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NSUMCNorth Salem United Methodist Church

Sermons

This sermon was given by guest Keith Boucher.

"What Would Jesus Do"

I like to start my day reading a devotional. My loving wife Diane gave me such a book called " 365 Daily Answers to What Would Jesus Do". I enjoy this book very much for a number of reasons, first it starts out with a biblical passage which gives me a grounding in God's word, and then it provides a relative quote from a noted author or scholar (some that I'm familiar with, others that I'm not, the ones I'm not familiar with I can refer to brief bios in the back of the book) quote this often provides a historical perspective of introduces me to a new author / philosopher / theologian. After the quote I'm prompted with a "What would Jesus do reflection". This helps me rationalize how I might want to think about what is said or act in a similar situation.
One set of passages that struck me from this book was the following
The Biblical passage from 1 Thessalonians 1:3
"We continually remember before our God and Father that your labor be prompted by love."
In other words all our actions should be prompted by love. The quote that goes along with this is from Henry Drummond, a 19th century Scottish writer and evangelist. He writes, "You will find, as you look back upon your life, that the moments when you really lived, are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love."
Action and love working together. Action as a way of illustrating love. Love motivating action. Living love. Pretty powerful stuff.......
Reading this on February 5th, made me think of all the things I do each day and how they should be or could be tied to love. Maybe it's hard to do when you're at work, but think of it from a perspective of "do unto others
as you would have done unto you"; this too is a form of love. The other devotional I endeavor to read on a daily basis is the Upper Room. This is great because I can read it online on the internet. Since I spend the better part of my day on a computer, it's very convenient.
In July I read something in the Upper Room that kind of put things in perspective for me and made me think. Let me share this with you. It's pretty simple, yet poignant.
"How many poor people would miss you if you died today?
How many poor people would come to your funeral to say good-bye?"
Today, maybe you don't care, but maybe you should......
The writer continues...
When my pastor asked that question in a sermon a few years ago, I found myself thinking about it for days afterward. Like many of us (I expect like most of us), I move within a predictable circle of contacts in an average week. I come to work, go to church, visit with friends, exercise, walk my dog, shop, go to the library, speak to my neighbors. In all these
activities, I rarely have conversations with persons very different from me. Most of the people I interact with are pretty much like me -- middle-class, employed, educated, dressed in clean clothes, eating regularly (and probably more than we need). She goes on.....As I reflected on my pastor's words, I realized that I seldom spent time with those who are truly poor.
Why? Because the routine of my life is comfortable and familiar. Reaching out to those in need usually requires that we step outside our "comfort zone," and most of us hesitate to do that. But God has what one writer calls a "preferential option for the poor." That is, those who are poor, alone, or vulnerable have a special place in God's heart. They are not simply "the poor"; they are God's poor. When we are close to them, we move closer to God's heart. Many places in the Book of Psalms tell us that God befriends people such as these. Jesus spoke of those whom he called "the least of these" (as mentioned in our reading from Matthew), saying that when we feed the hungry, visit those in prison, care for those who are ill, clothe those in need, or offer hospitality to strangers, we are doing those things to him. As we spend time with those in need, we are spending time with Christ.
This makes reaching out not an obligation, but a privilege, a spiritual discipline that moves us closer to Christ. As 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us, God gives to us in abundance so that we "may share abundantly in every good work." Think about all that God has given you, not just material things but intangibles like health, family, and friends. With hearts overflowing with gratitude, we celebrate God's generosity by stepping out of our comfort zone and sharing what God has given us. And as we become friends to God's poor, we grow closer to Christ. Being with them causes us to see ourselves differently and to feel and express even deeper gratitude for what God has done for us
Steven Covey in his outstanding book the " Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" talks about creating mission statements for what we are, that provide a path to get to what we want to become.
In creating this mission statement, one of the things he asks you to do is to visualize your own funeral, a sobering thought. Who would be there....... Or worse, who would not be there.......what would they say...... or not say about you. Maybe you scoff at this and say who cares, I'm gone, I'll never know...... But think.... What is living all about..... Do you care about a legacy?...... When you leave this earth to be with the eternal father... Will it be like you never existed on this earth?, that no one cared?, you made no difference...or worse... Good riddance!!
Boy ..... We're glad that Keith Boucher guy is gone.... He never did a damn thing for anyone, yeah he lead a good life, he had it all, but he was so self-centered and didn't give one hoot about anyone but himself!!
