Serving God More Fully

Serving God More Fully

Mark 10:35-45

So this week, my plea, my ask, my desperate call to you is to examine what gift God has given you to identify how those gifts can be used to call other people to Jesus Christ to come and speak to me about your place in the world and how you may serve God more fully.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen, please sit.

You know, in my career before I was a priest I was often described as an entrepreneur. In fact, that was in the job description that you guys wrote for the priest that you wanted here. You wanted an entrepreneurial priest. At one point in my Twitter profile, I quite proudly had written chancerr charmer and occasional raconteur, always looking for the main chance, always looking for that opportunity to step up the ladder, always looking for that opportunity to lift myself higher up in the esteem of my friends, always looking for that opportunity to make some more money to advance myself.

So I feel for James and John because I recognise them. I recognise them in myself, always on the lookout for that chance for that opportunity. And this reaches back to a few weeks ago when I was preaching about how difficult it is for rich people, people who have been successful, who have gathered the armour of life and success around them to enter the Kingdom of heaven. To understand Jesus teaching. Because to understand Jesus, we have to strip ourselves of it.

And that’s really hard. Now. James and John are the disciples who were probably the wealthiest among the disciples. In fact, they could afford to pay for servants. So James and John weren’t poor men of the land, but were men who already understood what it was to have money and to be served upon.

And so when they started following Jesus, they brought into that life of following Jesus. That previous life of looking for the main chance, looking for the opportunity to get in with a boss, looking for the chance to advance your career. Now, with Matthew, we have the same story of the interaction, but it’s James and John’s mother who says to Jesus, put my sons on your left and right hand. And again, my mother, much the same as is pushing me to the forefront. Say, go on, because it’s a natural thing.

It’s how we succeed in this world. But Jesus turns to James and John and said, do you not understand what it is that I am called to do? Do you not understand even after all this time that we have spent together? Do you not see the path that is in front of me? Can you drink the cup that I have been given?

Well, let’s look at that first. Can you drink the cup that I have been given in Jesus time, the cup was given by the leader by whoever was the most important person at a dinner. And it was given to the favoured person. And that was a sign that this person would then follow in the steps of the leader.

Can you take the cup that I am being given?

The second thing, can you be baptised in my baptism? Jesus isn’t talking about actual baptism. It’s not the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of water. It’s a baptism. It’s being submerged in the calling. The job that God has given me. Can you take the job that God my Father has given me to do? Can you submerge yourself in the thing that God my Father has called me to do?

And what is that thing it is to die on the cross.

Can you take these things? James and John? Of course they reply. Of course we can. We can take these things because as ever, they’re not hearing what Jesus is saying.

It’s the same question we have to ask ourselves in our life when we follow Jesus. What is it that we have to set aside in order to follow Him? Can we submerge ourselves in the calling that God has given us? Can we take the cup from God, our Father for the job that he has given us?

Not because it will advance things for us, not because we’ll look good if we do it, not because even it’ll make you feel happy, because those things that we are given by God sometimes aren’t about us being happy. They’re not even about other people being happy. It’s part of a broader plan of gods that we don’t necessarily understand.

We are asked to shed all of those earthly things and to understand what God is calling us to. But the cup that we are given by God. One way to think of that is the gifts that we are given by God and how we use them, the cup that is given to us in God. Those gifts. How do we use them?

Chancer, raconteur, entrepreneur. Instead of using those gifts instead of using that cup that God has given me to advance my career to amass more money, I use those gifts to call people to Jesus Christ, and each and every one of you will be given a gift by God to call people to His son or to follow Him.

It can be the work of a life to figure out what that gift may be. But that is what you’re called to do, and you’re called to do it, knowing that it may not be something that you necessarily want to do. You may be called to do it, even if it is uncomfortable and hard.

You may have to set aside a lifetime of learning, of gathering of criteria, of how you operate in the world and cast it aside.

But don’t lose that gift that God has given you. Whatever that is now, it could be that your gift from God is the ability to open someone’s heart.

I’ll give you an example, Val, on my 41st birthday, bought me a mug, two mugs, in fact, one for me and one for Catherine with a little cat on it, and it’s beautiful. And in that small gift she opened my heart to love, and I felt valued, and I felt understood. And that made me… I was lifted higher towards the love of God. In that moment. Val seems to know when I need a bar of chocolate to lift me up as well.

It could be that you are called to be a lay Minister in the Church, and indeed, in the new year we will be commissioning Susan as a lay Minister here in St. Anselm. She will be leading morning prayer and evening prayer and taking on a more formal role in the life and work of the Church. And to see Susan flourish in that calling to see her lifted up towards God lifts me up as well, and it should lift you up.

Is your gift an ability to write?

Is it an ability to communicate what it is that we do in this Church for God?

Could you write something for the front page of our pew sheet?

Is your gift and ability to sit in this Church, as Cynthia and Shirley and Trevor have done this week so that it is open so that people can come and know Jesus in this place.

Is your gift going to boring? I shouldn’t say boring, but diocesan meetings like Jeremy does to learn how the Church operates in our place within it so that we can get the funds to do the things that we want to do.

Is your gift singing, like Gavin and Edmund, who came to the children’s workshop yesterday music workshop and sang so beautifully for us to hear their voices. Lifts our hearts. Is you’re calling to hold someone’s hand and say, you know what it’s going to be all right? Is your calling to love your wife or your husband? Is your calling to care for your children? Is your calling to hand out rosaries on the streets of Hayes?

Is your calling to help children understand the love of God? Not because those jobs or those tasks will give you grander, not because they will lift you up, not because they will give you any sort of authority, but because in doing that, you are serving Jesus Christ, walking with Him on his way to the cross, carrying with you the sufferings that he has given you so that you may suffer with him.

So this week, my plea, my ask, my desperate call to you is to examine what gift God has given you to identify how those gifts can be used to call other people to Jesus Christ to come and speak to me about your place in the world and how you may serve God more fully.

Pray on that this week, open your heart to it. There’s a terrific opportunity tomorrow, St. Luke the Evangelist, who had gifts as a physician, who had gifts, as someone who could write, who had gifts as an artist, and he deployed those to call people to Jesus Christ, come to evening prayer tomorrow and pray for that. If you can come to Mass tomorrow morning, come to Mass tomorrow morning and pray on those things. If you can’t come watch online on the webcam.

All of us are given a gift.

All of us must use that gift to bring people to Jesus Christ. Amen.