Posts Tagged Service
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” [NRSV]
- All Gathered at the Throne: No real doubt about judgement, all those who believe are not all those who are righteous.
- The Judgement is based not on our belief, but on our response to the belief we profess.
- Loving God is linked to loving our neighbor:
- Punishment is leaving eternal life.
- Sheep Leave a legacy of loving one’s neighbor. The Goats leave a legacy of rules,
Who are the Sheep among us? Who are the Goats? Get to work on our legacy while you can.
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. [NRSV]
One of the foundational keys of being United Methodist is faith in God’s Word, spoken and revealed through ordinary people. The people, lessons, foundations witness those who are willing to listen and share God’s Word.
We listen to scripture as God’s word through lenses and filters.
- Scripture is heard and experienced through the context of all those who have read, studied and listened in years past. We call this the voice of tradition or theology.
- Scripture is heard and reflected through the grey matter of reason. God has created each of us with a mind, powers of rational and logical thought. We call this voice of reason.
- Scripture is heard and conveyed through the presence of the God’s Spirit in our own spirit understanding as a spiritual being. We call this voice of experience.
The heart of Methodist living in the scriptures includes all three of these filters.
- For those who state that they read scripture literally, they are making assumptions that are based on using only a filter of tradition OR experience.
- For those who state that scripture is read only in contrast to science and mental reflection, they are only using one filter of reason.
- For those who state the interpretation is weighted by the church’s historical voice or even the church’s majority voice, they use only one filter of tradition.
- For those who state they reading as non-denominational, non-traditional, rather personally inspired alone, they ONLY draw on the voice of experience.
Each of these independent ways are good, but incomplete without all of them together. This complete view of scripture is at the heart of being Methodist. Keep this in heart, mind and spirit as we look, listen and share this mornings reading:
The message of the cross is foolish to those who:
- remember the cross only as a history lesson
- try to explain away the extreme of sacrifice or
- or are turned off by the gruesomeness of crucifixion
Remember it is through all these that the cross becomes a sign of power, love and victory.
Paul is talking to the folks at the churches in Corinth, but as part of the church now, Paul continues the power of tradition for us.
As a practical matter: Sharing our faith is something that we are called, commanded and empowered to do.
But not every attempt to do so is fruitful.
- We could talk about Jesus everywhere we go and most folks will just call us that crazy person that talks about Jesus all the time.
- We could think about Jesus and work out a great thoughts for our own understanding and no one would ever hear a thing, for all the work we have done.
- And We could wait for the moment that it felt right and connect only in an emotional way that is empty of spiritual power.
Consider doing all three, together.
For to only follow one method is foolish..
Take for example our financial stewardship and giving..
- If you talk to some people about tithing as a duty and a faithfulness of following scripture, some will listen and following the challenge.
- For others, you show them a few pictures of children that are hurting and lack and show how a few cents each day will transform their suffering.
- Some are moved by guilt, shame or fear to give because you can’t out give God.
- Still others need to see the balance sheets and of the organization, the estimates of the market place and find ways of saving through giving.
But the whole power of stewardship is some of each of these, but it is rooted in a radical and extravagant love that is willing to do whatever it takes to build a loving relationship with us.. and once we find that kind of relationship, stewardship is our automatic response and expression of love.
John Hayes, my OT professor loved his multiple choice questions. Most ever test had 100-150 multiple choice questions and all of the had a 5th choice: E) all of the above or none of the above. What if:
- Signs are important.
- debate is important
- wisdom is important
- discernment is important
- politics are important
- geography and culture differences are important
- Understanding and sharing the cross of Jesus Christ call for E) All of the above.
The Cross of Christ is God’s eternal gift.
- some folks are not ready to see its power
- some have forgotten the power it held
- some have decided it’s not theirs to carry.
Paul is saying, most simply: it is foolish to live with vanilla when Hershey’s dark chocolate fudge brownie and pistachio-mango-strawberry-swirl give you a better balance of what ice cream can be. Knowing, Living and Sharing the Christ of the Cross takes our whole life.. not just Sunday..
