“Called to Be the Church – Sing Thanksgiving – Part 4”
October 1, 2017 – World Wide Communion – Year A
A man was looking for a good church to attend, and he happened to enter one in which the congregation and the preacher were reading from their prayer book. They were saying, “We have left undone those things we ought to have done, and we have done those things we ought not to have done.” The man dropped into a seat and sighed with relief as he said to himself, “Thank goodness, I’ve found my crowd at last.”
Here it is, World Wide Communion Sunday. It is also our final day of our “Called to be the Church: We Sing Thanksgiving” stewardship program. It is a day where we sit into our pew and gather with our crowd, both near and far. We raise our voices in thanksgiving, for this church and the people who make it home. We rejoice that we share the bread and wine with Christians around the world, celebrating the unity of being followers of Jesus the Christ.
Since August we have been peaking inside the financial side of being church. We have examined the real costs of running this church. We have grappled with the challenges of hearing the gospel call of caring for sisters and brothers in need. And in so doing, we have heard about the work of the Mission and Service fund. We have stared in the face of our operating deficit and have celebrated the diverse ministries that Penticton United Church is known for throughout the community. For the first time in 6 years we have devoted a block of time so that we might examine our financial story.
Although money talk is often an uncomfortable conversation, it is one we have engaged in with courage. We are a congregation who is bold and brave. For 89 years we have addressed the timeless question of “how can we keep our doors open and be the church that God calls us to be?” Over those 89 years we have had teas and bake sales, fund raising meals and yard sales, talent shows and concerts, all to keep our doors open. For 89 years we have pleaded with the members to please give more.
Here we are, October 1, 2017 and we have about 220 people who are on our membership list. These are people who believe in the mission and ministry of Penticton United Church. Together – we worship, pray, sing, do healing touch, ring the hand bells, support one another, maintain the building, and give God praise. Like our ministry partners around the world, we believe that through Christ all things are possible. Christ models for us the way of meeting naysayers. Christ shows us that when facing opposition, we are to turn the other cheek. Christ lived for a new tomorrow.
That is the message of today’s scripture reading. The Apostle Paul asks the congregation to examine its life together and make some important choices. Scholars tell us that Paul was concerned about some missionaries who had come to Philippi in his absence and whose teachings were causing problems. He asks his listeners to do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but to act in the interests of others. He asks them to choose the same mind or attitude Christ had. He describes this humble attitude by reciting the words of an early Christian hymn.
As we reflect on this scripture passage, we recognize that God is made known through kindness, compassion, and humility. It is through our vulnerability and humility that Christ’s power is most clearly revealed. I can’t help but think of our Christian friends in parts of the world where they must walk for hours to reach the closest Christian gathering. For many of them, they walk along singing “Blessed Assurance” and other revered gospel hymns. They will be raising the bread and cup to their lips as they share the sacred meal. Can we do any less? Will we continue to tell the faith story long into the future?
“What I do, you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But, we can do small things with great love, and together, we can do something wonderful. (Mother Teresa)
Let us do something wonderful, as we celebrate. We sing thanksgiving with voices of gratitude. We share humbly and generously! Amen.