Serve Others

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

 I. Beginnings

This morning, we continue our sermon series that digs into our mission statement, where we explore three key points.  To Grow in Faith. Serve Others. And Share the Love of Jesus Christ. As we covered last week, these three points are the things that should shape the work that we do as a church. As a church, a collective of people who claim to be followers of Christ, we first and foremost must center ourselves on Jesus as the foundation. If we are to hold to the metaphor we used last week, we will remember that the foundation of a building is the solid base that reinforces the structure above it, the foundation is what connects the structure to the ground and upholds the heavy load of the structure above ground. The foundation must not only withhold the weight of the structure pressing down on it, but it must disperse the weight throughout the base solidifying it to the earth and press forces up to keep the building standing.  If not for the foundation, then the building itself will not be able to sustain its weight and it would collapse upon itself.  The Church, the gathered people of God, is just like that building,  we are the living stones of a building that are used by God to build up the Kingdom of God, but our central foundation, that holds us up, that grounds us to the work of God, is and must be Jesus Christ.  If we do not center ourselves on Jesus, we fall apart.

Grow In Faith

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

 I. Christ Is Our Foundation

This week we begin our sermon series that digs deep into our mission statement.  We start our three sermon series that explores the three key points in our mission statement, the statement we have claimed should shape the work, we, Cheltenham United Methodist Church do to further the Kingdom of God.  These three points proclaim that we want to growth in faith, serve others, and share the love of Jesus Christ. We stand in the boldness that as people of God, God wants to Grow in Faith, Serve Others, and share the Love of Jesus Christ. 

I Have Seen The Lord

Pastor Rachel Livingston 

 I. A Visit From Mary Magdalene

Let me tell you about the day that my life changed! It changed forever! The day my whole world was transformed! The day my life was never the same again! And I believe that what I have seen can transform your life as well.  Because I have seen the Lord.  And he has shown me his power over life and death! And because I have seen Jesus, he has told me the good news of his resurrection, and he tasked me with sharing it with whomever I meet.  I have seen the Lord! And if you cannot tell, I am brimming over with joy, I am so elated.  I honestly can’t control my emotions right now.  But let me back up and take a breath, let me breathe in and breathe out, (breathe in and breathe out) so that I might calm myself down –  so that you can hear me, and hear me well, so that you can understand everything that I am saying as I tell you about how my life was changed.  Because my story, my witness, if you listen closely can change your life as well.  It shapes the foundation of our faith and shows us what Jesus has done for us.  I’m telling you, I have seen the Lord! And because of it, life will never be the same for either of us.

Who’s The King We Serve?

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

I. Hosanna! 

Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest! Save us now Lord! Save us now! Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven! These are the words that we know so well as we celebrate this Palm Sunday, as we march toward Easter, the resurrection Sunday, and commemorate the triumphant entry of Jesus within the city of Jerusalem! We hear these words stated with such boldness and vigor, with such affirmation as the people lift up Jesus as he walks through the street.   They acknowledge that he is the one who comes to save.  Hosanna! Save us now Jesus! Save us now! They are honoring the fact that he is the King they choose because he has acknowledged their worth and affirms them far beyond what the Emperor had ever done.  They may not know how he is going to save, and they may have an incorrect notion of how he might save, based on the ancestral stories they have heard over and over again passed down from generation to generation.  But they know that this man, this King has come to save God’s people, that he comes in the name of the Lord, and has affirmed and loved the people who have suffered oppression and been cast out in the constructs of society.  If no one else would save them, surely he would, because he saw their condition, he saw their pain, but most of all he saw them – he peered deep within their soul and showed them a love like no other.

Can Life Come From Death?

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston

 I. The Ugliness Of Death 

Death! The overhanging, looming darkness of the end of life itself.  The big black dark cloud whose inevitability we often ignore until it’s staring us in the face.  We literally spend our whole lives trying to avoid the dreariness of death, because it makes us uncomfortable.  We don’t understand it, and we never like to sit in the midst of it.  It is not a warm companion to us, but an unwanted friend that likely hangs over us and meets us at some point, most likely the lowest moment of our lives,  whether we like it or not.  It terrifies us and makes us weep.  But it is a part of life that is inevitable.  We reject conversations with our family members that surround death – what is in their will, what should we do in certain situations, and where should we look for answers, how will certain things be paid – all these things, while important, haunt us, even if it asks what happens after one’s death and reveals their desires after they pass.  We don’t want to face our own death or the death of our loved one because it makes us reconcile with our own mortality and face our own loss.  So we avoid these conversations because it delays our moment where we have to confront death face to face, with ourselves and our loved ones.  We even try to push away our grief and our sorrow, our weeping and our heartbreak when we are sitting in the moments where we must confront death.  We don’t like it, and evidence would show that we cannot handle it, or at least we have extreme difficulty with confronting the reality of death in our lives.  But no matter how much we hate death, it is a steady part of life.  And it could even be argued that life cannot exist without death. 

