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Newaygo United Methodist Church
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Well Done

Well Done

Matthew 25:14-30
 
 
One Sunday a minister preached a sermon on the parable of the talents. After the service a parishioner remarked to the minister, “I’m not a particularly gifted person. I can’t teach Sunday School, my singing voice isn’t good enough for the choir, and I’m too shy to visit prospective members. But I do have one talent that might be of some use to the church.” “And what is that?” the preacher asked. “Well” the man said, “I have the talent for criticism/ I can criticize the choir, I can criticize the church council, and you know how I can criticize your sermons. What do you think I can do with that talent?” The minister responded, “Do you remember what the man did who had only one talent? He buried it in the ground, I suggest you would be advised to do the same.”
 
The student in Jesus’ parable did what was prudent. He knew the risks of taking care of such a large sum of money. In those days there were not many risk free options available to keep the money safe. Burying it kept thieves from stealing it. The master’s money could be kept safe and returned in its entirety when he came back. What would the master have to complain about? He didn’t lose any money that way. True the master wouldn’t make any money either, but it would be safe. Maybe the master expected to see an increase in his money during his absence because he did not accept the prudent course his servant had taken.
 
The servant feared what his master would do if he lost the master’s money. His fear paralyzed him from taking risks that could benefit his master. He only wanted to do things the safe way. His fear kept him from going out on a limb. In many ways we as a church or as individuals experience a similar reaction to life. Our fears keep us from taking risks. When we don’t take risks things stay the same. We go along with the status quo, the way we’ve done things for years. There is a comfort level in playing it safe. Churches operate out of the past, “We did it that way last year and it was just fine. We should do it again this year since we know it worked.” As individuals we like to play it safe with our faith. We may not like our faith to be challenged by new insights or deal with disturbing issues that can cause confusion and upheaval in the way we look at things. I know there are times when I am afraid to stretch my faith by doing new things, making unpopular decisions, or challenging our way of looking at things. But we find that when challenges are presented or arise, we grow the most in our faith. When we try to do new things, we learn more about each other and about our church and we grow.
 
In 1944 when Jim was 40 years old, he was serving in the Navy on a remote island in the South Pacific. With plenty of time on his hands, he thought he would try to write a short story. He didn’t expect it to go anywhere, but he thought he’d try it anyway. A friend cautioned that no one published short stories anymore, but Jim plodded ahead nevertheless. He ended up writing a book that received a few minor reviews, but afte rth bookd was reviewed by the New York Time it was on its way to a Pulitzer Prize. Ken McKenna tried to get Hollywood to pick up the book for the film industry, but it was decided it had no “dramatic possibilities.” McKenna went out of a limb and introduced the book to two composers, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Although those two got on board with the idea, others scoffed at the story being turned into a musical, starring, of all people, an opera singer over 50 years old. South Pacific became a block buster and remains one of the most popular musicals of all times. Later, the sailor, James Michener, reflected, “You can understand why I like people who stick their necks out.”
 
We have been given a great gift. We have been given a great faith that not only moves us through our lives, providing comfort, assurance, understanding of God who created us, strength, and stamina but also offers us hope and light and potential for peace to a world very much in need of a redeeming God. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to bury that faith deep within us, keep it to ourselves, trying to let it be our nurture, light, comfort and hope when we need it. But something happens when we do that, when we keep it inside ourselves, it begins to stagnate. There were times in King David’s life in the old testament stories when he drifted away from God. The wars and struggles of being king had distracted him from God and he found that the God he had once known seemed no longer with him. He had buried the faith he had grown up with under the struggles of his rise to power.
 
When we bury our faith within us, we too become distracted by our struggles, our quests for well being, or power or wealth. The strength of our faith begins to dwindle. Before we know it, the God who called us into relationship doesn’t seem to be the same God. That God seems to have changed, but in reality it is we who have changed. Those things that once inspired us no longer have the power to move us or help us recall how much God loves us. We become handicapped in our faith. Faith’s power to bring us comfort, hope and assurance diminishes. When a whole church loses its perspective on God it too begins to weaken and die.
 
So, how do we keep our faith alive and vital? It stays vital and alive when we use it, when we keep from burying it within us, when we reach out with our faith by extending the hand of Jesus to others. We have been given a precious gift, and we are expected to multiply that gift, to reinvest it in the lives of those around us. It sometimes takes great risk for some of us to talk about Jesus, to speak up against injustice, to reach out to those who are different from us. But when we do we not only get a return on our investment, but others benefit in ways we don’t often get to see. It’s like parent who pour their love into their children. Those children grow up knowing they are love and in return offer that love to their children.
 
