The St. John’s Pulpit
St. John’s Baptist Church 300 Hawthorne Lane Charlotte, NC 28204
SERVANT CHURCH: WE WILL BE A MISSIONAL CHURCH
Micah 6:6-8 and Gospel of Luke 4:16-21
Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost, November 3, 2019
by Senior Minister, Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD
Every Sunday morning, Kevin Lynch arrives at Hope Chapel and greets those who arrive. Most – but not all – of the men and women who arrive are homeless. WHY does Kevin do this? If you ask Kevin, “why?” he will say, “I love it. I see evidence of God at work every week.”
Most of you know of our connection with Hope Chapel and more than 40 other partners. You know we provide shelter, feed the hungry, care for children and promote peacebuilding. But, do you know you are feeding thousands of Syrian refugees in Lebanon today? Do you know you are supplying funds for tents to finance Baptist churches in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as they shelter people fleeing the violence of raids and ethnic cleansings? Do you know you are helping hurricane victims in Puerto Rico? Do you know you are supporting hundreds of ministries around the globe through partnerships with Alliance of Baptists, Baptist World Alliance and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship?
Because we are busy doing so much good, we usually focus on the next activity on the calendar, the next volunteer need, the next emphasis. And, most of the time, we do not ask,
“Do we understand WHY we are doing this?”
“We have been doing this for a very long time; do we remember WHY we started doing this?” “How does this express our mission of Actively Faithful Faithfully Active living?”
“How does this connect the mission of our lives with the mission of God through the mission of Christ’s Church being lived out as St. John’s in our 21st century context of Charlotte?”
“Where do we sense God is at work in today’s world?”
“Where do I sense God at work in my life? How is God calling me to serve in today’s world?”
The early Church did not have a mission resource team or mission partners. How did they decide what to do and why to do it? Possibly they remembered the words of Micah we read this morning, “…do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” Or, maybe they told one another about Jesus introducing his ministry in his hometown synagogue of Nazareth by reading this passage from Isaiah.
And, maybe they recalled the words of Jesus: “As my Father has sent me, so send I you?”
If they understood they were sent into the world by Jesus in the same way that Jesus was sent into the world by God, the Father, they might have paraphrased John 3:16-17,
“For Jesus so loved the world that he sent his followers into the world to be his servant people continuing his ministry so that whosoever was touched by the love of God flowing through them would experience and respond to God’s Spirit, not a Spirit of condemnation, but a Spirit of compassion which leads to the pathway of salvation for themselves and all creation.”
JUST AS JESUS HAD A MISSION, JESUS GIVES TO US A MISSION.
In our St. John’s Covenant, we include these words:
“We will be a servant church, recognizing the infinite worth of every person and believing that Christ has called us to active involvement in behalf of human brotherhood.”
We should not just do this; we should ask why and how:
Why are we committed to be a servant church?
Why do we recognize the infinite worth of every person?
Why do we believe Christ calls us to active involvement on behalf of the common good?
How must church membership be different in a servant church?
How do we orient members to follow Jesus as servants, as vocational disciples, as
Ministers in Daily Life?
Beloved, today, I call you to renew yourselves to mission in Christ’s Way; I call you to covenant renewal; to take up a basin and towel so you can follow Jesus the servant.
Here is the good news:
We have identified 241 different persons who are already involved in community service through St. John’s.
In addition, we have about 50 members who are able to be involved by writing notes of encouragement and offering prayer support.
This means we still have more than 200 persons who need to become involved in this aspect of our church – our Servant Church.
Our Mission Resource Team wants to help you renew this commitment.
Therefore, this morning, as you depart this sanctuary, you will find members of our Mission Resource Team at the doors.
They will have copies of this booklet, MT25, which they have prepared for you.
MT25 is our way of recalling Jesus’ words: “…as you did it to one of the least of these, who
are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)
You will find information on more than 30 ways you can become involved in service and
whom to contact to become actively faithful in this servant church.
You will also find a card you can place in the offering plate on any future Sunday.
Just as Jesus was sent into this world with a purpose, a mission, so Jesus sends you.
I like the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu who describes God’s mission in this way:
“Dear Children of God, before we can become God’s partners, we must know what God wants for us. ‘I have a dream,’ God says. ‘Please help Me to make it reality. It is a dream of a world whose ugliness and squalor and poverty, its war and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are changed into their glorious counterparts, when there will be more laughter, joy, and peace, where there will be justice and goodness and compassion and love and caring and sharing.
I have a dream that swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, that My children will know that they are members of one family, the human family, My family.’”
Living God, may Your mission be our mission! Amen and AMEN!