The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Unity Within the Church

January 23, 2011
Third Sunday after the Epiphany

On Unity Within the Church
John 1:29-42 and 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to preach the good news. – 1 Corinthians 1:17

My sermon outline:

• I was running through the country one day, passed a farm had a sign that said “Free – Lutheran kittens!” Curious, but I kept on running. The following week I was running down the same road, saw the same sign, but this time the word “Lutheran” had been crossed out and the word “Methodist” was written there. Now my curiosity got the best of me. I knocked on the door of the house, and asked the farmer, “What is this? Last week you had Lutheran kittens and now they’re Methodist? What happened?” The farmer replied, “Last week their eyes were closed. This week they’ve opened their eyes!”

I love that joke because you can put your favored group in the favored spot and poke fun at the group you want to poke fun at. And it’s all good.

• In a small group here at the church, a leader once asked everybody to explain why they’re Methodist. I went first, figuring I know that I find myself at home with the theology of the Wesleys. Some spoke of it being a family church, others spoke of it being a local church. One woman said, “I’m not Methodist. I love God and I come to this church because the people here love God.”

I love her for that answer.

1 Cor 1:10: Paul says to be not divided, but I don’t believe he’s talking about denominations... Paul is talking about division WITHIN the congregation

John 17:21 Jesus prays “that they may be one...” Jesus is concerned about the unity of believers.

• We get a snapshot from the life of John the Baptist in John 1, who previously berated the opposition (so you know he can be tough) but in this episode instead of seeking to share the spotlight with Jesus he completely turns the spotlight over to Jesus, submits to Jesus, edifies Jesus. He lost disciples to Jesus. John the Baptist was more concerned that the way of the Lord be prepared than having people behind him. Said He must increase and I must decrease. Are you on board with the Lord? Hallelujah, go with God, because it’s not about following me, it’s about following Jesus.

• Paul speaks on division within the church... in Latin, “separate apart” or dis-union... that word literally splits our vision, we don’t see eye-to-eye, our vision of ourselves and our brothers and sisters becomes distorted.

A remedy, I’d say, found in Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people, habit #5.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Sometime today or this week, practice this habit, perhaps even asking somebody with whom you know you disagree: “Let me see if I understand what you’re saying...”

As you gain understanding of another’s point of view, your vision becomes clearer, and even if you “agree to disagree” you may learn or affirm that you have a brother or sister in Christ. You become an effective communicator... Practice this so you can effectively communicate the gospel.

• Bottom line, says Paul, is my job is to preach the good news, to do the work of Him who sent me, to tell the old old story of Jesus and his love, to share the good news that in Christ there is forgiveness of sins. The church is not based on me, Paul says... The church is not based on Paul or Peter or Apollos or any preacher teacher or layperson, the church is based on Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and him is salvation.

• Hymn 562 Jesus, Lord, We Look To Thee

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 55 in worship.


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