Minnehaha Communion Lutheran - Pastor's Message
Minnehaha Communion Lutheran - Building Relationships with Christ and Each Other.

Season of Pentecost- Preached July 8, 2018  by Pastor Sally Ankerfelt  

Dear Friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Creator, Christ our Redeemer and the Holy Spirit, our Guide and Comforter. AMEN

Here’s a little tale for you. You maybe even have had an experience like this at some point in your life.

Someone storms off and locks himself in the bathroom. There he or she sits. One family member comes to the door, knocks gently and says, “Can we talk?” It’s only met with silence. Then another family member and then some friends come along, and still, no luck. Finally, a new neighbor strolls on in to see what’s going on. The family says, “So-and-so locked himself in the bathroom and he won’t listen to us. We’ve had no luck whatsoever.” They look at the new neighbor in desperation. Someone has a brilliant idea and looking at the neighbor they say, “Why don’t you try?” So, the neighbor steps up to the door. Instead of knocking and pleading with the holdout on the other side, he takes out an old napkin from his pocket and pulls out a pen and writes a note. It’s brief. It only says, “Hi how R U?” He slides it under the door and shoves the pen under there, too. He sits down and waits. A few minutes later, the napkin and pen come back with a brief, “I’m ok.” And here is how the conversation goes for quite some time. Finally, the family’s loved one opens the door and comes out. Victory!

Isn’t it just the truth, though? People can shut the door on the advice, the suggestions, the pleas, the warnings, of their family and friends, of those closest to them. What is it about that? We can be so stubborn!

We can relate, I think, to Jesus’ own words: “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 

You can say the same thing to a stranger as you would to your family, and the stranger will hear you but the information will go in one ear and out the other with your family member.

Sometimes, when we come to an impasse with a loved one, we look to someone else, often almost a stranger, to help us. Interestingly enough, the stranger sometimes comes up with a way to communicate that we had not thought of before. Who would have thought to pass notes under the door? The goal is same: to have the person unlock the door and come out- but the approach is different. Sometimes we need that. And – can you believe – sometimes Jesus needed that, too.

For the most part, people in his hometown did not listen to his preaching and teaching, his bringing good news. They are skeptical of the source of his supposed power as he heals the sick, his helps the oppressed, and calls people to a new life. The Gospel of Mark reports about Jesus’ work in his hometown, “He could do no deeds of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.”

So, what does Jesus do? Does he give up? No, Jesus hands the job off to these twelve who were following him. He gives them authority and a little bit of advice and sends them on their way. He’s not detailed in “how” they will do it, just “what” they will do.

The purpose and the goal of the disciples’ journey was the same: share the good news, heal the sick, and bring hope to all. The disciples simply brought a different approach to the task, one that was uniquely their own.

I wonder, if Jesus walked the earth today, what kind of reception he would get. It probably would be mixed results. But, guess what, he enlists each one of you; he enlists me, to get out there and help him reach his goal. If you look alongside you, in front of you, or behind you, you will see another person who has been called. I can guarantee you that each and every one of you has an approach, an idea, a way of moving in the world that will “speak” in a way that I could not speak, or that Pastor Dan could not do, or our bishop, or even in a way that Christ may not be able to do as effectively.

We are reminded, though, that even though our approaches are different, the goal is the same.

And this is where I think we sometimes lose our way. We forget to focus on what Christ calls us to do and we start making up our own goals, our own purposes, or we abandon Christ’s purpose altogether. When we do this, we can become at odds with one another and we can lose our effectiveness.

Consider the person locked in the bathroom. The goal was to get him out safely. What if some of family members decided that that was no longer the goal? Maybe they became distracted and discouraged so they slowly walked away. Some left, some went to bed, and some went into the kitchen to play cards.  If the task became difficult, they would need to remind themselves that the main reason they are together is to help their loved one who is in distress and for some reason locked himself in the bathroom. They would need to be open to a new “someone” sharing an idea or a plan.

Even though it’s a simple example, it can help us to understand what is at stake for Jesus, when we, as followers of Christ, get distracted or disinterested, when we forget why we are here in the first place as the  Body of Christ. We are here – this is you and me individually and we as a congregation- we are here to bring Good News to the oppressed, release to the captive, to  bind up the broken-hearted. We are here to promote healing, hope and wholeness so that people will unlock the doors of their hearts and their lives and be able to live anew, truly and fully.

Many of us know this hymn well. #433 LBW. The Church of Christ in Every Age, beset by change, but spirit-led. Must claim and test its heritage and keep on rising from the dead. Across the world, across the street, the victims of injustice cry for shelter and for bread to eat, and never live before they die. Then let the servant church arise, a caring church that longs to be , a partner in Christ’s sacrifice and clothed in Christ’s humanity. We have no mission but to serve in full obedience to our Lord, but to care for all without reserve, and spread’s God liberating word.” (Text: Fred Pratt Green, 1903-2000. [email protected] Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission, CCLI License #2797205)

That’s why we’re here. All of our strategies, all of our goals, all of our unique approaches – point to Christ and the mission he has given us. And, when we might not see the goal being reached, we open ourselves up to new folks in our lives and in our midst.

Consider the hymn we just sang. It may not speak to some people, so we open ourselves up to another way. We sing a newer hymn also, Lord, Be My Song that may reach others.

Not everything will work with everyone, so Jesus needs each and every one of you to dedicate your life to the same purpose. If you are a photographer, make it your ultimate goal to be that  your pictures will bring hope and healing to those who witness them. If you are a retired person, make it your purpose in life to share Good News with others, to be source of love and light to anyone you meet. If you play an instrument or a sport, preach in a pulpit or parent children, seat people on planes or at tables in  restaurants, work the front desk or ring people up at the store, sweep the streets or plant the scrubs, teach the children or tow the cars – whatever you do, use what is uniquely yours and make your work count for the greatest calling ever. Make it be a potential touch-point for someone to experience the unconditional love of Christ and feel renewed and hopeful. Jesus needs you to bring your unique approach to someone who may need just your special approach and style to hear Christ and to see Him through you.

Martin Luther called it, “The priesthood of all believers.” Everyone has a part in the work of The Kingdom.

Christ called the disciples to go and do where he was not welcomed. He wasn’t afraid to enlist help.

You and I are his help today. As Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church, we are His unique help in this place. As individuals, you and I are his help wherever we go.  Let’s keep our focus on Christ’s call, be creative, be courageous, and be confident that our idea, like a small note on a napkin, may be the very thing that will cause someone to open the door, come out, and live. And that, my friends, would be amazing, wonderful, and welcomed by Christ Himself.    AMEN