Hymn- Jesus Loves Me
If you would prefer to hear Hannah’s sermon on the radio, tune into WALH radio today at 10 am or 3 pm for the Quaker Hour.
If you feel led to continue contributing financially to Ada Chapel during this time that we are not meeting, please mail offerings to our treasurer at 2418 Wilson Rd. Wilmington, OH 45177.
If anyone would like to share their thoughts about when/how Ada Chapel should reopen, call or text Hannah at 937-503-4709 to share your opinion! We are eager to reopen and to see everyone, but we want to do it safely and correctly.
Wilmington Yearly Meeting has decided not to hold this summer’s yearly meeting sessions in person, but to hold them via Zoom. Yearly meeting sessions are July 23-26, 2020. As we receive more information about the schedule, we will announce it.
Ross and Violeta. All of those who are sick, or who have loved ones who are sick. Healthcare workers, grocery store workers, and other essential workers. Our neighborhood and our community. The family and friends of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Wilmington Yearly Meeting. Our leaders in all levels of government. People in the recovery community. Parents, children, the elderly, and others who are isolated. Everyone who is feeling discouraged. All of those who have lost jobs, or who are struggling financially during this time. 2020 graduates who are missing out on their graduation ceremonies. The young people of WYM who won’t get to go to camp this summer.
Hymn- This is My Father’s World
Meditative Moment (Followed by silent worship)
Wilmington Yearly Meeting Revised Queries #2: Knowing that we are all ministers, am I open and obedient to God’s promptings to speak?
John 21:1-19: After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
There are certain types of stories that seem to be as old as time itself. They have been told by very different people, from very different cultures, living in very different time periods, speaking from very different perspectives—but they all have a universal message. Regardless of who the characters are, or of what specific kind of conflict the characters might find themselves in, they always end the same way. Once upon a times result in happily ever afters. The guy gets the girl. The villain gets what he or she deserved. The hero gets rewarded. The underdog comes out on top. We know the rhythms of these types of stories well. We know what to expect.
So, when Peter jumps out of that boat and takes off running toward Jesus, we settle into the rhythm of what we expect this story to be about. Peter—the teacher’s pet, the disciple who first recognized Jesus to be the Messiah, who attempted to defend Jesus with a sword in Gethsemane, who swore his allegiance and his love to his teacher—had failed. When faced with the threat of death, Peter was unable to keep his promise that he would lay down his life for Jesus. He had denied that he even knew Jesus—not just once—but three times. As Peter runs, that rhythm hits our gut, and we prepare ourselves for a comeback story—something similar to the plot of Rocky III. Peter has fallen from the top, and now, he has to earn that spot back. He has to prove himself worthy—worthy to be a disciple of Jesus, worthy to spread the Good News, worthy of his calling. Peter is going to have to fight tooth and nail to prove to Jesus that he really is sorry, and that if Jesus just gives him a second chance that he absolutely will not mess it up this time. We know—based on how this storyline always ends up playing out—that Peter has some work ahead of him. Redemption is not going to be easy, and the endless possibilities leave readers waiting with bated breath to see exactly how Peter is going to handle it, and if Jesus will approve.
But suddenly, the rhythm changes. The story throws us for a loop. We find ourselves off of the well-worn footpath, and standing somewhere unexpected—somewhere that we haven’t visited before. Jesus, you see, doesn’t make Peter get into the ring with his Clubber Lang. Jesus doesn’t devise some complicated personal improvement plan in which will Peter prove himself worthy to be able to tell people about the Gospel after successfully completing it. There are no training exercises—no synchronized ring-dancing, no footraces on the beach that Peter must endure before he can re-embrace discipleship. Jesus doesn’t strip Peter of certain responsibilities, or decide to treat him like the bottom of the barrel disciple for a little while as a punishment. Jesus doesn’t berate Peter, or demand perfection from him. Instead, what Jesus does is meet Peter with grace. Pure grace. The marvelous, amazing grace of Jesus sweeps in—restoring and redeeming both Peter and the brokenness of the world. Love wins—not competition, not comebacks, not self-flagellation, not working harder. The all-encompassing love of God wins. Jesus reminds Peter of his calling. Jesus reminds Peter that he has spiritual gifts that he can use for the purpose of fulfilling his calling—gifts that don’t get taken away or turned off when mistakes are made. Peter didn’t “lose”, and the other ten disciples didn’t “win”. The language of worth, superiority, and of earning doesn’t work within the Kingdom of God, because grace makes all of those things null and void. Jesus, in His sweet words about lambs and sheep, tells Peter that he can be a disciple of Christ and spread the Gospel in the way that he has been called to spread the Gospel, period. Peter loves Jesus. Peter has been called. Peter is gifted. Peter has been saved by grace. And that’s it. It’s perhaps more simplistic than that comeback story, but it’s also way more beautiful. This story is grace, this story is love, this story is empowerment, and this story is an invitation for all of us to walk side by side with Jesus—using our spiritual gifts in whatever way that Jesus might be calling us to use them.
