Acts 2:1-21

Pentecost – May 28, 2023

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

| Centering Prayer |

Red is my favorite color.

It has always been my favorite color.

And it will always be my favorite color.

As a child I fell in love with

fire engines.

Deep red.

A fire engine that wasn’t red just wasn’t a fire engine.



No other vehicle on the road is that color.

Fire engines were to be respected,

breathed in fire, and

torqued out raw horsepower.

Real men ran fire engines.

Developing through the various children’s leagues of organized baseball,

I took on allegiance to

the Cincinnati Red’s.

It wasn’t the players, coach, or city of Cincinnati

that captured the imagination of a boy

from upstate New York.

It was the fact that they were the Red’s;

the Big Red Machine spoke to my soul!

Rose, Bench, Griffy, Parez, Conceptione, Morgan…

baby, they were Reds!

In seminary,

working towards my Master’s degree,

I was exposed to the basics of psychological testing.

I was intrigued by a number of questions on the MMPI,

the Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory,

which inquired about the color red.

I was told that people who tend to be attracted to red

often had some type indicators

which often present with schizophrenia.

I remember smiling,

holding my teeth together,

telling my mentor that I liked blue,

but knowing deep in my heart I am Red!


In the final weeks of my appointment as the associate pastor of

the Canandaigua UMC,

Summer 1991,

I decided to go out with a bang!

For Pentecost Sunday,

I ordered $4,000 worth of specially screened red tee shirts to hand out to worshippers.

And red we became!

It was glorious!

Leading worship for a congregation that appeared to be on fire with the Spirit.

It is only by the grace of God

that people offered to pay for their individual shirts

and I wasn’t held personally accountable!

I love Red!

Red is the color of fire,

the flames of the Holy Spirit,

as symbolized with the icon of the United Methodist Church,

as depicted by the cross and flame before you today.

The flames of the Holy Spirit gave birth and empowered

the beginning of Christianity

in our narrative from Acts of the Apostles this morning.

Just as St. Luke began his gospel with the birth of our Savior,

so too does the author of both Luke and Acts

begin his narrative with a birth;

the birth of the Church.

Those early disciples felt the coming of the Holy Spirit.

“The Hebrew word ruah,

the Greek pneuma,

and the Latin spiritus all mean

“air in motion,” “breath ” or “wind.”

According to ancient language scholars

The root meaning of spiritus is “power.”

(John J. Pilch, The Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University).

The early disciples experienced the power of the Holy Spirit,

coming to them with divided tongues,

as of fire,

resting on each of them.

They were filled with the Spirit of God

and began to speak in all the languages of earth.

As the impious generation thousands of years earlier

erected a high tower called Babble,

and so brought about the division of the human race into many language groups,

at Pentecost, by contrast,

the piety of believers brought all these diverse languages into the unity of the Church.

Saint Augustine wrote

“What discord had scattered,

love was to gather together.

Like the limbs of a single body,

the separated members of the human race

would be restored to unity

by being joined to Christ their common head,

and welded into the oneness of a holy body by the fire of love.”


“Ah,” the critics sneered, “They are filled with new wine.”


No, they are not,” Peter countered.

It is interesting that

the one who had denied Jesus three times only seven weeks earlier

is the one whose voice and stature rose above the crowd

and placed himself into a position to preach.

Peter begins by recalling the prophets of his Jewish foundation.

He recites Joel,

whose original prophecy to Israel was a pretense

of disaster and destruction.

However, for Peter,

Joel’s prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ himself,

“whose purpose is nothing less that the redemption of humankind.” (Cousar, Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV, Year C, 1994)

God’s judgment is no longer destruction.

God’s judgment is salvation,

a broken world redeemed, restored, recreated,

reunified with the Lord himself; that

“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

(Acts 2:21)

Peter probably had no idea

the implications of what he just spoke.

He was preaching to a thoroughly Jewish crowd.

He turned their religious life upside down.

No longer was faith accounted according to established orthodoxy:

the Torah, the Law,

and how righteously one observed the rules God put forth.

Now, faith is accounted

according to calling upon the name of the Lord;

bearing witnessing to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Yet, the Spirit had greater plans than Peter’s limited foresight.

