What Is God Calling You To Do?

Good morning and Happy Memorial Day!  We had our annual outdoor worship this morning.  Bruce took “bring your own chair” to a very comfortable level:

IMG_1419

Thankfully, this was not taken during my sermon.

Here is my sermon.  A few things to note:

  • The article I referenced (Chip and Joanna Gaines Attribute Their Unparalleled Success To One Person) can be found here.  If you are a Fixer Upper fan I would HIGHLY recommend you read the article.  Someone came up to me after worship and said, “I like them even more now” which is EXACTLY how I felt when I read it.
  • I talk about a new sign that we hung on the front lawn of the church inviting the community to check out our Facebook page.  You can like our Facebook page here! #shamelessplug

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
May 29, 2016

Galatians 1:1-12

What Is God Calling You To Do?

Bruce sent me a text on Thursday night that said, “I tagged you in an article on Facebook that kind of makes me want to watch your new show now.” Seeing that Bruce has not trusted my taste in television since the Kardashians premiered several years ago, I was kind of curious as to what show he was talking about. So I opened Facebook to read the article; it was about the show on HGTV (Home & Garden Television), Fixer Upper.

For those of you who do not watch Fixer Upper, first of all, you need to promise me you are going to go home and try to catch some reruns this weekend because it is that good. But secondly, the show follows a couple from Waco, Texas who have built a business where they help clients find and buy a house in dire need of repair – or a “fixer upper” – and then use the money their clients saved by purchasing a less expensive house to remodel and fix up that one. This show proves to its viewers, every week for three seasons (with a fourth one on the way and I cannot wait!) that with a little bit of imagination, some patience and a lot of hard work, a dilapidated old house actually can become a home.

There definitely is a sermon in there somewhere about resurrection and new life (so stay tuned for that one probably sometime in the fall) but today I want to talk about this article that Bruce shared with me. The title of the article was: Chip and Joanna Gaines Attribute Their Unparalleled Success To One Person.

Of course, at this point, my interest was piqued. Chip and Joanna Gaines not only have a television show, but they have built a hugely successful empire. They have a real estate and construction company. They recently bought, remodeled and opened a bed & breakfast. They acquired a silo property where they opened up shops and will soon open a bakery. They wrote a book. They design furniture. They launched a paint collection.

So I not only wanted to know who this one person was that has the secret to so much success, but I also kind of wanted to know what, specifically, about this article had Bruce wanting to check out a show that he always tried to avoid on account of constantly hearing the phrase, “Babe, I think we need to redecorate.”

Hear what the Gaines’ had to say about their success:

Our family has made a commitment to put Christ first, a lifestyle our parents modeled for us very well. They showed us how to keep our marriage and family centered around God. As for “Fixer Upper”, we have been surprised at the impact of our faith through the show. We haven’t been overtly evangelical, but the rich feedback we have received on family and love all source from our faith. Jesus said the world would know His disciples by their love for one another, and we’ve glimpsed this in practice and strive for it every day. [read the full article here]

In a world where it is often taboo to talk about faith, this couple boldly, humbly and prophetically attributes all of their success to their Christian faith.

I think this is far more impressive than the beautiful homes they design.

In this morning’s scripture reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he talks about how important it is to make a commitment to Christ and to center your lives around your faith and God’s love. Granted, he was a little bit blunter than Joanna Gaines was in his wording, but he certainly got his point across.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel … If anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! [Galatians 1:6, 9 NRSV]

In other words, stop getting distracted by shinier, prettier and fancier things! Stop making priorities that do not consider your faith first. Stop worshiping human things instead of God things. Stop trying to please other people and start trying to please God. Do not “talk the talk” if you are not actually willing to “walk the walk”. Paul holds nothing back as he impresses upon to the Galatian church that they urgently need to put God first; this is not a letter, this is more of a rant!

Of course I thought about preaching that sermon this morning (how we need to prioritize and put God first) but then I realized that it did not make much sense to preach that sermon to the people who showed up to church on a holiday weekend.

So instead of preaching to the choir this morning, I want to dig through the layers of apostolic ranting and uncover the core of what I think Paul is trying to say here: That this is bigger than all of us.

