How Do We Minister In Times Like these?

Rev. Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

st Sunday in Lent

Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-9, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15

February 18, 2018 Year B

“How do we minister in times like these?”


Open our ears, O Lord, to hear your word and know your voice.

Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills that we may serve you today, now and always.

         Our Gospel reading today ends with Jesus going to Galilee and proclaiming, “…the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.”  If through Christ we are all sons and daughters of God, then how do we respond to that call?  Once again Jesus illustrates for us the way…by resisting temptation, accepting the care of “angels,” and proclaiming the good news.

         This is not just a story about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in the world but of our calling – of God calling us into the ministry of a hurting world.  The children and people of our country have once again suffered this week.  Our nation aches over all the violence and pain we continue to see around us. 

         How do we minister in times like these – how do we reclaim the wilderness from the evil around us?  One way is through prayer – yes, individual prayer is always important, but corporate prayer is so very powerful too.  Coming together with one another for worship or for prayer or for study are ways we strengthen both ourselves and the body of Christ.  Coming on Wednesday night, eating dinner and attending the Lenten Series on Worship reminds us that we are a community.  Attending Evening Prayer on Thursday nights is a simple way of sitting with others from our church, sharing how the life has been and praying together as we wrap up the week. 

         Being reminded that we are not alone…that we are part of something much greater than one or two people, that though this world may seem heavy at times, there are people who, like each of us, believe in the hope and love of God.  By being together we can carry that faith for one another – especially when the world gives us reasons to doubt.    

         Another way to minister to others in difficult times is through reaching out.  Calling and checking on someone you haven’t seen in a while is a powerful ministry.  Your reaching out sends the message that the person matters.  Or if you’ve noticed someone at church, or in your neighborhood, or at work, who seems to be having a hard time…reach out and say,  “Hi…how are you these days? How’s life going?” 

         Most of us can probably remember a time when we felt invisible or unimportant.  And hopefully we also know what it feels like to be noticed and loved.  It is such a simple ministry to reach out and yet, such a powerful one.

         Outreach is another way we minister to a hurting world.  Through the food from the garden, or our care of the homeless through CARITAS, or our Home Winterization work or our Sack Hunger bags or our support of  the Peter Paul Development Center…we are planting the seeds of love and hope. 

         By making eye contact with the people who we offer assistance – by talking with them for a few moments…we remind them they matter. We may never witness the results of those seeds, but God does.  Down the road, God uses the help of others to water those seeds we planted and to nurture those seeds, so they may thrive.  Outreach is a beautiful way of sewing hope, love, and beauty in the world.

         Action is ministry we can do.  Regardless of where you fall in the discussion around gun ownership, none of us want any more events like this past week in Florida. 

         The creators of the Second Amendment could never have imagined an automatic or semiautomatic weapon, let alone the damage one causes in the blink of an eye.  Responsible gun ownership and gun reform can live together – they are not separate entities.  Action is not yelling the loudest or shutting ourselves off to those with whom we disagree.  We must all come to this table to listen and to talk.  Something has to change and that can only be done by having open minds and a willingness to listen. 

         We can’t just blame this on our leaders in Washington if we have not voiced our concerns.  Wasn’t our government created so everyone has a voice?  That sounds idealistic, and it was and it is…but guess what, we are a people of hope! 

         Change requires people speaking up and identifying a problem; it requires flexibility of thought and a willingness to try something new.  If we want change…we must take responsible actions. 

         Ministry is both challenging and incredible.  God through Jesus walked upon this Earth declaring the kingdom of heaven is near; believe in the good news. 

It is through knowing the love of God that we have hope for a kinder world. 
It is knowing that death has no power over love. 
It is knowing that God is with us and through God’s grace we are equipped for whatever to which God calls us. 
That is the good news!

         A beautiful quote was shared with me this week.  It feels very appropriate for this time in our lives.  It’s by St. Augustine who was an early Christian theologian and philosopher and whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity. 

“Hope has two beautiful daughters.  Their names are anger

and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see

that they do not remain the way they are.” 

         May we each turn to God for the strength, hope, courage and grace to be ministers in our hurting world.  And may we also remember to turn to one another for love and support, because both ministry and life can be challenging and incredible at times.



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