To Whom? – August 23, 2015

To Whom?

1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43                 John 6:56-69


Peter asked the question to which he

knew the answer…a question to which we know the answer.  “To whom would we go?”  At all times…and in all situations…for those

who call themselves Christians…the answer is Jesus Christ.


I’m going to ask you that question in

a different context in a few minutes…but let’s first look at Solomon.  Solomon had a magnificent Temple built.

He was dedicating the Temple in the Scripture

we heard this morning.  Solomon built the

Temple to continue the work of Yahweh as promised to David, Solomon’s

father.   In his dedication prayer

Solomon spoke of God’s ultimate…total… sovereignty over both the land and the

people…all of the land and all of the people.


The Christian church that has grown from the

days of that Temple…including Jackson Grove United Methodist Church…has as its

calling…its job…to show the love and purpose of God for all creation.  In his letter to the Ephesians Paul told the

church that God had planned a family through adoption in Jesus Christ…a family

that would do God’s will and praise his glory.

Over time God worked this out…to bring all things together in and through

Jesus Christ…the one to whom we can turn.


Hear this story about an artist who

was creating a painting of the Last Supper.

It was a great picture that took him many years.  As the model for the face of Christ he used a

young man with a face of great beauty and purity.  Bit by bit the picture was filled in.  One after another the disciples were

painted.  The day came when he needed a

model for Judas.  He had left his face to



The artist went out and searched in the lowest

haunts of the city and in the dens of sin.

At last he found a man with a face so depraved and vicious that it met

his requirements.  When the sittings were

at an end the man said to the artist, “You painted me before.”


“Surely not,” said the artist.


“Oh, yes,” said the man, “I sat for

your Christ.”


The years had taken their toll on the man.


To whom…to what…had the man turned in

that time?


Do you sometimes wonder if the years

have taken their toll on we who call ourselves Christians?  We may not have changed as radically as the

artist’s model…but we may have slowed down…may have become less willing to take

a risk on something or someone new…may have become complacent thinking of what

has been accomplished…and the struggles that have been overcome.


When Solomon finished preaching at the

temple that day…people went out to minister to others…to bring them to

God.  Solomon did the same.


When Jackson Grove Methodist church

was organized in 1831…they didn’t just build a magnificent building…dedicate

the building and say job well done.  It

wasn’t a building in which the members sequestered themselves for study and

worship.  They opened the doors wide and

went out into the community to minister…to make disciples.


Following a fire…and all the trauma

and effort that goes with building a new sanctuary…on November 20th,

1994 there was a celebration in the sanctuary we are now in today…and a

dedication of several classrooms downstairs.

Today…those classrooms are unused.

Did complacency set in?  Did we

think the job was done?  Did we all watch

the movie “Field of Dreams?”….”If you build it they will come.”


Jesus told the disciples to eat the

bread and drink the wine…to take Jesus into them.  They did.

With Jesus inside them…the disciples did as Jesus did…they took the Word

of God…and the Work of God to others…they took the Word of God…and the Work of

God…to others.  They didn’t build a nice

building…and say “now they will come.”


Most of us here today…just three weeks

ago…ate the bread and drank the wine…took Jesus inside us.  We asked the Spirit…Jesus within us…to make

us one with each other and one in ministry to all the world…to all the world.


To whom do we go to make this


The first answer…of course…is Jesus

Christ.  He has given us the Spirit to

guide us in this effort.  That’s the

obvious answer. That’s the answer to Peter’s question.


The next answer for the question…to whom do we

go…is found in the mirror.  That person

in the mirror can most clearly tell each of us what we have been doing…speaking

and thinking…to be in ministry that shows Christ is inside us.  What is that person telling us?


There are many answers to the question…to whom

do we go…to perform this ministry.  Some

are engaged in visiting the sick and shut-in.

Many give to the orphanage at Epworth.

Some are involved in and support the Kairos prison ministry and the

North Greenville Food Crisis center.


There are many more opportunities…that are

easily executed.


To whom can you go…and honestly say…”We’ve been

missing you in church….we’ve got a new minister…I like him…I think you will,

too…please join us in worship again soon?

You know who that is.  And, if you

can’t honestly say it…please tell me.


To whom can you go…and say “I’ve been blessed

with another day” when they greet you and ask how you’re doing?  We probably have that opportunity daily.  Are we showing them Jesus inside us?


To whom can you go…and say, “Have a blessed

day,” when your encounter with them is over?


To whom can you go…and say, “I’ve been

blessed…” when there is good news to share?


To whom can you go…and say, “I’m having this

difficulty…but God will take me through it?”


To whom can you go…and offer a helping hand…or

a word of praise…in a way that shows them Jesus inside of you?


Over the next few weeks there will be committee

meetings and reports to complete as we prepare for the annual charge conference…the

church’s annual business meeting.  Some

may see it as drudgery.  Let us take this

opportunity to celebrate the ministries in which we are involved…and to

honestly evaluate how well we are answering the question to whom can we  go…to show them Jesus inside us…inside us

individually and collectively as the body of Christ…and more importantly…to

whom can we go…to help them take Jesus inside them?


Let us not only evaluate our current

ministry.  Let us listen to those with

whom we come in contact to find a meaningful ministry…or ministries…to add…that

will bring others to Jesus…and others to Jackson Grove United Methodist

Church.  Let us ask how we can

effectively and boldly use our time…talent and treasure…to show the Jesus

inside us.  Let us not be about sitting

on our time…talent and treasure…because we are tired or uncertain…or have been

disappointed in the past.


I had lunch with a dear friend Friday.  Her church is preparing for a celebration of

its 175th year.  She is the

church historian and has been working on updating the church’s history since

its last milestone celebration…its 150th year.  It’s a reasonably large church in the center

of a medium size community.  I asked her

what stood out to her in her research.


She said there were two things.  One was the people that God had sent to them

to assist in building their ministry…a woman who had never before been involved

in leading Christian education activities…other than teaching an elementary

level Sunday School class…who is now organizing and leading the activities of

the teachers of nearly 20 Sunday School classes as well as educational

workshops for the whole church…and the church’s first female minister…a woman

who has shown great skills in the pulpit and in her role as pastor…greater

skills than many of the men who preceded her.


The other thing that my friend said stood

out…was the strength, wisdom and faith God gave the people of the church…the

Jesus inside them.  It was that strength,

wisdom and faith…Jesus inside them…that opened their hearts and minds to the

gifts God had given them.  It was that

strength…wisdom and faith…Jesus inside them…that took the people out of the

comfort and security of the walls of the church to reach out to their community…growing

the ministry of that old church.


Over the next few weeks…as we meet to prepare

the reports and forms for the charge conference…as we prepare for the Lord’s

Acre celebration…as we prepare for the expectation of Advent and celebrate the

joy of Christmas…let us remember that in just 16 years our congregation will be

celebrating its bicentennial…200 years of existence…worship and service.  Let us ponder what it is that Emily Moody…Sara

Turner…and their peers…the next generation of leaders…will be writing as they

update the history of Jackson Grove United Methodist Church for the grand

celebration.  Let our first new year’s

activity be to plan boldly to shape the answer.


Acting…in answer to the question…to whom will

we go…today…and every day…in all of that question’s forms…will be the beginning

of creating that plan.