A New Day Dawning in Farmville

McNairIn the late 1930’s Harry Albritton began dreaming of a new day for Farmville. It began one day when he and his best friend decided to go to the movies together at the Paramount Theater. When they arrived, Harry became confused, agitated and disappointed as he was told that his friend could not sit with him. For you see, his friend, nicknamed “Ting,” was black. Harry was told that he was welcomed to come in and sit downstairs, but his friend had to use another entrance and sit in the balcony. Harry, not wanting to be separated from his friend, remembers responding: “If Ting is going to sit in the balcony, I am going to sit in the balcony too.” He said, “I was the only white boy in the balcony that day, but I was not going to let skin color separate me from my friend.”

It is almost eighty years later, and a lot has changed in Farmville. However, a lot has remained the same. In many ways, we are still separated. The new day of Harry’s dream as a little boy has yet to arrive.

Yet, there appears to be a light glimmering on the horizon. It’s a distant, faint light, but it’s a light nonetheless. Last Thursday, the Apostle Dr. Aaron McNair from the Mount Moriah Church spoke from the pulpit of the First Christian Church. He boldly admonished us to come together erasing the lines that separate us to be one Church to do the work of Christ together, side-by-side, hand-in-hand: feeding the hungry, lifting up the poor, giving hope to the despairing, speaking truth to power, and exorcising all kinds of demonic evil: structural, systemic, personal and even ecclesial.

McNair said: “Think of what a better town this would be. Think of what a better nation this would be, if we would just come together.”

After he spoke to the congregation that was gathered, he and I embraced there on the chancel. As we hugged, he whispered, “I believe this is the start of something big.”

I whispered back, “I believe it is.”

The light on the horizon is faint, because there is much work to do. If the new day of Harry’s dream, and of so many others since, is to arrive, much will need to change. However, the good news is that wherever there is just a flicker of light, there is hope. And last Thursday, I saw more than a flicker.

Loving God with All of Our Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength: A Pastoral Prayer

heat soul mind strengthO God, give us hearts that are full of gratitude.

And forgive us for taking so many things in life for granted. Forgive us for not living with the awareness that all of life is a gift of your amazing grace and unconditional love. Forgive our prideful, self-righteous hearts, for oftentimes acting as if we deserve life, as if we have somehow earned the blessings of life.

O God, give us souls that are full of compassion.

And forgive us for not living, acting, and speaking ask if we know anything at all about your suffering in Christ and the immense suffering of others. Forgive our complacent, self-centered souls, for oftentimes acting as if we are the only people in the entire world that matter.

O God, give us minds that are full common sense.

And forgive us for not using the holy gift of our brains for thoughtful contemplation and critical thinking. Forgive our ignorant, shallow, closed, and pompous minds, for oftentimes behaving as if we already have all the answers, for making things too simple, too black and white. Forgive us for being unwilling to seek your truth and your justice that has the power to set all people free.

O God, give us strength in our bodies and determination to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.

And forgive us for living as if our bodies were created only for our own pleasure. Forgive our self-indulgent, comfort-seeking, carnal ways, for oftentimes living only to please ourselves, for being unwilling to step outside of our comfort zones, outside of the safe sanctuary to selflessly and sacrificially love all our neighbors as ourselves. Forgive us for using our strength, our power and privilege to exploit the weak, the powerless, and the unprivileged.

O God, thank you for your love and give us the grace to love you with all of our hearts, all of our souls, all of our minds, and all of our strength. Amen.

Without God, All Things Are Possible (and Probable)

without god2 Samuel 11:1-15 NRSV

Psalm 14 NRSV

Ephesians 3:14-21 NRSV

A wonderful facet of Holy Scripture is its sheer candor. Unlike much of other ancient literature, the Bible does not protect its greatest heroes from their shortcomings and failures as sinful human beings. Absent of any spin and bias, the writers tell their sordid stories with astonishing honesty.  Their misconduct and foolishness are laid bare, with remarkable objectivity.

All who take time to study the Bible are privy to the impatience of Moses, the skepticism of Sarah, the reluctance of Jeremiah and the cowardice of Peter. But of all the offensive exploits of God’s special men and women, perhaps none is more despicable than David’s dealings with Bathsheba and her husband Uriah.

