These are some brief notes related to my September 21 sermon, part of our series on the “Seven Values” that guide us as a church.
“Practicality” is not the most glamorous of our seven values (how is that for understatement?). It is, however, just as important as any of the others, and it certainly reflects the character of our congregation.
The idea behind this value of “practicality” is the same expressed by Paul in Philippians 2:12: “Work out your salvation.” The idea is this: the salvation we have in Christ—this new life, this forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration, and wholeness—we need to work out in the ordinary and down-to-earth of our everyday lives together.
This practical love is the fruit of God’s work in us, among us, and through us, by God’s Spirit. “It is God who is at work in you,” Paul goes on to say, “enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). This is important to remember: we are not on our own in “working out our salvation.” God’s Spirit is at work in us, among us, and through us, giving us strength in our weakness, courage in our fear, compassion in exchange for our apathy, forgiveness in exchange for our hatred and bitterness.
This fruit is created and nurtured by us patterning our life together after the good news of Jesus. “Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,” Paul has declared (1:27), or perhaps better, “Pattern your life together after the good news story of Jesus.” Or in other words, as Paul goes on to say, “Let the same mindset be in you that was in Christ Jesus,” who set aside his own rights and privileges, looked first to the needs of others, and gave himself in suffering love for the good of these others in need (2:5-8).
So, to create and nurture this fruit of practical service among us we immerse ourselves in the gospel story of Jesus who healed and taught and suffered and died and rose again. We strive to follow Jesus’ teachings and the pattern of his self-giving, suffering love for others. We sustain a relationship with the risen Jesus through prayer and reliance upon his Spirit, trusting in God to do God’s good work in us, among us, and through us in the world.
At Morden Mennonite Church we value practicality. We strive to make our faith real in the ordinary and the everyday, living out our faith in practical ways within our neighbourhoods, our community, and our world. We listen carefully to the genuine needs of others around us, and we seek to meet those needs as we are able.