Good afternoon! This morning’s sermon …
For Those Who God Calls
I had a difficult time choosing one scripture for this morning’s worship service.
As I read through the lectionary texts for this week, I could not help but be reminded of Aristotle’s words that “the whole [of something] is greater than the sum of its parts.” And while I do think that each one of these scriptures has value if it stands alone, I also felt that we, as a community of faith continuing to grow in ministry, would benefit from hearing the three of them read together.
Amos was a prophet, but an unlikely one. In the passage we just heard a priest named Amaziah challenged Amos’ authority because he was so unlikely, but Amos’ prophetic voice remained steady. “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees,” Amos explained to Amaziah. “And the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to me people Israel.’”
Amos knew that regardless of who he was, where he had come from or how he made his living, God had called him into ministry. And he answered that call. And he lived it out.
In this morning’s Gospel, we hear a parable; a familiar story about a man who fell into the hands of robbers on the road to Jericho. The man – in great need – was passed by a priest and Levite who did not stop to see if they could help him. Later on, however, a Samaritan – a person who was part of a culture that shared a mutual contempt with the Jewish people – stopped to aid this man.
Jesus taught us through this parable not only that we should love our neighbor and reach out to those in need, but also that God is the one who ultimately decides where our ministries are lived out in the world. We do not decide where and how we are called into ministry – and the societies that we live in certainly do not decide this as well. God decides – always.
Paul then reminded the church in Colossae that we bear the fruit that Jesus planted. We can read the Gospel and we can find truth in the Gospel, but the Gospel means nothing if we do not live it out.
The most spectacular thing about these readings is that three very different genres of literature – a prophetic voice of the Old Testament, a Gospel and an Epistle written to a particular community within a very specific context – are all telling us the same thing: That God calls every single one of us to be ministers throughout the world.
These texts are not just for ordained ministers and people who are in vocational ministry. These texts are for all of you.
These texts are for the people who come to this church to worship, to learn, to serve and to be part of a community.
These texts are for the people who reach out to those who are in need in their families, in their circle of friends and in their communities.
These texts are for the artists and the musicians who share their gifts in ministry. They are for those who sing, play and dance in worship; for those who cook and bake for sales and suppers; and for those who spend hours on crafts and projects that benefit this church.
These texts are for the people who devote their time to planting seeds and teaching and leading our next generation of Christian travelers; those who teach in our Church School classes and lead at our Youth Fellowship events.
These texts are for the people who serve this church by taking part in the work of the boards and committees; those who tend to the business of the organization so that its ministry can be sustained.
These texts are for the people who come here with questions; those who want to know more, but do not know where to begin. These texts remind us that we should not try to fit a specific mold; rather that we should always be true to who we are and who God created us to be.
These texts are for all of the amazing volunteers who worked tirelessly to make yesterday’s yard sale a success. And these texts are for all of the amazing volunteers who will work tirelessly to make our upcoming week of Vacation Bible School a success.
(We are still in need of amazing volunteers, by the way!)
The truth of these texts is this: God calls us all into ministry. Period.
And here is something else to think about: While we can be in ministry by ourselves, we come together in community, because (just like the texts we read this morning) the whole is greater than its parts. And we are reminded again and again in scripture, throughout history and within our lives that God is calling.
Let us answer that call together, okay?
And then let us live it out every single day of our lives.
Thanks be to God!