The Power to Bless:
Part 2 - The Power to Share the Light of Christ
May 31, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our title and our topic today is ďThe Power to Bless, Part 2.Ē And our particular installment of this sermon series is ďThe Power to Share the Light of Christ.Ē You have remarkable power, my friends. You have the power to bless. We talked a little about this last week. The power to bless begins with the power to be appreciative, to see things in life that you appreciate Ė appreciate about others, appreciate about God, appreciate about yourselves.
Today I want to talk to you about a remarkable power that you have, that makes our days worthwhile, that makes our lives a pleasure and a joy, and that is the power to share the light of Jesus Christ with the world. Several of our young folks talked about that today in their faith statements. You have the power to share the light of Christ. Weíre celebrating that today. Weíre celebrating with our Open Door project. Weíre celebrating with our confirmation youth today. They are taking on the light of Christ. Not only is that going to bless their hearts for the rest of their lives, but they become lights themselves.
I invite you to take in hand this morningís bulletins. Look at the cover. On the cover of the bulletin is a very special and beautiful picture. I did not coach or suggest this picture. But I think itís pretty remarkable that the artist who drew it and I are on the same wavelength about the Holy Spirit and about the message of the morning, sharing the light of Christ.
In the center of this picture is the light of God, the light of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down and inspired the disciples. And around it are individual candles, like us. We are reflections of Godís light. And our job is to take that light and spread it throughout the world. Bravo, Calista! Great job!
We have a special ceremony here at the church. As you noticed, at the beginning of the service, an acolyte comes forward and lights the candles to remind us that the light comes from God. And at the end of the service, the acolyte extinguishes these candles, takes the light, and marches out into the world, instructing us and reminding us that our job is to share the light of Christ.
Isnít it a great day? Itís a great day for me. Confirmands, I just canít tell you how proud I am of you. Your faith statements, the blessing that they are, and all the study that they represent Ė Iím very proud of you. Confirmation class was a lot of fun. We did a lot of things. Steve Laney, a professional geologist, gave a talk to us about the creativity of God. Thank you, Steve; we appreciate that very much. We went out into the night and looked at the stars, and Rev. Marion told us to think about the creativity and the handiwork of God. We looked at the work of God in nature and how incredibly complex it is, how wondrous it is, and what a gift of love it is. We read in the Bible; we did Bible studies. We learned about church architecture. Ask any of these confirmands about the difference between a Romanesque arch and a Gothic arch, and Iíll bet they can tell you. We prayed together. We lit candles together.
We had fun together. We went to New York and visited Riverside Church and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It was a little risky at one moment. We were coming out of the garage at the Riverside Church Ė the Riverside Church has its own garage underneath. We were coming out, and I was in the passenger seat of Carolyn Callanís van. In front of us was Al Freehauf and his van. To get out of the parking lot, you had to go through a gate that would rise automatically. Al got the gate to rise, but just as heís pulling out, the gate decided to start beating up his car. Itís hitting the top of his car, back and forth! Luckily, there was no damage.
I said to Carolyn, ďIím going to get out of the car and hold that thing up for you so that you can get out without having your car get beaten up like Alís.Ē
Carolyn says to me, ďPastor, you sit right where you are. As soon as that gate goes up, Iím going to gun this thing and weíre out of here. I donít want you half-way out of the car when I do it.Ē I sat there. The gate went up and boom! We were out of there. Bravo, Carolyn!
We had a lot of fun. This is a great class. And this is the day of new beginnings. Hey, everybody, repeat after me!
Confirmation is not graduation.
Confirmation is initiation.
Amen? Amen! Thatís what itís about. This is a day of new beginnings for these kids. This is the first day of their new walk in faith.
I want to talk about that today, because we have something very special to share, something very special to give. And that something is the light of Jesus Christ. Friends, the world needs Jesus Christ! There is nothing like Jesus. There is no satisfaction that the world can give that is like Jesus Christ. There is no substitute for faith in Him. Whether itís cloudy or bright, whether your days are sunny or not Ė it doesnít matter. Jesus is there, and Jesus can sustain us through it all.
I want to talk to you today about sharing His love. You can be lighthouses for Christ. You can be sharers of His love by just letting your love light shine and letting people know thereís something special about you. Can I tell you this? I was evangelized to the United Methodist Church personally by a Sunday school teacher. She wasnít even my Sunday school teacher. She was the mother of a friend. I met her and happened to learn a little about this Methodist thing; I was Roman Catholic. I still love the Roman church. I bless it. But there was something missing for me in my faith life when I was part of it.
So, I met Mrs. Rapp. She was a sweet, rosy-complexioned woman with silver-gray hair and blue eyes and a wonderful smile. When she talked about her faith, she talked about it with such warmth and security, fervor and enthusiasm. I looked and I said, ďI want some of that!Ē She let her light shine. She let the light of Christ shine through her eyes, and Iíll never forget her. I thought to myself, I want to be part of that expression of faith.
You can do it, too! Let your light shine. Take Christís light into the world. The world needs Jesus.
Let me tell you a story about how badly the world needs God and Jesus. I had to do a very difficult thing yesterday. I was called upon to lead a funeral service for a young woman named Carolyn Stone, 44 years of age. She was not a member of this church; she didnít have a church home. Her life was taken from her earlier last week. It was a very difficult and tragic and sad and unjust situation.
I found myself in a room with many people who were devastated by this untimely loss. It was unlike any other funeral Iíve ever participated in. usually, the minister does most of the readings. But this was a participatory funeral, because there was so much heaviness in the room, such heartbreak and anxiety and upset. So we all shared. I asked people to think of one word that described what they were feeling. Hand after hand after hand went up, and they shared their words until we had a bouquet of words of heartbreak to symbolize the event.
And then I said to them, ďNo words of mine can ever console you. No words of mine can ever make it better or make it right. But what I can tell you for sure is this: at this moment, at the depths of life, there is One who can bless you and help you and who can carry you through. His name is Jesus Christ. And as I stand here today I can tell you that this is so. So even though you are going through the dark night of the soul, embrace God and He will embrace you. He will never leave you, and your faith will see you through.Ē
Young folks of the confirmation class, that is what you are affirming today, that kind of powerful faith that will carry you through whatever you have to face, whatever peer pressure you have to go through, whatever difficult situations you have to go through as you continue your education. Whatever teachers you meet, whatever friends you meet, your faith will carry you through. Hold on to it. Carry the light of Christ with you into the world, and it will always, always, always, always bless you and never leave you.
May it be so for each and every one of you. You have the power. You have the power to carry Christís light into the world and make a positive difference wherever you go. Letís accept the challenge. Letís do it. Letís carry the light of Christ wherever we go. God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski