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2 Cor 2,14-17 Eph. 1,3-14 Does our Church smell like mission (06)

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Does our Church smell like Mission?

Ephesians 1:3-14

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who has blessed us in the heavenly realms

with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world

to be holy and blameless in his sight.

 In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as God’s children

through Jesus Christ,

in accordance with his pleasure and will—

6to the praise of his glorious grace,

which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

 7In him we have redemption through his blood,

the forgiveness of sins,

in accordance with the riches of God's grace

8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

9And he made known to us the mystery of his will

according to his good pleasure,

which he purposed in Christ,

10to be put into effect

 when the times will have reached their fulfillment—

to bring all things in heaven and on earth together

under one head, even Christ.

11In him we were also chosen,

having been predestined according to the plan

of him who works out everything

in conformity with the purpose of his will,

12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ,

might be for the praise of his glory.

13And you also were included in Christ

when you heard the word of truth,

the gospel of your salvation.

Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal,

the promised Holy Spirit,

14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance

 until the redemption of those who are God's possession—

to the praise of his glory.

 

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 

 14But thanks be to God,

who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ

and through us spreads everywhere

the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

15For we are to God the aroma of Christ

among those who are being saved

and those who are perishing.

16To the one we are the smell of death;

to the other, the fragrance of life.

And who is equal to such a task?

17Unlike so many,

we do not peddle the word of God for profit.

On the contrary,

in Christ we speak before God with sincerity,

like men sent from God.

 


Overview

Over the next several weeks

our worship themes will deal with

the topic of the purpose of the church…

namely to spread everywhere

the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus.

To help us keep the Big Picture in mind,

       I want to invite us

       To nurture a holy curiosity

about what God is up to in the world.

We want to ask ourselves:

“What is God doing?

       And where do I fit in?”

If we can’t remember anythink else

Let’s remember this question:

What is God doing?

       And where do I fit in?

Have you stopped to think about

the purpose of the church lately?

Why are we here?

       What does God want from us?

       As Individual Christians?

       And as a community of Christ’s disciples gathered together?

Are we fulfilling God’s will and purpose for His church?

Since the beginning of creation

       God has wanted to be in relationship with us.

       God created us for relationship with Himself.

But, we have not wanted to played along…

       We are indeed a stumbling bunch of fools.

We have missed the mark

and gone our own stubborn way so many times.

And still,

       God did not give up on us.

Instead, God has shown Himself throughout History

       As a God of Reconciliation.

In the end, God sent His Son

       To show us just how serious he is about

       Our relationship with Him.

And even more,

God invites us to respond to His Call

       And to be ambassadors of Reconciliation.

 

In our text from Ephesians we get the sense

that God wants us to be partners with Him

in his work of bringing everything

under one head – namely Christ.

He has revealed to us -

Who were chosen

And predestined

And adopted by God for this purpose -

 the mystery of His will.

God has a purpose for His Church.

God is on a mission…

       A mission to reconcile…

       A mission to love and forgive…

       A mission to empower and entrust…

You and I – we are here for a reason…

Ill.: James Krabill from Mennonite Board of Missions

       Has written a number of

       “Reflections on Becoming a Church

       That is true to its calling.”

I will borrow from his writings

       To help us think about what it means

to be on board with what God is doing in the world.

Krabill relates the following story:

“It all began over lunch

at a Conference Ministers and elders meeting,

        When someone asked me to summarize

       What I was discovering in my many church visits

About the status of mission and outreach

In the congregations…

…I commented that “it doesn’t take long

       When I visit a church to determine

       How important mission is to the life of the congregation.

Some churches just ‘smell like missions,’” I said,

       “and some don’t.”

I should have anticipated the next question,

       “So what does a mission-focused congregation ‘smell like’?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure I know.

Have you ever tried to describe to someone

What pizza smells like?

(Let’s see, maybe someone here can tell us

       In one sentence or less what pizza smells like).

Most of us would be hard pressed to do that effectively.

We might say something like:

       “Pizza smells like… uhm…

       There’s tomatoe sauce in there…

       And pepperoni…

       And onions…

       And cheese…

Well, that’s all true…

       But each of these ingredients by itself

       Does not smell like pizza.

Now imagine a pizza delivery person

       Standing at the door and opening

       A few boxes of hot steaming pizza.

Would any one of us have difficulties

Defining in a haertbeat

What that smell is when it hits our nose?

I think not.

So it is with churches that smell like Missions.

Sometimes it’s hard to identify

       The individual ingredetients that make up

       A mission-focussed church.

And sometimes we may be a slow to identify

       What the odor is that we are smelling,

       Because there are times

when the Devil himself plays a prank on us.

Sometime we don’t know what we’re smelling…

      

ILL.: Some fellows put Limburger cheese

(you know… “stinky cheese”)

very gently on their friend’s moustache while he was asleep. 

When he woke up about an hour later he said,

"This room stinks!"

He walked into the hall and said,

"This hall stinks!" 

He walked into the living room and said,

"This living room stinks!" 

Then, greatly perplexed as to where the smell was coming from,

he walked outside and exclaimed,

"This whole world stinks!" 

Yes indeed,

       There are times when we have to check ourselves

       To see if we are the cause of the stench…

Denise Dykema said,

"A crowded elevator smells different to a short person."

OK… forget that one…

But then, if you think about it,

       Where we stand and where we spend most of our time

       Will have an affect on the odor that clings to us

       And will blend with what other people will smell.

ILL.: Margaret Reinitz tells the following story:

While I was shopping one Saturday,

I sprayed my wrists with an expensive scent

from a perfume counter's tester bottle.

I then continued my shopping,

exulting in the delicious fragrance.

