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Easter Sermon “Messianic Midwifery”

We pray that the Easter Sermon births within you a deepened sense of God’s blessings as you resign for re-employment!

Here’s the Transcript of the sermon as well:

Did you know that

“There is an unwritten tradition in Washington that cabinet secretaries all submit pro forma letters of resignation at the end of a first term for a re-elected president”

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching over the past few months
and I’ve not even told Megan about this until now
and I wanted to wait until we had as many people here as possible
to announce that I too have a letter of resignation to offer this morning
and I hope by the end of this message to receive your letters of resignation as well

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this
about “calling it quits”
you know… I’m not alone
the disciples called it quits too
they scattered
Peter was ready to go back to fishing
after Jesus dies
even after he rose from the dead
they effectively resigned

Jesus said you can’t pour new wine into old wineskins
and I’m feeling like an old wineskin recently

so like the disciples long ago
I have this temptation to resign

So why shouldn’t I?
Why shouldn’t you?

Why shouldn’t we all?

50 years is a pretty good run as a church
I think we should think about “resigning”

some of us have already
some of us may feel like we fit into the category that Wesley calls the “almost Christian”
so close
and yet we think we can be followers of Christ on our own
when the hallmark of being a Methodist is knowing that it’s our deep connection to the community of faith that produces the fruit worthy of the name of Christ

but it’s not your fault
it’s the church’s fault
we’ve not given a good enough reason to stay connected

it’s not about programs
it’s not about worship styles
it’s not about charismatic pastors or leaders

it ought to be about being real

but I wonder if it’s too late

Like I said, 50 years is a pretty good run
3 years as a pastor at a particular church has long been the average in UMCs

I get it… some of us don’t have the energy to commit as much as we used to
some of us are burnt out in our jobs or at home
some of us are burnt from church experiences and can only muster coming here once or twice a year

I get it…

so should we resign?

throw in the towel?

You know even Jesus threw in the towel
Jesus resigned

you might say no…
but he did
I can prove it…

we read it…

he emptied himself Phil. 2

he resigned
he threw in the heavenly towel
for a human towel
a basin and towel

that’s the kind of resignation I’m talking about

There is something called the new birth

Jesus talks with Nicodemus about this
We are born first of flesh and blood
and then there’s the new birth in the Spirit of God

and in order for us to receive that new birth
we have to resign from our previous birth
our previous DNA if you will
and take on the DNA of heaven

Now some may say
this happens once when we’re confirmed or when we are baptized
but I would tend to agree with Wesley that our understanding of the New Birth
may come to us in multiple experiences in our lives

Hence the reason I’m talking about resigning this morning
I don’t know about you, but I need a refresher in the reality of the resurrection
I need to feel afresh the new birth that Christ offers through the power of his resurrection

In other words
I need a surge of hope from God
I need to feel the power of the Holy Spirit again anew in my life
I need to lead you all more like a shepherd and less like a professor

and so that’s why I’m resigning
from my former ways

and believing with all my heart
that God is going to do something new with me

That’s what the resurrection is all about!

It’s about each one of us coming to the reality
that Jesus is more of a midwife than a monarch
in his living out the role of the messiah

Jesus comes to each one of us like a messianic midwife
gently yet firmly guiding us through the process of the new birth

Jesus resigned from heaven to become children of flesh and blood
so that he could accept our resignations of flesh and blood to become children of heaven

So here’s my letter of resignation
That’s also my hope for employment
and I hope it can be yours as well.

The Wesley Covenant prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside by thee.
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

So I say to you this morning
Let’s give up
so that God can re-employ us again

It’s time
there’s no better time than now
to experience the new birth that Christ offers
and we’re not talking about eternity with God
even though that’s a real part of the story
no!
If there’s anything that our scriptures
If there’s anything that our hymns this morning
If there’s anything that the resurrection gives us… it’s this…

Life begins now
it’s time to be alive now

stop trying to do things on your own power
stop thinking that doing things the same way will lead to different results

It’s time to resign
and to accept that God has new jobs waiting for us today
we start today in heaven’s employ

Will you allow Christ’s resurrection to be your resurrection as well?

Start new today
Start fresh today
Make a renewed commitment today
Let’s together as a church make a new commitment today

Jesus says you can’t pour new wine into old wineskins

New wine must be poured into new wineskins

Let’s resign
and become new today
let’s renew our commitments
let’s let God reorganize our priorities
let’s let God renew our focus, our energy, our mission, our reason for waking up each day

Christ is alive
And Jesus Christ is looking to be alive in you today as well!

Let that new birth happen in you today!
Amen!