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Ladies, please join me in the prayer to the Holy Spirit.

 

           Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.  And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy your consolations.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------Let me repeat .............

 

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

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That quote comes from Methodist founder John Wesley and is, perhaps, the ultimate definition of Christian action.  Christian action is the subject of this talk and my name is Kathryn Banner.

 

Christian action is probably an appropriate topic for me because I am a "Martha" - you know as in the sisters Mary & Martha whom Jesus visited in Luke 10:38-42.  Like Martha, I am a "doer", a "busy bee" - I am always busy doing.  Even the women's group at church typecast me as Martha in a mini- play about Mary & Martha!  And my Girl Scout "boss" is always telling me to stop cleaning or preparing because the girls need to learn to do that stuff.  

             Even for obsessive, compulsive "doers" like myself, Wesley's admonition is a tall order.  But it is a tall order for all of us. The challenge of Christian action is great, but we can refer to Phillipians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strenghtens me."

Further clarification is needed of this term Christian action. This is action flowing from a Christ-centered life. A life char-act-erized by a personal relationship and commitment to Christ!  Through our words and actions we are representing Christ and his universal church.  Through our words and actions we bear witness to Christ at all times and in all places.  First John 3:18  "Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action."  Through our words and actions, we become servants of God, doing what Christ would do if He were here in human form.

 

I was raised in a Christian home.  We were a military family and   although I was born in Texas & have been back since 1974, I have lived many places.  I grew up seeing Christian action performed by very many people in these many places. My parents practiced Christian action when they would take children of color from their Sunday school class to a "white" beach in Florida in the 60's.  I witnessed Christian action as a college student when my car broke down outside of town on a Sunday near dark and a couple of dubious looking men towed my car back into town, got the car parts store to open up & then take an out-of -town college student's check for the only water pump for my kind of car they had, and then the gentlemen replaced the water pump and did not expect payment!  I was the recipient of Christian action as a new Mom as people showered us with baby gifts and food.  I have had good friends pray at the altar with me when I needed suppport.

I could go on and on and on ......... but I won't.

 

 

Let's take a moment to review.

{TRIPOD}

We first give our hearts to God (piety)- one leg. We then give our minds to God (growth through study)- the second leg.  And now we will give our hands & feet to God (Christian action)- the third leg.  In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way (piety), the truth (study), and the life (action).  Like this tripod, all three parts are needed for a Christian to remain upright and balanced.

 

Knowing that we are loved TOTALLY by God and saved COMPLETELY by His grace should create in us a sincere desire to pass it on as in one of my favorite songs - "It only takes a spark to get a fire going, And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. That's how it is with God's love once you've experienced it; You spread his love to everyone. You want to pass it on."

 

 

 

Our ability or way of passing on God's love will depend on our God given gifts.  Yes, we all have them! Remember the fruit of the spirit? Galatians 5:22 - 23 states, "By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."  We are given these gifts to use in Christian action.  I guarantee that I didn't get them all - I am especially lacking the fruit of patience!  I could be the poster child for the prayer "God give me patience- Right Now!"  What are your gifts of the Spirit?  They are vital in Christian action.

 

What are your talents?  Be honest with yourself!  Can you pray?  My mother has prayed for a guardian angel to watch over me (this pin is a symbol of that angel) and I know that angel is with me at all times. Are you a good listener? A good listener on a Christian retreat helped me understand that with God's help I could be a good mother and that linked with a prayer to God produced a precious child with a true heart for God. Can you draw, sew, bake, sing (on key is great but not necessary)?  These are not my areas of talent.                                  I love to sing but unfortunately I am musically challenged.  And the sewing, shopping, artistic chromosomes have skipped a generation in my family.  Do you enjoy working with a particular age group?  I love all ages but I do have a special spot in my heart for the little ones.  I teach Sunday school (right now first graders), I help with our church's children's ministry, I co-lead a troop of 21 Brownie Girl Scouts, and I am active in our Parent Teacher organization. Talking to the children and listening to them. Hugging them, all of them, even the dirty ones, the hard to love ones. Even when you know that head lice is in the classroom. Taking that disadvantaged Brownie on a special outing for her birthday. Or reaching out to those in need that we will never meet.  Daily I, or sometimes my daughter, go to the website www.thehungersite.com & "click" to donate food to the world's hungry.  There are other donation sites linked to the hunger site.  These are all times when I can be Christ's representative on earth.

 

 

Assessing one's gifts and talents is the first step toward a plan for Christian action and yes, we do need a plan.  The popular advertising slogan, "Just do it," doesn't apply with God's work.  Christian action does not happen by accident- we chose to show Christ's love through our actions and also our words. 

Once we know our talents, we need to pray, asking for guidance in our thoughts, words and deeds.  We need to set priorities- ask where can I put God's love into play.  It could be the casual contact with the women in the grocery line that needs a cheerful hello.  I try to say hello, smile, wave, wink at the people I meet.  Actually, I say "Howdy" because I spent seven years at Texas A&M University where one the great traditions is to say a great big "Howdy" to everyone you meet.      Showing God's love by our actions could be at home when a child or spouse needs extra time and attention.  This can be difficult, especially after a long, hard day. I often fall short in this area - I have yelled at my child & ignored my spouse more than once. 

We could show God's love in an organization or club when a service project needs extra hands.  I became a Junior Girl Scout leader when a vacancy occurred even before my daughter became a Girl Scout & I had intended to start leading.                                        It could be on the job when a co-worker has a personal problem.  I have spent many hours listening and offering advice to the high school kids who have worked for us.                                                    The job place may be a fertile ground for Christian action.  I am a veterinarian in private practice. We often lend a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, offer words of sympathy and send notes of condolences over the loss of a pet.                                                                   It could be helping a "disadvantaged" individual by making a gift box for Operation Christmas Child.  Our women's group has done this for 2 years now.

 

 

 

 

The next step is to figure out what is needed to complete the action.  Do you need money, other resources, more people such as Christians in your home church, in our Emmaus community, or from the rest of the Body of Christ?  Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do much."  Then take on the plan.  Trust that you can achieve your goal.  Remember, God equips those He calls.

Friendliness is important in the way we carry out our Christian action.  My mother often says, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar."  Reaching out in friendship to people we normally come in contact with is a perfect start for our plan.  Smile, encourage, be friendly.  Thereby making a friend.  Then be that friend.  Listen and love.  Then bring that friend to Christ.  Also reach out to those in need - even those we may not know.  Matthew 25:40 " And the King will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"

 

 

 

Some words of caution.  A Christian should not neglect family, church, community, or job while doing God's work but neither should a Christian neglect God's work while taking care of day to day affairs.  Winston Churchill said, "You make a living by what you get.  You make a life by what you give."  Christian action needs to be "real" or sincere. Things done to grandstand, to earn points on earth or in heaven, or to fulfill a need for notoriety, etc. IS NOT Christian action.  "It is not enough to do good; one must do it the right way." John Morley

Christian action is a way of life- an EVERY DAY way of life.  This type of action, done in the everyday happenings of our lives using our unique personality, our spiritual gifts and talents, will become comfortable and natural and service will become a regular part of our lives.  

 

 

 

I would like to close with a quote from St. Teresa of Av-i-la :

Christ has no body now on earth but yours;  

No hands but yours;                                                                            

No feet but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ's compassion  to the world.

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. 

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless now.

 

DeColores!

 

Christian Action

Walk #90

Kathryn Banner