Sunday, August 29, 2010
Gifts Of The Spirit preached @ Tinney Chapel by Lay Speaker Roger Schneider & Pastor Sue Gross
Click on any image above to view it in larger format and/or click on the arrow below to view the video of the sermon for children.
Gifts of the Spirit, talents of the heart!
Worship at Tinney Chapel, the quintessential country church, was a very mixed bag today: a bag of gifts, talents and a few stories.
The day began with the usual announcements, call to worship and an opening hymn, This Is My Father's World, led by song leader Angela Wylie, followed by the standard recognition of guests, a pastoral prayer and a hymn of proclamation, O Worship The King.
Lay Reader David Stanton read the Old Testament account of the burning bush, Exodus 3:1-15, followed by the offering, Doxology, Apostles' Creed and Gloria Patri.
All rather standard inputs so far, right?
What followed, however, was a powerful rendition of an amazing song, The Cross Of Love, by the famed Tinney Chapel choir, highlighted with a bit of solo and brief narrative by baritone David Stanton. (See separate Weblog post, with audio-video, titled The Cross Of Love.)
It was at this point that the day's worship service took an unexpected turn.
The next scheduled Scripture reading was Romans 12:9-21, intended to set the stage for the sermon, Gifts Of The Spirit, by Certified Lay Speaker Roger Schneider, who was actually scheduled to follow a church-for-children sermon by Georgia Goggans, who had to decline on this occasion.
Pastor Sue Gross decided to fill in for Georgia, and followed the lead suggested by Lay Speaker Roger Schneider's sermon title, Gifts Of The Spirit, but the Pastor emphasized another Scripture about the Gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, causing her to put major emphasis on wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongue speaking.
The Pastor also compared Spiritual Gifts with certain talents, which she had selected on the basis of some known to exist among the children who made up part of today's congregation: math, love, science & research, teaching, singing, baseball, soccer, history and nurturing.
All this resulted in an exchange between Pastor Sue and Lay Speaker Roger, who joked that the Pastor had stolen much of his intended thunder for the adult sermon. But Roger recovered well and segued into his primary Scripture, and added Scripture from Romans 11:12-13, John 3:16, John 14:15-21, Romans 12:6-8 and referred also to the Scripture that Pastor Sue had used, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.
Roger began by emphasizing two points from Romans: Love must be sincere and Paul's directive to live in harmony with one another. But his primary emphasis at this point was Paul's command to be kind to our enemies by providing food and beverage when they need it, and thus "heap coals of fire" on their heads.
But, Roger asked, rhetorically: Who is my enemy? To which he replied that it might be those who make it possible for some non-Christian kids in public schools to be provided rooms for prayer, while Christian kids are not allowed to have prayer around the school's outdoor flagpole. But, Roger cautioned about seeking vengeance for such situations because Paul also admonishes us not to seek vengeance, since that is for the Lord alone (Romans 12:19).
This is not a political message from the pulpit, he added with a smile. Neither am I a Bible-thumper, he said, adding that if anyone questioned his message, they should go to the Scriptures to check him out, a point which prompted several Amens from the congregation.
Roger told the story of his dad, who suffered from emphysema, prompting his mom to take a home nursing course, during which one of her written tests asked the question: When do we start to die? Her answer has been wrong, he said, because she said that death begins after we become sick. Roger told her that the process of death begins immediately after life begins.
This story was intended to set up Roger's question for the congregation: When does Eternal Life (John 3:16) begin? I'm saying that Eternal Life begins the moment we decide to accept Jesus Christ into our lives, said Roger, prompting more Amens from the congregation.
We are living in Eternal Life NOW, he repeated!
Getting back to Gifts of the Spirit, Roger recalled moving to Dallas in 1969, a time when charismatic, Pentecostal movements were strong in that area, he said, recalling that most such movements in that time and place emphasized the Gift of Speaking in Tongues as the number-one Gift of the Spirit.
Here, Roger referred to John 14:15-21 as he explained Jesus' description of the Holy Spirit to His Disciples: The comforter that He and the Father would send to them after His Crucifixion and Ascension. That's something that we also receive as Believers, Roger emphasized, hence the Gifts that the Spirit also brings to us, equipping us for service in the Church.
Here, Roger stressed a few individual Gifts of the Spirit: faith, teaching, leadership, mercy.
This was Roger's introduction to what appeared to be his main point: That not all churches were instructed by Paul in the Gift of Speaking in Tongues. He said that Paul emphasizes Tongues in his letter to the Corinthians, but does not mention it in his letter to the Romans, suggesting to Roger that Tongues was not a Gift practiced in the Church at Rome, but was practiced in the Church at Corinth.
It seems so simple, said Roger: If a church did not practice Tongues, then Paul saw no reason to instruct them in that Gift. It's that way for us at Tinney Chapel, where this Gift of Tongues is also not practiced.
So, there's really no need for churches to be in conflict over the Gift of Speaking in Tongues or the Interpretation of Tongues, concluded Roger. In fact, there's no need for churches like ours to worry about it at all, he added.
As Roger wound down his sermon on this day, he mentioned that he is on the church Nominating Committee, and invited anyone who has received a Spiritual Gift to alert this Committee to a willingness to serve in 2011.
And, added Roger, if you feel called, don't worry about your ability to serve: If you are not already equipped, the Holy Spirit will take care of that.