Maybe we're not there yet, maybe we can't see outside ourselves as much as we would like .... But that's OK......, we can get there......
Charles Du Bos, a French author from the early part of the 20th century, said it well: "The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are, for what we could become".
.........to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are, for what we could become.
The question is what do we WANT to become........
Maybe it's recognizing what God has given you?
What has God given you in abundance? Time? Education? Love? Skills such as sewing, reading, carpentry, car repair, bookkeeping, computer knowledge? How can you share your gifts from God as an illustration of love and with the thought of doing what Jesus would do?
How will you feel when you help the less fortunate?
A simple Hindu Proverb pretty much sums it up for me: Help thy brother's boat across, and lo! Thine own has reached the Shore.
By helping others you are helping yourself.
Toward what activity or outreach have you felt repeated nudges or sparks of interest? Could these be God's call to become involved?
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thomas Jefferson, the great statesman and president, said, "There is a debt of service due from every man to his Country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him."
Keith Boucher, the humble and ordinary person would restate this passage as: "There is a debt of service due from every person to his God proportioned to the bounties which God has granted her or him. Because we are blessed, it is us who should joyfully give in return.
God is asking us to give so little, yet he offers us so much.
We as a church community are making strides toward manifesting our love of God fulfilling his desire to help the poor. We have responded to the call of Lazarus House to help clothe and feed the poor, we have responded to the need of A Safe Place for support, we have begun our support of the Racetrack Ministry as a United North Salem / Hannah Tenney Church. We have sent token support of earthquake relief to Turkey. Yes, we are answering the call.
Yet these are small steps of love, small steps in the right direction.
How can we do more? How can we multiply these few loaves and few fish to feed the multitudes? How do we continue to work together and get larger segments of our congregations involved?
I wish everyone could see the humble faces of the people who receive our food and clothing at Lazarus House.
I wish everyone could see the faces of battered families as they seek shelter at A Safe Place.
I wish everyone could have seen the joy of a Tenney parishioner who works at the Racetrack as HER church brought dinner in for the less fortunate as part of the racetrack ministry. "This is MY church", she said jubilantly, "that is feeding us today!
These are the faces of God which we are called to serve."
Meister Eckhart, the great mystical German theologian of the middle ages, once said something like this, "You can call God Love, or you can call God Hope....but the best name for God is compassion."
Compassion.  It's something basic to Christianity, but seen less and less these days. Yet it is a basic tenet of "Doing what Jesus would do".
Jesus showed compassion for Lazarus and his family, He showed compassion for the multitudes as he fed so many with but a few loaves and a few fish, Jesus showed compassion even for the women weeping at his own tomb!
Mother Teresa of Calcutta talked of how we all long for heaven where God is, saying we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him right now -- to be happy with him at this very moment. But being happy with him now means loving like he loves, helping like he helps, giving as he gives, serving as he serves, rescuing as he rescues, being with him 24 hours a day--- touching him in his distressing disguise.
Love, compassion, helping. Giving,.rescuing, serving, doing what Jesus would do. It takes effort, it takes time, it may mean changing the way we think.
The reward however is great. The ultimate gift, available nowhere else. Eternal life!
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, we gather together today in your name to celebrate the opportunity before us, the opportunity to serve You and your humble people, the poor. Help us move forward with words backed by actions, knowing that our efforts make a difference to make this world a better place and letting us see your face in the faces of the people we will serve.
We ask you this in Jesus' name. Amen
Philippians 4:1-9
4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
4:2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
4:3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
4:8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
4:9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23
106:1 Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
106:2 Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or declare all his praise?
106:3 Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.
106:4 Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when
you deliver them;
106:5 that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory in your heritage.
106:6 Both we and our ancestors have sinned; we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.
106:19 They made a calf at Horeb and worshiped a cast image.
106:20 They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.
106:21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,
106:22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
106:23 Therefore he said he would destroy them-- had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
Matthew 25: 31-45
31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.