Homework: It sounds foolish, but eat three radically different flavors of ice cream (unless you’re diet or health are endangered, then try three different flavors of what is in your eating plan) Three scoops or three spoonfuls. Or three different fruits, two of which you don’t usually eat. As you taste three different bites ask: What if fruits only tasked like raspberries and never like water melon? What if I only at Brussels sprouts and never tried fried green tomatoes?
What if I were foolish enough to try all three? What if we are foolish enough to think there is on our time, our understanding and our perspective?
10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
First this passage is an encouragement to the three mission teams we are supporting this month and the team of folks working at CERF and Smart Kids, Smart Lunch.
The number of folks willing to be available to take on a personal mission is limited. This is the heart of our Everywhere Missionary program.
The instruction is given the book-ends of encouragement and inspiration.
- On one hand there is the encouragement to know that we are going where Christ is preparing to go.
- Not everyone will be ready nor receptive
- The measure of successful mission is not in the number of people served, but in the willingness to go out to where the people are rather than wait for them to come to us.
- And instructions are given for both the open hearts and the closed minds.
I enjoy baseball and one of things I like about the game is that the successful players are celebrated for getting a hit thirty percent of the time.
- Jesus knows the six dozen folks that are going on this mission will not always see great things.
- But the reports that return are the success stories.
Think about the Braves, the end of the game wrap up is not how many times Freddy, Simpson, and McCain struck out. They talk about the hits, doubles and home runs.
But with the successes come plenty of strike outs and errors.
We come to the table of Christ, where disciples gather for encouragement and inspiration
Not because we are successful but rather because we have sinned, failed and find ourselves striking out.
Each of us have the opportunity to be on Christ’s mission..
Will go Go where Christ is preparing to be or sit this one out?
Everywhere Missionary EverywhereBrochure_20130501
- Pray Daily
- Do at least 1 item from the Mission Calendar* Weekly
- Read and Write Monthly
- Give or Volunteer Annually
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
In answering the question: What on Earth Am I here for? We have learned that we are here because
- God loves us, we are here for God’s pleasure
- God desires to hear from use, we are here to worship God
- God wants us to belong, we are here to fellowship with God’s people
- God wants disciples, we are here to become like Christ
- Today, we will talk about how God has shaped us for SERVICE.
Are you a minister? If you said no, that not me, then I tell you, you are not a Christian.
I will ask again: Are you a minister? Did some of you say, “maybe..”
That’s an open door to start our conversation.
Everyone who is a follower of Jesus, everyone who is a disciple, a member of the fellowship of God has been shaped and formed and is here to serve.
That is your ministry.
Most simply and clearly we see Jesus’ life as a model of a servant’s life.
He value of his own life is seen in how he lived with others.
The value and meaning of life is not determined by how LONG we live? How quickly we learn? How well we gather wealth or success. God values how we use the life we are given.
Some folks will take many years to come to a place of seeing the power of life is not in the stuff we want, make, buy or claim. Rather full life is seen in HOW we live.
Look at Jesus.
- When he saw someone who was poor, he didn’t try to end poverty, he gave his time and shared himself with others.
- When Jesus was with someone who was sick, he didn’t bring and end to all disease, he gave God’s power and blessing and was present with those who suffered.
- When he was with those who lived by the rules and laws and system, Jesus healed on Sabboth, ate with sinners, broke customs to include women and children, he invited men to leave their homes, businesses and follow him.
- When Jesus was with someone he was in their presence, even when they did not recognized they were in the presence of God.
We are not called to BE Jesus, but to live in ways that we become LIKE Jesus.
We are not called to be perfect and right, we are made to live life LIKE his lived his life.
In homes and in the garden, in the temple and at the wedding party, at the seat of government and at the feed of children.
One thing to be certain, the moment we realize that God wants us be ministers and we have a plan, you can PLAN for interruptions and the need for a new plan.
The very time we choose to be present in our life and the lives of others, OUR plans will be challenged.
