A sermon for St Mary Whitkirk – Trinity 10 – reflecting on Ephesians 4:1-16
I wonder – how many football fans do we have at St Mary’s?
How many of the rest of you got drawn into the world cup?
It was hard not to wasn’t it? Especially the England matches…for a couple of hours it became unbearably important. Football can do that. When I was small we always needed to know how Middlesbrough had done on a Saturday…because it affected the mood my brother was in. He’s lived on the South Coast for 35 years – but he was at Millwall yesterday watching the Boro equalizing at the last minute.
When we step back of course, it’s hard to see the point of football…fun for the players, entertainment; I suppose the world cup brought the country together. But the amount of interest, money and emotional energy given to 22 people chasing a ball around is a little ridiculous.
From the outside – it may be equally difficult to see the point of the Church of England. We gather at a particular time on a particular day, some of us dress up in strange clothes, sometimes we burn incense, we share a meal that doesn’t really look like a meal…
…and yet in our reading this morning we are begged to live lives worthy of the calling to which we have been called…worthy of the calling to which we have been called…clearly the writer saw this church thing as far more than 60 minutes on a Sunday morning.
So what is the ‘calling to which we have been called’?
You’re all assuming that was a rhetorical question – which I’ll now attempt to answer…no, actually that was a genuine question, which you’re going to attempt to answer…
…the letter was written to the newish church in Ephesus – but it could equally be for the more established church here in Whitkirk…
So, what is ‘the calling to which we’ve been called’, what is the point of the church?
From the congregation…
- spreading the word
- telling all people here in Leeds the good news of Jesus Christ
- living as Christ showed us
- sharing God’s love with those around us
What did the writer of Ephesians think? He’s pretty ambitious…’building up the body of Christ, until all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God.’ In other words our calling is to take part in the reconciliation of all humanity to God and to each other in Christ.
Luckily – as the writer points out – we’re all given gifts by Christ to enable us in this calling. I don’t think the actual list he gives is that important. What matters is that we can all contribute to the reconciliation of people to God and one another – because we are all given gifts. Not all the same gifts…but gifts for all.
So now I’m going to ask you another question – what gift do you have that helps you be part of this calling? Or if that’s too difficult – what gift have you seen in someone else?
- the Holy Spirit
- patience with each other – when helping people into new roles
- willingness to give time to church cleaning etc
- our ability to listen and to speak
Often our willingness to have a go is the best gift we can bring. I’m not sure Hannah, Jacob or Zara thought they had gifts as youth leaders until I asked them to help with FISH. I suspect when Giles agreed to help with school assemblies he imagined staying behind the piano…but has now discovered a gift for engaging with halls full of children…
The final verses of our reading say, in a rather long-winded way, that growth of the body of Christ – the church – depends on each part working properly. If one part fails, growth is stunted.
So…this is not just the plea of a curate trying to fill rotas (although if you wish to volunteer for anything I won’t say no!)…this reading makes a serious demand of each of us if we take our faith seriously.
To think carefully about just what is ‘the calling to which we have been called’; and what is our part in it.
For whether your call lies particularly in your work place, out in the community, or here in St Mary’s…
…whether you’re ready to try something new, or actually it’s time to step back from a role but devote more time to praying for St Mary’s, or increase your financial contribution…you have a role to play.
If we’re not all involved – our growth as a Christian community will be stunted.
So my prayer for this summer is that we all reflect on just what is the calling to which we are called – and what is our particular part in it. Amen