2021 AUGUST 1 “Pouring”

Scripture   Ephesians 4:1-7  

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.

Message    ”Pouring”    Rev. James R. Renfrew

      Pouring.  In our family growing up there were a couple of rules at the dinner table. One was that there was never a milk carton on the table, the milk had to be poured into a pitcher, first.  And when you poured from the pitcher you could only fill the glass three quarters full.  Why, because if the table shakes, very likely with three children at the table, the milk won’t spill over the brim.

Pouring. Your French fries need ketchup, but nothing comes out of the bottle, and you tap the bottom of the bottle once more, you slap it harder, and it pours out all at once, now a deep a lake of ketchup drowning your fries.

Pouring.  I was running, late, trying to catch the uptown local #1 from Columbus Circle back to Union Seminary on 120th Street in New York City, but it was rush hour, and crowds of people were pouring every which way, up and down the stairs and escalators, crowded around too few turnstiles, pouring in and out of the subway cars.  With so many people it was hard to get on board, and once on squished like too many sardines in too small a can.

Pouring.  The week I spent at Camp Whitman in July was an experience of daily thunderstorms passing overhead, the rainwater pelted the roof, rainwater overflowed the gutters and downspouts, left deep puddles everywhere, and, of course, everyone got soaked!  At some point you just give up trying to stay dry and you delight at getting wet!

Pouring.  And now we get to the Letter to the Ephesians. We’re pretty far into the letter now, and the case for active faith is building.  And here are the wise words:  “don’t just sit there, get up.  Get up!  Don’t just mosey along aimlessly, here and there, run on the road God has sent you to follow. Run!  With this vivid image to excite and energize you, it’s not just running, it’s pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love.”

Pouring. So I begin imagining what it looks like from across the street when we are done with our Sunday service, and there we are pouring out the door, to enjoy porch fellowship goodies on the front lawn, and then spreading out into the world like a flowing stream, like a mighty torrent.  Going to all of the places that God intends for us to go.

Pouring. A mighty torrent.  Fell yourself lifted up and moved along by the rolling tumbling waves.  Well, a bit of exaggeration there, a bit of hyperbole.  The truth is that it is rarely that mighty torrent, like on the bulletin cover.  It’s more like a quiet little stream that soon sinks into the ground.

Pouring. But we like the image of our people pouring out the door with a commitment to mission, to soak the world in blessings and love.

Pouring. What I love about our church is a commitment to mission, it’s not what we say, it’s what we do that really matters.  What we are lacking is guidance for mission. We can be that kind of missional church but we’re going to have to connect a few dots.

Our Mission Committee has not met in quite a while and it’s time for a new beginning. In September we are re-starting and re-grouping around mission, and we hope that you will want to be a part of it. Our mission begins with the passion we feel from faith, our mission is vital, our mission is what gives us visibility in the community; our mission is how our community knows who and what we are, our mission dissolves the barrier between inside and outside, our mission changes the world and changes ourselves.  Tuesday, September 14, 6:30 PM is date and time.  Where are we, where have we come from, and where are we going in mission?  Let’s find out!

Pouring. As a vital congregation, mission doesn’t just happen on its own, it takes some thought, reflection and discernment. Who are we, what do have to offer, and what is needed? I love the image of the blessings pouring out into the world that we have found in the Letter to the Ephesians.

It was while I was in our youth group at the First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan, Connecticut, that I first remember having the feeling of being in that mighty torrent of blessings. Early one Saturday morning we loaded up several cars with furniture and other needed items for the Church of Sea and Land, a very poor Presbyterian congregation in Chinatown, New York City. I remember we were all jammed in-between the chairs and boxes, but what a great feeling as the mission torrent rolled us along down the highway into the city, new challenges and adventures awaiting us. It felt good. It still does! Pouring.

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