David’s treachery is even greater when we compare it to Uriah’s fidelity. Uriah is faithfully defending his country when David learns that Bathsheba is expecting with his child.

David thinks: “I have to cover this up.”

David deceitfully pretends to inquire about the war’s progress, but his real purpose was to devise a reason for Uriah and everyone else to assume that the unborn child naturally belongs to Uriah.

He encourages Uriah to go home to be with Bathsheba so the adulterous affair might not be revealed.

However, Uriah’s integrity and loyalty to his comrades on the battlefield supersedes the hospitality of his wife. Uriah sleeps out back in the servant’s quarters, explaining to David that this was his way of keeping faith with his fellow soldiers.

Frustrated, David tries once again by getting Uriah all liquored up.  However, even while intoxicated, Uriah remains faithful to his comrades by sleeping on the sofa.

Uriah’s loyalty to his troops is especially remarkable when we remember that Uriah is not even a native Israelite, but a Hittite. Yet, his personal code of conduct, his unwavering fidelity repeatedly stands in the way of David’s deceitful plans.

And here is when the story really goes awry. Frustrated by the fidelity of Uriah and knowing that as soon as the child is born it will be clear to all that adultery had been committed, David spirals out of control, desperately, deceitfully and audaciously ordering the death of Uriah.

Perhaps we have all heard the hopeful words of Jesus recorded by Matthew, “With God, all things are possible.” Well, the story of David reveals that the opposite can also be a true.

It was the 19th century Russian philosopher Dostoevsky who penned the phrase, “Without God, everything is permissible.”  Without God, things are quick to go awry, get out of hand. Without God, we all have the propensity to spiral out of control. Without God, everything is possible.

As the Psalmist warns, without God all behavior that is foolish and destructive is not only possible, it has no limits.

Without God, God-created sexual attraction is transformed into selfish lust leading to the objectification and dehumanization of others and sometimes to betrayal, deceit, and even murder.

Without God, a little money earned fosters insatiable greed leading to the exploitation of others, especially the poor.

Without God, the understanding that all of life is a gift from God, that all is grace, is twisted into an egotistical and entitled pride leading to all kinds of bigotry and exclusivity.

Without God, power derived from birth, inheritance, dumb luck, is used to dismiss and to oppress, to abuse and to misuse, those born without power.

Without God, the holy call to forgive as we have been forgiven is replaced by a call to resentment, revenge and malicious acts of violence.

Without God, lies and propaganda breed fear, and fear breeds bitterness, and bitterness breeds anger, and anger breeds hatred, and hatred can provoke a man to take a gun into a movie theater, into a school or into a church and start shooting the innocent.

Without God, narcissism, sexism, racism, extremism, despair, murder, limitless atrocities are not only possible, they are probable.

Walter Brueggeman has correctly observed that: “It is the knowledge of the reality of God present and at work in our world and in our lives which sets limits to destructive possibilities.”

David’s problem was simply a lack of this knowledge. David had become so powerful, so confident and so proud, that he became blind to the reality of God present and at work in our world.

David imagined that he was somehow exempt from the supreme law of God to love his neighbor as himself. David lived his life, made his decisions, and acted out without knowledge of God, as if God did not exist. And it was this self-indulgent lifestyle which brought destruction to him and his family.

I want to suggest that the prayer in our epistle lesson can help us to avoid such foolishness or madness—madness of which we, including yours truly, are all capable.

One does not have to be a King to forget who we are and whose we are. For all of us, perhaps especially us Westerners living in the 21st century, there exists the danger to go too far with our freedom. We are tempted to cross the line with our liberty. In our sinfulness and brokenness we tend to forget that the world in which we live in is bounded by the mysterious but trustworthy love and law of God. We sometimes forget the reality of God present, at work in our world and at work in our lives—we forget that all of life is bounded by God’s inexplicable, but unfailing grace.

I believe the prayer for the church at Ephesus needed to be David’s prayer and needs to be our prayer today.

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.

We need to know that God’s connectedness with us is so intimate and so personal that God, God’s self, has named us. God is as close to us as good parents are to their children. We need to know that God cares for us and nurtures us and loves and suffers with us like a devoted parent. We have all heard the phrase, “only a mother could love that man!” God’s love for us is always present. There is no end to its trust, no failing of its hope. It stills stand when all else has fallen. And this love is all we will ever truly need.

