November 9, 2003

Sermon: St. Peter's, Poolesville

November 9, 2003 Proper 27

Amazing God, take our minds and think through them; take our hearts and love through them; take our mouths and speak through them. Amen.

Good morning. I want to tell you how honored I am to be with you here at St. Peter’s on this fine November morning.

There are certain things in this life that I make no apologies for: My faith as a Christian, my love of a big slab of red meat, and the fact that I am a die-hard fan of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. I started going to Tennessee football games when I was about 5 years old and have missed only one season in the past 22 years. The team has a sign that hangs in the locker-room. It is shaped like the state, and in bright orange letters says, “I will give my all for Tennessee today.” They have one that hangs in their home locker-room in Knoxville, and they have one they take on the road for the away games. Every player, coach, trainer and water boy touches that sign every time they get ready to take the field. When they slap the sign, it is a reminder of who they are representing when they leave the locker-room.

Today’s Gospel is Jesus calling us to say pretty much the same thing for Him. Jesus may not sound like a coach before the Big Game, but when he calls his disciples over to point out what the widow had given compared to those who had given more, He is saying, “That is what I expect from my followers.”

So, piece of cake, right. We give our all for Jesus, do the best we can and everything will be fine. Right? Oh, wait, there’s the whole rest of the world that we have to live in, don’t we. The rest of the world that might not be as interested in giving their all for God, or the rest of the world that has so many more things drawing our attention and energy away from serving Christ.
It isn’t that easy, is it?

Jesus’ lesson to his disciples is pretty challenging in light of all that tries to draw our attention. There is play practice or soccer or lacrosse or cross country practice to get to, tests to take, tests to grade, colleges to visit, video games to conquer, places to go, people to see.

So how do we give our all to Christ? Do we pack it all up and go off to be monks and nuns? No, not unless that’s what God is calling you to do.

We start by recognizing that all that we have is a gift from God. Our ability to go to college or play sports or be involved in theater, our friends, our family—All of those are gifts from God. None of it just “happened.” When God was handing out gifts, they didn’t just fall wherever. They fell to you because that’s where God wanted them to fall.

It is important that we do something each day to remind us of those gifts and where they come from. Whether it’s a note on your mirror or locker or car, or a word or a phrase some place where you’ll see it everyday, maybe it’s the screensaver on your computer, maybe it’s sewn into your socks. Something to tell us each day: every thing we have is a gift from God.

You see, God didn’t give us these gifts just for the heck of it. We have them to help make the world a better place, to help share the Gospel light of Jesus Christ to a world that desperately needs to see and hear it.

We give our all for Him when we take those gifts and use them to the best that we can be. It doesn’t mean that we will be the fastest or the smartest. But it means that we will have used everything that God has given us.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela said at his inauguration: "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, which frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small does not serve the world."

Jesus never promised us a rose garden; he never said that following Him would be easy. But if we are to give our all for Him, we must not be afraid of acknowledging to those around us where our gifts and talents come from.

Then we’ll be ministering to the world through Christ whether we are on the playing field or the stage or the mall.

As you go through this week, I want to challenge you to look at what you do. How are you using your gifts to give your all for Christ?