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Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Mind of Christ and the Ministry of Elders

Sunday Sermon Summary

On Sunday, January 7, 2007 Pastor Coleman gave a sermon on The Mind of Christ and the Ministry of Elders.

A friend was interviewing for a position at a church some time ago. An elderly woman with gray hair asked him what was his greatest gift for ministry was. His friend answered that his greatest gift was that he loved Jesus Christ. The woman who was interviewing him asked him again what was his greatest gift for ministry. His friend gave her the same answer as before--the he loved Jesus Christ. Nothing else matters. He told her that if he did not do that, then nothing else really matters. Today, how would we respond if Jesus were here and he asked, "Do you love me?" Follow me and feed my sheep. ( John 21:15-20)

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

18Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

Last Thursday, while Pastor Coleman was at the gym, the phone rang. It was Lindy calling him at the gym. Something had to be wrong for her to call him at the gym, as she never does that. Apparently two 20 year old men were killed at a McDonald's near their development. The police were everywhere and they could have possibly have fled into the nearby neighborhoods. She wanted to warn him. Since that incident there have been other shootings in the tri-county area. In the newspaper today there is an article about a local funeral director about how some young people see death. Life is trivialized. Where have we gone wrong? Where is the body of Christ in the midst of darkness?

Today new Elders will be installed. What does that mean to you? You may be asked to serve on a committee. The relationships that we have with one another are most important. We must confront adversity with faith, hope and love. The Elders and all of us, must all he equipped with these things as well as our other gifts so that we will be a light in the darkness. Young people will have hope. We need to show then a more excellent way to live...away from greed, lust and immorality, just to name a few. We are called to be a community based on faith, hope and love.

(Philippians 2:1-11)
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

If the gospel matters at all and Jesus matters at all in our lives, we need to live happily together in unity, of being on one accord and with purity of heart. Love Jesus and show the community that the gospel does made a difference. Wherever there is despair, violence and suffering, God will be there to offer comfort and hope. Our church family has had several tragedies in the last few weeks. How has the church responded? The church has reached out to those families with support in the form of calls, visits, cards and food. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. We can live in the hope that God offers us..that we will overcome.

What do we expect of elders? We expect that they be of one mind--the mind of Christ. They will put the needs of the community before their own. They will put others before themselves. The interests of others will come first. Jesus Christ set aside his glory to suffer the agony of the cross. He is "the example." He is the example that elders are called to follow 24 hours a day...following Jesus Christ, feeding the sheep. Being an elder is not about meetings. It is about relationships.

In the Faith and Values section of the newspaper, there were articles on the struggles of the Episcopal church. We as Presbyterians are struggling as well. We have a lot of work to do: with other congregations, within our community. We expect the Elders to lead the way in our witness to Jesus Christ. We are not called to sit back and wait, but to confront the darkness with faith hope and love. That is our calling.


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