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


Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

February 16:

Call:    1 Corinthians 3: 1-9
Text:    Matthew 5: 21-24
Psalm:   119: 1-8 (841)
Prayer:  Renewal of Church (574)


I have been moved;
I have been inspired;
I have been enriched;
And   I have been stretched
   By the set of scriptures on which we have been reflecting
   And by the fact that we have approached them
      Not simply from an individual perspective
      But primarily from a congregational perspective
         As the scriptures virtually beg us to do.

I have been comforted
And I have been strengthened
   By the fact that you and I have been taking this journey of reflection together and not alone.

For as we have moved closer and closer
to the escalator of congregational improvement:

we have together
   unlocked the door to the building in which the escalator is housed

we have together
   turned the knob and opened the door

we have together
   surveyed the milling crowd and come to the conclusion
      that the scriptures demonstrate
that it is far less complicated than it first appeared

we have together
   walked toward the line of congregations gathered preparing to get on the escalator

and in today's portion of our journey we get in that line

If we want to.
If we want to get in that line.

And we probably do want to
if we are not too scared
and   if we are willing to put forth the effort.

Today, I confess that I feel somewhat
   Unnecessary, inadequate, and superfluous

For the scriptures are so much more powerful
than anything  I can say
than anything I can do.

But I am up here  so I have to do something

And while the power of today's scriptures is such that
This is one of those occasions when I am tempted
To read the scriptures (praying that I read them well)
Then sit down,
And let you ponder what they say,

However, I am hesitant to do that - for fear that I'd be opting out
   While we are on a journey together.
And besides, how far wrong can I go
   When the text again returns us to the Sermon on the Mount
   Especially the
   "You have heard it said ... but I tell you" portion

We recognize this portion.
   "You have heard it said that you shall not murder
      but I tell you ..."
   "You have heard it said that you shall not commit adultery
      but I tell you ..."
   "You have heard it said that you should give a certificate of divorce
      but I tell you ..."
   "You have heard it said that you shall not break your oath
      but I tell you ..."
   "You have heard it said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
      but I tell you ..."
   "You have heard it said, love your neighbor but hate your enemy
      but I tell you ..."

In each of those seven sentences, Jesus states the law
and then declares that people should do even more

In each case Jesus' commandments go to the root of the law
   Not simply to the act of complying

This morning we are only going to look at
   The first in this series
      "You have heard it said that you shall not murder
         but I tell you ..."

[Matthew 5: 21-24]

Christ is telling us that
if we really want to follow Him
if we really want to give something to God
if we really want to be believers and servants
that we need to bring the right attitude
   and that lingering anger at others
is not only             not the right attitude
      but it makes it impossible    to have the right attitude

He addresses this "root problem"
   In the section of    "You have heard it said" statements
   In order to have not only peace, but also to have harmony
      So that congregations and other Christian groups
      Might actually be servants and sharers of Him

In doing so, Christ is telling us that what counts is
not the act of bringing a gift
and not the size of the gift
   But rather the attitude of the one who brings the gift

Isn't that what John says in his first letter when he proclaims
   That if we say we love God whom we have not seen
   But hate our brothers and sisters whom we have seen
      Then: we    are   liars.

Our relationship with God
   Individually and as a congregation
   Depends on our having a good attitude
      An attitude of love
      An attitude of forgiveness and mercy
      An attitude of reconciliation with each other.
      An attitude of not sulking when we don't get our way

I remember being a lay person in a congregation
   That was divided over an issue
The meeting to make a decision on the divisive issue
   Was well attended by persons on both sides of the issue

It remains the most tense church meeting that I have ever attended

At one point during the meeting, I calmly spoke my position
   And the person most responsible for the divisiveness
      Actually stuck her tongue out at me

During the course of the meeting,
Marge asked me whether I was going to want to go the church the following Sunday.

And my response was,
   "Absolutely, no matter how this turns out!
   It may well be the most important week to attend."

Churches and the people who make them up
are going to have differing opinions,
including on things about which they are passionate
      but our mutual love and respect for each other
combined with a willingness to forgive and accept
is how we offer ourselves as servants and followers of Christ.

If Christ's words in the Sermon on the Mount
do not make the point
to congregations throughout the globe     (and it should)

They then only need to turn to Paul, the less tactful man
who was the major force in spreading Christianity
   throughout the then known world.

And we turn to his first letter to the church at Corinth
   Specifically to the passage that called us to worship this morning   [3: 1-9]

In this passage, as we heard just a short time ago,
Paul tells the people who make up the Corinthian church
      "I could not speak to you as spiritual people"

[And here I imagine the Corinthians being offended,
I can almost hear the pillars of the church
Persistently and loudly protesting

   "Who do you think you are?
We worship regularly
We give regularly
      Of course we are spiritual people?
         Anybody and everybody can see that."

"You can't talk to us like that.
      You only embarrass yourself when you do."

But Paul continued.

And in response, he powerfully says,
   "For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you
      Are you not of the flesh
      And behaving according to human inclinations?

Let me repeat Paul's responsive question
   [For as long ...]

The lesson of this morning's scriptures is simple
   If a congregation wants
to climb aboard the escalator of improvement

the people who make it up
   must reconcile their relationships with each other
   must rid themselves of jealousy
and   must stop the practice of quarreling.

Then  they will have the right attitude
Then  they can give themselves to God

Of course, there may be some congregations
   Who have no interest
   In riding that escalator
to an enhanced service  of and with
the one who gave the Sermon On the Mount
      And the one whose story Paul shared with so many.

The question of the week
for congregations throughout the world is
      Whether the people making up the congregations
         Individually and collectively
         Are willing to do what is necessary
         To have the right attitude?