“We Are Called”
Sermon: “We Are Called”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from January 23, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
In the Presbyterian church, we talk about being a connectional church and frequently that is seen as being more of an administrative thing. And that, uh, you know, this congregation is connected, to other congregations, into the Presbyterian through the Presbytery, to the Synod and through the Synod to the General Assembly. And then it's all connected because we can do more mission together than we can individually and things of the sort. But it really goes a whole lot deeper than that. And I think that Calvin would certainly back me up on the fact that being a connectional church really springs from the passage that we had from first Corinthians today, Jesus talks about the parts of the body and all the parts being just as important as any other part.
And we can say, oh yeah, sure, I understand that, you know, I'm a body without a foot. You know, the foot is just as important as the hand. The eye is just as important is the nose. We can understand all that, can’t we? But Jesus, wasn't talking about eyes and noses and hands and you know. He wasn't leading the head shoulders, knees and toes song. He was telling the people that every piece is important. Paul was telling people that every piece is important. He’s saying that there is nobody in this church that is more important than anybody else. Now, of course, you know, the Sadducees and the Pharisees had a little bit of a discrepancy with Paul on that issue because they certainly thought that those that were in temple service were more important than the people that came there to worship.
It'd be like saying, well, I think you can probably think about an instance either currently or in the recent past of a church leader that thought that they were more important than the people that they were leading in worship. I hope it's not too personal on that one. But you, you know, we think about the folks that say, if you send me enough money, I'll pray for you. They are more important than the people that they're purporting to lead. The problem is they're not leading. At least they're not leading as Christians.
And of course, we have people in other spots in life that think that they're more important than all of those around them. And Paul is telling the people of Corinth that no one is more important than anyone else in the life of the church. And in fact, it goes a little bit further because he talks about people from east and west and north and south.
And it talks about Jews and Greeks and slaves and Gentiles. And he goes through all of this and he says, they're all the same, all the same. And part of the connection in the church is not just that we're connected to other congregations in the Presbyterian church, but we are connected to other congregations in other denominations and in other faiths. And whether we appreciate it or not, we are connected to the people that don't believe the way we believe. We are connected to people who don't have the same privileges that we have.
We are connected to people that we don't know. There's this whole theory that was published a long time ago, but it's the butterfly effect. If a butterfly flaps its wings here, it causes disturbance in the air and that disturbance reaches out and you never know how far that effect goes.
We are all connected, is the message that Paul was getting through. But then in the passage that we have from Luke, Jesus is talks about, I have been anointed to preach freedom to the captives. Good news… Before I get in trouble. I still think of Donna sitting here. So before I get in trouble for misquoting…
Anointed me to bring good news to the poor proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to declare the year of the Lords favor. Now Jesus is saying that he has been anointed to do those things. Now let's take that back over into first Corinthians, where we have Paul telling us that we're all the body of Christ. Well, if Christ has been anointed to do those things, and we're the body of Christ than we are anointed to do those things as well.
We are anointed to do those things as well. And so it is incumbent upon us to be working for the recovery of sight for the blind, to be working for the release of the captives, to be working to bring good news to the poor. It is not just that we are called to do it. But we are to realize that we are called to do that because every piece of the body is just as important as every other piece.
Over the years, I have done a fair number of mission projects where we're taking people on mission trips or whatever. And, you know, I've seen a lot of folks that go on a mission trip with the idea that they're going to help somebody else. Yeah, that's what we do, right? Where you go, because those people need help.
And I think I can honestly say that on every one of those trips, there has been, someone is gone on that trip and has been changed because they came back realizing that they received as much as they gave, they received as much as they gave. Now maybe they didn't receive the same thing that they gave. That would be kind of ridiculous anyway, but they received back something just by being there and being part of it. And they realized that. They were helped as much as they helped.
That is the true connectional nature of the church. I want to go back a little bit to what I talked to the children about, Children...Youth
When we have someone who is grown up before or very eyes, we have a tendency to not let them grow up. We have a tendency to try and keep them in the same mold as to how we remember them.
There are some side conversations going on over here that I think may have to do with this. I'll catch up on that one later. We have a tendency to keep them in that same mold. And I think back on that time that I had to go back and was asked to preach that the congregation that I grew up in. Now, whether they tried to put me in the same mold or not, I don't know. But I was guilty of thinking that they were putting me in the same mold.
I was scared. When I realized that my Sunday school teachers were sitting in the front row and I was going to be preaching. Because in my mind they were still the ones that gave me the foundational basis of my faith. Now it didn't matter that I'd gone through three years of seminary and been preaching in other places. That didn’t matter to my perception of this situation.
I was more scared that day than I was in seminary when I had to preach in chapel and all my professors were sitting there along with Stanley Hauerwas, which is one of the premier theologians of the day. And my preaching prof took my notes from me on the way to the pulpit, which he had threatened to do the first day of class.
If you ever wonder why I don't have anything up here when I'm preaching, it goes back to that day, but I was more scared preaching in front of my Sunday school teachers. Because my connection to them was still that teacher/student to connection.
Now, Paul says we should be striving for the greater gifts. If we are striving for the greater gifts, that means we're continuing to grow in our spiritual gifts. And we can't fit back into that old mold. You can't fit back into who we were as we were growing up. So it doesn't matter whether you're the one that's trying to put that young person back into that mold or whether it's the young person thinking that they are still in that mold.
Neither one's right. We should be working to help everyone develop those spiritual gifts and outgrow the old, because that's part of what it means to be connected to one another. Connections aren't stifling. That is making someone a captive of who they used to be. And part of what we're called to do is proclaimed release to the captives. We are to encourage the growth of one another. We are called to encourage the growth of all of those around us to maximize who they can potentially be in God’s kingdom.
So as we go through our lives as individuals, we also have to think not only about what spiritual gifts we need to still be developing. But are we putting ourselves into an old mold that's keeping us from doing just that.