Sunday, July 8, 2012; Pastor Steve Mechem
Judi and I call our parenting blunders “great parenting moments.” We will be reminded of a time when we messed up our parenting, and sigh “another great parenting moment”
This was one such moment. Caleb was 15. He was staying at home by himself in Madison, Indiana while Judi and I were in Providence, R.I. at the American Baptist Churches bienniel meeting. It should be noted that while not living at home, Caleb's older brother, Luke, was living in Madison at the time.
On the last morning of the bienniel, we received a phone call from Caleb. He informed us that his stomach had been hurting throughout the night. He had done some research on the internet and thought he might have a problem with his appendix. We assumed he was overreacting and suggested it might be some kind of normal digestive distress (gas). To make a long story short, after a phone calls later, and after a visit to our doctor's office, I received a phone call from our good friend, Dr. Mark Totten. “It is Caleb's appendix. We will be taking it out this afternoon.”
We drove through the night, and showed up in Caleb's hospital room in time to take him home the next morning.
a great parenting moment.
After this experience, I did a lot of research on the appendix. Fascinating organ. 3 -4 inch long worm like appendage that just hangs out in one's body until it decides no to hang out any longer. Most, not all, but most experts I read didn't believe the appendix served any purpose at all. Some conjectured that there was a day, back in the evolutionary process somewhere, when the appendix served a role in the digestive process, but no longer. My favorite quote was from a doctor who wrote, “The appendix appears to exist for the sole purpose of being removed.”
Among the Apostle's Paul's favorite descriptions of church is “body”
“We have many parts in one body, but the parts don't all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God's grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.” (Romans 12:4-8 CEB)
Paul's understanding of “us” is that we are actually one functioning body made up of various and sundry parts. Every part (emphasis on every) plays a role in the proper functioning of the church. Every part matters.
There are, by definition, no appendices in the body of Christ.
And yet, sometimes it is our lot to feel like an appendix - like I don't matter, like can't contribute, like I can't make a difference
Sometimes we can feel like an appendix because of our own personal baggage.
Our personal failure - relationship failure, financial debacle, career disaster, personal mess ups, personal screw ups, personal failings- leave us feeling unworthy, unreliable, not capable of contributing.
Our personal demons - our addictions, our hurts from the past, our thought processes (which let's be honest, can take us to dark places) - color our sense of worth, and cause us to believe that we could never contribute positively to God's Kingdom as it works itself out in the life of the church.
Our pre-defined limitations - our low sense of self worth can cause us to feel like an appendix
these feelings cause us to hesitate, to not be fully engaged.
We can, all on our own, reduce ourselves to appendix status.
And oftentimes, others can make us feel like an appendix
They say ~You are too young to contribute. Your day will come.
They say ~You are too old to contribute. Your day is passed.
They say ~You have the wrong plumbing to contribute. In this day, in 2012, there are many places where women are not allowed to practice their God-given gifts in church life because they are women.
They say ~ You are an outsider. Once you have been here a while- 5, 10, 15 years, then you can contribute to this body.
They say ~You are too gay to contribute. Now, as long as you pretend you aren't gay, we will let you do anything you want, but don't be honest, or we will not accept you or recognize that God has gifted you
They say ~You are too poor to contribute. We will look at you with pity, but not respect you enough to believe you can be a active part of the fellowship. Tony Campolo talks about how church people sometimes respond to visitors.
If a family visits a church for the first time and the greeters learn that they are upwardly mobile, they introduce them around, introduce them to the pastor. The husband is a banker (he will be perfect for the finance committee), the wife is a teacher (maybe she can handle those middler boys
. that have run off every teacher they have had. The church folk salivate at the possibility.
If a family visits, and the greeters learn that they are unemployed, that they are losing their house, that times are tough, the greeters response is often, “we hope you enjoy the service.”
You may think of yourself as an appendix. Others may think of you as an appendix.
Here is what God thinks of you.
God affirms that you are vital and significant-
you are a part of the kingdom God is establishing
you are an integral part of the Body God has formed
God thinks so much of you that Jesus came for you. Jesus came to teach a way of living that had not yet been tried, and some would argue, has not yet been tried. He came to teach you to live by grace and graciousness, love and loving kindness, mercy and compassion, forgiveness and acceptance
God thinks so much of you that Jesus died for you. In a universe changing moment, Jesus took on the worst of human evil, and declared forgiveness for everyone - even you.
God thinks so much of you that the Holy Spirit has gifted you. You have something to give to the body. In fact, you are placed in the body just so you can use your gifts and abilities to help the body function correctly. Every person in this room today can contribute to the health of this body:
through showing mercy and giving each other a break
by practicing the gifts God has given you
There are no appendices in the Body of Christ.
No one is here for no reason.
We are all here with a purpose.
so, my friend, to practice proper church etiquette is to participate, engage, enjoy, make a difference.