In Service To Others

Hi friends!  We are slowly improving our technology for our livestream – I had people running the camera and hopefully by next week we will have our sound system hooked into the camera.  We’ve come a long way from my phone on selfie mode propped up on commentaries.

Here is this morning’s sermon, as well as the video to today’s service.  Wishing everyone peace this week. <3

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
November 1, 2020

Matthew 23:1-12

In Service To Others

It is a big week in our country.

There is nothing quite like a super contentious and really ugly presidential election to serve as a catalyst for conversations about the role of politics in churches.

And before anyone starts to get nervous, I am not here to tell you who to vote for or to argue about any of the issues at stake.  But it just feels weird to stand up here today and not, at least, acknowledge what we are going through, as a country.  Because whether we are Republican or Democrat, politically engaged or totally over it or somewhere in the middle of all of those things, this is real life and feels very personal right now it is what is on our minds and our hearts and our news stations and our social media feeds.

I used to be a firm believer that church should be a safe space where could come and just, kind of, escape from the chaos of the world, but I am starting to realize that church should also, in fact, be a place where we can come and be reassured of hope despite the chaos of the world.

And despite everything we have gone through this year and the uphill battle that is likely still to come, I believe there is still hope, I really do.

This morning’s scripture reading comes from the Gospel according to Matthew.  This passage occurs towards the end of the Gospel; Jesus has already made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and had gone into the temple and turned over tables.  At this point, Jesus knows what is about to happen; he knows he is going to die, he had foretold it.  Jesus knows that, in a very short amount of time, he would not physically be on earth to guide and teach the disciples.

And so he offers these words to his disciples and to people who had gathered to hear him speak and teach; words of warning about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  Do as they say, not as they do, Jesus says.

When I first read this passage in this week’s lectionary options, my initial reaction was to use a different text, because this whole thing about calling out our leadership felt like it hit a little too close to home with an election coming up this week.

But then I read it again.  And I was drawn to the end of the passage where Jesus talks about service and about humility.

And then I thought about the fact that I am not a bystander in my faith; that one of the critical components of Christianity is the fact that we, as individuals, all have a role to play in sharing the Gospel and creating healing and wholeness in the world.  And so it is not necessarily always about the people who lead us, but it is about us and about what we are willing to do and how we are willing to love and serve that matters and can truly make a difference.

Jesus says, “The greatest among you will be your servant” and I think these words apply as much to us as they do to the people we elect to lead us.

Because we have a lot of work to do.

We are eight months into a pandemic with no end in sight and numbers, unfortunately, that are on the rise. Tasks that used to be simple and straightforward are complicated and kind of a hassle.  Everyone is tired.  Tensions are running high.  This year has just beaten us in a way that no one saw coming.  People are starting to break down.

And yet – and yet – ultimately, there is hope, right?  The foundation of our faith is the fact that there is hope in the resurrection of Christ; that the story is not over yet, that God is still showing up and working out the details, even if we have no idea how it is all going to work out.

And so I read Jesus’ words as a charge to me; as a charge to rise up and believe that I have a critical role to play in bringing hope and healing to the world.  I read these words as a charge to be that servant; to humble myself and put the needs of others before my own.  I read these words as a charge to focus on my service – on the things that I can do, in my church, within my community, for my family and friends that will make a real difference for people.

Because, in the end, we are the ones that are living out the Gospel in our generation.  If not us, then who?  We are the ones God is calling to this work; we are the ones who God needs to serve, to pick up and continue the work that Jesus started.

And are we going to elect political leaders on Tuesday?  Yes.  But does that mean that we are off the hook?  Absolutely not.  This is just as much about us as it is about anyone; we have so much work that needs to be done.  It does not end on Tuesday; it begins on Tuesday.

God needs us right now.  God needs us to be Christ’s hands and feet and heart and mind in this world.  God needs us to heal the sick and reach out to the marginalized and the oppressed.  God needs us to feed people when they are hungry and care for the vulnerable.  God needs us to pray for one another and to hold one another in the light of the Glory.  God needs us to be God’s servants; to put the Gospel into motion in our lives so that the world will not only know God, but also see God and be changed by God.

And I think this is what Jesus is getting at, because there is a sense of urgency to his words and the timing of them, because he knows he does not have a lot of time left on earth and that work that needs to be done is so important.

That sense of urgency is different today; but it is still there.  God needs us – all of us – to rise up and to live out this call.

Friends, I think we are in for a long and hard week.  But we can do hard things, right?  After all, that is what God is in the business of doing.

And I truly believe there are things that we can do in service to God – real and tangible things, big and small things, noticeable and behind-the-scenes invisible things – that will make this week not so hard, that will make a difference in someone’s life, that might open up someone’s mind and heart to God’s presence in their own life.

We can send cards, make phone calls and drop off meals.  We can participate in the many activities that are going on at church right now – whether we are cooking for one of our drive-thru meals, handing out candy, sharing a Facebook post, donating to the efforts of Homeless Awareness Weekend in two weeks, singing in the virtual choir, collecting items for the silent auction or helping out in another way.  We can serve God right here, within our own lives and that service will make a difference in someone’s life; it will mean something.

Friends, I invite you think about the ways that you can serve others this week.  Remember that the Gospel is made more powerful when it is lived out in service to others and that no matter what happens this week – and I know the stakes are high, I am not pretending that they are not – that our service to others will make a difference in their lives and it will ultimately make the world a better place.

So let us go forth in service to others.  Let us be a tangible witness to the Gospel in a world that needs to hear a message of hope, healing, light and love.  And may the world be changed for the better.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

One thought on “In Service To Others

  1. What can I say but “Amen!!” Paul tells the church at Rom that all authorities are from God (I wonder sometimes if we don’t get what we deserve, rather than want, but that’s a lesson for another time). He tells Timothy to pray for the leaders and those in authority.
    Right now, I don’t know who’s going to win the election; I AM disgusted that our two party system has given us the dynamic choice of voting for one of two old white men (and I’m in their number myself). Where are the young turks? Where are the people of color?
    And I here you sis, when it comes to growing into virtual worship. I too (called out of retirement to serve a church as an intentional interim) was immediately thrust into something for which seminary never prepared me. We too have migrated from my cell phone to a camera, tied to our sound system. Here I am, 25 years down the road from my first appointment, with a M.Div. from SMU under my belt and I find myself relying more on the skills acquired earning my A.A.S. in Communications-Operations Technology than all the Liberal Arts, or Theology classes between then and now.
    Hang tough kiddo — we’ll get through this together.
    Blessings to you and yours and on your ministry
    Dale
    Rev Dale Durnell, RE
    Oklahoma UMC

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