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MATTHEW 25:31-46|GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL

April 23, 2018
Posted by Office Staff

GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL

MATTHEW 25:31-46

APRIL 22, 2018

 

AS I’VE PROBABLY MENTIONED TO YOU IN THE PAST, I GREW UP IN CENTRAL FLORIDA, SOME 50 MILES OR SO INLAND OF CAPE CANAVERAL AND THE KENNEDY SPACE CENTER.

 

THIS WAS DURING THE HEYDAY OF NASA LAUNCHES, AND WE USED TO WATCH WHATEVER WAS BEING LAUNCHED, EVERYTHING FROM THE EARLIEST UNMANNED SATELLITES TO ALL OF THE MANNED MISSIONS – MERCURY, GEMINI, APOLLO, AND THE SPACE SHUTTLES, COME UP OVER THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET.

 

WE’D BE GLUED TO THE TELEVISION SET, (A BLACK AND WHITE TV, FOR THE LONGEST TIME) WATCHING THE PREPARATION AND FINAL COUNTDOWN;

 

AND THEN, BLASTOFF, KNOWING WE’D HAVE JUST A FEW SECONDS TO GET OUTSIDE, TO SEE THE ROCKET RISING INTO THE AIR ABOVE THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET.

 

BUT ONE OF THE THINGS I REMEMBER ABOUT THE PREPARATIONS, JUST BEFORE THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, WAS THAT EACH DEPARTMENT WOULD MAKE A FINAL CHECK IN WITH LAUNCH COMMAND.

 

AS I CAN’T REALLY REMEMBER EACH OF THE AREAS, I’M GUESSING AT THEM HERE: TELEMETRY – GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL; COMMUNICATIONS – GO; ENGINEERING – GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL; LAUNCH PAD – GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL…

 

AND THEN, FROM DIFFERENT PLACES, IN HOUSTON, TX, HUNTSVILLE, AL, AND PRETTY MUCH ACROSS THE GLOBE, FROM VARIOUS TRACKING STATIONS, ETC. EACH PLACE WOULD CHECK IN – GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL;

 

AND ONCE THE LAUNCH DIRECTOR WAS SATISFIED THAT EVERYTHING WAS A “GO” HE’D CLEAR THE LAUNCH FOR LIFTOFF AND COMMENCE THE FINAL COUNTDOWN.  10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6…

 

TOWARDS THE END OF EACH OF THE GOSPELS THERE ARE POST-RESURRECTION APPEARANCES BY JESUS IN WHICH HE GIVES HIS COMPANIONS THEIR FINAL INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE LAUNCHING THEM ON THEIR OWN, AS THE CHURCH.

 

IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, AS WE MENTIONED LAST SUNDAY, SOME OF JESUS’ LAST WORDS WERE ABOUT HOW HIS FOLLOWERS WERE TO “CARE FOR HIS SHEEP.”

 

IN MATTHEW IT IS THE GREAT COMMISSION: “GO, THEREFORE, AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, TEACHING THEM ALL I HAVE COMMANDED YOU;

 

AND LO, I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE CLOSE OF THE AGE.”

 

IN THE GOSPEL OF LUKE, WHO ALSO WROTE THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, IT IS AT JESUS’ ASCENSION THAT THERE APPEARS WHAT WE MIGHT CALL, THE DISCIPLES’ LAUNCH COMMAND:

 

“… YOU WILL RECEIVE POWER WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES UPON YOU; AND YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES IN JERUSALEM, IN JUDEA, AND SAMARIA, AND TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”

 

MARK, WHOSE GOSPEL ENDS RATHER ABRUPTLY, (PROBABLY THE TRUE, ORIGINAL ENDING);

 

ONLY TO HAVE FOUR ADDITIONAL ENDINGS ADDED TO IT BY OTHERS, LATER, AFTER THE FACT, “THE SCOOBY-DOO ENDINGS” OF THE GOSPEL, MAKES IT HARD TO DETERMINE EXACTLY WHAT JESUS SAID TO SET THE DISCIPLES ON THEIR WAY.

