Sermon for February 4, 2019
I Corinthians 13:1-13; Jeremiah 1:4-10
I have not had to perform many wedding ceremonies. Less and less people want to get married in a sanctuary or by a minister. You can just ask a friend to marry you now and all they need to do is order an ordination certificate on-line to make it legit! But, the few ceremonies I have done almost always the couple have requested that one of the scripture readings be this famous portion of Corinthians. Youve heard it in many a wedding ceremony yourself, right? It is beautiful and we can see why it can be understood as the wedding scripture over time.
However, it wasnt written to be directed toward a couple that was about to get married. Paul wrote it for his church- the Corinthian church that I spoke about last week. The church that was in its infancy, the one that Paul had founded but now hes away and writes to them because he has heard reports about their less than kind behavior toward one another. That church.
Pauls words to his beloved church are beautiful and simple. That is- although they might have all kinds of spiritual gifts, if they dont have love none of their gifts matter.
But what about the Jeremiah scripture? What would this very wild, out there kind of story, about the prophet Jeremiahs call have anything to do with this scripture text from I Corinthians? (Im glad you asked!)
First, notice the exchange that happens between Jeremiah and God. What was Jeremiah’s reaction to Gods command that Jeremiah speak for Him? Well, it was of great reluctance. Jeremiah focuses on who he is as a person- I am only a boy is his first reason to say no. The second was that he didnt know how to speak. But God being God, gets His way and doesnt let Jeremiah hide behind his fear. Instead, GOd focuses on Gods plan for Jeremiah- namely that it is GOd who will speak for Jermiah. It is God who will BE with Jeremiah and it is God who will command Jeremiah to be a prophet. In other words, Jeremiah didnt have a choice.
Well, today we have choices, dont we?
In fact, going back to weddings- that is the ONE thing I always tell couples. I have reminded them that loving someone is a choice. You must CHOOSE to love that person. No matter what. It isnt a feeling because believe me sooner or later you wont FEEL much love for that person. But if you choose to LOVE that person you will find a way.
The same is with a church. Paul was speaking to his church and today we, our little church here in down town Chula Vista is being reminded of the same. We must chose to love one another.
We may have all the great ministries in the world. We might have all the great music in the word (and we do!) We might have the best deacons, trustees, Christian ed members, Sunday school teachers (they are awesome by the way!) BUt, if we dont have love, it wont work.
Now my own call story wasnt quite as dramatic as Jeremiahs. Im not sure anyones, was! But what I do remember is my reluctance. For me it came over time and not just on one occasion. For me it was over a summer. The summer I turned 18. THen it went on through college and then seminary. BUt even though I was in seminary I was reluctant to accept my call. Like Jermiah, I didnt think I had what it took. You see, I was focused on me instead of on what God could do through me. I was focused on my fear instead of what Gods plan was for me. So my call took several important conversations, prayers, experiences I will never forget
Mentors, and what I believe were a series of confirmations from God that it was indeed what God wanted for my life.
But I dont want to focus today on my own call. I share it because I think its important that you get to know me and for you to understand that for most clergy there is a period of doubt and reluctance. But what I want to focus on is on you. On your call.
Some of you might think you already know what you are called to do- to be the best dad there is. To be the best mom there is. To be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. All those are wonderful.
But, today I want to encourage you to either ask God what it is that God is calling you to do now, at this time in your life and then to re-claim your call. What is your call about? If youre not sure, ask God to make it clear to you.
If you are sure but still afraid to accept it, ask God to encourage you. If you are reluctant because of certain bad behavior or a sin that is in the way, ask God for forgiveness.
But today, as we approach communion let us ask God to help us accept his call, renew the call and to do what ever God has asked us to do with much love. Let us remember that in the end it isnt about us and what we can or can not do- it is about what GOd can and wants to do through us. It is about Gods love and amazing grace being poured into us every day. Enough grace to face the hard times. Enough grace to let go of the fear or the doubt. Enough grace to give us courage and a fresh perspective. Enough grace. Gods grace. Gods love.
Let us celebrate Gods love through communion and through our re-dedication to Gods call in our lives. Amen.