Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sermon for Nov 13, 2011; Ephesians 1:15-23

Rev. George Miller
Ephesians 1:15-23
“The Eyes of Your Heart, the Head of Our Church”
November 13, 2011

Two weeks ago, I ended the sermon by saying “…with compassion, we have the chance to go from here to there with feet of faith that moves us forward into feats of faith.”

Last week, we explored Psalm 90, which ended with this line “Let the favor of the Lord God be upon us, and prosper for us the works of our hands- O prosper the work of our hands!”

In other words, compassion moves us ahead to do feats of faith, and the Lord allows our hands to bear fruit.

I invite you to take a look and to see just a token of how good God is (points to all the donated food in front of the altar).

What more needs to be said? Some times words do not matter.

Look with the eyes of your heart to see what we have done with compassionate hands as the Body of Christ.

Faith and action.

Don’t you think that this part of Ephesians could have been written to our church, to our entire denomination, this week?

A body of Christ that found a way to say “no!” to death and “yes!” to life through writing letters, offering financial gifts and donating a multitude of food items.

“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you…”

That’s how today’s scripture begins.

Pay attention to how the writer knows about the people’s faith and action. It’s not by newspaper advertising, not billboards, not by witty slogans.

Through word of mouth: “I have heard”, which means that people were talking.

Word was getting around town that here was a group, a collective Body of Christ, that wasn’t just speaking a good game, they were living it.

And of course, people will talk if you give them something to talk about. Let me give you an example.

I am a stickler for customer service. I won’t purchase an item if I’m not happy with the way the employees treat me or do their job.

But if I get great customer service, I will go out of my way to go there and spend my money.

Just this Monday, I woke up with a craving for a Spinach Florentine bagel, which you can only get at Einstein Brother’s Bagels, which is located in Winter Park.

90 miles away.

So I called them to find out what time they were open until. I got in my car and drove there with a stack of books to work on today’s sermon.

Let me tell you about my experience:

One: when I got there I was warmly greeted by the staff.

Two: they recognized my voice from the phone call hours ago.

Three: before they closed their doors for the night, the manager came over to me with a bag containing their two remaining Spinach Florentine bagels, because she knew how much I like them.
Not only did she give them to me for free, she did so with a smile in which her heart showed through.

What more could a person want then to know they were heard, they were remembered and they were cared for?

Because of these things, I will go back, again and again.

“I have heard of your faith…and your love toward all the saints.”

Out of curiosity, how many here first came to Emmanuel U.C.C. because of what they heard?

…Faith and action, based on compassion…

Today is our Annual Meeting. It’s the time when we gather to embrace our congregational polity and to vote on important issues like budget, by-laws and to elect council members.

Today’s reading reminds us that how we vote and what we decide should not be based on our own wants, our own agendas, or our own fears.

How we vote today should be done with the eyes of our hearts which are enlightened with the knowledge of what our riches are.

Not riches based in silver and gold, but riches that come from the Holy Spirit:

Wisdom and faith; healing and love.

How we vote today should be done with eyes of our hearts that are enlightened with the greatness of God’s power.

A power that created the world, a power that parted the Red Sea, a power that raised Christ from the dead.

How we vote today should be done with eyes of our hearts that are enlightened with hope.

Hope that knows the future doesn’t hinge on us, but in Jesus Christ who has claimed victory over all rule and authority, for all things are already under Christ’s feet.

Ultimately, what the author of Ephesians is reminding us today is that not only does Emmanuel U.C.C. belong to Christ, but it is his church, we are part of his body.

Therefore, however we vote, whatever we decide to do, is to be done with the eyes of our hearts, with a wisdom based on the knowledge that we are part of the Universal Body of Christ.

Emmanuel United Church of Christ: today is the day for us to remind the community what being part of the Body of Christ means.

Let the eyes of our hearts reflect the riches, the power, and the hope which we have found in Christ.

Let the eyes of our heart assist the Holy Spirit in the direction God is ready to take us.

Let the eyes of our heart play a part in our own reputation: what people will do, what people will say, what people will hear.

Let our feats of faith and work of our hands prosper and give testimony to the fact that we do indeed have a passion for God, and compassion for all people.

With that, let us all give a big “Hallelujah!” and a powerful “Amen!”

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