Psalm 139: 1-12
Romans 6: 1-12

October 10, 2021

If you aren’t aware of it … perhaps because our Philadelphia Phillies who graciously wore our celebratory Pentecost caps this past baseball season are all on vacation now…  the baseball playoff season has started.  The college football season and the National Football League seasons are in full swing as is the Premier League in Europe.  And, we are about to witness the start of the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association seasons.

There are plenty of choices … so which team?  Which team are you associating with?  Which team are you cheering on?  What is that one team whose victories and losses mean the world to you perhaps even crashing your spirits when they lose?

Each team has its fans declaring to the world their loyalty through their clothing, the waving of banners, having conversations about what’s going on, listening to daily radio programs or reading about their teams.  Those teams are constantly developing new players and new fans who will be the foundation for the teams’ future.  Everywhere you look … associations with teams.  TEAMS TEAMS TEAMS MY TEAM YOUR TEAM THEIR TEAMS.

So what about you?  Any interest in the Holy Rollers?

Ok, I understand that perhaps you think the Holy Rollers have been mismanaged through the years.  Have gained a bad reputation and members of their management may have attempted … well some claiming to be management have gotten involved in other leagues that only tarnished the entire team’s reputation.  Maybe you have made the decision to never even hint that you have any interest in their victories or losses … or in the player development for anything associated with HOLY … because you would rather be part of the Eagles, the Phillies, the Flyers, the Sixers, or even the Buffalo Bills.

Friends, I checked my dictionary definition of the term holy roller and it described that term as derogatory.  Imagine someone who is a holy roller is seen as bad.  Holy Rollers. Actually, it was a term first used to describe Methodists back in the 1840’s.   People seized by the Holy Spirit.  Now, the term quickly became associated with the Pentecostal movement but even the Beatles sang ‘He one holy roller.’ However, theologian William Branham wrote, “That’s the way I worship Jesus Christ” with enthusiasm and joy.

Now, I am not standing here this morning to say we need to start a marketing campaign telling the world that St. Paul’s UMC of West Deptford is a church of holy rollers because frankly that would have the same impact as putting a wall around the church.

What I am stating … what I am concerned about … goes beyond this church but for all of us it has to begin at this church because we are St. Paul’s UMC of West Deptford.   Are we, as individuals, ready to declare to the world that we are people who worship Jesus Christ with enthusiasm and joy?  Are we prepared to make our faith an equal in importance as sports teams are to their most excitable fans?  Are we ready to play a part in the development of future “St Paul’s of West Deptford teams and fans” guaranteeing that in 2035 this church will be as vital of a ministry for Jesus Christ as it is today?

Paul asks the church in Rome, in our Scripture reading, “So, what are you going to say?” He then goes on to remind those people of faith that there are two choices and only one provides the opportunity for the grace of God to multiply … only one option.  To be united together in the resurrection of Jesus Christ having the faith to live with Him in their lives … not controlled by sin but living with God in Christ Jesus for the rest of their lives.

So, I have the same question … if you are asked about your faith … your dedication to Jesus Christ … your love of this church and commitment to making sure 74 Church Street is vital in 2035; WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO SAY?

More importantly, what are you going to do about it?

Jerry Bridges writes in ‘The Chase,’ [1]“As Christians, most of us really do want to please God.  On some level, we desire to live a holy life.  But, let’s face it; most of us also believe it’s impossible.”

An amazing and frightening reflection that might find its verification in the fact that our children’s bench, our development program led by a great coach was mostly vacant this morning.   Are we giving up on church because we think that raising the name of Jesus Christ in this world is impossible?  That standing with God and Jesus Christ by making church a place of personal worship, the growing of our own faith, and a place where the love of God energizes is untenable in today’s world?

Lord, you have examined me; you know me” declared the psalmist.  I am fairly confident in stating that those of us in worship today believe that God is all powerful but perhaps we don’t worry that God “knows us when we sit down and when we stand up. And is familiar with all of our ways.”   We should be pausing before speaking and writing as if God was our editor because “There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord that you don’t already know completely.”  

