A LITTLE ENGINE THAT CAN
Acts 13: 44-49
Luke 24: 44-53

Give me a U … Give me a M … Give me a C … Give me an O … Give me an R! What do you have UMCOR UMCOR UMCOR ….

Do you know how many people around the world are thankful for UMCOR? Millions … because when it comes to the United Methodist Church, we put our feet on the ground, our sweat into our shirts, and we wrap around hurting people all around the world because we believe in MISSION!

John Wesley, if you don’t know who he is you can GOOGLE him later … John Wesley whose faith and call from God led to the creation of the Methodist Church said, “I want the whole Christ for my Savior. The whole Bible for my book. The whole Church for my fellowship and the whole world for my mission field!”

One of the strengths of our denomination that told me that our family had made the right theological was the discovery that we Methodists hold Jesus Christ close in our heart recognizing God’s love for ALL through God’s amazing grace! But, what empowered me was learning that since its inception those who call themselves Methodists have caused people throughout the world to be thankful because of our works that our done in faith showcasing our love for all. We my friends … my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, we are PEOPLE on a mission thanks to God’s calling to us. We have gifts and talents regardless of our age … We have heard the prophet, “He has told you human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

In our Scripture lesson this morning did you hear how God has molded you … dear church of Jesus Christ? Did you hear who you are? “I have made you a light for the Gentiles so that you could bring salvation to the end of the earth.” You … and you … and you too … you are the light of the world for God. … for Jesus Christ and boy oh boy we can be thankful this morning that God has given us talent and ability no matter who we are or what our age is because truthfully … the 21st century world doesn’t just want to hear pretty words from a pastor in a Sunday morning service … because words don’t verify faith; actions do … acts of justice and mercy walking hand-in-hand with our God those are the verifications that we know the TRUTH of the CREATOR!

What happened in Acts when the light of Jesus shone through those early Christians? THEY REJOICED!!! And, they honored the Lord’s WORD. Why? Because every day people of faith like you and me … stepped up. No age limits … no wealth requirements.

When my friend ELI GBAYEE came to this church I didn’t know the transformation that would occur. His love of his home nation of Liberia … his incredible bold and brave faith in Jesus Christ; his HOPE for LIBERIA. No, we all didn’t get on a plane to Liberia that Sunday morning although … although that opportunity may come in our future. We showed love … we poured out money from our wallets … and then as the amazing evidence of the love of this church a guitar … a Charlie Taylor guitar … Eli shared how a man in Liberia who cannot see needed a guitar and today from West Deptford New Jersey … from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in West Deptford New Jersey … St. Paul’s Church that is alive in Christ … a guitar as a testimony of our missional hearts is being played in West Africa and when people ask this blind man where did you get your guitar … Christians in the United States cared enough … A guitar … a Little Engine That Can transform the world by the out of the ordinary … by mission … by faith. YES, we have so much to be thankful for … Yes we can shout our thanks to God for what God has given us to share with others!

Did you listen this morning to the words of Jesus Christ that Joyce read for us? Jesus, our Savior … Jesus our Teacher … Jesus our Lord who is the Son of Creator God … Jesus taught us, “A change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins MUST be preached to all nations … you are my witnesses.” You … and you over there in the overflow … and you watching or listening on FACEBOOK … you are the witnesses.

Did you know that Jesus never once hammered nails into the wooden foundation to build a physical church? Did you know that Jesus never instructed His disciples to pour cement onto bricks to build a church building? Jesus did teach that where two or more are gathered in my name … JESUS will be there … but Jesus instructed those who believe to GO INTO THE WORLD … because frankly church gets energized inside buildings like ours but church becomes alive for God and Jesus Christ when we rush out of these doors praising the naming of God … being filled with joy … just as was read from the Gospel of Luke, “They worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem overwhelmed with joy and they were continuously praising God!” Is that you? This Sunday or any Sunday that after you worship God … you are overwhelmed with joy and rushing into the world to share it?

