Sermon: Seminary Chapel March 4, 2008

Colossians 1:1-14

Most people have some sort of comfort food. If they become physically or emotionally hurt, lost, upset or scared the smell, taste, touch or sight of their comfort food will bring to them warm feelings and emotions.

Food is not the only way we can find comfort. I must admit when I am surfing the television stations – if my children are home or not— I stop to watch a few minuets of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. When Mr. Rogers comes into his house I can’t help but be brought back to when I was a child watching the show. Then he starts singing:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please, won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Ahh Mr. Rogers – he was a neighbor to millions of people young and old all over the world. He had a way of inviting us not only into his house but also into his life.

Can we name our neighbors? Do we know the people in our neighborhood?

Sure we may know our neighbors on campus – but have we reached out to the community and have gotten to know the people who live in our community?

I live in an apartment building with twelve units in Souderton, PA. Aside from the exchange of Christmas cookies with a few units and a summer BBQ with some others I will admit that I really don’t know who else lives in my building.

It wasn’t too long ago that it would be common for neighbors to talk with one another as one went out to pick up the morning paper with a cup of coffee in hand. We would not think twice about going to our neighbors house to ask for a cup of sugar or a stick of butter while baking a cake or cookies.

But instead of going outside to pick up the morning paper with our morning coffee, we are going to the Internet to find the latest news with a cup of Starbucks coffee in hand. Instead of going to our neighbors house to borrow ingredients for our latest cake creation – we find ourselves perhaps too busy to bake or we may feel guilty of invading the privacy of those we live around – so we would go to our local Wawa to pick up what we need.

As isolation enters our household it can enter our churches as well. Instead of going out into the community and spread the ministry of the body of Christ, it might be easier to minister to those who are already entering the doors.

This is precisely the concern on the heart of the apostle in the letter of Colossians we read today. He is enthusiastic about what is happening in the newly formed community of believers at Colossae. Its members are vital and active, “bearing fruit and growing,” and had been from the very beginning.

However, he is worried that without the proper attention, the prospering assembly could become a church that is all fluff with no Gospel. He is worried that they will be satisfied with what is happening inside the community and they will no longer reach out to their neighbors.

Many churches today can fall into that trap – we can be content with our current status and not put any vested interest in getting to know the people in our neighborhoods. Instead of asking what the church needs- we can ask what does the community need? What can we as the body of Christ offer our community that no one else can offer?

One of the things we can offer is found in the letter to the Colossians. We read about three recognizable attributes given to us – faith, hope and love. Paul tightly brings together these three crucial elements whose bundled presence at Colossae form the basis of Paul’s thankfulness.

Faith comes in Christ Jesus because of the Hope given to us from God in heaven and love made known to us by the spirit. This is better than any comfort television I have ever seen.

We can offer our neighbors the faith; hope and love found in God –those are things that are not readily stocked and available for purchase at the local Wawa. If a church was known for its faith and for the love the members of gathered assembly had for each other, regardless of their station in life, their past or their financial status – that would be a community reaching out to their neighborhood.

“You are known for our faith in Christ and love for each other!” Paul says. What a great thing to say about a church! But it is more than just telling people about the love of Christ, about the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for us. It is enabling them to experience this when they come to the church.

It is in hearing of the Word of God proclaimed that we come to learn more about Christs sacrifice for us.

It is through feeling the water from our fingertips in the baptismal font that we remember our own baptismal promise.

It is in tasting of the bread and wine as we celebrate the Eucharist that we have a physical remembrance of Jesus’ body and blood.

It is in seeing the Christian assembly gathered together to praise the living God that we are able to give thanks to God for all that God has blessed us with.

It is in the smelling of the odor from the ashes of burned palm leaves – then applied to our foreheads that we started our Lenten journey only a few weeks ago and through that we remember the forty days Christ was in the dark wilderness.

Paul reminds us that “God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” This is the message that people are longing to hear and that we are able to share with them. God has rescued us from the power of darkness by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — by this sacrifice we are forgiven of all our sins. That is a message all our neighbors can hear, touch, taste, see, and smell.

The legend of Mr. Rogers may one day fade away, but the love and grace of God will always be constant and through our relationships with God, each other in the community of faith and our neighbors outside of the church this gift will never fade or be taken away.

Amen.

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2 thoughts on “Sermon: Seminary Chapel March 4, 2008

  1. Love the imagry and message. You are so right on the mark here. I hope it went well for you in the seminary chapel; no reason to think it wouldn’t.

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