Thursday, August 24, 2017
Shake, Rattle and Roll (Acts 1:1-8)

First United Methodist Church

Glen Rose, Texas

April 21, 2013

Series: Rock and Roll Christians


 “Shake, Rattle and Roll”

(Acts 1:1-8)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

     It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 56 years since Elvis Presley’s song “All Shook Up” was at the top of the charts. It reached the pinnacle of Billboard magazine’s charts in April of 1957, and stayed there for eight weeks. Elvis, who died 36 years ago this August, shook up the American music scene like no other pioneer of rock-and-roll, except maybe the Beatles. He became known as “The King of Rock-and-Roll,” or simply “The King.”

     A lot of people have compared Elvis to Jesus. Consider these connections:

     Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor.” Elvis sang, “Don’t be cruel.”

     Jesus said, “Follow Me.” Elvis sang, “I want you, I need you, I love you.”

     Jesus said, “I am with you always.” Elvis sang, “I’m stuck on you.”

     Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Elvis sang: “Crying in the Chapel.”

     We believe Jesus is alive. There are those who say Elvis is alive and well and living in . . .?

     You get the idea. While Elvis might have sung Shake, Rattle and Roll, Jesus felt the earth shake as the Stone sealing the tomb Rolled aside and that Rattled the world.

PRAYER  

     Remember, we’re talking about being Rock and Roll Christians. We’re people of the Rolled Stone, the Rock that sealed the tomb. We’re talking about reclaiming the Good News that Shook the world and Rattled everyone’s beliefs. We’re talking about Rolling like Jesus rolled. Let’s look at Acts 1:1-8 (NRSV)
[1] In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning
[2] until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
[3] After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
[4] While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me;
[5] for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
[6] So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"
[7] He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.
[8] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

I. SHAKE:

     The Religious Leaders of Israel as well as the Roman officials could have sung the very first version of “All Shook Up.” Because when Jesus rose from the dead, it really Shook things up. It rattled the beliefs of the Jewish leaders, some of whom had been involved in plotting His death. They tried to shut Jesus up because he was Rattling the minds and lives of the people around him. And that was Shaking up the Religious Leaders. And it just continued on because what Rattled the Jewish leaders, energized the Disciples and the new born baby church which became the Jesus movement.

     Eventually the whole world got “All Shook Up” because this Rebel With a Cause, this King of Kings, this Rock Roller Jesus changed everything as His life giving message Rolled across the world.

II. RATTLE:

     A. What I want us to focus on today is how Jesus told us we were to roll, what our mission is, what our purpose is. We find that in verse 8. First thing Jesus says is that we will receive power in order to be his witnesses in the world. That power is the power of the Holy Spirit, the presence of the Risen Christ in each of our lives. The Holy Spirit encourages us and even urges us to fulfill our mission to be Witnesses for Christ in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth.

     So, let’s talk a little about each of those places; because Jesus basically gave them to us in the order of hardest to easiest.

     B. The very first place Jesus told us to witness in is Jerusalem. I don’t think he meant we were to pack up and go there, the Disciples, yes. Us? No. He was talking about bearing witness in our homes and in our hometown. And that IS the hardest place of all to bear witness. Do you remember how well they accepted Jesus’ the first time he preached. They literally ran him out of town. They tried to throw him off a cliff.

     It’s the same with us. The hometown crowd is always the toughest crowd. They know us. They know our history. They already have generations of baggage and filters through which they judge us.

     I don’t care how long it had been or what kind of degrees I earned or what accolades I received, every time I went home to visit Mom and Dad and the family, I was still just Billy. That kid who couldn’t do anything right. They never really got it. They just didn’t know how to react to who and what I had become. It took them a long time to accept that I had changed. It’s hard to bear witness in your hometown and in your own home because they’ve known us and they know all the secrets.

     B. The Second Hardest place to bear witness is Judea or the neighboring community. When we were serving one church the biggest rival in football, basketball or anything was the neighboring town. Those were the only games you HAD to win. The two towns were about 18 miles apart and about half way between was a river.

     The rivalry between these towns went deep, back to when the smaller of the two towns (ours) was selected to be the County Seat. It wasn’t unusual for the Sherriff to break up fights on the bridge. Occasionally he even called me to assist because it was usually teen-agers and we knew most of them.

