Sermons

Summary: Praise God with a deep sense of awe for the freedom we now have through His gift of forgiveness and new life.

Intro:

Again this year, I’ve found amusement in the “Butterball Turkey-Talk Hotline”, which is now “going on-demand and on the go with Turkey Text Messages. Text the word “TURKEY” to 36888 to have weekly turkey tips, thawing reminders, and cooking alerts sent straight to your mobile phone.” (from http://www.butterball.com/tips-how-tos/turkey-experts/overview). The “Hotline” gets interesting phone calls:

“A young mother once shared her tale of turkey woe. Apparently, her kids had been playing in the kitchen while she was stuffing the turkey. These kids were fond of matchbox cars, and had decided that their toys needed a new place to park. Many hours later, the mother discovered that the kids had chosen the turkey for their new parking space. It isn’t clear whether she discovered the toy cars immediately after removing the turkey from the oven, or if they were revealed during carving. Regardless, those turned out to be some hot, melted, and probably traumatized little vehicles. She should have entered a contest for the most creative stuffing recipe.

A Kentucky woman called the Butterball Turkey-Talk Line in 1993, asking how to get her Chihuahua out of a turkey. It soon became apparent that the tiny dog had dived right into the carcass and couldn’t get back out. Pulling the dog didn’t work. Shaking the turkey didn’t work. Finally, she was instructed to make the hole a little bigger so that the pooch could escape. It worked! At least she didn’t have to perform a C-Section.

It’s not easy to misplace a turkey. But it happened to a caller from Colorado, who had shoved her turkey into a snow bank to store overnight, as she had no room in her fridge. She called the Turkey Talk-Line to ask if it would be okay to eat the turkey after it had been stored thus. However, she soon found that a heavy blanket of snow had fallen. The white, featureless landscape made it impossible for her to find where she had buried the turkey. We never learned if she recovered the bird. If not, well, at least the local wildlife had a nice buffet once the snow melted.” http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/438621/the_butterball_turkey_hotlines_most.html?cat=22

Acts 2:40-47 (NLT):

40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. 42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Context:

For the past two weeks, we’ve been hearing God speak to us through the story of the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost. This passage tells us of the result of what God had begun to do – it is essentially a summary statement describing the character of that first church, and it has a lot to say to us, especially on this Thanksgiving Sunday. Last week in particular we noticed how the listeners came to the realization that God had sent the long-awaited Messiah – Jesus – and the people had rejected and murdered Him, and they cried out in desperation, “what shall we do?”, and heard the reply that they were not lost, condemned, and rejected, but could repent and be a part of an incredibly new thing that God had begun. I started the reading today with their response – a large group believed and responded.

Gratitude is Transformational:

Last week I asked you to try to imagine what that conviction felt like; today I want to ask you to try to imagine what the experience of forgiveness and new life felt like. We imagined that burden of guilt, the knowledge that we had caused harm; now imagine that burden lifted, that harm healed, that staleness breathed into freshly, that death given new life. Imagine that for a moment. Dream of that freedom.

There are a lot of emotions that we experience when we are forgiven, one of the strongest is a sense of gratitude. It is deep, energizing, life-bringing, restorative: I believe that gratitude is transformational. Gratitude changes us, from people who concentrate on the “I wants” to people deeply moved by the “I haves”; it frees us to live in the abundance of God’s great creation and interaction, instead of being mired in negativity and remorse and rejection; it frees us from our focus on ourselves so that we can focus on others. Gratitude opens us up to real relationship, it opens us up to deep sharing of all of our lives, it opens us up to new understandings of God’s presence in us and our world, and it opens us up to deeper experience with God through prayer.

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