MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship Sunday May 23 2021
  • Come Just As You Are
  • Spirit Of The Living God
  • Spirit Song
  • We Will Dance
  • Today is Pentecost Sunday. The day of Pentecost was the day that the Holy spirit descended upon the house where the disciples were and it sounded like a rushing wind. Tongues of fire appeared and rested on each one of the disciples and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
    Often on this day we read the account as recorded in the 2nd Chapter of the book of Acts, and I want to encourage you to read there sometime today, verses 1-21.
    Because that has become such a familiar text to many of us, and because I believe the significance is missed without other examples of the Holy Spirit giving new life I’ve chosen not to preach on that passage today. Instead, I will be preaching from Ezekiel 37, a passage known for the valley of dry bones.
    Listen to our first reading from Ezekiel 37:1-14.
    Ezekiel 37:1–14 ESV
    The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
    Such a powerful image of God breathing life into what was dead.
    Our second reading comes from Romans, from one of the great “Therefore” chapters of that book. Romans chapter 8, beginning at vs. 22.
    Romans 8:22–27 ESV
    For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
    And finally from the Gospel of John chapter 15:26-27, and then Chapter 16:4-15..
    John 15:26–27 ESV
    “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
    And picking up from vs. 4 of Chapter 16:
    John 16:4–15 ESV
    But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
    This is the Word of Our Lord!
    Thanks be to God.

    Being Renewed

    As Christians we believe in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As Presbyterians we tend not to talk about the Holy Spirit very much, perhaps to our detriment.
    There are other denominations that make a big deal of the Holy Spirit, some referring to themselves as Pentecostal, Spirit Filled, Baptized in the Holy Spirit, etc.
    Yet, we don’t speak so much of the Holy Spirit. But we should!
    The Holy Spirit is just as much for us as any other.
    Does anyone know what the word for spirit is in Hebrew?
    It’s רוּחַ (ruakh). It’s the same word for breath, or wind, and it appears 10 times in this passage in its various forms.
    The Spirit is mysterious, like the wind. When you think of the wind, you don’t know where it comes from, nor do you see where it goes, but you see its effect. Anyone who has endured any one of our notorious Pacific Northwest windstorms knows what I’m talking about. Downed trees, power outages, massive waves along the shores of Puget Sound and even on Lake Washington.
    OR perhaps you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a day of sailing on Puget Sound.
    Wind can power our homes, and it can knock out power as well. Wind can propel us along as in a sail boat, or it can make it difficult to keep your car in your lane as you cross the Narrows bridge.
    In our Ezekiel passage today, Ezekiel has a vision that the Lord had set him down in a valley full of bones. When we find bones in a desert area, we know there is no life left in them. And God asks Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
    And Ezekiel responds, “O Lord God, you know.”
    What do you imagine might have been in Ezekiel’s mind at that time? “They’re dead.” “There is no life left in them.” We don’t know, but one thing Ezekiel understood was if God wanted them to have life, they would have life. He leaves it up to God’s sovereignty.
    And God commands Ezekiel to “Prophesy over these bones.” another word we don’t use in our presbyterian circles very often is “prophesy”. Note what he says, “Hear the word of the Lord...”
    The Word of the Lord is powerful. “Hear the word of the Lord!”
    Hear what the Lord has said!
    And what did God say? Look at Ezekiel 37:5
    Ezekiel 37:5 ESV
    Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
    The breath of life entering that which was considered dead. As we continue in Ezekiels vision we realize that the valley of dried bones is the house of Israel, dried up, without hope, and cut off. But the God of all creation is not through yet. He tells Ezekiel to prophesy again to them:
    Ezekiel 37:12 ESV
    Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.
    The prophecy that God will open their graves and raise them from those graves that they may be His people. Its a clear message of the coming resurrection. There is a resurrection, there is new life.
    I love this passage. Because it reminds me that our God is a God of lost causes. So often in my life I have seen God bring new life into individuals, groups of people, and even organizations.
    Yet that pales in comparison to the new life that God brings into individuals as they turn their entire lives over to Him.
    Think about the vision of dry bones that Ezekiel had. Those bones had nothing left. No life, no flesh, no muscle, no sinews, blood,…nothing. As far was what they’d had to offer, it was spent. And yet God wasn’t finished.
    Have you ever felt spent? Have you ever felt like you’d given everything you had and there simply wasn’t anything left? I think we’ve all been there. I think that especially during these last 15 months we’ve all wondered at times if we had anything more to give: physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
    Paul wrote to the Roman Church,
    Romans 8:26 ESV
    Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
    Sometimes that’s literally a deep sigh.
    Take a deep breath. Breathe deep into your lungs and let out a big sigh. Let that sigh express everything that you’ve been holding in. Take a deep breath again. Feel the life giving spirit of God filling you to the full. As you exhale, let go. Let go of slights or hurts that you hold on to. Breathe in again, allow God to fill those areas that held that darkness with light again. Allow God’s love to fill you up.
    As we look forward to re-entering our building, let’s remember God isn’t finished yet. Our mission as Mission Woods Church is not completed. There are people in our community who need to experience the Gospel message. They need to hear of God’s Word to them, they need to feel God’s love for them, they need to see the compassion and unity of the church in a world that is divided. They need to experience God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness in a world that seems to thrive on fear, judgment and condemnation.

    Being Renewed

    During this pandemic there are so many things we can look at and share our frustrations about, even now. Yet there are also things we can see that God has been doing some pretty amazing and profound things.
    Think about this.
    During the pandemic virtually every church across the country (and around the globe) went online. This allowed the Gospel to reach millions of people that perhaps had not heard it before. It allowed for millions of people who because of disabilities or physical distance had not been able to worship with their home church to be able to do so. It allowed for people to attend multiple church services, in multiple cities, and multiple countries, from the comfort of their own home.
    During the pandemic stimulus checks received were often turned around and donated to ministries around the world and in our community sharing the Gospel, helping the weak, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and giving water to those who thirst. Yes, it could be seen as a dark time, but it’s not. Let’s not forget our God is alive.
    Let’s choose to look and see what Lord God is doing among us and celebrate that.
    Someone once said, “where you see nothing but darkness, there shines the brightest light.”
    To God be the glory.
    AMEN
      • Ezekiel 37:1–14ESV

      • Romans 8:22–27ESV

      • John 15:26–27ESV

      • John 16:4–15ESV

      • Ezekiel 37:5ESV

      • Ezekiel 37:12ESV

      • Romans 8:26ESV

  • Sweet Sweet Spirit
  • Celebrate Jesus

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