Summary: Sermon for a new associate pastor!

How many of you remember, on August the 5th, the bus crash that killed two people and injured band students on both buses? The news reported the 2 buses, with high school band students, were going to an amusement park when they slammed into a freeway wreck that happened right in front of them, crushing a pickup truck and killing its driver and one of the students.

This wreck near Gray Summit, about 40 miles west of St. Louis, happened when a pickup truck rear-ended a semi cab that had slowed down because it was nearing a construction zone, state police said. The first bus, which was carrying female band members from John F. Hodge High in St. James, slammed into the back of the pickup, and then was launched on top of it after it was rear-ended by the second bus.

Highway Patrol Cpl. Jeff Wilson said the driver of the first bus moved into the passing lane to give a distressed vehicle in the shoulder more room. She was checking her rearview mirror while returning to the right-hand lane when she noticed the first impact but could not stop in time, hitting the pickup. The second bus then rear-ended the first, vaulting the first bus onto the top of the pickup, which was crushed.

Wilson said it was too soon to say if any of the drivers would face charges.

Now I haven’t heard anymore about this tragedy, but I would like for us to listen again to what was recorded from the officer “the first bus moved into the passing lane to give a distressed vehicle in the shoulder more room. She was checking her rearview mirror while returning to the right-hand lane when she noticed the first impact but could not stop in time, hitting the pickup.”

Have you ever done something you believed to be exactly correct and then have someone question your ability or maybe the authority or accuracy of your decisions? You’ve done everything by the book and yet people still question if you could have done more?

I know a pastor who tells a story of his young journey into the ministry. The story goes like this… upon returning to church after a weekend retreat that spiritually moved him to the core; he had a new found enthusiasm and love for God that wasn’t shared by the rest of the church. This person was so grateful for the forgiveness he had found and the understanding that he, himself, was the main obstacle to God’s grace in his life; he promised God he would do all he could for everyone, and he meant everyone: the addict, wife beater, murder, sex offenders, trailer trash, you name it and he wanted to use his home church to reach far out, far beyond the norm. This would mean having a since of urgency, though, and surprisingly to him, it was met with opposition! This lay person, at the time, during a church board meeting, stood up and boldly shared that he would no longer tithe to the church, instead he would spend his money separately in ministry through the church. Then no one could say what would or wouldn’t be done in ministry because of the fear of losing or spending their precious money! Ironically, this very lay person just a few short years later became their pastor. God definitely has a sense of humor! I believe we Methodist’s call it Sanctifying Grace! Jesus said the first shall be last and the last shall be first, meaning to be a leader you must be a servant!

Read Acts 15: 36-40

So you why did I pick the character of Silas? We read in scripture Silas was a leader in his church, but when he joined Paul; he became a servant and a subordinate. So the reason I picked him is to answer a question presented to me about my position on staff here at St. Paul and my loyalty to Sister Mary.

Scriptures tell us Paul had a falling out over John Mark, so, when Silas was presented, we have no record of Paul questioning his authenticity, desire or dedication. I believe scripture affirms that Paul was a Spirit led man, prayerfully seeking God’s guidance, giving God credit for every idea, acknowledging that God is in control. I have to believe Silas’s arrival wasn’t a surprise for him. I would assume it was answered prayer, acknowledgment of God providing, but definitely, not a coincidence. I, too, do not believe in coincidences. It isn’t by chance that I’m here with you today or serving you in the roles that I do. No more than is it a coincident that Larry Berry is our lay leader, Paul Overstreet our SPRC chair, Jeff Roberts chair of Administration Council, Sister Mary, our Senior Pastor, and all the roles each of you do. Paul and Silas give us a model that shows, only when a group of leaders is willing to be used by God and unified in following His vision, will exciting things happen. Paul and Silas were unified in their ministry and in their prayer life, in their authenticity, their desire and dedication. We, too, must seek this same unity!

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