Sermon Ideas 4U - Archived Sermons -- AFTER Advent 2002
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October 4, 2015 - World Communion Sunday
Genesis 2: 5-15
1 Kings 19: 1-13
Job 38: 1-7
You know this story; in fact, I would be surprised if you have not also lived this story. I’m talking about Elijah and his wilderness experience.
To make a long story short, Elijah had just had a major conflict with Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab and even though he had won the battle, he was fleeing for his life.
What he needs is a reminder that he is not the only one left, as he is saying to himself in this reading. It’s not the silence that is important in this story, but what comes to him in the silence. The message is, “You are doing exactly what you need to be doing and you are NOT alone.”
We know how easily discouraged children and teens are by small setbacks that we can see as temporary but they see as catastrophic. Sometimes though adults are discouraged, especially when ife is very difficult, and it’s easier to resort to despair, like Job. God’s answer to Job and his friends’ speculations is one of challenging them to take this long and broad view and to trust not in what they think they know, but in the One who actually does!
Elijah also needs to open his eyes and realize that he was not alone AND that he has work to do. There were others who were still faithful; most importantly, there was God.
In each generation there seem to be a situation or situations, captured in videos or photographs, or in personal stories, which speak to tragedy, despair and hopelessness but which also speak they also speak to a strength and a resilience that cannot be squashed.
History gives us many examples of great faithfulness under distress. Christians in Occupied Europe hid Jewish friends, neighbours and strangers from the Nazis and their sympathicizers, often also friends and neighbours. This also happened during the Rwandan genocide, not that long ago.
Remember Terry Fox? After losing his leg to cancer he started a run across the largest country in the world with the goal to raise a dollar for every Canadian in the hopes that“somewhere the hurting must stop”. As we know, just outside of Thunder Bay, his run ended and he died the n ext summer. But we also know that his spirit has not been defeated. Before this year’s totals had been counted, the figure for 24 years of the “Terry Fox Run” stood at over $650,000, 000. I am told that if Terry faced his cancer crisis in the 2000s he probably would not lose his leg and he would probably survive! That is because of the courage of one man in the face of a devastating illness which inspired millions and has funded research which has made real progress. .
It was a silent photograph but the grief it symbolized has echoed around the world; it was a silent wail of despair, of hopes dashed, of pain, a cry for help. It was, of course, the lifeless body of a three year old Syrian boy, who looked almost like he was sleeping, but who had drowned in his family’s attempt to escape to freedom. .
We may sit around and wish for a time in the past: a time of fuller pews, of fuller offering plates, of lower bills, of the energy of our younger years, but that is denying the gift of what is the present. We cannot live in the past or the future, we are called to learn from and be challenged by the past but to live in the present, to be challenged to be faithful in the present and know that this is where God calls us to faithfulness.
When we look at our ministry with children, we might say that it’s important because children are the future of the church (we have all said that and heard that said) but what we need to realize is that children are the present of the church! Isn’t it so good to see them back today? Isn’t it so good to hear the Junior Choir sing? Isn’t it good to see how each one has grown and changed over the summer, to hear their tales of vacation days and starting school again. They are important now - not when they are grown up and paying the bills and sleeping through the sermon!!!!!!!
We look at our second communion table this morning, laden down as it has been for awhile with our peanut butter gifts and at the stack of Kraft Dinner getting ever higher beside it. Of course, it’s our growing offering for the food bank - to feed the hungry of our community. I don’t have to tell you how much this area has lost in terms of “good jobs” and the people and taxes that went with them. The “town status” is gone but we are not devoid of life - we have a church and have a witness to make and a call to answer.
Especially in these difficult times we need to remember that the church is not meant to be a private club looking out only for our own needs; its own members; it’s own property; we are God’s people, who gather and celebrate and then go out to serve.
As God’s people we gather bread for the journey. Today we pay special attention to the fact that we are a world wide fellowship of people who gather around similar tables, with similar words and who are thus part of one body.
One year I collected a list of church names and locations from internet colleagues and on World Communion Sunday that list, many pages long, sat near the communion table. Those churches would also be receiving bread for their journeys. We could easily see that we were certainly not alone as we knew our church name was also sitting in similar locations around the world.
As a people of faith we have been called by the international community to open our doors to refugees from Syria. Our church challenges us to right relationships with our first nations peoples. We are also challenged to share what we have with those in our own communities who do not have enough to eat.
We are challenged to be the church - but lets not be like Elijah, having a pity party and bemoaning what we do not have. Let us work together, as a faith community, together with other faith communities to follow this call. We are here, and we are not alone.
Thanks be to God.
1995- 2015 The Rev. Beth W. Johnston.
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The United Church has a great online bookstore and here is the link. If you live in Canada they will even send you a book display for your event and people who dont get to see that many books at once can have a ball!