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OUR MISSION, OUR MESSAGE

Date: 
April 29, 2018
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson
Reading: 
John 15: 9-17

THEME: We are the church… we are called to discover what was at the heart of Jesus’s ministry and carry it forward…

INTRODUCTION

  • We are called to be the church, but do we really know what it means to be the church in the 21st century?
  • The Greek word for church is ecclesia from which we get words like ecclesiastical and ecclesiology…
    • The literal translation of the word ecclesia is: “to be called out… to be summoned.”
    • In ancient Greek states the ecclesia was the citizens who were called out for a political assembly.
    • After the life of Christ, the ecclesia was understood to be the people who were called out or summoned to be the church – the body of Christ.
  • Jesus said to his followers, “You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit…”  (John 15:16)
  • William Barclay, a biblical commentator, in response to the question, “What have we been chosen for?” offers this response:
    • We have been chosen for JOY – however hard the Christian way is, it is, both in the traveling and in the goal, the way of Joy
    • We have been chosen for LOVE – we are sent out into the world to love one another
    • Jesus has chosen us to be FRIENDS – to walk with him
    • We have been chosen to be his PARTNERS – to work with him
    • We have been chosen to be AMBASSADORS – to represent him in the world
    • Jesus chose us to be ADVERTISEMENTS – to bear fruit – to spread Christianity by being Christian… the ONLY way to spread Christianity is by being Christian… the only way to bring others into the Christian faith is to show them the fruit of the Christian life…
    • We have been chosen to be PRIVELEGED MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY OF GOD, but we must always remember that privilege goes hand in hand with RESPONSIBILITY… (Daily Study Bible – William Barclay)
  • One of the things that I have always stressed in my ministry - always reminded church members of - is that we are called out for responsibility. Being a church member, being a Christian, being called out by Christ is a responsibility.

 

WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING?

  • This morning I want you to help me explore the answer to two questions:
    • Who are we called to be?
    • What are we called to do?
  • If indeed we are called to be the church, what should we be doing? In other words, what is our mission and what is our message?”

ALLOW FOR CONGREGATION’S RESPONSES

BE SURE THE FOLLOWING ARE BROUGHT FORTH:

  • WORSHIPPING – giving glory to God… celebrating God’s presence
  • WITNESSING – sharing our faith in word and deed
  • PROCLAIMING JESUS CHRIST – crucified and risen
  • ABIDING IN CHRIST and LEARNING FROM CHRIST – becoming disciples
  • LOVING ONE ANOTHER – promoting fellowship, understanding, and acceptance
  • SERVING OTHERS – reaching out in Christ’s name
  • WELCOMING THE STRANGER – offering extravagant hospitality
  • SEEKING JUSTICE – justice for all people
  • RESISTING EVIL – working for good
  • RESPECTING CREATION – taking care of God’s world
  • PEACEMAKING – promoting understanding
  • WALKING FAITHFULLY WITH OUR GOD – being God’s partners at work in the world

The Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ answers the “What should we be doing?” question this way:  (Blue Hymnal No. 361)

      He calls us into his church:

  • To accept the cost and joy of discipleship
  • To be his servants in the service of all humankind
  • To proclaim the gospel to all the world
  • To resist the powers of evil
  • To share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table
  • To join him in passion and victory…

The Methodist Church answers the “What should we be doing question?”  this way:

     Discovering what was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry and continuing it.

CONCLUSION

  • Short Story  - THE MEANING OF LIFE   (printed below)
  • Friends, we are the church – called to reflect the light of Christ into the dark places of this world…
  • We have been called – chosen, but we must choose to respond by following faithfully…

 

THE MEANING OF LIFE

At the last session on the last morning of a two-week seminar on Greek culture, Dr. Alexander Papaderos turned and made his ritual gesture to signal the conclusion of class and asked, "Are there any questions?"

Quiet swept over the room. The two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now, there was only silence.  "No questions?" Dr. Papaderos said as he swept the room with his eyes. One student raised his hand. "Dr. Papaderos. what is the meaning of life?"

The usual laughter followed and people began to stir about getting ready to leave. Dr. Papaderos held UP his hand and stilled the room to perfect peace. He looked at the student who had asked the question for a long time to let the student know he didn't appreciated him trying to make light of the situation.

"I will answer your question," Dr. Papaderos said as everyone slowly slid back into their seats.

Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went something like this:

"When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had wrecked in that place. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the biggest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine - in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game, but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light - truth, understanding, knowledge - is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world - into the dark places in the hearts of men and women - and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of life."

And then he took the small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto the face of the student who had asked the question.

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. " (John 9:5). and as His followers, we are to be like that little mirror, reflecting the light of Christ into the dark comers of this world. "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven " (Matthew 5:16).

 

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