Aloha Friday Message – June 30, 2017 – Let’s make a tent!

1726AFC063017 – Let’s make a tent!

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Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! It’s already Friday again, and the Spirit is a movin’! I’m going to start of with a photo just to get you thinking about what I want to cover, so here it is. I hope you will look at it and smile.

Come to my tent:

Matthew 10:40 40 Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

John 13:20 20 Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.

Mark 9:37 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

The blanket tent in the living room! Did you do something like that when you were a kid? We take blankets and sheets and pillows and drape them over couches and chairs and maybe an ironing board and that was our tent, our fort, our “this-is-mine” place. Sometimes we had siblings in there, sometimes even parents, often other kids played with us there. It was serious business, making a tent. Building shelter is intuitive; everybody wants to do it. These little tents were our safe-zone; we could be hidden there and read comics, or tell stories, or just giggle like crazy. Tents are such basic shelters that it just seems natural to have them. Tents are mentioned often in the Bible.

The first time we hear about a tent is in Genesis 4:20 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock. The next mention, strangely, is in connection with Noah. It’s in Genesis 9:20-21 20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent. Later we hear about Abram moving near Bethel (Genesis 12:8). In Exodus 25 Exodus 26, we have the plans for building the Tabernacle (there is an image there), a very large tent in the middle of a city of tents as Israel was in the desert. There are other places where tents are mentioned as well as instructions for certain objects used in tents, but only once do we find the word tentmakers. It’s in Acts 18:2-3 There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers. Paul often spoke about how he worked hard to provide for himself and yet still teach and preach the Gospel. He had a full-time job as a tentmaker and a full-time job as an evangelist. That’s one way to get into “Full-Time Christian Service.” (Please take a look here to see what that means to me.) There are, of course, many ways to do that, so let’s take a look at some other approaches.

When we think of Full-Time Christian Service, we usually think of someone who stays in one place and teaches about Jesus – someone like a Pastor at a church. For Catholics, this usually means a celibate male assigned to a Parish. For non-Catholics, that usually means a man – with or without his family – who accepts a call to pastor a faith community; is some denominations it may also be a woman who is a pastor. We frequently see that they are (mostly) full-time servants, although some congregations are so small that the pastor has to have a secular job to support her/his religious vocation. That kind of situation is not uncommon among catholic religious and clergy. There are Priests and Religious who are historians, archeologists, scientists, teachers, and just about any other professional discipline you can think of. They make their living by using the knowledge, skills, and abilities with which God has blessed them, but their Vocation is to serve God by serving his people. This differs in many was from the itinerant preacher.

Paul was in some ways an itinerant preacher in that he moved from community to community sharing the Gospel and building the Church, but he did stay in some place for years at a time. When we think of itinerant preachers, we think of – you guessed it – tent meetings. These are the folks who go out, set up a tent, put up a big sign that says “REVIVAL!” and then preach with great vigor, compassion, and love. They make their living by going from place to place and depending on God to provide for them through the generosity of the people they meet in their “tents.” They’re not always in tents, of course. They often got to a number of churches in a certain area and present “Missions,” or “Revivals,” or other structured teaching sessions. Most are ordained, but there are a few folks in the business that are lay missionaries. My fellow-laborer in the Spirit – Brendan Case – is one such itinerant missionary. Local pastors and itinerant preachers are easily thought of as persons in Full-Time Christian Service. But they need a structure to rely on. They need a “home church.”

For me, my home-church roots go back to Corona Presbyterian Church at 8th and Downing in Denver, Colorado. It was our family home church because that’s where my parents settled shortly after they were married. My dad was not a Christian when he married my mom, but through the wonderful friendships and Bible-based pastoral guidance available there, he became deeply committed to Christ for the rest of his life. This is the kind of home-based Christian teaching which actually makes up the majority of Christian teaching. It’s moms and dads teaching their kids about Jesus. It the Altar Society, or the Women’s Circle, or the Ambassadors for Christ Christian Business Men’s meetings. It’s the day-to-day way we live out the Great Commission by being ourselves. There’s a group I learned about in the early 80’s that I’d like to mention here, because what they do is what prompted this whole idea of making a tent. They are called Tentmakers. On their website, they state, “A Tentmaker is a dedicated, spiritually mature Christian man or woman who views work in light of the Great Commission and as an opportunity to serve the Kingdom of God.” They provide a very wide variety of training programs from Christians who want to make a difference in the world, but are not drawn to be a pastor or itinerant preacher. They just want to work and witness. There is a popular movement in the American Catholic Church called Intentional Discipleship based on the books by Sherry A. Weddel (See this article for more information.) the Tentmakers are Intentional Disciples. Some people would say, “They’ve got a real job that supports their vocation.” They enter the workplace with the intention of spreading the Gospel.

All of us who are believers have that commission, that command from Jesus to “go unto all nations,” but … well, we don’t follow through. From the Tentmaker website again, “Therefore, the difference between a believer who simply lives and works [ … ] and a Tentmaker is the intent and desire to spread the Gospel and make disciples.”I invite you to check them out. There may be something there that appeals to you whatever your “religious persuasion” might be. At least take a look at this page.

So why do I want us to make a tent? Well, if our memories are sharp enough to remember how that’s done, it’s fun!! It’s a great way to get together and just share life. We want to welcome people “into our tent” because that’s where fellowship – κοινωνία (koinónia) {koy-nohn-ee’-ah} happens among peers. Koinonia is Christian fellowship. It is the Greek word that means Communion (as in the Eucharistic prayers). We see so many models of being together for the Love of God in all of Scripture. We love Jesus. Why, then, is it so tough for many of us to talk about him? Why can’t he be part of everything we do together with others? Last week we talked about being a witness. It’s what we are – witnesses to Christ’s saving Grace. “I’m just not built for that sort of thing. It’s not my gift.” OK, I’ll buy that. The Apostle Paul told us in Ephesians 4:11-13 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

What, exactly, is “to the measure of the full stature of Christ”? It means that all Christians are working to build up the fullness of the Church on Earth – we are all fulfilling the work God has given us to do so that the Gospel is preached to all nations and peoples (See Mark 13:10) Not a missionary? Be a tentmaker. Not a pastor? Build a tent. Need something to do? Age quod agis – Do What You Are Doing (my personal motto). Work like your Boss is Jesus.

Colossians 3:23-24 23 Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, 24 since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. Live and work in the Love and Joy of Christ. Ephesians 6:7-8 Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. Now, of course if your Vocation is to serve men and women – whether they are of Christ or not – then you work for them as you would for the Lord. Work to please God, not people, and you work will be greatly blessed.

God created us in his image so that our lives would be testimony to his Glory and Grace. Welcome everyone into your “tent” so that whatever you do and wherever you are, God goes with you. We have everything we need to get the job done. See 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

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

Share-A-Prayer – continue Tuesday’s prayers. Please add another RB – the second on our list – who is working hard to recover from a long-term abusive relationship that was utterly devoid of compassion, faith, or religion of any kind. Thank you.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

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

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