The Spirit reached out to “all flesh,”

to Jews and Gentiles alike.

Oh, the scandal of the cross and empty tomb!

It wouldn’t be until the 10th chapter of Acts,

when Peter preaches to, converts, and baptizes

Cornelius and his host of Gentiles,

that Peter would begin to see the larger implications

of God pouring out His Spirit to “all flesh.”

The promise given by the Holy Spirit through Peter’s sermon,

that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,”

became reality when Peter concluded his witness.

Everyone who

“welcomed his message were baptized,

and that day about three thousand persons were added.”

(Acts 2:41)

The first order of business for the disciples was proclamation.

Through witness and testimony,

disciples of Jesus were transformed into apostles of Jesus.

Following Peter’s sermon and the conversion of 3,000,

St. Luke reports in verse 42 that

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,

to the breaking of bread

and the prayers.”

(Acts 2:42)

The Holy Spirit fueled the revival,

provided all the energy necessary to kick the early Church into afterburners.

The apostles taught from their firsthand, eyewitness experience

about the life, passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

The apostles taught from their Jewish experience

how Christ had impacted it, and

how their lives had changed as a result of Jesus.

The apostles spread their witness,

first to Jerusalem,

then to Judea and Samaria,

then to the ends of the earth,

just as Jesus had directed

immediately preceding his ascension into heaven.

What then

are we to glean from today’s

historical account of the coming of the Holy Spirit,

giving birth to the body, known as the Church?

What does it mean to me?

How does it impact my life today?

1. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Revival.

God is not content with leaving things the way they are.

God wants revival, renewal, a change of heart;

nothing less than the complete transformation of society.

We pray for Thy Kingdom to Come,

yet we act like we want to keep everything just the same.

The Holy Spirit of God fuels revival;

changed hearts, changed lives, a changed world.

Silent contentment smothers the Spirit;

chills it’s red flames with blue ice.

If God wants a revived, changed society,

then we should, too.

If God wants a revived, transformed church,

then we must open our hearts and submit our will.

Our passion for divine transformation

should burn red with desire,

as a fire in our bellies,

deep within our souls.

2. The Holy Spirit is given to all flesh;

that means you and me.

Pentecost reverses the curse of Babel.

The Holy Spirit of God comes in every language,

to every race,

through every culture,

to you and to me.

Though we are removed some 50 generations and half a world away,

the Holy Spirit is given to you and to me-

if only we claim it.

If only…

What a shame it would be

to leave the Holy Spirit unclaimed in our lives,

to allow it’s power to go untapped,

to enable the further secularization of the church.

What a shame it would be to leave the Holy Spirit unclaimed in our lives,

to allow ourselves and grow content with the way life is.

God wants to change the way life is!

God wants to transform your life and mine!

God wants to fuel our efforts on His behalf to transform the world,

to bring about His kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven.

The Spirit is given to you and to me

to make it happen.

3. God’s judgment is no longer destruction. God’s judgment is salvation. Let us never grow tired of this message.

This is the heart of God!

God’s desire is for us to keep ourselves attached to Him,

to graft our lives into his Divine nature,

to be united and joined together as the Body of Christ to the Body of Christ.

God sent us his Son, Jesus,

NOT to condemn the world,

But that the world might be saved through him.

(John 3:17)

We destroy ourselves when we separate ourselves from the Body of Christ,

when we allow ourselves to fall away from the refining fire of His love,

when we cut ourselves off from the fellowship of His Holy Spirit.

This is Hell,

when we separate ourselves from God.

“Turn back, O Man,”

and accept God’s gracious gift

of redemption and salvation

for your own life.

God wants you to be joined to him for eternity.

4. Finally, Proclamation is essential.

I remember listened to an interview with Peter Gomes many years ago,

(Plummer Professor of Christian Morals

and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard Divinity School).

Dr. Gomes said point blank

that he preaches for 35 minutes or more each Sunday.

Why should I be limited to 12 minutes

when we are dealing with the eternal nature of people’s souls?

The Word is life- eternal life.

We must join ourselves with the early apostles

and proclaim the witness that has been passed on to us.