I  pray that, according to the riches of his glory that you will be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

We need to know that when we are physically weak, God can and will make us spiritually strong. God can and God will strengthen us to overcome temptations and trials. God will be our conscience and help us through the knowledge of Christ to replace our lust with respect, our resentment with forgiveness, our hatred with love, our disregard and disdain for the poor with a conscience for justice.

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length, and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge so that you may be filled with the fullness of God.

We need to know that God loves us more than we can possible imagine. This is why the Bible can be so honest and so objective. This is why this book is a canon of candor. This is why misconduct and madness can be laid utterly bare. David can be as sinful as a person can be, and, by the grace of God, be remembered by the Apostle Paul in Acts as “a man after God’s very own heart” (Acts 13:22).

Think about this:  If David understood the breadth and the length and the height and the depth of God’s love and God’s grace, would David have gone as far as he did to cover up his sins?

God’s love for us is so great and so big, that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from it, through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Thus, with God, when we expose our sins, when we reveal our shortcomings, when we lay bare our brokenness, when we confess our anger and hate, we are enveloped by an amazing grace that is greater than our sin.

But, if we ignore our sins without God, never confess it, pretend it doesn’t exist, conceal it by calling it by another name, try to somehow justify it, then, well, anything is possible.

The good news is that the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love is so great and so intimate and so personal that it has the power to make all that is destructive in this world simply impossible.

Without God, things can go completely awry. Without God, all Hell will break loose. Without God, all things are possible. But with God, there are many things that are impossible.

With God, unforgiveness is impossible.

With God, absolute loneliness is impossible.

With God, being completely lost is impossible.

With God, utter despair is impossible.

With God, being unaccepted, unloved and unworthy is impossible.

With God, spiraling out of control into utter madness is impossible.

With God, saying things or doing things or voting for things that harm our neighbors, especially our neighbors whom the Bible calls the least of these, without a conscience that that names these sins and calls us to repent to obey the supreme law of God to love neighbor as self is impossible.

With God, coming to church, praying, singing hymns and listening to a sermon without a divine call and a holy conviction to leave the comfort of this sanctuary to go out into a dangerous world to be the church, to do the things that Jesus did, lifting up the lowly, seeking out the lost, healing the sick, speaking truth to power, and confronting and challenging and exorcising all kinds of evil, is impossible.

With God, total destructiveness, eternal death, and all Hell breaking loose is impossible.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

Reflections on My First General Assembly 

soar

Two years ago, I chose to leave my denomination to become a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The 2015 General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio reaffirmed that this was one of the best choices I have ever made.

The workshops were challenging, and  the worship services were inspiring, reminding me that we are not called to merely go to church, but we are called to be the church, the very embodiment of Christ working for wholeness in our fragmented world. 

This reaffirmation and reminder was a great comfort to me as I have struggled over the years with my sense of calling to ministry and with my denominational identity. However, it is a special kind of comfort, a holy, God-given comfort. As Rev. Terri Hord-Owens said in the opening sermon of the assembly: “God comforts all of us, but not to make us comfortable. Our comfort is only a pivot-point to go out to serve and to love those in our world who need to be comforted.”

I chose to be a Disciple because my old denomination seemed to to me to be more about maintenance than mission. It seemed to be more about keeping everyone satisfactorily comfortable, rather than using the comfort of God’s affirmation as a pivot-point to make difficult stands as followers of Christ. They sought to be moderate, mainline and mainstream. However, the reality is that Jesus sometimes calls us to be upstream and anything but moderate and mainstream, even If it is uncomfortable.

Some Disciples are concerned that the resolutions that are made during the business sessions are “divisive.” Although resolutions are not edicts that are imposed on congregations as each church is autonomous, they say that voting “yea” or “nay,” agreeing or disagreeing with resolutions, undermines the unity of the denomination. They say that this is the reason many are leaving the denomination.

However, I believe more people leave denominations and churches when those organizations simply stop looking like or speaking like Jesus. I believe people who know their Bibles and the actions and words of Jesus are leaving the church in droves, because, instead of looking like Jesus on a mission for social justice announcing and ushering in the Kingdom of God, it looks like some sort of club on a mission to keep everyone agreeable and unified by remaining silent or moderate.

