Scripture: Romans 12:1-8

Sermon: “WHO ARE WE? Church EpiPen” by Pastor Todd Buurstra

She entered the tent with all our tables at the Branchburg Country Fair.  She passed the Branchburg News table, Republican and Democratic tables, the Women’s Club table, Harley Hog Riders table, our Preschool table, but when she came to our church’s table, she reacted, Oh, I’m allergic to church! The church-going lady at the next table quickly replied, Here, I have an EpiPen! I wish I had been sitting at the North Branch table that shift because I would have loved to ask her why? Did she witness clergy abuse her brother, or a church judge her sexuality, or  parent abandonment?  I don’t know, but in this series on our church’s mission we say,

Our church invites all into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by putting our hand in His, which results in the ongoing worship of God and daily service in the Spirit’s presence.

So in this last part of our mission statement, what are the results of a relationship with Jesus?

In Romans 12:1 Paul says, (…God’s mercies). This is the church’s motivation.  Paul has just spent 11 chapters declaring that we are all sinners, and that God’s love in Jesus saves us: sin, salvation. This is the personal relationship with Jesus.  Now, in view of God’s mercies… Our allergic friend experiences the church as guilt producing, but God motivates through grace.

present yourselves as a living sacrifice. In the Hebrew temple you presented an animal as an offering to either atone for sins, to celebrate God’s salvation, or to dedicate yourself.  The priest took that bull or goat or pigeon, slit it’s throat, poured it’s blood on the altar and burnt it.  Hebrew worship was not for the faint of heart.  But Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the last blood shed, so Paul says, you’re not a dead sacrifice, but a living sacrifice.  Live aflame for God.  Show your thanksgiving to Jesus through a life of service!  Sin, salvation, service.

….which is your spiritual worship. latreia originally was a Greek word for a laborer for hire. So it’s not about priestly work, as much as God’s grunt work. Worship starts in the sanc-tuary but moves into the streets.  It’s the praise I sing to God on Sunday and the attaboy I give to a subordinate on Monday.  It’s the prayer I pray for the poor on Sunday and the advocacy letter I write my congressman to fully fund WIC.  It’s the commitment I make to speak about Jesus on Sunday, and the I’ll pray for you that I say to my friend who just lost her grandma at school.

That’s how the Bible talks about the church, of which our Fair friend would not be allergic, how does our mission statement?  It speaks of two results of a friendship with Jesus: worship and service.  Or, to combine the two: to live as a living sacrifice which starts in the sanctuary and ends up on the street.  Some will say, I can just be a good person in the street! Yes, but I’m not good enough to serve in the street without first serving God in the sanctuary.

It’s like the game Faith Academy played against the Gainesville Juvies in Grapevine, TX.  Chris Hogan knew that the Gainesville team, made up of 14 kids who had been convicted of crimes, and whose parents had disowned them, would not have anyone cheering for them.  So, moved in chapel worship, he asked half of his fans and cheerleaders to root for the other team.   Faith Academy killed them. But after the game at the 50 yard line prayer, Isaiah, the teen convict-quarterback of the other team prayed, Lord, I don’t know what just happened or who to thank, but I never knew that so many people cared, so thanks.  Amen. That’s a living sacrifice.

How are we at being a living sacrifice?  Good, but we can always improve.  I want you to stand if you volunteer for the church: usher, coffee hour preparer, choir member, fixer-upper…  Now please stand if you volunteer outside of the church: school board, class mom, trash picker-upper, soccer coach, animal rescue…  As living sacrifices, you’re the EpiPen for church allergies!