Thinking About His Work

The following sermon was based on Matthew 22:34-40 and 28:18-20.  It was written in order to present Central Church’s  mission and our vision.  This message was delievered at the Central Schwenkfelder Church in Worcester, PA on Labor Day, September 4, 2011

Everyone anticipates Labor Day weekend with great joy.  Who does enjoy a little time off.  Labor Day weekend is something we all look forward to; kind of the last weekend of the summer and a designated time for recreation.  I recently returned from my vacation.  We had a great time in Missouri with family and friends.  Rest from our labors does something for us.  Vacations are important.  They balance our lives and refresh us.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Labor Day was started as a reminder that we need rest, but we also need work. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. Within two years, Labor Day became a popular idea in order to celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday.” Afterwards, local municipalities passed ordinances for the day.  Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first state for the holiday to become law was Oregon in 1887 and by June of 1894, it was a nationally recognized holiday.[1]

Labor Day reminds us that we need rest, and we need work.  As a church, we must identify our work and our direction- what God has called us to do.  Behind well-intentioned work is a mission and a vision.  I appreciate what our moderator Carl Sensenig has penned, which will appear in October’s newsletter.  He said: “A couple of years ago Church Council set out to search for answers to some important questions.  You could have called it Central’s strategic planning process but we called it, “discerning God’s direction for Central.”  And, rather than asking ourselves “what do we want for our church,” we asked, “what does God want for God’s church?”  Out of this process, the church leadership developed a mission statement which is simple and to the point.

OUR MISSION: To love God, to serve others and to grow disciples.

What does it mean to love God? Jesus said in Matthew 22 that it means to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. This represented the totality of a person.  That means everything we do is in some way, an expression of worship and love towards God. Colossians 3:17 says: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  We are a God-centered church.  But being God-centered means that we are also concerned about others.  What does it mean to serve others?  We are to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Who is our neighbor?  When Jesus was asked that question in Luke 10, He responded with the story of the Good Samaritan.  The one in need is our neighbor, regardless of their skin color, creed or position in life. In essence, everyone is our neighbor. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Someone once said that we live in a “dog-eat-dog” world.  In contrast, we are a community of faith that is concerned for the spiritual health of our neighbors and the world.  May people look at us as a church and notice that there’s something different about us.

And the way in which to best serve others is by facilitating their spiritual growth.  That is why the last point of our mission is… to grow disciples.  What does it mean to grow disciples? In Matthew 28, the main instruction to the early disciples, as Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, was to go into all the world and make disciples.  Because we feel that life lived apart from Christ is a life lived in vain, we aim to do all we can to introduce, grow and mature people in their faith and dependence upon Jesus.  That means that our Sunday School classes, our small groups, our youth ministry, our counseling is geared to making and growing disciples.  We are a church with a mission.  We are to be outward in our focus.  Our new Community Center is a part of that effort.  What an exciting time in the life of our congregation! We want to invite people in and be a part of what we are doing.  That’s a little bit about our mission as a church.  But this morning, I want to share with you…

OUR VISION: To become fully mature disciples of Christ.

Our vision is that which we strive to be, what we are becoming, how we see ourselves in the future.  Our vision is what God has called us to be;and what we want to be.  A vision is simple.  It is a clear, challenging picture concerning what we must be, as a church.  What is Central’s vision?  Your Church Council has adopted the following vision, centered on one goal with five means. They fit “hand-in-glove with our mission.  We want to become fully mature disciples of Christ by doing the following…

  • Glorifying God individually and together as a church
  • Growing spiritually through Bible study and prayer
  • Supporting one another within our church family
  • Serving others as an expression of our faith
  • Witnessing in our neighborhoods and throughout the world

Notice that the first two have to do with loving God: glorifying God individually and together as a church and Growing spiritually through Bible study and prayer. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, probably the noblest expression of the Christian faith to come out of the English Reformation, written in 1646, asks: “What is the chief end of man?” Its answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  We do this by knowing His will and obeying His will.  We long to get more Scripture in us; not just knowing it but owning it! This fall, let me challenge you to get involved in a systematic study of a portion of the Bible, if not a section of the Bible.  Enroll in our “Bible for Life” class, taught by Pastor Bill and Pete Colvin.  Get involved in a Sunday School class.  Come to Christianity 101 or the Bethel Bible series. These are all designed to teach you the Scripture.

Notice the next two: Supporting one another within our church family and serving others as an expression of our faith.  I can say that we do an admirable job of this.  Recently, you found out that my daughter Grace broke her arm as she fell off her skateboard.  Since that accident, you have poured out your love towards us.  Grace is the most popular person in my home.  She has received gifts and cards galore!   Now I’m thinking about having my arm broke!  She’s been blessed by you; we’ve been blessed by you.  Thank you!

But it blesses me so much to hear of and see you act like this towards one another.  Whether it is the passing of an aged parent, or the friend who is struggling with cancer.  I am overwhelmed when I see Christians take one a sense of ministry and pastoral care for one another.  Then there is our involvement in growing disciples.  That makes the last point of our vision so important: Witnessing in our neighborhoods and throughout the world.  That means that we should be interested in introducing others to Jesus Christ.  It is good to be reminded that my primary calling is to be an ambassador for Jesus. I am an ambassador to everyone around me: to my family, my neighbors, my coworkers and my world.  I must always do as 1 Peter 3:15 states: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”  Will people be drawn more to God because they’ve been with me?  We are to be His witnesses in Lansdale, in Pulaski, VA, or in Athens, Greece.

CONCLUSION

Labor Day reminds us that we need rest, and we need work.  As a church, we must identify our work and our direction- what God has called us to do.  Behind well-intentioned work is a clear mission and a vision.  What is God’s direction for His church at Central?  Our mission?  To love God; to serve others; and to grow disciples.  Our vision?  We want to become fully mature disciples of Christ by…

  • Glorifying God individually and together as a church
  • Growing spiritually through Bible study and prayer
  • Supporting one another within our church family
  • Serving others as an expression of our faith
  • Witnessing in our neighborhoods and throughout the world

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