Summary: This sermon celebreated 150 years of history with a call to follow our own history and "decide to follow Jesus."
23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, "Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!" 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-- you and your household." 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God-- he and his whole family.
“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”
On a day like today… there doesn’t need to be much of a sermon. The church’s story… YOUR story… as we hear it develop year after year… becomes the scripture interpreted. These former pastors sharing in worship with you… become the scripture interpreted.
Take a moment to look around you at all these hands… these hands become the scripture interpreted.
• By raising your hands… how many of you have found your name on these walls?
• How many of you have found your Mom’s or Dad’s name on these walls?
• How many of you have found your Grandma’s or Grandpa’s name on these walls?
• How many of you have found a name of a person that you can remember but is no longer with us?
2,400 names… all made up of people who have LIVED our scripture text this morning. You see… one of the many story lines found in today’s text… is the story line of the jailer. Upon witnessing the example of Paul and Silas… the jailer makes a life changing decision. He decides to follow Jesus.
Now I’m not sure just how many of your parents or grandparents had a conversion moment because of an earthquake tearing apart the prison they worked at, but one thing I am sure about… every name on this wall had a moment where they stood to declare, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” And that moment was life changing… as much as it was church changing.
You see… every single one of these hands represents someone who has left their mark on this church… who has helped build this building… teach the children… put on costumes and do a drama for worship… vacuum the floors… sing.. lead… minister… love… serve!
Their lives become today’s sermon… their lives become the scripture lived out and interpreted for us today… because their lives… the way that they lived out scripture in their lives… show us what we are called to do!
1. Decide to follow Jesus
2. Follow Jesus!
3. Make your mark!
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.