Sunday, June 23, 2013
Talk, "Fourth Day", given at Men's Walk to Emmaus, April 2011
Walk to Emmaus #53
Script for Talk #15
Slide 1 (Walk to Emmaus slide)
From early in my childhood, we were really active in the church. I even gave the Children’s Sunday Sermon – on the Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies, when I was in 6th grade.
But when I went to College in 1978, I left the Church. And, I wouldn’t come back for 25 years.
In 2003, at the end of a very unhealthy relationship, I started going to church because I saw the love Wesley UMC gave to a lady they didn’t know when her husband died. I was beside her in his room in the nursing home when he died.
She had told me she thought they were married in a Methodist Church. There was no record of her being a Methodist as far as they could tell; but they still loved her anyway, in the name of Christ. I thank God for that divine appointment.
In 2004 – I joined Church (Jan), graduated law school (May), and sat for Bar (July). Later that summer I knew God was calling me to study his Word, for the 1st time in my life. I started attending Disciple I bible study that fall.
I have been blessed with a gift of poetry from God. I really started to write from my faith when I opened God’s Word in 2004.
At the time of my Walk in October 2007, I was up to 1,700 poems.
On the Walk, I was convicted that I needed to do more
- To Set my priority
- To Make a plan for my life
- To Growth through Study
- To Work to change my piece of the world
- to Use the gifts I had been given in Christian Action
I promised God I was going to let God use me to share his message through this gift of poetry.
Since then, God has given me 9,600 new poems, including about 5,000 in the last year. They have been used in worship, in teaching, all around the world.
But I’ve really been challenged since October 2009, when I gave the Laity Sunday sermon on the parable of the rich man, as to exactly what God is calling me to do with my gifts and talents.
It is found in Mark 10:17-31
The rich man ran up to Christ and asked him what to do to inherit eternal life. Christ referenced the commandments. The man said he did those things. But then…
21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
And Jesus often talked about what it means to follow him, what we must be prepared to give up. Those first disciples gave up everything. They did drop their nets, left their families. They stopped serving one master and chose to serve another. They took up their cross and followed Jesus.
We need to always be testing our lives against the example of Christ and his teachings, to the words of our faith, and to Jesus’ challenges to the rich man, to all of us.
God is challenging us to trust in Him, that He will provide if we are faithful servants. That is in our work and in our sharing of our gifts on our Fourth Days.
It is a journey we are ever on, determining our priority, our call, our faith, our trust. It will happen in God’s time, not our own.
My Name is Ray Foss
and the name is this Talk is Fourth Day
There is A Lot to Do in the World
to Change the World, and it certainly needs changing.
A Lot to Do Closer to Home
To start locally and move out from there. These are pictures from a mission trip to Machias, ME from 2007, building bunks, repairing a roof, building a ramp, and repainting a house. Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
The weekend is almost over. We have spent three days in holy conversations, sharing so much around these tables, in this room, in quiet times, like on Thursday night, in dying moments, in candlelight, in worship, in communion, and around the tables sharing meals together.
We have been blessed by gifts of Agape and prayers around the world and around the clock.
But we are here today, right now, because we are able to leave, to separate, to be sown light wondrous seeds to the world, to continue this journey until we are joined with Christ in glory.
We are about to enter our Fourth Day, our life after, a succession of Fourth Days. It won’t be easy, it won’t be smooth sailing. God didn’t promise that.
In our Fourth Day, we must continue our commitment to be Christ in the world for others.
This weekend has been about what comes next.
If this is all there is, we have all failed. The fellowship, the sharing, all of it is to prepare you for your Fourth Day, your Fourth Days, all the rest of your lives on the journey of your faith, joyfully serving others, as Christ did.
We have met God anew here but we are to go forth now, back into our lives, into our communities, into our churches, energized for the work.
Meeting God Afresh
Seeing God, feeling Him with me
meeting God afresh, in fellowship
In those moments, precious
sensing love, familial, agape
Walking, journeying with God
in a daily covenant
Touched by Pentecost fire, filled by his grace
being a witness, yoked to Christ
With God as our master
great things we can do
You have a mission to
• Strengthen the Christian Community
– to share freely
– because the benefits are far reaching
• Develop Christian Disciples
– to inspire
– to equip
– to show them your new eyes, after these days set apart
• It is like the story of Moses
– not telling about the bush,
• about leading, the people of Israel from slavery into the promised land of relationship with God
• It is like the story of Jonah
– It is not about the fish, where he was for three days
– It is where we hear Jonah’s prayer, from within the fish.
– And the story of Jonah is about going as God commands, and his 4th Day, the day he said Yes to God, even if reluctantly.
