Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Christ's Thruway

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

July 28th:

Call:    James 1: 19-25
Text:    Colossians 1: 21-28
Note:    Worshipping With Chuck - Week One

            Teach and Warn

Paul wrote:
   "And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,
      He has now reconciled
         In his fleshly body, through death
      So as to present you
And blameless
         And irreproachable before him

      That you continue
securely established and steadfast  in the faith
         Without shifting from the hope
         [that is] promised by the gospel which you heard
            Which has been proclaimed
               To every creature under heaven.

      I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel."   [1: 21-23]

Do we really grasp what Paul is saying?

He is proclaiming that in His death
   Jesus wiped our slates clean
      Leaving us - you, me, and all others -pure and blameless
And he is saying too:    that we continue that way
   So long as we remain steadfastly established in the faith and hope
that is promised in and by the gospel
      A gospel promised not just to us
But   to every creature under heaven.

You and I - and everyone else in this world -
have a chance to start fresh,
unencumbered by previous sins and failures
   And our lives will be written on that clean slate
      So long as we remain faithful.

I liked that message so much that
I selected it as my text this morning
Even though I had no idea as to how I was going to present it

However, as I read Andrew T. Lincoln's commentary on the scripture, I came to understand that:

We come together in the church
   Knowing that it is Christ - and not the church - that saves us
[And that is a good thing because
the church is made up of imperfect people
and is led by imperfect pastors.]

We come together in the church
and here I mean the universal church
- not just this congregation or denomination -
   As a community of believers
      In which the divine purpose
of God's reclaiming the entire creation
   is anticipated
   and [we come] as a reconciled and reconciling community
      through which that purpose is furthered.
That being the case, the most urgent tasks of Christians are
      First, to do their part in making the church
         A place of healing for broken relationships
         And a place
where divisions caused by
            Class, race, wealth,
            Education, age, gender,
            Nationality or religious tradition
         Are overcome

      And Second, to be an agent of peace and justice in situations of conflict,
         In the home or the workplace
         At the national or the international level.

Our focus as parts of the church
   Is to say and to do all we can
   As agitators for the values of the coming new world.
      Values like love, forgiveness, kindness, & awe of God

That gospel of the clean slate and the role of the church in responding to it
   Is the gospel to which Paul became a servant.

And it is the gospel to which you and I
   Must become servants

That servanthood  is amplified in the remainder of the text
   [1: 24-29]

Paul tells us that it is Christ that we proclaim
   Warning and teaching everyone

Paul admits that he struggles and he suffers as he attempts to do so
   But despite that, he perseveres
   And that he is enabled to do so
      By the energy Christ powerfully inspires in him.

Paul is telling us
that God wants everyone in creation to hear the story.

Paul is telling us that Christ has called him to
   Continue Christ's work on earth
   By being Christ's servant in making the word fully known to everyone
Even though Christ's servants suffer as Christ suffered

And   Paul is telling us that he can endure while doing that
   Because of the energy that that the Holy Spirit
      Powerfully inspires in him.

But the purpose of our listening to Paul's words
   Is not to celebrate Paul
      Although he certainly deserves at least a pat on the back

The purpose is to instruct us and to warn us
of what we are expected to do
If we, like Paul, want to say,
   "I became" or "I am"       "a servant of this gospel"

By Paul's words and example
We are taught that we are to share Christ's story
   With everyone
      By our words and our examples.

We are warned that in doing so,
   We too may - in fact, probably will, suffer.

Charles Wesley's words are in the hymns
which will be guiding and leading us for 6 weeks of worship
and his example shows us both the success and the suffering

After all, Wesley was often attacked as he preached
   potatoes, stones, and even excrement were thrown at him
   a sword was put to his chest
   buildings in which he preached or was to preach
      were torn down and some were burned.

And yet, he persevered and he persisted
   Obviously empowered by the same Holy Spirit
      That empowered Paul and is available to empower us

And despite all he went through, he encouraged and instructed us
By writing in 1744,
   "Ye servants of God, your master proclaim
   And publish abroad, his wonderful name"

And recognizing the fact
that it wasn't easy and that we might well suffer
he followed those words with hope and assurance
   "the name all victorious of Jesus extol
   his kingdom is glorious and rules over all."

We sang those words a few minutes ago and so I ask:
In singing them did we do so
      As persons who saw themselves as servants of God?
Or did we sing them
As mere observers of others who are Christ's servants
      Distancing ourselves
from both the suffering And the servanthood?

Are we what James, in our call to worship, warned us not to be
   "Hearers, but not doers?"
Or are we what he called us to be
   "Doers who have heard?"
Do our lives convey - not to a few, but to everyone -
   The values of love, forgiveness, kindness, and awe of God
Or do we allow our selfishness and differences to push some away

If we find ourselves afraid of the suffering required of doers
   Then we need to recall
Not only the examples of Paul and Chuck
But also the lesson we learned from the self pitying Elijah:
That we  are not alone

Chuck makes that point in our next hymn where he writes
   Our redeeming lord joins us by his grace
   That each to each we are restored
      So that TOGETHER we can seek his face.

And that Christ
bids us to build each other up
   And be gathered into one
   Fulfilling our glorious calling
   By hand to hand going on.

Christ's word is for everyone together: Paul, Chuck, you, and me

And so,  if you and I are to be Christ's servants
   We must together proclaim     by teaching and by warning

Paul understood that.   Charles Wesley understood that.  Do we?