Aloha Friday Message – February 10, 2012 – An Inconvenient Blessing (part 2 of 2)

1206AFC021012 – An inconvenient Blessing? (part 2 of 2)

Read it online here.

Last week we started with Paul’s blunt statement in 1 Corinthians 9:17 – If I did it on my own initiative I would deserve a reward; but if I do it under compulsion I am simply accepting a task entrusted to me.

Today we continue that message, and look at the Mercy available to, and through, us when we experience the ever-saving power of the Blood of Calvary – the epitome of God’s Mercy and Grace.

Part 2

When I think about the great gifts of prophesy and faith given to the prophets in the Old Testament, I almost always think of Jeremiah. Do you remember what he said (Jeremiah 20:7)?

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.

Preaching and living the Gospel was Paul’s gift and vocation, and he said he couldn’t stop sharing that gift even if he wanted to. Paul was driven by the necessity, arising from Love and Grace, to do what God wanted, to use God’s gifts to him for God’s glory. What special gifts has God given you? Are you motivated, like Paul, to honor God with your gifts? Are you ready to not only recite the Mystery of Faith, but to live it out in your heart, in your family, in your community and – best of all – in the Kingdom of God? How much Time do you have for God? What Talent did he give you to share with us? Do you have Treasures (other than your Time and Talent) that would glorify God when put to use unselfishly? Think about these people:

Ted is the go-to guy for people with problems. They know he will make the time to listen, that he will help breach the gap between enemies or facilitate a necessary change that will bring about justice. Both sides or parties in an issue often confide in Ted without the other knowing. Ted carries the message for justice or for managing change despite the inconvenience of frequently being the messenger who is repeatedly shot. As pastor of a small evangelical church, he has plenty of opportunities to give his time to others in need; the privilege of not having any time he can call his own is his vocation.

Marcie has a remarkable capacity of genuinely loving many different people. She has friends in all walks of life, in many locations, men and women, and all ages from toddlers to the very elderly. Her tenderness comforts people. Her nonjudgmental interactions with her friends encourage them to pass that love on to others. She had a talent for sensing exactly what each person needed to become what God created them to be. Despite all this “sweetness and light,” Marcie can erupt into fearsome anger and lash out. Marcie is frequently taken advantage of even by the people who admire her and enjoy the warmth of her love. Marcie has hundreds of contacts and honest caring for each and every one of them, but she often longs for the quietude and solitude that is the opposite of her busy, outgoing life.

Mark grew up in an inner-city neighborhood that was so dangerous that many kids did not grow up. They died in gang wars, from overdoses, or lost interest in life and drifted into the endless cycle of ignorance and poverty. Mark has a gift for turning a profit. He’s always on the lookout for opportunities to expand his line of businesses. He started out like a lot of kids delivering papers when he was in the fifth grade, and by the time he graduated from high school, he had his own courier service running in several neighborhoods in his home town. He got a degree in business at the State College and went on from there to investment-banking. Mark’s a multimillionaire now, and he lets people know with crystal clarity that his wealth is the outgrowth of seeds planted early in his business life – seeds of love for God and service to his community.

These days Mark spends less time inventing and running businesses. He uses his abilities to serve, to lead, to direct, and to inspire – all of the God-given talents that made him wealthy – by going to schools, colleges, churches and anywhere else that can accommodate him and his power wheelchair to speak to crowds of people eager to hear his story. Mark was beaten nearly to death by drug dealers in Ted’s neighborhood one evening when he went to speak at Marcie’s church. Marcie, who is an R.N., saw Mark lying wounded on the sidewalk next to his van which was also badly damaged. She immediately assessed his wounds, called 911, and started CPR. Mark and Marcie got married at Ted’s church eleven years ago this March. Ted, Marcie, and Mark count themselves blessed to have experienced the inconveniences of being called to serve God with the gifts he generously gave them. For each of them, those gifts are proof positive of God’s extravagant generosity and abundant mercy.

Think of this, Beloved. What do you have that was not given to you or has been allowed by God for your edification and joy? Do you count among your gifts illness, suffering, pain, doubt, fear, or distress? Can you love, write, speak, inspire, sing, play an instrument, play a sport, be a friend, solve a problem, be a peace-maker, be a change-agent, be a preacher, a teacher, a priest, a prophet, or a king? Do you have the gift of faith, the gift of skepticism, the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, faith, healing, prophecy, or tongues? Does your life produce, or help others produce, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control? Then you have Godly gifts, and your calling – your vocation – is to willingly and correctly use those gifts to the Gory of God. Any inconveniences you might experience in that vocation is, well, merely inconvenient. That’s good to know, isn’t it? That is the kind of knowledge that builds and nourishes faith. I direct you to this quote from St. Augustine:

Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.

