I remember when I sat in the pews as a lay member that often by Monday morning I would forget what was proclaimed on Sunday.
There were many reasons for this. Partly it was because I would get so distracted with things on Sunday evening that I never took the time to reflect upon what was said, but, too, there was seldom an opportunity to take the sermon beyond what was proclaimed and carry it forward.
That limits our ability to be the church and share the love of Christ beyond Sunday morning, or at least it did for me.
So, how can we carry forward the message and truly apply it into our lives and missional activity? Let’s think about it through the lens of what we reflected upon Sunday.
In our sermon, we focused on the story of the feeding of the 5,000. We looked at how Jesus had compassion for the large crowd that gathered around him, even to the point of meeting their needs for food when the hour was late. At the same time, he called the disciples to meet the needs, themselves, by using the resources they had to bless others. Jesus calls us to do the same and meet the needs of the people around us with what we have.
How do we do this?
First, we need to recognize that there are needs all around us and be compassionate and empathetic towards other. It is easy to only focus in upon ourselves and what we are dealing with. It is much harder, at times, to give our full attention to the needs of others and be empathetic to their concerns. If we are going to meet the needs of others, we have to pay attention to the struggles people have that may not be common to our own experience.
We can do this in a number of ways. We can pay attention to the news and the coverage of certain events. We can drive with our eyes open and look to see where there are needs around us. More importantly, though, we can listen deeply when others are talking about their stories.
We also need to recognize what resources we have for ministry. The gifts, talents, and resources that we have are exactly what God has blessed us with in order for us to love God, grow in faith, and serve the Lord. They are not the resources too primarily fatten our checking accounts or to live in excess, but they are they tools given to us to enable care and grace to be with shared with all people.
So, we have to ask ourselves what do we have, but also how could we use what we have been given to help others? How could our cooking skills, for instance, help care for someone in need? How could our business acumen help someone to get through a bad financial situation or, even, to budget their finances better? How could we use an ability to build items to improve the quality of life for someone else?
Ultimately, though, we need to think outside the box. We do this by seeing that there is more that God can do in us and through us than what we imagine. We have to be willing to dream about what could be and be willing to take a risk into the unknown. Our sermon for this coming Sunday will focus in on that very idea. How do we live with faith and not fear? We do not want to hold ourselves back, but imagine where might God be leading us to care for others.
These are just starting points. There are other areas of conversations that could be had and, possibly, should be had as we seek to meet the needs of our communities. So, how can we do that?