Seasons of Love, sermon, continued...
Do the work of an evangelist, keep the message alive, do a thorough job as God’s servant. How do we do that? Where do we start? What do we do? Many questions. Today, I want to focus on three of them.
First, who is called? The list of people who have influenced my faith journey was chosen strategically. If you’ll notice, it included people who were retired, and people who were working. It included older people and youth, people who were just starting life, and people who were nearing the end of life. We are the laity. We are the people of God, and this is our calling. This is our job. Whoever we are – it is the work of all of us. There is no “get out of ministry free” card. Who is called? You. Me.
Next, how do we know what to do?
Mary / Marv read a passage from Luke this morning. Jesus is telling a parable of an unjust judge and a persistent woman. Picture it for a moment – this is how I see it. The judge is in his home, probably hiding from everyone, but especially from this woman, who keeps bothering him. She comes to his door. And knocks. And knocks. And knocks. “Grant me justice.” He finally gives her what she wants so that she’ll leave him alone. I’m sure none of us have ever had THAT kind of experience. Right. Any of us who have children have had just that kind of experience. Does that mean God is like an unjust judge? No. We are like the unjust judge, and we listen to our children. How much more will God listen to God’s children? So, pray. Talk to God about what God is leading you to do. Do it persistently.
Margit Ernst-Habib wrote that God is so persistently in love with us…”we can be sure that God hears our prayers, our crying day and night, even though we may not see any results yet. God has not forgotten us; God will not delay long in helping.” I think the Holy Spirit in us may be in some ways like that widow, urging us to pray, pushing us to connect with God, unmercifully moving us to persistent prayer. God is listening. We should pray, remembering that part of prayer is listening for God. Do we believe that? Then we should pray as if we do. I believe that through our prayers we will learn where God wants us to go, what God wants us to do, who God wants us to reach.
How else do we learn where God is leading us?
If I had read the few verses in 2 Timothy that lead up to the passage from the 4th chapter, then you would have heard this (again from The Message): “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” We don’t just study scripture to learn what it says. God uses God’s word to shape us, to change us, to transform us. A.J. Jacobs said, “It (the Bible) is so true that it will read you.” From our study, we will be equipped and shaped to do the work of God, and to know what that work should be.
We pray, we study, and what else? We show up. I still remember Betsy Warren saying that in a sermon. How do we function as the body of Christ? We show up. We go where God’s sends us. Here, to worship, learn, and gain strength in fellowship. Out from here, to be the church. We show up.
How was it that Coe Marsh was able to have such a profound effect on my faith? I imagine she prayed about what she was called to do. I know she studied, because she demonstrated it when we asked her about the 23rd Psalm. And she said yes, going where God was sending her – on a bus trip across the entire country with 30 or so youth, into a classroom with two very young, inexperienced teachers of the Bible to share her love of God, her love of children, and her love for us.
Labels: Epistles, Sermon