Psalm 22: 25-30
JOHN 15: 1-8

MAY 2, 2021 – The Season of Easter

There is a song from the 1960’s that is reflective of life; I guess one of hundreds of songs from the Sixties that are reflective of life but this one started buzzing around in my head yesterday while I was playing with my grandson. Written by Mary Hopkin the lyrics resound with both celebration and perhaps some melancholy … “Then the busy years went rushing by us. We lost our starry notions on the way … if by chance I’d see you in the tavern we’d smile at one another and say, “Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end. We’d sing and dance forever and a day. We’d live the life we choose …”

And, that’s where I want to begin today because friends THESE ARE THE DAYS of our lives … these are potentially the very best days of our lives … So, what in the world are we going to do with them? How are we prioritizing our time? What choices are we making regarding the words that come out of our mouths? The words we write? The actions we take? What way have you chosen to live your life?

Oh, by the way HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!>>

Easter is now a month behind us and Spring flowers are more in bloom. As more and more of us are vaccinated it’s amazing how much joy there is in that simple action that is readily available now to every adult in America … we are choosing to make life not only safer for ourselves but safer for every other person who crosses our paths plus we are able to SAFELY gather together again … SAFELY with those we love and care about who also have experienced the wonderful joy of the vaccination. Yesterday, my entire family ALL VACCINATED were together and it was so special! This week the STROCKS, the FISHES, and the RUTTERS enjoyed an awesome time TOGETHER in Lancaster … ALL VACCINATED! Only a few months ago before the vaccinations were available we were isolated from each other but quickly those days are moving behind us and we are choosing to move forward.

And, next week we triple the number of people who can be present inside the church for worship because we are all getting VACCINATED! These are optimistic times … these are times for considering who we are and what our purpose in life should be. THESE ARE THE DAYS my friends; OUR DAYS and I pray your days and my days are with our RISEN SAVIOR because then they will never end because we will have eternal glory with God awaiting us after our time here reaches its conclusion. We should be singing and dancing forever and a day.

But then there is that haunting lyric in Hopkin’s song … ‘WE LIVE THE LIFE WE CHOOSE …”.

And, as people who are worshipping together this morning it is incumbent on each of us to understand that God through God’s love decided before the animals were situated across this beautiful globe that humans would have freedom to choose … but God also made certain that we would get enough information so that we could understand the never ceasing love and forgiveness God offers to humanity IF and that little two letter word is so often a huge roadblock IF we change and we come to God … IF we follow God’s directives for living life … IF we reject the world’s chants and detours from the potential path to Salvation and glory. It comes from the life we choose to live.

But on this first Sunday of May, in the season of Easter with the Table of the Lord in front of us we are blessed people! WE have heard the music of SHOUT TO THE LORD played for us (THANK YOU AGAIN SCARLETT) … Do you remember watching TV when those commercials would come on and SHOUT TO THE LORD’s powerful reflection of faith was played in an attempt to get us to buy TIME LIFE’s collection of PRAISE MUSIC?

My Jesus … my Savior … Lord there is none like you … all of my days I want to praise the wonders of Your mighty love!” SHOUT TO THE LORD ALL THE EARTH LET US SING … voices energized praising God and a pitch to get all of us to buy the recording so we could play it over and over again; perhaps sing along too.

TIME LIFE … PRAISE … ALL THE EARTH … LET US SING … Friends, we are the followers of the Son of God, Jesus Christ or at least I am assuming you and I are because we are here in these moments. Jesus is or He should be our example for living out life! We are loved by God … the Creator of ALL … shouldn’t we be filled with joy? Don’t you want to get on your feet and dance and praise and declare we have AMAZING GRACE from God and it’s sound is so so sweet because God has saved someone like me … God has chosen to forgive David Robert Delaney with all of my sins and all of my faults and all of my moments when I have chosen the world over God and in the moments of confession and prayer and the Table and in the transition that occurs when we actually spend time understanding God through Jesus’ teaching …. I have been set free ….

If you have opened up yourself in a similar manner … have actually started to live that life Jesus teaches us to live and have gone to God … You also have been set free; it is personal between only you and God … any human being who makes that decision about living life for God and Christ has been given a loving pathway to joy, peace and the elimination of fear even in the worst moments of challenge because when we know how much God loves us and that God is with us … we have an understanding about how we are to live our days! We’ll sing and dance my friends.

My goodness don’t you want to SHOUT TO THE LORD and SING and let THE EARTH hear you on this first Sunday of May in the year 2021 or is that too much work, too much effort or the cause of potential embarrassment if others hear that you are happy knowing about God’s love and being wrapped up in God’s love. At a time when here in this nation we are starting to come together again … are those old desires to fit into the world while hiding our faith going to be how we live.

