Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Friend Bill/ Sermon for 11-21-10

The other day as I was paying for lunch, the most extraordinary event occurred. As I reached in to pull out a twenty, the one-dollar bill in my wallet started talking to me!
“Hey there, Steve, I hope you are not going to use me cause I am all tired out!” After I recovered and scanned around to make sure it was not a ventriloquist getting a laugh, I asked, “ Tired from what exactly?” The dollar bill said, “ I have been traveling around quite a bit this year, ever since someone put me in the offering plate in your church”. Still not believing this dollar bill was talking to me and expecting to wake up at any moment, I nevertheless pursued the conversation,
“So where have you been?” The dollar bill said, “First, I went to the bank, some teller named Jim Moran put me in the night depositary, and I awaited my next assignment. The other bills I came with were counted and soon we were off on our new assignments, I know some went to the electric company, some to the water company, those were all the big bills, but me, I went first of all to a place called Pasadena, where a bunch of United Methodists work, conference center I believe” I said, oh, I have been there, a nice place to visit!” “Yeah”, the dollar bill answered,” I met other dollar bills who arrived from all over Southern California and Hawaii, even Guam was represented. We were counted again along with everyone then we were off again. Some bills went to paying staff salaries, others went to pay the electric company, some went to summer camp at Wrightwood, and others went back to Hawaii to a university campus to help a campus minister there provide devotional materials for the students. Bill paused (I called him Bill because by now we had formed a intimate relationship) then went on. Some bills did not go so far at first, some of us stayed in the Conference center for a bit, and I was glad for the rest it had been a very hectic trip so far, so many new people, and so many new experiences. The center was such a busy place, letters and packages going in and out, people busy working on computers, talking to all kinds of visitors, and praying. That Bishop, she has that group praying about everything, and anything. And you know, after prayer decisions were made, and that is when I received my new assignment”. I asked, ‘so what was that?” ‘Well by George, I was shipped off to a place called Africa University. It was a long trip, but once I was there, I joined other bills from all around the world to help Students who are from all over Africa. I saw students there studying and singing and praying and even volunteering for the AIDS hospice that tended to people right outside the campus door. I did not stay long there, I moved right along because the Students needed school supplies and medical supplies for their mission work, soon I was shipped off to a manufacture of medical supplies in Kenya. “Well, “ I said, “You must have been able to get a rest then?” “Oh, no,” Bill said, no sooner than I arrived I went away with one of the workers who could buy a whole days worth of food with me at the market for her family. Soon I found myself being put into another offering plate where the supermarket owner went to church. “Oh dear”, I said, “I suppose you started all over again!” “You got that right”, Bill said, “Soon the church was sending me with a missions coordinator for all of Kenya back to New York City for an important training for missionaries. I was back in the states, and wouldn’t you know it, I was only there for a moment soon I was sent on a mission trip to Mexico with someone who was building a church there. Once I was there, I met missionaries from Southern California who had come to help build the church. They invited the pastor of the church to come to Annual Conference in Redlands California and share the good news of the work going on in Mexico. And wouldn’t you know, I went along to help pay for the trip there. “ “Well, I said, that was back in June, I am sure you have been able to rest up since then?
“Are you kidding? “ Bill said. “ Since then I was back on the local scene, I ended up at Colby camp to help with the rebuilding so summer camp in 2011 can meet there again, I went up to Strength for the Journey camp at Cedar Glenn in San Diego and then from there went to Young Adult camp at Lazy W. I went to a food pantry at the Holman United Methodist Church, and eventually ended up at some bicycle factory. They were shipping out bicycles for pastors who needed transportation. I can’t tell you all the places I have been, I get tired just thinking about it”. “ Wow”, I finally said. “ You are a very busy dollar bill, you have been so many places, and I hope you can rest up during Thanksgiving?” Bill sighed a very long sigh, “No, I am afraid not, my travels are never done, but you know what would help?”
“No,” I answered, “What would help?” Well, there are a lot of my friends and relatives, other dollar bills, and our bigger cousins the 20’s and 50’s who are all rested up, they have been ready to work for a long time, but they are kept hidden away. They have been unused for so long, just accumulating interest, but they are hoping for a chance to get out there and make a difference! “ “Okay,” I said, “ I ‘all put out the word, and we will see what we can do this year!” I paid my check, and left Bill there with a few of his friends, for my waitress as a thank you for her service.
Then I went to my doctor too see why dollar bills were talking to me!
We do celebrate on this day, the opportunities we have had to give with all our hearts to make this church and this world a better place. We celebrate our connection to ministries and missions all across the world, and our ministry right here in Walnut. We give thanks for all our relationships that have been so vital to our lives, we celebrate our water leak finally being repaired!
And when we celebrate all the ways we have been able to follow God this past year, of all the ways we have have received so much more than we have given, we celebrate all the moments of God’s grace and how the Holy Spirit has worked in our lives this past year. The times when we have found new energy for practicing our faith, times when we grew closer to one another, times when we met challenges upheld by the grace of God. When we celebrate our past, I believe we are given strength for the future, whatever it might hold.
This past year, not all has gone according to plan, and there are times when I have failed to do what I needed to do, what God was calling me to do. There are times when I saw others get caught up in the temptations of this life, and ignore their calling to bring grace into the world. There are goals that I had hoped to achieve, but fell far short of, and I am sure if I went around the church today, we could spend some time talking about those failures. The good news is that God forgives us even before we ask, and frees us from the weight of sin to go boldly into the future and practice grace.
So as we do let’s keep in mind our Steward ship motto provided by the Finance committee, and change the wording just a bit so we can use it as our call to follow God in the coming year.