 

AND WHILE OUR PASSAGE FOR THIS MORNING, KNOWN AS THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS, ISN’T AT THE END OF MATTHEW’S GOSPEL; AND ISN’T A POST-RESURRECTION APPEARANCE BY CHRIST;

 

IT IS, PERHAPS, ONE OF THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE DESCRIPTIONS OF WHAT JESUS EXPECTS HIS FOLLOWERS TO DO FOR OTHERS IN NEED.

 

FEED THE HUNGRY; GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY; WELCOME THE STRANGER; CLOTHE THE NAKED; CARE FOR THE SICK; VISIT THE IMPRISONED.

 

THAT JESUS GOES TO THE TROUBLE OF SEPARATING THE SHEEP FROM THE GOATS; THE “DO-ERS” FROM THE “DO-NOTHINGS;” AND PRAISES THE FIRST, WHILE WARNING THE LATTER…

 

(AND BY THE WAY, BACK TO LAST WEEK’S SERMON, HERE WE ARE AGAIN AS THE SHEEP WHO ARE ALSO TO BE GOOD SHEPHERDS TO OTHERS IN THIS MORNING’S PASSAGE);

 

THIS PASSAGE OUGHT TO GIVE US SOME IDEA ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE CHURCH TO BE A MISSIONAL CHURCH – A CHURCH THAT IS FULL OF “GOOD DEED DOERS”.

 

AND HERE’S WHERE MY REFERENCE TO “GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL” COMES IN.

 

OUR CONGREGATION, BETTER THAN MANY, HAS LEARNED THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO GO IT ALONE WHEN IT COMES TO OUR MISSION WORK.

 

WE DON’T HAVE TO “REINVENT THE WHEEL,” SO TO SPEAK, WHEN IT COMES TO MINISTERING UNTO OTHERS.

 

WE DON’T START UP A NEW MINISTRY FOR EVERY NEED THAT COMES DOWN THE PIKE.  RATHER, WE WORK WITH OUR PARTNER CHURCHES AND AGENCIES;

 

CONNECTING WITH, PARTNERING WITH, AND WORKING SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH THEM IN CARRYING OUT THE MISSION OF CHRIST’S CHURCH.

 

THIS IS REALLY A MATTER OF GOOD STEWARDSHIP:

 

– OF USING OUR RESOURCES MOST EFFECTIVELY;

 

– OF PARTNERING WITH “EXPERTS,” PEOPLE WHO REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY

ARE DOING WHEN IT COMES TO WORKING WITH THOSE WHO ARE LIVING

HOMELESS IN OUR COMMUNITY, SAY, LIKE OUR WORK WITH FKOC;

 

OR BUILDING HOMES, LIKE THE FOLKS WITH HABITAT;

 

OR SUPPORTING A MULTITUDE OF ORGANIZATIONS THROUGH THE UNITED

   WAY, AND OTHER PARTNER AGENCIES;

 

OR ANY OF THE DOZENS OF OTHER MISSIONS WE SUPPORT LOCALLY,

NATIONALLY, AND THROUGH OUR DENOMINATION, INTERNATIONALLY.

 

THIS IS NOT EXCLUSIVE TO CONGREGATIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH USA, OF COURSE; BUT IT IS ONE OF THE THINGS WE DO BEST – WORKING WITH OTHERS TO CARRY OUT CHRIST’S MISSION.

 

AND THERE’S ANOTHER ASPECT OF STEWARDSHIP HERE, AND THAT IS: NOT ONLY DO WE REFRAIN FROM A DUPLICATION OF EFFORT THIS WAY, BUT WE GET THE BIGGEST BANG FOR OUR BUCK.

 

WE ARE ALSO ABLE TO CONNECT THOSE WITH PARTICULAR SPIRITUAL (AND OTHER) GIFTS WITH ORGANIZATIONS AND AGENCIES WHO SPECIALIZE IN A PARTICULAR AREA OF NEED.

