Sermons

Summary: A renewed mind finds energy in working because it discerns God’s will, thinks in terms of service, and focuses on the meaning of the Cross.

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In 1960, John Kennedy was running for the presidency, and was campaigning near a coal mine in West Virginia. One of the miners put a series of questions to Kennedy:

"Is it true that your father is one of the wealthiest men in the world?" Kennedy admitted that this was true.

"Well, then, is it also true that you’ve always had everything you’ve wanted?” Again Kennedy admitted that this was true.

The miner’s voice got louder, and his pitch got higher, "Then is it also true that you’ve never done a day’s work with your hands in your whole life?" Kennedy gulped a little, but blurted out, "Yes."

The coal miner drew himself up to his full height, took a deep breath, looked the would-be president straight in the eye, and spit it out, "Then let me tell you something. You haven’t missed a thing!"

Work. Work. For all of our fabled Washington workaholism, we are not all that excited about work. We want to work, and yet we don’t want to work. We want the paycheck and we hope for decent working conditions: but not everyone gets fulfillment out of his work. Not everyone finds her work compelling and life-shaping. Work is something about which we have mixed feelings. And for a lot of folks, if you haven’t been working, well, "you haven’t missed a thing."

Some people approach their work as if it were an unbearable burden. They act as if working is just about to kill them. Some people seem to carry the weight of their work as if it were two tons of dead meat, smelling to high heaven. And I am talking not only about those who have jobs to go to: I am even talking about retired people. Even people with no jobs can feel burdened when you ask them to accept some responsibility. Everything is just a big, dead weight; everything is just a problem, I’m tired, I can’t handle any more. Get off my back. Whew!

I have several friends like that. Minister friends. Now some of you think that ministers have it easy; all we have to do is stand up for twenty minutes on Sunday and scream, right? Well, I have several friends in the ministry who do nothing but whine and complain about how burdensome their job is, how it squeezes all the juice out of them, how unreasonable the people are. Wheeze and whine, moan and groan. Even ministers, in my experience, find their work an unpleasant weight, and, if you’ve never had to do it, "Well, you haven’t missed a thing!"

But there is another side. There is another approach to work. There are people with entirely different attitudes. People who thrive on their work ... again, whether it is work for which they get paid or whether it is volunteer service or maybe just taking care of their families. There are people who never feel the weight. They get a lift from somewhere, they have some wind beneath their wings, they gain energy rather than lose energy when they work. The more they have to do, the happier they are. There are people, and, thank God, this church has some of them, who are ready to say "Yes" to the tasks life brings, and who embrace those tasks with joy and with energy.


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