July 24, 2016
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Good morning. I am back this morning to share with you what I didn’t have time to share during my May sermon about spiritual awakening, that is the importance of sharing our spiritual wealth with others. My own spiritual awakening began as a result of following the suggestions of a 12 step program, but a large part of my spiritual growth has occurred as a result of participation in the life of the Seekers community; attending the classes at the School of Christian Living, going to silent retreats, and listening to the wisdom of men and women of God. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have been blessed by this community. I am so grateful that I want to share with others the gifts I have received here. I have compassion for those who do not have spiritual companions on their journey through life, who do not know how much a worship community can support their inner journey. As I spoke of previously, I feel called to stand by the door and help those seeking God to find the door into His presence. For me, finding the door of Seekers was part of that journey.
I have noticed that many members of the recovery community have shied away from churches because they either experienced or imagined that church members were like the prodigal son’s older brother, wishing Father wouldn’t be so quick to forgive. The prodigal sons and daughters, myself included, need to hear that God’s love is unconditional and that He is constantly willing to forgive. Today’s old testament reading illustrates this very point, although it is a very difficult story. In the reading from Hosea we heard about the unusual assignment God gave him….to create his own dysfunctional family by marrying a prostitute and having children with her. I thought really? Why not just pick one of the many dysfunctional families that already exist? There are so many. God commanded Hosea to do this in order to provide an illustration of Israel’s dysfunctional, unfaithful relationship to God. As events unfold in Hosea’s family drama, God instructs Hosea to toss out his cheating wife and later to welcome her back. This was meant to illustrate how God’s love and willingness to forgive works. We are to have hope and God’s love is available to us regardless of how difficult our past may have been. Okay, this message would have been easier for me to grasp if it was told the way Jesus teaches us, in parables. Something like there was a man who…. Or God’s love for his chosen people is like a man who loved a woman so much that he married her and had children with her in spite of the fact that she was a prostitute and when she was unfaithful, forgave her again and again. But I wasn’t chosen to write the gospel. But back to the sermon. This message of love and hope is the message I found here at Seekers and the message that I want to share with others.
Several of us have been working for some months as an outreach group. Many of you have participated in the workgroup at various times. Just recently we became the Outreach Mission Group or OMG. Our call is to invite people to experience spiritual awakening and companionship by being deeply known and loved within the context of Seekers Church.
Of course, the responsibility for outreach rests on every members, not just the OMG members, but we want to support the efforts of each person in this regard. My own vision is that God will invite or attract some folks to us and we will invite/attract some folks as well. I am here because Will invited me to join him here. What I found here and the reasons why I am a member are unique to me and part of my story, I am working on telling this story, my story, to those I think need what we have and will respond to my story.
Each one of you has your own story about how you came to Seekers and why you stay to worship here and what you found. It pays to reflect on your story. It was during reflections about why I attend Seekers that I became aware of the many spiritual gifts I have received here. That awareness developed slowly. It was during my attempts to construct an elevator speech that the recognition of what I had been given by this community began to emerge and grow clear. For those of you not familiar with the term, an elevator speech is a short response to a question such as why do you attend Seekers? A response you could give in the time it takes an elevator to go up or down a few floors. It is harder than it sounds to put many complicated thoughts into a short, clear description.
Our workgroup members each tried to develop such a short dialogue. I worked on answering this question for several days. In the beginning, if someone had asked me why I attended Seekers or why they should consider attending Seekers, I would have given a very, very long answer. In the end, I was able to say clearly and succinctly why I chose Seekers. Let me read you my elevator speech…..actually, I invite Will to come up and help me…..Will, pretend we are on the metro and ask me about my church, I saw you coming out the door at Seekers. Tell me, what kind of church is it?
Seekers? It is a worship community that mindfully addresses both the inward spiritual journey and the outward journey of a call to action. We believe that God speaks to each of us. Therefore, we share leadership. Seeker’s members are there for each other when in need and for important life events. They show up!
Several folks crafted their own description of what Seekers is all about. As each person worked on their speech it became apparent that there was no one right way to respond and that each persons elevator speech was unique to them. I was inspired by listening to others read their speeches. I went through the various speeches and captured descriptive words and phrases which I have listed on one page. (See below,) This list may help you find inspiration when you contemplate how you would reply when asked why you attend Seekers. You have a copy of this list in today’s program insert. I invite each of you this week to consider creating your own elevator speech. Perhaps when you are ready, you can share yours in circle time? As I worked on preparing mine, reflecting on all the good things I appreciate about Seekers, it became easier and easier to talk to others about my experience.
There is a world of brothers and sisters outside our doors, many of whom would love to experience what we have if they only knew about it. God’s message of love and hope is not meant for us alone. Won’t you join me, join us in sharing the message with others that God’s love is available to them regardless of how difficult their lives may have been? And that they are welcome to join us in worship. Thank you
How We See Ourselves
- Accepting – being accepted; offering acceptance
- Accountability – mutual accountability
- Advocates for social justice
- Affirmation – positive
- Artists, musicians – creative folks; creatively living
- Call – call to action
- Christian – rooted in biblical faith; belief in the teachings of Jesus
- Church of the Savior – daughter of COS
- Co-creating – co-creating with God; co-creating with each other
- Community – intentional community; unconventional community; worship community; recovery community
- Commitment – high commitment
- Companionship – spiritual companionship,
- Connections – deep connections
- Discernment – discern call; discern God’s voice
- Diversity – embraces diversity; diverse make up
- Encouraging – positive
- Evolving – creative energy
- Family – caring family
- Followers of God’s call
- Groups – mission groups; small groups; shared call groups
- Healing – healing ourselves; promoting healing
- Helping – helping to find voice; helping to heal
- Inclusive – all ages, races, sexual orientations, economic status
- Intentional and mindful – intentional services to others
- Learning community – lifelong learning; learning together
- Listening – listening to God; listening to call; listening to each other
- Liturgy – creative liturgy; evolving liturgy
- Loving – loving God; loving others; loving each other; experiencing love
- Mutual support
- Nurturing – nurturing each other; nurturing spiritual growth; nurturing community
- Outward journey
- Questioning – asking questions
- Relationship – relationship building; forming relationship; relationship with God
- Seeking – truth seeking; knowledge seeking
- Service – committed to service
- Shared leadership – shared responsibility; shared pastoring; shared preaching
- Shows up for each other – shows up in each other’s lives
- Silent – committed to silence; silent retreats; listening in silence
- Supportive – supporting each other
- Teaching – teaching each other; learning from each other
- Voice – helping us to find our voices; voice for justice; voice for peace; finding our voices
- Vulnerability – sharing our vulnerabilities; being vulnerable
- Women – supporting equality; women supporting each other
- Working for peace and justice
- Worship – worshipping God; worshipping together
Descriptive messages, words and phrases gathered by Seekers Outreach Mission Group from an “elevator speech” workshop.