“Gifts of the Spirit”
1 Corinthians 12: 4 – 11
Jill A. Kirchner-Rose, MDIV, DMIN
October 28, 2018
Imagine searching for just the right gift for someone you love. You comb the malls and the catalogs that arrive in the mail, to no avail. You go online and browse many websites, but nothing seems right. You think about something homemade, and you wonder if they’d like it. You want to find just the right gift. Finally, after many, many hours of searching, you find that perfect gift for that person whom you love so very much: a gift that you just know in your heart they will love and appreciate. They will be able to use it, and it will bring joy, not only to them, but to those around them.
You choose the perfect container and place a lovely bow on top. You outdo yourself: when you are finished, it is a vision. Gorgeous! With joy and excitement, at precisely the right moment, you present it to that person you love. With a smiling face, and words of thanks and delight, they reach out their hands, and they receive the precious gift. But instead of opening it, they turn away, and open a closet door, and put it on the shelf. They close the door, and turn back to you and say, “Someday I’ll open it, but not right now.” Ugh! But it is the perfect gift for them today. (Place gift in the closet of the sanctuary.) Imagine if that gift was the winning lottery ticket from South Carolina – 1.6 billion dollars!
In my interpretation of our scripture passage, we all have been given a winning lottery ticket. the Holy Spirit has given each of us valuable gifts. To some are given the gift of wisdom. To some the gift of teaching. To some the gift of serving. To others the gift of encouragement, and still to others the gift of healing. There are a multitude of spiritual gifts. The Spirit has given each of us a gift or two or three. The Spirit searches and searches for just the right gift for each of us. The Spirit brings all the wisdom of the ages, and infinitely more, to the project. The Spirit knows us intimately and knows the circumstances of our lives, and at last, the Spirit settles on it. When the Spirit is finished choosing the gift – it is a vision. And it is gorgeous! The Spirit’s vision for us! With joy and excitement, at precisely the right moment, the Spirit presents it to us, her beloved. And what will we do? Will we reach out our hands to receive it from her? Will we unwrap it? Or will we just say, ‘Thank you very much, Spirit’ and then, place it on the closet shelf and close the door? This morning I want to encourage, urge you, implore you to unwrap your unique, gorgeous gift and then to share it, as our scripture passage says, for the common good. Individuals receive gifts from the Spirit, yet each gift is for the building up of the community. Our gifts are not simply for our private use or personal satisfaction, but they are to be used for the good of all.
Next week is Covenant Sunday, the Sunday that you are encouraged to bring forth your covenants. I encourage you to spend time this week in intentional prayer and meditation, asking yourself how the Spirit is calling you to use your gifts for the building up of this congregation. In our last Board meeting, I gave the Spiritual Gifts test inventory to our Board members. At first, a few were shy in claiming their spiritual gifts. They did not want to boast or brag. I encouraged them to be confident in the gifts that the Spirit has given them. Gifts to be used for the common good, for the building up of community. This morning I have asked some of our Board members – our President and Area Leaders — to share how they use their gifts on behalf of this congregation:
President — Heather
Worship – Erin
Education – Jessica
Stewards — Heather
Stewards – Mark
Church Growth – Janet
Wider Ministries – Gretchen
Church Life – Beki
Thank you to our President and to our Area Leaders and to the many others who share their spiritual gifts for the building up of this community and the wider world. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world!” Eugene Peterson, in the Message Bible, translates it this way, “Let me tell you why you are here: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. We are going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. if I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I am going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you on a hilltop, on a light stand — shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives.”
You are the light of the world. And you are a unique creation of God! Claim it, trust it, believe it, honor it! There is a much needed place in this world for you and your gifts.
Go ahead. Unwrap the gift and let your light shine – bringing out the God colors of the world! (Remove gift from closet and turn on the light up bow.) Amen.