Even if you and I know that we have lives with amazing potential to do great things for the kingdom of God here on earth. That we can share our statements of faith … we can love all of our neighbors … we can make disciples for Jesus literally from any corner of the world thanks to technology. We actually have people who have worshiped with us at St. Paul’s through technology whose homes are in Asia, New Zealand, Africa, Europe, Canada, Puerto Rico, and across the United States. When we sing in worship our voices are heard potentially everywhere … When there is some Holy noise rising up through Facebook and Zoom’s worship stream they can sense the joy from worship that happens at St. Paul’s! For those of you at home worshiping you can make just as much joyful noise and sing just as loudly in praise of our God too. No reason to be embarrassed about worshiping God is there?

HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> I believe that those who follow Jesus … And, following Jesus is not just saying we are Christians but through our words and actions we are humans demonstrating we are Christians who have made the decision to represent Jesus Christ in the days we have. We are the people who have the chance to bring about the year of jubilee we sang about earlier today. These are the days of the harvest and together we sang that we are the laborers in God’s fields … that WE not some woman who goes to that other church … that WE not the guy on television … that WE, those of us worshiping God and Jesus Christ today because of St Paul’s United Methodist Church of West Deptford … WE ARE DECLARING THE WORD of the THE LORD. Out into the world through our lives … our words … our actions.

These are the days of your life, exactly what are you going to do with them? Are you going to declare the Word of God … live the Word of God? In our Psalm of the day from David we heard “I offer praise in the great congregation! Let all who seek the Lord praise Him! Future descendants will serve Him; generations will be told about my Lord!”

MY LORD … are you declaring to the world what joy you have today because you have figured it out? That God is your God … Jesus Christ is YOUR LORD? Do the future generations … your descendants, children in church, your neighbors’ kids or kids who accidentally hear your words or see your actions DO THEY SEE YOUR JOY in the LORD? Do they see Jesus in you? Are you telling future generations … using the days you have right now whether the future generation is 10 years younger than you or 50 years younger … are you telling future generations about YOUR LORD just as David was telling his? They need your voice and mine so that they will not just go to church on occasion … and frankly, I don’t count the appearances on Christmas Eve or Easter morning as verification of any association of faith if those are the only days of attendance to worship God … FUTURE GENERATIONS friends need to see that you are ready to SHOUT TO THE LORD .. PRAISE GOD. .. and LIVE FOR CHRIST through worship, actions and words because then you will have set the example so that they too will want to serve God in their days and experience God’s love through Jesus Christ.

Are you ready for Pentecost’s PARTY celebration? Do you have your red outfits picked out for the day? Have you ordered your hats to wear? Are you bold enough in these moments of your faith walk to use the season we are in … the days we are living through … the recovery of hope that most of us have … for GOD? For Christ? They are ready for our praise … they are ready to forgive us so we can move forward guided by the Holy Spirit and that alone should be reason to be filled with joy this Sunday morning whether you are worshiping here in this beautiful church or are worshiping with us from the corners of the world. My goodness friends HE IS RISEN!!! <<He is Risen Indeed!>>

We heard Jesus this morning give some harsh assessment of those who choose not to be part of the vineyard of God. Jesus taught, “I am the true vine and my Father is the vineyard keeper. If you remain in me and I in you then you will produce much fruit! If you don’t remain in me you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. If you remain in me and my words remain in you … “. Friends, there is that call of faith and how we use our days … Jesus is reminding us that we need to keep His words in us and if we are not reading the Gospels with regularity how in the world will we know His words? Jesus concludes this section of Scripture by declaring, “My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way PROVE THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES.!”

SHOUT TO THE LORD all the EARTH LET US SING … These are the days my friends we thought they’d never end … These are the days of the harvest, the fields are as white in your world and we are the laborers in your vineyard preparing the way of the Lord!

And, so He comes …friends, lift your voices in joy as if you believe in Jesus Christ and that this is the year of jubilee! Find reasons to share the truths of God that Jesus taught! Pause as we share in the Table of the Lord to truly sense the Holy Spirit’s directions for your life. Find places to be still so that you can listen to God’s reaching out … because God is reaching out … God has a plan for you and for me but God’s plan is not to vanish away but rather it is to be fruitful for the Kingdom of God using the wisdom and talent that God has given us.

Today, we will begin a month of concluding worship by singing I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart … can you sing it with joy? Here in our time of worship will you offer praise to the King? Will you tell others that today you heard SHOUT TO THE LORD played in church and that you want to shout to the world about your Savior Jesus Christ? You sang that you are desperate for God … God’s Holy presence … Let God be the essential element in the air you breathe.

Remember with joy church … as we go to the table church treasure the reality … HE IS RISEN!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> AMEN

© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