Not challenged by the devil as much as interrupted by the widow, orphan, family member or legal authorities.
This was key for Jesus, but he models that the ministry must be flexible.
My ministry is to inspire, challenge, inform and equip you for your ministry.
If there are those who answered the question, Are you a minister with a “NO” not me, then my work is not done.
How can be a minister?
Jesus called disicples with different talents. Some were good with business, some money, some had connections, some had sales experience, some were parents, spouses, and business partners. Some young, old and others were busy working others intently listening.
Jesus calls us to use the gifts, talents and experience we already have and bring those to the table.
Our life is filled with differing perspectives. We don’t all think alike when it
comes to conservative or liberal,
Krispy Kreme or Dunkin,
Hunts or Heinz,
Early or Late,
wealthy or poor,
short or tall
What we are here to do, is to LIVE a life, LIKE Christ has shown us, with what we have on hand.
Remember the child that shared the sack lunch that fed thousands by the sea? God uses what we bring to the ministry that is at hand.
- Your ministry might be to bring the sack lunch
- Your ministry might be to distribute the pieces
- You ministry might be to clean up after the crowd
- You ministry might be to go ask Jesus
There are plenty of folks who will send the problems away
Call for the crowds to take care of themselves
Look to limits of what we can provide
These are not ministries; these are ministry killers.
Ok, ok, so I’m a minister, “How do I do, whatever it is I’m suppose to do?”
Look to our verse from Ephesians:
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
God has already provided for the needs in this world. There are minds ready to discover. Bodies ready to give strength, Feet ready to move the impossible. Hearts to love and forgive. Spirits to empower and dream.
God has already been at work bringing us to this moment; this place and time.. what we can do RIGHT NOW is made possible by what God can do with those of us in this very place.
Know God has you here to be a minister
Know Jesus shows us what it looks like to LIVE out ministry in our lives
Know God expects interruptions, questions, mistakes and failure along the way.
Most of all: Know YOU are the handiwork of God for this world, and the world needs God through you.
You are shape to serve God… live the LIFE God has designed for you today.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [NRSV]
Ringling Bros Circus prides itself in having the greatest show on earth. It’s impressive and big, but is it the greatest?
Tony the Tiger believes his Frosted Flakes are Great! I think Honey bunches of Oats are even better.
Olympics 1996, member and friend volunteer repairing the hand rail going up to the Olympic Caldron the night of the opening games. The torch arriving and he is duct taping at the last second. Turns around in the shadow, literally inches off camera and facing Mohamed Ali. The Greatest.
Greatness is not something that everyone seeks. In fact we could make a case that most folks want to stay out of the spotlight. Looking at the text, ten disciples are angry with two for raising the bar. If we are being evaluated or compared to our piers we don’t want them to do better than us because that would make us look bad. We have an unwritten pack to reach for the middle or even the lowest common denominator.
Jesus’ word is not to go looking for Greatness.
It will follow your trust and service.
Don’t set out with the intention to beat the system.
The life of discipleship (Being a Christian) is not to won or lost, it
Is received as part of the relationship with God.
We may not all long to be the top of the heap or the head of the pack, but who does not enjoy a long shower of glory and praise?
We like to be recognized, praised and appreciated.
We like seeing our name in the paper, (as long as its not bad news)
We like it when folks think we are “good people.” No one wants a bad reputation. (Notorious: Famous for being bad)
What would we do to be liked? Children learn at a young age that test and temptation of doing right or wrong to be “in” or “cool.”
Even as adults who say they don’t want attention or credit, we have an uncomfortable knot in the stomach when someone takes credit for good that we, or someone else, has done.
Looking at the text, Jesus looks to the disciples and says: “You don’t know what you are asking.”
It is both encouraging and affirming to have others praise what we do, but if we set out to be praised as our goal, then our efforts are empty.
Glory is the by-product of good that is has been done. This is true of God’s glory or our own. But if we set out to do good things with the hope and goal of receiving glory.. we find the work empty.
Why? If we go looking for the fruit without caring for the tree we have a meal but not a livelihood. Greatness and Glory comes from service..