God had poured his love into us, and we are called to pour great love into those around us. We do that by feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, listening to the troubled, offering the love of God to those most in need, praying for the sick and distressed, putting the miracle of Jesus into song and music, telling a story of faith, by giving ourselves away to those who need a word of faith. We are not meant to keep this faith or ours for ourselves. It is meant to be given out, to be shared. It isn’t ours to bury, but to reinvest in the lives of those around us.
Jesus reinvested his faith, his knowledge of God in those disciples who followed him and in those people who came to him for help. He risked much! His risk brought him to the cross, to one of the greatest sufferings a human could go through. Yet the risk was worth it. Through what he did, all humanity was free to touch the face of God and live. Through what he did all people could be free from fear of death, free to be a vital part of God’s kingdom, and know God’s grace.
 
Through what he did we can be free from the fears that paralyze us and make bold steps into the future of Gods dream. When was the last time we took risks for our faith? Have we buried our faith in our attempts to maintain the status quo? Or are we a church that is willing take risks. We took a great risk this summer in providing food during the Newaygo nationals. We must continue to ask the question of risks. Are we a vital church that is willing to share its faith in the community around us and with each other.
 
A vital church is one that shares its faith, that reaches out. Many of us lament that our grown children do not seem interested in coming to church. The question they ask is “What relevance is Jesus to my life? Why should I attend church? And why should I attend this church?” We may have some of our own answers to those questions and if we don’t then we have some work to do articulating our faith. But the matter may be even more basic than that. Our young people often have a deep spirituality, one that on the surface seems different from our own. We need to first listen to their faith, not with the eye of correcting them, but with the eye of understanding what motivates them and what their spirituality is all about. Then we can work from some common ground. Sharing faith is often listening first, then understanding enough to share our own ideas about faith in a framework that may open doors to new possibilities for all.
 
I would like to leave you with a little bit of humor:
There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed and played;
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed.
And when one day he passed away
His insurance was denied;
For since he never really lived,
They claimed he never died!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew 25:14-30

One Sunday a minister preached a sermon on the parable of the talents. After the service a parishioner remarked to the minister, “I’m not a particularly gifted person. I can’t teach Sunday School, my singing voice isn’t good enough for the choir, and I’m too shy to visit prospective members. But I do have one talent that might be of some use to the church.”

“And what is that?” the preacher asked.

“Well” the man said, “I have the talent for criticism/ I can criticize the choir, I can criticize the church council, and you know how I can criticize your sermons. What do you think I can do with that talent?”

The minister responded, “Do you remember what the man did who had only one talent? He buried it in the ground, I suggest you would be advised to do the same.”

The student in Jesus’ parable did what was prudent. He knew the risks of taking care of such a large sum of money. In those days there were not many risk free options available to keep the money safe. Burying it kept thieves from stealing it. The master’s money could be kept safe and returned in its entirety when he came back. What would the master have to complain about? He didn’t lose any money that way. True the master wouldn’t make any money either, but it would be safe. Maybe the master expected to see an increase in his money during his absence because he did not accept the prudent course his servant had taken.

The servant feared what his master would do if he lost the master’s money. His fear paralyzed him from taking risks that could benefit his master. He only wanted to do things the safe way. His fear kept him from going out on a limb. In many ways we as a church or as individuals experience a similar reaction to life. Our fears keep us from taking risks. When we don’t take risks things stay the same. We go along with the status quo, the way we’ve done things for years. There is a comfort level in playing it safe. Churches operate out of the past, “We did it that way last year and it was just fine. We should do it again this year since we know it worked.” As individuals we like to play it safe with our faith. We may not like our faith to be challenged by new insights or deal with disturbing issues that can cause confusion and upheaval in the way we look at things. I know there are times when I am afraid to stretch my faith by doing new things, making unpopular decisions, or challenging our way of looking at things. But we find that when challenges are presented or arise, we grow the most in our faith. When we try to do new things, we learn more about each other and about our church and we grow.

In 1944 when Jim was 40 years old, he was serving in the Navy on a remote island in the South Pacific. With plenty of time on his hands, he thought he would try to write a short story. He didn’t expect it to go anywhere, but he thought he’d try it anyway. A friend cautioned that no one published short stories anymore, but Jim plodded ahead nevertheless.

