March 17, 2024, We Are All Asked To Work Together, Lent 5

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow; Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for Providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation.
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine, as a means of grace, as a person through whom your Holy Spirit flows. Amen.

HYMN Are Ye Able (said the Master)
Are Ye Able (said the Master) by Vikram Karunakar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxDHjwEk0Dg
or
“Are Ye Able,” Said The Master | HBBC Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkwBi5-huIs

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Lord, I Want to Be a Christian
“Lord I Want To Be A Christian” by Joy Alexander
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkG3WhsbxBY
or
Lord, I Want to Be a Christian – Lafayette High School Choir, Williamsburg VA at the annual Freedom Concert for MLK day at Hampton University
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osCaCsE0iWo

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: We Are All Asked To Work Together
Text: Luke 22:24-27, 1 Cor 12:7, Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 10:24-25, Matthew 10:24-25, 18:18-20
Series: What We All Have In Common.

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

——————————————————————————————————–
SERMON NOTES

Luke 22:24 A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.

1 Cor 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Matthew 10:24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Be-el’zebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

Matthew 18:18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

  ————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Carrie Underwood – Great Is Thy Faithfulness ft. CeCe Winans (Official Performance Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT0HcAr9aeI

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

During these six weeks of Lent, we’ve been talking about what we all have in common, and back at the beginning of Lent I said that something we all have in common is that Jesus Christ is reaching out to us to help us. The next week I shared that another truth that we all have in common is that when Jesus Christ reaches out to help us, he wants to help us change our lives. As John Wesley put it, to go on to perfection.

And then I wanted to ask the question, there are three things we all have in common in terms of what God wants from us. First, God wants us to love one another. God wants us to learn together, and as a result of that, we can ask questions and God will provide answers, most likely from other people. Today, I want to remind us all of something we know: God wants us to work together because from time to time, time to time, we have a day like the one that you see on the screen. From time to time, anybody can have a bad day. It happens. It’s allowed.

We’re coming up on Easter. Remember, Jesus had a bad day on Friday? They hung him on a cross and killed him, but he didn’t let that keep him down. On Easter Sunday, he rose again to live a new life.

So from time to time, anybody can have a bad day. It happens. It’s allowed. Second, as Theodore Roosevelt said, believe you can and you’re halfway there. Jesus had a belief that he could begin a new life, so he got up and he moved forward. In addition to that, as that little meme about the phone says – “All right, that’s enough. Give me the phone,” Jesus rose to walk in newness of life, to live a new life after the resurrection. And Jesus helps us to rise and walk in newness of life, to live a new life, and living a new life is something we do. And friends, what you do makes a difference.

Last week, we talked about asking questions. You see, if you understand the problem, you’re closer to understanding the solution. And normally, the way we learn, normally, the way we try to understand the problem, is in terms of not enough. If you look at the little pictures across the bottom, we tend to feel there’s not enough help. We tend to feel there’s not enough time. We tend to feel there’s not enough money. The picture of somebody looking into someone’s brain, sometimes we feel that we don’t know enough, that we’re not smart enough and sometimes, we think the problem is that there’s not enough rest. We just don’t have the energy to do what we need to do.

But there’s something else related to the problem that you really would be wise to consider. See that kid with his head on the desk? Here’s the big part of the problem. Why do you assume that this is you? Why do you assume that you’re the one who has the problems? Why do you assume that you have more problems than anybody else? The truth is, if you look around, you have less problems than many people you know.

But when we start talking about God helping us, we tend to make the assumption that it’s our problems that need the most help. But friends, more often than not, this is not you or me. This is someone who we know … and that changes everything.

Luke 22:24. A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. You see, the disciples were ambitious. They were very much like normal people. Which one of us is the greatest? Which one of us is the most important? And part of that, of course, is which one of us should Jesus help first if there’s a problem?

But Jesus points out to them, look at the 27th verse, “But I am among you as one who serves.” Jesus is among us as one who serves. And since you and I are supposed to be like Jesus, we are all asked to work together. Sometimes it’s about us, but most of the time, it’s not. On the night that he was betrayed, Jesus knowing he would die in less than a day– think for a moment. What would you do if you know you only had a day left? Well, Kim and I are going out to eat. We’re going to enjoy that time. If we have a day left, a week left, a month left, a year left, there’s no point in holding back. We’re going to enjoy as much of life as we possibly can. But think for a moment, when Jesus knew he had less than a day left, Jesus chose to wash the feet of the disciples.

And when he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I’ve done for you?” he asked them. “You call me teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am.” And then he goes on to say this, I say it today because I want to ask it to sink in, “Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.

Now, I’ll be frank with you: this is a metaphor. Because if I went up to any one of you this morning, if you went up to someone out there on the street, or at the grocery store, or at the basketball game at the high school and said, “Hey! I’ve got hot water, I’ve got soap. Hey, can I wash your feet?” – people are not only going to think you’re weird, they’re going to sit somewhere else!