Jesus died for our sins.

Jesus rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is all the rage.

When asked to summarize the New Testament,

The AI response is right from the Gospel of John:

God so loves the world

“that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whosoever believes in Him,

shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Believe it! Preach it!

Witness to it!

It is a matter of life or death;

eternal life or death.

The divine redemption and eternal disposition of the world

is dependent upon you witness, and mine.

Dearly beloved,

Red is not dead!

Red is alive and thrives!

We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It has been poured into the church.

It breaths and blows.

It rushes like the wind.

The Spirit is the red hot refining fire, tempering us, the Church,

to proclaim our witness to all the world.

May we receive it.

May we claim it.

May it empower us.

May we proclaim it.

“That everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


“Facing the Roaring Lion”

1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

| Centering Prayer |

I cannot tell you why.

I’m only able to report to you

That which comes from my own personal experience:

I find great interest in the war in Ukraine.

Each evening

I watch YouTube for the latest developments

From the BBC and other international news outlets,

From domestic news sources,

From respected political scientist and historians, and

With much caution,

From individuals who have proven over time

Their front row seats to the conflict and

Their accurate assessments of events unfolding around them.

The geopolitics, expert analysis, technology, and 4K video

Keeps the war interesting, yet, sterile,

Beyond arm’s length,

Reducing the violence, tragedy, and suffering to

A screen reflecting suffering half a world away,

A podcast strong on subject but weak on context,

Rumbling sounds of artillery,

Images of graveyard services,

Processions led by orthodox priests,

Surrounded by mounds of graves decorated in national colors.

Propaganda is as real as water is wet.

Eyes wide open is only the first step in critical thinking.

Why are humans murdering each other? with such efficiency?

What are the Russians and Ukrainians thinking?

Perhaps we are not so evolved after all.

Follow the money, I warn myself;

Where does the money come from?

And where does the money go?

Will money follow failure?

Or does money always follow success,

Regardless of the moral high ground?

Has the Russian offensive failed?

When will the promised Ukrainian offensive begin?

Old, Russian grandmothers stating to correspondents on Moscow’s streets that the war is necessary.

Old, Ukrainian grandmothers from Kherson crying over the deaths of husbands, sons, grandsons.

The opening words of the Apostle Peter

Will be received differently

From civilians caught in the cross-fire of an existential struggle

Then from you and me.

“Beloved,” Peter begins.

Take note Lay Leaders and members of the Leadership Ministry Team

Church leadership

Begins and ends with love.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you,” (present tense).

No surprise; for you were forewarned.

Jesus told you it was coming.

“It” being the “fiery ordeal.”

He even gave you the gift of the Holy Spirit

To endure,

To guide,

To ensure victory.

Fiery ordeal.

Quite the description of the predicament of the Early Church.



Martyrdom was the reality

For first century Christians gaining a toe-hold in modern day Turkey.

It is

Collateral damage for those hunkered down in the trenches of the Donbas.

Pain; chronic pain.

Emotional, physical, spiritual.

Withered, shattered limbs, memory impairments, hardened livers.

Broken relationships, separation and divorce, death and grief, estrangement.

Broken lives.

Rock bottom.

The kaleidoscope of fiery ordeal

Is dependent upon circumstance, experience, perspective.

Fiery, destructive, and fully consuming,



Take the collective suffering of the world,

Compare and contrast with the pain Christ suffers,

“so that you may be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.”


Future tense.

A promise.


Hope that is meant to be our daily bread,

Sustaining us

for this day of hunger and spiritual suffering,

With the promise that God will provide

More bread for tomorrow.

Purpose? You ask.

To make you glad and joyous, Peter replies.

Moping around?

Feeling sorry for yourself?

Grumpy? Grumbling? Complaining? Gossiping?

Undermining? Hurting? Destroying? Oppressing?

Awash with arrogance? Pride? Self-esteem?

Discontented? Malcontented?

Suffering anger that just won’t let go?

If life isn’t filled with joy and gladness, Peter observes,

The cross becomes a lie

And the empty tomb becomes a broken promise;

Grace denied,

Grace unrealized,

God gift unclaimed.


Got joy?

Assess thyself.

