Rev. Chris Snow
North HIll Christian Church
July 13, 2014
Titus 2:7-8, Matthew 13:1-9, Matthew 28:16-20
Hearing the words of the great commission from the end of Gospel of Matthew we hear the instructions to go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded of us. This continues to be an important part of the mission of the church in the world today. While we continue to worship together, serve our community, learn and grow in our faith lives, and care for all of God’s children, we are also called to bear witness to all the world of who Jesus Christ is in our lives.
Each one of us has a role to play in bearing witness to our community. We are all signposts of our faith whether we like it or not. The question becomes what kind of signpost are we. What direction are we pointing to?
Last month as I was talking with some colleagues downtown before a parade I was reminded how important it is for the individuals of a congregation to be the signpost for the church rather than the reader board outside. I still have the words of a particular individual running through my mind. As one of my colleagues introduced me to her friend we began the typical back and forth about where North Hill Christian Church is, and eventually it came back to, “the church with the sign.” But continued with the statement, “You never know what a church is like until you meet someone from that church.”
The people of a congregation are the ones who are the true indication of the character of a congregation. Our reader board outside may have witty and humorous comments each week but that does not reflect the full character of a congregation. It does not say how welcoming we are, or what our basic tenants of faith may be. It simply says that we have some sense of humor. It is the people of the congregation that are the true indication of all these things.
Our actions inside and outside of this building are a reflection of our faith and because of that we must live into the words of Titus 2:7-8, “Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teachings show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured…”
The phrase, a model of good works, can be simple and complicated at the same time. What defines good works? I would say that it is acting in a way that uplifts all people and affirms everyone a child of God, shows God’s love through our actions, and reflects the grace we have come to know through Jesus. In this way we take up a role within the parable of the sower.
Through our actions we are to be an affirmation of our faith and in doing so we begin to sow the seeds in others, often times without even noticing. We may sow those seeds in all types of soil and hope that something grows. But In those instances where our humanity and our selfishness kicks in we make it harder and harder for those seeds to grow in others. The parable of the sower is an indictment on those who have heard the good news and how through either lack of root or life choices the seed of faith is not able to flourish. But as I hiked up Mount Rainier this week there were a number of plants that flourished in some of the harshest of places as long as human beings did not trample on those plants.
Our actions can sometimes be those trampling feet that after a seed has been sown, hinder the growth. Imagine this circumstance for a moment; because a group of individuals was considered unclean, sinner, unworthy, broken, disruptive or different, they were made to feel unwelcome, unloved, and separate from the rest of the community. They were expected to go around the primary group, via different doors and stairwells. Having their routines disrupted or being personally offended or attacked without the slightest hesitation or consideration. They were expected to sit in different sections of the space, and to go unnoticed for fear of rubbing off on everyone else. Expected to live as second class citizens without the same rights.
These types of actions have been present from before the time of Jesus all the way through today. But, it is through Jesus’ ministry that we hear and see that these very people are the ones that need to be welcomed and affirmed by the people of God. Jesus made the broken whole, he reunited the outcast with the community, and he broke down the barriers of his time that affirmed everyone, especially the other are children of God. Yet we are still learning this lesson as we continue to see Sunday mornings as the most segregated time of the week. Even more than that the individual mainline protestant churches continue to become more reflective of a one specific demographic than being reflective of it’s surrounding community.
These churches, including our own do not reflect an openness to the broken, and outcast through not only our actions but also by our lack of actions. If we do not actively go out and actively show and demonstrate that each person is a beloved child of God. Being a model of good works that shows nothing less than the love and grace that God has shown to us.
Being the signpost for this congregation and our faith requires us to go beyond our selfish desires to recognize the desire of God that everyone knows that they are loved for who they are and because of that they are welcome and encouraged to find the truth of God’s love and grace at Christ’s table where all are invited. Not because any of us are worthy but because God calls us. Not because we are whole but because we find God’s grace in the midst of our brokenness. All are called because we are all children of God, especially those who have been relegated to a second class status because of who they are or due to their own humanness.
Let us be the signpost that points to our faith in God by being a true model of good works that our faith calls us into being.