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Moment to Movement: Gifts Welcome

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1 Chronicles 12:32 (NRSV)32Of Issachar, those who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, two hundred chiefs, and all their kindred under their command.

Luke 5:27–32 (NRSV)27After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” 28And he got up, left everything, and followed him. 29Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. 30The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

  • Gifts are something that come up all the time in church life
    • Multiple inventories, lots of different ways people have set up tools to give us a sense of what our gifts are
    • Time, Talent, Treasure surveys often go out from churches and we check the boxes of what we say we're going to do again this year.
    • And we often point to I Cor 12 to give us a sense of how Spiritual Gifts work.
    • But wanted to look at another couple passages that might help us think a little more about how Gifts are welcome as Easter becomes a movement
  • I Chron
    • This passage is situated within the story of David getting ready to go to battle against Saul to take the throne of the Kingdom
    • There is a list of different tribes represented, and here is the Tribe is Issachar.
    • Issachar doesn't get much else is the OT, but here, there's a unique statement here.
    • Their gifting was the understand what was happening right around them and to help make decisions.
    • This might mean people who might not always look like they are directly from the center, but instead on the edges, might have a specific gifting to telling us what we should do
  • Luke
    • This seems to be encouraged by Jesus as well
      • This is the calling of Matthew, although here he's called Levi
      • He's a tax collector, which doesn't put him in terrific standing, as it was the type of position that led to a lot of corruption and oppression of neighbors.
      • Yet, here Jesus is, inviting him to be a part of the disciples and follow him in ministry.
      • Moreover, Matthew then throws a great party for Jesus as well, and then the scribes start to mumble in the background - why would you spend time with those folks?
      • Jesus' response, as Jesus does over and over again, is a reminder that he goes to those that are perceived to be the ones who aren't simply fitting the mold, but instead are at the edge and inviting them to see a new way of living.
      • We ought to wonder if the scribes and Pharisees had their day, what would this scene had looked like? Would Levi be a disciple? What came of the party that day? We others called to change their lives? Had Jesus been a good Pharisee, we may never know.
  • So perhaps our gifting, and the way we welcome gifts, might not be about the institution that uses them, but how the institution is changed by what is brought
    • This can be so hard for the modern American church, especially if we tended to believe the best way it's run is as if it's a business
    • We might lend ourselves to believe that a particular set of skills is truly the way to be successful - as if we truly know what that means
    • So, those who are perceived to have the gifts because of outcomes, and not perhaps seeing and discerning what their gifts are win the day.
    • But in the end, we can be left with the question of what we're attempting to achieve at all. We may wonder why the Session isn't full of CEOs who just get it as opposed to a spirit-filled group of believers who come from a range of different backgrounds? But how's that a whole lot different than the Pharisees wondering why tax collectors are part of the story? The disciples were full of former fishermen, for goodness sakes.
  • Our ability to see each person with a unique set of gifts that perhaps help us understand the world better, and might change their lives if they're given the chance to use them, means that we ought not see it all as merely transactional nor instrumental, but instead as mutually transformational.
    • The new person and their first task in the church
    • What if it's more than the job no one really wants to do? Or, maybe more appropriately, what if looked to found the person who is brought to life by the thing other folks don't want to do?
  • So how do we do differently?
    • It's starting with what matters - the heart of the person. The Spirit in each of us.
    • The bulletin and its questions. Maybe we need to work to think about what the church needs based on the gifts and skills of the community.

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