He ended up writing a book that received a few minor reviews, but afte rth bookd was reviewed by the New York Time it was on its way to a Pulitzer Prize. Ken McKenna tried to get Hollywood to pick up the book for the film industry, but it was decided it had no “dramatic possibilities.” McKenna went out of a limb and introduced the book to two composers, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Although those two got on board with the idea, others scoffed at the story being turned into a musical, starring, of all people, an opera singer over 50 years old. South Pacific became a block buster and remains one of the most popular musicals of all times. Later, the sailor, James Michener, reflected, “You can understand why I like people who stick their necks out.”

We have been given a great gift. We have been given a great faith that not only moves us through our lives, providing comfort, assurance, understanding of God who created us, strength, and stamina but also offers us hope and light and potential for peace to a world very much in need of a redeeming God. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to bury that faith deep within us, keep it to ourselves, trying to let it be our nurture, light, comfort and hope when we need it. But something happens when we do that, when we keep it inside ourselves, it begins to stagnate. There were times in King David’s life in the old testament stories when he drifted away from God. The wars and struggles of being king had distracted him from God and he found that the God he had once known seemed no longer with him. He had buried the faith he had grown up with under the struggles of his rise to power.

When we bury our faith within us, we too become distracted by our struggles, our quests for well being, or power or wealth. The strength of our faith begins to dwindle. Before we know it, the God who called us into relationship doesn’t seem to be the same God. That God seems to have changed, but in reality it is we who have changed. Those things that once inspired us no longer have the power to move us or help us recall how much God loves us. We become handicapped in our faith. Faith’s power to bring us comfort, hope and assurance diminishes. When a whole church loses its perspective on God it too begins to weaken and die.

So, how do we keep our faith alive and vital? It stays vital and alive when we use it, when we keep from burying it within us, when we reach out with our faith by extending the hand of Jesus to others. We have been given a precious gift, and we are expected to multiply that gift, to reinvest it in the lives of those around us. It sometimes takes great risk for some of us to talk about Jesus, to speak up against injustice, to reach out to those who are different from us. But when we do we not only get a return on our investment, but others benefit in ways we don’t often get to see. It’s like parent who pour their love into their children. Those children grow up knowing they are love and in return offer that love to their children.

God had poured his love into us, and we are called to pour great love into those around us. We do that by feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, listening to the troubled, offering the love of God to those most in need, praying for the sick and distressed, putting the miracle of Jesus into song and music, telling a story of faith, by giving ourselves away to those who need a word of faith. We are not meant to keep this faith or ours for ourselves. It is meant to be given out, to be shared. It isn’t ours to bury, but to reinvest in the lives of those around us.

 

