Sermon – November 20, 2016 – Commitment Weekend/Christ the King

Consecration Weekend

On behalf of Bishop Roth and your brothers and sisters in the other 125 congregations of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod, I bring you greetings and thanks for the ministry that we share.   I also thank you for the privilege and the opportunity to share in this Consecration Weekend with you.  I pray that God will bless our time together.

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

In the Book of Acts, the following statement was said about the early Christians:  “These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also…” (Acts 17:6b)   And as I read the first reading from the Book of Isaiah, isn’t that true?

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the oppresses, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, yadda, yadda, yadda.”   Jesus Christ has come into our sin-filled world and those who are Christian have been called to turn the world upside down.

In our gospel reading from Matthew:  “…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”   Those who feed the hungry and welcome the stranger, and clothe the naked, and visit those in prison, as they share God’s love with others, they are the ones who are turning the world upside down.

This congregation, through its ministries, through its participation with mission partners is turning the world upside down.   Through its Sola Gratia Farm, it is feeding the hungry and providing for the poor.  Through your mission trip to New Orleans, you are turning the world upside down.  As you provide Christmas gifts through the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois Adopt a Child program, you are turning the world upside down.   Through the efforts of those who provide materials and make quilts, you provide warmth and shelter for those who have nothing.  Through Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Bible study, and Youth Ministry, you provide a faith foundation for those who participate in these ministries.   For the lives of those you touch with your ministry, you are literally turning the world upside down.

How many lives are enriched and enhanced by what you do as People of God?   How is the quality of life improved for those whose lives are touched by the ways in which you are turning the world upside down?  To whom else can you reach out and make a difference in their lives?   Never underestimate the power of your ministry.   Never underestimate the ability and the opportunity that God provides you to make a difference in someone else’s life.   Never underestimate the opportunity that God provides for you every single day of your life.

Today is one of those days.   Today is one of those days in which you are invited to help turn the world upside down.   Today is one of those days in which you are asked to make a commitment of yourself that will make a difference in somebody’s life.  And the fact of the matter is:  that everyone can do something.  Regardless of your own personal circumstances, you have the ability and the opportunity to share the gifts God has given to you, so that you might be a blessing to others.

The question then becomes:  What are you personally willing to do to make a difference in someone else’s life?  How will you share your time, your talents, and your treasury in an effort to turn the world upside down?   You are the only one who can answer that!  You are the only one who can decide what you will or will not do.

At the end of this worship service, you will have the opportunity to make that commitment.   There will be time for you to write down what you will do to help turn the world upside down.

Let me explain, so that everyone has the same understanding.  I invite you to consider becoming a tither, if you are not already.  A tither is someone who shares 10% of their income in an effort to advance God’s kingdom in the world.  If you feel that tithing is too much of a stretch for you, then I invite you to consider becoming a “proportionate giver”—that is someone who shares a specific percentage of their income with the Church, as they work towards becoming tithers.

The intent is to help you to grow in the gift of generosity.  For example, how would the impact of this congregation’s ministry expand if 20 families increased their giving by 1% this next year?  What would happen if 40 families increased their giving?  It starts with one person, one family, one commitment at a time.   Will you be the one who will help this congregation continue to turn the world upside down AND whose lives will be touched by your generosity?

Thank you for your faithfulness.   Thank you for your commitment, and thank you for the ways you are turning the world upside down, so that people’s lives are changed by God’s love.  May God continue to bless you, your family, your congregation, and your ministry always and in all ways!  In Jesus’ name and for His sake.  Amen.