Sunday, July 7, 2013

Name Your Ministry - Sermon 9C

So I’ve gotten to preach for three weeks in a row!  I have never gotten to do that before and it has been nourishing for me – I hope it has been nourishing for you.  I have been using you all as an experiment of sorts – could I do it?  I really do value your feedback and the conversations we have afterwards.  You all inspire me when you share your stories after the service. 

Two weeks ago I challenged you all to name your demons, then last week to name your fruits.  We discussed what those demons were that numb you from the realities of everyday life and keep you from bearing the Fruits of the Spirit: Peace, Joy, Love, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. 
Those fruits are lovely and all – and yes, we should be working on them, but sometimes that can sound really passive and kumbayah-ish can’t it?  I love that in the Gospel lesson today, Jesus gives us a way to not be passive with our lives.  If there is no Peace where you are, bang your sandals together protest.  That’s permission to be active and discerning as Christians while still proclaiming the Gospel.

In today’s gospel lesson we also get the chance to name something else in our lives.  Jesus sends out 70 of his followers.  That would be 50% of the people here!  Out – take nothing – and stay on task!  Go – Proclaim Peace, Heal, Live Honorably, and Proclaim the Kingdom.  What do you think are we up for that?  If I asked half of you to stand up and be ready to go RIGHT NOW – would you be ready?  You are certainly qualified!  The slave girl in the first reading today did it – the 70 did it.  You have all gained power over your demons in Jesus’ name – now go and do likewise outside of here!

Take a deep breath – let your heart rate return to normal – because here’s the catch: I believe you are already doing it.  You are just about all Baptized Christians.  You just about all know that you are not taking Jesus out to the people, but instead are joining God in the work God has already begun.  We’ve talked about this before.  I believe that you Proclaim Peace everyday in your daily life- that you work to heal those people and the world around you.  I believe that you show those Fruits of the Spirit when you live as honorably as you know how.  I believe that you have a ministry outside of these walls.  I believe that you know that you are free, and therefore you are able to invite others to share that freedom.

This week I want you to focus on naming your ministry.  Jesus said to say, “the Kingdom of God has come near” to anyone.  This means you have to verbalize why you do what you do as ministry.  It can be very quietly – it can be something as simple as listening to a co-worker’s troubles and offering to pray for them.  I know that happens to you all the time – you tell me about it.  People can sense those fruits of the Spirit in you and you are irresistible to them.  They know you are the one who truly will pray when others mumble and turn away.  You know how to bear each other’s burdens.  Some of you do blatant ministry of healing – through teaching, nursing, medicine, psychology, child-rearing, retail, anywhere you interact with people – you physically lay your hands on people and heal them in Jesus’ name.  But do you ever say that?  Not in an obnoxious way of course, and maybe if someone asks how you can always be so patient with other’s, do you say that it is because of your spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  The laborers are few – the harvest is plentiful!

You’ve cast out your own demons, you are always working on producing those fruits of the Spirit, now name you ministry – show everyone who God has called you to be.  Go and Do in Jesus’ Name.

The audio for this sermon will be in the PodBean Player on the right side of the blog.

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