A Life of Service, comes first.
Jesus uses the disciples struggle as a teaching point:
First: Don’t worry about being first in line. Work diligently to serve and greatness will follow
And: Don’t do it for the praise, the deduction or the credit and you will find joy, credit and the prize that service builds.
The last shall be first: it is a common theme in the gospels..
Why do we need to hear it repeated?
- We don’t have to tell people we are not looking for greatness/ glory/ credit/ praise/ approval/ when we actually are doing just that.
- We don’t have to qualify and apologize for acts of service or humility. They don’t need explaining or defending.
- As followers, we are disciples, those who are learning and developing what it means to be committed, trusting, disciplined in the path of Jesus.
Greatness comes from the Greatest.. Seek God not greatness
Glory and Praise are motivators… don’t seek them as the goal
Service: is the ideas and words of our faith in actions.. that shape the type of relationship we have with each other and God.
God comes to save the least, last and lost.. The rest of us know to follow, trust and love shown in Jesus Christ.
So lets’ get to the back of the line.
40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” -NRSV
Hospitality is Welcoming Jesus
Souther Hospitality once was our hallmark and heritage. This means bringing out the lemonade, tea, coffee, or other beverages to have those who come into our homes, that strangers and family feel welcomed and “at home”.. But now days, most people don’t entertain in their homes like southern folks once did. We open a bag of chips, though a frozen pizza bites and hope folks will leave as quickly as they dropped by, that is if we open the door in the first place.
Welcoming the Honest word of the Prophet, Welcoming the Truth
The Prophet has the unique opportunity to speak the bold truth. Disciples are to speak that like a thirsty person enjoys cool fresh water.
Welcoming the least is the greatest reward
Water for the children, in this context, they were likely to last to drink. In our age, children often come before parents. The focus is not so much a family issue in the text, but the call for disciples to take refreshment to the least likely.
What if we spoke the truth, Helped the least likely and did it in Jesus name
We would be disciples. Drink up!
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 3 So he told them this parable: 4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. 8 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins,* if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’ -NRSV
There was a certain bank teller who had 100,000 in daily transactions. At the end of the day as the tallied her drawer she was short 10,000 dollars. So the went home and hoped it would show up tomorrow? Not.
There was a certain teacher who took 100 children on a field trip and one was left at the museum. The teacher called the parents and told them that their irresponsible first grader ran off and they would have to go retrieve the child themselves. Nope
There was a certain grand parent that had ten grand children coming over to their house for Christmas. The children were eager to share a delicious meal and to share Christmas gifts. When getting out the gifts there were only nine gifts, one grand child would just be disappointed this year.. (Grandpa said, so you think she’d like my denture cleaner?)
There was a certain baseball card collector who had all 523 of the American Tobacco Company’s Baseball card set, from 1909 to 1911, for an national interview on ESPN prior to the World Series. When live feed aired he opened the protective case and realized the Honus Wagner card was missing. He doubted that anyone would notice and continued with the interview undisturbed at the loss of the card that sold for $2.35 million. NO.
There was a person who was homeless got a third shift job watching cars at the dealership. The owner loaned him a car to drive to work . He could sleep all day and make $20 an hour watching that no one entered the lot during the night. If someone came on the premises they were to call the police and owner immediately. The very first night a gang show up and hot wired one of the cars and drove that Viper away. It was not the night watchman’s car; it was a rough and dangerous group. He tried calling the police and the owner but could not reach either. Should he leave the lot full of cars and the rest of the gang near by to race after the stolen car? Are you crazy?
There was a home owner who had two children. One stayed home to take car of the parents and all the affairs and business of the family and household. The other asked for their college fund during high school, dropped out of school, raced across the country and spent all the money in less than six months and was dumpster diving to find food.
Every day the parents would check emails, voicemails, mail box for a trail of bills and wonder what had happen to their youngest child. But knowing that they had the older child to care for them the rest of their days they gave up waiting and hoping and forgot the other child had ever been around… That’s not like Jesus parables..
