Lectionary (Year B): Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 or Isaiah 35:4-7a; Psalm 125 or Psalm 146; James 2:1-10 (11-13), 14-17; Mark 7:24-37
Theme: No Partiality Policy
Message: “No V.I.Ps!”
Introduction: Importance of Usher training. First impressions of a church are often formed by the attitudes and behavior of the ushers in welcoming newcomers. I can still remember once visiting a church where a man greeted us at the door and took us through the large, downtown building all the way to the sanctuary where he graciously ushered us to our seats. Now, that’s hospitality!
In the early church Christians represented all levels of the socio-economic spectrum, but seem to have been numerous from among the poor and lower classes of society. God has chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom… (1 Cor. 1:26-31)
Actually there are no VIPs in the church because everybody in the church is a VIP in God’s sight, and we, as Christians reflect God’s attitude rather than the world’s attitude toward “insiders” and “outsiders” within Christ’s Church.
God’s perspective as reflected in Peter’s conviction: God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter: 3:9)
The reason we cannot show favoritism in the church is because we are the Body of Christ—and if the world does not see in us something different, but the same prejudices, the same dependence on money, the same status consciousness that it sees in the unbelieving world then it will not be able to believe the church is any different—and that Jesus Christ is really alive in the world today and living in the church. God’s love encompasses all of the people of the world—God is not exclusive, but inclusive. So, as the church let us reflect that, too, in word and in deed.
“God must love the common people because He made so many of them.” Abraham Lincoln
“The rich had much to lose by becoming Christians; the poor had everything to gain.” Wm. Barclay
I remember when Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States in 1976 a story came out of his local Baptist church in Plains, Georgia. His pastor, the Rev. Bruce Edwards, was forced to resign for his unwillingness to bar a black family from membership in that congregation. It was a policy of the church to deny any such person membership there. It was certainly inconsistent with the scriptures that were revered in that congregation, but it happened, even when a member of that congregation occupied the highest office of the land. It was a matter of great disappointment and embarrassment to Jimmy Carter at the time, and rightly so.
Film: In the film, To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) is portrayed as one of the few people in the small, southern town, who sees everyone, regardless of their color, as equals in God’s sight and in man’s sight. He knowingly and purposefully lives out justice before the town and before his children as a living example of how people should treat one another.
Music: “Love Divine,” “May the Mind of Christ My Savior,” “O Where Are Kings and Emperors Now?” “Savior, Again to thy Dear Name”
Prayer of Confession: We confess, living and loving God, that all too often we judge others too quickly, too superficially, and too selfishly. Pardon us for our eagerness to criticize, and help us to exercise the compassion of Jesus Christ.
Benediction: Go forth and live in peace, walking humbly with your God and walking in harmony with others. Amen
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