Sunday, October 7, 2018:
Exodus 4:10-17, Psalm 121, Ephesians 5:1-14, Matthew 25:14-30:
It has already been 3 months since I was appointed to Kilohana UMC this past July. I have been trying my best to get to know as many of our church members as possible. For those of you who I have not had a chance to get to know yet, I hope to share fellowship in Christ with you soon. During the past 3 months, many of our Kilohana community have been confronted by different thoughts and concerns. One of them is that you have been given many talents from God. The Lord has given you many different gifts and skills. Some of you have been fortunate enough to have completed a higher education with an undergraduate, even graduate degrees. You have valuable experience and maybe even have a special hobby. In my view, this is God providing you with a rich life with many gifts and a variety of talents. You have also enjoyed the precious spiritual blessings of being children of God above all blessings. And so, you are worthy to praise the name of the Lord. Hallelujah!
For what purpose did God give these special talents for us? God has given us so many precious gifts, not only for our enjoyment within our lifetime, but also to share and help others for now and for the future. I would like to refer to this as ‘ministry.’ All the talents and abilities of our Christian brothers and sisters are considered blessings, but, we also must remember that life itself is a tool for ministry. Christians may have different ways of living, occupations, hobbies, and values, but, there is little doubt that all Christians have been called for the ministry God wants us to fulfill. The basic definition of ministry is to care for all the objects of this world including others by the love of God.
Just look at Adam and Eve. God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and said, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea the birds of the sky, and everything crawling on the ground,” (Genesis 1:28) This is the origins of ministry and a ministry in harmony with all the living creatures accomplishes the precious will of God. In pastoral ministry, it is important that one side should not suffer or be under pressure. We must do our best to win the fight together. “I’m Ok. You’re OK. We’re Ok.”
This simple statement should be revealed through ministry. (1)
What is Ministry? If we look closely at true ministry that reveals the will of God to the world, it is when all ministers can bear with gratitude, a fun, interesting, rewarding, and worthy offering of their talents. So, who is a minister? Pastors? Paid staff of the church? I believe that ministers are all the members and friends of this church. Each of us must be a minister for the Lord and for the people of the world. Our friends and relatives can also become ministers for the Lord and work for His kingdom and His glory. People who are particularly gifted, talented, and equipped can achieve more effective, in-depth ministry. Today’s Gospel Lesson tells us “Do not bury your Talent in the ground.” While working for the Church, some of you may have felt disappointment. While in charge of the Lord’s work, some may have suffered from hardships. While committing to ongoing church work, others may have burned out or have grown weary. It may be that you have been troubled with someone else while you were in ministry. But, for whatever reason, you should not bury your talent in the ground. Draw out your talents from the ground, uncover them. With faith and courage, use the talent again for the kingdom of God. I want to work together with your commitment and talent. The Lord is waiting for such a courageous decision. Ministry can be interesting and enjoyable. The work that God, our Creator, our loving God, has entrusted us with will surely bring wonderful results. The great reward in heaven is reserved.
In Isaiah 40:30-31, we are told that though our bodies are tired and weary, our souls will have an amazing spiritual experience like an eagle with its wings climbing up into sky. We all need to strive to become ministers for the Lord and work together as a team. We must glorify God through Ministry. We are the Ministry for the glory of God, not for our fame. If our main concern is, how can we please God? We need to ask ourselves: Are my actions, words, thoughts, hidden agendas and beliefs pleasing to the Lord? Do the things that occupy my thoughts and, how I spend my time disappoint or glorify the Lord?
The Apostle Paul asks the Ephesians. “Examine what is pleasing to the Lord.”
The Lord has given us a mission: to lead people to the Lord through Ministry; to enrich not only my life or your life, but also the lives of those around us and all corners of the world. This is the meaning of Servant ministry & leadership that the Book of Discipline describes. (3) God is pleased with ministry and wants to bless those who fulfill their calling. The ministry here at Kilohana is God’s own work, and, He will help us and bless all the ministry that His children do. When Moses was called by God to rescue the Israelites from Pharaoh, king of Egypt, he politely refused. This is why Moses rejected it.
“My Lord, I’ve never been able to speak well, not yesterday, not the day before, and, certainly not now, since You’ve been talking to your servant. I have a slow mouth and a thick tongue.” But, God is no fool for excuses; He sends Aaron, Moses’s brother, for support and gives Moses a staff, and, he was entrusted with precious ministry. We should seek help from God, who created the heavens and the earth, when we face difficulties in ministry like the psalmist. God won’t let your foot slip. Your protector won’t fall asleep on the job. The Lord is your protector; the Lord is your shade right beside you. (Psalm 121)
The Apostle Paul confessed in Galatians 1:10, am I trying to win over human beings or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I wouldn’t be Christ’s slave. We should not do ministry with a few people, conscious of others’ gaze. I want to do ministry that God is pleased with. For example, there is music ministry. It is important for us to prepare and practice music that God will receive first and bring our best efforts to Him.
After all, our choir members, accompanists, and members of the church will be blessed with well-prepared music. But, God is more pleased with praise that is even musically lacking, if it is offered by faith, and not an ambition for a perfect performance. In order to continue ministry here at Kilohana, I want to encourage you to share the precious gifts that the Lord has given you with myself, our families, our churches, our neighbors and all those who need us; beasts and nature.
This morning, you may have found the Talent Bank Assessment, which is included in the bulletin. Before coming to the charge conference on the 4th of December, I will draw up the ministry of the Lord’s ministers to Nominations & Leadership Development and report it to the charge conference for approval for next year. As the chairperson of the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee for this church, I would like to know more about your abilities, talents, and gifts, to understand your role or how you can contribute to the ministry of God. Please fill out the assessment and leave it with the usher at the end of service. I hope that the talents God has given us, given you, will be used beautifully for the kingdom of God. I pray and support you in all the ministry you do – for this is God’s work. And, all your devotion and sacrifice will come with a greater blessing from God.