Below is my manuscript of my sermon for Reformation Sunday, October 29, 2017. The lessons for today were Ephesians 4:1-6 and John 6:27-35, This is the fourth in our Reformation 500 series, today focusing on vocation. Above are two audio files with the message from Nazareth and Our Savior's. The audio quality is not what I hope for.
If you are interested in prayer resources, look here and here.
If you would like more information on the Seven Daily Faith Practices, contact Pastor Brian.
I want to share the connection between these two lessons.
In our Gospel lesson, Jesus was followed by some of the 5,000 people who he fed with a few fish and loaves of bread. They ask what must they do to perform the works of God.
This is at the heart of this passage from the letter to Ephesians. In a series this Summer when we focused on Ephesians, I said that this verse was the focus of the whole letter. The author spent the previous chapters describing all the good things God has done for us; forgiveness of sins and the promise of life after death. Here, he explains what that means. “I therefore beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” We do that by doing the works of God. We do not need to do these works, they don’t earn our forgiveness. We’ve already been forgiven. We need only to trust in God. As Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
We need to do the work of God, sharing the love of God with our neighbor, not for our sake, but for the sake of our neighbor. This is what we are called to do. It is at the heart of our vocation. Luther wrote his Small Catechism to be used by families to model and teach their children about what we believe and how to act. We use the Small Catechism as the centerpiece of our confirmation ministry. Several of you have said that for your confirmation you had to memorize it.
In addition to the Small Catechism, I want to teach these young people habits and practices they can rely upon and make their own. Several years ago, in conjunction with one of the Youth Gatherings, the ELCA developed a curriculum called the “Seven Daily Faith Practices of A Disciple.” A summary of these practices are on the red/pink sheet in your bulletin.
Here they are: Pray, Study, Worship, Invite, Encourage, Serve and Give. I think these are all pretty basic things. I don’t think there is anything revolutionary about them. We should be able to do these as part of our lives. We should be able to Pray, Study, Worship, Invite, Encourage, Serve and Give.
But we don’t. I don’t mean to offend or embarrass anyone, but we don’t do these seven simple things. And it is at the heart of why attendance and participation in churches are declining.
Look at the first discipline: Pray. Pretty basic right? I think everyone can agree that we should pray at least daily. Right?
For my C+LIFFE students, I do an exit interview. We meet after they’ve finished two years of classes to talk about what they learned. I can use that information to adjust what I teach and cover.
Over the past three years, about half say they pray daily.
I’m kicking myself on what I can do to better to teach them the value of prayer. But they’ve only spent about 75 hours with me over two years. What is being modeled at home? Is a prayer being said before a meal? Is prayer encouraged before bed? When waking up? When getting in the car or on the bus?
It is an absolute given in public education that student success is connected to support and reinforcement at home. If education is valued and reinforced at home, students do better than students in homes where it isn’t. It is the same in Christian education. Students can be taught all kinds of wonderful things in confirmation, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and other ministries and programs, but if nothing happens at home, their faith practices become unwatered flowers.
Do you want this church and The Church to grow? Do you want your family to value being part of the larger Body of Christ? Pray, Study, Worship, Invite, Encourage, Serve and Give.
Pray for yourself. Pray for those you love. Pray for those you worry about. Pray for the good things you have. Pray for the relief you long for.
Study the Scriptures. Find your Bible at home, or download an app. Open the Bible. Doesn’t matter where. Begin in the beginning in Genesis. Start with a Gospel. We’re going to focus on John’s Gospel after Christmas, get a head start. The letter to the Ephesians is awesome. If you struggle with prayer, read the Psalms.
Worship. Give thanks to God that you got up this morning. I know people are busy, and Sunday is a day of rest. So sleep in at join me at Emmanuel at 11 am. Sunday mornings won’t work? Let me know what day and what time will, and I WILL start a weekday service.
Invite others. OK, I’ll admit this one is a tough one. But have you ever shared a recipe? Bragged about a fishing hole? Told someone where gas is on sale? If you can invite someone to experience something you felt was that worthwhile, why can’t to invite them to experience God’s love?
Encourage someone. Don’t tear them down. Tell them they can do better. Tell them you believe in them.
Serve those in need. This one you all do well. Each church in the past month has done a project, a dinner or made food, and people pitched in. People came and did a variety of tasks. They saw a need and took care of it. At each of the dinners, I was told that this is the only time some people come to church. I regret that I didn’t follow up with those people to find out why. But you know WHY they showed up? They were invited. They were invited to the dinner. What if they were invited to come to worship?
Give of the blessings God has given you. I know times and finances are tight. But can you give of the good things God has given you? What do you have an abundance of? Do you have extra clothes? Extra food? Extra time? When you give, you can give of what you have or what you do. Can you spare some time to help teach Sunday School? And saying that you’ve already done that is a shameful excuse.
These seven simple faith practices can be done by anyone and everyone each and every day. Pray, Study, Worship, Invite, Encourage, Serve and Give.
If you are willing to do them, they will change your life. You will see what the world could be, and you won’t settle for anything else.
I, a prisoner for Christ, therefore beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called. AMEN.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
ONE in Christ
on Social Media
Our Savior's Facebook
Our Savior's / Emmanuel: 715-267-6142
Nazareth's Office: 715-229-2051
is at 8:00 a.m.
is at 9:30 a.m.
is at 11:00 a.m.