Make corrections, as necessary.

That’s how to live

The life of faithfulness,

The abundant life promised by Peter,

Paid for by Jesus,

Fulfilled by our loving Father.


Oh, the anxiety of this age!

Oh, the suffering that humankind endures!

The Apostle Peter

Provides additional insights into the nature of God,

How we are to live,

And the danger we face. 

1. Our God is a god of love, who calls us beloved.

You are loved, good, bad, or indifferent, warts and all.

Accepted or rejected?

It doesn’t matter.

Your past indiscretions?

It doesn’t matter.

God loves you anyways.

God loves you in spite of yourself.

God love you just the way you are.

2. Our God blesses us
by sending us his Spirit
to take up residence in our lives.

The Holy Spirit moves in.

You’ve got a divine roommate.

It takes intentional effort to learn to live with a divine partner.

It takes a thoughtful, disciplined life to lead a life that is Spirt filled.

3. Our God cares for you.

What you do.

Who you are.

How you live. 

God notices.

God cares.

God cares and always desires your wellbeing,



Without exception.

What is to be our response, according to Peter?

1. Rejoice!

Be glad for what God has done

And what God is doing for you.

Break out the sunshine.

Bring the joy of the Lord

To every room you enter,

To everyone you meet.

As you depart every room

Leave everyone with the aspiration that

“I want what he/she has.”

2. Be humble!

In due time, you will exalt,

You will crow like a pre-dawn rooster,

You will proclaim the glory of the Lord

Far and wide

To all who will listen.

Humility implies submission;

Submission to our higher power,

A willingness to place God’s will before our own.

3. Be calm.

Cast away anxiety.

Turn your life over completely to the care of God.

Calm awaits the faithful

Who are able to place trust completely

in God’s will, direction, and power.

Surrender entirely to the will of God.

Abandon completely

my will for Thy will.

4. Be disciplined.

Set a spiritual routine and stick to it.

Pray. Meditate. Listen. Learn.

Watch and listen for the essential truth of God

to speak to you through the reading of scripture.


Service work. Mission work.

Love. God and neighbor.

A disciplined life is a predictable, routine life.

The good thing about a rut is when you’re in it you know where you are going.

Get in the rut of a disciplined life.

What are the dangers we face?

1. Keep alert because the devil is like a ravenous, roaring lion.


Ready to gorge and devour

The moment our attention wanes.

Hungry is the destroyer,

Who’s appetite can never be satisfied.

To roar is to intimidate, to communicate, to initiate.

Stand firm.

Denounce evil and speak truth without exception.

Parry the thrusts of evil slings and arrows

Remaining confident in the strength of the Lord,

And the strength the Lord has already given you.

2. Check evil with good.

Destroy darkness with light.

God wins, all the time.

Know it.

Live it.

Roaring is a call for reinforcements,

An acknowledgement of inadequacy.

When the devil roars in your life,

Consider it a pitiful cry for help,

Not an effort to induce terror.

Roaring is the herald that initiates kinetic warfare between evil and good.

Claws come out.

The lion makes ready the pounce,

Ready the assault.

The signs align to tip the hand,

That gives good the winning advantage.

The Godly read the signs and adjust accordingly.

3. Strengthen faith.

Train hard.

Learn, practice, repeat the spiritual disciplines,

The practice of the faithful.

Do not grow weary, but grow powerful.

Build and win the heart and mind of our neighbors.

Build and win the heart and mind of our creator, redeemer, savior.

4. Resist.

Resist evil, as if your life depends on it.

Because it does.  

Resist evil, as was promised at your baptismal waters.

Resist the fear of the devil’s roar.

The devil’s roar is

As shallow as a discounted grave,

As phony as a circus sideshow or a politician’s promise,

As powerful as a snail being salted.

The promise, Peter emphasizes,

Is in a post-suffering world:

That Christ himself will

Restore you,

Support you,

Strengthen you, and

Establish you.

The tears left on your pillow this morning,

Due to the fiery ordeal of pain, grief, and suffering

Are replaced by God’s grace,

God’s gift

Of the Holy Spirit,

Of God’s love,

Of God’s promise.


