Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sharing the Message

That is what the scripture is about today. Here is Romans 15: 14-21 from the Message.

14-16 Personally, I’ve been completely satisfied with who you are and what you are doing. You seem to me to be well-motivated and well-instructed, quite capable of guiding and advising one another. So, my dear friends, don’t take my rather bold and blunt language as criticism. It’s not criticism. I’m simply underlining how very much I need your help in carrying out this highly focused assignment God gave me, this priestly and gospel work of serving the spiritual needs of the non-Jewish outsiders so they can be presented as an acceptable offering to God, made whole and holy by God’s Holy Spirit.
17-21 Looking back over what has been accomplished and what I have observed, I must say I am most pleased—in the context of Jesus, I’d even say proud, but only in that context.
 I have no interest in giving you a chatty account of my adventures, only the wondrously powerful and transformingly present words and deeds of Christ in me that triggered a believing response among the outsiders.
In such ways I have trailblazed a preaching of the Message of Jesus all the way from Jerusalem far into northwestern Greece. This has all been pioneer work, bringing the Message only into those places where Jesus was not yet known and worshiped. My text has been,
Those who were never told of him—
    they’ll see him!
Those who’ve never heard of him—
    they’ll get the message!

Paul is encouraging the people of Rome to continue his work of serving the spiritual needs of the non-Jewish outsiders"  so that people who never heard of him will see him and get the message.

One of the trickiest parts of pastoring a church was evangelism and encouraging people to share the message.  Especially in the mainline church people are aware that our sharing our faith is often misconstrued - and seen as criticism and self righteousness or is interpreted as (and sometimes actually is) an attempt to get people to come to church and share the financial burden!. 

What I like in this reading is the phrase the "wondrously powerful and transformingly present words and deeds of Christ in me that triggered a believing response among outsiders."  What I have learned  is  often the most effective "message" for me was in the moment when I was present to another person in difficult times.  Frequently people will say - "I will never forget when you said......." something and of course, I have certainly forgotten.  I really believe that it is not me who shares the message but somehow it is the spirit of God at work within me.

As I sit where I am now in my life, I think that expressing love - often through listening - is probably the best way to "share the message" of God who is present and who loves us no matter what.  I thnk about the things we would do - advertising, passing out leaflets or wrapping paper, knocking on doors and I wonder what difference it makes.  It seems to me that this is not at all what works - but instead there is something about being present and open to being guided by God.  It is a mystery but at the same time - we have to at least be ready to share of ourselves and what we know to be true about a life centered on spirit.  Even though I am a pastor, I still feel constrained at times and reticent about talking seriously and sincerely about my faith.  It is easier in this blog perhaps.

My prayer today is that somehow I may be a little less inhibited and a little more open to allowing God to help me to love, to listen and to when the time comes - share the message.  Trusting that if I am aware and open that the words will be given to me and they'll get the message.

Here is a prayer by Maxine Shonk

May you be blessed by the God of SINCERITY.
May you approach God without pretense or hypocrisy and may God reveal to you the place that is
authentic, genuine, and faithful.
May God cut through to the heart of you where the Divine "I Am" awaits your arrival.
May this true self be the one you present to those who people your life.
May the God of SINCERITY  be with you.


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