I gave my first sermon on Sunday [that’s yesterday, October 21, 2012] for Laity Sunday. The United Methodist Church has a tradition of being led by the lay people when a pastor couldn’t make it to church [which was often because the pastors were circuit-riders – there weren’t enough pastors to go around], and we celebrate this tradition once a year.
God gave me the sermon way back in August. I was reading Nehemiah 3. For those not familiar with Nehemiah 3, the entire chapter lists everyone who did anything with rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. It’s not very exciting, and I found myself wondering, “Why should I care about any of this?” I found myself thinking, “This doesn’t pertain to me. This is pointless.”
Then God smacked me over the head and pointed me toward Romans 12:3-8.
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” [Romans 12:4-5]
I realized that, in the same way the people of Judah were all working together to accomplish their goal, Christians today are doing the same thing – we’re trying to build the Kingdom of God.
We go about this using our God-given spiritual gifts. Every gift looks different; every gift serves a different function, but they all contribute to the same goal, to the same God.
Sometimes, though, jealousies occur. How many times have I said that I wished I could be like someone else? Too many times. But it’s so easy to be jealous, especially when we see everyone else’s gifts so clearly.
I then used the simile from Fruits Basket [I couldn’t get it out of my head], that everyone is like an onigiri. We can see so clearly the umeboshi on everyone else’s backs, but we can’t see our own. When we look at ourselves, all we see is plain white rice. I wrote, “Don’t be jealous of others for their gifts, because you have gifts, too. Maybe you just haven’t seen what they are yet.”
I had to show what an onigiri is, because the majority of the congregation I was speaking to are over the age of 40, and don’t know much about Japanese culture. [My own parents were confused until I showed them pictures – it’s a good thing I was using PowerPoint as well and could easily show everyone pictures.]
All in all, I guess it went well. That’s what everyone said. I only had one person tell me I could have spoken more, made my sermon longer. Maybe I’m just one of the few short-winded Methodists. ^_^
Yesterday I also was officially accepted to be in the candidacy process for becoming a Methodist pastor. I sure was busy yesterday. 😀