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Pastoral Team:
Rosanna McFadden
Betty Kelsey
Doug Reichenbach
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60455 CR 113
Elkhart, IN 46517
Phone: 574-875-7800
Fax: 574-875-7885

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Creekside Church
Sermon of February 19, 2012

"It Could Get a Little Messy"
Mark 2:1-12

Pastor Janet Shaver

 


After being appointed to the church's evangelism and outreach committee, one particular member was quite nervous at having to make evangelistic visits. His Pastor comforted him by suggesting that he pray. "If you spend a few minutes talking with God prior to visiting someone, it should help." When the committee met again, the nervous parishioner approached the Pastor and said, "Thank-you so much for suggesting prayer. I tried it before I went on my visit and it really worked!" "I'm so pleased to hear that," the Pastor answered. "Why don't you share your experience with the rest of the committee so others may know of the power of prayer?" "Well," he replied, "I prayed that the people wouldn't be home, and they weren't."
Bringing the Good News of Jesus is not always easy to articulate but today we have a different kind of evangelism.

Today we are talking about evangelism at the finest. Oh, right, all the liturgy today pointed to forgiveness. Well, I changed my thought and will get to that at the end of the message.

We see that today. The crowd is so thick that a paralyzed man who wants a healing can’t get through so his friends devise a plan on getting him in. They take him up onto the roof and lower him down into the roof. They just don’t lower him down, the scripture says that they removed the roof and after they dug through it.

Did you know that houses in Capernaum and other parts of that ancient world had hardened mud roofs? That saplings were put across the top of the home, that briars were put between the saplings, and that mud was pressed into the briars so it could dry? Did you know that homes often had mud roofs? Did you also know that we find similar mud bricks and mud roofs in very poor homes in poor fourth world countries?
Let me show what they had to dig through.

[SHOW ROOF PICTURES]

You can imagine what that might be like for the people who were standing below in the house with Jesus.

They might begin to hear people but this was common in biblical times. The roof was used for fellowship and relaxation during hot summer nights. Don’t you remember that is where David first saw Bathsheba as she was bathing? So that F might have not startled them.

But it is the removal of the roof that would have startled them. It wasn’t that they removed it – like lifted it up off the walls but they dug through it.

What a mess! Briars and hunks of mud, branches falling in their hair onto their clothes and how their hands – I am sure they did not bring gardening gloves.

Where was the woman of the house? What was she thinking about while this was going on? What would you ladies think about? What do you think you are doing? Come down off my roof. Jesus will get to you. How about waiting? Were you born in a barn?

Jesus said, “Well a matter of fact I was.”

But they put a hole in the roof and they lower the man down right smack in the midst of Jesus.

I might want to call this “Messy Evangelism.”

Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.

It doesn’t say they were his friends but they obviously cared for this man.

ILLUSTRATION: SINGLE MOM’S GROUP
When I read this I couldn’t help thinking about the single mom’s group. We have four core people and a few others on the fringe.

We have four women who are committed to this ministry.

Me, Karen Eis, Joy McFadden and Tamara Fritz. Crystal Rogers takes care of the children.

COMMITMENT
We are committed by showing up and enjoying the time together while the children are being taken care of. It is a wonderful ministry and as we meet other women in the same situation we invite them too. It is a way to get support and encouragement through life.

You know there are somewhere around 150 children who live in Ashton Pines. I went over to see the property manager and I imagine many of them are single moms.

What if our group asked these people what they needed most and we found it was after school care for their children. Maybe they work and it is difficult to find good care for their children and many times they can’t afford to have them at a sitters because of their low income so they become latch key children.

This isn’t my idea you know, Ang came to me a few years ago when I first got here and she had this vision for this kind of ministry. She said the bus would drop them right here at the church.

So what if we came to the church board and said we want to begin this ministry.

Oh and another thing, we need more space and so we would like to knock down some of the Sunday school walls to provide space for larger age groups.

Now I have gone to meddling right.

What would our response be? Pastor Janet, You are crazy. You and the rest of your group are crazy. It can’t be done. We cannot remove the roof and dig through the dirt to bring these families to Jesus. It can’t be done.

I am not talking about the construction although that is a messy project.

What would that mean to the Sunday school classes on Sunday morning? Where would we meet?

If we talked to the properties team, they would have real reservations.

If we talked to the board, they might have reservations about the liabilities.

If we talked to fellowship they might have real reservations about the kitchen use because we would feed them a snack.

If we talked to finance, they would ask where is the money coming from.

The general question of laity would be who is going to serve in this new ministry.

These are real questions – real concerns.

For all of us trying to bring people into the fold of the community of God, it is a challenge. Just like the challenge the four men went through to get this paralyzed man down from the roof. It wasn’t just challenging for the people who were lowering the man but it was challenging for the paralytic as well.

