Text: Mark 8: 27 – 38
As I prepared for this morning, I was drawn to Jesus’ words “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mk. 8:34).
Yet, this morning is the National Lutheran Day of Service, or God’s Work-Our Hands Sunday. This is the reason that we have gathered for (a brief) worship in the park before cleaning it.
But, how could I connect these in my sermon? I was at a loss. Then, a friend posted a Martin Luther quote on Facebook. It read, “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does”. There was the connection!
As followers of Christ, we are called to deny that sinful voice within us screaming “me, me, me” in order to follow Jesus’ example of loving service, or “good works”. But why? What is the purpose or reason of these works?
It is not to fulfill a requirement for salvation, for it is God’s grace that saves us.
It is not to fulfill some need of God, for these do not add to God’s self.
BUT, our neighbors (especially those in need), need our “good works”! It is our neighbors, our community, and our world that benefits from and needs our “good works”.
Yesterday, we embraced the Highlander parade’s theme “Proud to Serve”. We held various signs sharing how we serve and support our neighbors including FISH, the Community House, and Living Stones prison ministry.
This morning, we are foregoing worship in our pews. We are foregoing our regular Sunday post-worship route. Instead, we are cleaning a park for the community. We are assembling care packages for the local homeless. And later, we are preparing and serving dinner at the Community House.
These acts of service are not for our own benefit.
These acts of service are not for God’s benefit.
But, we are called to these acts of service for the benefit of our neighbors, community, and world.
Message Preached on Sunday, September 13, 2015.