I believe agreement and unity are two different things. With Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, I believe a wonderful aspect of Disciples is that we do not have to always agree with one another to be unified. Our unity does not come from our ability to agree or moderate a position. Our unity comes from God who unites us in Christ and in Christ alone.

This certain and sacred unity gives us the freedom to courageously take risks which are often needed to do the uncomfortable and unpopular work of Jesus of loving our neighbor as ourselves, feeding the hungry, lifting up the poor, welcoming and teaching the children, healing the sick, forgiving the sinner, friending the prisoner, restoring the marginalized, raising he dead and exorcising all kinds of evil: personal, social, systemic, structural and even ecclesial.

As Rev. Dr. Amy Butler preached: “the time is now; the pain of our world is desperate; and the call of God is clear. It’s that serious.”

Rev. Dr William Barber correctly diagnosed our nation’s desperation as a “deep heart problem” that only God can revive by using the church as a “defibrillator to shock the nation with the electricity of God’s justice, love and mercy.”

If we remain silent or moderate to try to maintain the satisfaction of every member, we will continue to lose not only the hearts of our members, not only the heart of our nation, but the heart of the church as we will simply cease being relevant.

This was my first General Assembly, and I could not be more excited to be both a Disciple, and hopefully, a “defibrillator,” an upstream Christian who will no longer compromise by going with the flow to avoid rocking the boat in order to keep everyone on board comfortable. With God’s help, I look forward to trying to do my small part to help us look less like members of a club, or even a denomination, and more like disciples of Christ.

Ten Observations from My Wheelchair

IMG_1821
These things I have learned following my knee surgery:

1. Elevators are usually a great distance from the escalator or stairs.

2. Getting on an elevator when someone else in a wheelchair is exiting the same elevator requires speed, agility and sometimes patience.

3. Not all automatic handicap door buttons function properly.

4. Most doors are dangerously heavy and swing closed very quickly.

5. Going downhill is just as difficult as going uphill, and it is more scary.

6. Some thresholds are insurmountable without extra help from strangers.

7. Extra help is often readily available from strangers.

8. Strangers will make eye contact, smile and offer a warm greeting.

9. Strangers will hold doors open and compassionately ask if there is anything else they can do for you.

10. Strangers will approach you empathetically express concern for your well-being.

What a better world it would be if we treated everyone as if they are disabled or somehow challenged. Because, living in this broken, difficult, obstructed, sometimes scary and dangerous world, aren’t we all?

Freaking out in front of the Pastor

embarrassed young brunette covering her mouth with both handsI am working on a mission project with a group of men. We are building a handicap ramp for someone who is disabled. One of the men accidently hits his thumb with a hammer. And he says it: “S#IT!”

I look up and smile. Then it begins: “I am so, so sorry preacher! I can’t believe I said that in front of you! May the Lord forgive me!”

I am at dinner with a group of friends. Someone shares a shocking story. Someone else at the table says it: “D&MN!”

Then they turn to me, their face red with remorse and embarrassment, their hands covering their mouths, and they freak out: “Oops, I did not mean to say that word, especially in front of the pastor! Please accept my apology!”

I am standing in a long line at the grocery store with a friend. The person checking out is having trouble with their EBT card. My friend whispers: “That’s the problem with this country. Too many N*%%ERS on food stamps.”

I look at them startled. Then…well, then there’s nothing. Just silence. Like nothing at all happened out of the ordinary. No flushed cheeks. No apology.

During my entire ministry I have been told not to talk about racism. People tell me: “It just stirs things up.” “It creates division.”  And for the most part, like most white preachers in the South who like to avoid controversy, I have acquiesced.

Perhaps that is the reason that people become horrified with regret and overcome with embarrassment when they utter a harmless four-letter word in front of me, but act completely normal when they say a word that has been created for the sole purpose of harming others. Speaking out against racism is not going to suddenly change things; however, I am convinced that ignoring it, pretending that it does not exist, and keeping silent will change nothing.

Like removing a flag or a monument and changing a mascot, changing our vocabulary is not going to magically end hate in our world. Changing what is acceptable and what is unacceptable to say in front of your pastor is not going to suddenly bring about racial harmony. But isn’t it the least we can do?