That evening as I was preparing

our usual Saturday hamburgers,

my husband said he had to run an errand

and asked if I would like to ride along. 

When I grabbed my jacket,

I noticed that the elegant scent of perfume

still clung to the sleeves. 

I slid into the front seat of the car

next to our nine-year-old son. 

He sniffed and exclaimed,

"Boy, you smell good, Mom!" 

I replied, "Yes, I know!

That's the perfume I sprayed on my wrists

while I was shopping today."

He answered, "No, it isn't. 

That's hamburgers!"

Sometimes we smell what we want to smell…

       Namely the fragrances that we train our noses on.

Someone said, if you can’t smell the difference

       Between roses and cigar smoke

       You’ve got pretty bad allergies…

Krabill explains that congregations

       generally fall into one of four categories

       On a continuum that goes from

In-Grown to Out-reaching.

The most in-grown congregations

have very little empasis on Mission

and are generally not very aware of God’s call for the church.

You might say that these congregations are stuck

Or inward focussed.

People feel tired and over-committed…

       While others are inactive and their gifts are unappreciated.

They seem to be unable to assimilate new people

       So that they truly feel at home in the church family…

       There are impermeable clickes that exclude others…

There is unresolved conflict that festers under the surface...

They feel uncomfortable sharing their faith with strangers…

They are scared of committing financial resources

       To projects that bring them no returns…

They feel that they get nothing out of the Sunday services…

When they hear the word “Mission”

They have visions of monkey-eating missionaries

amongs canibalistic tribes in the African Congo…

They think of Mission as something that happens out there

And not in here.

In-grown congregations seem to be discouraged all the time

       And have an almost defeatist attitude

about their God-given purpose.

They have turned cynical

       About the church’s ability to fulfill it’s calling.

By the way,

“A cynic is a person who,

when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”

Some people take a whiff of our church

       And they look around for a coffin…

At the other end of the spectrum

       There are out-reaching congregations

       In which Missions

       Is not something that the church does once a year

       To raise extra funds…

       But where Mission is the organizing factor

       Around which the entire church functions.

These churches smell like mission.

As Paul says,

15[they] are the aroma of Christ

among those who are being saved

and those who are perishing.

You may not be able to describe in one short sentence

       All the ingredients that make it smell like Christ…

But you detect the unmistakable aroma of God’s presence in it.

The question for us to consider today is this,

       “What does our church smell like?”

Does our church smell like mission?

       Are we fulfilling our God-ordained mandate

       To be partners in what God is doing in the world?

When I do a deep inhale through my nose

       In our congregation…

       I smell a congregation that is on a path

       To becoming a church that has God’s mission in mind…

I don’t know…

       Maybe the devil has schmiered some

       Super-nice smelling stuff under my nose

       And is playing a dirty trick on me…

       But I definitely smell mission!

Maybe you folks can help me out here…

What are some of the ingredients that you are smelling?

       Where do you see God at work in our church?

       And where do you see

       Us participating in what God is doing?

(Let them offer some suggestions…)

Here, I have a few others…

1.  Countless retirees working at the Thrift Store

2.  Serving at Bethania Verein making perogies

3.  Henry Pankratz and others doing “Meals on wheels”

4.  Youth & Young Adults serving at Matheson Island

a.   Fake it till you make it

5.  Amanda and Katie in Afrika, previously Crystal in Haiti

6.  People taking donated clothes to Winkler to send to Ukraine

7.  Henry Harder, Rita Rempel and others serving at Union GM

8.  Leaders in Boys & Girls clubs, Sunday School, VBS, etc.

9.  Dietz bringing his friend Abis from work

10.                   Abis helping with the Missions lunch clean-up

11.                   my trip on your behalf to Colombia

12.                   many people serving on different board in the church and community.

13.                   Collecting food and clothing for underprivileged elementary school students.

14.                   Kyle & Ashley volunteering at a Drop-in Center

15.                   Henry & Neta volunteering w/ recovering addicts in DE.

16.                   Preparing and delivering food hampers to the needy

17.                   Handing out Bus tickets to people on welfare

18.                   Visiting the sick and the lonely and sharing a prayer and a word of encouragement

19.                   Ruben and others visiting Johnny regularly during his last few months of life

20.                   many people caring for bereaved people in our church

21.                   Ray, Ryan, Melanie, Ronald, Sophie, Kevin and others leading us in worship

22.                   Choirs and Music groups serving in church and at care homes

23.                   A young woman who works in health care told me that they are not allowed to speak to people about their faith at work, and she made an intentional choice to model her faith – living out the love of Christ.

24.                   Wes in India, Stella & Anne in the Ukraine

25.                   Serving at Camps in the summer

26.                   hosting a young man from Switzerland over the Summer

27.                   Henry Rempel doing the PA system at funerals

28.                   Sending letters of encouragement to members and missionaries

29.                   Walking up to visitors and making them feel welcome

30.                   offering a seat to an elderly person on the bus

31.                   spending an evening mending a broken heart – while you could be at home watching your favorite TV show

32.                   spending many evenings mending a broken heart

33.                   Running around with a bunch of sreeming teenagers who are climbing the walls

34.                   Reading a book to young child while holding it on your lap…

did I miss anything?

I’m a bit stuffed up this morning…

       But to me that smells like a Supreme!

As a mission focussed congregation

we want to encourage one another

to do some more shoulder-tapping and gift-affirming.

We want to equip and encourage one another

to do the work that God entrusts to each one.

 

What is God doing?

       Where do you fit in?

As we leave this place,

       May spread the pleasant fragrance of Christ everywhere

       To His glory and honor.

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