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Summary: EPIPHANY 3, YEAR C - Everyone has a place in God’s church and a gift to share with one another.

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INTRODUCTION

Since coming to New Hartford Rosemary and I have had the pleasure of visiting many of your homes. In fact just last week a couple from church invited us over to their home for dinner Sunday evening. As a part of that invitation I was told to tell Rosemary that we were to bring our bathing suits so that after dinner we could all soak in their hot tub. Of course I remembered to tell Rosemary about the hot tub after we had already arrived at the Jones. Too late to turn around and go back now. I told them that it had just slipped my mind. When if the truth is to be told, I know what I look like in a bathing suit and it’s not a pretty sight. Are you dissatisfied with how you look? Welcome to the club. We all live in a society that is fixated on appearance. There are diet plans galore for those who feel that they are over weight. There are exercise programs and machines for those who wish to tone or buff up. There is even plastic surgery for those not satisfied with the face God gave them. Things have gotten so bad in our country that instead of teenagers asking that 60’s question “who am I?,” now they are asking, “who do I want look like?” A few years ago this obsession was picked up in a Mondona video hit song called “The Vogue.” Named after the Vogue magazine’s super model runway renditions. (Do a little model walking)

As you can see I don’t stack up to today’s supermodels. And that’s the problem isn’t it?

Not many of us do stack up to super models. The Models don’t look like us. The actors don’t look like us. Next to people such as that most people feel inferior. And this sense of inadequacy can spill over even into the church. Some of you may look at me and say, “I wish I could stand up in front of people and talk like pastor Greg.” Or you might be like me and upon listening to Halyna’s playing say, I wish I could play like that.” We can all feel at times inadequate when comparing ourselves to those around us. We may all wonder at times, “what do I have to offer God’s church that would compeer to those around me?” But then this is not a new problem for the church. This comparison between one Christian and the next is exactly the problem Paul was facing with the Corinthians. In the church at Corinth there were those who saw themselves as spiritually superior to others because of the spiritual gifts they possessed. And on the other hand, there were those who looked down upon themselves and others because they lacked those spiritual gifts seen as the top

of the line. In the church at Corinth there were the super saints and the not-so-super saints. And this distinction was causing havoc. For this reason in addressing the Corinthians Paul writes,

"For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose."

When it comes to spiritual gifts, says Paul, you Corinthians have got it all wrong. Spiritual gifts are not about spiritual maturity or spiritual superiority. Nor is it even about how much faith you have. Spiritual gifts are not about you at all. They are not given for your personal use nor are they given because of who you are. But then, why are spiritual gifts given? Do you like the displays we have in our windows? (Department 56 Churches in snow covered landscape scenes) They were made by the husband of one of our members.. A while ago they had us over their house for Sunday lunch. While there they showed us their upstairs room where the husband has his electric racing cars. In the basement they showed us his model rockets, boats and a trains set that took up half of the basement. When I saw all of the toys all I could do was go “Wow.” For all of us little boys in men’s bodies it was heaven. A little while ago James got the chance of a life time he was hired to rebuild racing cars for the Skip Barber Racing School. In his new job he works on what they call school cars, used for training racing car drivers. Formula RT 2000 cars, used in minor racing. And finally on Barber Dodge cars, which are similar to those used in the Indi 500 circuit. After 18 months of wear and tear , any one of these three types of cars might come back to the crew James serves on for body work or to have their motors rebuilt. Whatever needs doing, Jame’s repair team does it to get those cars up and running again. That is the purpose of Spiritual gifts. To establish the Church as a spiritual repair shop. A place where: the sick can be healed; the broken can be put back together again; those who despair may find hope; those who imprisoned by their sin may find release; those who find themselves far from God may discover their way back home. And the wonder of it all is that God has chosen those who have been broken to bring healing to the broken. Those who have experienced fear to offer the perfect love of God that casts out all fear. Those who have known the darkest doubt to share the faith in Christ that can not be shaken.

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