 

SO, AS THE APOSTLE PAUL WOULD SAY IT, SORT OF: “IF YOU’RE A HAND – WORK OVER HERE; AND IF YOU’RE A FOOT – COME WORK WITH US OVER HERE; IF AN EYE, WE CAN USE YOU HERE; OR AN EAR, THEN OVER THERE.”

 

IN OTHER WORDS, BY CAPITALIZING ON PEOPLE USING THEIR SPECIAL GIFTS, IN SPECIFIC AREAS, AND UTILIZING THEIR GIFTS, PASSIONS, AND EXPERIENCES, WE CAN DO THE MOST WITH EACH PERSON’S TIME, TALENTS, AND ENERGIES.

 

THERE’S NO WASTED EFFORT.  AGAIN, THAT’S JUST GOOD STEWARDSHIP.

 

THINK BACK AGAIN, FOR A MOMENT TO MY OPENING COMMENTS, IT’S AS IF WE ARE THE LAUNCH DIRECTOR; AND OUR PARTNER AGENCIES ARE ALL THOSE DIFFERENT AREAS CHECKING IN WITH US;

 

OUR MISSIONARIES, THE MCGILLS AND THE TURKS – GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL; LOAVES AND FISHES FOOD PANTRY – GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL;

BAPTIST HAITI MISSION – GO; ALBERT SCHWEITZER HOSPITAL – WE’RE GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL;

 

HEALTHY START, FKOC, HABITAT, HOB/GERALD ADAMS SCHOOLS, PROJECT LIGHTHOUSE, A POSITIVE STEP, THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB, BAHAMA VILLAGE MUSIC PROGRAM – ALL – GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL…

 

AND THE LIST GOES ON.

 

AND THIS DOESN’T EVEN BEGIN TO MENTION THE NUMBER OF CHURCH MEMBERS, INDIVIDUALS OUTSIDE OF OUR CHURCH, STUDENTS, TEACHERS, FISHERMEN, POSTAL WORKERS, SERVICE INDUSTRY PERSONNEL, ORGANIZATIONS, AND OTHERS WE HAVE HELPED IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE IRMA.

 

THANKS TO THE GENEROSITY OF OUR MEMBERS, THEIR FAMILIES, FRIENDS OF PEACE COVENANT, PEOPLE IN THIS COMMUNITY, OTHER CHURCHES AROUND OUR PRESBYTERY AND THROUGHOUT OUR DENOMINATION, WHO HAVE PARTNERED WITH US, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THOSE DEVASTATED BY THIS STORM.

 

DO YOU SEE HOW THIS WEB OF CONNECTIVITY WORKS TO FURTHER THE MISSION OF CHRIST’S CHURCH, TO PREACH AND TEACH CHRIST’S NAME, AND TO MEET THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE?!

 

WE CALL THIS BEING A CONNECTIONAL CHURCH.

 

THERE’S JUST ONE THING – WITH ONE EYE ON OUR PASSAGE, ON THE LIST OF THINGS JESUS WANTS US DOING, AND THE OTHER EYE ON THE WORLD AROUND US…

 

OUR MISSION, UNFORTUNATELY, WILL NEVER BE ACCOMPLISHED!

 

IT HASN’T HAPPENED IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH TO THIS POINT; AND IT WON’T HAPPEN IN OUR LIFETIME; AND, I DARESAY, IT WON’T HAPPEN THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN.

 

THE NEEDS OF THE MANY WILL ALWAYS OUTWEIGH THE HELP OF THE RELATIVELY FEW HELPERS.

 

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE NEEDS TO BE MET –

 

LET US HOPE, AND PRAY, AND WORK, TO BE SURE THAT THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THOSE WHO WILL MEET THESE NEEDS; AND MINISTER IN CHRIST’S NAME, AND BEYOND.