• That was how I was on my walk, staring at my life, my history in the pit, knowing that God had reclaimed me, for a purpose
• And it is not about these 3 days per se
– Though each was time set apart
– Sort of like after the cross
– when Christ was transformed from a dead human to a new body, getting ready to ascend to heaven, free from the earth
– These days set apart are transforming us in ways we can’t imagine
– just as it changed Jonah
• And it is about us
– When we act
– We all have a role to play, as part of God’s revelation of the kingdom
Life Grace is a Journey
- not a destination
It is a process, moving from grace to grace to grace, moving on to perfection
- prevenient grace – a cloud of God’s grace around you
- justifying grace – at that moment we open God’s free gift
- sanctifying grace – every one of our Fourth Days
But it is what we do with it,,,
- The burning bush wasn’t for Moses, it was for the people of Israel
- Jonah was saved to save Nineveh
- AND we’ve changed, by being here
o but no one else has been
o and this weekend is about them, not us
§ We are just to be authentic and joyful
- It is about what we do from here on, during our Fourth Day.
Two Great Dangers after today
• Danger #1:
– Believing you are someone special
– That’s my head on the body of Robert the Bruce… my wife was joking she needed a knight in shining armor, so I did this…
– Don’t be overconfident
– you aren’t special or indispensible
– Lots of people find God, Christ, feel the Holy Spirit
– Emmaus is only one way
• Danger #2:
– Believing you are nobody, like an empty chair
– It took God 80 years until Moses got going
– We have a part to play; don’t give up, keep working
– God isn’t looking for those who are able; God is looking for those who are available, open to his call
– Frustration isn’t in charge; God is
In 1 Corinthians 15:9, the Apostle Paul said,
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
Could you imagine what the church would be like today if Paul had really believed that?
We all have received gifts, as he says in 1 Corinthians 12, and we are all to use them.
How to be Yeast, Salt, Light
We have a key role to play, to be leaven in the dough, salt of the earth, and the light in the darkness (Matthew 13:33, and 5:13-16).
But How do we do that…
• WE Stay in touch with Christ
– read the word, dive in, like with Growth through Study
– This is fresh oil for your lamp, so you can shine
• WE Stay in touch with friends who share your priority
– Like the reunion groups, like our Men’s group at church
– They help you be accountable, real, be salt
• WE Stay in touch with people whom God has given you to influence
• Share the grace you have been given
• For me that is my poetry, especially when a student approaches me.
• Or some of the homeless who come to our weekly dinner, Our Family’s Table, at the church
All Saints Day
This is a picture of our church’s altar on All Saints Day. Anyone who wanted to came forward with the name of someone who had gone before us. One of the pastors read the name and the other one lit a small candle, which the organist rang a chime. It was so powerful, because we were naming the saints we know, who led us to our faith.
That is part of what this weekend is about, being that kind of person for someone else downstream from us, no matter how chipped or flawed we are, we just have to be a willing vessel; God will do the rest.
Through a Willing Vessel
Your grace oh Lord,
poured out, a libation for the world
shared through a willing vessel
no matter that it is worn, chipped,
damaged and patched,
worthy for the father’s purposes
for the continuing ministry of faith
through a willing vessel
gifts beyond measure
Equipment for the Journey
• A clear concept of your priority
Right from the beginning of the weekend, from the first talk, we have been talking about our priorities
I hope you’re getting the idea that the world is selling us bad goods.
Christ should be our priority.
Equipment for the Journey
• We need a clear concept of the task
• The world needs change
• Through the Holy Spirit we can be used
• When we meet resistance, we meet it with love and perseverance
• Some don’t like Emmaus
• Some don’t like pushy Christians
• Some don’t like Christians
• Some think they have it all figured out.
• We are just to remain faithful.
Equipment for the Journey
• We need a clear concept of people
• God’s gifts of Grace are different in each person
• But that’s a good thing
• We are all gifted for the work of the kingdom.
Equipment for the Journey
• We need a Clear concept of holiness
• It expands life to the fullest
• When we use all our talents
• When we stay grounded in grace and our true destiny in Christ
• and when we put our trust in God
Her Knight in Shining Armor
Oh, and that lady who I helped back in 2003, which led me back to my faith. Well God wasn’t done with that nudge to stay faithful, to stay on the journey of my Fourth Days.
For you see in 2010, I looked through an old photo album from one of the retired pastors of our church. That was during a rough patch last year when I was really struggling with what my call was. Sure enough, there was a wedding picture of that nice lady and HER knight in shining armor.
It is a reminder to remain faithful and act in Christian love, even when we struggle.
Walking on this Journey
Walking on this journey
because I know my feet
stumbling, leading me
away from the path of life
wanting to be near God
yet walking far from Him
guiding me ever wayward
when I want to be like Him
Walking on this journey
knowing it is a struggle
wanting to submit to Him
but my weakness is within
Standing on this path
His hand to guide me
walking with my Savior
to heed the shepherd’s call
May God be with you on your Fourth Day