Claim this gift for your own

And know the joy of the Lord,

Now and evermore.

Thank you, Lord,

For the gift of the Apostle Peter,

His words and encouragement these Sundays in Easter.

May his correspondence with the first century Church

Remain an inspiration to us today.


“Better to Suffer”

1 Peter 3:13-22

May 14, 2023

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

1 Peter 3:13-22

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

| Centering Prayer |

“Better to suffer

for doing good,” the Apostle Peter

Teaches his peeps.

Most of us know firsthand suffering for being bad.

My father taught me suffering for bad behavior

In the pre- anti corporal punishment days. 

Um. Yeah. His belt was useful

for more than

keeping his pants up.

(Dad’s; don’t. Just don’t.

Not unless you want to go back to

Living without indoor plumbing, or

Listening to RCA radio hour Sunday evenings.

Learn and practice

better alternatives

to corporal punishment.)

Be better.

“Better to suffer for doing good,” the Apostle Peter teaches.

This is a

Lesson that stands the test of time.

An Irondequoit Town judge taught me to suffer a $250 fine

For speeding on the Bay Bridge a number of years ago.

At least

the district attorney appeared sympathetic

To my pitiful, less-than-fully-forthcoming defense

citing the newness of my new

Subaru’s adaptive cruise control.

The judge; not so much.

I’m confident my insurance company never got the memo, either.

“Go easy on Todd,” I was willing the judge with all my telepathic powers.

“He is an honest guy. Really, he is,” I thought, while forcing a smile.

“He is a preacher. You know, trying to make the world better.”

“He doesn’t have money for a big fine.”

“He’s not like those people, over there.”

“Please, Lord. Let me off with a warning and I’ll never speed again.”

Lying to myself and to my God

Becomes quick the habit and

The downfall of humankind.

“Suck it up and own it, Todd,” my better conscience appealed.

Deep within

is a tendency to

Make every effort to wiggle out from responsibility,

Imagine unsurmountable difficulties,

A reluctance to face my own flaws with absolute honesty,

And an unwillingness to seek God’s strength, guidance, and assistance …

Until no other avenue is left available.

When no other options are on the table

Then, and only then, do I plead as a last resort,

“Lord, Jesus Christ,

Son of God,

Have mercy on me,

A sinner.”

(See Jesus Prayer, or The Prayer, at Wikipedia dot com)

“Better to suffer for doing good,” Peter teaches,

“than to be caught lying like a dirt bag,” I would add,

“because of the


that dishonesty brings

To Jesus,

Our faith, and

Our call.”

The short of Peter’s message is

“do good!”

This is Peter’s answer to the question posed by many

Former Jewish,

Newly minted Christians,

Deployed to modern day Turkey in the first hundred years following the ascension of Jesus,

With a mission to witness to his resurrection

And an invitation to become his disciples.




“How are we to live?”

Step One: do good.

To do

Is to be active,

Not passive.

Take the initiative.

Don’t wait for others to step up, speak up, or act out.

Lead the way or get out of the way.

And, for goodness sake,

Don’t criticize people who do


With Jesus

It is active faith

Or, it is dead.

It is a relationship with Jesus

Or, it isn’t.

It is bearing fruit

Or, it is being pruned, cut, cast out, and burned with unquenchable fire.


Don’t just be,

Hoping to slide in under the radar of God’s judgment.

Failure to do good

Is just as bad as doing wrong, Peter implies.

Sitting on a fold-out picnic chair,

popping an umbrella, and

pouring yourself a beverage

For a front row seat to watch the world burn

Is not where any disciple of Jesus

Wants to be found.

Refuse to fail.

Resolve to fight for Christ,

Not with arms,

But with grace and love.

Fight for Christ until the bitter end;

Either the consummation of time

– Thy kingdom come, on earth as it in heaven –

Or, until Jesus returns in glory,

Just as he promised.

Do good.

Peter outlines the necessary characteristics

For Christians to do good.

Doing good begins with: make Jesus Christ your Lord,

The Apostle Peter writes. (3:15)

Everything else in heaven and earth

Is subjugated to our allegiance and fidelity to Jesus.

