A Satisfying Job to Do
December 6, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
76ĒAnd you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord, to prepare the way.Ē
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Good Morning!
Our title and our topic today is, A Satisfying Job to Do. God has a satisfying job for you to do and the Gospel tells us about it this very morning.
As I look out in the congregation, I recognize many different occupations among us. There are Doctors here, folks in the financial field, folks in psychology. There are folks in management, there are many different occupations represented here this morning. I think as we go through our careers there is one thing that we hope for in our occupation, that we will make a positive difference in the world. We want the world to be a better place because of what we do.
The other thing we hope for in our careers is a sense of satisfaction, that even though we may work hard there is a sense of fulfillment in what we do. My hope and prayer is that whatever your career path may be that you have those things: a sense of doing something that is important and significant and that also brings you a sense of personal satisfaction.
What I am excited about in this morning scripture reading is that God has a job for us to, a satisfying job for us to do. No matter what we do during the week, God has something important for us to do as Christians. No matter what our age, God has an important and satisfying job for us to do. Let me tell you about it this morning.
Take your scripture in hand and look at the response from the first reading, take a look at verse 76 because here are our marching orders.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way.
Thatís our marching orders, thatís our trumpet call! Thatís the satisfying work that God has for us to do-to be preparers of the way. Oh my friends, I wish I could give everybody a badge, a button to wear that says, I help prepare the way. I would love for everyone to have that kind of feeling when you come to church. I help prepare the way. When you go home wonít you remember that wonderful scripture, prepare ye the way of the Lord. That is what we are talking about this morning, that is the important job that each of us has to do. Thatís the job that John the Baptist sings about.
In the scripture we are remembering how John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, an important job. But today I want you also to know that that is your job and mine also-to prepare the way for the Lord. To prepare the Lordís way for entrance into other hearts. Whoís hearts? Well, the hearts of our children. When the children gather here in the church I am so proud of them. I am so proud of you for bringing them. You are preparing Godís way into their hearts. What could be more important?
Whatever it is you do in the church, whether you attend, whether you contribute, whether you lead, whether you teach, whether you bring your children, I hope you have a very satisfying feeling inside knowing that you are a preparer of the way of the Lord. If your children are grown, or growing, and even if they seem to have fallen away a little bit, donít you worry; just keep your example strong. And they will know the way to go when they find themselves in their hearts.
Prepare the way for the Lord, is the job that we all have to do today. Who else should we prepare the way of the Lord for? People who donít know the Lord. People who donít have the joy of faith in their hearts. All of us can be enthusiastic preparers of Godís way to their hearts.
In the old days, in the times of Jesus, when a king would want to travel to one of his distant cities, he didnít just get into the chariot and go. They didnít have roads like we do today. No, he would have to send a crew in front of him to prepare his way. They would take the stones out of the road, fix the potholes and if there were terrible sharp turns, they would even them out. They made the crooked places straight, and the rough places smooth, so that when the king came through on his chariot, he would be able to come through efficiently and effectively. That is what preparing the way was back then.
That is what we do for the Lord. Wouldnít it be wonderful if all of us could work together to make the church and the faith something that was evermore friendly, and likeable and accessible? I tell you what, I think that those are my marching orders, I think about it every blessed day.
I am grateful for the call to prepare the way of the Lord. But I donít just do it myself, we all work together. My prayer is that we would all be thinking about this. How can we make faith and church evermore accessible and inviting and user friendly? God wants to love His people. And some of them are gathered here right now. There are others that he wants to reach also. Our joyful job, our very satisfying task, is to prepare the way of the Lord. We need to take away obstacles and blockages so that people would feel welcome and accepted whenever they come here. We need to reach out to those who have not been touched by the love of the Lord, because we have this precious gift, and we can do it.
Take a moment and close your eyes and think about the people who prepared the way of the Lord for you. Who were they? Who were those wonderful people?
I am thinking about my sister Angie, how we would get dressed up on a Sunday morning and she would drive me to church. She was preparing the way of the Lord for me.
I am thinking about teachers I had in grammar school. Good Sisters, who taught me the stories of Jesus, and taught me a lot about the Bible.
I am thinking about a wonderful priest who was in the church where I grew up, who cared about me. He wanted to teach me everything he could about the reading of Latin and the history of the Church. He was a wonderful gentleman.
I am thinking about my own dear Mother and Father who always set aside Sunday reverently for the worship of the Lord, and instilled in me a love for God which I cherish to this day.
There are so many others, so many people in the church who have made the love of God visible and approachable because of who they were. Thatís what we are called to be, we are called to be preparers of the way. And so, how can we do it? We can do it by looking at our involvement with the church and asking, ďHow is what I am doing preparing the way of the Lord?Ē
Perhaps you are very active in the church and you are on one of the boards or you serve on one of the committees. What you are doing is preparing this place for Godís people, so that it is a welcome, open and friendly place.
Perhaps you are a contributor to the church; your contributions do so much to keep the church vital and alive for preparing the way of the Lord.
Perhaps you are an attendee, and your very presence inspires someone to become closer to the Lord. You are preparing the way of the Lord.
So I ask you to do this, ask yourself the question, ďHow is what I am doing preparing the way of the Lord for other people? And I think when you do, you will get a very satisfying answer.
The other way to prepare the way for the Lord is to be an example. The old saying is true. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read. You never know how something you do or something you say will touch someone. Maybe you take a brief moment to bow your head when having a meal in a restaurant, and have a prayer of blessing. Perhaps someone will notice, and be inspired. Maybe something you do that is a kindness to other people will be observed by another person ever so discreetly, and the person will say, ďI know that person is a Christian. I want to be more like that.Ē
The things you do as a Christian of the church are an example and are the most powerful ways that you will be a preparer of the way of the Lord. I am remembering that wonderful Sunday School teacher, and she never said, ďAnthony you should be a Methodist.Ē No, she never said that, but I watched her beautiful smile and her heartfelt faith, and I said, ďI want some of that.Ē And lo now these many years I stand before you as a Methodist pastor. It was her remarkable example that prepared the way of the Lord for me.
How about you? You can do it too.
Friends, in closing, I want to point out one beautiful picture I have seen in our church about preparing the way of the Lord. I watched a mother in our congregation bring her daughter up to the altar of the Lord to receive Holy Communion. She stood behind her daughter and gently put her hands underneath her daughterís hands, and cupped them and raised them to show her how to receive the Holey Communion element of the bread. I placed the bread in the little girlís hands with her motherís hands underneath.
Your hands, my hands, are underneath someoneís. God needs us to be His partners in doing this. May you know the deeply satisfying joy that comes with preparing the way of the Lord for someone else.
God loves you; I do too. Have a wonderful week.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski