Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Message for the Laity Appreciation Sunday; November 11, 2012

The Community of Christ UMC set aside Sunday, November 11 to celebrate contributions of all those who volunteer to make the ministry of our church a reality.

Scriptures for Sunday are: 2 Corinthians 5:16-20; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Matthew 25:31-36

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010 // CEB // The Message

Liturgical Color: GREEN

Hymns:

“We Gather Together” UMH 131

“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” UMH 57 vs 1-5, 7

 

For Veteran’s Day Message please visit these links: 11/08/2012  // 11/09/2011

We held a special Veteran’s Appreciation Service on Thursday, 11/8/2012.

 

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In today’s Gospel reading we heard how Jesus described the Kingdom of Heaven as a Shepherd who separates sheep from the goats. Jesus told his followers that the sheep will go to his right and the goats will go to his left.

And then Jesus taught that those on his right will be told, “Come, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

The way I understand this passage is that Jesus tells the righteous ones, “your ship has arrived, your labors have paid off, and you are welcome into the presence of God where a place of honor is prepared for you at the heavenly banquet.”

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You’d think that the righteous ones would rejoice greatly at such an invitation; you’d think they would be shaking hands, hugging, singing and celebrating. But it is not what happened.

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Let us look at the text immediately following the verses that we already heard.

NIV2010 Matthew 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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    The righteous were surprised because in their mind they just did what came naturally, they did what their beliefs, convictions and understanding of what is right, true and beautiful guided them to do. They are perplexed by such an unexpected show of kindness from God. It feels unmerited to them. {}{}

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    Today our church celebrates the ministry of the laity; today is about how the lives and actions of our laity proclaim Jesus to those around us and express God’s presence in our lives and in this corner of the world.

    When the church council asked me to set aside a Sunday for a Laity Appreciation service, today immediately came to mind because today is “sandwiched” between what we did the last time we gathered together in this sanctuary on Sunday and what we are going to do next week.

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    If you recall, the last time we gathered together in this Sanctuary was on October 28, and we celebrated the Festive Service. With the leadership and guidance of the United Singers of Chestertown we glorified God with our singing.

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    The next time we will get together will be November 18 and we will celebrate our history, heritage and influence that this church had on the local community. Homecoming or Heritage services are like milestones; it is the time when we will look at the past year and take note of what was accomplished. We also remember the years gone by and we ask God to inspire us to dream about what the next year might look like for our church community, and what possibilities and options are available for our church as we move into the future. What doors is God opening for us?

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    There is a lot that happens in the background at Christ United Methodist Church to make sure that we have a vibrant ministry and presence in Chestertown, all of it done by laity.

  • In the winter the heat in the sanctuary needs to be turned on and then turned off every time there is a worship service. In the summer the windows need to be opened and fans turned on.

  • The doors need to be unlocked and then locked. Lights need to be turned on.

  • Someone has to stand at the door and greet and welcome everyone who comes in.

  • When there is an event in the fellowship hall, tables and chairs need to be set up.

  • Sunday school lessons need to be prepared, classes need leaders, and the nursery needs to be staffed.

  • Children’s Sermon needs to be prepared and taught to the kids.

  • Someone has to coordinate weekly readers and readers have to come forth to read

  • The sound system needs to be managed.

  • Members offer prayers for the church and the community. There are regular prayer meetings, and a prayer chain that is activated when needed.

  • The Altar guild makes sure that the altar is ready, Bible readings are marked, the Sacrament of the Holy Communion is prepared and flowers are in place.

  • Every week the sanctuary needs to be cleaned and straightened.

  • Light bulbs need to be changed occasionally.

  • Bathrooms need to be maintained and cleaned.

  • The kitchen needs to be in a working order, cleaned and managed.

  • When we have coffee hour someone needs to organize it, prepare the food, set up the table, and then clean things up.

  • Same goes for covered dish luncheons, dinners and special events.

  • Money needs to be counted, and accounts reconciled.

  • Denominational reports need to be prepared and distributed.

  • Fundraisers (Cookie Walk, Roast Beef Dinner, Tea Party, yard sle, Capital Campaign etc.) need to be organized, orchestrated and staffed.

  • The Children’s Choir needs leadership

  • Youth programs need leadership

  • The grounds need to be maintained and cleaned

  • The physical facilities need to be maintained.

  • The board outside need to be changed.

  • Hymns for worship need to be posted for Sunday.

  • Bulletins are regularly sent to shut-ins.

  • Birthday cards and anniversary cards are sent to every member of the community.

  • Abundant help is received each time a newsletter must be printed, addressed and readied for mailing.

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    I am sure that I forgot a few things. The point that I am trying to make is that the church is not a building. It is a community, a living organism, a connection of individuals who come together to demonstrate and express their love and devotion to God in tangible ways. We gather together not because we are trying to earn our way into heaven. We gather together because that is what comes naturally, because that is what our beliefs, convictions and our understanding of what is right, true and beautiful guide us to do.

    We do this because Jesus directed us to love God, to love our neighbors and to make disciples for the transformation of the world.

    That is a daunting task and it does not happen in a vacuum.

    Methodist Churches are organized in a certain way. We have certain boards and committees and today I want to take a moment and introduce the members of these committees to you.

    Contrary to popular belief it is not the love of the Covered Dish Dinners that makes us United or Methodists.

    {{ Introducing Church Council and Boards }}

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    In the Early Christian Writings we read:

1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV2010

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

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1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV 2010

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

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The mission of every Christian Church is to make disciples for the transformation of the world. Committees help us to organize ourselves and to apply our gifts and graces so that we can make this mission a reality.

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If not for the laity there would be no church. There would be no community, and there would be no need for the building. My hope and prayer for our church is that we continue to be here serving God for many decades to come.

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{Holy Communion}

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