My hope is that others will join me in speaking out against racism, at least until the “N-word” becomes more offensive than “the D-word,” “the S-word, and the “F-word,” and at least until all people freak out with shame and remorse if one day they ignorantly let the N-word slip out in front of their pastor.

Called to Ministry

priesthood of all believersMark 6:6b-13 NRSV

I think we sometimes need to be reminded of the peculiar way that the Kingdom of God was started in this world, to be reminded how Jesus began his ministry on this earth ushering in the reign of God. Did he, as the Son of the Most High, the Alpha and the Omega, the eternal Word who became flesh, the one through all things came into being and the Messiah of the world, do it all by himself?

He certainly could have. But instead, he goes out, finds, and calls together a group of some of the most ordinary people in the world to do get the Kingdom started. And not only were they very ordinary, they were also very imperfect. They stumble, fumble and bumble behind Jesus proving over and over that they have very little idea of who Jesus was and where Jesus was taking them. Yet, this is how our God works in our world. It is the way God has always worked.

In Genesis, we read that God creates the world: mountains and seas; valleys and streams; every animal, every living thing in the water, in the air and on the land; the sun, moon, stars and all that lies beyond. Then, God creates human beings, gives them a garden, telling them to look after it and tend to it.

It is as if God says, “I’ve enjoyed creating all the beauty and order in this world. Of course, I could take care of it all myself, but I want to see you do it.”

Likewise, Jesus comes into the world making all things new, creating, recreating, reordering; ushering in the Kingdom of God. He touches and heals, welcomes and includes, defends and forgives, turns water into a lot of wine and a small basket of food into a great feast, all as a sign of that Kingdom. He redeems and restores the lives of the lost, the poor and the marginalized. And he chastises judgmental religion and exorcises demonic forces.

And then it is as if he says, “I’ve enjoyed doing the holy work of God, demonstrating the reality of God’s reign, now let’s see you do it for yourselves. Now, it is your turn as I am now going to commission you to do my work in the world.”

Today’s scripture lesson is this commissioning. I believe it is very important to notice here that Jesus sends them out to do exactly what he himself does: to preach, teach, heal, and to point out and to overcome evil.  The point is that our Messiah does not work alone. Jesus did not come into the world to accomplish his goals of God by himself, but calls very ordinary people to share in his work.

I think we sometimes overlook what a peculiar way this is to start the reign of God on this earth. Jesus chooses people who, as far as we can tell in Mark’s Gospel, have no apparent qualifications to be leading God’s new order. Their only qualification is that they are chosen and commissioned by Christ. And that is enough.

Since I have been your pastor, I have been talking about the need for every member of this church to join or start a ministry team. Before we can this successfully, it is imperative for us to recognize this fundamental truth about who God is, how God acts and what God desires in this world. Our God does not work alone. Our God is in the business of calling disciples, calling ordinary folks like me and you, and commissioning them to be his ministers in this world.

It’s important for you to realize that I am not the only minister in this church. All of you are ministers—those to whom Jesus has delegated the work of God. As your pastor, I’m not the one who does all the ministry. My job as pastor at best is a coordinator, and an encourager and an equipper of you, the ministers.

Someone came up to me this week and said, “Jarrett, as our minister, you come and pray for us when we have surgery, but who comes and prays for you when you have surgery?” I said, “I’m lucky, for I have an entire congregation of ministers who pray for me.” But then, we are all really that lucky, aren’t we?

Master preacher Barbara Brown Taylor has written a wonderful meditation on ordination and preaching, stressing the importance of the preaching of all Christians.  It’s called The Preaching Life.  In it, she writes:

“Somewhere along the way we have misplaced the ancient vision of the church as a priestly people—set apart for ministry in baptism, confirmed and strengthened in worship, made manifest in service to the world. That vision is a foreign one to many church members, who have learned from colloquial usage that minister means the ‘ordained person,’ in a congregation, while lay person means ‘someone who does not engage in full-time ministry.’ Professionally speaking that is fair enough—but speaking ecclesiastically, it is a disaster. Language like that turns clergy into purveyors of religion, and lay persons into consumers, who shop around for the church that offers them the best product.”

Taylor writes of the need to revive Martin Luther’s vision of the priesthood of all believers, who are ordained by God at baptism to share Christ’s ministry in this world.

