You Have the Power to Bless
November 23, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" 14When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our title and our topic for today is “You Have the Power to Bless.”
When I was a boy, we had a Sunday afternoon tradition, which I continue to remember fondly. We always went to church in the morning, and then after church, we would travel and see the relatives. We’d pile into the old Nash Rambler. That’s a kind of car; you’re all too young to remember Nash Ramblers, but it was a wonderful old car that my father drove. We would go to visit the Polish relatives in Sayreville and South River.
My father often liked to make a stop along the way. You see, my father had a lot of different jobs. He built cars at General Motors. He worked as a milkman for a while, and he had also been a construction worker. He loved to stop at one place along the wooded road. It’s probably a mall now, but it was just forests and fields back then. He’d stop at this spot, and there was a high tension tower nearby, a big, tall structure reaching for the sky, a latticework of steel topped with big, thick wires stretching from one tower to the next.
We would stop by this tower and get out of the car. So often, Dad would point to it and say, “Son, I helped build that tower.” Now, I don’t know how many times we stopped to visit that tower, but Dad used to love to do it, and he loved when I was impressed with the height and the grace and the beauty of the tower. “I helped build that tower.” What pride there must have been in his heart, to know that he had made a positive difference in the world!
And the truth of the matter is, electricity was carried to people’s homes, and their electricity worked, and their lights lit up and their homes were warm, partially because of what my father did. He made a positive difference, and he was proud of it.
Friends, I am here to tell you today that you make a positive difference, because you have the power to bless, each and every one of you. Each and every one of you is making a positive difference because you are here today. You are a witness to the Lord by coming to church this morning. No matter what your age or station, you have the power to bless.
In our gospel reading this morning, we heard of someone who actually blessed God, who made a difference in the life of Jesus Christ! A leper, a person who was broken and sick, together with nine other friends, was healed by the Lord Jesus Christ. But this one wanted to make a positive difference, and so he turned around and went back to the Lord and said, “Praise God! Jesus, I thank you!”
Jesus said, “Oh, my! I thought there were ten, but this one comes back. I tell you,” He said, “You are blessed. Stand up and go your way. You are truly well.” And the man did. He made a positive difference in the life of Jesus. He affected God by giving thanks. What a power! What a blessing! You’ve got it, too. You can make a positive difference. You have the power to bless.
I want to say this morning a great big thank you to all of you for all the blessings that you are to this church. My dear friends, please hear me speak from the heart. On behalf of the Lord we serve together, on behalf of this congregation, I thank you. I thank you for all the ways that you bless this church. You turn the power of your blessing in the direction of this church, and I thank you so much. I thank you for your presence, your prayers, your gifts, and your service.
I tell you this – thirty-one years in ministry, and I have never been more impressed with and more grateful for the service of the people of this church. Every time I come to an evening meeting, I am so grateful to the people who are there, because they’re making a contribution. They could be home in their warm houses, watching television, or spending time with their families, or taking a nap…well, I don’t want to make that sound too attractive. But you give up all those things, and you are here to serve the Lord. You are here to give of your time and your talent and your service for the Lord. I want you to know that you are appreciated and honored and blessed. I say from the heart, thank you! You are making a positive difference with your power to bless.
And at this Thanksgiving time, dear friends, I invite us to go forward and to keep on doing it. Bless with your prayers. Bless with your words. Bless with your deeds and your gifts.
Bless with your prayers. Oh friends, in your daily prayer, go to the Lord with a thank-you in your heart. I know a young person whose prayers are always thank-you prayers, always looking for things to say thank you to God for. What a refreshing moment that must be for the Lord, to hear our prayers of gratitude! Let us go to Him with thank-you prayers.
Let there be thank-yous in our words. There is a coffee shop I like to go to. And when I stop in to get my coffee “to go”, there is one particular man I hope will wait on me. His name is Henry. And the reason I hope he’ll wait on me is that he always greets me with a smile. He very quickly goes about the task of making sure that the coffee is just right. And I always like to leave him a good gratuity. I love to leave good gratuities wherever I go, at least 20% and upward from there. But Henry always says “thank you” with a smile. Now, he doesn’t have to. But he does. You see, he has the power to bless! He blesses me with his thank you and his smile. And that brings a smile to my face and brightens my whole day. He has the power to bless; can’t we do it all the time? Let us never be hesitant to say a good “thank you,” to give a good smile. It makes the world a better place.
And let us bless with our deeds, in the things we do and in our giving to the church. Today is Consecration Sunday, my friends. Today is the day when we have the joy of blessing the church with our gifts. And on behalf of our church and on behalf of the Lord it serves, I give thanks to you in advance for using the positive power of your blessing to bless our church with your gifts and your estimates of giving for the coming year.
There have been times at the end of our services here at church when I invite the congregation to join hands in a circle for the closing benediction. People leave their seats and head for the sides of the room. Hands reach out, left and right, people link them together with a smile. We look around the room, and we're only content when the circle is unbroken. Then we bow in prayer. There is a gentle, reassuring squeeze of the hand to remind each other that we are prayed for. We send each other off into the world with a blessing.
Each of us has the power to bless. None of us can be a circle by ourselves. Every person is needed to make the circle complete. None of us can sustain the church all by ourselves. Each gift, each contribution of time, talent, and offering is part of the circle of sharing that upholds our church and makes God's blessed organization possible. Thank you for being part of the circle of blessing.
I thank you for your generosity and your positive blessing. God loves you, and I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2008 Anthony J. Godlefski