September 17, 2023 - Spiritual Gifts Released

    09.22.23 | by Jennifer Parks-Snyder

    Sept 17th: Sermon: Gifts Released by Pastor Jenn Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:1-14:1
    You’re probably sitting there wondering where is the bride and groom, right? Because that’s what we associate with when we hear that text. I had it read at my own wedding 26 years ago. I remember the pastor offered it as a text, we agreed it was lovely, and so it was read. However I have since learned that this lovely text offers so much more than a goal of what a marriage should be like. Because honestly, that’s not what the Apostle Paul wrote it for.
    And so today you and I are going to learn the true meaning. Today you and I will put an end to our childish ways of knowing this text, and come to know fully how love is truly who we are as the church, and who knows, maybe the church can inspire a marriage or two.
    Let’s begin by going back five weeks ago, when we began a journey to learn about spiritual gifts. That the Holy Spirit of God gives us gifts, abilities. This is not the same as the fruit of the spirit, that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Those are the presence of God at work in and around us.
    No these gifts, they are particular. They are given as the Spirit chooses to each one of us.
    In the previous chapter of this letter to the church of Corinth, chapter 12, we read “4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
    So God, by way of the Spirit, chooses to give each of us a gift, a particular gift to bring about the common good. And that common good is not just for the church to function inside it’s building, the common good means to build up what is right and good and just in God’s world. Just like God chose to give the gift of Jesus Christ to reveal what is right and good and just in this world, that good news continues, in and through you and I and the Church.
    And so, when we understand that the Apostle Paul wrote this love chapter in the context of understanding what Spiritual gifts are for: how they are to build up what’s in the church and outside of it too, listen again to what Paul says about spiritual gifts in this passage: If I speak in the tongues of humans and of angels but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions and if I hand over my body so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
    Notice Paul names the gifts of speaking in tongues, prophecy, faith, mercy, and yet he proclaims, none can do its job effectively without love. Because love is who we are as the church. Because love is who Jesus Christ is. Because he is God among us, a God who is love. And not the kind of love we see in the movies nor read about in romance stories. This love is… patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable; it keeps no record of wrongs;
    When Paul wrote this love chapter he is saying to us, the body of believers, if you ever want to truly understand the Divine Being we pray to and serve, the One we honor and glorify, the one who gives us gifts to be used for the common good, we must understand that God is love. Further we must know that God loved us first. God loved us with patience, kindness, and truthfulness. God does not love in a way that insists on its own form or action, we are not puppets on a string. And God does not love us by keeping record of our sins, we do that, but not God. Let me repeat those two things again: God does not love in a way that insists, we are not puppets on a string. And God does not love us by keeping record of our sins, we do that, not God.
    No, hear verses 6-8 again, 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
    Do you see what Paul is saying with this love chapter? When asked our mission statement as the church, we are a church that continues what Jesus began, revealing God’s love that never ends.

    And we do not do this on our own, the Spirit is at work in each of us to do so. The core of each of our Spiritual Gifts is how God wants you to share God’s love. And so when we can use those gifts revealing God’s love, we know we are doing our part, we know we are doing God’s will. That’s why Paul ends this chapter with: 14 Pursue love (seek after; follow; make your aim) and strive for (want to have; eagerly desire; be zealous for) the spiritual gifts …. Because through our Spiritual gifts, God’s will and love is revealed.
    I want to thank all of you who took your spiritual gift inventories. And thank you for sharing your answers. You may have known what to expect. But others of you may not have. I myself was surprised. At all my previous appointments Pastoring and Leadership were always my top gifts followed by Faith. But here my gifts surprised me. While Faith came in second, my third one was Encouragement, so I am to encourage your faith and understanding of God and the gospel.
    However, my number one gift is healing at this church. And I began to pray to God to ask what does that mean? That’s when I recalled that the first summer I was appointed here and I was praying, asking God what I was to be doing here, I kept hearing God whisper the word “healing”. I didn’t know at the time what it was God was leading me to, but I believe I now know in part, what may be made fully known. Here’s the definition of Spiritual gift of Healing: The recipient of the Spiritual gift of healing is defined as one who is: often used by God in the healing process of those with physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual needs. And one’s prayers and counsel tend to emphasize people's need to be restored to wholeness.
    I have come to know some of your stories these past years, and I have come to know the story surrounding us in this community regarding turbulent times caused by economic concerns, political divisiveness, and emotional struggles. Therefore, if God has given me this gift, for this time and this place, I want to offer it to all of you, to build up this body, for it’s restoration to wholeness, to release us all for the work of sharing the experience of God’s love.
    In the book of James, chapter 5 we read: 13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. Today, with this oil I want to offer you an opportunity to be anointed in the name of the Lord, in the name of love, that healing may occur in your life. That you may sense the graceful presence of God at work in your life to make it feel whole.
    This isn’t about me offering alternative medicine, this is a Spiritual gift, and I am just a channel to allow God’s work to pass through me onto you. This is simply a way to release my spiritual gift as an offering to all of you, so that together we can release ourselves with the work of the Spirit to show and tell God’s love.
    Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, who can banish all affliction both of soul and of body, show forth your power upon those in need, that by your mercy they may be restored to serve you afresh. And as your holy apostles anointed many who were sick and healed them, so pour out your Holy Spirit on us and on this gift of oil, that those who in faith receive this anointing may be made whole in order to strive for their spiritual gifts and purse love in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
    Beloved,, may the power of God’s indwelling presence heal you in mind, body, spirit, and relationships. Amen. may the power of God’s indwelling presence heal you in mind, body, spirit, and relationships. Amen.
    Offering Invitation:
    The work of the church is never done. And that work is dependent upon all of us, using our tithes, our gifts, our service, and witness. Following this service, we are going to ask you to take some time and walk around the ministry fair held out in our Narthex. For those of you who took the gift inventories, you will see signs pointing to ministries you are gifted for. For those who did not take the gift inventory, we want you to walk around and consider what you are gifted for or interested in doing as part of the church. We have them divided with signs above their tables. If you have questions, ask the volunteers. And if you feel like supporting, sign up.
    For now we thank you for your tithes that support such great ministries, that proclaim God’s love both in the church and the community.