The Gift That Is In You

Last week, we heard the story from Matthew’s gospel about how Jesus fed over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.  Because it was Youth Sunday, we had the powerful honor of hearing Molly and Aiden reflect on their experiences with youth ministry here in this congregation.  They talked about faith and trust and just pure fun, all pointing to the myriad ways Jesus has provided for them and for this congregation.  Their words, combined with the worship leadership of many other young people, made my Sunday worship all the more holy.

1 Timothy 4:11-16

Last week, we heard the story from Matthew’s gospel about how Jesus fed over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.  Because it was Youth Sunday, we had the powerful honor of hearing Molly and Aiden reflect on their experiences with youth ministry here in this congregation.  They talked about faith and trust and just pure fun, all pointing to the myriad ways Jesus has provided for them and for this congregation.  Their words, combined with the worship leadership of many other young people, made my Sunday worship all the more holy.

Today in worship, we will hear that story again.  In our Chorister Cantata, we will hear again the story of how Jesus feeds the multitudes with small gifts of bread and fish offered with great faithfulness and love.  This morning, our young people will let you be a part of this story and hear that no matter who you are, no matter what you have to offer, your gifts can and will be used to great glory of the sake of God’s world.

And I know what you’re thinking: surely the pastors must have messed up if we’re hearing the story two Sundays in a row during worship.  Let me reassure you: we did this on purpose.  The story of Jesus feeding the multitudes is so important that it appears in each of the four gospels.  So first of all, if the story reveals so much about who we are as God’s people and how we are meant to understand Jesus, if it is truly so important that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all want to put their own spin on it, surely we can give our young people two different opportunities to teach us through the text.   Part of encountering scripture is hearing it in different contexts, through different storytellers, through a different lens; so let’s do that here and now.

Secondly, when we hear this story as we will hear it today, we learn an important truth as reflected in our reading this morning from the book of 1 Timothy.  This book is written as a letter from an older, more experienced teacher of faith to Timothy, a young, new leader in the church.  Many young pastors, leaders, teachers, and scholars have been encouraged by the bold words to Timothy to “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  As we see from our youth last week and as we will see from them again today, age has no bearing on ability to live and act faithfully and boldly in accordance with God’s word, revealing who we know God to be.

Age does not negate one’s life faith, service, or leadership as we hear in today’s reading: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you”.  Consider the assumption behind this statement.  Whoever you are, whatever your age, no matter your experience, there is a gift in you.  God has blessed you with skills, talents, abilities, ideas, passions, and desires.  These things are gifts.  Each child of God has a powerful and meaningful gift to share for the sake of all.

How does your view of your neighbor change when you consider the gift that is in them?  Instead of seeing another as too old, too young, too foreign, too out-there, too much of a liability, what if you simply wondered: what gifts has God placed in you?  How might you work together for the sake of God and of neighbor so that you can “Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them” – in other words, walk alongside your neighbor to keep using those gifts, no matter how small, so they might do big things for God’s good world?  In this view, is anyone too young?  Too inexperienced?  Too old?  Too set-in-their-ways?  No, my friends, they are not.  We each receive God’s good gifts, and together we work for the good of the world.  We do not others as without something to offer; instead, we encourage everyone not to neglect the gift that is in them.

But then also, how does your view of yourself change when you consider the gift that is in you?  What if you’re not useless?  What if it doesn’t matter that you don’t think you know your Bible well enough?  What if you’re not too weird, too over-the-hill, too sick, too busy, too young, too old, too whatever?  What if you trusted God’s word when it says that there is a gift within you, that you yourself are the gift, that you could offer your very self, exactly as you are, to service of God for the sake of the world and the neighbor that God so loves?  What if your gift, in the hands of Jesus, would only multiply and grow and feed a world hungry for truth and authenticity and vulnerability and the holy, real honesty of being your very self?  What if that is enough?  What if you are enough?

“Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them”.  Choose today to believe that God works through you.  That the gifts you have and the gift of your very identity can and will be used by God for the good of the faith and this world.  Practice them.  Grow in your abilities and strengths.  Use them to share the truth of God’s great and saving love for all people.  Devote yourself to the daily work of listening for God’s guidance, studying God’s word, serving God’s people, and loving yourself for who God made you to be.

Our Savior, who fed thousands with just handfuls of food, will take what little you think you have to offer and show you that it is more than enough.  Your gifts are an abundance of love and joy for yourself, for your world, to the glory of the God who made you.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Comments

Hard Reset MobileOnline YojanaAadhaar Card | Aadhaar Card UpdateBanks Guide - All Informations of Indian BankCustomer Care Number - Bank, Brand Customer Care NumberState Lottery Results - Nagaland, Kerala, West Bengal, Bodoland, Rajshree and many OthersTrouble Fixer - PC , Mobile and Other Device Troubleshooting
© 2019 Augustana Lutheran Church. All Rights Reserved.
Built By Keys To Success Marketing