Sermon of the week Bringing out the best
by Rev. Larry McRorey Pastor, First United Methodist Church
Jan 22, 2012 | 417 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At the 2011 gathering of the World Methodist Conference in South Africa, delegates from around the world heard a story from a man who when a boy had lost his home and entire belongings to an army of occupation. The home and the land his father owned for many years was taken from them and the family had been forced to walk miles to a refugee camp.

It had been the boy’s father who had told his family that this army was coming and that they needed to accept them for those in the army had had no place to call home for many years and they had been a persecuted people. The family fed them and cared for them and within a few days the occupying army expelled the family from their own home making them refugees in their own country.

This action on the part of the army would probably have planted the seeds of hatred in most of us. Many of our lives would have taken a different course and for most of us, we would have sought ways to pay back this injustice. Take note of the text from Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 12, verses 1-8:

1. So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

2. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

3. I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what He does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

4. In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around.

5. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body.

6. Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else.

7. If you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching.

8. If you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

In spite of the events of his childhood, the young boy grew up with love for all people and dedicated his life to God as a priest. He was a Palestinian who dedicated his life to Christ and the army to which he lost everything as a child was the Israeli army. He is now a Palestinian Christian living alongside and among the very persons that had taken his family’s land and possessions years ago.

In 2005, the Israeli police chief of his town called him frantic that something tragic had happened and things were sure to get worse for both sides if he did not come and help out. The situation was that a young Jewish soldier riding in a bus filled with Palestinians lost his temper and shot the bus driver dead. He also shot the nephew of the bus driver, and two other young women. One of the women was headed to a bridal shop where she was to buy her wedding dress, and the other was on her way to her college graduation ceremony. The other Palestinian passengers on the bus stoned the young Israeli soldier killing him resulting in a tense standoff between the Palestinians and Jews.

Neither the police nor the army could retrieve the body of the soldier and thus the call to the priest to help them recover the body and to try and avert further violence and bloodshed. The young priest accepted the call and went to the gory scene. He talked to the Palestinians and told them what he was going to do. As he entered the bus, all he could see was blood everywhere. He asked those around the bus which was Palestinian blood and which was Jewish blood. No one could distinguish between the blood for it was all the same! With God’s help, the young priest diffused the situation and allowed the people to go home without further bloodshed. This priest is now the Archbishop of Galilee.
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