Worship on June 4, 2017

Reverend Lindsey Williams

United as One

 1 Corinthians 12:3-13

 

Reading

 

3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

 

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

 

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

 


Interpretation of the Word


Often times we wonder what our role is, especially in church.  Where do we fit?  We think things such as: I’m too young, I’m too old, I’ve served my time, what do I even have to offer?   I’ve heard these things and many more.  Some of them even said by folks right here.  We wonder: where do I fit in the larger picture.  Or maybe you’ve even come to think that you don’t fit anymore.  That there isn’t a place for you anymore, that the church has changed so much that it isn’t your home anymore; that the church does not serve the needs of me or my family.  These are all things that people of all ages have wrestled with, and not just in 2017, but throughout the ages of the church; including the early, newly formed church.  


This morning as we celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded that even though Jesus is gone, he is still very much with us, with us through the Holy Spirit which, like the disciples gathered in Jerusalem, we too have received.  The Spirit that we have received links us together, so that in all of our diversity we are united as one through the Spirit of God.  The Spirit that we have received harvests gifts within us that are used for the benefit of spreading the Good News, that God so loved the world that he sent Jesus Christ, his son, and did not leave us abandoned but instead sent the Spirit to bring us together.  

So let’s start with our diversity.  We are all different.  (gasp) Imagine that!  Each and every one of us is different.  There is only one you, there is no other.  Even if you have an identical twin, that twin is not exactly the same as you.  You may share nearly everything, but there are still slight differences.  No two of us are 100% the same.  We are not clones of the previous.  


We may attend the same church, we may worship the same way, but we are all experiencing this moment differently.  We each also come to believe, have our faith strengthened, and live out our faith in different ways.  For as many churches as there are, there is diversity.  I am not just talking about denominational differences and diversity, such as Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Roman Catholic, and so on, but there for as many churches as there are even within THIS presbytery of the James, there is diversity.  It is this very diversity that unites us as one through the Spirit.  


We can take this diversity into the individual church as well, even our Kirk, right here.    Each of us was born with our own sets of strengths and weaknesses, and there is no magic formula that works for all of us.  Until we recognize our own uniqueness, we cannot fully understand how our diversity actually unifies us.  For example, we can all sit here this morning and yet each of us will hear something different, will be affected in different ways, will be moved to think about our faith differently.  For as many of us as there are here, there will be that many different understandings of what the sermon meant and even what the scripture means for your life.  We are all different.  You may be hearing the same words, but you understand these words through your own personal lens, through the things that happen in your life, in the hours before you came to worship, the things that happened this past week, this past month, the years before and experiences that have shaped how you hear.  You are unique and yet that uniqueness unifies us together as one.    

Paul knows this!  


Paul knows that we are all different and that each and every one of us different with different gifts, and yet each is important and that, “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; there are varieties of activities, but it is the SAME God who activates all of them in everyone.”


You see Paul is writing to a church and community in conflict.  They are struggling with a variety of issues.  One of which is who has the better, more useful, more spirit driven gifts.  They want to know: Who has been MOST blessed by God.  Whose baptism holds more weight in the Kingdom of God?  Who does God favor more: Those who speak wisdom? Maybe those who interpret?  Definitely, those who heal, like Jesus, right? Those who prophecy?  Those who speak in tongues? What about those who build up? Or those who feed the hungry? Or those who care for the homebound, bringing them a word of hope?  Which is gift does God look upon more favorably?


Paul reminds us that every single spiritual gift that we have been given is a gift from God and that they are to be used to build up the body of Christ.  NO gift is over and above another, so long as it unites us together.  Gifts should not cause division within the Body of Christ.  There is not a hierarchy of Gifts.  No one gift is over and above another.  They are all needed in order to have a well-balanced and unified community.  Just think, if we were all teachers at the same time, there would be no pupils, and if we were all followers at the same time, who would lead?  It is also good to have a team of teachers and leaders, so that our individual diversity that we have is shared with one another and benefits and builds up the community.   There has to be a balance.


You might still be wondering if you have a something to offer.  Thinking to yourself, “I don’t have any gifts” or “What if someone already has my gift and does it better” or “How do I even know if my gifts is a Spiritual Gift, it’s not listed in Paul’s list.”  Friends, I tell you this, and this is what Paul is getting at here: If you gift builds unity, then it is a mark of the spirit.  It might not be a flashy gift or a boisterous gift, it is something and someone who is building up the community.  You may not think that what you have to offer holds a candle to the other things that others do, but remember there is no gift great or small.  All gifts are equal when used to bring unity to the community of God.  


We see the manifestation of the Spirit in that every member of the community is upheld, as a vital member of the community.  No one is overlooked; no one’s gifts are lifted up over and above another’s.  The mark of the presence of the Spirit is that it is on each and every member of the community.


The question we should be asking ourselves is not “Which gift is better” but instead we should ask ourselves, “Who is going out of their way to build unity and community among us?”  Who uses their gifts to make others feel welcome, to bring unity to the church?  In order to recognize our diversity, our uniqueness that unifies us, we will need to employ the very important spiritual practice of listening.  In order to build community, especially across differences, the only way I know how to do that is to listen across differences, openly.  Openly, without our personal position hindering what we hear, sometimes it means listening when we disagree and being open to hear where the other is coming from.  It can be difficult, and we may not in the end agree.  However, by listening we are opening ourselves to the possibility of the Spirit working and bringing us together.  


One question we need to ask ourselves is: WHO is so different from me that maybe I need to hear what they have to say?  


June 28, 2017
SUNDAY WORSHIP

 

Worship Service 11:00AM

Adult Bible Study   9:45AM

Children's Class  11:00AM 

   

SERMON ON SUNDAY: July 2, 2017  "Welcome"

 

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