We are Called.

These thoughts were offered at Franklin United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 15, 2018. This message was based upon a reading from Acts 2:41-47.  This is the final of three messages in a series entitled “Called.”
     I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here.

“What do you do?”  Depending upon where I’m at, I might answer that question slightly differently.  My answer may also depend upon who is asking.

Around town, at the library or as I meet people in restaurants and on the Franklin Town Common, I tell people who ask that I’m the new pastor of Franklin United Methodist Church downtown.

When one of my daughters is throwing a tantrum at the checkout line of the grocery store because we are not getting icy pops for a snack this week and the clerk is making small talk to diffuse the situation, I might say I’m a stressed out father who would greatly appreciate some speedy service so that I can get home diffuse the situation and give my daughters dinner.

When people ask, “what do you do?” The way I answer is defined by my context.  Its tricky telling people who you are, especially if you’re a pastor.

The U.K. evangelist, Rev. J. John explains….

“How to Explain What You Do, When You’re a Pastor,” YouTube.com (November 13, 2014), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6TGxKvSqH8, accessed July 14, 2018.

 

What do you do? Sometimes what we do can be confused by the titles we use and have.  Sometimes the titles we use are not apt descriptors of what we actually do.  Perhaps, you’ve heard the old adage if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it must be a duck; well, I may call myself a duck, but I don’t quack or waddle.

What we do speaks more about what we are than the descriptors and titles we may use to describe ourselves.  What we do—with our time, talent, and resources—is a better descriptor of who we are than the words we may use to describe ourselves.

If someone were to look at your life—the things you’ve done or attempted to do—what would they say you do? Who would they say you are?

Think back over the past 24- or 48-hours?  What have you done and how is that (or not) an accurate description of what you hope to do and be?

If someone were to look at the things you’ve done in the past day, week, or month, what would they say you are?

In our lesson for today, we get the first description, in the book of Acts, of the early church and what they did.

“They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers… They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home [together], every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God” (Acts 2:42, 46-47a, The Message).

The early church was defined by their commitment to live life together—worshipping God, eating, and praying together.  They committed themselves to a common life, spending time together learning from God’s word, sharing meals, communing with God and one another. these practices, these do-ings, defined them and their commitment to follow Christ.  This is what it means, to follow Christ, to live into a new community that models the love of God for the world.

In his Notes on Acts 2:42, John Wesley observes that the early church “continued steadfast—So their daily Church communion consisted in these four particulars: Hearing the word; Having all things in common; Receiving the Lord’s Supper; Prayer.” He then ends the note with a limerick: “Ye diff’rent sects, who all declare, Lo here is Christ, and Christ is there; Your stronger proofs divinely give, And show me where the Christians live!”[1]  It is in our living and doing together, as a community, that we make manifest the good news that God’s love has come and is transforming the world.  It is in our doing that we prove who and what we are as followers of Jesus.

I really like the way the Book of Discipline puts it:

The people of God, who are the church made visible in the world, must convince the world of the reality of the gospel or leave it unconvinced.  There can be no evasion or delegation of this responsibility; the church is either faithful as a witness and serving community, or it loses its vitality and its impact on an unbelieving world.[2]

We are called to community—to live life together, to read and discuss the Word, share meals and pray together—in order that we might convince the world of the reality of the gospel; demonstrating that God’s love has truly come and is transforming us and the world around us; breaking down the walls that separate us and empowering us to live and work for the good of all.

We are called to be a community that shares a common life such that we each can live out our call to follow Christ and share our gifts for the sake of the world.

As we live out our call together—as we read and discuss scripture, as we break bread (around communion tables and dining room tables), and as we pray together—we will each be able to more fully live out our own call.

I am called.  You are called.  We are called together.
In our time together, may we each learn to be faithful to it and help others along the Way.

Amen.

 


[1] “John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible,” Acts 2:42, from Wesley Center Online, http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/john-wesleys-notes-on-the-bible/, accessed July 6, 2018.

[2] para. 130, “Faithful Ministry,” The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church—2016 (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 2016), p98.

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