Sermon: Pentecost 18 / Proper 23 – “One-On-One”

onepersonThe former Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey stated, “The glory of Christianity is its claim that small things really matter and that the small company, the very few, the one man, the one woman, the one child are of infinite worth to God.” He goes on to say, “Amidst a vast world with its vast empires and vast events and tragedies our Lord devoted himself to a small country, to small things and to individual men and women, often giving hours of time to the very few or to the one man or woman.”

Have you ever noticed this? How Jesus spends a good bit of time with individuals or just a couple of folks? Sure, there are the large crowds, but think of the hours alone with one or two people. There was the Lady of Samaria, Nicodemus, Lazarus, Mary and Martha, the man at the pool of healing, Simon Peter. Jesus, God, spent one-on-one time with all of these.

For a God that desires for none to perish and all to be saved, this might seem an odd way of going about it; however, upon closer inspection, it seems to be working.

In the beginning of his ministry, Jesus called Peter and Andrew, two fishermen. Today it is estimated that there are more than 2 billion Christians in the world, not to mention all the ones between those first to today. It would seem that Jesus does not need and advertising firm or slick marketing campaigns to increase his flock. He needs only one person that cares and believes and is willing to tell another, who in turn is willing and confident enough to speak to a few more.

Many believe this work of conveying the Christian faith is the exclusive responsibility of the ordained. Those who supposedly have the proper credentials for engaging in this type of work.

There is a story about one of the many Billy Graham crusades. Apparently Reverend Graham was to speak at the revival on a Tuesday, but he arrived on a Monday so he attended the Monday night service incognito and sat on the grass at the rear of the crowd. Because he was wearing a hat and dark glasses, no one recognized him.

Directly in front of him sat an elderly gentleman who seemed to be listening intently to the Monday night preacher. When the preacher invited people to come forward as an open sign of commitment, Billy decided to do a little personal evangelism, some one-on-one as Jesus did. He tapped the man on the shoulder and asked, “Would you like to accept Christ? I’ll be glad to walk down with you if you want to.” The old man looked him up and down, thought it over for a moment, and then said, “Naw, I think I’ll just wait till the big gun comes tomorrow night.”

This story underlines how, in the minds of many, ministry and evangelism are the tasks of the “Big Guns,” but it is truly the ministry of us all to make the Kingdom of God known. One person at a time.

In our Gospel reading today, the king said to his servants, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.”

Today, we are the King’s servants. We are the ones who are to go into the streets and invite others to the banquet. The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’  But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?  And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”

You are the King’s servants, therefore, go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet. By so doing, you will be caring for and loving the one man, the one woman, the one child who are of infinite worth to our God.

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