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Gifts of the Spirit within the Body of Christ

 Offered by Rev. Judith Stark at the Coventanting Service for Liz - the bible reading is the same verse as for Janaury 24, 2016

Well, as some of you know, I first met Rev. Liz in 2010. 

Guess where we met?  I’m sure it’s no surprise – at a nunnery in Victoria!  Actually, it was at the Queenswood Catholic Retreat Centre (which USED to be a nunnery) where we happened to be studying to qualify as United Church Transitional Ministers.  After that, Liz and I ran into one another briefly once or twice. 

Then all of a sudden, here she was, being interviewed as a candidate for Knox! 

So it’s kind of a small world and it is indeed my privilege to be here at my own home church, Knox, preaching at this significant moment in Liz’s life and the life of Knox.

Now, I asked Liz to choose the scriptures for this service, because I believe that what the new minister chooses for the Covenanting Ceremony tells an important story of who she is, and what her hopes ARE for her new congregation. 

So listen UP!  Much will be revealed!

I realized that Liz had made a very profound choice in this segment of Paul’s first letter to the people of Corinth when she told me she wanted to have us think, TODAY, of the Gifts of the Spirit and the Body of Christ. 

These are powerful teachings that have echoed down the centuries.  So what did Paul SAY that was so profound?  Well, it seems that he tells us that our Gifts of God’s Spirit MAKE US part of the Body of Christ.  Wow, so OUR GIFTS are what make us part of the Body of Christ? 

How SO?

Well, I think that with her choice of scriptures, Liz was demonstrating both her knowledge AND education as a Diaconal Minister as WELL as her training and experience as a Transitional Minister. 

This background has led her to, I believe, find the formula for Knox in realizing your hopes and dreams. 

The formula for realizing your hopes and dreams. 

Sounds magical, doesn’t it?

Well, here is a distillation of the ‘magical’ formula – a quickie summary of the Gifts of the Spirit:

 

1.     Wisdom;
2.     Right Judgment;
3.     Courage, and;
4.     Faith.
 

Now, lovely as they may sound, how do these Gifts help Knox realize its hopes and dreams?

Okay, so what ARE your hopes and dreams? 

Funny you should ask – they are beautifully and publicly laid out right on your website! 

You start out with an inspiring image of Knox sailing on the winds of the Spirit, pushing off from the shores of your past.  On this journey through the waters of life and faith, you hope to:

Learn and grow;
Learn and grow in:faith,
knowledge,
wisdom and in
making friends with your neighbours, also,
You hope to seek justice and comfort the lonely. 
 

Hmmm - pretty tall boatload of hopes and dreams! 

But it’s what you want!  And you searched your souls for months coming up with this vision, so I believe it is you REAL VISION.

So, how do you begin to ACHIEVE your vision?

Well, ta da, how about those wonderful tools of Paul’s, called ‘Gifts of the Spirit?’ 

So okay, then, how do you use them?

Well, first of all, you have to start with what you need to be.  You need to acknowledge that you ARE the Body of Christ. 

You ARE the Body of Christ.

Why is this important?  Well, it’s because until you identify yourselves as the Body of Christ, all your learning and caring and developing is lovely, but you could be the Kiwanis Club.  Or a ‘gentle peoples’retirement home! 

Nice, well-meaning people who like to learn things and help the hungry.  Good people, of course. 

But, is THAT what you want?

In thinking about what you want, I hear you say, yes, you’re a faith community of the United Church of Canada. 

Yes, you dwell in a lovely building on a prime piece of land. 

Those are some technical definitions of who you are. 

But the Body of Christ?  What’s THAT?

Well the Body of Christ is a collective of faithful ones who DEEPLY and constantly wish to embody the Spirit.  A collective of people who seek to understand and APPLY the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

Do you want that?

Well, I think, from all the hard work you have put into strengthening your community over the past almost 3 years, that you DO want that. 

So, once you accept and identify yourselves, not so much as Knox, but as a Body of Christ, then you will want to find out how to nourish this Body.  You will want it to be healthy and engaged, as Christians.

That’s when you will want to commit to discerning and channeling your Gifts of God’s Spirit. 

THEN your Vision will start to unfold, and THEN the winds of the Spirit will propel you in new directions. 

THEN…..there will be no limit to what this Body of Christ will achieve, in the Sight of God.

Amen.