Washing feet was the job of the least of all the servants. Washing feet was the most difficult, most humble path of giving comfort to a guest. I don’t know what washing feet would be in every situation that you and I face in this life. But it’s something that really meets another person’s deepest needs. We’re all asked to work together. To be more and more like Jesus which means more and more to be people who notice and care for the deepest needs of others.

As Jesus goes on to say, “I’ve set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Lord, I’m having some struggles. Lord, life is difficult. Lord, things aren’t happening the way that I want them to happen. And if you could hear the voice, the voice comes back and says, “Whose feet have you washed in the past week?”

Leonard Sweet said this: Jesus is not a lesson to be learned, but a life to be lived. He gave us an example, and our lives get better if we do the work that Jesus asked us to do: to love one another, ask questions, and learn so that we can do it better. All of that’s wasted if we never actually do anything.

Pastor Dave, what do you think is the most important verse in the New Testament? Well, certainly one of the most important ones to me is this – 1 Corinthians 12:7 says to each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. Verse 7 says that no matter who you are, no matter how educated you are, no matter how healthy you are, no matter how intelligent you are, you have a way that the Holy Spirit wants to work through you. To change the world around you. You have a manifestation. There’s a way that the Holy Spirit shows up for the common good. And you need to let go and let God flow out of you that way.

Friends, I know who you are. Some of you walk through a room, and if there’s a picture that’s not quite right, you turn it just a bit. But I don’t know if you’ve ever thought that that’s God working through you. You are the kind of people, some of you, when you walk into a room, your face goes over the faces of the people who are there and zeros in on one person. And you just know in your heart they’re having a bad day. And you just have to say something. Do you know why you feel like that? That’s how God works through you. And what I want to say to you today, my deepest advice to you is don’t hold it in. I am so blessed by my wife, who frequently comes up and adjusts my tie so that it’s hanging right. Thank God for her! We need to let the way God wants to work through us come out.

Why? As Ephesians 2 says– this is another verse we’ve talked a lot about in the last year. It says that God has a project and the project is us – for we are his workmanship. You see, God is working on you to bring you closer to perfection. We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good things. Or as the exact words say, for good works. And here’s the amazing secret. These are prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. What is God’s will for your life? The answer is that things will happen to you each day where you can do a little bit of good that will make a very big difference in someone’s life because all those little things add up to a big thing.

Now, doing the thing that God made you to do, there’s a fancy psychological word for it. It’s called differentiation. The word differentiation basically means to – remember hippie days? – for you to do your own thing. And whatever is not your own thing, someone else will do their thing, and all the things will come together like a jigsaw puzzle, and everything God wants to be done will get done if every person does their part of the puzzle.

And not only then, not only that, psychologists, Bowen Family Systems, Edwin Friedman, and Peter Steinke … some of these names are unfamiliar to you … but they will tell you that the more a group of people is differentiated, the more free you feel to be yourself, then the less anxiety, the less conflict, the greater will be feelings of love and joy and peace. You see, the way is for you to figure out what you’re supposed to do and then you do that.

And if you’re not good at something, for God’s sake, let the person who’s good at it do that! Friends, you do not want me to work on your car! If you see me with a tool in my hand, rush to stop me … because somebody who’s good with tools needs to do whatever I think I should do. We each need to do what God has shaped us to do.

And in fact, there’s a way to understand that. It’s called S.H.A.P.E, which is how to recognize your spiritual gift. The thing that God wants to do through you is going to be at the center of what, first of all, is in your heart, what you love. Second of all, it’s going to be something that you’re able to do. We sang, “Are Ye Able, Said The Master.” If God wants you to sing, God does not make you tone-deaf. You will find you have the ability to do what God asked you to do because there’s nothing more frightening than feeling that God wants you to do something that you’re terrible at. Nothing could be more embarrassing or humiliating.

Third, because God loves you, what God wants you to do will fit with your personality. Now, sometimes God will challenge us in order for us to grow. But basically, what God made you to do is going to fit with how God made you. When I played basketball before I quit after my sophomore year, because I just literally was that bad, the coach said to me, “Dave, you’re a high school sophomore. You’re 6’5″ tall, so go stand under the basket. And don’t you ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever dribble the ball. That’s somebody else’s job.” Friends, every single one of us is on a team, and God wants us to do the thing that fits with who we are. And not only that, when God asks you to help, you’ll find, “Oh, I’ve had lots of experience doing this. This is not your first rodeo.” Although you have to ask the question, “Why should I know how to do everything at the first rodeo?” It’s not your first plate of cookies. The thing that God wants you to do, you have done often enough that you gained experience that where someone else might be worried, you’re not.

But what the church needs, what Jesus needs, what I need, what we all need, is for every one of us to do the thing that God has made us to do.

