Does our Church smell like Mission?
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.
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.
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.
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 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…
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!"
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.
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.