Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Work Matters



Sermon preached by the Revd Phill Ball at St Martin's on Sunday 10th June 2012






In Christian Discipleship Work matters
But when we think of Christian work, or ministry, we tend to think of it in terms of the activities we do in or for ‘church’. 
For instance being a home group leader, running children’s groups, cleaning the church building, reading the bible, the flowers, or being a warden or a member of the PCC.
And there is nothing wrong with any of that, these are forms of Christian service.  But how many of us think of what we do Monday to Saturday as our Christian work, is part of our Christian service and ministry? 
In effect our lives work? And does it matter?
So this morning I want us to think about ministry in the work place, at life’s coal face as it were, and wherever that is for you individually!
And with all the  challenges, and the opportunities that we all as Christians will all face. 
And at this stage, for those who are retired or don’t go to work, listen up,
For What I want to say this morning, isn’t just restricted to those who are in paid employment, it relates to all of us.  Every last disciple of Christ is called to work for God, and it does really matter!!!
Because if you think being a Christian is just something you put on for Sundays, then leave it hanging in the wardrobe for the rest of the week, then I have to tell you, this is a seven day a week job being a Christian, whether at a factory, an office, at school, at home with our neighbours, on the bus, in the car, at the shops, indeed anywhere!
In fact we come to church on Sundays to prepare us for the next six days, and each of the exits from church should have a sign saying:
WARNING – YOU ARE LEAVING CHURCH! - Your WORK STARTS NOW!
Please note it starts – not ends as you leave church.
That’s why it Matters.
That’s Why Work is Important

We only have to look at the opening chapters of the Bible to see how important work is in God’s scheme of things.   First of all we see that God is a God who works. The Bible describes all creation as the work of God. For six days God works, and on the seventh he rests from all the work he has done.  God is a worker and it is something he chooses to do- it is part of his plan. And although it is perhaps counter cultural in the 21st century to say so, Work was part of God’s gift to humanity in creation; it was part of his original plan. 
God has created us for his work, and this work is given to us as a blessing, as we heard in our first reading, and From the Garden of Eden to here in Walsall, that has not changed, whatever we are called to do as that work.
For example the Bible talks about the importance of working in order to support those in need, or working in order to improve the life of the community as a whole, that is our work we are all called to, sisters and brothers, to support those in need, and improve people’s lives, even if it’s only with a smile or a kind word. 
And in the New Testament Paul calls upon Christians to do their work for God, and as we heard in  Colossians this morning  “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 
Our Christian work is always one of the ways in which we serve God, as disciples of Jesus, wherever that is, whether paid for it or not.   
Its all our callings, yours and indeed mine, and its all our jobs and ministries, to be Christ’s   voices and workers in the world.
Even the Church of England in 1945 said : “We are convinced that England will never be converted until the laity use the opportunities daily afforded by their various professions, crafts and occupations.” 
As Christians God has called all of us to be his workers and witnesses in the world. 
The greatest mission field in the world today is right on our doorstep amongst our friend’s, our neighbours , our work colleagues, at the school gate or at the shops. 
Remember much of Britain today is a largely a post-Christian society. 
Fewer and fewer people are attending churches; the level of Christian knowledge in our society is at an all time low. 
We; that’s me and you, are the Christian example, of a disciple of Christ, wherever we go in todays world. That is our Christian Work!
This Work Matters because it is the place where we spend most of our time, not at church; for six and a half days a week we are in this place of work, every single one of us! Whether paid or not!
In this workplace Christians and non-Christians are able to meet and are subject to the same cultures, and the same pressures. 
This work place is one of the few places where a non-Christian can actually see the difference that knowing Christ can make to a life, week in, week out. 
And through this workplace we all inhabit, we will all know many people, and have many friends, and we will all be in contact with people at important points in their lives.
For instance when people are facing divorce, illness, or bereavement, unemployment, redundancy, and when their joyful with marriage, new babies, whatever the situation is,  they’re all our workplaces for every single one of us as Christians.
So Let’s all see the wonderful opportunities that we have as Christians to minister to those we work with, and all those we meet, wherever the place is that we work as Christians, in paid employment or not;
They are all our workplaces; and all our places to minister; whether at the office, factory, shop, or on the bus, indeed wherever we are!
So lets remember in our busy working week as Christians:
  • We need to be ministry,  that is to say  Christian work minded - because we can so easy just smile and go on our own way.
  • Instead; because often, if we stop and listen, and see  the other person’s need, and act if we can, we can potentially totally transform that person’s mood and day.
  • Time is always on our side- the opportunities will come. We don’t have to create situations in which we can minister or work- they will happen by themselves.  We simply need to pray and then be alert to respond to them, as all our Christian work.
Remember our work & Ministry is to individual people-  We need to care for people and love them as individuals. Ministry doesn’t demand- it gives!  We should expect nothing in return.  Our expressions of love for others shouldn’t have any strings attached.

We need to be sensitive and distinguish between the opportunities to serve and the opportunities to communicate the gospel verbally. They are both important because as followers of Jesus, his work always Matters. 

So Sisters and brothers, whatever we do from Monday to Saturday, we all do it as Christians, thinly disguised as Accountants, Teachers, Librarians, office workers, the retired, as shoppers, car drivers, bus passengers, or whatever we do; Remember: Our work as Christians always Really Matters!!  So challenged, as we will be, and as we should be, in  following Christ, let us all see that sign over the Church Door as we leave today:

WARNING –
YOU ARE LEAVING CHURCH!- Your WORK STARTS NOW!
Amen.