Saturday Sermon: Experience gift of God
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by the Rev. David King
"Hey, how would you like to go to Easter worship at our church?"
"No thanks. I don't like the music there."
"But we have a great group of folks that I know you'd really like."
"Answer's still no. I think a church should have pews and not chairs."
"We have children's bulletins for your kids."
"I want to be able to send my kids to children's church, so my wife and I can worship together. You know how distracting kids can be."
"We're serving communion . yummy bread and grape juice."
"Naw, that whole common cup thing probably isn't very sanitary"
What's wrong with this conversation? What are they both focusing on? Are they really concerned with what "church" is all about and what "church" has to offer? Imagine you give someone you care deeply about a very valuable gift that is wrapped in wrapping paper and ribbons. And they spend 30 minutes talking about the paper and ribbons and don't pay much attention to the gift inside.
That must be how God feels when conversations like the one above take place. The two people are talking about the paper and ribbons and not the gift. What is this most important gift God has given the world wrapped up in the church?
The Apostle Paul seemed to have a handle on this: "For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the 12" 1Corinthians 15:3-6.
The great British Methodist preacher, Leslie Weatherhead, tells the story of two men who lived near each other and worked together. They took the same train into work Monday through Friday. And on Sunday, they took the same train, one to church, and the other to the golf course. This went on for years. Then the golfer came down with a terminal illness. His church-going coworker came to visit him in the final days of his life.
"Why didn't you tell me about Jesus, his life, his death, his resurrection and his promise of life with him forever?" For all these years, we have spent the equivalent of months and possibly years together on that train six days a week, and you never thought it important enough to tell me about Jesus?"
I fear we spend a lot of time talking and fussing about the wrapping and ribbons of our churches and have forgotten about the greatest gift God has given . to all of us. And I hope that this Easter, you and I will be touched again, and perhaps for the first time, with the treasure God has given us to share that comes wrapped in each of our churches. Invite someone to experience this treasure this Easter; it may be just the gift they need.
The Rev. David King is pastor at John Wesley United Methodist Church in Victoria.