Lectionary Year A
August 25, 2002
Step VI - Contemporary Address
(JFC) Proclaiming this text might reveal God and address some of the ways Paul calls
believers to respond to such a God.
B. Describing the Audience
(JFC) This sermon will get preached to a congregation embarking on a prayer vigil
opportunity which the organizers admit is leading into some unknown areas of their lives both corporally/as a congregation and personally/as individuals. They formulated some Vision Statements a year or so ago. One of them said, "We seek to discern the will of God." A couple of members have declared that this congregation is making little or no progress in developing this part of their vision. So, they have come up with an idea for a prayer vigil of a daylong, perhaps repeated weekly, monthly, quarterly, or whatever. In it, people will volunteer and sign up to pray for a block of time trying to fathom God's will for them and their congregation.
(JFC) Sermon, entitled for this working draft, "God's Will for Us and Our Church"
As Libby's article in the Newsletter said, we are right slow in even seeking, much less, in finding God's will for ourselves and/or for our Church. Today's Epistle Lesson leads us to get on with it.
A. God is merciful (oivktirmw/n, heart-felt compassion, as in Colossians 3:12; like the Hebrew plural, ~ymxr, in Psalm 25:6 and Isaiah 63:15), according to Bauer's Greek-English Lexington.
B. God gives faith, the Bible tells us. Hebrews 11:1 describes faith classically. Paul says in I Corinthians 12:9, it as an "unquestionable belief in God's power to aid (us) with miracles, the faith that 'moves mountains', 13:2, see also Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:5 . . .
II. Changes are in Order
A. Transformation (metamorfou/sqe) might, for the idealist/optimist, best be illustrated in Mike Tyson's change of heart, mind-set and behavior patterns since his recent defeat in the boxing ring by Lennox Lewis. Rick Reilly's editorial at the end of June 17th's (02) Sports Illustrated, called, "Unlike Mike", described Tyson's transformation "into a strange new man: softer, human, with ego thumped flat." The new, altered, Tyson is admittedly "a proud father" who claims to love all his children, as he holds his youngest in the locker room after that fight. Talk about a change, a TRANSFORMATION!
B. Renewed minds is something we all seem to need all the time or, at least, every morning at sunrise. In his book, The Predicament of Modern Man, Elton Trueblood assumes the posture that, "To say that no one solution (to this world's problems) is a panacea is not to deny that some approaches to a problem come nearer to the center of the difficulty than others do. To say that we shall not make a perfect society in the next century or the next millennium is no excuse for failure to do our best to create an order relatively better than the one in which we now live. It is the gospel that can save our decaying society and the gospel alone." Renewal is essential in every age, in every congregation, in every person, always. The renewed mind makes "right choices" according to Philippians 1:9-11.
III. Who We Are and Who We Are Becoming
A. We are multi-talented, we us have many talents. Most of us have a talent or two, but, TOGETHER, we are TALENTED, ABLE, GIFTED to the hilt by a Giving God. St. Lawrence, a Roman Catholic Deacon, gave away the treasures the local church possessed in the third century. When he was accused of throwing away the Church's wealth, he pointed to the poor recipients of the gifts and said, "These are the Church's wealth."
B. We are members of the One Body, Christ, the Church, through no accomplishments on our parts. We are members of this Body by our Baptism. Belonging is a huge need for people these days. We all too frequently take for granted that we are free to belong to a Church. However, belonging to a Church is one of God's greatest gifts to us nowadays.
Recently read: Puccini was one of the great opera composers of the 20th century. Among his credits are "Madame Butterfly," "La Boheme," and "Tosca." He was stricken with cancer in the early 1920's. Still, he was determined to write a final opera. He entitled it "Turandot,". It is considered a magnificent work, his most polished score. Struggling with his illness, Puccini was implored by his students to rest, to save his strength. But he continued to work, saying, "If I do not finish my music, my students will have to do it."
In 1924, he was taken to Brussels for surgery. He died there two days later. His students did finish "Turandot" and, in 1926, the premiere performance took place at the famous La Scala Opera House under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. When the point came in the score where Puccini had been obliged by illness to put down his pen, Maestro Toscanini, his face wet with tears, put down his baton and told the audience, "Here ends the Master's work." After a pause, he picked up the baton, smiled broadly, and said, "But his friends finished his work." Then. Toscanini directed the work to completion.
Friends of Christ, we have been commissioned to finish the Master's work.
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