Everything else wins second place,

Gets a nice ribbon for runner up,

Becomes eligible for a participation award,

And a second to last page photograph in the

Mendon Honeoye Falls Lima Sentinel.

Christ alone

do we sanctify

as Lord and Savior.

Do good.


this awesome, divine goodness

Without fear or intimidation (3:14)

With transparency and a willingness for audit (3:15)

With gentleness and reverence, and

With a clear conscience. (3:16)

The suffering we face doing good

Is the same suffering Christ experienced in dying

For the sole and solitary purpose

Of bringing you and me to God. (3:18)

That whole Noah and the ark story?

Yeah, it saved eight persons.


(No, I’m not going to say that from the pulpit)

You can almost imagine Peter counting the survivors of Noah and the flood on his fingers.

At best, Noah and the ark

Amounted to triple A ball,

With a complementary rainbow desert.

Jesus, however, is a completely different story, a horse of a different color.

God ascends to the top of the major leagues.

He suffers, dies, and is resurrected from the dead

For all humankind,

To bring every individual to God,

To forgive, wash clean,

And to save, eternal life

To all who will claim it.


Redemption and salvation,

Is dressed in pinstripes,

In 7th game of the world series,

Bottom of the nineth inning,

Two outs,

Game tied,

Kind of at-bat. 

Jesus was, and is,

The pivoting chapter in salvation history

When God stepped into the batter’s box

And made a Louisville Slugger statement for the ages.

Do the right thing,

Regardless of outcome or consequences.

When we do the right thing,

Always and everywhere,

We are freed from the suffocating house of cards

Known as dishonesty, lies, and bald-faced lies,

Expending unnecessary energy to maintain the untenable,

To keep every plate spinning,

In spite of the knowledge that

Eventually every plate falls.

Every lie shatters.

Every house of cards comes tumbling down

Under its own weight.

Do the right thing,

Regardless of outcome.

Be blessed,

Or be cursed.

Rest secure in knowing

You’ve done your best

To do the right thing.

Then, gather up

all your will, and

leave the rest up to God.



1 Peter 2:2-10

May 7, 2023

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

1 Peter 2:2-10

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

| Centering Prayer |

This command has always been

personally spiritually inspiring:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”



Two of the vital five senses

Are requested to enter the realm of divine discernment.

I can get a sense of seeing that the Lord is good.

It comes from an observation of God’s encounters with humankind.

Every serious evaluation

Demands a personal commitment

To a process,

Gathering information and data,

study and analysis,

Before any consideration about the goodness of the Lord can be made.

Given a lifetime of both academic and devotional study of the scriptures,

I am able to see with my own eyes

The trajectory of God’s goodness

Over salvation history.

God’s goodness is always increasing,

Never ending,

An essential characteristic of grace.

But taste?

How does one taste the Lord?

As Peter implies.


Peter writes to spiritual infants,

Newly minted Christ followers,

Crucifixion proclaimers,

Resurrection witnesses,

Gob-smacked observers

of an ascending, flying Jesus up into the clouds above.

“Holy cow, Johnny! Did you see that up there?”

“Jesus just went up way in the middle of the air.”

“Yeah, I know,” Billy, “I saw it, too.”

“And he told us he’s going to return,

So we’d better be ready.”

“We gotta go tell the world!”

Spiritual development is similar to personality development.

As an infant changes into toddler,

Then from toddler to child,

From child to teen,

Teen to young, middle, and older adulthood,

From adulthood to senior,

And senior to elderly;

The brain changes.

New synaptic connections are woven into a network

That becomes increasingly capable of

understanding, communicating, discerning.

Life experiences … teach.

Education … expands a person’s world view.

Travel … transforms the way we view and think about the world.

Experience … informs how complex, delicate, and necessary relationships are to maintain health and wellbeing.

Linguistic competence … opens our aperture of understanding.

In a similar way is the spiritual.

Invitation becomes acceptance.

Bible study, Christian education, and preaching creates a familiarity with scripture.

Service follows example, leads by example, becomes the foundation for humility.

Mission becomes the hands and heart of Jesus,

loving God and loving our neighbors in need.

