Sermon: 17th November 2019

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Readings:  Malachi 4.1-2a and Ephesians 4.11-16

The Gifts of The People

I bet I know the main thing that has been on you your mind this week?

No, not who is going to win the election? Will brave Sri Lanka beat Pakistan in forthcoming test match series? Not even what am I going to eat tonight? No, None of those things. As soon as we issued the Talent forms last Sunday you have been worried about how you can get all your talents on to one measly form with only 25 boxes. I mean even at the election you get 35 boxes; we are constraining you.  However, I want you to relax now, we will let you use the other side of the form as well! Yes really.

Now if you were dour Scots you might huff and puff. They would say things like, “Filling up a form at church”, “What will they come up with next!”  “And they want me to share my talents, my gifts and skills – you must be joking.” “I was behind the door, when these were handed out!” and so they would go on.  I am very glad that I am here with sunshine in November, and now in the reducing light and increasing cold of Scotland with a warm enthusiastic congregation who are ready to offer a huge list of talents.

One person has already completed a form and we don’t need it until the end of the month. I thought I might encourage you further by making some suggestions about this attractive colourful form. It is much less complicated than yesterday’s huge voting form.

But someone might ask, ‘why are you doing this?’ So, I thought I would answer that now, first of all.

Doesn’t Jesus use people talents and skill? Didn’t our Lord call fisherman, Peter, Andrew, James and John from catching fish and then use their very same carefully honed skills in teamwork, communication and courage to catch men and women.   Then Paul, in his letters, Paul talks repeatedly about the church being like a body which needs every single part, no part should be ignore or underutilised.  In our reading today he talks about gift to people…

 Let me remind of the passage from Ephesians 4…

  “to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ.”  (repeat)

Different gifts one purpose and one Lord being served.

In the past the churches used to have certain roles it needed filling,

a secretary to take minutes,

a visitor to support the sick people and

someone good at counting money to be treasurer and

yes, we still need certain skills, however our Kirk Session have agreed to start from a different place. We want you to start with what you enjoy doing most of all and to list that on your form. This will allow us to build the church around the gifts of the people here, so not copying any other place, country or congregation. S t Andrew’s Colombo will be unique because we will bring the best of ourselves to the group which is the Christian church here today.

So, the form is like the election form you simply put a cross in the boxes which match your interest and talents. But first you please write what activity gives you personally most pleasure. As we seek to become the first congregation in Sri Lanka which builds itself God’s Word and the gifts of its people.

Paul puts it this way, “by speaking the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head. 16 Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So, when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.”

Your best skill, or what others say about you or what you enjoy doing with your spare time.

I showed some examples on our screen to encourage members thinking:

Photography,

Baking,

Sports,

Working with Young people

Music,

Dance,

Hospitality and

meeting new people

We have great projects to support and good people leading them and we do wish to sustain them, but if your skills take us in a new direction to glorify God. 

I could but am not going to mention all the elders do, as one member said to me last week,

“I am in awe of all they do.”

Are they like the head of this body?  meeting together, thinking, praying and planning. So, are not we the hands involved in turning thoughts into action?

How much better if we can be like round pegs in round holes, choosing and enjoying what we are doing. Last Sunday Lakshmi couldn’t play the piano at 8.45am, so I called Sarah and she rushed to church, learned 5 hymns in 20 minutes and played them well. We all really appreciated that and I think she secretly quite enjoyed rediscovering one of her talents.

One last story Chandra’s delight. Our friend Rosie came from Scotland to visit Donna and myself. She had worked in sign language as a professional for 17 years and is still chair of Deaf Action in Edinburgh. She has signed big political conferences for people like Tony Blair and for theatre with actors like Maggie Smith.  I had asked if Rosie would sign for the Netherlee visit to our monthly service. She asked to visit Netherlee cottage because she wanted to check that she could sign in a way that Chandra would understand. She met with Chandra, built a rapport and learned the key signs for the talk, the creed and the hymns.  Rosie loved being in Sri Lanka, but when I asked to pick a high-light she said it was Chandra’s smile and clear delight at hearing the service. Her joy was top of Rosie’s memories as she travelled home. Do you follow that pattern – Chandra’s delight, became Rosie’s delight as she used her hard-won skills for the benefit of others and that is how is works – simple and exciting. Let us all be part of it and experience such pleasure.

When you and I use our very best skills for God everybody benefits, so fill in the forms and please bring them next week. If you need help some leaders will be available for the next two Sunday’s.

 WHY? Let me remind you…

  “to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ.”

Amen and thanks be to God.

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