The powerful part of Jesus’ parables are not in the story, but in the heart of the parable’s teaching.
The contexts of the parables are to address grumblings from the Pharisees and scribes. The teachers of the law, had joy in the traditions and they shared art of sticking in the mud. They were avoiders of a change and students of preservation and order.
Jesus went to the temple at age twelve and amazed the teachers as a child. As an adult his spending time with the unclean, non-religious folks was an insult in their eyes.
The message of Jesus is that everyone needs to hear the joy that God has a claim of love and grace, no matter what they have done or become.
The Pharisees and scribes held the responsibility of reaching the people. [The Pharisees were the more progressive group, as they allowed for the possibility of Resurrection after death, the Saddusees did not, that’s why they were Sad-you-see.
Just as the church, we hold the charge of teaching, sharing, witnessing and sharing the joy of Christ with everyone. This is our message. This is our mission. This is our work.
If you knew just one person who was sad and you could cheer them, would you reach out to them?
If you know just one person who was out of work would you help them look for work?
If you knew just one person who feels alone and scared of what waits from the test results could you hold their hand and heart while they wait.
If you knew just one person who had lost so much and you could love and befriend them even if they never got any of the stuff back because you cared about them and not their things, would you be their friend through the toughness.
IF you know just one person who was grieving and you could listen through their tears and grow with them in that valley of shadows, would you do it?
Hear the Good News! Jesus is interested in everyone, and sends his disciples to everyone.
Hear the Good News! God’s heart is joyful, God is laughing, God is beaming when do what Jesus did.
So what is God doing when we act like the Pharisees and scribes who were threaten by the example and call of Jesus? No so glad. Not laughing, not beaming so brightly..
SO WHAT. So what do we do with Jesus’ stories? Are they interesting children’s messages only?
Theme: We have work to do, What are you sitting here with so much to be done.
6 Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8 and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. 9 This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. 11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13 Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
My first job was working on my grandfather’s farm. He paid $20 a week. We got up at dark, at a full breakfast, fed the chickens, hogs and cows. We fueled up the tractors and checked out all the equipment we would use for the day and set out into the fields to plow, plant or harvest. We would eat lunch and watch, “The Young and the Restless” (as it was the only channel that his thirty foot antenna would receive so far out in the country. Back to fields until six and it was time put us the tractors, wash up and get to the table for dinner. We would look forward to Sunday as it was a day of rest.
I had a few self-employed jobs raking leaves, cutting grass and occasional garden tilling, it was a seasonal cash-only enterprise that was not very dependable nor sustainable as a student. I was relieved to find an opening at Connelly’s drugs store, making drug runs to customer who preferred home deliveries and later I moved up in the company from drug runner to soda jerk. It was there I learned the secret receipt for Pimento Cheese and thick malted milk shakes.
Later I worked at Holloway’s department store, Mr and Mrs Holloway just visited us in worship a couple of Sunday’s ago. Then I got to spin some record and read the news paper on the local AM radio station. In college I worked in the computer lab and as a summer camp counselor at Glisson in Dahlonega.
I had planned to enter the field of pharmacy and following Dr Connelly’s example of caring for folks at the pharmacy counter. But while on a UMMen’s mission trip to Monterrey, MX I received a clear call that my work would be in the church. And since 1984 I have known what direction my work would take. Since that time I have served near Cartersville, Covington, Gainesville, Atlanta, near Athens, Marietta, Fairburn, Blue Ridge and now Jackson, 9 congregations, 4000+ church members, 2600+ sermons, 200+ weddings, 400+ funerals, 200+ baptisms and confirmations… and I have more than a decade and a half waiting.
I am thankful that the church has given me a vocation of work that facilitates my calling into ministry. But I am not the only minister in the church. You are not only surround by ministers, you are a minister as well.
