In Luke’s Gospel we hear the story of Jesus giving Peter a test. Peter has fished all night. The disciples had worked hard all night, they haven’t caught anything and Jesus, who says, “Now, Peter, I want you to get in that boat and go out and drop your nets.” It was in the middle of the day and Jesus wasn’t the professional fisherman. You might think they would have said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night, we haven’t caught a thing. Surely you don’t mean for us to drop our nets back into the world” But that’s not what he says. He speaks very powerful words, “But, because you say so, I will.” These words are significant to all of us who desire to be used by God to make a difference.
Jesus taught the importance of serving at the Last Supper. He knelt and washed the feet of his disciples with a basin of water and a towel. This towel needs to be our uniform. As the Lead Pastor, I am called to serve as an example for all of you at COTHA. The question God ask of me is “Will I take the towel? Will I become a towel-bearing servant of Jesus Christ to you in this church, in my home, in the community? It was only by asking myself that question that I can now ask you the same. “Will you take the towel? Will you become a towel-bearing servant of Jesus Christ in this church, in your home, at your work? Will you be a towel-bearing follower of Jesus Christ wherever you are, in every situation? That sounds like a huge challenge but as Peter did, we must be willing to say, ”Jesus, because you say so, I will.” This means getting involved and no longer sitting on the sideline. Maybe some of you need to hear this because you’ve been holding back. Maybe you’ve been holding back with your money, or your time, or it’s easier to let someone else do it. I challenge the staff to serve beyond their job descriptions, to find a place to lead by example. I challenge the Vestry to do more than just show up to a meeting once a month. If we need a Ministry Coordinator, we’re going to look at those on the Vestry as a resource pool. We are going to have a huge Ministry Fair called “Mission Palooza” in January and follow it up with a huge Ministry Training a week later. We’re only going to have one service on that day so that don’t ask people to give up a half a day to be trained. We are being called to carry a towel with us.
I have learned that serving is the one block that stands between where we are and where God is calling us. I ask you to not follow me by what I say, but how I live. If you’re asked to be ministry coordinators don’t think of all the reasons you can’t, just pick up your towel and say yes. If you’re asked to serve on a ministry don’t think of why it wouldn’t work, just say yes and pick up your towel. Look for those dates in January, show up, get trained and carry your towel. The Bishop is coming in January and I want all of you to make a decision to renew your baptismal vows. Let the Bishop bless you as you live into those vows at a whole different level. Say yes. I want you to say these words: “I need to get back to serving.” I want a whole lot of you to say , “I’m recommitting myself.” It’s a powerful thing when a Christ-follower says, “It might be hard, but because you say so, I will.”
The promise that Jesus gave towel-bearers was, “You will be blessed. Those who do this will be blessed.” That’s what In His Steps was all about: honoring God with our material resources, with our money. There’s nothing that’s more sensitive to talk about in this culture than money. And for four weeks, we said, “Will you manage your money God’s way? Will you?” It really causes people to wrestle, doesn’t it? And, amazing numbers of you in the last four weeks said, “This is hard. This is really hard for me. I wasn’t brought up this way, I get selfish, I get materialistic and greedy and all that. But, because you say so, Jesus Christ, because you say so, I will.” But some of you haven’t yet. I don’t know any names, but I do know that there are several families who have a history of pledging who haven’t yet. Today I ask you to say “yes,” and make your pledge. There are others of you who attend regularly who have never made a pledge, today I ask you to say “yes” and fill out a pledge card. Don’t think about why you can’t but because Jesus said so, I will.