Sermon Script: Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-25
Sermon Purpose: What is God calling us to do? Respond?
Sermon Title: Kick the Tires and Light the Fires
This morning’s message is a congregation participation message. If you would please, turn your bulletins over to the back. You will find three questions. As people call out answers, please write down the ones that apply to you on the line provided. Who are we most scared to reach out to? Common; who are we the most scared to reach out to. (pause for answers) Is it the poor? Is it people of color? Is it people who have a different cultural background. Maybe we are afraid to speak to Hispanics, Asian Americans, or African Americans. Maybe we are afraid to talk to people who smell. Maybe we are afraid of being used. What is it about ministry that causes us to want to hide in our churches for fear of our community? Perhaps, what scares us most is Jesus’ call to step outside of our comfort zones.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells the disciples, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” I don’t know about you, but to hear we will receive power from the Holy Spirit sounds like an awfully warm and fuzzy thing to say. It’s when Jesus says, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” – that’s when this passage becomes real. I mean, “What! Jesus isn’t going to come back and whip all of my enemies for me? Jesus isn’t going to restore the Kingdom to Israel? What?! Where’s all that ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven stuff?’” Then it hits me. As the Children of God we are called to be God’s hands and feet here on earth. This thing called ministry has never been about what’s safe for me. This thing called ministry has always been about giving glory to God. That means God changes me and I, in turn, serve God. Sometimes the call to serve God can be scary. The call to serve God can be scary because God always seems to be pushing us out of the nest – outside of our comfort zones.
Church, how did the disciples respond to Jesus’ message they would be Jesus’ witnesses to the end of the earth? (pause for answers) Scripture tells us they got together. They got together with their friends, and with Jesus’ family. Scripture lists them out. They were the eleven, plus the women, plus Mary the mother of Jesus and Jesus’ brothers. They got all their friends together and they were all of one accord. No, they were not all piled into a Honda like clowns at the circus. They were gathered together for one purpose – one singular purpose – to pray.
The passage does not tell us what they were praying for, but I can tell you what I would be praying for. I’d probably start by praying the same prayer Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). These were largely uneducated tradesmen. They were blue collar guys and girls. There wasn’t a college educated person in the bunch, and Jesus was expecting them to leave home – to leave the Promised Land. Jesus expected them to find some way to relate to people who spoke a different language; who had different customs, and came from completely different religious backgrounds. The disciples had followed Jesus for three years and they still didn’t get it. Now Jesus was expecting the Duh-ciples to share the gospel to the end of the earth. I tell ya what. If I had been one of the people in that upper room I’d have been praying for a miracle. But that’s the funny thing about prayer isn’t it. When we pray – God answers.
Now, let me ask y’all something. Let’s have a show of hands. How many of y’all have seen military jets do a fly over – either at a football or baseball game? I imagine that when the Holy Spirit came roaring down from heaven at Pentecost it was like an F-22 Raptor fighter jet flying over the roof of the house where the disciples were praying. The people inside wouldn’t have seen anything, but the sound of it would have put everyone in the room on their knees. I imagine the people in that room would have been terrified, and then to see tongues of flames like tongues of fire appear over each of them – it’s scary. Take note; there wasn’t an angel there to say, “Do not be afraid,” and yet the Scripture does not say a word about the disciples being scared. It would appear the Holy Spirit had already given the disciples courage.
At this same time there were people living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5). They were all confused at this loud rush of wind, and even more confused at what they heard coming out of these Galileans’ mouths. There were no great centers of learning in Galilee. How is it that these Galileans were speaking in so many native tongues? Church, how is it possible these Galileans were speaking in the tongues of people from all over the world? (pause for answers) That’s right; the work of the Holy Spirit. God answered the disciples’ prayers. God gave them the tools they needed to be Jesus’ witnesses to the end of the earth. The disciples; who are now apostles were speaking in the languages of the people to whom they were being sent. The Holy Spirit was equipping the apostles to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The next question we should ask is did these uneducated apostle’s understand what they were saying? Peter answers that question for us. Peter stands up to speak before the confused bystanders from every nation under heaven. Peter opens the Word to these men with comfort and explanation from the minor prophet Joel. The explanation is plain. The apostles speaking in tongues is the work of the Holy Spirit. The purpose is to better explain, “that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
Now, at the beginning of our time this morning I asked, “Who are we most scared to reach out to?” Looking back over everything I’ve said – what did the disciples do when they were afraid to reach out to new people? (Pause for answers) The disciples prayed. What happened when the disciples prayed? (Pause for answers) God answered their prayer with the tools they needed; courage, speaking in tongues and understanding. Church, who is God calling us to reach out to? (Pause for answers) What is God calling us to do? (Pause for answers) Where can we find the tools we need to take action? (Pause for answers) Sisters and brothers, God has been calling out to us to be God’s hands and feet in new ways for some time. God is waiting to empower this church to do God’s work. However, we have to ask for God’s help. We have to be open and willing to be changed. It’s not enough to say I prayed about it, but I didn’t feel or hear anything so I stayed home. Now is the time to get up off our pews and either get down on our knees or get to work. With each step we take in faith toward God, God gives us the courage and the tools to take another. But we are never going to discover that if we don’t take that first step. It is past time to stop wondering whether it’s time to fish or cut bait. Now is the time to kick the tires and let God light the fires of our hearts for God’s glory.
In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.
 Italics mine – added for emphasis
 Probably Mary Magdalene & Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus
 An apostle, from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), meaning “one who is sent away” ( Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford, 1944)