Nate Loucks

Blog

A place for my thoughts.

Posts tagged Acts
Sermon at State Street: Acts 4:1-31

Here's my outline from last Sunday at State Street. At the bottom, you can watch the message. 

Key Text: Acts 4:1-31

The Big Idea: Action and contemplation are sacred helpmates.

Supporting Points:

  • Prayer is being willing to engage the things of Christ on the deepest of levels in silence, in conversation, and in communion.
  • We pray not to draw God closer to us, but to remind ourselves that God is already near.

Quotes

  • “Dear Jesus, do something.” - Vladimir Nabokov
  • "The response of the apostles to persecution is prayer, not for relief or deliverance from persecution but for boldness and power to continue to proclaim the word even in the midst of such adversity." - Ben Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
  • “The wise man in the storm prays God not for safety from danger but for deliverance from fear.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Text:

1As they were speaking to the people, along came the priests, the chief of the Temple police, and the Sadducees. 2They were thoroughly annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming that “the resurrection of the dead” had begun to happen in Jesus. 3They seized them and put them under guard until the next day, since it was already evening. 4But a large number of the people who had heard the message believed it, and the number of men grew to five thousand.

5On the next day their rulers, the elders, and the scribes gathered in Jerusalem, 6along with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. 7They stood them in the midst.

“How did you do this?” they asked them. “What power did you use? What name did you invoke?”

8Peter was filled with the holy spirit. “Rulers of the people and elders,” he said, 9“if the question we’re being asked today is about a good deed done for a sick man, and whose power it was that rescued him, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man stands before you fit and well because of the name of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead. 11He is the stone which you builders rejected, but which has become the head cornerstone. 12Rescue won’t come from anybody else! There is no other name given under heaven and among humans by which we must be rescued.”

13When they saw how boldly Peter and John were speaking, and realized that they were untrained, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they recognized them as people who had been with Jesus. 14And when they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. 15They ordered them to be put out of the assembly while they conferred among themselves.

16“What can we do to these men?” they said. “This is a spectacular sign that has happened through them. All Jerusalem knows it, and we can’t deny it! 17But we certainly don’t want it to spread any further among the people. So let’s threaten them with awful consequences if they speak anymore in this name to anybody.”

18So they called them in and gave them orders not to speak at all, or to teach, in the name of Jesus.

19But Peter and John gave them this reply. “You judge,” they said, “whether it’s right before God to listen to you rather than to God! 20As far as we’re concerned, we can’t stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21Then they threatened them some more, and let them go. They couldn’t find any way to punish them because of the people, since everyone was glorifying God for what had happened. 22After all, the man to whom this sign of healing had happened was over forty years old.

23When they had been released, they went back to their own people, and told them everything that the chief priests and the elders had said. 24When they heard it, they all together lifted up their voices to God.

“Sovereign Master,” they said, “you made heaven and earth, and the sea, and everything in them. 25And you said through the holy spirit, by the mouth of our ancestor David, your servant,

‘Why did the nations fly into a rage,

And why did the peoples think empty thoughts?

26The kings of the earth arose
And the rulers gathered themselves together
Against the Lord and against his anointed Messiah.’

27“It’s true: Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the nations and the peoples of Israel, gathered themselves together in this very city against your holy child Jesus, the one you anointed, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had foreordained to take place. 29So now, Master, look on their threats; and grant that we, your servants, may speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand for healing, so that signs and wonders may come about through the name of your holy child Jesus.”

31When they had prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the holy spirit, and they boldly spoke the word of God.
— Acts 4:1-31 (Kingdom New Testament)
Sermon at State Street: Acts 2:42-47
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Here's my outline for last weekend's sermon at State Street (note: we went through Exodus 1-16 rather quickly, but the references are in the video):

TEXT: Acts 2:42-47 (Kingdom New Testament)
42They all gave full attention to the teaching of the apostles and to the common life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Great awe fell on everyone, and many remarkable deeds and signs were performed by the apostles. 44All of those who believed came together, and held everything in common. 45They sold their possessions and belongings and divided them up to everyone in proportion to their various needs. 46Day by day they were all together attending the Temple. They broke bread in their various houses, and ate their food with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and standing in favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being rescued.

POINT 1: Christianity invites us to imagine and work towards a world of community solidarity. But, to work towards this world, we must never fall into the trap of scarcity [i.e. being in fear of not having enough].

POINT 2: Entering into a new community, one defined by faith, generosity, and commonality, requires a constant turning away from the ways in which we came. Even when we do not know what may or may not happen. It requires a steadfast trust that what is ahead is better than what is behind.

POINT 3: The temptation of scarcity and the needful reminder of God's generosity was prevalent in the early formation of God's people (Israel), in the formation of the early Church, and even today. 

QUOTE:

“Wilderness” is a place, in biblical rhetoric, where there are no viable life support systems. “Grace” is the occupying generosity of God that redefines the place. The wonder bread, as a gesture of divine grace, recharacterizes the wilderness that Israel now discovered to be a place of viable life, made viable by the generous inclination of YHWH. - Walter Brueggemann

THE WAY IN WHICH SCARCITY IS COMBATTED IN THE EARLY CHURCH:

  1. teaching of the apostles/learning the way of Jesus
  2. the common life/the shared life
  3. the breaking of bread/eucharist and common meals
  4. prayers/joining of hearts with God