Tuesday, November 16, 2010

With My Service

We are moving rapidly through the covenant marks of our discipleship. As Methodists we promise to uphold the church and the marks of our upholding the church are found in prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This past Sunday we looked a moment at service as that great big movement that we make that we make into action.

It was interesting to me that the lectionary Gospel for that Sunday was Luke 21: 7-19. It is the “little apocalypse”. It is a picture of the end of the age, the destruction of the temple, Israel’s center. It is place where we end every church year- in judgment- waiting for God’s great conclusion when Jesus returns. We live on that edge, waiting on God to make everything right. We call that the Kingdom of God.

So, what does this have to do with service? It has to do with service as everything has to do with service in scripture. In the face of God’s great coming to us in Jesus Christ, in the face of Easter, in anticipation of Christ’s coming again, we all ask rightly: “How shall we then live?”

We certainly don’t go out to the mountainside and wait on Christ to return. People in Paul’s day did that and were admonished to return to work. Paul said: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” Some do focus all their energy on trying to predict the end times. A quick look at the internet gives you all kinds of attempts to name the end and the date of the end. I am amazed that anybody engages in that kind of waste of time.

No, we don’t sit around and wait. We go to work and wait; we pray and wait. Martin Luther was asked: “If you knew that the end was coming tomorrow what would you do?” He said: “I would still plant my apple tree.”

Not only was Luther acknowledging the nonsense of predictions, he was also saying that Christians go on living and serving as they are in the world. The end is up to God. So, we ask: “How then should we live.”

And, Christians live as servants of Christ in the world, up to the end. So, I gave three quick points:

1. Every person is a minister. Each church is led by ministers, yes, but it doesn’t let other Christians off the hook. You don’t become part of the Body of Christ, the church, only to be ministered to, though you get that. You are called, saved, to be of use to somebody else. Every Christian is a minister. As a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a human being who is part of a story of redemption. And, you reach out to bring others into that redemptive story. What we do is part of God’s doing for others in the world. Paul says that Christ makes his appeal to the world through us.

2. Every Christian has gifts. And, we are called to use those gifts for others. I asked leaders of Spartanburg what the three major needs are in this city. They said: 1. Literacy, 2. Teenage Pregnancy, 3. Financial Management (for those who have little). Is there a way that God is calling us to respond to the needs here in our city. Your calling is where you gifts meet the needs of the world.

3. One way to look at service is to think of your “holy discontent”. Bill Hybels says that it’s like the Popeye cartoon. Popeye takes all he can take and then blows his stack and says: “I can’t stands no more…” What is it that bugs you, that makes you say “I can’t stand no more…” That’s God calling you to do something about it.

I will uphold the church…with my service. Romans 12 says: “I beseech you, my brother and sisters, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice….”

See you in Church!
Dave Nichols

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Welcome

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.
Blessings!
Dave

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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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