Congregational Vitality

The Sunday Sermon:  Second Sunday after Epiphany – January 14, 2018

Scripture:  Mark 1:14-15

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Congregational Vitality

Three weeks ago, Jesus was born.

Two weeks ago, Jesus was forty days old being dedicated in the Temple.

Last week, Jesus was thirty years old, stepping into the Jordan River to be baptized.

And this week, after being driven into the wilderness to face his temptations, Jesus begins his Galilean ministry. We read that after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God and …sat down to take a survey so he could know where to begin. That is recorded in the recently discovered, and often misunderstood, Gospel of Steve. So there’s precedent for our endeavor this morning during our time of proclamation.

No, no … There’s no Gospel of Steve (that we know of, yet.) After Jesus was baptized, driven into the wilderness, and returned, the Gospel of Mark (that is real!) notes … Read Mark 1:14-15 … The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

His public ministry is beginning in all four of our canonical gospels. But in none of them did he “sit down to take a survey.” We, however, are this morning. To begin our travels with the adult Jesus this year. Our Mid-Kentucky has been chosen as a pilot presbytery to the “the pioneer users of a new discernment tool for the congregations of our denomination, designed to uncover the ways in which the Holy Spirit is moving through our congregations.”

There were many ways to offer this survey to our members, but from the national and local office, it was suggested that we actually do it during a worship service. I know that it sounds suspiciously like a day off for Pastor Joel (and I may just slip out for a Starbuck’s in minute or two), but this wasn’t my idea. In fact, I was a bit suspicious of it, myself, at fist. But the cover letters and instructions noted that “framing this discernment as a part of a worship service can help us focus our hearts and minds on the truths of Jesus and to see that God is control” of even the most mundane processes of the church. We have gathered, prepared, prayed and received forgiveness for the past. We are ready to engage the present, so … here we are.

And here is our survey. (Ushers, will you please hand out a survey to everyone?) Last Monday, your Session took this survey during our monthly meeting. On Tuesday morning, your staff took this survey at our semi-monthly meeting. And today, each of you are given the opportunity. There are no wrong answers, so you don’t need to look at your neighbors survey if you must, The only thing you can’t do is use a red or green pen. Pencils are fine, black and blue ink is fine.

You may begin as soon as you get your survey. It should take about twelve to fifteen minutes. We’ll close this time in prayer and stand to sing, but for now, please “discern.”

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Closing Prayer:

Gracious God, with different gifts, with a variety of talents, with an array of interests, we have gathered again to worship with one another and experience the reality in our lives that is … you, Love and Promise, and Life. We seek to be a vital Body of our Christ, to be united in our spirits, to made one in the common ministry that follows the Way of Jesus, to be merged in hope as disciples. We ask that you bless our difference, allowing the unique gifts of us all to strengthen this church and the Church Universal. Drawn in your Spirit, we give thanks for the opportunities this community provides. May we have the courage, always, to follow where the Spirit leads us. Amen.

Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / January 14, 2018