1 Corinthians 12:1,4-11
Now, concerning what you wrote about the gifts from the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. 5 There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. 6 There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service. 7 The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all. 8 The Spirit gives one person a message full of wisdom, while to another person the same Spirit gives a message full of knowledge. 9 One and the same Spirit gives faith to one person, while to another person he gives the power to heal. 10 The Spirit gives one person the power to work miracles; to another, the gift of speaking God’s message; and to yet another, the ability to tell the difference between gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not. To one person he gives the ability to speak in strange tongues, and to another he gives the ability to explain what is said. 11 But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person.
So if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
You know you’re getting older when you go to the fridge open the door and stand there because you have forgotten what you were going for.
I have done that, because my memory just isn’t what it used to be.
Or I can be driving along in the car and forget where I am going, because I am thinking about something else.
Or I am making some phone calls to people on the list and I dial a number and someone picks up and answers, “Hello”and I have forgotten whom I have called.
Memory is a tricky thing, and the plain truth is that we forget lots in life. That’s probably good in some ways, because there may be lots worth forgetting. You know like painful things and embarrassing things and boring things.
I also think we are always a little selective in our memories….
The way I remember an event is not always the way my brother or my mother remembers the event. And thats probably because I remember the parts I want to remember and forget the parts I don’t want to remember.
But when you think about it… our memories are one of our greatest treasures. If you had no memory the brain would not work at all… …You could not learn to talk or to understand language.. …you could not learn anything.
You could not have a relationship.
Because the next time you meet the same person, you would not remember meeting them before.
Memories are in some way what really make us unique and special.
All the things we learn in life, everything we see and hear and remember helps make up our identity. It tells us who we are…..
Memory is important.
And today is a day to remember.
Specifically it is a day to remember those who gave their lives in war to maintain for us freedom. A day not to honour war, but to honour those who fought for peace and justice.
We remember the horrors of war and we let that spur us on to make this world a better place.
When I was about 8 or 9 I went to war. I was part of a group of kids who fought with another group of kids over control of a piece of land where there were no houses. It was a place where we played and a stream ran though it.
I remember myself, and a boy named Andrew who was the minister’s kid, sortieing forth. I had a big thick rubber hose a weapon. We were scared and cautious and came upon two other boys who were just as scared and cautious. I swung the rubber hose and hit one of the boys in the hand. I don’t think I hurt him much, but they ran away and so did we. That’s all I remember about the war, except telling my mother who was very concerned and upset with us boys that we would fight or hurt someone, because my mother was always a peacemaker.
So the first thing I would want you to remember today is this : Remember to be a peacemaker.
Jesus said: (Matthew 5:23-24) So if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.
Remember to be a peacemaker.
But there are other things to remember this day as well.
You know, I used to live in a place where there was a lot of farms and one of the farmers I knew kept a flock of sheep.
I would sometimes drive by and see the flock of sheep. And to me, they all looked the same. They all were white woolly things. None different. Cows and horses have different colours and markings, but to me all the sheep look the same.
But to the farmer who had the sheep, to this shepherd every sheep was different. In fact not only could he tell them apart, he had names for every one. Droopy and Cuddles, and Flossie and Betsy.
How he could tell them apart I don’t really know, but he could.
The shepherd knew his sheep and he could call each one by name.
And that is the way it is with our Good Shepherd. Jesus knows each one of us by name. Jesus remembers each and every person in the world by name. Over four billion people.
That means Jesus knows you. You are special to him. He knows you. He knows all about you.
You know my kids are getting pretty big now, but there was a time when they were all real little. And it wasn’t unusual for them to come into our room in the middle of the night to ask for a drink, or get a hug, or to say I love you.
Or because there was a thunderstorm or the nightlight had gone out.
And I would get them that drink or tuck them into bed or give them a hug or turn on the night light or tell them that I loved them.
In the same way God is there for us.
Why does he want to hear about our problems? Because he loves us.
He is never too busy for us. He doesn’t groan when he sees us coming.
He doesn’t get tired of forgiving us when we make mistakes.
We don’t have to speak holy words or churchy words. We just have to be ourselves.
God loves us.
Even though our memories aren’t so good at times. We forget things. We forget God sometimes.
But God’s memory is perfect. God remembers us.
Jesus said: remember, remember……I will be with you always Matthew 28:20
The second thing to remember is this. God loves you and remembers you.
