"We assume the responsibility"

“We assume the responsibility”
Nehemiah 10:31
Assuming “Responsibility” is not always an easy or even fun thing to do. But at the end of the day, it usually will have some form of profound meaning. The late, great Helen Keller once said, “Until the great mass of people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.”

This past Sunday, I preached on Nehemiah 10-12, and the importance of every single person taking responsibility for the health and vitality of our church family and its ministries. The clarion call throughout the book of Nehemiah is to “Rise and Rebuild.” This all-hands-on-deck message, brought by Nehemiah, was both timely and compelling. It is equally true for us today.

Just as the Jewish people did back in Nehemiah’s day, so we too have had to wade through our own “rubble” and figure out, “How do we restart and go on from here?” Charting a course forward is never quick, easy, simple, or risk-free. Being a church leader or pastor during this season has had its daunting and difficult challenges for sure.

It can be said, that in our modern-day culture, we love to have power and privilege in our society, but with diminished responsibility. That’s because power and privilege serve us individually, but RESPONSIBILITY serves the great good of all in society. Responsibility recognizes that you and I have a role in everything, even though everything is not in our job description or life category. Since we share this planet with 8+ billion people, we have a responsibility for them, and they for us. Followers of Jesus understand this as implicit in our discipleship.

One of the first places responsibility intended to be manifest is our commitment to the body of Christ and the household of faith. The people in Nehemiah’s day made a corporate covenant to caretaking for the things that matter to God. They said at the very end of this covenant, “We will not neglect the house of our God.” Being “All-in” is a big commitment. Nobody should think this will be a quick cakewalk.

Nehemiah and the people longed to be a great nation again, alive and prosperous, strong and safe. We at OHFUMC have that same longing. We love our glorious history of community strength and far-reaching service. We hope to ignite that again. But, as the late, great Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, once said: “The price of greatness is responsibility.” This is the key value that Nehemiah was seeking to instill in all of his people. RESPONSIBILITY!

But where does a diminished and aging church start on such a tall order? We heed the advice, and sage wisdom, of Albanian Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (whom you and I know better as MOTHER THERESA): “I don’t do great things. I do small things with great love.” The truth is, we all can master “great love.” This is the Jesus specialty we have been given to share generously with the world.

My church family, RESILIENCY, is a huge part of our own church’s story. We’ve had to stare at our own rubble just like the children of Israel in Nehemiah. Rebuilding can be daunting and difficult. The same is true today. Coming out of the chaos and collapse of Covid, cultural ideological wars, suspicions, and fears, we are currently finding our way back into health, growth, and vitality as a congregation. It has been neither a quick nor easy journey, and we are still not done. But we can rise again as we have before.

People of God. We are all the current OWNERS of this church and its story. We are the present CUSTODIANS of its future. It has always been God’s intention that we ALL TAKE PART in the ministries of the church, and in helping each other succeed in faithful and fruitful discipleship. My friends, let us make 2024 the year of our RISE UP & REBUILD story. Together, through God, all things are possible! Join me in church this Sunday, as we host a Town Hall luncheon to engage in discussion and reflections after church on helping our congregation succeed in the future.
Believing God Together!

Pastor David 😊

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