A Peculiar Pilgrimage Week 6 - GOD SPEED!

1 Corinthians 12:1-13 NASB Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. (2) You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. (3) Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. (4) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. (5) And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. (6) There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. (7) But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (8) For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; (9) to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, (10) and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. (11) But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (12) For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. (13) For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

I ran across the story of Maria and the events at Aldersgate Church. In her church, there occurred a day like what was recorded in Acts 2:1-21. That day was the day we call Pentecost, one where God poured out His Holy Spirit to all believers in Jesus Christ. But on the day that the Spirit came through Aldersgate, it did not seem to touch the life of Maria Smith. Maria had been a faithful member of Aldersgate all of her life. She was baptized there, confirmed there, married there. And yet, when the Spirit blew new life into the lives of so many in the parish, Maria felt excluded.

The other members of the church prayed for her but the prayers did not seem to work, however. Maria Smith did not speak in tongues. She did not prophesy nor interpret prophetic utterances nor acquire new and greater faith nor experience new healing power. All the prayers seemed to be in vain. Maria Smith experienced all of this as a source of great guilt. What was the matter with her? What was wrong with her faith life? Why couldn't she speak in tongues? In the company of her "spirit-filled" friends she could only see herself as a spiritual failure.

One day Maria's aunt came to visit her. Maria knew her Aunt Carmen to be a woman of great faith. Maria told her aunt of her experiences with her spiritual friends and of her own despair over God's lack of presence in her life. Aunt Carmen heard Maria's story of pain and replied in great wisdom. "The Holy Spirit has been at work in your life ever since you were baptized," Aunt Carmen began. "It is the Spirit that has taught you and brought you to have faith in Jesus. It is the Spirit that has given you your many gifts for the common good of God's people. The Holy Spirit doesn't have a copy machine. Only you have been given the gifts that you have. The Spirit doesn't want you to be like anyone else. The Spirit gives each one of us a different assortment of gifts. Our spiritual task is to use the gifts the Spirit gives us for the Body of Christ.” (adapted from Lectionary Tales For The, Richard A. Jensen, CSS Publishing, Lima, Ohio, 1994, 0-7880-0081-0 )

Had Paul written it in our age, I think he would have concured with Carmen, the Holy Spirit doesn't have a copy machine and that is a good word for today.

Brothers and sisters, we have journeyed together in the building up of this church known as Crossroads but Crossroads does not stand alone. We are part of a church known as the United Methodist Church and part of the Body of Christ known as the church with the big capital “C.” Your gifts are needed in the big C, you have a purpose in the big C and the big C needs all the gifts of the churches. There are gifts in Korea and Nigeria and India that the Spirit has given and vice-versa.

And among us as individuals, gifts are given and gifts are needed and used and sent. The Holy Spirit doesn't have a copy machine. Brian Funderburke will not be a copy of Ken Hagler. The Church and the church doesn't need that type of system. Methodist clergy are not interchangeable in that way and it isn't what the Church needs and it isn't what the Bible says we need to look for in others.

Changing will be hard but it will be okay. Things will be different but different is neither better or worse – just different. The Spirit is here, the gifts are here. The same Spirit that is here at Crossroads was the same Spirit that called me to ministry. This Spirit was the same one who has been at work in you on your faith journey and ultimately made our time together possible. There will never be a church like Crossroads for me, God doesn't copy churches that way either.

Brian has the gifts and the calling to be your pastor. On June 23rd, that calling is entrusted to him and I will no longer be your pastor. Help him, encourage him, support him and follow him, just as you have done me. His cell number and e-mail will become common place

Crossroads will always have a place in me and part of me will always be here. I speak for Heather and Logan and Jillian when I say this. There is nothing quite like being a clergy family where work and life go hand in hand.

Even as we grieve our separating, it isn't goodbye, it is God-speed on this our peculiar pilgrimage that will end for us all at the Throne of Grace! You follow Jesus and I'll follow Jesus. Use the gifts the Spirit has given you and I'll do the same. But there is one thing more.

The Spirit I believe led me to this. It comes from this past week at Cub Day Camp. In the Backcountry program we have a phrase of the day to remind us of our lesson. The one that sticks the best is the first one of the week and it applies, I think, to this peculiar pilgrimage. I'm going to say, “It's the PHRASE OF THE DAY!” and you'll respond back, “It's the PHRASE OF THE DAY!” Then we say, “The right gear, in the right pack, for the right trip ensures a RIGHTEOUS experience!”

I pray that in our time together these past years, you will recall the right gear and carry the right pack on this peculiar pilgrimage for it is THE righteous experience! God-speed to you my friends on our RIGHTEOUS EXPERIENCE!

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