May 19, 2012

You Are My Wtnesses

(Teaching notes for Ascension, 2009 revised 2012, by Rev. John Gishler)

The Ascension of Jesus marks the end of Jesus visible ministry on Earth until His coming again in the End Times. There is a lot of interesting speculation in some churches as to whether or not we are currently entering this End Time. This speculation can be a distraction unless it motivates us to re-focus on the work that Jesus gave to us as our Baptismal ministry. The Readings tell us our ministry is to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in Jesus name to all nations. (Luke 24.47)

  1. Will you proclaim the good news of God in Christ?
    1. This is one of the questions you were asked at Baptism
    2. The Readings (Acts 1.1-11; Ephesians 1.15-23 and Luke 24.44-53) define this as the mission of every Christian
    3. No exceptions for when this will offend people or result in your following Jesus to a painful death
    4. Many people have compromised on this and taught political correctness instead – this is abandonment of ministry
    5. The consequence is many churches are divided and have lost their way and their spiritual authority
    6. They are not “…clothed with power from on high…”( Lk1.49)
    7. This power from on high is the Holy Spirit – the Teacher
    8. Paul prays for the Ephesians to be given the “Spirit of Wisdom and revelation, so you may know Him better” (1.17)
    9. We may need to repent, be more obedient and wait till we have this power before we can be effective witnesses

  1. A witness has special knowledge

May 4, 2012

Spiritual Life Is Like Being Part of A Vine

(Homily notes for Easter 5, 2012, by Rev. John Gishler)
(Readings: Acts8.26-40; 1 John 4.7-21; John 15.1-8)
If Jesus is like a vine, our spiritual life begins when we make a serious decision to be a Christian and love and depend on Him. The point of the Readings for today is that we grow spiritually as we remain connected by our love to the vine called Jesus. There is also a warning that if we fail to produce fruit (love) – to share the Good News of forgiveness and eternal spiritual life, we can cut ourselves off from Jesus, like a branch from a vine, and loose our eternal spiritual life of love.

1. Baptism, Eucharist and prayer connect us to Jesus
·        In our Baptism we enter a covenant love relationship
·        More serious than a legal agreement – with God
·        Renounce evil and put our trust in Jesus to save us
·        Saves us from the natural consequence of sin
·        Sin normally makes us unholy, unable to be with God
·        Depend on Jesus sacrificial death for our forgiveness
·        In Baptism we pledge our loyalty and our love to God
·        Participation in the Eucharist re-connects us
·        Worship and daily prayer life strengthens us
·        Our love of God grows and is the essential connection
·        A real connection – like the branches or juice in a vine
·        Live “in Christ” and become ‘clean’, whole / holy
·        Holy Spirit can come an live in us
·        When we die we already have eternal spiritual life