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One Spirit, Many Gifts

1/24/2016 The Third Sunday after Epiphany  Text is  1 Corinthians 12:12-31a.

Grace and peace to you from God, our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

This is one of those lovely days in which we woke up this morning not knowing how many inches of snow fell as we slept.  The weathermen had spent the last week tracking an impending storm, but the skeptic in us New Englanders who have seen many storms hit us head on when predicted that it would go out to sea had us laughing.  After all, this is New England and the weather is unpredictable and highly changeable.  Well, my friends, as you can see, in the end, the weathermen were almost right – we only got a glancing blow from the blizzard.  Rhode Island wasn’t as lucky, so our organist couldn’t make it today.  But, thanks to those operating plows and those building front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, we, stalwart New Englanders, are here today.  We are here today because of a lot of people doing a lot of things – from shoveling snow to creating tire tread.  And if any of those people and any of these things were missing from our lives, our trek to worship today would have been a lot more hazardous or maybe even impossible. So, we have a lot of people to thank.  From engineers to mechanics…from factory workers to scientists – people with various talents and skills, gifts and abilities who add much to our lives.

Our lives are enriched through our connection with others.  Our connection with others makes our modern life possible in ways we don’t even know.  Pastor Hilary Hayden’s husband, who is an airline pilot, pointed that out in a comment made to her more than once about the array of people needed for the preparation for every takeoff.  “There are so many different people,” he said, “whose responsibilities must be met by a certain time in order for that airplane to roll out as scheduled.  Everyone is important:  no reservationist, no planned passengers; no baggage handlers, no baggage control; no stewards, no creature comforts; no ground and air-traffic controllers, no safety; no pilots, no takeoff.”

The same can be said of the Body of Christ.  It takes a lot of different people doing a lot of different things in order for the ministry we do in Jesus’ name to take off, to expand, to reach full potential.  It takes more than a pastor braving the elements and driving in on a Sunday morning to preach and administer the sacrament.  It takes more than an organist or members of the choir.  It takes more than ushers and financial people.  It takes an entire community – from cooks to greeters, from those visiting shut-ins to Sunday school teachers, from the youth themselves to our oldest members.  It takes an orchestra of people, all playing and praying and working together to the tune of the one spirit which gifts us all.

Now some may think that they have nothing to offer the church.  But, the Lord who created each of us has gifted us.  God has given you a gift which this community needs in order to for it fully to function as Christ’s body.  And the gift that he has given you is special.  Your gifts are different from mine – thank God.  For if they were not, we would be in a bind when it comes to fixing leaking roofs or doing the work that is needed to put on a pancake breakfast.  I may be many things, but I am no mechanic, no carpenter, no secretary, and in spite of what you might think, I am no Ever-Ready bunny, either.  But then, I don’t have to be those things.  And you don’t have to be all things either.  So that means I’m the one who sits down and writes a sermon every Saturday, while you’re the ones who set up communion, water plants, prepare Sunday School lessons, count offerings, make building repairs, keep church schedules, order materials, call those members that you know who need to hear a familiar voice.  We all share some aspects of the ministry, but at the same time, we specialize in other areas.  So that all you have to do when it comes to the sermon is to sit in the pews and listen.  And all I have to do when it comes to the maintenance of this building is place a telephone call or two.

So you, my friends, are gifted.  The God who created you, who redeemed you through his son, and sanctified you with his spirit, has given you something to share with me and with all the other people here.  You are needed for the ministry of this church and this community.  So don’t be afraid to offer what God has given you.  Don’t be quick to think that what you have to offer is too little or too insignificant to be of value, and don’t be quick to think that what you have to offer is of greater value than the gift of another.  For each is important and each is needed to create the whole.  For, the church is like a body, and as a body had many parts and all the parts are necessary for the body to function fully, so you are needed.  If the eye refuses to fulfill its job thinking that it has nothing worthwhile to offer, then there would be no sight.  If the ear thinks that it can do it all, then there would be no smell or taste.  If the foot is too busy doing other things, then the body cannot move forward.  If the finger nail decides to go elsewhere and leave the body altogether, then the finger would be left unprotected and could not fully fulfill its role.  All parts are needed – from the least to the greatest – and when any part is missing, then the whole body suffers.

So now is the time, my friends, to look around and take stock as to who is missing.  If some people you know have not been in worship for a while, give those people a call and let them know that they are missed.  The Body of Christ will not be complete without them.  If someone is ill or unable to come, give that person a call and let that person know that he or she is not forgotten.  For, when one part of the body hurts, the whole body suffers.  If you see someone here that you do not know, introduce yourself and invite that person into the heart of our church.  For, God has placed that one among us for the benefit of all.  And if you should find yourself facing a crisis in your own life, know that you are not alone.  For, you are part of the body, created by God, for mutual support and ministry.

So, rejoice in your gifts, my friends and don’t be afraid to use them.  Rejoice in the gifts of others, and don’t be afraid to acknowledge them.  And rejoice in the spirit which binds us together and makes us one.  And may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.




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