Romans 8: 12-17
JOHN 3: 1-17

Can you remember last week?  We were celebrating the beginning of God’s church on earth.  PENTECOST when the Holy Spirit came down and filled the room and this church’s sanctuary was filled with red balloons.  Do you remember?

There is great significance in PENTECOST because people who are Christians like us remember the Trinity … FATHER , SON, and HOLY SPIRIT ….

Holy, holy, holy … merciful and mighty God in three persons blessed Trinity.”

The Ten Commandments state REMEMBER the SABBATH and KEEP IT HOLY.  And, this morning … what are you remembering?  How are you … not your neighbor, not your child … how are you connecting with God and how are you allowing God to work with your life to make a difference?

In just an hour or so the world famous call will again rise above the noise under the heat of a Midwestern sun beating down on hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the BRICKYARD with the scent of oil and gas filling the breathable air … LADIES and GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES and the 33 drivers will turn the ignition switch or their vehicles to the on position … the race will be on!

Friends, have you started the ignition switch of your faith … is your engine roaring for God.  Have you heard the call from the book of HEBREWS

Let us run the race that is laid out in front of us … let’s thrown off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on JESUS?” 

Friends … amazing things can happen when you join God’s race … awesome changes can happen not just in you but in the people around you … remember that you are part of an incredible partnership … REMEMBER GOD, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT because they are with you each and every moment.  And, remember your baptism … not the moment but the reality because baptism represents the declaration to the world that you are part of the family of God, the Holy Church … that you no longer belong to the world but to Christ.

Belonging … matters … knowing that God is calling us to take on challenges in the world standing up for God; touching lives; healing the hurting; making a difference … on Friday afternoon I sat with our friend Eli Gbayee to talk about Liberia.  Hope for Liberia has found the land to build a training center to help make a difference in the lives of the people of that African nation who have been living with little hope … he showed me the video of blind men and women getting white canes and I watched their joy in receiving that simple gift that will make a huge difference in their lives … bags of rice as hungry African families received them … little miracles but everyday miracles that our church helped make happen … I saw on video Charlie Taylor’s guitar as it became not Charlie’s guitar but the guitar of a blind man in Liberia’s guitar  caressing a guitar that Charlie had played many times in his life here in West Deptford but now it is in Africa … the joy in the moment … people of faith like you and me … every day people … not willing to hide God’s love … not willing to bury God’s truths under the world’s rubbish but miracle workers in our own special way.

This week, Carol and Don Strock and I had the honor of representing our church at the annual conference of the Greater New Jersey United Methodist Church.  While many moments of the conference are for business and frankly elicit yawns there was also energy, and worship and stories of miracles … here’s a brief glimpse at what happened while we were in Wildwood.


It was a dark night in Jerusalem.  It was Passover … a feast that in just a couple of years would bring the world a week that would never be forgotten.  Two men; one the Son of the Creator … the Messiah … a Rabbi teaching life who would later die and be raised from the tomb whose name was Jesus.  The other man a Pharisee who was a leader of the rule setting class of the religious powers of his day.  He had anything he wanted … he was ruling class … this man Jesus was a carpenter’s child who wandered with a group of misfits.

But, friends there was something about JESUS …. Friends THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT JESUS …. TODAY, FRIENDS there is STILL SOMETHING ABOUT JESUS that can change lives,  move mountains and make a difference and that powerful man … whose rules and dictates meant more than faith …. That man named Nicodemus knew that there was something about the man named Jesus.

Once he had found Jesus being careful to insure that no one was watching Nicodemus looked Jesus in his dark brown eyes and said …

We know you come from God … God is with You.”

There wasn’t a lot of small talk; this powerful man Nicodemus needed to know …. He needed Jesus and was trying to figure it out.  How many of you need Jesus?  How many of you are still trying to figure it out?  Trying to adjust your lives for the Holy in the midst of the turmoil of the world … attempting to juggle who you are but the balls fall down on the world’s side all too frequently?  And, Jesus said it simply … “You must be born again.  You can’t enter the Kingdom of God unless you are born of water and the Spirit … the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

In this all too familiar passage from John’s Gospel the words of Jesus that perhaps strike me as the clarifying moment for all of us today but perhaps words that Nicodemus wasn’t ready for …. Jesus said, “Don’t be surprised that I said You must be born anew.”

You see friends, are you surprised that the Son of God is telling not just Nicodemus but all of us that to be part of God’s kingdom we really can’t be part of the world … DON’T BE SURPRISED because the world rejects GOD, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT with every venomous hate-filled world, with every demeaning comment about humans created in God’s Holy Image, with every act of terror and violence, with its greed, with its neglect of God’s Creation … of course we need to be born again; we need to be renewed; we need to be the baptized people of Christ who remember our baptism … remember our God … remember our Savior … people who allow the Holy Spirit of Pentecost to live and thrive in and through us.  WE TRULY NEED TO BE BORN AGAIN as children of God not of the world but its important to hear Jesus words to Nicodemus because His message to this Pharisee gets abbreviated all too often to fit ALT FACTS FAITH rather than God’s message … Jesus said,

God didn’t send God’s Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.” 

So, if we follow Jesus … we are not to be out there judging, putting limits but we are to live in our faith and one of the roles we have in faith comes through our baptism vows … the refreshing reality of water.  I know when I get hot and worn down water refreshes me … and its true with our faith life we need to refresh and renew our ONE BAPTISM.

So, this morning as church ends, I would like to invite each of you who needs to be renewed in your faith and refreshed to go into God’s world to step up to the baptismal font and get some blessed water on you starting with me.

But, as we head to our prayers of the day I want to read the names of those who have been baptized in our church over the last several years.  You made a commitment to them to care for them and their families.  To make sure they were growing in faith.  As I read the names if you know these people raise your hands and think what you have done to help their faith grow; I will be asking our church’s leadership team to contact these families over the coming weeks to make sure that we aren’t missing out on providing care that the families and children need …

Cameron Marie Kovack                      Abigail May DiVento            Kenneth Larry Norris         Jordan Scott Weems
Dominic Chase Hanse                         Landyn Jay Blair                   Grayson James Luoyang   Jackson Joseph White
Delaney Yurick                                     Emma Grace Domeraski     Madelyn Jane Beidle          Connor Joseph Huesser
Derek Robert Toppin                          Margaret Elise Gogolin       Gwen Jones                          Everett Emil Vatsev
Madison Ann White                            Casey Kovack                        Anthony Logan Panetta      Kali Reiss Dugan
Victor Joseph Ferrara                         Grant Dechen                       Christopher Sean Bailey      Brooklyn Haden Gittinger
Trevor William Toppin                       Ireland Florentine-Rae Gittinger                                       Robert Jeffrey Morris Jr
William James Rutter                         Elliemae Madison Rutter    Cody Matthew Huesser

We heard from Paul’s letter to the church in Rome this morning, “those led by the Spirit of God are the children of God … the Spirit of God testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” so my friends … REMEMBER and then allow God’s Spirit to be renewed in you so that your faith engine starts up and you run the race God has put before you knowing that FATHER, SON and HOLY SPIRIT are with you always … even until the end of time. AMEN

Watch a video of today’s worship service:

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