In the Name of Jesus ...And in the Power of the Holy Spirit: Series Overview

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Easter isn’t just a single day in the Christian Year. It’s a season of 50 days, starting with celebration of the resurrection of Jesus celebrated on Easter 1, and concluding with the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that catalyzed the birth of the church on Pentecost (the 50th day!).

The seasons of the Christian Year were created by the early church to support its underlying mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ who is transforming the world. (See this article for more on this theme). During Lent the church forms persons in the habits, the core behaviors, of discipleship. During Easter, the church forms people in the key doctrines of the faith and prepares persons to claim the gifts of the Spirit for their ministry as Christ’s disciples and apostles to the world. Put another way, if the 40 days of Lent are Rehab, the 50 days of Easter are boot camp preparing persons to live out the gifts and ministries the Spirit has birthed in them in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The first three readings from Acts in Year B are drawn from the same story of two apostles (John and Peter) who bring healing to a person born with a serious disability and thereby delivering him from a life doomed to being a beggar, all in the name of Jesus. Healing is at the core of the ministry of Jesus, then and now. Our first Easter series, “In the Name of Jesus” explores the core dynamics of testimony, faith, and God’s saving power made available to all in his name.

In the Name of Jesus...

Week 1: April 8     Testimony... To the Resurrection
Acts 4:32-35

Week 2: April 15    Faith… That Makes Us Strong
Acts 3:12-19

Week 3: April 22    Salvation Comes       
Acts 4:5-12

The readings in Acts from that point forward reveal the heart and diversity of the power of the Holy Spirit at work through and beyond the communities of disciples of Jesus. They make clear just how broad, deep, and high God’s saving love reaches and seeks to reach through us, and so support the work of formation groups throughout these weeks to help persons, especially the newly baptized or confirmed, discern their spiritual gifts and identify directions for ministries they will begin pursuing after their commissioning into ministry in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit at this season’s culmination, Pentecost. You may find our DIY Tools for Spiritual Gifts Discernment and Ministry Deployment a helpful resource for the formational work you do in small groups in parallel with these Sunday celebrations.

This year’s Pentecost, the 50th Day of Easter Season, corresponds with Heritage Sunday in The United Methodist Church. And this year’s Heritage Sunday marks the 50th year of The United Methodist Church. The first Christian Pentecost happened in a way that many present felt to be a time of chaos, of reckoning, of things falling apart. It seemed like the Day of the Lord coming with vengeance. We find ourselves in such a chaotic moment in the life of the United Methodist Church. In the midst of what some took as chaos and vengeance, Peter stood among the other apostles and proclaimed to a perplexed crowd that indeed the Day of the Lord had come, but it was a Day of Salvation, a Day of Jubilee, the 50th year when debts would be cancelled, lands restored, and visions and dreams of hope coming from the most unlikely people. This wasn’t chaos. It was birth.

And on that day over 3000 people were born again in the waters of baptism.

May our 50th year celebration as The United Methodist Church on this Pentecost Sunday in 2018 be such a day of Jubilee, a day of birth and launching of many ministries formed through the weeks of Easter rejoicing and preparation.      

And in the Power of the Holy Spirit

Week 1: April 29    We Join the Outsiders...
Acts 8:26-40

Week 2: May 6        The Outsiders Join Us...
Acts 10:44-48

Week 3: May 13      Leaders Are Raised Up
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Week 4: May 20      Pentecost: Proclaim Jubilee!
Acts 2:1-21

 

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