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Be Transformed

This sermon was delivered at Cobleskill United Methodist Church on May 26, 2021, Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-4 & John 15:26-27

Welcome to you all today, my name is Jongdeok Park, and I am the associate pastor at Cobleskill UMC. I am excited to preach as a part of the current message series – what it means to be the beloved community of Christ that we call the church as we believe, belong, and are transformed. My wife, Sunyoung, and I married in 2013 right before we moved to Chicago from South Korea for my seminary. I don’t know about you, but as a man, I loved the laundry in Trinity. What is the laundry in Trinity? The Holy Trinity is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – Three in One. Laundry in the Trinity is to put t-shirts, underwear, and towels all in a washing-machine. In the beginning of our married life, she was shocked to see me doing the triune-laundry work, and she instructed me to distribute each of them to different baskets for laundry. I can tell you that it was one of the hardest things of my life to follow her instruction and change my practice in the first year. Thanks to my wife, now, it has been a part of my life to enjoy my laundry work by distinguishing all kinds of clothing, even our kids’ clothes. Thanks be to God. Today, what I am going to talk about is what it means to be transformed and then how we would be expected to live in our transformed life – Christ-centered life, faith-filled life. Before we dive into a message, let me clarify the difference between J. Park 2 change and transformation. What is change? Change is what we do to make something better. Change generally focuses on past issues and present solutions. You try to adjust current actions, behaviors, and tactics to make something better. What about transformation? Transformation is what we do to make something new. In other words, change makes old things better. Transformation makes old things new. Sunyoung tried to change my way of laundry to make me better. But, now, I am totally a new person who even enjoys taking care of baby clothes. I enjoy my transformed life of the laundry work. In the Bible, we can see a great example showing what a transformed life looks like with one guy. His name was Peter. Who was Peter? He was one of the most enthusiastic, passionate disciples of Jesus. In the storm, Peter and other disciples were freaking out. Then, Jesus was walking on the water, and Peter boldly told him that “If it is you, Lord, tell me to come to you on the water.” And, when Peter was with Jesus in the region of Caesarea Philippi, one of the headquarters territories for the Roman Emperor, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Some said John the Baptist, and others said, Elijah, Jeremiah, or other prophets. Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Then, Peter stood up and proclaimed that “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” When Jesus called Peter as his disciple, he experienced a life change to be a courageous disciple as he saw the ministry, miracles, and teaching of Jesus. However, when Jesus was arrested, beaten, and tortured by the religious people and Roman soldiers, Peter ran away, hid behind, and even denied Jesus three times. The courageous disciple immediately became a cowardly man to run away and denied him when Jesus was crucified, and he was dead. I don’t know about you, but in the midst of the ongoing anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, I experienced my courage and confidence lost for my life and ministry. “Well, I have so many ideas for my future and ministry, but I don’t think I could make it. Everything is restricted, shut down, and people are too exhausted and tired.” I am sure that some of you or many of you would experience that you were so excited to be a part of the church and its ministry, but now you are spiritually, emotionally, physically, or even mentally drained. Here is the good news: God doesn’t leave you alone and God never forsakes you. Our God is a God of power and strength in our life. God strengthens you and empowers you to live for Christ through your transformed life. By grace, we live our transformed life - Christ-centered, faith-filled life. When the risen Christ left his disciples in ascension to heaven, they were filled with fear and anxiety. The religious leaders and Roman soldiers still persecuted Christ’s followers. One day, his disciples and followers gathered and prayed together in a room. In the passage we read, the Holy Spirit came down from heaven and filled them with its power. By the Spirit, they began to experience unusual, unexpected things – pray and speak in other tongues with their own languages from their hearts. Finally, they experienced their life transformed – they were not better disciples or followers of Christ, but they were transformed, and they became new ones in Christ. What happened when they experienced that they were truly transformed? In Acts 2, Peter, who used to be a coward, stood up and spoke the gospel of Christ – in Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Then, in verse 41, it says, people accepted his message, and about three thousand people were baptized. In Acts 3, Peter saw a lame beggar, and a poor man asked for money. In Acts 3:6, it says, “Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Peter raised him up in the name of Jesus, and the man jumped to his feet and began to walk. In Acts 4, when the religious people heard what Peter and John did, they were upset and tried to make Peter and John troubled. At that moment, Peter, who used to deny Jesus, not once, but three times, and ran away, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prayed in Acts 4:29, “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” In verse 31, the Bible says, “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” When Peter was filled with the Spirit, and experienced his life transformed, he became a true witness of Christ – to speak the gospel, heal the sick, and preached the word of God with his great boldness. When he was truly transformed, he did what he was called to do with his great boldness. What about us? How can we live a transformed life? When people heard what Peter talked about Jesus Christ, they were moved, and they had a hunger for Christ. Then, they asked, “What should we do for our new life?” In Acts 2:38, Peter said, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” How could we experience the power of the Holy Spirit transforming our life and inviting us to the beloved, caring community of faith? Turn around and pray for the power of the Spirit. It resonates with us that we don’t seek being a better person. Instead, we desire God’s grace by which we are gifted to be the new creation in Christ. Who is Jesus? He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, but he was risen again from the dead with the hope that we live a new life in Christ. So, when we call on his name, the name of Jesus Christ, because of his grace, we are invited to this transforming community – the church, and we do new good work for our neighbors as we are filled with the Spirit of God. This is because God never promises us that God will make us a better person today. God promises that God will save our soul and God will make us the new creation in Christ. When we experience being transformed, we discern that we are invited to be a part of the transforming community. Friends in Christ, today, I pray that the confirmands, who will confirm their faith before God and you, may experience their life transformed by the Holy Spirit beyond just life change. Moreover, I also pray that each of you who are here may sense the transforming grace of God on Pentecost Sunday so that you can believe in God, belong to the beloved community of faith, and finally be transformed by the power of the Spirit of God. Then, I have no idea how God might empower you and equip you to do something miraculous, unexpected as a part of the church through your prayers, words of encouragement, service, or generosity. Also, you are the witness of Christ to transform our community and even the world and fulfill what Jesus said. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

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