This sermon was given by our Reader Christine on Sunday 15 July 2018.
During the last few weeks, others and myself have found ourselves listening to and reading about how people have answered God’s call on their lives to serve him and his people, which has not always been easy.
It began at Espresso Church with a lady called Dawn who is an ALM at St. Andrew’s Church, Hillock and who has chosen to focus on Youth and children’s work. She told us she usually declines invitations to speak publicly, because she gets so nervous, but she felt God was calling her to accept the invitation as someone may need to hear her story of how God had called, poked and pushed her until she listened. Her story certainly highlighted some of the obstacles people can face when they explore their calling.
As it happens, Dawn is also a Scout leader and my daughter who lives in Whitefield was searching for a Scout group for her two boys near her home. They have now joined her troop – so at least one of us at Espresso church that night needed to hear from her!
Sue, last Sunday, explained how her journey had not been an easy one, she had faced many stumbling blocks, but she had the feeling that things were not right within her and she needed to explore how she could answer God’s call. She knew she had to explore and discover if the feeling within her could be put right. She now feels she is on the right path.
Later in the afternoon, I went to the licensing of four New Readers at the Cathedral. The Sermon was delivered by Avril Scott (Reader Chaplain) and she also spoke about how God had called, not just her but the Readers who were to be licensed.
I would like to read just one of those testimonies by Pete Haslam,
“After becoming more involved in church life over the last ten years, which started with me joining my PCC and then moving on to becoming warden, I felt I was being directed by the Spirit to a form of ministry. This was reiterated by my incumbent who discussed with me the possibilities of Ordination or Lay ministry. Having chosen the latter, the Reader course has given me the opportunities to enhance my personality, deepen my faith and change me into the person God wants me to be. The Readers in training whom I have grown to know have now become very good friends and I know we will stay in touch. The course has allowed time for a great home and study balance and has been an experience to enrich me in my journey of faith”.
God has been calling people since time began. The Old Testament is full of people answering God’s call to be prophets, leaders and even kings.
Amos was one of those people who was quite content to get on with his day job as a herdsman and dresser of Sycamore trees, but when God called him he left, he was ready and answered. And just out of curiosity I found out that a Sycamore tree in Israel is also referred to as a mulberry fig as it produces small edible fruit. A dresser of Sycamore trees was someone whose job it was to puncture the fruit of the tree before it was gathered to help with the ripening process.
However, when Amos got God’s call he up and left and as dangerous as his message was he took it to the people of Israel. Amaziah in the reading we have just heard is particularly upset by Amos’ prophesy and without consulting the king he asks Amos to leave Bethel. This could be because Amaziah is supported by the king and Amos’ message would have significant and direct repercussions for him.
Paul was also reluctant to do God’s bidding at first, but he answered the call after a dramatic event that he just couldn’t ignore. He then went on to establish churches in Corinth, Ephesus and Galatia.
We know he wrote quite a few letters and visited the churches when he could. In the reading we have today Paul, is writing to a mainly Gentile audience and he is praising God because, this once divided people have become one, but he also recognises how difficult it is for two groups, who used to be at odds with each other religiously, to live together as one. So, he reminds the people that they/we are adopted children of God and through Jesus Christ we have salvation, redemption and forgiveness for they have been “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit which is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people”. A seal, which could be interpreted as Baptism.
Of course, Baptism during Paul’s time would definitely remind people about John the Baptist who had baptised many people and John’s calling began even before he was even born.
John, I feel, doesn’t always get a lot of mention in the Gospels, but he must have been a truly remarkable prophet, particularly going up against one of the most powerful men of his time, Herod.
I would imagine Jesus would probably have shared John’s views. After all Herod was, supposed to set a good example and what he had done was against the law and both John and Jesus died because they challenged those in power.
The people God chooses are often ordinary everyday people going through life gently, but when God calls they sometimes find it hard to listen. It could be because they don’t feel worthy or they don’t feel they’re the right people, but God uses all of us in different ways and he equips us with what we need to take on the task. Sometimes we may struggle to discern exactly where God wants us to be, but he doesn’t give up, he seems to prod and push people until we listen to him and eventually say, “ok what do you want me to do?”
However, being a Christian is not always easy and being called for a specific purpose can be even harder especially with all the demands of present day.
Everybody has gifts, skills and talents, even our young people who will sometimes mystify us with their innocence remarks or questions and our not so young ones with their wisdom.
Each and every one of us are called by God, not necessarily to be ministers, but cleaners, flower arrangers, treasurer, magazine editor, teacher, role models. There are many ways to serve God, to take his message outside these walls, to be examples of the Christian faith to those we meet and in the words of a book I’m presently reading, “If you want to walk on water you’ve got to get out of the boat.” We can’t always expect people to come to us, to come to church we need to invite people and speak to them about the Gospel message. And when God calls be ready to answer and follow Him.
- Let us pray:
- Give us grace, O Lord, not only to hear thy Word with our ears,
- but also to receive it into our hearts and to show it forth in our lives;
- for the glory of thy great name.
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
Christine Hardy, Reader