Faithlife Sermons

Gifts given to the Glory of God - Epiphany IIc

Notes & Transcripts

May the words of my mouth and the inspiration of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight – Our creator and our sustainer – Amen

This year Madison and Jackson are on the same hockey team

They are only one grade apart (even though they are 18 months apart).

So every second year their ages line up so that they can play on the same team

Now Madison’s favourite game is ringette, but playing Hockey allows her to have more ice-time

On the first day of practice, we got there early – And we were the first ones there

The convenor just happens to mention that there are not enough coaches for their age group, he doesn’t know who the coach will be for their team and he is hoping that some parents will come forward

Since we have two kids on the team I felt obliged to say that I could possible assist if someone else comes forward to coach

When I went into the change room to put the kid’s skates on – the conveyor just happens to mention to Kelly that there are not enough coaches this year

            Kelly quickly volunteers me…

And… she also mentions that her Dad would probably also be willing to coach

So we became the coaches for the kid’s team

At the beginning of the year the team does not look strong – there are several kids where this is their first year on skates and in general it doesn’t look like a strong team

After the initial 3 weeks, there is a planned shuffle and we lose one of our weaker players and get a new player that knows how to score and the first game that he is out there – he scores 4 goals and we win a game.

But, we are still not really that strong – in fact, over the whole year we have won only one other game

We spent the first half of the year, switching up the kids positions and allowing them to play where they wanted

But now it is the second half – now we are approaching the long play-off stretch, where we will play each of the other 5 teams twice to determine the championship games

After half a year of seeing the kids in all sorts of roles we are seeing where they can offer the most – where they can make the greatest impact

Now we can start to see them share their gifts for the team – we can see them develop in one position, so that as a team we can work together better

And its working – last night they played great – they played the first placed team – and they played as a team (except for the last two minutes play – it was a one goal difference)

Our team had many more opportunities – our team had far more shots on net and in general it was a great game

It was a great game because the kids were really growing into the roles where they had the greatest gifts

Our passage from 1st Corinthians starts us out with the following:

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.

The apostle Paul is looking to teach

The brothers and sisters of the Corinthian church need to be taught / informed about the spiritual gifts – he goes on to say:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Before Paul is willing to share with the Corinthian church (and also us) what the gifts are, he wants to first make it clear where the gifts come from and what the gifts are to do

            There may be a variety of gifts – but there is one God

                        There is one creator that made all the gifts

And each gift is given for the “common good”

Foundational – before we get all the details about what the gifts are – we need to be centered on why there are gifts at all – and that is for the common good

Spiritual gifts are not so that one can shine, but so that, together, we can all benefit.

Yesterday, twenty-five of us from Farringdon gathered on a visioning retreat – our goal was to determine what was important to the church for the next 3-5 years – we wanted to set out a vision

            We wanted to develop workable, tactical plans that will translate that vision into action

We set out to introduce some principals, practical tools and a pragmatic process for broadening leadership engagement

After opening with prayer and a scriptural reading, we set out to first be taught about transformational leadership – also about the fundamentals of change

We reviewed our envisioning questions that had been completed in advance of yesterday

Here we heard about where people thought the key needs were, both internally and the communities all around us

We discussed the strengths of our church

We discussed our desires for the church

            We considered what we would need to see changed over 5 years:

-          in leadership

-          in facilities & programs

-          in staff and volunteers

-          in partnerships

-          in reputation in the community

It was exciting – it was deeply optimistic… and full of Hope

            What struck me the most was: how thankful I was to be blessed by God to be apart of it

                        What is deeply important to me is serving God by serving others

And our group yesterday was filled with a sense of desire – make that passion - to serve our church – and I was thankful that God has called me here

However, sometimes in my weaker moments – when I consider all the work that needs to be done

            I think of the tasks that I set out before myself

                        I read articles with wonderful ideas and examples of what some churches are doing

I see this church with great foundations and see such great potential – such great possibilities that Farringdon could be for the communities that come here and could be coming here

            In my weaker moments, I can feel totally overwhelmed

                        I take a hard look at myself and think there is no way that I can do all of this

                                    There is no way I can do even a fraction of this

At those moments when I foolishly try to think of me doing all the things that a church needs to do to grow, and thrive in this increasingly secular world – this world where the church is having decreasing influence

But then it hits me… – It’s not about me – it’s not for me

            Thankfully we have great wisdom inspired by God written by the hand of the apostle Paul

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Alone – of course I can’t do it… but together… we can – collectively we have the gifts

            And we can do it for our common benefit

In those weak moments it is good to look back to days like yesterday

            To consider the sample of people that represented Farringdon

To remember the deep collective desire to share our gifts to glory of God and God’s church

There is an old joke and it goes something like this

            There was a church that after many years was in great need of a new roof

                        The minister thought long and hard what could be done to raise the right funds for this big job

                                    How many bake sales would they need to have?

                                    Should they start to run bingos?

                                    What about investigating government grant money? – and on and on…

And then it hits him late one Saturday night – the next morning he proudly declares at announcement time – “I have good news and I have bad news – the good news is… I figure out where we can get the money for the new roof”

There is an excitement in the congregation, as people turn to their neighbour sharing in this good news… – then someone calls out… “what’s the bad news?”

To which the ministers pauses and says “well… the bad news is that it’s still in your pockets”

A principal of any joke is that it captures an aspect of the truth

And I tell you this old joke because I believe that God has already provided this church, Farringdon Independent Church, with everything that it needs to continue its ministry… in fact to grow its ministry and thrive

                        And I believe that God has given us everything ‘in the form’ of our diverse gifts


Yesterday we agreed upon the following vision statement:

By 2013, we will build a more:

-          Inclusive

-          Committed

-          And caring church

That :

o       engages our intergenerational communities

o       shares our story

o       demonstrates a Christ-like way of living

o       and facilitates spiritual growth

And I believe this vision will happen

            It will happen not because of me and my foolishness of thinking that I will do it

                        It will happen because God has promised that there is a variety of gifts

                                    God has said that the variety of gifts is spread-out over everyone

                                                And all gifts are given by the one Lord for our common good

To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.


Brothers and sisters in Christ I hope that over the course of time everyone will become as passionate as we were yesterday – that everyone will grab on to the Hope that God has put in our hands, here at Farringdon

            We are under construction – not only our building… but our lives

                        We are being transformed by God, for God and the common good

                                    God has given each and everyone of us gifts

President Kennedy in his most famous speech said

            “Ask not what your country can do for you – but what you can do for your country!”

Consider this for ourselves – and consider what gifts you can share to the glory of God and the greater good.

Heavenly Father, we come to you just as we are, we can not do it alone. You give us each other, you give us different gifts. We need your guidance; we need your inspiration to see each other as part of the whole team, where we can all work to the glory of God in the common good. Amen

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