Mission for Jesus Christ does not have age guidelines because it is all about faith. Thanking God and praising God is not limited to those of a certain demographic … taking on the challenge of justice for ALL peoples is not something crazy pastors take on … it’s something the people of Jesus Christ are called and taught to do.

Just over 100 years ago some women in Illinois … women who still could not vote in this great nation of ours … women who often were considered second class people … some women of faith heard about a tough corner in God’s world … a place where Cow Fork and the Red Bird River meet down in Kentucky. A place where people were hurting where a young girl named Zelphia Roberts from near Hyden Kentucky was praying because on her walk to Beverly Kentucky for the mail she saw intelligent boys doing nothing and receiving no training … so as she crossed the mountain for the mail she stopped at a certain rock to pray that a Christian school would be built at Red Bird to make a better life for those who had none. So in 1921 those ladies in Illinois and the prayers of little Zelphia merged … as Myra Bowman and Evelyn Welsh travelled to Kentucky to become elementary school teachers. Reverend JJ DeWall was appointed to this small mission to serve as pastor so church started .. Sunday school was there with the goal of bringing Jesus Christ into every heart and to bring life abundant to all.” By 1922 buildings were going up … medical treatment was being provided … and in 1928 Beverly had a hospital. This little mission … this tiny bit of United Methodist Church history was alive and well and taking on the call to do justice … love mercy and walk humbly with God. People using their talents … and today, RED BIRD STILL calls.

Clay County Kentucky is our nation’s poorest county … people hurt there and no, government is not rescuing them but each year people who look like you and me head to Kentucky. All ages … all skill levels … to make a difference in the lives of human beings. A simple mission trip … a needed mission trip.

This past summer St. Paul’s was back at Red Bird as part of a team. But, I am very pleased to have with us today two of the team members. Sharon and Sara Mazza. You may remember me talking about Sara … come on up here Sara. Sara went on mission at the age of 11 … she used power tools to cut wood that was needed to fix Miz Omeda’s house. She carried tools … she cleaned … she sweated … she showed the love of Jesus Christ through her actions … Yes, she heard the call “He has told you human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” If you don’t think you can take on God’s call in mission because you are too young … too small … too old … not talented … SARA did.

On Thursday night at RED BIRD Sara surprised even me … so I am handing the microphone to Sara because she has a message to share this morning with all of us. <>

Can you my friends say THANK GOD for missionaries like Sara? Can you be in thanksgiving with the people of Kentucky she touched with her faith … can you shout PRAISE GOD … can I hear it?

Now, look at yourselves … look at this church … how can you shine the light of Jesus Christ onto the world through missions? Beyond these walls? Within these walls? First, do we have to stress Gary out when it’s FAMILY PROMISE WEEK or will each of you commit to signing up for our FEBRUARY WEEK … to bring food … to hang out with the families … SECOND, I need a RED BIRD CHAIRPERSON for 2018’s trip in August; AUGUST 12th through AUGUST 18th … because I want a team of all ages to be impact people just like Sara. We are handing out a sheet of paper for each of you … to think about … to pray about.

Young … old … in between … friends we are to be overwhelmed with joy when we feel Jesus Christ in our hearts … when we share God’s love through our works, our smiles and our presence in projects beyond and yes within these walks that bring justice to the hurting and love to those needing mercy… have your been on the sidelines for far too long when God especially in the times we live in needs an activist church … calls for a missional church … there are people of God who are hungry and hurting …. Here in West Deptford … in Camden … in Philadelphia… in Clay County Kentucky … in Liberia …. To the ends of the world we are called to be the Light of Jesus Christ and just like in that old children’s story where the engine first says it can’t … where the engine tries to come up with all sorts of excuses … my friends we can be and we are called to be … a LITTLE ENGINE THAT CAN … it’s time for each of us to decide how we are going to move the engine of JESUS CHRIST further down the tracks … up the mountains and into the fields where there are many to be harvested for our GOD.

GIVE ME A J …. Give me an E …. Give me a S …. Give me a U … give me another S … what do you have? JESUS …. What do you have JESUS … and thank God, God gave us Jesus for our Salvation and for discovering how God wants us to live our lives! AMEN.

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