Who Will Go for Us [Sermon]

My dad bought a boat.

We used it for fishing and for water skiing.

My brother was very good at water skiing: he quickly went from two skis to a single ski.

I, on the other hand, had a lot of trouble even getting up on skis.

One day I finally got up on the skis.

We were in northern Minnesota, where there are biting flies.
And a horse fly landed on my back and started biting.

I instinctively used my right hand to slap the fly, and at the moment it hit my back, I realized I only had one hand on the rope. There seemed to be no time between then and when my hand was back on the rope.

Let’s go to God in prayer.
God of wisdom, may the words that I speak, and the ways they are received by each of our hearts and minds, help us to continue to grow into the people, and the church, that you have dreamed us to be.
Amen.

Last week was Pentecost when we remember how the Spirit moved among the disciples of Jesus. It’s considered the birthday of the church.

The church began quite small.
The church was persecuted by established religions, governments, any group who saw it as a threat.

And yet the church grew.

As the church became institutionalized, it began to create rules about who was in and who was out. When there was disagreement, there were splits: a big schism in 1054, and the splintering that began with the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century.

Now there are only a few isolated groups of people who haven’t heard of Christianity.

So we’re pretty much done, right? No need for missionaries, no need for prophets, no need for apostles.

But remember the ways Christianity has been fractured? There are a lot of expressions of Christianity, and some are more conspicuous than others.

Is our expression of Christianity well represented?

I think one of the struggles for progressive Christianity is that our belief in the value of diversity leads us to a less assertive, even timid testimony.

In the face of a very confident, assertive, self-assured testimony from someone who is certain that their way is the one true way, our voices can be hard to hear.

So who among us is called to be heard?

THE PASTOR OF COURSE!

Well, yes. But not only the pastor.

All Christians are called to “go into all the world and preach the good news.” That may be expressed in may different ways.

Most of us won’t be called to stand in a busy intersection with a megaphone.

But we can be a witness in many other ways:

  • We can write articles for newspapers and other publications.
  • We can speak with people we meet.
  • We can put bumper stickers on out cars hat express things we believe to be true.
  • We can live our lives by the principles of our faith.

But who is good enough?

There’s a saying that “God doesn’t call the equipped: God equips the called.”

I think this saying gets overused.

God doesn’t call people with no musical proficiency or interest to become a Christian recording artist and then miraculously give them musical ability.

God doesn’t call people who struggle with writing or speaking to be writers and preachers and then miraculously equip them with power to proclaim the word.

We do have to work with the gifts we have.

And so we will find ourselves called to ministries in which we have some aptitude and interest.

But yes, once we answer such a calling, God will equip us for that specific expression. We see this in our reading in Isaiah. The prophet says

Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips;
yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:5, NRSVue

Isaiah does not feel equipped.

And then

“one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal
that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
The seraph touched my mouth with it and said:
“Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”

Isaiah 6:5-8, NRSVue

Isaiah did not feel good enough.
And yet God made him good enough.

It’s important to accept that we are good enough before we can get to the next step:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
And I said,
“Here am I; send me!”

For a long time I did not believe I could water ski, and it held me back from what I was able to do. Once I had done it, I knew it was possible – even one-handed.

As long as we judge ourselves to be inadequate to the task, we will never say “Here am I; send me!”

We have to recognize that we, too, are called to share the Good News in the ways we have been gifted, the Good News of a grace that is more powerful than any of our mistakes and failures, a love that is more powerful than any fear.

So my challenge this week is for each of us to prayerfully consider what gifts we have that could be use to proclaim a message of God’s love and grace for all.

It’s okay if they’re not very developed: there can be growth on the way.

We don’t have to be perfect, just good enough, and to know that with God, we can do what we are called to do.

May we all be ready to say
“Here I am, Lord.”

Amen.


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