A sermon on 1 Corinthians 12.1-13
The day that we, in the Christian church, celebrate the decent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, and with it, the gifts the Holy Spirit brings.
I want to talk first about the pastoral office.
Not the person,
not the title,
the literal office.
The room where the pastor keeps home base for ministry.
In seminary, and out of seminary, we learn a lot about boundaries,
and one of the most concrete sets of boundaries is what happens in that office.
Boundaries are really good things.
Setting good boundaries makes for healthy congregations
and healthy pastors.
Sometimes boundaries can look a lot like barriers.
The truth is, there are conversations that happen in the pastoral office
that are not typically shared with the congregation,
In light of the text this morning,
and in light of the fact that I'm only here for one more month...
I'm going to share one of those types of conversations with all of you.
Whether it was I and Pr. Sue,
or it's now I and Pr. Paula,
we spend a lot of time talking about you all.
Specifically, we spend a lot,
and I mean A LOT,
of time talking about your gifts.
In fact, I know for certain that we talk about your gifts more than you do.
One of the things I did this past fall was lead a Bible Study on stewardship.
It was a great group and I think we had a good time.
The last week of the Bible Study, we took an inventory of gifts.
Many of you have probably done something similar during past stewardship seasons.
But oh my goodness!
It was like pulling teeth!
Look, I spent the two years before I got here immersed in Minnesota Nice.
But that was nothing compared to North Dakota modesty.
In fact, during the Bible Study,
when people were reluctant to name their gifts,
Zone had to name their gifts for them.
And while it's nice to hear that someone else notices your gifts,
and the loving things that you do,
or the way that you care,
we have to talk about this.
I'm not one to typically be black and white when it comes to God,
or how to be Christian,
but I have to say this because I'm honestly afraid that some of you may have never heard it before:
It's not right to deny what God has given you.
being the worship,
these things don't exist without the gifts that we're all given by the Spirit.
Everything from the upkeep of the beautiful building to the bulletins,
from the preparations for communion to the lessons learned in Sunday school,
and of course the beautiful music we hear every Sunday...
We would have NONE of this if it weren't for the gifts of the spirit through all of you.
And it's SO IMPORTANT that you hear and understand this
because like the text from 1 Corinthians says;
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."
The common good.
The communal good.
We're given these gifts,
not for ourselves,
but so we can use them to better the community we're in,
...to better the world we're in.
About a month ago,
we were in Acts, and I preached on the Holy Spirit,
and how it calls us to look outwards,
and then to go outwards.
But before that, I brought up the fact that we don't talk about the Holy Spirit much
because we don't know what it looks like.
Well, I want to try something.
We're going to do some congregational participation.
I know, I know, we're Lutherans.
We sit in our pews, and worship stoically.
But please, humor the intern.
I'm going to list off things that we do to better our community.
If one applies to you, please stand if you're able, or raise your hand if it is more comfortable, and stay standing or keep your hand up.
We'll start locally.
If you've lead a Bible Study, please stand.
If you've volunteered for the rummage sale, prepared or served a dinner, or prepared or served food for fellowship, please stand.
If you've done any work for the upkeep of the grounds or of the building of Elim.
If you've volunteered through the Emergency Food Shelf, the Sheltering Churches Project, the New Life Center, or any other organization that helps those experiencing poverty or homelessness.
If you've ever ran, walked, or raced for a cure or awareness.
If you've ever volunteered with organizations like the Salvation Army or the Red Cross.
If you've ever taught in a classroom or worked inside a school, please stand (and yes, Sunday School absolutely counts).
If you've ever worked for the physical, emotional, or spiritual well-being of others.
If you've ever lead a Boy Scout Troop, and Girl Scout Troop, or a 4-H group.
If you've served in a branch of the military.
If you've ever prayed with, or for, a loved one.
If you've prayed with, or for, a stranger.
Now take a look around.
Brothers and Sisters of Christ,
THIS IS WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT LOOKS LIKE.
(You can all take a seat.)
Those things that I listed off aren't an exhaustive list by any means,
but those are some of the things that make a community work.
Those are just some of the gifts of the Spirit that are given for the common good.
Because you were created, and given gifts, for the common good of the Kingdom of God.
These are the gifts we talk about in the pastoral office
when we talk about how much you all love and passionately care about this place and this community.
So the next time someone asks you,
"What are your gifts?"
Please, please, PLEASE,
don't answer, "I don't know."
Don't deny the gifts you've been given.
The are from the Holy Spirit.
remember what you literally stood for today.
Remember that without those gifts of the Spirit,
this wouldn't be the oasis it is.
It wouldn't be the Elim it is.
In the words of one of our favorite theologians,
"This is most certainly true."