“Looking out for each other” | September 27, 2020
( Guest Minister – Rev. Caesar J. David | Union Park United Methodist Church)Scripture Lesson:Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16;
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
In the sight of their ancestors he worked marvels
in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all night long with a fiery light.
15 He split rocks open in the wilderness,
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16 He made streams come out of the rock,
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.Philippians 2:1-13
2 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
“Looking out for each other”Let’s begin with a story. (This is from the Panchatantra – a collection of Ancient Indian fables).One hot afternoon, a lion was fast asleep in his den. A mouse entered the lion’s den and jumped all around the lion, and thus woke him up. The lion caught him and was about to kill him. But the little mouse pleaded with the lion to let him go.“I will help you in return some day”. The lion was rather amused to hear this, thinking, “What good can he do me. . .” but he let him go.A few days later, the lion was trapped in a net that was cast by some hunters. He struggled hard to set himself free but, he soon realized he was trapped. He roared with anger.The little mouse heard the lion’s roar, and seeing the lion caught in the net, he started gnawing away at the net at once. The mouse had sharp teeth and he soon freed the lion.Here’s another (this one’s attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok).[Please note that these are NOT stories from the Holy Bible. This is imagination told in the form of a story to illustrate a point.]A man was having a conversation with God one day and said, ‘God , I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.’ God led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious.
The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles, that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. God said, ‘You have seen Hell.’
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and happy, laughing and talking.
The man said, ‘I don’t understand. How is that possible? They have the same conditions. What makes the difference?’
‘It is simple,’ said God. ‘You see they have learned to feed each other!’
Against the background of those two stories, let me read one key verse from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)This Scripture requires us to look beyond ourselves. We seem hard-wired to not do that. Self-preservation is an instinct, and sometimes in order to do that we do quite the opposite of what’s in the interest of others. As Christians, however, we have been seeing that Godly principles to which we must subscribe as His children and saved people, and our values run contrary to what seems to be the ‘proper way’ according to the principles learned and taught in the world.The highest call in a relationship is to give of ourselves to the other, even if there is a cost. It’s in this way that we follow the pattern of Jesus. The United Methodist Church is committed to looking after the interests of others locally as well as globally. In fact, as United Methodists, you are all part of global outreach and service through our apportionments. Our Church also sends its share as apportioned to us, to the United Methodist Church through which it gets sent for many ministries covering outreach, education, disaster relief, rehabilitation, revitalizing congregations, community development, youth ministries, ecumenism, discipleship and many others. Through the apportionment, you are part of global solutions. Our dollar goes where we perhaps cannot go, and makes a difference.The United Methodist Church is called a connectional church because it shares its resources across all levels of the denomination to improve the lives of many through mission and justice work. So, we undertake responsibility not only for maintaining our church and taking care of local community needs in our neighborhood, but we also help alleviate hunger, create jobs and contribute towards helping transform the world to look more like God’s kingdom here on earth.ConclusionApart from being a Christian principle that we are committed to as disciples of Christ, we must also note that it’s becoming even clearer now that the only way we’re going to survive and be blessed is by looking after each other. That is what networking is all about, that’s what collaboration and synergy is all about. But we’re looking at it not from the perspective of material profit, but a spiritual profit of sharing the joy of being human, being the family of God in which we give some, we receive some and either way, keep winning all the time as we’re part of God’s plan used according to His purposes to accomplish His Will. God blesses us when we seek to do His Will.Let’s recommit ourselves to being the arms of Jesus to love and bless others, and let’s receive the joy of being a channel of blessing.Let us pray.Here’s this famous prayer of Francis of Assisi. Let’s pray together -Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.Amen.
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