Worship August 30, 2020

Hymn- Jesus Loves Me

Announcements

As of July 5, Ada Chapel has reopened for in-person worship on Sunday mornings. Here is what you need to know about resuming meeting for worship.

1.) Friends should not feel pressured to return to meeting if they are not comfortable doing so. Worship will continue to be posted every week on the Ada Chapel blog for Friends who wish to continue worshiping at home.

2.) If you are not feeling well on any given Sunday morning, please stay home. We want to protect those among us who are high-risk.

3.) Masks will not be required, but if you have been wearing one regularly, wearing it to worship is encouraged.

4.) There will be hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes set up throughout the meetinghouse so that Friends can sanitize their hands, and so that we can wipe down common surfaces, such as hand rails, pews, and hymnals.

5.) Friends must spread out in the pews. Sitting in family units is fine, but leave some space between your family and the next family.

6.) Friends must be respectful of other Friends’ space. Congregating after worship, hugging, shaking hands, close talking, etc. is discouraged.

Prayer Requests

Rose, as she is recovering from surgery. Violeta and Ross. Our country. All those who are in harm’s way. All of those who are sick, or who have loved ones who are sick. Healthcare workers, first responders, and all those who continue to potentially expose themselves to infection. Our neighborhood and our community. People of color in this country. 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. Children, teachers, and all of those going back to school. Those who are grieving. Those who are feeling anxious about the spikes in COVID 19 infections.

Hymn-Open My Eyes

Meditative Moment

Wilmington Yearly Meeting Revised Queries #3: Do I strive every day to love my neighbor as myself, as befits Christ’s followers?

Sermon

I Corinthians 13:1-13: If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.  For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

I read a really good book recently called Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion–written by a Jesuit priest named Greg Boyle. The book centers around Homebody Industries, which is a gang intervention and rehabilitation program that Father Greg founded in 1988. Homebody Industries offers job training, tattoo removal, counseling, parenting classes, and many other services to gang members who want to escape from that particular way of life. The program was created as a response to all of the gang violence that occurred in Los Angeles in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s. Father Greg lived in and pastored a church in L.A, and was heartbroken by how many teenagers and young adults in the projects were dying every day as a result of gang activity. Homeboy Industries was–in part– a solution to that problem.

In one chapter of the book, Father Greg talks about how–in interviews–he is often asked what it is like working with the poor and the marginalized. Father Greg writes that he always tells the person conducting the interview that he does not work with the poor–he lives with them. And that is the only reason why Homebody Industries has been able to serve so many people. he says that the “homies”–as many of the men and women who are, or have been part of a gang refer to themselves–are only open to Homebody Industries because they know that he genuinely cares about them. Father Greg doesn’t just work a shift at Homeboy Industries each day and then go home in a better neighborhood on the other side of town. He lives in the projects with the homies. He walks the streets with them, he gives them rides, he visits them in jail, he officiates their baptisms and their funerals, and he gets to know them as people. Even the homies who choose to remain in the gang life come to respect Father Greg because he treats all of them like equals, and he makes the effort to show them that they are loved. If he were just some do-gooder visiting the projects on a mission to fix people–Father Greg explains–the homies would see right through that. Nobody likes to be made to feel like they are worth less than other people, or like they are a charity case to be pitied, just because they lack something. Acts of faith, of mercy, and of goodness–Father Greg says–don’t amount to very much if love is not the driving factor behind them.

Paul knew this, too, which is almost certainly why he concludes the two passages that we have mostly referred to this summer–Romans 12:3-8 and I Corinthians 12–with beautiful statements about love. In Romans 12:9-10, Paul says: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another in showing honor.” And then, I Corinthians 13 offers us the ever-popular piece of scripture: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” Without love, Paul is telling us–whose words I’m sure informed Father Greg as he navigated his ministry and wrote a book about it–our spiritual gifts do nothing. Without love, it all means absolutely nothing.

