For Jan. 17, 2016. First Mennonite Church welcomes the Edmonton Christian Life Community Church (formerly the Chinese Mennonite Church) as we celebrate together at our annual joint worship service. Pastor Ken Tse will speak and Pastor Tim Wiebe-Neufeld is the worship leader.
Isaiah 62:1-5, Ps 36:5-10, 1 Cor. 12:1-11, John 2:1-11
I am struck by the words in 1 Cor. 12:5-7. ...there are varieties of gifts...to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
So often it is easy to forget that our skills and gifts are for others, for the whole gathered community to enjoy, to make us all stronger, to work together collaboratively. It is easy to look, with envy, at the talents another person possesses and feel shortchanged. A gifted singer, an eloquent speaker, a charismatic leader....why the jealousy? Why do we want to be the talented one? Is it for propping up our own feelings of self-worth? Can we truly celebrate the way someone else's gifts infuse and better our community?
The reminder in Corinthians is helpful. If the gift comes from God, it is for everyone, it is meant to build up the whole, not just the one.What we have and what we do should always be congruent with the common good. This is quite different than the way our society tends to celebrate the gifted individual! Society tends to put beauty/talent on a pedestal that casts a shadow over others. In God's eyes, our talents are all for the purpose of building each other up, not for rewarding individuals with fame and fortune.
This weekend, I will be speaking at a Jr. High Youth retreat. The topic is "as I am". It is about knowing that God loves and accepts us as we are, even when (and maybe most importantly when) we do not feel good about ourselves.
Jr. High is a time of growing identity, of figuring out where you fit in life and wondering if you have anything that others value. Pray that these searching and growing people might feel worthwhile, accepted, and encouraged. They should not feel they are sitting in shadows, but producing light that helps others to find themselves. Pray that they will embrace their emerging gifts and feel they have something to contribute to the common good.
Question: In what ways do your abilities, gifts, skills, etc...contribute to the common good?
A gift to share: This morning I read an amazing blog from a man who is dealing with terminal disease in a uniquely thoughtful and hopeful way. http://www.jaremsawatsky.com/reasons-refuse-battle-disease