Fifteenth Sunday of Pentecost – September 2, 2018
Psalm 15 and James 1-17-27
How many of us remember, at one time or another, hearing a sermon preached and then saying, “Wow, I really hope my friend or family member so and so was listening. They really needed to hear that”? How often don’t we think the Word applies to everyone but us? Let’s maintain the attitude, “Lord, is there something You want me to get from this message? Is there something You want me to do?”
I’m reminded of a story I heard of a young minister just starting out. He took his first charge. On his first Sunday he preached a really powerful sermon. The people were so excited. The leadership of the church thought, we made the right decision choosing him to be our minister.
His second Sunday service came around and the people were excited to hear what he had to say this Sunday. He stood up front and began to preach the same message he had preached the previous Sunday.
The people and leadership in particular were a bit perplexed but thought it was surely an oversight on the minister’s part. His third and fourth Sunday sermons turned out to be exactly the same. Being a bit frustrated, the leadership asked to meet with him.
In their meeting, they confronted him that he had preached the same message at each service. The young pastor looked intently at them and said, “Have you put it into practice yet?” They were pierced to the heart and convicted by this young preacher of theirs. They had not been doers of the Word.
Most of us say that we are believers. We profess our faith, we go to church and we take part in things that pertain to the Christian faith. All of these are very important in order to feed our spiritual lives and our relationship with God.
What we often miss is that there is One who has enabled us to be in all of this, and it is God through God’s Son Jesus Christ. It is God who shapes us in this way, not the other way round, even though we might want to boast that it is by our own doing that we believe in Christ and that we endeavour to actively make a difference. Deep down it is God’s Spirit that works in us.
What does it look like to live as faithful people of God in a world where we feel threatened by people who are different to us? We live in an increasingly gloablised world.
In our own city you can barely move around and it doesn’t take too long to bump into someone who isn’t “from here” but “from elsewhere.” These people all get to have a place in this wonderful city. Not all of them fall in the same socio-economic grouping as so many of us.
We so often hear that we are to go get involved in a world of people who are different to us. This is where James says it’s all fine if we have heard what God’s word instructs us to do, but then we need to become doers of what we’ve heard.
What does it look like to have a religion that is pure and undefiled before God? This is what Jesus says: it looks like attending to the state of our inner lives. This is what James says: it looks like caring for the marginalized. It looks like being engaged with the world without having our hearts governed by the values that govern the world.
This coming Saturday September 8, we once again get to reach out a hand of hospitality and generosity by having a carnival in our parking lot. This too, is our opportunity to chat and relate with our lovely neighbourhood that our congregation is located within.
Of course, when we get to support eight-year-old Bryan Jose in El Salvador as part of our Church School project, this too is an example of doing what we hear, by serving the poor. It is so easy to slip into inaction and a lack of following up on those things we are convinced are worthy causes for our Christian faith.
Let’s follow through on our plans to reach out wherever we can. Visiting those who are ill or lonely, being there for our loved ones who might be longing for our interest in their lives, but just not being vocal enough.
Is there something that you’ve heard here this morning that moved you to do something quite specific? Are you going to put action to these intentions?
The faith that we have received, that which we’ve heard about are all lived out by springing into action.
Copyright 2018 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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