And not only that, probably the biggest problem is this: We need to learn to work together, for each of us to do our thing … together with everyone else doing their thing. We are better together. We are better when we work together.

Remember that picture of that child with his head on the desk? Most Christians, honestly, seriously, we have the feeling that everything God wants us to do, we’re expected to do all by ourselves as if we were alone in this world. But the fact is, when you go through the Bible with very few exceptions, I only know of one in the New Testament, when God works through people, He works through people in a small group. It’s never just one person by themselves. It’s two people or three people. And not only that, Jesus said this in Matthew 10: 24, “A disciple is not above his teacher nor a servant above his master. It’s enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master.” And what’s the first thing that Jesus did? He brought people together to work together. Some of you have poured concrete like the men in the picture on the screen. I’ll tell you most sincerely, friends, you never want to pour a large piece of concrete all by yourself.

We are better when we work together, and all too often, that’s something we forget. God wants us not just to serve, but to serve together! Not just to work to do God’s will, but to work together to do God’s will. We each have a piece of the puzzle, and our piece is absolutely needed. Everything that God wants done gets accomplished when we all bring our individual pieces together.

And in fact, Jesus is very explicit about this. Matthew 18:19, “Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” So when you pray for someone, I want to invite you to talk to another person so that there are two of you praying, and friends, I will join you in praying that God would answer your prayers. And I’ll be honest with you, many, many, many weeks go by before someone says to me, “Pastor Dave, I need you to pray with me for someone else.” Now, it’s a lot more common, “Pastor, I need you to pray for me.” You see, we get that, but, “Pastor, I need you to pray with me for someone else,” is something that we don’t hear very often.

Very next verse, Jesus points out this person that concerns you, this task that concerns you, this hope that you have, Jesus says, “For where two or three,” or four or five or six or nine, or however many, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” When we work together, Jesus works with us, and that’s what’s needed for the church to be the best that it can be. For us not to assume that we each have these tasks which we have to shoulder, these burdens that we have to carry all by ourselves, but that we are in this together and that God wants us to work together.

Because here’s the truth, friends: when we’re not smart enough, if you think that’s the problem, all you need to do is find someone who’s smart. If you don’t have time enough, what you need is to find someone who has more time. If you don’t have enough money, you need to find someone who has a little more money. I’ve already told you that it’s my aunt, my mom and dad that are buying our retirement home for Kim and I, helping us pay off the mortgage. If you find it hard to do what you need to do, maybe it’s because you haven’t thought about doing it together with other people who believe and pray and work with you … because you are not in this by yourself.

So let me ask you to ask this question. What could you do if you really understood, if you really believed that you could not fail? What could we do as a church if we really understood that we could not fail?

Go out there in the world, line up 100 churches, any denomination, line up 100 United Methodist churches just like ours. And you ask them, “What is it that holds you back from doing God’s work?” You know what they’ll tell you? We don’t have enough money.

There’s an old joke where the pastor announced one Sunday morning, I’m pleased to tell you that God has shown me that we have all the money that we need to fix the new roof, all $100,000 of it. And the congregation broke into great applause. And then the chair of the finance committee stood up and said, “Pastor, how did this happen?” And the pastor said, “Well, we have all the money we need to do God’s will, but it’s still in your wallet.”

What could we do if we understood that nothing could stop us from doing God’s will? That we could not fail … if we love one another, learn together from God, and work together. We would see, I think, an Easter Sunday in a church anytime the church decided to follow Jesus up and out of the hole in the ground where many churches find themselves.

The print’s too tiny on the screen for you to read, but that little square there has a quote from Rabbi Harold Kushner, the author of the book, Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. It’s very beautiful. He says,

“People who pray for miracles usually don’t get miracles. But people who pray for courage, for strength, to bear the unbearable, for the grace to remember what they have left instead of what they have lost. Very often find their prayers answered. Their prayers help them tap hidden reserves of faith and courage that were not available to them before.”

But even as beautiful as those words are, the same thing is missing. The assumption is that people who pray for miracles pray all by themselves. But Jesus says, “No, let’s pray together. Let’s work together. Let’s learn together. Let’s love one another. We are not meant to live the Christian life alone but with each other!

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, sometimes we feel like that plant in the picture that’s growing up right out of the solid concrete. It’s not easy. The life that we live, the difficulties we struggle with, they are not easy. Nonetheless, Lord, just like that plant, there is resurrection that is happening all around us. Spring is coming. Life is coming up out of the roots and everything’s turning green. Lord, we need that too. We yearn for that. But help us, Lord Jesus, to understand that it comes from being with each other and with You and praying together and working together and learning together and loving You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving one another. That this causes the new life of resurrection to take place in our lives, in our communities, and Lord, also in our churches. Whatever hope we have, whatever better life we yearn for, help us, Lord, to remember that it comes as we come together and ask You to work with us and through us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

This entry was posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.