January 28, 2018

Why? (Deuteronomy 18:15-20)

  • I want to ask you a question: “Why did you come to church today?”
    • What got you to come to church this morning? The sermon? Hymns and prayers? Communion? Maybe someone at home told you to.
  • There is a lot of power in the question “why?”
    • Kids ask questions to learn. Adults ask questions to determine the value or purpose of things. “Why did you do that?” means something very different from your child versus your spouse or friend.
    • It is a question that sounds like mechanics and how things work that often in daily speech is actually a question of motive.
      • Why did you come to church today?” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people and can even change depending on how the question is asked and which words get emphasized.
    • We come for various reasons:
      • We are suffering and need healing.
      • We want to ask God to answer our prayers.
      • We want to be uplifted for the week ahead.
      • Great – welcome to your faith community!
    • When we don’t ask questions, especially why, we lose our sense of purpose, or we think we only need to come to church when we are in crisis.
      • Looking into our reasoning for being here may seem scary, but it is good for us to be reminded what brings us here.
  • Today, the primary reason we gather is to worship God, which, quite literally means to tell God how worthy God is of our devotion – as if God needed to know that. We, however, could use the reminder.
    • The original worship gathering format comes from the first five books of the Hebrew Bible – our Old Testament – which is called the Pentateuch.
    • In Leviticus and Deuteronomy, a lot of the instruction is on the sacrifices and how the tabernacle should be arranged. Lots of mentions of materials like gold and ivory and measures like cubits.
    • In the later chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses begins to outline the roles of priest and prophet – those who interpret God’s will for the people.
      • This makes sense to be part of worship. If we think God has worth to us, we should care what God says.
  • Today’s passage focuses on the role of the prophet, which is what I do as the preacher and pastor of this church. This passage isn’t to highlight the extravagance my job – notice the very end says those who claim the will of God but are not doing so should die, yikes – but to show that it is important we listen to God. God tells us what God wants from us as we gather together in worship. Are we listening?
    • When we listen to God as a community, we find what God is calling us – Charlotte-Fagan UMC – to be and to do.
      • This Wednesday at a district gathering, Bishop McAlilly talked about being the church of Matthew 25 (when I was sick…, when I was imprisoned, when I was hungry…) and the church of Matthew 28 (go and make disciples). How are we doing on those? Do we hear God calling us to these tasks?
      • What are we doing that cares for the sick? The lost? The imprisoned?
      • How many of us are making disciples? How many of us are engaged in becoming disciples ourselves?
      • Those who receive care and those who are sought after to become disciples will know why they come to church. They’ll come often, because they want to hear the word of God.
  • When people who are seeking God – who ask “why?” – actively engage in the church, the world gets better.
    • Is God happy with our world? Is God happy that churches are better at splitting up than coming together? Is God happy that people choose comfort and tradition over sharing the good news? Are we listening?
    • When we come to church with open and curious hearts, those who need to be encouraged find encouragers; those who need healing find compassionate healers; those who have little will find what they need. We don’t have to begin and end our question of why we are here with Sunday morning. We come here to engage our calling all week long. “Why?” is a great question about your life’s path.
    • Are you hearing God tell you something? Let’s talk! I love coffee meetings, office conversations, trips to get ice cream. I want to hear about what brings you passion in life – where God calls you.
      • Unsure but want to help? I invite you to be a part of our Vision Team, attend committee meetings and hold our church accountable to using our resources for ministry, or to offer ideas how we can volunteer together to help our community. Everyone who seeks an answer will have a place where they fit.
  • Next week, we will continue this series by asking “Why not?” There’s lots of reasons we don’t follow the call of Christ. We feel ill-prepared or overwhelmed. Thankfully, Christ hears it, empathizes, and offers us help on our journey.

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