Summary: The first in a series of stewardship sermons with the theme of being Christ to our community.
“Being Christ to Our Community:
Jesus’ Mission Statement”
Two weeks ago yesterday, a number of us met here at the church at 9:30 in the morning in order to go out into our community—to the homes closest to this church building--knock on doors offer a homemade treat baked by a number of you, and ask folks if they have needs we can fulfill and if there is anything we can be in prayer for them about.
We went out in teams of two; each team taking a specific street.
We told the folks we met that we will be doing this once a month and that, if it is alright with them, we will see them again soon.
It was, honestly, a lot of fun.
The people we met were open and gracious.
We didn’t give anyone a hard sell.
We were honest about our intentions.
We are trying to get to know our neighbors, our community.
I really believe, more than anything, that a church is called, first and foremost, to serve those closest to them.
After-all, Jesus instructs us to “Love God and Love our neighbors.”
How can we expect to fulfill this commission unless we are loving those who are, quite literally, our neighbors?
God has placed YOU and ME--this congregation—on this plot of land, in this building at this address in this very time in history for a very specific reason.
We are here to be Christ to our community.
We are to reflect God’s light and love to those around us.
And the homes which surround this building are filled with people who are suffering, lonely, lost, poor in spirit and poor in the pocketbook, prisoners to their sins and addictions and unable to see any way out of the mess they are in.
In 1st Corinthians 12:27 Paul says to the Church: “you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Do we realize just how significant that statement is?
Can we even try and get our heads around it?
We are the Body of Christ that meet at 3800 Dayton Boulevard in Red Bank, Tennessee in the year 2018.
That’s you—that’s me.
That is a huge responsibility.
It’s a staggering challenge, and the greatest privilege humankind could ever know.
What a gift.
What an honor.
To squander it would be to throw the greatest treasure in the garbage heap.
And so we are to be the Body of Christ to the people created in God’s image who live on Redding Road, to our neighbors on Leawood Avenue, Tacoma Avenue, Pickering Avenue, Knollwood Hill Drive and on.
We must be more than a group of folks who meet in this building.
We must be something real, something tangible, something that pervades this community with the love of Christ.
A friend of mine used to tell his congregation, “Those people might just go to heaven because of what you do.”
It’s amazing to me, but Jesus has chosen to use us to build His Kingdom—to save this community.
Teresa of Avila put it this way long ago:
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ is to look out on a hurting world.
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which his is to bless now.”
May it be so.
Before our passage for this morning Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.
And we are told that Jesus returned from His baptism “full of the Holy Spirit” and then was led by the “Holy Spirit” into the wilderness for a time of testing as Jesus refused the pathways that the devil offered—the pathways of the world.
In the wilderness Jesus refused to be lured by wealth, power and spectacle.
Then we are told, at the beginning of our lesson for this morning, that “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee…”
And Jesus went into a synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown.
And this is where Jesus read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
“He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’”
Then Jesus rolled up the scroll and began to tell the people: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Nearly every biblical scholar worth his or her salt will tell you that in reading and interpreting these Words from Isaiah Jesus is stating His Mission.