A Day Without…Pastor Donna Doutt – 8/25/19

A few days ago, I was driving up the hill on Jefferson Street toward the church. I got out here to the stop sign at the corner of Vermont and Jefferson and was struck by the beauty of the morning light on the colorful flowers that adorn the entire front of our church, including the parsonage porch as well.

The colors are vibrant and cheerful. The richness of the scene lifted my heart and truly did waken me to the beauty of the morning. It made me smile and just feel like the day was off to a better start.

How many of you know how those lovely plantings get there? Who does that for us? Well, it’s Susan Kroskey. She, with the help of her husband John too, volunteer their time and pour out their sweat equity to beautify these building and grounds. Do they receive compensation for this? No, they don’t. They do this out of love for the church and us. How sad it would be not to see this beauty here at our church.

While we’re talking about it, take a look at the sign in front of our church. Remember when we did our name change? Our old sign still had the First United Methodist Church name on it, but someone volunteered to modify the sign with our new name on it. Anyone know who that was? It was a family that wanted to show their love of our church in a significant way, and this is the way they chose.

 

We had our free community dinner, and back-to-school backpack and supplies give-away yesterday, along with free haircuts. The supplies were purchased by volunteers, spending their own money trying to help this kids. The backpacks were packed by volunteers. The haircuts were provided by barbers and hairstylists, who are not members of this church, who gave up their time on a Saturday to come and serve with us. The meal provided was prepared and served by volunteers.

You sit here this morning with a bulletin in your hand because someone volunteered to type it up. Someone else volunteered to assemble the announcements and order of worship into a handy-dandy little booklet for your convenience. Another person volunteered to stand at the door, greet you, and put it in your hand.

Someone else volunteered to put together what you see up here on the screen. Someone volunteered to turn on the sound system so you could hear the music.

A volunteer unlocked the doors, opened the windows, turned the fans and lights on. A volunteer stocked the refrigerator with cold water so that you might be more comfortable during worship.

Do you get where I’m coming from here? Each of you enter into the sanctuary to view a finished product that could only be made possible by those who volunteer.

Imagine, if you can, a day without a volunteer in this church.

Our scripture today from Titus reminds us that, “14 Our people have to learn to be diligent in their work so that all necessities are met (especially among the needy) and they don’t end up with nothing to show for their lives.”

Titus had his hands full. His assignment was to serve the Cretans. In Titus 1:12, one of the island’s own prophets describe Cretans as “always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” Titus was to turn them from deviant to devoted. Paul charges Titus with making them all more diligent in living up to Christian expectations. Encouraging them to serve was a key component to their new Christianity.

[1]You know, there’s something about serving and being served that inspires humility in a person. Learning to engage in good deeds brings us closer to understanding Jesus’ character. He emphasized the important of service by kneeling at the feet of His disciples and washing them as a slave would for his master. He showed us how to humble ourselves to do good deeds by touching a leper to heal him and reaching to save an adulterous woman from being stones. Sure, He could have healed and saved these people without ever becoming personally involved with them, but He knew the immediate issue was not their real need. They were longing for love and relationship.

Loving our church is intertwined with serving each other. When Jesus commanded us to love one another, He expected us to show that love by serving each other the way He served people. In Titus 3:14, the church is encouraged to learn to engage in good deeds so that their lives will not be unproductive.

 

This is reminiscent of James 2:14-26. Let me remind you of this scripture: 14 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[b] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

 

Service also reveals our maturity as Christians. James 3:13 says that if we claim to have wisdom, we should show it by acting in good deeds. Our growth as Christians can be measured by our servitude to others. Imitating Jesus means becoming more of a servant every day.

As we do good deeds for others in the church and in our community, our love will be noticed by the world. Our service is a living testimony of our faith in Jesus. As the world grows darker and more hostile to Christianity, our service will shine a light on the truth.

As Christians, we must learn how to act in good deeds because it shows others the depth of our love as individuals and members of this church family for Jesus and each other. It helps us grow in wisdom and truth. Serving is more about what Jesus is doing IN us than what we are doing for other people.

[2]In 2004, a movie came out titled, “A Day Without a Mexican.” The movie ponders the potentially catastrophic results that would occur if California-based Mexicans, who make up over a third of the state's population, were to suddenly disappear. It’s a  controversial “mock”-umentary that the suggests the lack of Latino gardeners, nannies, cooks, policeman, maids, teachers, farm workers, construction crews, entertainers, athletes, and the world's largest growing consumer market would create a social, political, and economic disaster, leaving the concept of the "California Dream" in shambles.

 

I pose the same scenario for our Faith Community. What if we had a day without a volunteer? Not much would get done here. No outreach ministry, no meals served, no clothing distributed, no flowers blooming out front. Sunday service would consist of me standing up here alone preaching and teaching without benefit of those wonderful distractions like music or words on the screen and a printed order of worship. No one would greet you. No one would bring the light of Christ into the church by lighting our candles. Would I have to collect the offering myself because there is no one else to do it?  

A day without a volunteer….I shudder to think of it!

[3]In “pastor-world,” we have what’s referred to as the 20/80 problem. It means that 20% of the people in our congregations do 80% of the work while most of the rest do nothing.

This week, I challenge you to take the card that is in your bulletin, and volunteer to do something. Think about what you do well. Are you good with money? You could serve on the Finance Committee. Do you love gardening, you could help Susan Kroskey! You get the idea.

Begin now to pray that God would bring some way forward in your life that you can offer yourself to the mission and ministry of this church. Be bold in your confidence that you can make a contribution in what happens here. Let’s change that 20/80 rule to 80/20 for this congregation!

Allow God to teach you to love and love this church through your acts of service. We don’t want to go a day without you!

Amen.  

 

[1] I Love My Church Small Group Leader’s Guide. Outreach, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co. 2014.

[2] Citation: Wikipedia contributors. "A Day Without a Mexican." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 Jul. 2019. Web. 20 Aug. 2019.

[3] http://hirr.hartsem.edu/theother80percent.htm

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