The Apostle Paul wrote – or is attributed to – many of the letters in the New Testament (they are the books in the New Testament referred to as “epistles”). These letters were written to churches all around the Eastern Mediterranean during the first century as Christianity was first starting to grow. And Paul did not visit and preach and write to all of these different churches because he had a hankering for travel; he did so because he truly felt God was calling him to do it.

Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities but through Jesus Christ and God the Father … did not receive [the gospel] from a human source … but [he] received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. [Galatians 1:1, 12 NRSV]

God called Paul to travel great distances to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is God calling you to do?

I know that “call” language can sound a little bit crazy, especially in the world that we live in today, but do me a favor and suspend your disbelief for just one moment and open yourself up to the possibility that God is right here in our midst, calling us into a real, bold and powerful ministry. Believe that your life is more than simply the things that you can see, touch and understand.

What is God calling you to do?

This is a hard question for many of us to answer, because it requires thought, discernment, time, quiet and imagination; all things that our busy lives do not often give us.

But, time and time again, Paul reminded churches in his letters that this is not about us; it is about God. There is something so much greater happening in this world than what we can see. Our lives are not defined by earthly moments; our lives should be inspired by God moments. And so we should take time to think about this question.

What is God calling you to do?

I think that this weekend is a wonderful opportunity for us, as participants of this church community, to reflect on this question. It is Memorial Day Weekend, a time where we humbly acknowledge that actions do speak louder than words; where we honor the past, but also pray for the present and the future; where we celebrate an important moment for the country that we live our earthly lives in, but also discern what God is calling us to do and where our faith will take us next. We can honor the lives that have been lost in service to our country by asking God how we can make this world a better place.

This weekend also provides a wonderful opportunity for us, specifically, to reflect on this question as we sit in the beauty of this outdoor worship space. As we breathe in the fresh air, hear birds chirping and feel the warmth of summer on our skin, we are reminded, in a very real way, that this is God’s world that we are living in. This is bigger than us.

What is God calling you to do?

I think it is our responsibility as a church to encourage and inspire people to ask themselves this very question. Because this is not about us; this – this world, our lives, the ways we connect with one another, the ways we care for one another – is about God and what God needs us to do.

So I want you to think about this question. I want you to think about this question in a really out-of-the-box and to-the-rest-of-the-world-crazy kind of way. I want you not to simply entertain the idea that God is calling you to do something, but to believe it to be true – and to live it out. I want you to live out your faith in a way that not only changes your life, but changes the lives of others as well.

The Apostle Paul was, for all intents and purposes, an evangelist. He spread the gospel; he told people about his faith and encouraged others to accept Jesus into their hearts. This is something we are all called to do as Christians. And so, in the spirit of evangelism, I ordered a 10-foot banner for the church that says:

Rehoboth Congregational Church
Our community is #RCCSTRONG
Like us on Facebook!

We had a “banner raising” on Friday morning and it now hangs proudly on the front law of the church. I took a picture of it after we (okay, Jordan) hung it and posted it to our Facebook wall with the following message.

We are more than simply the sum of our parts. We are the Rehoboth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ. We are the church of the past, the present and the future. We welcome ALL people on all walks of life. We are imperfect and grace-seeking. We encourage questions and doubts. We are a guilt-free zone. We seek to choose light over darkness, love over hate and reconciliation over division. We are ‪#‎rccstrong‬‬‬.

In two days, that photo was viewed by over 2,000 people. I received messages of both thanks and inquiry. Because here is the thing: In a world where, I think, Christianity has gotten a bad reputation, people need to hear that faith is relevant, that it is real and that it will change their lives.

We need to boldly and prophetically claim this message of hope, peace, reconciliation and love to the world. This is what Paul is calling us to do. We may not be being influenced by other religious traditions, but we are being influenced by a secular culture that sometimes makes it really hard to live out our faith and to tell the Christian story.
And this is a story that really needs to be told.

So I encourage you, this Memorial Day Weekend, as you take time out of your regular routines and reflect on what this holiday is about, to think about this question: What is God calling you to do? Like with a fixer upper, this may require some patience, imagination and hard work.

But I promise you, at the intersection of those three things you will find God’s grace.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

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