Understand that in saying this, Paul is not diminishing spiritual gifts or taking them lightly. My main objective in spending time talking about the spiritual gifts this summer was that you all might feel more empowered to use your individual spiritual gifts. Quakers believe that we are all ministers–that we all have the capability and the responsibility to preach the Gospel through word and action. I wanted each of you to feel encouraged to claim that, and to find the fulfillment that comes from serving God with your gifts. And I still hope–as summer draws to an end and we move on next week to the Narrative Lectionary–that you all will continue to explore your spiritual gifts and to make use of them.

But as we made our way through each of the different spiritual gifts, I started picking up on another theme, and maybe you did, too–that the spiritual gifts play a very powerful role in the family of God. Think back to that image of a body that God uses in I Corinthians. All Christians–all across the world–make up this body. There is a lot of diversity here. We all love Jesus, but we all have different ways of doing things, beliefs, and opinions. There are a lot of things that we could, and that we do, fight about. But what always brings us back together–besides the incredible grace of God–is how effectively we minister to one another. The ways in which we use our spiritual gifts to serve one another have the ability to bind our community back together, even when we are at our most broken. I think about Wilmington Yearly Meeting, and how those of us who have chosen to remain in Wilmington Yearly Meeting strongly disagree about same-sex marriage–and yet, the ways in which we minister to one another and the relationships that we have built in doing that–keep us together. That, Friends, is an absolute miracle. So, think for a minute about how much more powerful love is, if our spiritual gifts–these things that help to bind us together as a body–are meaningless without love. The only two choices set out before us are to try to fight it, and to eventually be roped in–or to willingly step into the light and to allow God’s love to overflow our souls to the point at which that love begins spilling out into the world around us.

So, let’s choose the latter, Friends. Love always wins in the end, anyway. To put it off is only delaying the inevitable, and frankly–if you aren’t choosing love, you’re missing out on the most beautiful parts of life anyway. Let’s embrace the all-encompassing love of Christ, and let’s allow that love to guide the ways in which we use our spiritual gifts to serve God and to serve one another.

If your spiritual gift is compassion, then maybe that means taking a page from Father Greg’s book, and allowing relationships to be a vehicle for your compassion rather than fixing, or problem solving.

If your spiritual gift is giving, then love-guided giving might look like asking people what they need, instead of assuming that they need what you think they need.

If your spiritual gift is leadership, leading with love could mean practicing humility, and thinking more highly of the people who you are leading than yourself–putting them first.

If your spiritual gift is exhortation, then loving encouragement might look like kinship and radical honesty.

If your spiritual gift is healing, then perhaps love-based healing could mean looking at the whole of a person–as opposed to only the problem at hand–and listening deeply.

If your spiritual gift is words of knowledge or words of wisdom, then love might drive you to relationship building and vulnerability.

If your spiritual gift is discernment of spirits, then love could look like gentleness and dying to one’s self.

If your spiritual gift is teaching, preaching, prophecy, tongues, miracles, administration–or one of the other spiritual gifts that we didn’t quite get to–then love might appear as patience, courage, empathy, or justice. The possibilities are endless. And frankly, thee technique is less important than the “why”.

Allow that unconditional, deeply abiding love that God has for you lead your life. Let it speak. Let it permeate and motivate. Let love be the reason why you give, lead, heal, offer compassion, or speak knowledge and wisdom. Place love at the core of all you do and all you say. Use your spiritual gift or gifts for no reason but to love.

Be well, Friends. In the months to come, when you sense the Holy Spirit prodding you to use your gifts to serve, may you take Her up on that offer. May you feel encouraged–may you feel ready to go and capable of doing it–when the time comes. May you trust that God loves you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. Your mistakes cannot disqualify you from the outpouring of love that He wishes to give to you. May you stay connected with God. Using our spiritual gifts don’t always work out so well when we stop listening to God, or when we step out of His Light. And above all, may we always act out of love. May love challenge us, transform us, make Light what was once dark, and open our eyes that we may see. Love never ends, or fails. May love always be the center from which we are working, because God is love.

Hymn- Love is Leading

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

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