Sunday’s Scripture ~ Revelation 3:7-13.
Devotion Focus ~ I Corinthians 12:12-26.
The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 12 acknowledges that each member of the Body of Christ receives gifts or skills from God in order to serve the Body and to equip the Body to serve beyond itself. Each one of us has something to offer – not just the clergy! For some their gift is more readily identifiable. For others their gift may be more nuanced and greater care and attention may have to be applied to articulate it. This work can be daunting and intimidating. So let us hear again these words of assurance,
“Do not be afraid.”
Gifts differ. And that is okay. In fact that is great! As Paul asks in confidence – and rhetorically –, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?”
A regular and recurrent invitation as I serve is to keep my serving in check. What I mean by that is to not allow my service to keep others from serving or to take away opportunities for others to serve. I think this boundary applies to both laity and clergy. We serve an invitational God that desires all of us to be involved and engaged. My natural inclination is to “do it all myself;” that inclination is not only to my detriment but also to the detriment of the Body. If all the individual parts of the body do not live into our roles and live out our gifts, we stagnate.
And nature tells us that which stagnates dies.
The UMC celebrates the gifting and service of the laity – of the people that faithfully gather as the church and accomplish work for God both in and beyond the Sanctuary. The UMC rejoices over the ministry of all believers and encourages the servant leadership of all people. “The ministry of the laity flows from a commitment to Christ’s outreaching love. Lay members of The United Methodist Church are, by history and calling, active advocates of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission; every layperson is called to be missional. The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as the sharing of their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and The United Methodist Church will fulfill its mission” (¶127 BOD 2016).
The church – the whole Body of Christ – has a responsibility to serve. We have the ability to respond because of God’s grace present in our lives. No individual has to do everything. Every individual is invited, wanted, and valued in doing something.
The Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor recalls a time of discernment about what she should and would do for God as she anticipated completing her education. Climbing to the top of a rusty fire escape she met God in prayer. She left that conversation with this word from on high, “Do whatever pleases you and belong to me.”
The hope is that what pleases us can and will be pleasing to God as it draws us closer in relationship to God and others.
What pleases you? And how does that support your belonging to God? Share your answers with someone you trust this week. See you in worship on Sunday!
Prayer: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.”* Amen.
*”Blessed Assurance,” The United Methodist Hymnal 369.