 

ONE OF THE GREATEST DANGERS I SEE IN THIS “I-DON’T-GIVE-A-DAMN-ABOUT-OTHERS” MENTALITY THAT IS SO PERVASIVE TODAY;

 

AND WORSE, AN OUT AND OUT DISDAIN FOR OTHERS, IS, NOT ONLY ARE WE LOSING THE MORAL FABRIC OF OUR SOCIETY;

 

WE ARE OFFENDING OUR GOD IN THE PROCESS.

 

AND TO BE HONEST, SOME OF THE GREATEST OFFENDERS ARE CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS.

 

CAN ANYTHING BE CLEARER, MORE CONCISE ABOUT THE CORE OF JESUS’ TEACHINGS (THOSE TEACHINGS WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE TEACHING OTHERS, AND LIVING OUT OURSELVES, ACCORDING TO THE GREAT COMMISSION) THAN THE FIRST AND SECOND GREAT COMMANDMENTS:

 

“LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

 

WHEN WE FAIL AT ANY PART OF THIS, WE FAIL AT ALL OF THIS; AND TO FAIL AT THIS, IS TO OFFEND GOD, NEIGHBOR, AND EVEN, SELF.

 

BUT, THIS MORNING IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT THE MISSIONS OF OUR CONGREGATION;

 

AND MORE PRECISELY, AFTER OUR SERVICE, AT OUR MISSION FAIR LUNCHEON, WHAT SPECIFICALLY HAS BEEN DONE, IS BEING DONE, AND IS YET TO BE DONE, IN THE WAKE OF HURRICANE IRMA.

 

WE HOPE YOU’LL STAY FOR LUNCH AND FIND OUT WHAT IT IS YOU ARE DOING BY WAY OF SUPPORT FOR THOSE IN NEED, THROUGH THE WORK OF OUR CHURCH, AND OUR PARTNER AGENCIES AND ORGANIZATIONS.

 

ALBERT SCHWEITZER ONCE WROTE: “I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOUR DESTINY WILL BE, BUT ONE THING I KNOW: THE ONLY ONES AMONG YOU WHO WILL BE REALLY HAPPY ARE THOSE WHO HAVE SOUGHT AND FOUND HOW TO SERVE.”

 

AND MOTHER TERESA USED TO RELATE STORIES OF HER LIFE’S WORK BY ALMOST ALWAYS BEGINNING: “I’LL NEVER FORGET THE DAY…

 

THEN SHE WOULD TELL OF SOME MINOR MIRACLE (IF THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A MINOR MIRACLE) IN A WAY REMINISCENT OF JESUS’ PARABLES.

 

THERE WAS THE MAN WHO CAME TO HER DOOR, HIS ONLY CHILD DYING, AND THE DOCTOR WHO ARRIVED A FEW MOMENTS LATER CARRYING THE MEDICINE REQUIRED TO HEAL THE CHILD.

 

THERE WAS THE YOUNG COUPLE WHO GAVE UP THEIR WEDDING CLOTHES AND FEAST TO DONATE MONEY BECAUSE “WE LOVE EACH OTHER SO TENDERLY WE WANTED TO SHARE OUR LOVE WITH THE PEOPLE YOU SERVE.”

 

THERE WAS THE MAN RESTORED BY THE REMINDER OF THE WARMTH OF A HUMAN HAND;

 

AND THE MAN WHO DIED “LIKE AN ANGEL,” CLEAN AFTER BEING PICKED UP FROM THE STREETS BY A SISTER FROM HER MISSION.”

 

“LORD, WHEN DID WE SEE YOU… AND FEED YOU, GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO DRINK, WELCOME YOU, CLOTHE YOU, CARE FOR YOU, VISIT YOU…?”

 

“AS YOU HAVE DONE IT TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE, SO YOU HAVE DONE IT UNTO ME.”

 

YES, IN THOSE WORDS THERE IS CHRIST; AND THE ONES IN NEED;

 

BUT THERE IS ALSO “WE” THE ONES MEETING THE NEEDS.

 

EACH OF US CHECKING IN: GO, FOR MISSION CONTROL.

 

 

 

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