Ordinary People Doing God’s Work
Matt. 9:9-13; 35-10: 1
I'm excited to be here today in this House of Worship and in the midst of this family of faith that has had such a big role in shaping me as a Pastor. I feel privileged for this opportunity to share God's Word with you this morning and to reconnect with so many of you.
I'm surrounded by many warm thoughts and feelings as I look into the sanctuary and as I remember our many interactions with each other in ministry. I also praise God for the continued ministry that is happening in your midst through Pastor Albert and Pastor Erin, as well as your eagerness to be part of the Annual Prayer week services together with the Springfield Heights Church, as well as several ongoing events at the Kingsford House. My hope and prayer is that we may become even stronger partners in ministry to our community.
Speaking of ministry in our community, I’m reminded of the challenge we so often face when we think about sharing our faith with others.
There is the story of a woman who moved into a new neighborhood. She soon met one of the older residents on the street who happened to be a real go-getter. “Neighbor,” the older resident asked, “do you have salvation?” “Why no,” the woman said, “but I'm sometimes bothered by arthritis.” “No, I mean are you lost?” the older resident asked. “No, I'm not lost. I live right up the street.” “Well, tell me,” said the older resident, “are you ready for Judgment Day? It's coming real soon now. It may be tomorrow or the next day.” “No, I'm not,” replied the woman. “And for goodness sake, don't tell my husband about it; or he will want to go both days.”
In sharing our faith we often use confusing or misunderstood terms, like this older resident did. In addition, we often also feel ill-equipped to be Christ's ambassadors. We me feel inadequate or unworthy of being co-workers with God, and to come alongside other people in their search for hope and salvation.
Illustration: A man was cutting his lawn and suddenly his riding lawnmover gave up the spirit. He was getting more and more aggitated as he was trying to fix it because he didn’t have the right tools. A neighbor who was watching him (probably Wilson from Home Improvement), came over with a well-stocked toolbox and offered his help to fix the mower. After a short while the lawnmower was working better than before. In amazement the man said to his neighbor: “You have some impressive tools in your box there! What do you make with all those tools?” And the neighbor replied with a smile: “Mostly friends!”
Indeed! It’s amazing what a good set of tools can do in the hands of one who knows how to use them. Now, I’m not suggesting that we who are members of the Mennonite Church have all the sharpest tools in the box to fix the worlds problems. However, as followers of Jesus Christ, you and I are part of our Master’s tool box to bring hope and healing into a broken world. When we are moved by compassion for the needs of those around us God promises to do great things in the lives of people.
In our Scripture text we read that Jesus was moved by compassion for the crowd and he called twelve persons to be his disciples. Now, our reference check on the twelve reveals that these fellows were nothing to look at. They were not exacly the sharpest knives in the drawer.
And yet, these were exactly the people that Jesus called to follow him and to do great things for God. When Jesus picked his twelve disciples and sent them out to preach the Good News of God’s favor, to cast out demons and to heal the sick, he did not loose any sleep over their qualifications.
One might think that the Gospel writer, Matthew, would have mentioned that Jesus chose these men because of their prior experience, or because of their great potential, or their unusual spiritual insight. But we are told none of that. We are simply told the names of the twelve that were called to follow him.
It seems to me that this story says more about the nature of Jesus than it says about the qualifications of his followers. This is just the way Jesus does things. He calls fishers (4:18-22)… He calls tax collectors (9:9)… He calls subsistance-farmers… He calls cabinet makers… and factory workers… He calls accountants and lawyers… He calls students with two or three part-time jobs… He calls mothers and fathers… He calls teachers and Seniors…
And there is no hint that these people need any special attributes that qualify them to be disciples. Not only was Matthew a disreputable tax collector, but there is Judas who would be the one to betray him. It is almost as if the Gospel bends over backwards to assure us that none of these people were special in any way. And yet, they were called to transform the world through the power of God’s forgiving Love.
Jesus sent them out to do the very same things he had been doing in the world. The mission of Jesus is a tough and risky mission. Jesus chose everyday, tough, rough, realistic, ordinary people because the task he sent them out to perform was so extraordinary.
As we look into our congregations, we are looking at the same group of people with the same qualifications (or lack of qualifications) to be disciples. When we look at our backgrounds and our qualifications, who among us is really suited to do God’s work? Who among us is qualified to heal a broken world in Jesus' name?
We may not be qualified, but by God's grace, we have the authority to be his disciples. Maybe he sees in us more potential than we see in ourselves. Maybe he thinks that the needs in the world require some people who have a little worldly wisdom. Perhaps he can take the experiences that you have had at work, or at school, or at raising a family, and use those experiences to help others.
Each one of us perceives the Master's Call in a different way. I heard the story of a woman who was called to be a disciple. She had spent most of her life raising a family. One day she looked up and her family was gone. There was no longer anybody there who needed her. She had all but lost the meaning for her life. So she presented herself at her church, asking to be given something to do. She said to the Pastor, "Unfortunately, I haven't had any real work experience. I'm afraid there is not much that I could be useful for in the church."
She was wrong! As a mother of four children, she had wonderful organizational skills. Those skills were used to organize the church's first Habitat for Humanity work team. She was good at organizing people, getting people to make commitments, and following up on their commitments. These skills, learned as a mother, proved to be very useful to the church in its business of doing God’s work.
From what I observe, this is usually the way that Jesus works. Jesus seems to delight in taking ordinary, everyday people, persons who do not seem to have all of the qualifications and credentials, and selecting them to do God’s work. He promises us that he will give us what we need to be faithful to him and his mission. And then he sends us out into the world with the mission of bringing a word of salvation to a hurting world and bringing healing for a broken people.
Jesus calls you and me today to be his disciples, even though we may have questionable qualifications, and even though we have our own crosses to bear. We may be limited by our lack of courage, our lack of talent, our lack of spiritual insight. We may think that we don’t have the tools needed to fix our broken world.
And yet, we have the promise of God’s presence and authority to be instruments of God’s Love and mercy in our own community and our circles of influence. And God wants each one of us to be part of His work in the world. Whatever tools or gifts God may have placed in your and my toolbox, we are encouraged to use them to make friends for God.
Let us Pray
Lord, there are times when we wonder why you chose people like us to be your disciples. We have our limitations (as if we need to remind you)! So often we do not understand your desire for us; our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. Our intentions are good but we fail to follow through.
Yet, you have entrusted us with the message of the Love and Mercy of God; to us has been given the great treasure of the Good News. Lord, let us hear your call to be your servants in a world that is hurting. Help us to be a friend to a person in need. Even though we may not have all the tools to fix the entire world, we trust in your unfailing love and compassion. Strengthen our faith and make us fit to serve you and our neighbors.
The Calling of Matthew
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Workers Are Few
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Worship Service – Friendship Sunday
June 13, 1999
Gathering in God’s Presence
Welcome & Call to Worship Henry Kliewer
We’re singing Praises
Offering & Hymn
Meditating on God’s Word
Children’s Story Susanne Pankratz
Scripture Reading Werny Unrau
Sermon: “Ordinary People Doing God’s Work”
Guided Prayer Henry Kliewer
Cry of My Heart
Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow
Welcome To our Worship Service This Morning!
Friendship Sunday - Afternoon Program
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM BBQ Lunch
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM Clownface Jumper 1:30 PM Face Painting
1:30 PM Clown & Balloon Animals 1:30 PM Music Group
1:30 PM - 4:00 PM Volleyball, Soccer & Childrens’ games
at Princess Margaret School