I have no concept of a world without radio and tv.  My daughters do not know what it was like to live in a world without the internet and computers.  We are connected to the world but perhaps in that global connection we are choosing the world over our faith more than ever before … we are embracing other options.  Many around this nation and perhaps the world were excitedly getting ready to tune their televisions to the National Football game from London England at 930 just as this church service was starting.  Perhaps a few of the empty seats here are busy cheering on their Jets or their Falcons right now putting God aside for a few more hours.  And, no this is not an invitation to those worshiping online with us to turn the channel to check on the score.

When we found Jesus Christ friends … and He had already known us since our birth but when someone put you in that place to hear about the loving reality of God through Christ you changed in that moment.  That change had and still has the potential to be a permanent change … “Our old way of life was nailed to the Cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life.  We are. No longer at sin’s every beck and call.”

A freedom because of God … a love unique to God … but it was always true that we had to accept that freedom and embrace that love.  We had to change; we have to be changed … you can’t fake faith nor say you believe when you are on the world’s team completely.  You can’t be with Jesus and God if your life reflects that you oppose their teaching.

And, when we allow the Holy Spirit in … when Christ is not only our Savior, which is an easy thing to say but when we are focused on having Jesus as our Lord and Master whom we obey then … only then will it be clear what team we are on.  And, it’s not easy and there is not a 3 step program to get every person aligned with God but God promises to help us out … we heard from the Psalm, “If I could fly on the wings of dawn, stopping only to rest on the far side of the ocean – even there Your hand would guide me; even there Your strong hand would hold me tight.”

Friends, as Paul wrote “Don’t let sin a vote in your decisions about living life.  Don’t give it the time of day.”  Bridges writes,[2]Holiness does not come easy, we have to work at it.”

We need to pull back and invest the time to embrace or perhaps even rediscover God.  That’s what I talked about this summer with you.  Finding that alone place; praying and listening; and allowing God to truly be God in your life.  Without the lessons and reality of Jesus Christ as part of a human’s daily walk it is impossible to ‘get what God offers’ but I believe we need to accept God and be on God’s team to truly understand God’s loving gift through Jesus Christ.

We all have a variety of life habits.  These can be good and they definitely can be bad even if we declare to the world that we are Christians.  Paul writes in the seventh chapter of Romans, “The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.”  And, I might add … the non-believers amongst our associates in their world frequently are there to cheer us on to join their worldly team putting us down if we say we love everyone, that we forgive, that we care for the poor, that we stand for justice, that worship for ourselves and our families matter … it is easy to trip up but for our sake, for the communities we live in’s sake, for our nation’s sake and for the world’s sake we need to live in the light of Christ and being careful not to trip along the journey.

In Colossians, Paul reminds us, “Grow in the knowledge of God by being strengthened through God’s glorious might so that you endure everything and have patience, and by giving thanks with joy to God.  God made it so you can take part in the inheritance, the in the light granted to God’s holy people.  God rescued us form the control of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.  God set us free through the Son and forgave our sins.”

The amazing truth amongst all the world’s diverse teams God chose to draft every single person for God’s team and has offered all of us a contract guaranteeing enteral life with God as well as a life on earth where Gods love for us will overcome fear and bring us joy.  We just have to choose to sign up and play for God’s team with all of our mind, soul, and heart loving the one who chose us with love.

You and I should smile as we declare to the world including our friends, our family and those whose paths we cross that we worship God and Jesus Christ with enthusiasm and joy!  That when it comes down to what matters in our lives that we choose to be on God’s team but we are always encouraging them to accept God’s choosing them to be with us shining the light of Jesus Christ with ever increasing brightness into the world … a love message for all!  Let’s get this children’s bench packed with kids … they are the future leaders of not only this church but of the church of Jesus Christ … they need to know God needs them on God’s team!  And, God needs us too.  AMEN


[1] THE CHASE by Jerry Bridges published by Navpress Books

[2] Ibid

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