Readings for the day:
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the risen Christ. Amen.
This week we conclude our 5 week study on the letter of 1 Peter. We began with discussing how our faith is tested through the trials of this life. And how through those trials we are to trust God. And God calls us to not just sit around but actually do something for the sake of his gospel – the Good News of Jesus. But we are only called to do such a thing because God first claimed us through the waters of baptism and made us holy. Now this week we end our study with putting all of this into action. The theme this week is that we are “A Proclaiming People.” We don’t just sit and listen, we get up and do something about it. If someone told you that the toilet in your house wasn’t working properly, you wouldn’t just sit there and go, “Oh!” No, you would do something about it! You’d fix it yourself or you’d call someone who could. To proclaim something means to say or declare something. It can also mean to clearly show something. God calls us to not be couch potatoes, but proclaiming people! We are called to not just sit and hear God’s word, but to turn around now and proclaim that word to people in our community!
A 2008 research showed that the amount of adults in the United States that don’t claim to be part of ANY religion has been on the rise; 20 million to be exact. In 2008 there were 20 million more adults than in 1990 that claimed they don’t identify with any religion; that is a span of only 18 years. I would say that we have a pretty big mission field right in our front lawn. But what are we doing about it? Are we reaching out to the community, making our presence known and dare I say – evangelizing? I wonder if our evangelism is like this story:
After being appointed to the church’s evangelism and outreach committee, one particular member was quite nervous at having to make visits. His pastor comforted him by suggesting that he pray. His pastor said, “If you spend a few minutes talking with God prior to visiting someone, it should help.” When the committee met again, the nervous parishioner approached the pastor and said, “Thank you so much for suggesting prayer. I tried it before I went on my visit and it really worked!” The pastor responded, “I’m so pleased to hear that. Why don’t you share your experience with the rest of the committee so others may know of the power of prayer?” He replied, “Well, I prayed that the people wouldn’t be home, and they weren’t.”
I think much of our hesitation to try something new or get out of our comfort zone is the fear of being rejected. Of course no one likes to be rejected, but if we take no risk there can be no gain. God doesn’t want you to just sit here and listen, he wants you to listen and then go out and do what you have been called to do – proclaim. And what are you to proclaim? Proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. You do this through your words and your actions. What are we as St. Peter/Trinity/Waverly saying? And even more so, what actions are we doing that the people in and around Ceylon/Welcome/Trimont are getting curious about this church and more specifically curious about this faith that we have in Jesus Christ? Anything?
Remember the message last week, God claimed you through the waters of baptism to be his child, to be given a name and to be considered holy, set apart from the rest. You already are a child of God. No matter what happens from this day forward, you indeed are and will always be a child of God. Even if you get rejected, insulted, misunderstood – no one can take that identity away from you. You will ALWAYS be a child of God.
Today we have a lot of people from the Ceylon/Welcome/Trimont area who are missing today. Many of them you probably already know. How about instead of sitting here and wondering where all the people are at, let’s invite them and give them a reason to come and see what it’s all about to be a chosen, child of God.
The writer of 1 Peter tells his readers, “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.” Let it be known that you have hope for the future because you are one of God’s children. Let it be shown to the people in this town that there is something wonderful about our faith in Jesus…we have peace, support and love. Always be ready to share this news with others. There’s nothing to fear for you already have the words to tell – just tell your story. Tell someone why church is important to you, why it gives you such joy to believe in Jesus. Tell someone!
Remember, it truly is the Holy Spirit doing all of the work. The Holy Spirit is just working through you. And if you do get rejected for sharing your own story, don’t worry, don’t fear, for you will be in good company with many other saints who have been rejected. And of course, Jesus himself was rejected because of the message that he delivered. You are one of God’s own people, claimed and chosen, and you will never be rejected by God. Amen!
© 2014 Anthony Christoffels. Used with permission.