Robert Maynard, a writer for the New York Daily News tells how he came to choose his career. He was walking along the street one time as a boy and he came upon a temptation he just could not resist, for there in front of him was a freshly poured patch of concrete to replace part of the missing sidewalk.
Robert immediately bent down and scratched his name in the wet concrete.
Suddenly he was aware that the biggest man he had ever seen was standing behind. He tried to run and the big man grabbed him: “what are you doing?” he said sternly.
Robert was quiet.
But suddenly the big man started to smile and he asked “What’s your name son?”
Well, Robert, you are writing your name on my work. But you know sidewalks aren’t that important. You should be wanting to write your name on something more important than that. You go over to that school over there and work hard and you will have a chance to put your name on something important. What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A writer, I think” Robert replied.
“Good, good” the big man said, “Study hard and you will write your name on books, not on sidewalks. Be a writer. Do something great with your life.”
And Robert Maynard said that mason was the one who really started him on his way to be a writer.
So remember the people who have made a difference in your life today. Remember the ones who have loved you, the ones you looked up to and wanted to be like.
The writer of the Hebrews writes “Remember your former leaders, who spoke God’s message to you. Think back on how they lived and died, and imitate their faith.”
I remember the ministers and youth leaders that made a difference in my life.
I remember people in churches where I served who were so very Christilike.
I remember friends who were there for me.
I remember parents and grandparents and in-laws.
I remember theologians and writers who shaped my life.
The third thing to remember: Remember the people who made a difference in your life. Who were they? Pause
When the nieces and nephews finally went through Aunt Sally’s house, after her funeral, they found the strangest thing. Way up in the attic bedroom that no one ever entered they discovered a treasure-trove of gifts. Each present was wrapped in cheerful, colored paper, and was circled with shimmering ribbon (the ends teased into spirals by a scissors-blade). There were literally dozens of wrapped presents in that unused bedroom some stacked neatly against the walls, others piled on the cushions of the old sofa. Still others were strewn across the Persian rug in the center of the floor, right where Aunt Sally must have wrapped them. As for the wrapping paper, some of it was years (even decades) old; the colored corners of the boxes were worn away to whiteness, the paper itself brittle and yellowed.
The nieces and nephews decided to open one or two of the older ones; when they turned back the crinkly tissue paper, they found articles of clothing that harkened back to earlier eras things no one would dream of wearing today (unless it was to a retro-fifties or -sixties party). It seemed Aunt Sally had quite missed her chance with those presents! Some of the items within the boxes qualified as antiques or at least the trendy items of decades past that pass for antiques these days. In one box there was an original Mickey Mouse watch; there was a record album by the Turtles, in its original wrapper. There was a Duncan Yo-Yo, with its instruction booklet describing how to finesse a cat’s cradle and an around-the world. There was a lava lamp, still in its original box.
Curiously enough, most of the wrapped (but unopened) presents were toys things one or another of the nieces and nephews would have loved to receive, at one point in their lives. Once they recovered from their astonishment, the family had but one question: why? Did Aunt Sally have a strange phobia a creeping terror of being caught empty-handed by a birthday or by Christmas, an obsession with having no gift to offer? Or did she simply have a shopping habit that was way out of control?
The only explanation they came up with that made sense was that Aunt Sally would forget to give the gift. When she would be walking downtown and window shopping or looking through the catalogues, she would see something that would make a great gift. She would buy it and wrap it up, and then days or weeks later she would forget what she bought and who she bought it for..
But she kept on buying the gifts… Aunt Sally stockpiled presents like there was no tomorrow. But she couldn’t remember to give the gifts… it was very strange
Truly there’s something sad, even tragic, about an unopened gift set aside and long forgotten. Yet as true as this is of toys and trinkets, it is even more true of spiritual gifts.
So there is one last thing I would get you to remember today ; Each one of you have lots of gifts to offer others. You have love, you have talents, you have friendship, you have commitment, you have the ability to teach or to lead or to sing or to cook.
You can help a refugee family or people in need, or a homeless person, or a lonely person, or someone who needs a safe place to vent or to share or to find healing.
You are gifted, so remember to share your gifts.
On this day of Remembrance:
Remember to be a peacemaker.
Remember that God loves you.
Remember those who made a difference in your life. Remember to give of yourself and share your gifts… Amen