Sermon in a nutshell: “Build up your support” (Acts 23:1-11)
I was sitting in an airplane going to Dallas, TX. I was on my way to Tuscaloosa, AL to lead a revival meeting during my vacation. On my left was a Catholic man and on my right was an Episcopalian woman. I told them that I was a Methodist and was therefore seated between my grandfather (the Catholic church was the “parent” of the Episcopal church) and my mother (the Episcopal church was the “parent” of the Methodist church). We talked about our main concerns about our churches and our personal lives.
I found out that Jim Selway, seated on my left, works for Dusan, a Korean company that makes heavy-duty construction machines. Dr. Gwendolyn Mok, on my right, is a performing pianist and professor at San Jose State University. I asked Dr. Mok whether she plays for good causes. She shared her story.
She has a friend from Haiti, Romel Joseph, who was born blind. Even though he was blind he was a talented violinist. He was accepted at Juilliard. It was at that time that they became friends. After graduation, he went back to Haiti and started a music school there. Dr. Mok then went to Haiti when he started the school to raise funds for it through a benefit concert. At that time, Prosper Avil led a coup against Duvalier and the USA consulate advised Dr. Mok to return home for safety reasons. She insisted on having a concert but the electric power of the concert hall had been cut off. Thousands in the audience had to hold candles while she played Maurice Ravel’s piano pieces, Jeux d’eau, Miroirs, Le tombeau de Couperin and Gaspard de la nuit. She said that was one of the most beautiful concerts that she had ever had. Then in 2012, she was watching TV news and saw her friend, Romel, being rescued from the ruins of the earthquake. His family was all killed and his school was completely destroyed. The entire staff of the San Jose State music department held a benefit concert to rebuild the music school in Haiti.
Then I asked Jim Selway whether his company, Dusan, could sponsor a benefit concert. He said “Why not!” I proposed to Dr. Mok to give a benefit concert for the “Imagine No Malaria” campaign that our Methodist Church is sponsoring to eliminate malaria by 2015. She was willing to do that if Dusan would sponsor the concert. Jim is willing to talk to the company if a Korean speaking pastor, me, is willing to explain the mission in Korean to them. I got their contact information and prayed.
What an interesting conversation I had! What a great God I am serving! I do not know how it will turn out but I am excited to see God working in mysterious ways all the time! I just used all the connections that I could find to share God’s love!
In today’s Bible passage, Paul was also using his connection with the Pharisees to share the Good News. Usually, the Pharisees opposed Paul because Paul asserted that Jesus was God! However, on this one point, they agreed: “We have hope in resurrection!” On the other hand, the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. When Paul saw that there were two groups in the crowd, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, he used the theological connection with the Pharisees and made his case as a “hung jury” case! People could not make a guilty verdict against Paul. He now had an opportunity to go to Rome. That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome!”
Brothers and sisters! Paul was a true veteran of God’s Kingdom! Who is a veteran? A veteran is an expert in his or her field. Today we celebrate the service of the military veterans. They are experts in military situations. They know how to use all kinds of situations to complete their missions. Think about this: we are also soldiers of the Good News and are veterans of God’s Kingdom. The only difference is that our battle is a spiritual one. However, we all use the same principles and tactics: We need to use all the connections that we can find to complete our mission!
When we remember our war veterans, we also want to commit ourselves to the Good News as spiritual veterans. Our country has been protected by both military and spiritual veterans. We need to continuously support these veterans for our country and for our church! Let us do it together for the glory of God!
- Who are the military veterans that you pray for? (Anybody in the service now?)
- Who are the spiritual veterans that you pray for? (Any missionaries, pastors, lay people, special people in mind?)