“A Ministry Of Love”
April 15, 2012
First sermon at Edgewood Presbyterian
About three weeks ago Sally and I began moving some of our things that we had in the cabin on my brother in law and sister’s farm in Fort Mill SC where we had been living since last November up to the manse here in Sanford. On one of our first trips up we noticed the sign in front of the Church that read:
New Life – 4/8
New Leader 4/15
Of course the “New Life – 4/8” referred to Easter – and the “New Leader – 4/15” refers to today being my first day here at Edgewood.
Today is truly a day for celebrations.
As Christians this year we are continuing to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the event of Easter that – this year – we celebrated on 4/8. And now here at Edgewood there seem to be some celebrations going on today – on 4/15.
Sally and I are celebrating today that the long ordeal of looking for the Church God had in store for us is over – as is the long ordeal of packing and moving. The movers have made their and now Sally and I are busy unpacking boxes. Or I should say Sally is busy unpacking – I seem to be busy staying out of her way!
I get the feeling that you — the members of Edgewood – are celebrating today. Sally and I deeply appreciate all the visits, gifts and food that have come our way since we moved in – and last night’s “Meet, Greet, and Eat” was fun and a true blessing for us.
I also get the feeling the members of the PNC may be celebrating today. Royce – Jody – Lee – Tricia – and Shannon have done a great job and been faithful to their tasks — and I hope you will feel they were attentive to their task and prayerful – and that God has blessed their work.
Yes – today is a day for celebration for us all.
God is beginning a new chapter in the life of Edgewood — and in Sally’s life and mine. It’s a new ministry – a new work – a new thing for us to do as together we step out in faith and believe that God is with us – blessing us as we go.
A day for celebration indeed!
But you might want to know exactly what it is you are celebrating today.
What are this new minister and wife going to be like?
What are they going to do?
Well –- while I can’t make promises and talk a lot about specifics – I do want to lay out for you something of a dream I have. I call it a vision for the ministry Sally and I want to have with you – and a vision for the ministry we all can share with each other – with the community — and with the world.
I call it a ministry of love.
If I could look into the future and see the day that Sally and I are no longer with you – and believe me Sally has made me promise that there will be no more moves for a long time so hopefully this will be years into the future – but if I could look at the point in time when we are no longer here – and if I could look for a word that you might use to describe the ministry we had here – I would want the word to be love. I would want people to say “the time Bill and Sally Hayes were at Edgewood was a time when the church had a ministry of love.”
I want us to have a ministry that is based on God’s love – a ministry that is a celebration of the love God has for each of us and the love of God we all can share with each other – as well as with the community – and the world.
Now — what exactly is this ministry of love going to look like?
We don’t know yet – do we?
While we don’t know the specifics, I want to give some basic things that can help us establish this ministry of love I believe God is calling us to – some things that are going to be important – that I believe are going to be basic for us.
The first thing is our individual faith in God.
The requirements for love Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 13 are not easy.
It takes faith.
It takes a deep and abiding faith in God to be able to have the love in our lives that we need for this ministry of love I feel god is calling us to have.
That means that each of us – each of you – are going to have to have a deep and abiding faith in God for this ministry of love to work. Your daily devotional and prayer time will need to be a priority for you.
As you pray every day I ask you to pray for several things:
Pray that God will show you the girts for ministry you have and how you can use your gifts in the Church – the community – and the world.
Pray that God will give you a vision of His will for Edgewood and.
Pray for each member here at Edgewood.
Pray for the Session.
Pray for Sally and me.
While you pray, know that Sally and I are praying for you also.
To have a ministry of love — a ministry that celebrates the love God has for us – the love God calls us to share with each other – and the love God calls us to share with the world — each of us will have to have a deep and abiding individual faith in God.
Second – we are going to have to have a sense of the importance of worship.
Worship is going to have to be our focal point in our life together as God’s people. The experience of worship is the time that we come together and celebrate God’s love and give praise to God for the wonderful ways that God has blessed us. We give praise to God in our hymns — our prayers — our attentiveness to God’s word. Whatever else we do as a Church — worship has got to be the vital link between us and God – - and the vital link that ties us together as God’s people. Worship is the undergirding strength of our ministry — it’s what will make it possible for us to have a ministry of love.
So – a deep and abiding individual faith in God – and a deep and abiding sense of the importance of worship – are two things we will need for this ministry of love.
A third thing we will need is a commitment to studying God’s Word.
Bible study will have to be an important element of who we are and what we do. We are all going to have to be committed to studying God’s Word individually – and as a Church we will need times to come together to open God’s Word for corporate study so we can hear what God has to say to us.
So – so far we have three things I think we need for this ministry of love I invision us having – a fourth thing I believe is needed is a sense of the importance of fellowship. The times we gather together to share a meal with each other are times we also share God’s love with each other. These can be times of joy and can increase the bond of love we feel for each other as well as the love we have for others and for God.
Then — we are going to have to have a sense of the importance of outreach and missions – and finding specific ways to reach out to others with the love of God.
To have a ministry of love — a ministry that celebrates God’s love for us – the love God calls us to share with each other – and the love God calls us to share with the world — each of us will have to have a deep and abiding individual faith in God – a deep and abiding sense of the importance of worship – a deep and abiding sense of the importance of studying God’s Word individually and together as a Church – a deep and abiding sense of the importance of fellowship — and a deep and abiding sense of the importance of outreach and missions.
This might seem like a tall order – it might seem to be dreaming a bit too much – but I believe and have faith that if we will do what we can to have this deep and abiding faith in God –deep and abiding sense the importance of worship – deep and abiding sense of the importance of studying God’s word – deep and abiding sense of the importance of fellowship — and deep and abiding sense of the importance of outreach and missions – God will bless us with a ministry of love.
Here are a few specific things about how Sally and I want this ministry to be as we begin this ministry together with you.
We want to get to know you – to count you not only as members of the congregation but as friends.
We want you to call us by our first names – and we will work at learning yours and calling you by yours.
We want to be accessible to you. You know where we will live. Come over when you can.
You have my e-mail address. Some of you have already started to use it. I hope all of you will. The same with my face book account.
When we get local cell phones we’ll let you know the numbers.
We want to be your minister and wife – but we also want to be your friends.
I want to make visitation in your homes a vital part of my ministry.
Sally and I also want to make being involved in the community and in your lives a vital part of the ministry and friendship we will share together. Let us know how we can do that – and invite us to be a part of the community and your lives.
So – today celebrate – and today we begin.
Next Sunday I’ll start a series of sermons where I will look at what God might be calling us as Edgewood Presbyterian Church to be and do as we look at one of the first statements in our denomination’s Book of Order – what is called The Six Great Ends Of The Church – but for today – for now – it is important to celebrate.
Celebrate – because God is beginning a new chapter in our lives – a new ministry – a new thing as together we step out in faith and believe that God is with us – blessing us as we go.
As we focus on a ministry of love – a ministry based on the love God has for us – calls on us to share with each other – and calls on us to share with the world – we will be blessed.
As we focus on our individual commitment to our faith in God – the importance of worship – the importance of studying God’s word – the importance of fellowship – and the importance of reaching out into the community and the world with God’s love – - God will bless us – and I believe we will have
A ministry of love.