Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Job description of a disciple

Sermon Preached at St. Columba's Parish Church 18th October 2009 - Morning Prayer 10:30

Text: Mark 10: 35-45

About this time last year in college, we sat down and started to plan our CV's, descriptions of ourselves which would be sent out to rectors who were looking curates, it reminded me of many times before when I was replying to adverts for casual work in various organisations.

Before coming to St Columba's I have worked in various places … my first job was as a shop assistant in Shop Electric where the Job was about ensuring customers were satisfied, making sure the store was clean and safe but the biggest part of that Job was meeting the sales targets, making sure I sold enough TV's, fridges and the like with guarantees and service cover. Unfortunately that business closed down

I also applied for a job in TK Maxx where I worked for a year or so whilst at Uni, It was OK, although having to match shoes especially at the end of the day ladies section was a nightmare.

I also applied to other places and got various other posts, each had a job decription, roles and responsibilities. I am sure many people here in church are familiar with such a document.

I wonder if we were to ponder the question … is there a Job description for a disciple, for a christian?

This mornings Gospel reading comes close to something like a job description. It certainly does have the Job Title and what the Job is not about.

Jesus explains this at a moment of conflict – James and John come to him and ask …
We want to sit at your right and left which of course got the others extremely annoyed … who do they think they are … you could hear it couldn't you?

Jesus then uses this to set out what sort of Job they have been called to

The Job title is .. “Slave of all” or servant of all

Anyone fancy applying for that Job?

Let us unpack it a bit further

We are called to do exactly what Jesus did … we are called to be little Christ's (thats what the word Christian literally means!). We are all called to serve Christ where we are and in whatever we do.

In our OT reading which Helen read for us, we see some of the role which Jesus came to fulfill
This text is often quoted at Easter time – It is the text of the suffering servant.
Jesus the righteous one came to suffer and to be servant for all, he bore our sins.

In June I was ordained Deacon, in Hillsborough, and many of you were there at the service - at the beginning of the service I was reminded what my Job Description was

In the service …
“Deacons in the Church of God serve in the name of Christ and so remind the whole church that serving others is at the heart of all ministry.”

We are all called to be servants, … we are all called to serve.

We are not called to the serve in the same way but we are all called to serve, there are some core qualities we all are called to have.

What is great about being a disciple is that we don't have to have any of these things to pass the interview, they will be developed as we get on with the Job, we are allowed to make mistakes as well but when we accept the called to follow Jesus, to serve him he will place us in situations where we will flourish, where we will be challenged

In Galatians 5 those are outlined, as the fruit of the spirit – these are the qualities he wants to see in his servants – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness , Self-control – but they are fruit … they are produced over time

In 1 Corinthians, Romans and Ephesians, we are assured that each one of us has a part to play in the overall household of faith that is the church, each is a part of the body. You will not serve in the way I am serving, but you serve in your way and I serve in my way, what is important is that we serve, that we find out what we can do and do it to the best of our abilities.

There are many, many people who serve God in this parish in many ways, who give up their time, their talents, their money to serve the people of this parish.

From the Glebe wardens who put in hours of work each month to ensure that the buildings are safe, that they are comfortable and ready to be used at any time, The counters who count and log all the money collected, Flower arrangers, choir, organisation leaders, church wardens, secretary, treasurer … I am going to leave people out so I will stop there … but there are countless people who make sure this parish runs smoothly and who take an active part in the workings of this parish. And that is exactly how it should be.

In the gospel reading, the type of authority we are called to exercise is different in the church, we are called to servant leadership, we are called to serve, we are called to make ourselves slaves of all. Wether we are an archbishop, or a child in a sunday school class, wether we are 8 or 80 whoever we are we are called to act with humility, with grace and with love. Simply because we are called to be imitators of Christ

within workplaces & education today there is great attention paid to self evaluation, to asking youself how are you doing and what you should be working on. I wonder if we were to ask ourselves are we living up to our Job title as a disciple of Christ, as a servant of His – not as a stick to beat ourselves up with but as an exercise in growing, and developing.

As I have said before, service, disipleship, the christian life is a learning experience, its about growing, becoming closer to Jesus - we need to take responsibility for our own learning. James and John got it wrong in what they asked but Jesus was able to turn the situation around for them, he was able to take their mistake and teach them something about the true nature of what it means to be a servant, disciple.

If we are wanting to grow as a disciple

Some questions which might be useful include:
  • What have I learnt over the last 12 months in my walk with God
  • What have I done that has challenged my faith and helped me grow
  • What would I like to do over the next 12 months to serve God

We are all called to serve God – when we do, I can guarantee, when we do live for him there is nothing more fulfilling, life-giving and rewarding.

The good news is that we can do this where he has placed us – if we are working, we can do what we do to our full potential – acknowledging God in that

if we are retired, we can share our faith with those around us, not by preaching in the streets but by kind words, by serving others, acknowledging God in our conversations.

We can always find ways to serve God. How will you do it this week? This month?


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