“All Empowered to Serve”
Rev. Tully M. Fletcher IV
Decatur Presbyterian Church
September 4, 2022
Luke 10:1-5 & 17-18
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.
When I was in College, I had this professor for a class on Human behavior in a business setting. This professor was younger than most, and more relatable. He had a very informal teaching style, and he related to the students well. One day we were doing some sort of group project, and one of my group mates went up to ask him a question.
Student: Mr. Kirkman…this thing…
Prof: Well it’s actually Dr. Kirkman
Student: yeah, what ever… so this thing…
Prof.: It was only 6 years of my life…
I learned there, that titles mean something.
A few years later, I was in Seminary working on my master’s degree. We talked about how earning a Master’s of Divinity was a special thing, and once ordained one weas entitled to the title of “Rev.”
And even if you went on to earn a Doctorate or a PHD, the Ordained Title of Rev. always came first.
Rev Fletcher steps up higher on a ladder behind the pulpit
Well I completed my degree, I went through the orientation process, and I have here this certificate, or ordination proving that I am a minister of the word and Sacrament. Sometimes people call me Mr. Fletcher, and I politely, but clearly correct them, it’s actually Rev. Fletcher.
Book of order quote (G-2.0104, 2019 version)
those called to exercise special functions in the church -ministers of the Word and Sacrament—
God gives suitable gifts for their various duties. Those should be persons of strong faith,
dedicated discipleship, and love of Jesus Christ. Their manner of life should demonstrate the Christian gospel. They must have the approval of God’s people and the council of the church.
I am a Minister of the Word and Sacrament
Rev Fletcher steps up higher on a ladder behind the pulpit
Did you know that because I am ordained as a minister of the word and sacrament (hold up certificate of ordination) that I am better than you, That my prayers reach God’s ears faster. That I have special Reverend Powers.
And that when I stand in the Pulpit My words are infallible. So help me God. And May God strike me down if I’m wrong.
Pastor Emily: If God doesn’t strike you down, I sure will!
Tully: What? What are you talking about?
Emily: I’m sorry Tully your wrong, We don’t have special reverend powers.
Tully: of course we do… I could jump off this pulpit and the Angels would catch me!
Emily: Jump all you want, I’ll call the ambulance to take you to the hospital.
Tully: [pretending like he’s going to jump]
Emily: You goanna jump, or do I need to come up there and push you?
Tully steps down from his high horse
This sarcastic little demonstration is of course just a joke. I’m not special, I’m not more powerful than you, and I don’t have special reverend powers.
- My prayers don’t reach God’s ear faster.
- I’m not more holy than you, nor am I a ‘better person.’
- I can’t walk on water.
And if I flung myself off of the top of the pulpit the angels would not catch me. It’s not high enough for me to get seriously hurt, but is high enough to ruin my day.
Special rev. powers
When I first got Married, every time my wife would get a cold or get the flu, she’s always ask me to heal her. I’d say I didn’t have the power to do miraculous healings. She’d say can’t you use your special Reverend powers. To which I’d respond, I’m sorry, I don’t have special reverend powers.
The only special powers I have are to break bread and Baptize babies.
I am a servant.
John 13:3-6 & 12-17
3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord– and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
I think we’ve heard this passage before so many times, that we’ve lost how shockingly weird this story is. And specifically, what this story calls us to do.
Jesus is this super important person.
He’s a motivational speaker that can generate a crowd of thousands
He’s a famous healer that can cure any disease or ailment.
He’s a Rabbi, and a brilliant teacher
He’s an important and powerful leader, inspiring others to change.
And he bends down to wash feet…
Can you imagine the most important person you know humbling them selves to wash feet?
Would you boss wash you feet?
Would your teacher?
Would the CEO of your company? Or the Principal of your school?
Can you imagine someone like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates washing your feet?
What about Janet Yellen or Nancy Pelosi?
Can you imagine the President or Vice President of the United States, stooping down to wash feet?
This passage takes the notion of power and leadership and turns it upside down.
In a moment we’re going to stand together and say our affirmation of faith. This affirmation is from the Heilberg Catechism. What is the Heidelberg Catechism you say?
A catechism is an old style of teach tool. Young Christians would often have to memorize questions and answer. Think of it like an FAQ, “Frequently Asked Questions” about our faith.
The one from Heidelberg has a cool story about uniting two strands of thought, and bringing about peace in a divided community. In Europe, nearly 500 years ago. This catechism also uses the word ‘catholic’ which often confuses moderns day Christians, because that word is almost totally synonymous with the Roman catholic Church. But really, Catholic means united, or one.
In the same way Buckhead Christian Church is not the only group of Christians around, Likewise, Atlanta Bible Church is not the only church that uses the Bible. Catholic is just a word that means comprehensive or universal.
Affirmation of faith
Our affirmation tell us that Jesus ‘Gathers’ Protects and preserves a chosen community, called The Church. And of that community You are, and always will be a living member.
Don’t ever doubt it, that you are part of Christ’s church.
Regardless where you go to worship
Regardless how frequently you go to worship.
Regardless of the doubts and questions you have, You belong to God.
The second question in the affirmations tells us this: that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and joyfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.
God has blessed each of you in a special unique way.
And God calls you to use your gifts to serve Jesus, to share love, and to build up the church.
Our theme for today, all empowered to serve, is not just about each person finding a place to volunteer, but rather, each of you finding that very specific spot where your gifts, talents, and passion meet the needs of our community.
We talked about special Reverend powers, well you have special Christian powers. And God is calling you to use those powers.
The church of Jesus Christ is not short of leaders. The church of Jesus Christ is short of people who are willing to be servants.
Are you willing to serve?
Are you empowered to serve?
Rev. Tully M. Fletcher IV (he/him)
Decatur Presbyterian, Associate Pastor