This summer at Ada Chapel—and I suppose on the Quaker Hour, too—we are going to spend some time talking in depth about spiritual gifts. We are going to devote a week or two to each one that is specifically labeled in the New Testament as a spiritual gift, and we will be spending some time looking at Bible stories that illustrate each one. A few spiritual gifts that are mentioned in the Bible—to give you an idea of how this is going to go—are healing, teaching, prophecy, serving, and mercy. My hope is that this sermon series will give everyone a chance to do some exploration—to discover what your spiritual gifts might be, and to discern how those gifts might best be used. I’m really excited about it, and I hope that the idea of doing this excites you all, too. But before we jumped in to the exploration process, I thought it was important to begin with this foundational piece—that all people possess a spiritual gift, that all people are called to some sort of ministry, and that our spiritual gifts aid us in those ministries that we are called to. And this is true, regardless of who we are currently, who we were in the past, or of what we have done. Through the grace of God, we are all called, invited, and gifted.
Quakers, as well as some other denominations, refer to this idea that all followers of Jesus are called to be ministers as the “priesthood of all believers”. The phrase “priesthood of all believers” is reminiscent of a time in history when ordinary people either did not have access to a printed Bible, or they couldn’t read well, so they relied upon a priest—a person who was educated in theological and spiritual matters—to tell them about Jesus and to instruct them on how to live. When George Fox—the founder of Quakerism—heard the voice of God on Pendle Hill and felt God’s presence without intercession or help from a priest, this experience revolutionized his understanding of God. In truth, it wasn’t a new idea at all—exhibit A being Peter—but it was new to George Fox. And it was new to others who recognized this and went on to start their own faith traditions where it was promoted that all believers could talk to God directly, could be ministers in a variety of ways, and could spread the Good News—not just the person who was in a leadership role at church. We fall so easily into hierarchies, into the rhythms of familiar stories, into traditions, into human constructs—that sometimes, we just need to be reminded that God operates differently than we do. God is looking to do one thing, the thing that He has been doing since Adam and Eve left Eden—and that is to restore the world. He wants to make this planet the place of wholeness, peace, and love that it was when He made it. And He wants to do that with the help of His beloved Creation. He wants to do that with the help of you and me and everyone else—who are imperfect but who are being restored daily, who are all equal in His eyes, who all have different, but vitally important gifts, and who have an important role to play in it all. Believing that we are all called to be ministers, and that we all have spiritual gifts that God wants us to use for the advancement of His Kingdom isn’t some woo-woo, new age, feel-good, psychobabble, everyone gets included, competition is wrong, sort of stuff. It’s truth. It’s part of who God designed us to be. It’s part of how God built things. Calling, vocation, spiritual gifts, grace—it’s the real deal.
If you have made terrible mistakes in your life that you regret with all your being and wish that you could take them back—know that you are still called. You are still loved and you are still gifted. And keep in mind that sometimes, having gone through something hard makes us just the right person to help someone else who is experiencing the same thing. If you barely graduated high school, or maybe didn’t make it past the sixth grade—you still possess spiritual gifts, and you are still called to be a minister. If you are not a great public speaker, or a good writer—remember that not all ministry happens from a pulpit. In fact, as a person who speaks from a pulpit every Sunday, I would say that the most life-changing forms of ministry are the ones that do not happen from a pulpit. There is a type of ministry that you are being called to do, and you have particular gifts that will help you to do it. If you are introverted, or do not exhibit charisma and leadership skills like others around you might, you are still called to ministry and you still have spiritual gifts. If you are 9 years old or 99 years old, you are still called, and you are still gifted. If you feel like others might be better at ministry than you, or that they know more than you, or that they are more eloquent than you—you, my friend, are still a minister with spiritual gifts. Gender, race, level of experience, marital status, legal record, or whatever else—none of it takes away from the fact that you are called to be a minister who helps to build God’s Kingdom using your spiritual gifts. You, Friend, are a minister of the Gospel, and you have work to do.
This week, Friends, as we begin the process of thinking about what our spiritual gifts might be, I’d like to invite you to get used to thinking about yourself as a minister. Is it easy for you to see how you fit into God’s redemption plan? Are you comfortable with the idea of being an active worker for the Kingdom with a ministry to do? Or does that make you nervous? Do you feel worthy of your call, or do you struggle to accept God’s grace? Are you concerned about competition, or about proving yourself? Do you need that occasional reminder that in the Kingdom of God, there are no hierarchies—that we are all in this together, working towards the same goal? Be well, Friends, and may you have some beautiful moments of discernment about your role as a minister, and of realization that you are gifted and called.
Hymn- Amazing Grace
Ada Chapel Prayer
Father, we thank thee for the night; and for the blessed morning light. For rest and food, and loving care; and all that makes the world so fair. Help us do the things we should; to be to others kind and good. In all we do, and all we say; to grow more loving every day. Amen