Setting the Table: The Silverware

Sing vs. 1 & 3 from “For One Great Peace” #2185 in The Faith We Sing
This is small part, in one small place, of one heart’s beat, for one great peace.
Sitting in the kitchen this week and helping with the United Methodist Women’s supper reminded me of the small part all of us have to play in this church. Some took up a knife to chop vegetables and others turned the crank on the ham salad. Some took up their usual post at the sink to wash dishes. Some found themselves in a familiar role serving drinks. Some set the tables. Some cleared the tables. Some served the food. Some cut the desserts. Each one had a small part… and each one of those small parts was absolutely necessary for the whole thing to happen.

This is small part, in one small place, of one heart’s beat, for one great peace.

Just as the supper could not have happened without all of those parts working together, neither could our church have survived 166 years in this place, without the body of Christ working together.

Not one of us was a part of this church when it began. Not a single one of us was a part of its founding. Or you would be really really old!!!

No, every single one of us was either born into this community or came to it of our own free will… possibly we were dragged here by our parents. =)

But as each of you have come through the doors, something about this community led you to stay. And I think that something has to do with more than just a friendly face or a smile and a handshake. I believe that you stayed because you realized that you had a part to play. You stayed because you were invited to be a part of the Body of Christ.

Note, I said invited… not forced, not coerced… not preyed upon by the lay leadership committee like vampires who smelled fresh blood. We must confess that does happen at times.

No, you stayed, and didn’t run screaming for your life… because you were invited to play a part. You stayed because this church had something to offer and because you found a way to offer back. You stayed and became the body of Christ.

And for those of you who are just coming through our doors for the first time this morning – I pray that you might find that part to play also.

This is small part, in one small place, of one heart’s beat, for one great peace.

The apostle Paul reminds the community in Rome and reminds each one of us here today that God has given us a part to play.

“Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering,” he writes.

“It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you.”

“Since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be.”

Do your small part, in this small place, your one heart’s beat, for one great peace.

You see, the body of Christ in this place is made up of each of those excellently formed parts you were made to be. And for the last 77 years or so… you have been doing that. You have played your parts. You have been teachers. You have been listeners. You have been check-writers. You have hammered nails and painted walls. You have dried tears. You have planted seeds. You have lead others. You have each played your part.

When we set the table this morning with this silverware, it is because we bring before God all of the ways that we have served our Lord in the past.

Just as spoons and forks and knives all have different roles to play in helping us to eat… so we have been working along side one another as we have served God.

Take out those index cards you were given at the start of the service. Whether we are new to the faith or have been part of it since before we could speak, we each have some way that we have served the Lord. I want you to take your note card and share each of those ways you, personally, have played your part. Did you share leadership? Did you pray for others? Are you someone who is quick to offer help? Have you played a supporting role? What part of this body of Christ are you?

Take a minute to write down those things God has called you to share.

This is small part, in one small place, of one heart’s beat, for one great peace.

We each have a part to play, just as if we were forks, knives and spoons. God has set each one of us here with particular gifts and strengths to use.

But that also means that we have weaknesses. We have some things that we are not so good at. Just as a fork makes a lousy tool when we are trying to eat soup and a spoon doesn’t have a sharp edge to cut with… each one of us lacks certain gifts and talents.

As Paul writes to the Romans – each of us find our meaning and function as a part of Christ’s body. “But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?… let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”

You see, part of being the Body of Christ is recognizing that you are a fork and not a spoon. Part of being the Body of Christ is realizing that we need one another.

I for one have lots of things that I am not called to do.

I am not a details person. I can see the big picture and how things flow and can give a general impression about something… but I tend to forget about the small details that make the thing work.

And while I have been blessed with the ability to clean up messes without getting squeamish – I come completely undone around creepy crawly jumpy things.

This morning, I went to use the bathroom in our downstairs level and lifted up the toilet lid. There, on the seat, was a frog.

I had no idea how it got there, what it was doing, or what I was going to do about it. I just kind of stood there dumbfounded for a few minutes, until the cats realized something was up. Tiki, our big fat orange cat, walked up to the toilet… thinking he might drink out of it… when he noticed the frog. He batted, the frog leaped, I yelped and chaos ensued. The cats chased the frog around the bathroom and laundry room for a few minutes before I ran upstairs to my husband, absolutely freaking out.

I am not good around creepy crawly jumpy things. And I know it.

Part of being a part of the body of Christ is being honest about our weaknesses so that other people know where they are needed.

Working together, we have to let each other’s strengths to shine. We have to get out of the way in the places where we are weak so that we have the energy to do what we do best.
To be the body of Christ – we need to live out and embody those things we know and do best… but then we need to get out of the way. We need to let others teach us and help us. We need to give others a chance to lead. We need to practice saying, I need you.
Part of what we acknowledge when we come to the table is that as forks, we are not spoons. As knifes, we are not forks. I want you to flip that card of yours over and put a star on it somewhere. And then I want you to write down on that side of the card something that someone else here in the church has done for you. Some way that another person stepped up and lived out their part in the body of Christ. Some way that you couldn’t serve because it’s not who God made you to be.
Saying, “I need help,” is a difficult thing to do in the middle of a rural German community. But it is what Christ calls us to. Get out of the way and let others do their work. Be honest about your weaknesses. But then, lend a hand when your gifts are called for. It is not a sign of failure… it is a sign of true community.

This is small part, in one small place, of one heart’s beat, for one great peace.

And when each of our small parts get together, when each of the small things we can do add up… God works among us in amazing ways.

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