Sitting With Jesus

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston

 I. Shaking Of The Foundations

What happens when what you begin to doubt the things that you have built your entire life on?  What happens when you know someone who may have the answers, but that person would be an embarrassment to the life you have established for yourself? Where do you go and what do you do?  What happens when the very foundation of your life seems to be crumbling beneath you and life as we know it makes no sense?  What happens when the one who may have all the answers may have you question the very essence of your life and being?  What happens? What do you do?

The Reintroduction Of Jesus

 Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

I. Beginnings: Jesus 

Allow me to reintroduce this man, his name is Jesus.  Jesus the loving Messiah, Jesus, God made flesh, becoming human that God might meet us in human history.  Jesus the savior of all the world. Jesus, the one who granted us salvation with his grace.  Jesus the one who died for our sins that we might find new life in his resurrection.  Jesus, the one also known as Jehovah. And for those who might have picked up on the reference to Jay Z’s  song “Public Service Announcement,” allow me to reintroduce Jesus, not as HOV, but the REAL Jehovah, the Son of God.  The one who sacrificed his life that we might be extended God’s grace.

Rededicating Ourselves to Grow in Faith

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

 I. We Seek to Grow In Faith

Cheltenham United Methodist Church.  The Little Church with the Big Heart where our mission statement says that we seek to grow in faith, serve others, and share the love of Jesus Christ.  This means that one of our first priorities is to grow in faith, strengthen ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ, to deepen our relationship with God, that we might genuinely be the people of God within the world, doing the work of Jesus Christ that the world might be led to him.  We have already professed that all year round this is our main goal, to grow in faith, however, during the season of Lent, we are intentionally seeking to grow in our discipleship with Jesus Christ, we are seeking grow in our faith, to better understand God in this moment, so we take on a time of prayer and fasting that we might establish a deep relational connection with our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

Preparing For A Word From The Lord

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston

 I. What is God Saying To Us?

What is God doing in this moment? Where is God leading us in this season?  What is God saying to us personally? And what is God saying to us as the church, the people of God?  These are the questions on our heart this morning as we are standing before God, looking for direction and at some points, probably even, wondering where to go and what to do next.  As we enter into this Lenten season, this special moment within the liturgical calendar of the church, we are looking to God to reveal Godself to us that we might be able to grow closer to God in this season.  But we are also taking this opportunity to hear from God, that we might be led to build Beloved Community, that spreads the love of Jesus Christ to those around us, and be led to proclaim the Kingdom of God here on earth. So, for Lent we turn to Jesus as an example on how we can learn and hear from the Lord in this season.  We look to the place in scripture where Jesus fasted and prayed as he prepared for the journey of the ministry ahead – that we might also be able to prepare for the journey and ministry ahead as we wait and prepare to hear a word from the Lord.  

Jesus Is Real

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

I. Do You Know Jesus Is Real?

Have you ever had a moment or experience that showed you, without a shout of a doubt that Jesus Christ is Real, that he can be felt deep in the soul, that he is our salvation, our liberation, that even in our darkest hour, Jesus can bring about light? Have you ever felt the presence of Jesus right there with you, soothing your pain and bringing about comfort, even within the deep guttural moans of the deep darkness of midnight?  Have you ever witnessed a moment where Jesus so deeply touched your heart that you knew that Jesus was real and that in your relationship with him, everything was changed, that your life was transformed, to the point that you felt like you had to follow that man from Nazareth, a place where it was rumored no good could come from?  Have you ever had a revelation that reveals what some might think is unthinkable, but presents the truth of Jesus Christ, even if it presents something that lacks all common sense? Has something so miraculous happened to you that it was extremely evident that Jesus is real and present within your life?  If so, you are witness to the transformational power of Jesus Christ, and you have a testimony to share with the masses.