Worship at Home for Sunday May 7 2023

Dear Friends,

This week we think about what it means to follow the way of Jesus. What has walking in the way of Jesus meant for you?

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

  • Church Council meeting Monday at 6:30pm
  • Bell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm and Choir on Wednesday at 7pm


Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture: Acts 7:44-60, Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16, 1Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14

Sermon: The Way

The boys and I enjoy watching the Disney Plus series The Mandalorian. If you are familiar with the Star Wars movies, the setting of The Mandalorian will be familiar to you. The Mandalorian takes place in the years after Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Lea have defeated the Galactic Empire. The series explores life for ordinary individuals during this time period and centers around the main character called the Mandalorian who works as a bounty hunter and becomes the guardian of a baby Yoda. Mandalorians practice the customs and religion of the planet Mandalor. They wear armor, are warriors, and do not remove their helmet in the presence of others. Life is not easy for the Mandalorian and others as they seek to make a way in this wild west-like culture.

The Mandalorians use the call and response, “This is the Way.” When requesting newly forged armor, meeting with others, coming to an agreement, one person will say, “This is the Way.” The response by other Mandalorians would be “This is the Way.” It is like being in church when someone says, “Peace be with you.,” and other worshippers respond with, “And also with you.” For them, the Way has set rituals and ways of being, such as never removing one’s helmet in the presence of others. The Way requires them to assist one another in times of need. They are warrior people who fight together to preserve their culture.

The early Christians spoke about being people of the Way. They were not a warrior people but used “The Way” to refer to following in the Way of Jesus. The Way was not easy for them as the way of Jesus is not the way of the world. By the world’s standards Jesus was not a success, because he was not rich, shunned earthly power and died on the cross. Followers of the Way of Jesus were often criticized and even persecuted.

The passage, Acts 7:44-60, describes this persecution in the extreme. Stephen, accused of blasphemy for prophesying Jesus, was stoned to death. If we read Acts 6 and 7 together, we learn more about this young man who shone with the power of the Holy Spirit and was chosen to serve his community of believers. Because Stephen spoke about Jesus, there were those who argued with him and spread false rumors about him. Stephen is tried before the Council and angers them with his excellent speech illustrating that how through the history of the Hebrews that God worked in ways that led to Jesus being the Messiah.  He asserted that it is those who placed him on trial were really the ones at fault for their opposition to the Holy Spirit.

After enraging the tribunal with his speech, the Holy Spirit filled Stephen and opened heaven for him. Stephen received a vision of the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Then the angry mob dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. Stephen does not call out for retribution. He followed the Way of Jesus and asked for the forgiveness of those who did the stoning.

Following the Way of Jesus is a way of love, but it is not always easy. We probably will not find ourselves in situations where we will have stones thrown at us for professing Jesus’ love for the world. We may find it difficult at times to speak out for Jesus. We may find the going rough when we seek to care for others in the name of Jesus. We may have trouble showing love and forgiveness when others throw metaphorical stones. But in a time of violence and mistrust that is just what the world needs.

Jesus knew that the Way would not be easy. The Way would not be a path of privilege, but a life of service. To demonstrate this Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. The Way would have moments of betrayal and disappointment. Jesus knew of his betrayal by Judas and Peter’s denial. The Way would be a loving community, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” John 13:34. The Way would have faith through Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and return. Jesus is our guide on The Way.

A few years ago, we had a Lenten program called The Way which centered around a Emilio Estevez/Martin Sheen movie by the same name. In the movie a father follows the Camino de Santiago, pilgrimage route in Spain after his beloved son died trying to make the pilgrimage. On the pilgrimage walk the father encounters difficulties, befriends a variety of people, and learns about himself and his faith. The journey ends with the pilgrims celebrating mass at the Santiago de Compostela cathedral. During the worship service, the way opens a bit of heaven for the father as he sees a vision of his son among the cathedral bell acolytes.

This is what following the way of Jesus is for us a walk along a pilgrimage path. As we live the way of Jesus, we will have moments of hardship, fear, and sorrow, but we will also have a community of love and support. At times the Holy Spirit fills us with a vision of heaven. May God bless us on our way.

Prayer: Loving Father, blessed Savior and Holy Spirit, help us to follow in your will, walk in your Way and to love one another. Amen.

Prayer list: Elizabeth, Cheryl, Dave, David, Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, Darryl (doing better!), Marilee, Beverly, Jim, Jenny, Jaqueline-Dixon’s daughter, Kirk, Barbara, Mitchell, Mahala, Mary, La Rae, Bud, Tyra, Marilyn, Tom, Jeff, Jesse, Kate, Kyle, Carmen, Sandy, Gary, Terry, Bob, Mark’s brother Billy and sister-in-law Jane, Delores W., Tyra, Freya, Vicki B. and for peace.