to Us if…
n our Gospel story for this Sunday from Mark we find Jesus wanting very much to begin his traveling ministry of preaching throughout the two hundred small towns of the region near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. It was the happiest time of his earthly life. He had revealed himself as the Promised Messiah. He had begun to heal and to cast out demons, he had become a popular name in the region of Galilee; but now Jesus happily gets to begin to do what he has long felt most called to do, and that was to preach the Good News of salvation. Most of the time Jesus was with his twelve Apostles, and some other disciples and followers together camping out under the stars and preparing meals from a campfire. It sounds a lot like a cowboy’s cattle drive to market. Some of the newly called Apostles were City Slickers and must have had to learn fast how to survive outdoors. However, the main thing they were about was preaching. The Apostles had to learn quickly both what to preach and how to deliver the message.
In Paul’s letter to the church that he had established in Corinth we hear him reflecting on his call to preach; indeed, his compulsion and God’s command for him to preach. It is the familiar text regularly used in Sunday School lessons and in events to encourage young people to consider the ministry as a vocational calling; or, as a part of a Missions Emphasis Week which we are kicking off this Sunday morning: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.”
Still today, preaching is the chief means of grace. If people are going to hear the Good News they are most of the time going to receive it through the ministry of preaching. In First Corinthians nine we hear the Apostle Paul sharing his great sense of calling primarily as a preacher. His famous words are: “If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel. (v. 16, NRSV)
However, you may have noticed in the sermon title listed on your worship bulletin that I have modified the sermon text/title to read, “Woe to us…”
Actually, what I am doing is stressing the fact that in the Christian Church we are all called to spread the Good News, everyone is encouraged to share your faith with your friends, relatives, associates and neighbors.
In other words, the Football Coaches of tonight’s Super Bowl teams will not actually get on the field and play the game, but all of the players are equipped and qualified to play their position in the struggle to win their Super Bowl Ring. Now the coaches will do their part and the game could not go on without them, and the winning coaches also get the coveted rings; however, each player is absolutely necessary too.
I do not want to carry this analogy too far, and you have already caught the point, but we each need to know that every baptized believer is called in one way or another to share the proclamation of the Good News.
Preaching is not just something the “preacher” does in front of the congregation, but in broader sense, preaching is a ministry of proclamation that all believers are capable of and called to do. We have four appointed clergy appointed to this great church, Olga, Gary, Michael and myself. And we have several more ordained staff members who share in our ministry: Greg and Mark are ordained from prior sister denominations. However, so many of you have vocational training that is so close to clergy training and you have been teaching and leading in this church for years: Professors, teachers, counselors and medical personnel find it easy to mover over into clergy type functions occasionally. Many of our clergy in our Annual Conference came from prior vocations on my list.
Still today, preaching is the chief means of grace. If people are going to hear the Good News they are most of the time going to receive it through the ministry of preaching. In First Corinthians nine we hear the Apostle Paul sharing his great sense of calling primarily as a preacher. His famous words are: “If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel.” (v. 16, NRSV)
Our shared ministry is still the proclamation of the gospel to everybody in Carrollton and to the ends of the earth. You have heard in all four worship services the report of our Medical and Dental Mission Trip to Nicaragua, which just returned a couple of days ago. Several preachers also went along and met with local clergy. Everyone shared the gospel in words spoken and in deeds of mercy done.
Indeed, the easiest way to encourage the persons in your circle of influence to hear the Gospel is to invite them to visit your church with you. Americans have been inviting friends to visit their church since the founding fathers did so. It’s as easy as asking someone to go with you to lunch. It seems harmless and lacking in any hidden agenda. However, if you will bring them here I will promise that they will hear the gospel in each service. Everybody needs to be brought under the influence of the preaching of the word and all of us share in the ministry of getting them here.
Our Annual Missions Conference is a reminder of the ways that our church reaches out into overseas nations with the proclamation of the Good News of God’s love and His Plan of Salvation that every sacred person alive on this planet needs to hear. Evangelism and Missions are both about preaching, teaching and enabling persons to see and hear how the message of salvation can transform their lives. Indeed, the cattle drive continues.
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor