We Can Be A Blessing

Rev. James A. Splitt

January 23, 2000

Mark 1:14-20 Psalm 62

Mark 1:14-20 [NIV] After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Psalm 62[NIV] My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down ó this leaning wall, this tottering fence? They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.

My soul finds rest in God alone! The testimony of the psalmist is a theme I would like to lift up, explore, celebrate, embrace, affirm, adopt, and claim as a vision for future. Today we meet as a congregation to review 1999, but more importantly to look at the ministry we hope to have in this coming year.

This expression from Psalm 62 gives rise to the word hospitality. To paraphrase this verse, we can say that our soul finds rest in the HOSPITALITY OF GOD. The idea that this raises and we envision our future is right for this church. What if our mission in the year 2000 would be to practice the Hospitality of God? Invite people here to church so that their soul can find rest in God alone. Our church can be the rock of salvation, a place that is a fortress against the stress and strain of the world: a spiritual spa. What a blessing we can be to our community if we were to be known as the place that practices and shares the Hospitality of God: a soul sanctuary.

"In her popular 1971 book, Hidden Art, Edith Schaeffer, wife of the famous theologian Francis Schaeffer addresses the art of hospitality, making ourselves available to whomever God directs our way." [Leonard Sweet. A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Cafť, 36]. The call to discipleship may take on all kinds of forms, but this church might best serve God with its gracious gift of hospitality. We could become experts at the art of care-taking the soul. It would be a wonderful way to be known in the community, but more importantly if would be a wonderful way to serve others by serving God! We can be a blessing by available to others with out stretched arms of love and compassion.

Discipleship involves getting into a relationship with others based upon the relationship we have with God. Discipleship is God calling us to relate to others in a way that reflects how God relates to us. Jesus began his ministry, "proclaiming the good news of God." He sought individuals who would be disciplined in spreading this good news. Godís call to discipleship is a call to sharing the hospitality of God.

Remember the instruction Jesus gave to his disciples, "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:46-50). Hospitality is an attribute of the highest form of family life. The family of God is held together in a love relationship that honor the will of God.

Iím reading a book called Growing Spiritual Redwoods. This book by Bill Easum and Thomas Bandy is one of the leading books that addresses church growth and vitality. The image of the redwood is like the psalmist image of the rock. Spiritual growth is happens when people find their strength for their soul in Godís love and grace. Here are six powerful suggestions they make for a church to experience this kind of spiritual awakening. [Points are paraphrased from page 17].

Base every aspect of church programming on the transforming power of Jesus; Develop team ministries with strong leaders; build on the spiritual gifts of members;

Be devoted to worship as the living water for the soul; Challenge leadership to be visionaries who create an environment of change; Be set upon the mission of making disciples; and, Be devoted to the community, reaching out with valuable help.
I believe we begin our own spiritual growth in answering the call to discipleship. Jesus takes us as we are and guides us along the way. We can become a church of many blessings built upon our history of hospitality. Peg Hauck had a little but powerful message on posted on her refrigerator door. This message is now out side on our church sign. It comes from 1Pet. 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." Peg had a steadfast faith that knew how to find "rest for her soul" in the comfort and grace of God who is the rock of her salvation. Hospitality is sharing the care of God for the souls of others.

What is your vision for Christ Presbyterian Church? How can we be a spiritual watering hole in this community? How might we build and equip the disciples of our church? What are the ways we can be a blessing of Godís love and grace to the hungry and thirsty soul?

Amen. References: William M. Easum and Thomas G. Bandy. GROWING SPIRITUAL REDWOODS. Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1997. Leonard Sweet. A CUP OF COFFEE AT THE SOUL CAFE. Nashville, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.