Sermon for March 13

May God’s grace, mercy, and peace be with you, through God the Father, and the Son Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Have you ever been on a mission? For ladies, it can be a shopping mission to find the right dress for a special event. For men, it can be a mission to finish cutting and splitting wood for next winter. Or it could be a high school athlete to get into better shape by the next season of cross-country, or football, or soccer. They’re all missions.

Our congregation has a mission statement. It’s on the cover of the worship folder every Sunday. “We welcome all, we worship together, we witness by serving.” It’s one of the best mission statements I’ve ever seen. Short, concise, memorable, and meaningful. It’s good to have a mission. It gives us direction and focus.

In the ninth chapter of Luke, we read “he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Up until now, Jesus had spent most of his time, healing, teaching, and preaching in Galilee. He was now going to Judea, to the south where Jerusalem is located, to do the same healing, teaching, and preaching. Jesus had a mission. He was leaving his comfort zone in Galilee and going into more hostile territory.
In fact, it was so hostile, the Pharisees told him to move on, that Herod was wanting to kill him. Of course, the Pharisees wanted pretty much the same thing. So, danger was ever present. But Jesus did not leave, at least for a while. He had a mission. It was to eventually die as a sacrifice for the sins of all believers. But it was to be when and where God, his Father had it planned. He was on that mission. And he was not to be deterred.

We here at St. John’s have a mission: “We welcome all, we worship together, we witness by serving.” How do we do those things?
First, we’re friendly. Our greeters do an excellent job of welcoming visitors. We also make it easy, I think, of making it easy to follow the worship service with every-thing being in the worship folder—easy for visitors. And we greet visitors as they leave asking them to return.

We have a traditional worship service in that we use the liturgy to guide our worship. Most people join in that liturgical service with responses and singing. It is a joy to hear the sounds of a congregation enthusiastic about their worship of God.

We witness to the gospel by our words and actions. I know that many of you serve your neighbors in very meaningful ways, giving them your time and talents in re-al, down to earth ways. I know that you visit the sick and those who need to see a friendly face.

In the past few weeks, a few new programs have developed and are being fine-tuned in an effort to reach out to others—members and non-members.

The first is named Break-Fast for Study Experience. Personally, I simply call it Break-Fast. Not only do we break our nightly fast with a little coffee and juice, and pastries and fruit, we break our spiritual fast. We and talk about the Holy Spirit in the lives of Biblical characters, even Nehemiah. And we talk openly about but of ourselves. We become surprised as we realize how the Spirit moves in our own lives. Break-Fast is centered around conversation with the food being secondary.

Break-Fast is a change. Years ago, you and I attended Sunday School. Then it became Faith Formation. It was an unveiled attempt to do the same thing, but calling it something else to make it more appealing. We now have Children’s Church. We don’t have evangelism, we have reaching out. But what we have in Break-Fast is an attempt at discussing how the Biblical characters have the same doubts, emotions, and anxieties as we do.

Then we have Food Truck Sunday. This is sponsored by our LMM. LMM—Lutheran Men in Mission. Mission. The Mission statement for the SCLMM is: “We will make disciples of men that have a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. We do this by financial support of the Lutheran mission churches in South Carolina along with the Master Builders Bible Program, One Year to Live Retreats, Building Men Through Christ Seminars, and Men In Action young men events.” That’s a long statement for raising money for mission congregations and providing ministry support to the men of the church.

Mission; it’s all about mission. Food Truck Sunday, or Community breakfast is first, centered around food. It is based on: if you provide food, they will come. Jesus did much of his ministry centered around food. We remember the feeding of the four thou-sand and the five thousand, eating with Mathew and other tax collectors and sinners, the feast at the wedding in which Jesus turned water into wine. Even heaven is de-scribed as the great banquet. Having a meal with someone was and is important. When a person eats with someone it’s a sign of acceptance; they are friends—then and now.

I would pray that we express this same kind of relationship as we invite our neighbors here next Sunday. Jesus commanded us to feed the hungry. Hunger comes in different forms—physical, mental, spiritual.

As the Church, we attempt to fill those needs. Right now, we see organizations asking for donations to assist the people of the Ukraine. I would suggest you give through the Lutheran Disaster Response Fund to support not only the people of Ukraine, but also Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia as they receive refugees. We can give through St. John’s and we can forward the contributions on. We can also support Sharing God’s Love with our donations of money, food, and yard sale items. We can support Sole Stepping, the organization that provides shoes for elementary school children. There are many opportunities—many missions.

We can assist the mental health needs of our neighbors. My special charity is Restoration Chapel, assisting drug addicted and alcohol dependent women. I will accept those donations.

And we can provide for the spiritual needs of our neighbors. We begin doing that by inviting them in for food—breakfast next Sunday. Show them what it’s like to be cared for and loved by this congregation. We talk to them—getting to know who they are and gaining an understanding of what they need spiritually and how this congregation can help them.

This, then is our mission—“We welcome all, we worship together, we witness by serving.” This is Christ’s mission, telling the story, the good news story of his Father’s love and mercy and forgiveness. Thus, we are led by the Holy Spirit to obey his commands because we love him and he loved us first.