My sermon for big church today is from the book of Acts, chapter 5. Peter and John have recently been freed from prison and are right back in trouble for preaching about Jesus. The religious leaders wanted to kill Peter and John. Late in chapter 5, there is a man named Gamaliel. He says since Jesus has been crucified, if this ‘Jesus thing’ is all a ruse or a hoax it will die out and they don’t have to worry about killing Peter and John. And if it’s really of God, killing Peter and John isn’t going to accomplish a thing because you can’t defeat God. As it turns out, there was something to it. It’s been almost 2,000 years and we’re getting ready to worship this same Jesus halfway around the world in a little Methodist church in the obscure town of Mason, WV.
And, just as the disciples were evidence that Jesus lived and continued to live all that time ago and all that distance away, the people of this church are the evidence in this Bend Area of the Ohio River that He still lives and reigns today. What the people of this church have done over the last six years is the stuff of legends. It defies logic and explanation. But Gamaliel was right. Because the work of the Mason UMC is the work of God, because the Holy Spirit lives and reigns in the people here, and because Jesus is glorified, the people in the local communities know that Jesus existed and still exists today.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today… in this band of followers. Ask anyone around here who knows them!