Just like the paralytic man may have had.
How do you think this is going to work?
How are you going to take me up the ladder?
How will you get me through the roof? You don’t have any tools.
How will you lower me down?
What are the owners of the home going to say?
What if I fall?

It does seem insurmountable, doesn’t it?

He may have been paralyzed in his own messiness.
All of these things may have held him back.
All of these things may have kept him from getting the healing that he so desperately needed.

“When Jesus saw their faith”

It does take a lot of faith to move from a place of paralyzing fear and into action.

Trust is a part of that faith.

Trust can easily be granted when:
We ask the questions:
Do you trust the group that is about to begin this ministry?
Are they answering the questions that I have?
Are they alleviating some of my fears?

Maybe the four men were asking the question
Do you believe this is something that God is calling us to?
Is Jesus who they say he is?
Is it worth the risk?

The four men and we might say
Is this a ministry that is worth getting messy over?
Do we see the real value in the outcome?
Do we see the real need?

The paralytic in his fear, the four men in their apprehension, all of us in our uncertainty – we begin to trust and our faith points us in the direction one step at a time – one hurdle at a time.

For the four today, we might find that they found a hurdle right away.

We are going to need rope to lower him down. How will we get him down?

With each question, they searched for the answer.

Sometimes to do some creative evangelism, we have to think outside of our traditional box and search for the answers.

For the four, it is collective. They four creative minds working together committed to the cause of getting this man to Jesus.

For us a new and creative ministry will take all the teams working together to bring this. It is something that church is committed to.

And it might get a little messy. Because we have to think outside of our own understanding of ministry and what it should look like.

The Dream Center came from a start up church. There were a handful of people who were committed to bringing Christ to the inner city of LA. They began to go door to door asking the people how could the church serve this neighborhood. The neighborhood was run down and boarded up and the businesses left there. And in that time they began ministries. They found they needed help taking care of things in their homes.

The church grew and they were funded outside money to buy an old hospital.

In this hospital – THE DEAM CENTER

LORD’S GYM
Provides after-school activities, tutoring, sports leagues and employment opportunities that enhance job readiness and prepare youth for life after high school. The positive and supportive atmosphere is a much needed alternative to the violence, drugs, truancy and poverty, which had become neighborhood trademarks.

REACH
This weekly service is geared toward junior high through college-age young people. Fun activities, insightful messages and progressive music are used to encourage this generation to be the difference in the future of the church and society

ADOPT A BLOCK
This is The Dream Center’s flagship outreach ministry. Over the last 12 years it has grown to be 35 sites covering over 85 blocks in the communities of Echo Park, Silverlake, Skid Row and South Central Los Angeles. Every Saturday morning, an average of 500 volunteers reach out to people that live in these neighborhoods in the spirit of service. Teams clean homes, paint over graffiti, make minor home repairs, organize games for the children and visit with the elderly. Requests for appliances, clothing, food and furniture are filled. To date, Adopt-A-Block teams have assisted over 30,000 people by knocking on doors and simply asking: “How can we serve you?”

BUS MINISTRY
Started as a way to get people to church, the Bus Ministry now transports thousands of volunteers to the Adopt-A-Block sites where relationships are built through weekly in-home visits. It is through these visits that we learn of each person’s true needs and help is provided both tangibly and spiritually. For some it is simply transportation to weekly services, for others it is a way to participate in our events (Back-2-School backpack giveaway, Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway, and the Christmas bike and toy giveaway) yet for many the Bus Ministry provides a way out of their current situation and a bridge to transformation.

FAMILY MINISTRY
We help children and families whose odds of success are compromised by poverty and other difficult circumstances. Programs like Project Prevention and Transitional Family Housing work closely with County and State social service agencies to assure that families stay together or are reunited in cases of severe poverty or homelessness.

This happened at a church in inner city LA. This church saw the needs of the people around them and they began to put their creative minds together and they found new and messy ministries for the church to delve into Dream Center programs have been designed for the purpose of changing lives. We want to reconnect people who have been isolated by poverty, substance abuse, gangs, imprisonment, homelessness, abuse, and neglect to God and to a community of support to meet their physical and spiritual needs.

Jesus ministry makes things messy. His hands got dirty. Remember when he spit in the dirt and made paste and healed the blind man. It was messy for all who encountered him. Jesus placed himself on the outside of the church on the margins of society and brought healing to some and mess to others.

That is what was happening today. The men who brought the man today got really messy trying to bring him to Jesus. They had faith to know it was what they had to do to get him to Jesus. And that was a little messy for the scribes and Pharisee. You do not have the authority to forgive sins. This is messy for them isn’t it?

We are committed to bring the world into reconciliation with God – just like Jesus who was reconciling the world to God. We don’t have to say anything except you are invited and let the Holy Spirit do the work.

MESSY EVANGELIST – THAT IS WHO JESUS WAS – THAT IS WHO WE ARE.



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