10-18-15 HONORING THE LAITY
HONORING THE LAITY
October 18, 2015
I was led to this morning's Gospel reading (Mark 6:30-44), as the basis for today's message, BEFORE last Sunday's service. I am not sure whether the Lord wanted to confirm that choice, and thus reassure us that He will indeed perform mighty works through a chosen few, or whether He was just proving His sense of humor; but take a look at the attendance board for last Sunday's service. I am quite certain it is no coincidence that a message about the Lord instructing His 12 disciples to feed 5000 with limited resources, was scheduled before last Sunday's service, which had only 12 in attendance. Our Old Testament reading (Judges 7:2-8) also reflects how sometimes the Lord will reduce numbers just to show that it is Him that we are to rely on - and give the glory to. However, maybe for next week I should preach about the 144,000 servants of God that are sealed in the Book of Revelation (7:4) instead???
But seriously, as today is Laity Sunday, I want to celebrate how much our church as done for the Lord, even though we do not have the amount of people some other churches in the area might have. Nor do our people have a great deal of either time or money. But what we do have is a great deal of heart, of love for the Lord and for others, and a willingness to go above and beyond in serving God.
I know there are times when we worry, and even times when we might feel like giving up. How do you think the disciples felt when Jesus asked them to feed a crowd of 5000 men, PLUS women and children, using 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish? Can't you just picture them looking at the meager rations, then looking up at Jesus, and thinking "Seriously"? And yet, because they were willing, and trusted God, after they passed out the little bit of food that they had, they came back with more than they started with!
God does ask us to do some things at times that seem way beyond our capabilities. Pay all of our apportionments when we are showing a loss every month? Yes, we can do it. Give money and food to local charities? Work on projects such as sewing baby blankets or crocheting a prayer shawl? Collect toys for children that don't have any? Prepare meals for other local ministries? We do it all, and much more. I have seen the Lord work in amazing ways in this church. We have taken limited resources and blessed hundreds of people. We have cared for each other, and those in our community, with a love that could only come from the Holy Spirit within us. And do not think the Lord has not noticed. Just as the disciples returned with more baskets full of food than they started with, the Lord knows our hearts, and as long as we continue to trust Him and to serve Him, no matter what He calls us to do, He will bless us. Our baskets, and our pews, will miraculously be full once again. For the more we give, the more we will receive. Jesus said "Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full - pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back." (Luke 6:38)
According to the Bible, my responsibility is to "equip God's people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ." (Ephesian 4:12) Your responsibility is to do your part as a member of the body of Christ. (Romans 12:4-8) Together, we can become an unstoppable force for the Gospel! I know that each and every one of you is not here by accident. You all have something to contribute to this church. The Lord blessed Randy with a talent for playing the piano, and we are blessed to have him use that talent here every Sunday morning. Linda has a talent for speaking in front of people and we are blessed to have her as a regular liturgist. But some of you might possess a talent you haven't yet realized! When Jill Bunker started attending this church, I don't think she had any idea that in 2015 she would be the pastor of not one, but three churches! I've known Jill since she was 10 years old. I would have never dreamed she would be doing what she is doing today. The Lord has done a mighty work in her, and now is doing one through her as well.
So what has the Holy Spirit been putting in your heart to do, that you have been putting off because you:
Just can't seem to find the time
Are worried everyone won't like the idea
Don't think you can come up with all of the resources that you'll need
I struggled myself with those same 3 issues a few months back. But I knew in my heart that the Lord would bless my project if I would just trust Him and be willing to do my part. And you all know the end result, because you see it outside every time you come to church. There are others of you here that miraculously manage to put in 48 hours worth of unselfish service within a 24 hour day. Some of you are volunteer firefighters. Others donate time and talents to the American Legion. Whether it is one of these, or caring for family members that are ill, or raising children, or helping a fellow farmer or co-worker - or whatever the Lord has called you to do - you serve as shining examples of what can be done through trusting in God to give you strength and endurance beyond that of most people.
Our church may be small in number, but I am honored to be the pastor of such a wonderful congregation. Every day you renew my awe in the power of God working through believers; and I pray that He bless this church, and its members, as He did the disciples, who returned with their baskets overflowing.