The really interesting thing about opportunities is that we very often don’t recognize them! Or what they potentially represent! And, even if we did, we are more than likely to make excuses rather than face them squarely. I know this very well since I’m as guilty as the next person. But, sometimes, personal choice is not an option.
As a case in point, I was late for an 11:00 service in my pre-choir days when I was literally accosted by Mike Stoffa as I ran through the kitchen. He informed me, in his no-nonsense voice, that a reader was needed immediately and that he had chosen me! I protested vainly, with the strains of the opening hymn in my ears and Mike holding a bulletin toward me, his eyes beseeching me to save the world or at least the upcoming service! Grumbling about a lack of choice, thinking that both life in general and Mike in particular were very unreasonable, I gave in and that was the first step in a journey that has brought me here today for, once committed, there was no turning back.
There is, of course, a Biblical parallel in the Parable of the Great Banquet which is told in the 14th chapter of Luke. You may know this story and the excuses with which the invitations to a sumptuous banquet were turned aside: “I just bought a field and I must go and see it, please excuse me!” I’ve just bought five yoke of oxen and I’m on my way to try them out, so I can’t come!” I just got married, so I can’t come!” All reasons that may have sounded plausible to their authors but rang false to the ear of their potential host, just as mine did to Mike on that long ago Sunday.
So, you may now well ask, what is this banquet that Stan’s talking about? What is the opportunity? I haven’t received any invitation to a feast of some kind, so I can’t be guilty of turning anybody down!
Well, as I see it, this building project represents just such an opportunity, an opportunity to help us grow and make us a bigger family. This church has already given us a larger family, ready to meet our needs, and, most importantly, it binds us together so that we can more easily fulfill Christ’s mandate: “Go ye into the world and make disciples of all the nations!” Completing this project will literally open us to friends and strangers alike – welcoming them into this special community of Christ of which we are a part, where we experience friendship, good fun, good times, fellowship, sorrow and comfort and a special sense of belonging.
And, make no mistake about this, we are blessed to have many current congregants here because they recognized the unique spirit of community that exists here at St. Paul. They wanted to explore it for themselves and, in their turn, share with us. Making us more accessible to the world at large is a key element to encourage those decisions. Our new members bring us continued vitality and growth and it is exciting to contemplate what our future may hold.
So I ask you to accept the challenge, to give cheerfully to this special opportunity – welcome back old friends and prepare to make new ones but, most of all, do it because you love this place and these people and are excited by the future we can build together. Be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us, remembering St. Paul’s admonition: “(Now) it is required that all who have been given a trust must remain faithful.”
In short, as Mike may have put it if he were here in my place, there’s no good excuse to turn me down, we need you now!
Grow in Christ, serve the Lord always. Amen & Thank You!