All we have to do is sit down and study he scriptures to understand that this is just how our God works in this world. Nowhere in the scriptures do we find God saying, “Go into the world and make nice Christians out of people. Bring them into the church so they can sing some hymns, pray and listen to a sermon that will make them feel like they are good, religious, moral people. Form a type of club. Hire a full-time club president to be there for the club members. His or her job will be to hold their hands and pray for them if they ever have to go to the hospital, visit them when they are sick, counsel them when they are anxious, marry them when they fall in love, and bury them when they die.

No, what we do find in scriptures is Jesus instructing us to go forth into the world and make disciples. And what do disciples do? Sit on a pew every Sunday? Sing, pray, try to be good, moral people? No, they do what Jesus did. They preach and they teach. They welcome and they include. They accept and they forgive. They clothe and they feed. They heal and they stand against evil and injustice.

But you say, “I can’t do those things. I can’t preach. That’s why we call you “preacher!” That’s why we pay you!”

Barbara Brown Taylor continues writing: “While preaching and celebrating the sacraments are two particular functions to which I was ordained, they are also metaphors for the whole church’s understanding of life and faith…Preaching is not something that an ordained minister does for 15 minutes on Sundays, but what the whole congregation does all week long; it is a way of approaching the world, and of gleaning God’s presence there.”

Many of you preach every week, and you don’t even realize it.

Caroline wanted me to share a story with you this morning. After Madelyn was born, Madelyn had to spend some time in the NICU, a place that always gives new parents great anxiety.

When I came to the hospital to visit them, I prayed with Caroline and Michael for God to work through the doctors and nurses, antibiotics, and the prayers of the church to bring Madelyn healing so she could leave the NICU and be reunited with her parents. Caroline said that just moments after I left, they brought Madelyn to her room. She said that it was a testimony that prayer works.

However, it was not just the prayers of their professional clergy-person that were heard and answered at that moment. But they were the prayers of Michael and Caroline, and they were the prayers of many of you, their ministers, that were answered.. And today, through a service a dedication, each one of you have committed your selves publicly before God, to be Madelyn’s ministers, to love her as Jesus loves her.

We are all ministers, preachers; and whether or not your realize it or not, some of you have been preaching all week.

Anthony Reiff, Sara Banks and Lauren Perry have been preaching every day this week in Tennessee with hammers and nails and screws and saws, doing home repairs for some of the most impoverished people in our country.

One of you proclaimed the gospel this week by visiting someone who is confined to a bed in the nursing home. You are of no relation to her. She has never been able and will probably never be able to give anything to you. Yet, you graciously and compassionately and regularly give yourself to her.

One of you just lost a brother and a sister, and you have not been in the best health yourself. Yet, you preached a fine sermon this week by giving your whole day to sit with someone who is recovering from a debilitating stroke.

Although you do not get paid by your employer to preach, some of you preach every day at work and at home. You preach a sermon of unrestricted grace to a co-worker, a sermon of unconditional love to a customer, a sermon of undeniable hope to a friend, to a neighbor, even to a stranger.

And many you preach sermons of unwavering devotion to the entire creation every time you recycle or care for an animal or pet.

And a couple of you preached a sermon of extraordinary compassion this week when you brought a pair of crutches to the Surgicenter for someone who hardly know, and, although you live a couple of towns a way, brought an icepack machine later that day to his home.

And many more of you; although you had other places to go, other things to do, some even felt like staying home, got up this morning to come to this place of worship. You didn’t know it, but your smile this morning made someone else smile. The handshake that you offered was heartfelt. The hug you gave was sorely needed. Your simple words of greeting brought someone encouragement and another peace.

And when you were asked to love and support a tiny baby, whom you may have never before seen, when you were asked to promise to be ministers to parents, whom some of you do not know, you did not hesitate to stand this morning and pledge your love.

Mark’s gospel teaches us when you do all these things in the name of Jesus, then you are ministering. Yes, I’m happy to say that some of First Christian Church’s best preaching does not come from this pulpit on Sunday mornings. But it comes from the people in the pews who have answered their calling to be ministers every day of the week.

Jesus is calling. He is calling ordinary people like me and you everyday to do ministry. Where has Jesus called you to ministry?  What is the work you are equipped and called to do? There is perhaps no more important question. For it is simply the way our God works, the way God has always worked in this world.