Matthew 25:14-30
One Sunday a minister preached a sermon on the parable of the talents. After the service a parishioner remarked to the minister, “I’m not a particularly gifted person. I can’t teach Sunday School, my singing voice isn’t good enough for the choir, and I’m too shy to visit prospective members. But I do have one talent that might be of some use to the church.”
“And what is that?” the preacher asked.
“Well” the man said, “I have the talent for criticism/ I can criticize the choir, I can criticize the church council, and you know how I can criticize your sermons. What do you think I can do with that talent?”
The minister responded, “Do you remember what the man did who had only one talent? He buried it in the ground, I suggest you would be advised to do the same.”
The student in Jesus’ parable did what was prudent. He knew the risks of taking care of such a large sum of money. In those days there were not many risk free options available to keep the money safe. Burying it kept thieves from stealing it. The master’s money could be kept safe and returned in its entirety when he came back. What would the master have to complain about? He didn’t lose any money that way. True the master wouldn’t make any money either, but it would be safe. Maybe the master expected to see an increase in his money during his absence because he did not accept the prudent course his servant had taken.
The servant feared what his master would do if he lost the master’s money. His fear paralyzed him from taking risks that could benefit his master. He only wanted to do things the safe way. His fear kept him from going out on a limb. In many ways we as a church or as individuals experience a similar reaction to life. Our fears keep us from taking risks. When we don’t take risks things stay the same. We go along with the status quo, the way we’ve done things for years. There is a comfort level in playing it safe. Churches operate out of the past, “We did it that way last year and it was just fine. We should do it again this year since we know it worked.” As individuals we like to play it safe with our faith. We may not like our faith to be challenged by new insights or deal with disturbing issues that can cause confusion and upheaval in the way we look at things. I know there are times when I am afraid to stretch my faith by doing new things, making unpopular decisions, or challenging our way of looking at things. But we find that when challenges are presented or arise, we grow the most in our faith. When we try to do new things, we learn more about each other and about our church and we grow.
In 1944 when Jim was 40 years old, he was serving in the Navy on a remote island in the South Pacific. With plenty of time on his hands, he thought he would try to write a short story. He didn’t expect it to go anywhere, but he thought he’d try it anyway. A friend cautioned that no one published short stories anymore, but Jim plodded ahead nevertheless.
He ended up writing a book that received a few minor reviews, but afte rth bookd was reviewed by the New York Time it was on its way to a Pulitzer Prize. Ken McKenna tried to get Hollywood to pick up the book for the film industry, but it was decided it had no “dramatic possibilities.” McKenna went out of a limb and introduced the book to two composers, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Although those two got on board with the idea, others scoffed at the story being turned into a musical, starring, of all people, an opera singer over 50 years old. South Pacific became a block buster and remains one of the most popular musicals of all times. Later, the sailor, James Michener, reflected, “You can understand why I like people who stick their necks out.”
We have been given a great gift. We have been given a great faith that not only moves us through our lives, providing comfort, assurance, understanding of God who created us, strength, and stamina but also offers us hope and light and potential for peace to a world very much in need of a redeeming God. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to bury that faith deep within us, keep it to ourselves, trying to let it be our nurture, light, comfort and hope when we need it. But something happens when we do that, when we keep it inside ourselves, it begins to stagnate. There were times in King David’s life in the old testament stories when he drifted away from God. The wars and struggles of being king had distracted him from God and he found that the God he had once known seemed no longer with him. He had buried the faith he had grown up with under the struggles of his rise to power.
When we bury our faith within us, we too become distracted by our struggles, our quests for well being, or power or wealth. The strength of our faith begins to dwindle. Before we know it, the God who called us into relationship doesn’t seem to be the same God. That God seems to have changed, but in reality it is we who have changed. Those things that once inspired us no longer have the power to move us or help us recall how much God loves us. We become handicapped in our faith. Faith’s power to bring us comfort, hope and assurance diminishes. When a whole church loses its perspective on God it too begins to weaken and die.
So, how do we keep our faith alive and vital? It stays vital and alive when we use it, when we keep from burying it within us, when we reach out with our faith by extending the hand of Jesus to others. We have been given a precious gift, and we are expected to multiply that gift, to reinvest it in the lives of those around us. It sometimes takes great risk for some of us to talk about Jesus, to speak up against injustice, to reach out to those who are different from us. But when we do we not only get a return on our investment, but others benefit in ways we don’t often get to see. It’s like parent who pour their love into their children. Those children grow up knowing they are love and in return offer that love to their children.
God had poured his love into us, and we are called to pour great love into those around us. We do that by feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, listening to the troubled, offering the love of God to those most in need, praying for the sick and distressed, putting the miracle of Jesus into song and music, telling a story of faith, by giving ourselves away to those who need a word of faith. We are not meant to keep this faith or ours for ourselves. It is meant to be given out, to be shared. It isn’t ours to bury, but to reinvest in the lives of those around us.
Jesus reinvested his faith, his knowledge of God in those disciples who followed him and in those people who came to him for help. He risked much! His risk brought him to the cross, to one of the greatest sufferings a human could go through. Yet the risk was worth it. Through what he did, all humanity was free to touch the face of God and live. Through what he did all people could be free from fear of death, free to be a vital part of God’s kingdom, and know God’s grace.
Through what he did we can be free from the fears that paralyze us and make bold steps into the future of Gods dream. When was the last time we took risks for our faith? Have we buried our faith in our attempts to maintain the status quo? Or are we a church that is willing take risks. We took a great risk this summer in providing food during the Newaygo nationals. We must continue to ask the question of risks. Are we a vital church that is willing to share its faith in the community around us and with each other.
A vital church is one that shares its faith, that reaches out. Many of us lament that our grown children do not seem interested in coming to church. The question they ask is “What relevance is Jesus to my life? Why should I attend church? And why should I attend this church?” We may have some of our own answers to those questions and if we don’t then we have some work to do articulating our faith. But the matter may be even more basic than that. Our young people often have a deep spirituality, one that on the surface seems different from our own. We need to first listen to their faith, not with the eye of correcting them, but with the eye of understanding what motivates them and what their spirituality is all about. Then we can work from some common ground. Sharing faith is often listening first, then understanding enough to share our own ideas about faith in a framework that may open doors to new possibilities for all.
I would like to leave you with a little bit of humor:
There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed and played;
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed.
And when one day he passed away
His insurance was denied;
For since he never really lived,
They claimed he never died!

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