Monday, October 18, 2010

Blessed to Bless

Yesterday, we started our next sermon series which laid the foundation for our Stewardship theme: Blessed to bless others! Our text was Genesis 12: 1-9, that wonderful passage in which God approaches a 75-year-old man, Abram, with a calling.

When the Jews begin to tell their/our story they say of Abram: “My father was a wandering Aramean…” Abram and Sarai were nomads who wandered the desert, settling wherever they found precious water. Some think that they were worshippers of pagan gods, not unusual for people in that day and time and place. Then, our God appears and calls him to go…That’s how God’s call most always comes to us: “Go.” Go to another place in the world, to another space in your mind, to another idea than your present one. Take your body and your life and your family and your time and go…”

Of course, the Promised Land was the destination. God would create for himself a people to be a light to the world. And, he would carve out a place in this world for them. So, as we come to that time of the year when we bring each other to some account for our Christian walk, as we ask how we’re doing with our journey of faith, our foundation is laid in Abram and Sarai who were blessed by God to be a blessing to the whole world.

So, yesterday, Sunday, I invited the worshippers to turn to their neighbors and say first: “I am blessed…” Since by extension we, as followers/believers of/in Jesus Christ, we are, too, a blessed people. Psalm 103 says: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” There are benefits to this walk of faith in the God of Abram. We are blessed with many blessings. So, think of yourself as blessed…”

In our culture, our world, which is largely pagan, we are taught to think of ourselves in two ways: lucky or unlucky. If you’re doing relatively well, we consider you lucky. If not, then unlucky. Of course, our God is not involved in luck. Luck involves a pagan trust in the stars, or something, in a lottery, or some other form of superstition.

We don’t believe in luck; we believe in Jesus. Not that everything that happens to us is God’s will, or is good, but we believe that even when things are bad that our God can/will bring good out of the worst things.

I guess that are some of us who think of ourselves as cursed, not blessed. We certainly are prone to think of ourselves as lacking instead of prosperous. To say “I am blessed” is to walk by faith trusting God to be with us, to help us, to love us through whatever we’re going through, to lead us forward with all that we need to be and do God’s will.

Next, I asked the worshippers to turn to their neighbors and say: “I am a blessing…” We are blessed to be a blessing. I suggested four ways that we are blessings to others: with a loving touch, a kind word, friendship, and making a difference.

I ended my sermon with the story of Mr. Chen Si. Mr. Chen was listening to his radio one day and heard the terrible report that the bridge over the Yangze River in Nanjing was known for the number of people who jumped from it. 1000 people have jumped from it. Mr. Chen decided to do something about it. He wears binoculars in his off hours and walks the bridge looking for people who are ready to jump. He has saved some 170 people. People tell stories of how they went over the side and were grabbed by Chen. He is called the “angel of Nanjing”. Wow.

In what ways are you being an “angel” a blessing to others? That’s the foundation. In the next five weeks we will call each other to our covenant walk asking how we can bless others with our prayers, presence, service, witness, and gifts. Each week you will be asked to measure your own faithfulness and see where you might do better. Are you with me in this?

I trust you and I trust God. We are blessed to be a blessing!
Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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