Summary: This is the third sermon on the Methodist General Rules "By attending on the ordinances of God.
On shows like PBS’s "This Old House", or "Trading Spaces" and with someone like Bob Vela as the host, we often see the renovation of old houses. Houses that are in need of repair; houses that are in need of being modernized; houses that just over time haven’t been given the attention that they need. Not necessarily are these dilapidated houses, but they could easily become this if they didn’t get some very necessary attention.
Shows like PBS’s "This Old House" often act as teachers showing others how to undertake a restoration project; how to put up trim; install new sealed windows, etc. These kinds of shows involve both the aspect of teaching and learning.
In our Scripture story today we find a story in which King Hezekiah was sick, and the prophet Isaiah comes to him and says simply before you die "set your house in order" (vs 1). Isaiah assumes the role of prophet and teacher and confronts the sick Hezekiah to be ready to die. It is then up to Hezekiah to decide whether or not he will simply remain the same, or learn and grow, following the instruction of Isaiah. He will have to decide whether or not he will "set his house in order" or simply leave it in its present condition. He will have to decide either to renovate his house, or simply leave it in its present condition.
I have been speaking the last few weeks on John Wesley’s General Rules for Methodist Societies. John Wesley was a great teacher of "methods" for living a faithful life. This life was to be lived out in a society or fellowship of believers, and for these societies Wesley had three general rules:
The first being: "Do no harm, and avoid evil of every kind"; secondly by "doing good of every possible sort, and as far as possible to all". That brings us to the third rule "By attending upon all the ordinances of God". Wesley becomes the teacher and tells us how to keep a closer relationship with God: "By attending upon all the ordinances of God." By setting your house in order Hezekiah. By transforming "this old house" into a new one! By under taking a renovation and restoration project.
II. (1) The "Durango Herald" reports a story about Sean McMullen. "I don’t think he’d ever buy a new house," his wife, Kirsten McMullen, said. "He’d only buy an old house and renovate it. He just loves to do it." Among Sean’s restoration projects was the restoration of a Church. "The McMullens first heard of the plight of the St. Andrew Avellino Church in an article in the Pagosa Sun. The church was in Juanita, about 18 miles south of Pagosa Springs at the confluence of the San Juan and Navajo rivers. The church was one of six mission churches affiliated with the Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, located in Pagosa Springs."
I want you to see a picture of the Church when McMullen purchased it and moved it to Pagosa Springs (show picture). (Search the Durango Herald archives for this story and pictures)
Actually this picture doesn’t even do it justice, but you can see from this picture the decay and dilapidation; the cracks between the boards, the rotting wood. It is what happens when over time attention is not paid; and upkeep is not made; and the "price is not paid" to keep "this old house" in working order. "Through the years, the church had been vandalized, riddled with bullet holes and set on fire by juvenile delinquents and vagrants. Faced with the prospect of razing the building, the (owner)... turned it over last year to McMullen, who promised to move and restore it. "It was in trouble," Sean McMullen said. "It wouldn’t have stood another winter."
And isn’t is sad that a Church building would find itself in such a state. Though I have to be brutally honest, our facilities, our Sunday School Building in particular is long over due in need of a renovation and transformation project. I would hate to think that someone would enter that building and believe for a minute that this is how we feel about God, let alone that they might see it and then turn straight away and go somewhere else to worship. Because you see how we care for God’s buildings must certainly reflect upon our relationship and our stewardship for and with God. And I have long cried and asked us to do something with the Sunday School Building, and my friends, the time is right, the time is now as we approach a proposal by the Building Study Committee to "SET THE HOUSE IN ORDER". Or as Wesley put it, to "attending upon all the ordinances of God".
And while I mentioned the building briefly, and have drawn correlation to the renovation of an "old house", calling to your attention the condition of this Church in Pagosa Springs, CO... what Wesley was talking about was our spiritual condition; the spiritual condition of this "house", so to speak, in which we live. The spiritual condition of the temple. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you. If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him..." (1 Cor 3:16-17). In other words do not let the temple of God fall into a run down, dilapidated condition. Do not let sin reign, and run, and ruin the temple, but rather "attend upon all the ordinances of God."