Let’s Celebrate our Mission
June 28, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.
Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, 'Who touched me?'" He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe."
He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our title and our topic today is “Let’s Celebrate our Mission.” I want to talk with you this morning about the fundamental core idea of our church, the very heartbeat of it, the very DNA of it. What is the mission of Montgomery United Methodist Church? What is it that drives everything that we do? Is there a single statement that can capture our mission?
I submit to you, my friends, that there is. And we’re all part of it, each and every one. But it’s good at this very special time of year, this day of longest light, that we remind ourselves what our central mission statement is. So today, I’d like each of you to be able to say, “Yes, I know what the mission statement of this church is, and I can summarize it in two words.” Now, when you leave this service, each and every one of you will be able to do that. So, if somebody asks you what the mission, the purpose, of your church is, you will be able to answer.
To introduce these two words to you, let me tell you a little story. There was a great minister by the name of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Dr. Peale is the author of the book, The Power of Positive Thinking – maybe you’ve heard of it. Dr. Peale was the pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City for over 50 years. I consider him my father in the faith, a very loveable, personable, inspiring fellow.
I had the privilege of attending a number of learning events with Dr. Peale when he was teaching some years ago. I’ll never forget the last one I went to. The group of ministers was gathered in a big room. It was one of the closing sessions, and it was question and answer time for the teachers of the seminar. Dr. Peale was seated on the stage along with the other teachers. Dr. Peale was in his nineties at the time. Various teachers were answering questions from the ministers.
One of the ministers stood up and said, “This question is specifically for Dr. Peale. Dr. Peale, can you enumerate for us the purposes of preaching?”
Slowly, Dr. Peale got up from his chair and made his way to the podium. He stood there – I remember his remarkable speaking style – and said, “Yes... I will now tell you …what I believe… is the purpose …of preaching.” We all took out our notebooks. We numbered from 1 to 25. We wanted to catch every word that the great old master would say about the purpose of preaching.
He went on, “I believe…the purpose of preaching…is to…help people.” And he sat down. That’s all the man said. The purpose of preaching is to help people. I’ll never forget it. Perhaps you won’t, either.
And, my friends, that’s the mission statement of our church. The mission of Montgomery United Methodist Church is to help people – and to help people become deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. Say it out loud: The mission of Montgomery United Methodist Church is to help people – and to help people become deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. If you forget everything else from today, remember this: the church on Sunset Road has a mission that can be summarized in two words – our mission is to help people! You’ve got the picture. Our mission is to help people.
I’ve been here for 11 years. Everything I’ve observed since I got here, and everything I know about the church before I got here, is that MUMC is all about helping people. Deep in the core of the church, deep in the heart of this church, is the desire to help people in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It motivates everything that we do. And I am so thrilled to be part of this church family, whose RNA is all about helping people, after the spirit of Jesus Christ.
In today’s beautiful gospel – it brings tears to my eyes, it’s so beautiful – Jesus went about helping people. He was on His way to help a sick child when a woman reached out and touched His garment’s hem and was helped. Not only was she healed physically; she was healed spiritually, because she was scared that she had done something wrong and Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” Jesus went around helping people.
He healed that little girl who was sick. And remember what He did after that – He didn’t just leave; He gave her parents a special command. He told them to give her something to eat. He cared. He cared about helping people.
Friends, let me just complete this thought: this church is all about helping people in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Rotary can help people. Elks can help people. But Montgomery United Methodist Church can help people in the spirit of Jesus Christ. We can help three ways: we can help people practically; we can help people spiritually; and we can help people emotionally.
We help people practically. This church has blood drives. This church helps the Crawford House. This church has a food pantry. This church reaches out in remarkable ways to help people in practical ways all the time. I know how this church has risen up with great power when I announced that there was a family that needed help paying medical bills. You rallied, and you helped them. I said, “We’ve got a military commander in Afghanistan who’s telling us that there are children there without shoes. Can we help them out?” Immediately, this congregation responded in a mighty way. And we had plenty of money to send them shoes and pay for the postage. It’s happened over and over again.
We have people who literally knit blankets of blessing for those who need comfort. We have a team that provides meals, prayers, and caring conversation with those who are going through challenging times. We stock a sharing shelf for emergency meals, and food for the food shelter. These are just a few of the things that spring naturally out of the Christian spirit of this church family. We help people practically in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
We help people spiritually. We have worship services. We have worship services to console our souls and to lift us up and give us courage for the week ahead. We have sacred music. We have concerts to build people up in spirit.
And we want to help people emotionally. I was so proud of this congregation when one of our members came in one Sunday with an absolute broken heart. I watched folks here automatically just gather around her and bless her and listen to her story and offer help and blessing. I am so proud of you. Thank you for being there. I was pulled in a different direction, and I had to take a little time to come back, and you were gathered there around her till I could be there, too. We help people practically; we help people spiritually; we help people emotionally. I am so proud of you.
My dear friends, more about this next week. But won’t you take this home with you for today? The mission of Montgomery United Methodist Church is to help people and to help people become deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s what we do. That’s what we’re here for. That’s why this is a great congregation. God bless you. God bless you for being part of it. And if you’re not part of it, we invite you to become part of it. God loves you, and I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski