share a few excerpts:
b. Read scripture Read Acts 2:1-6, 37-38, 41
c. In a moment a small group of Jesus’ followers became a global movement.
2. But just a few years later, that movement was in trouble in some places.
a. The writer of the New Testament letter to an unknown church gives insight into a time when systematic persecution from the outside and difficult growing pains from the inside were making it so the church didn’t even want to meet for worship anymore.
b. Read Hebrews 10:24-25
c. It’s gotten beyond the point where
just a reminder post card or potluck supper will get people back together.
The Greek word for ‘stir up’ means to incite, irritate, rouse to action. Its root means to bring a sharp point and jab and poke with it to get someone back on the right track.
3. It’s a nice crowd for our Pentecost Birthday celebration today – but statistics say only about
20-30% of those who claim they are Christian actually show up to church on a regular basis – at least monthly that means.
a. My view is that this is the most important time of my week. And it gets exponentially better with each additional person I spend it with.
b. So…hort of going around with an electric cattle prod…ow can
we get to an understanding about this time where it will take a 7.0 earthquake to make us miss?
4. That’s what we’re exploring today, so, since we’re all here, let’s gather round each other and worship Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit!
5. Many of you know when it comes to Major League Baseball I bleed Royal Blue.
a. I’m from Kansas City, which is a pretty small market for pro sports teams.
But fan support can be really good for the Royals and Chiefs – filling stadiums, buying merchandise, cheering loud – if the home teams are winning.
If they’re losing, the stadium is pretty
b. There have been some lean years, but last year as the Royals were making their
World Series Championship run the KC fans were in full force.
They broke attendance records, filling the stadium day in day out. They also traveled with the team when it was on the road, dotting other stadiums with blue.
In fan voting for the All-Star Team the KC families almost got every single position
filled with a Royal- something never done before.
The World Series celebration
gathered over 800,000 fans to Downtown KC.
Through the season, the players and coaches said the energy they felt from all the fans was a huge contributor to their success.
c. Think about that though. The fans didn’t pitch. Didn’t hit. Didn’t catch a ball for an out. Didn’t steal a single base.
How can they say they contributed anything? And why is it hard for team to win if they play in front of empty seats?
6. A few years back I was visiting with an older woman sitting in her pew before church. She started to apologize to me, saying she didn’t contribute anything. She wasn’t on a committee. Didn’t go to a Bible Study or Sunday School class. Couldn’t give much of an offering. Had never been on a mission trip. She just showed up every Sunday.
a. I replied, “Well then, that’s your ministry.” “What is?” she asked, confused. “The Ministry of Showing Up. That’s your Ministry.”
As a Pastor, I want her to go deeper in her faith. But I don’t want to minimize how important it is to just show up every week- for her, for the Pastor, for the choir, for the people sitting around her, for the whole church, and for Jesus.
b. Let’s re-read that Hebrews 10:24-25 passage.
The word “encouragement” leaps off the page as what the writer wants the
church to see is the whole point of meeting together.
In v.24 it talks about stirring up love and good works, and it’s easy to jump ahead and think these are the reasons the church needs to gather. But I don’t think that’s what the author wants to say.
c. When people “meet together” to be the
church, it encourages the Christians to make love and good works something they commit themselves to more whole-heartedly.
They can see they aren’t going it alone, with no help, no co-workers, no companions.
You’re in the middle of a worship service and you steal a few glances around you – you’re surrounded by people nodding their head, reading their Bible, closing their eyes in prayer (not sleep), singing with gusto, lifting their hands, smiling.
d. Faithful living, being a witness for Christ in the world, being on a mission to share God’s love and compassion needs that encouragement in order to survive and thrive.
Even overseas missionaries, far from home, tell me the prayers, notes, and emails connecting them to their church families are what keep them going in a very lonely work.
7. So here’s a message for anyone here wondering what you have to do to be a part of a church: start by showing up. You don’t really need to do anything else, because that’s what’s going to open up the relationships and doors which will lead you deeper.
a. And if this is your church home, make your next step into ministry for Jesus Christ be the ministry of showing up with purpose.
b. Give Sunday morning your all. Be engaged. Be aware of how your words and actions are used by God to encourage those around you.
c. There’s always more to do, and if God calls you to it you should do it. But showing up is really good enough!
8. PAPER PLATE EXERCISE – during communion –Holy Spirit’s name at center, collect the autographs of the people around you until your plate is full. Take it with you as an encouragement all week long – you’re not alone.