Evangelism is the release of contagious enthusiasm for Jesus,

Living by his example,

Making the invitation for others to claim

what we have already been given

which is free for the taking.

Spiritual development takes time.

It cannot, will not be rushed.

There is no easy way around it,

No shortcuts,

No privilege or legacy.

It may lag,

But only surges

By the Spirit’s will.

Refreshing is the Christian

Who eagerly seeks

To fulfill completely

God’s present expectations

And anticipates with whetted appetite for

tomorrow’s spiritual growth.

The only means of communication for an infant

Is to cry out.


Interruption isn’t distraction.

Interruption is the point!

The intensity, volume, and frequency gives a sense of need.

Complete dependence makes for

A needy, crying baby.

So, too, with the new Christian.

When the cry is the only tool in the toolbox,

Often is it used.

To gain attention.

To be cleaned.

To be fed.

To be warmed.

To be loved.

To be saved.

‘Cry to the heavenly Father,’

Peter encourages new Christians,

Deployed to foreign lands,

Facing the stiff winds of resistance, persecution, and martyrdom.

Cry with longing

to be spiritually fed,

To be nourished for a lifelong journey

That results into the divine gift of transformative grace;

Sins washed clean,

Mortality replaced with immortality,

Death, crying, mourning, and pain no more,

Drinking from the life giving

fountain of the water of life. 

“Come” Peter invites,

At the same time promoting the invitation.

“Come to him,” the subject,

Not identified, yet known.

“Come to Jesus, a living stone,” Peter casts a new metaphor.

The good shepherd,

The gate,

The vine,

The way, truth, and life

Is fleshed out in greater detail

With the image of a living stone.

A living stone.

“What are we to believe?” the new apostles stammered.

Believe Jesus, Peter writes.

Believe Jesus,

Precious, yet solid;

Rejected, yet the head, the top, the one in charge;

Light, who calls us out of darkness;

Mercy, an island in an unmerciful world.

Stones; inert, inanimate, lifeless,

Whose value is apparently limited to building materials;

Footers, foundations, and the like.

Stones; the balance of gravitational and vector forces.

Stones; bigger is better,

Chemically bonded rigidness,

an unmoving, unshakeable, indestructible foundation.






Jesus, the elemental first stone to be laid,

Upon which all other stones find stability and strength.

Jesus, a living cornerstone,

Upon which

We can build our spiritual house,

Develop holiness,

A fidelity to God,

Scripture, and truth.

Upon Christ we can build

A faithful life,

Chosen as God’s own royalty.

Christ, our cornerstone

Is a firm foundation to launch us

On a mission to the world

to proclaim Christ,

an invitation,

persuasion and attraction,


to believe Christ:

Crucified, resurrected, ascended to heaven, and vowed to return.




Invited and accepted.


Pride and shame

Is so baked into our neurons,

Hardwired to involuntary respond when threatened.

“Whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Peter promises.

What others think

means nothing

to the faithful.

The only concern is

what God thinks of you, of me.

Do we pass muster when it comes to God’s judgment?

“You will not be put to shame.”

Temptation and failure

Is as old as Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel.

“Lead us not into temptation,” Jesus teaches us to pray,

Jesus teaches his disciples to petition our heavenly Father.

No intermediary.

Go straight to the top.

Take Jesus with you.

Christ, always by our side,

Leads us away from the risk of stumbling, failure, or fall.
It is my own stubborn free-will

That objects to Christ’s directives,

The Spirit’s gentle nudge.

Christ is no trip hazard.

Jesus is our strong foundation,

Upon which

The Church is built,

One disciple.

One disciple at a time.

Beginning with you.

What are we to believe?

Peter delivers in spades.

Believe the fact that …

You are a work in progress.

Your spiritual life has grown, but be humble.

You still have a long way to grow.

Be patient.

Believe the fact that …

Christ is your cornerstone.

Build your spiritual house on him.

Be persistent.

Believe the fact that …

Accountability begins and ends with God.

Stand firm.

Make no apologies.

Believe the fact that …

Life in Christ is a life absent of fear.

Stand tall.

Place your confidence in Christ.

In Christ

We are chosen.

In Christ

We live in his light.

In Christ

We are immersed in an ocean of mercy.