~~ St. Augustine

The efficacy of Mercy is something we cannot assess. The capacity of God’s loving kindness and everlasting Grace for producing a desired result or effect that is both objectively and subjectively measurable is indeed The Mystery of Faith. Like a babushka doll, it is a gift in which many other gifts are nested one inside the other, and at the very core is Eternal Life – unity to God our Creator http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matryoshka_doll. It is that Mystery which was entrusted to Paul who in turn entrusted to the gentiles in Syria, Asia, Macedonia, Achaia, and finally in Rome. Through his letters, it is also entrusted to us; in that way, his stewardship of the Gospel continues right up to this very moment in time as you read this.

When we hear “stewardship” in church, we hear a familiar phrase: Time, Talent, and Treasure. I think we all  suspect that “what they’re really after is ‘treasure.’ They want more money.” I’d like to ask you to reconsider that assumption. Look at the order in which they are presented: Time, Talent, and Treasure. As it turns out, that is also the order of importance. You may know the hymn, “Take Time to be Holy.” If not, check it out here. God wants us to spend time with him, to acknowledge him through our loving obedience – as did Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles – and to share his love with every earthling with whom we come into contact. We are to live the Gospel. Paul’s commission, his Gift, was to preach the Gospel, but he also lived it, making him an example, a pattern, for believers for centuries to come.

God in his Mercy gives us many gifts and blessings: All that is good, all that is perfect, is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow caused by change. (James 1:17) Like Paul, we are entrusted with these gifts so that we can use them to praise and glorify God by loving and serving each other following God’s example of Perfect Integrity. God himself declares that integrity with his name YHWH and therefore Moses teaches his chosen people

Shema Yisroel Adonoi Eloheinu Adonoi Echad.

Hear Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.

If we willingly put our gifts to use according to the purpose for which God gave them to us, we will, like Paul, have a recompense called Eternal Life in Heaven with God. And if we use these gifts unwillingly, we have, as did Paul, a certain stewardship which we must carry out; we must apply those gifts judiciously if we cannot apply them generously. And what if we refuse to use God’s gifts? Then, Beloved, we will learn the true meaning of misery as well as the true meaning of Mercy. How can that be? God’s loving mercy blankets every living soul with good and perfect gifts, those who use them willingly and generously – following God’s example – bless those whose life is sheer misery out of the merciful loving-kindness of their hearts. This is your calling, my calling, our calling: Love one another as I have loved you. The only time love is ever inconvenient is when it is incomplete. Despite
the “inconveniences” of pain, suffering, mockery, and persecution, he
continued to preach and live the Gospel because that was the gift Christ had
given him. Nothing stopped him from living and giving until he lived away and
gave away everything he had.

Share-A-Prayer

GW: infected dog bite means staying at home for three weeks getting IV antibiotics. Pray for quick and complete healing including repair of any tissue damaged by the infection.

SER: Recovering from surgery. Every prayer helps.

TO, CN, PB, VC, CO, and others struggling with addictions (including the addicts’ families): We continue to anticipate and/or support their sobriety with our prayers and love.

RH: Prayers of thanksgiving for the many gifts given and shared through the creativity and kindness that characterizes all his work.

RM: Recently diagnosed with brain tumor, but afraid to find out more about the cause and the prognosis. Pray for courage, and healing.

For all of our friends, family, and acquaintances dealing with cancer: Thanks be to God for life and love, for hope, healing, and health. Where the outcome is longer life, we thank you for your mercy Lord. Wherever suffering is shortened we thank you for your mercy Lord.

Special request for ALL clergy everywhere: Strengthen and guide them in serving You through the work that they do. Bless them for the sacrifices they make to bring souls into the Kingdom. We especially pray for your servants who go out into the world as missionaries to carry the Good News and the Sacraments to every land and nation.

Bless and protect the lives and works of the gallant men and women who serve in our Armed Forces around the world. For those who are in the greatest danger in combat zones, send your mighty angels to stand with them against our foes.

Lord God, in your infinite mercy and love, grant us the faith to pray for Peace and the grace to make it happen in every life we touch.

We thank and praise you, God, for all of your blessings. We thank you for our lives, our work, our homes, and our families. These, and many more, are the Blessings we can see. Today, Lord, we are also deeply grateful for the thousands of blessings and gifts we never know about, but which sustain us in every endeavor. It is through this constant stream of Grace that we come to know you and to know the Joy of walking in the light of your Presence. Today we, your children, honor the Giver of all good Gifts. In our gratitude we in turn offer you the gift of our lives as well as the lives of those we love. Bless and approve this offering, make it holy and acceptable, and offering of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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