     After we’d been there for about 5 years my DS called that spring and said, “I’ve got an opportunity for you Billy.” That’s DS speak for, “It’s appointment time and we’d like you to move.” So I asked him what the appointment was and when he told me it was the rival town, I busted out laughing, I thought it was a joke. It took him awhile to convince me that he was serious.

     I reminded him that he had served the larger town and reminded him of the rivalry. His response was, “So?” So I told him, “I if I go there, this church and the whole town will think I’ve become Judas and betrayed them and the other church and community probably wouldn’t accept me because I was from the County Seat.” When he thought about it, he realized I was right.

     It’s hard to bear witness in your Home and Hometown because they know you so well. It’s hard to bear witness in the neighboring community because of baggage and prejudices that everyone carries.

     C. Third and much easier are those places we would consider the Samarias of the world. We all have them, places we don’t go unless we have to. It might be based on prejudice or cultural differences but whatever it is there is something which divides. However, the Good News is that it’s easier to Witness in Samaria because Jesus has already been there.

     Remember the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well? Jesus made a difference in her life and she told everyone. So you see, these folks who were once shunned, who were once enemies now welcome us because Jesus has already paved the way.

     D. And that takes us to the rest of the world. Compared to those close to home moments, the ends of the earth is a piece of cake. They have no preconceived notions about us or we about them. We meet on a level playing field and as long as we represent Christ and treat them like He treated people, generally speaking we will be welcome.

     This is the philosophy behind Youth Mission Trip. We go to help someone in need. We don’t know their story and they don’t know ours. We come as servants willing and ready to love them for who they are, without the taint of their past or our own notions and fears. And they receive us in the same way. We each start with a blank slate, a clean sheet of paper, a blank screen.

III. ROLL:

     A. So, what all this means is that any Transformation has to begin with us. While Home and Hometown is the hardest mission field of all it to be faithful and effective in, it has to be the first in which we minister. Because it is here that we show what difference it can and does make in the everyday real world we live in.

     And that world seems so fragile at times. Life can go from normal to nightmare in a nanosecond as we’ve experienced not once but a couple of times this week; first in Boston when the bombs exploded, then with the shooting and car chase in Dallas and then the explosion in West.

     This has been one of those weeks. It’s weeks like this that make people question the faith. How can a God of love allow these things to happen. I wish I had a ready answer or a definitive answer but I don’t. There’s no one verse which sums it up. The problem with free will is that there are moments when the free will choice of one person can intersect the life or lives in painful and explosive ways.

     What comfort we can have comes from knowing that we are not alone in the midst of tragedy. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

     It’s in these moments the Shake and Rattle the world that the world discovers how believers and Disciples truly Roll. It’s in times like this that the People of the Rolled Stone step up and bear witness to the presence of the Risen Christ in the world and in our lives, even if we feel “all shook up.”

CONCLUSION:

     A rather self-righteous member of a congregation was speaking with the Pastor. Looking down the nose, this member was speaking disparagingly of a certain person who had recently joined their Church. They said the newcomer was just an "everyday sort of Christ."

     The shrewd old minister caught up on the word "everyday" with real enthusiasm and he said: "An everyday sort of Christian, is he? I wish I had known that before I gave him the right hand of fellowship. I would have given him both hands."

    You see, the trouble is that there aren't enough everyday sort of Christians. There are way too many every-other-day sort of Christians; Or every-Sunday sort of Christians; Or Christmas and Easter Christians whose lives haven’t been “all shook up” by falling in love with Jesus.

     We need everyday sort of Christians who have been “all shook up” and transformed by the love of God in Christ. We need everyday sort of Christians who live in such a way that their very lives bear witness to Christ. We need everyday sort of Christians.

     We need to BE those everyday sort of Christians so that we can serve Jesus and witness to the power of God’s transforming love. Because, while Elvis may be the King of Rock and Roll, Jesus is the King of Kings and needs to be King of our Soul.

     How can you bear witness in Glen Rose, in all Granbury and Central Texas and to the ends of the earth? How can you help the Good News “Shake, Rattle and Roll” this world of ours?

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

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