Sunday, October 2, 2011

For the Sake of the Call

Another very special service today. The sermon dealt with a text that Brad said was instrumental in his life. After greeting us he asked, "What does it mean to live for the sake of the call?"

Announcements today included:
1) Wednesday night is Family Night here at New Life. Everyone is invited for a meal at 6:00 with activities for all ages afterward. Sharing a meal and time together is a valuable way to build community.
2) Elsa Holmgren will be coming to help our church for a month. She is looking forward to being with us and seeking out her path to service while serving our community.
3) Cheryl Borndal asked us to all sign up for various roles in church ministry, from reading Scripture to special music to ushering and in other ways. The sign up sheets are in the narthex.

Brad read from John 13 to set the stage for the message. After a time of prayer he began his sermon.

For the Sake of the Call

We're at a time in history where this topic is so needed and so necessary. Tsunamis, AIDS, terrorism, war, poverty, racism, oppression... so much is going on in our world. It's a perfect time to spend four weeks trying to figure out what it means to live the Christian life with reckless abandon.

Brad pulled out a deck of cards and set them on the pulpit, noting that there are many Christians who would be uncomfortable showing a deck of cards in church because they are often used for games of chance. There are homes where parents or grandparents would discourage even touching a deck of cards. What they were afraid of is that playing card games might lead their children to the allurement of gambling.

The appeal of gambling is that one day you might get lucky and, if you pulled the right slot machine or picked the right numbers, you would hit the jackpot and never have to work again.

Despite the odds against it (you are 121 times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning) we have all heard stories of big jackpot winners, and know that such things can and do happen. This is what keeps the gambling industry alive. People want a payoff without perspiration.

But there's another reality about those jackpot winners. After the three years the odds are very high that those same winners will be less happy. In the wake of winnings we see jealousy, divorce, mistrust, broken relationships and more. Hence Jesus warned, "Beware of the deceitfulness of riches."

John 13 is the story of the last supper Jesus had with His disciples. The evening meal was in progress. But something was amiss. Normally, at meals like this there will be a servant hired to wash the feet of the those who entered. Roads were dusty. Someone should have been there with the towel and basin of water, but no one was taking on that role this day. Who would step up and wash the feet when the official foot washer doesn't?

Jesus then took the towel, knelt and began washing feet.

As He washed the disciples' feet, He noted that they did not understand what He was doing for them. "Do you know what I've done for you?" He was setting for them an example, and summed up with, "Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them."

Three points were drawn from this.

1) Jesus calls every one of His followers to a life of towel-bearing.
Holding a door open matters. We're to be ready to serve at all times. Christians today are too often known for what they are against. What the church ought to be famous for is its selflessness in service.

2) Jesus, by His example, is essentially saying, "If it isn't beneath Me, it's certainly not beneath you."

3) You will be blessed if you do this, if you bear the towel on a daily basis.
Do you really believe that if you put others' needs ahead of your own that you will be blessed?

Brad contrasted the person wearing the towel with the one pursuing the American Dream. In Ecclesiastes 2 we find Solomon sharing what he learned about the pursuit of pleasure. He had it all, houses, gardens, vineyards, silver, gold, servants, a harem, singers, riches beyond compare. He writes, "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired." But in the end learned through the experience that it was all meaningless vanity.

Each of us has a choice: pursue the American Dream or the towel. Will you live for yourself or for those beyond yourself. Choose your road... There is a payoff when the pursuit of your heart is Jesus.

The service was consummated with the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

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