The United Methodist Church appointed called, trained and examined over a 7 year process clergy to serve in churches. We are to administer the sacraments, preach the Word, and give spiritual and administrative leadership to the congregation. In my career the role of clergy has transformed from pastor-preacher into some hybrid of a professional administrator charged with being pastor, orator, peace-maker, teacher, lawyer, fund-raiser, preacher, spiritual guide, singer, actor, counselor, janitor, as well as target for blame and visionary for folks who resist change. The work is different in every week and every year in every ministry setting.
I have a philosophy of ministry, an understanding of my call to ministry, and this is it: My work is to make sure your work is done. If you are not working the work of the local church in Jackson and around the world, then I’m not doing my job very well. That means most of the time, my job is to work myself out of the jobs you give me and give the work back to you, the church.
Paul’s words to the church a Thessaloniki are words point toward the church and to the members within our flock, both then and now.
Probably the most familiar of sayings about who does the work around a church:
There is the 20/80 rule. 20 % of the people do 80 % of the work.
The Preacher and Staff do the work, that’s why we pay them to do it for us.
Paul reminds us that the work of the church is to be shared by everyone.
No, not everyone is called, nor able to all things.
But none are called to be retired.
None are too new or too inexperienced.
None are given a free pass, excused absences, or
Paul starts with a COMMAND. Thou SHALL work..
Following is as necessary as Leading.
Studying is as important as Teaching.
Praying is as crucial as Singing.
Giving is as powerful as Serving.
Forgiving is as essential is Assurance and Justice.
Some are Living in Idleness. Some Busybodies. Some of not any work at all.
Should these folks wear name tags? NO, they need to jump up and help out.
Command to get working: Not for praise, Not to earn a place, rather because they already have a place—in the church and in the kingdom.
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,* for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ 28 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ 29He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind,* he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’ Matthew 14
The Parable of the Talents
14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents,* to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25
It is God who has taken the first risk..
Risk leaving use with care for the garden, care for the commandments, rituals and offerings. An even greater risk was taken in coming in the form of Jesus, sharing the ministry as disciples and sacrificing his life for our own. AND further risk, entrusting the work of the Kingdom to us today.
What is a risk.
For some getting out of bed and walking across the room is a risk
For others its changing careers, homes or income brackets.
For others its choosing a longer bungee cord to get closer to the ground.
Learning to swim, I was afraid of the deep water. Beginners, Intermediate, and Experienced Swimmers. Bobbing and floating, strokes and flips. and diving, head first into the deep.
For most of us..
A risk is any action we take that stretches us beyond our control of comfort.
Who would choose to do that?
Know about Jesus, hear others speak of Jesus and then our stepping out into the deep waters of the storm and walking with Jesus.
Why take a risk. Play it safe. Hold, Stay, Split, hedge our bets.
Service that we can manage is about what we can do.
Service that we cannot image doing is about what God can do.
Most churches dream of sending folks on mission teams around the world and starting emergency assistance ministries. JUMC has raised the bar for all the churches.
This is not in the spirit of competition, rather in the spirit of faithst
It is a risk to say that we will provide a coat for every child that needs a coat.
It is a risk to send 50 people to Honduras, Uganda and the ends of the earth.
It is a risk to say that we will help 600 with food, bills, and clothes in Jesus name.
It is a risk to run for office and lead the community government
It is a risk to start a new business
It is a risk to bring a foster child into your home.
It is a risk to invite ALL our neighbors to join our church
It is a risk to start ministries that reach hundreds at a time instead of tens.
Build a whole neighborhood of habitat houses?
Start of bakery, restaurant, Movie Theater, bookstore, a college, and provide more places for people to work and have income for their families.
Risk Taking Service does not happen within our limits, it is a time to step into God’s sea of life.
1) The passage is remember not just for Peter’s sake, but for our example.
2) Those who have much, much more is expected. Money, time, talent, skill, experience, knowledge, heat….
3) Walking on water is possible when we look to Jesus for strength for every step.
Reward: Churches that risk service and mission show the world what God can do and is doing. If there is one of the five practices that Jackson UMC comes closest to modeling, it would be this one, but that only raise the bar higher.. Don’t look at the threatening storm as long as Christ is inviting us to walk with him.