Holiness in our Midst: Session 84

Holiness in our Midst


Story Circle Prompt: What was the message in a life-changing sermon? Describe your transformation.

Wonder of wonders, I was on the worship team at LaSalle Street Church in downtown Chicago in the mid-Eighties! Sixty members were employed in the arts, many of whom volunteered their design, dance, writing, photography and music skills to enhance our worship services. We painted backdrops, wrote original litanies, choreographed liturgical dance numbers, designed bulletin covers and performed original music. At the same time, I was part of a LaSalle cell group that met every Tuesday evening in homes. It was a heady time to be a churchgoer!
The pastor was Dr. William “Bill” Leslie, a social justice advocate and deep thinker. He was fond of pointing out God’s preferential heart for the poor and often quoted the exact number of times the poor were referenced in the Bible (more than 400, as I remember).

The sermon text the morning that he preached a life-changing sermon was Mark 10:17-27. He reviewed the story of the rich young ruler:
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” New International Version (NIV)
Pastor Bill asserted that most of us weren’t rich enough to relate to the story of the rich young ruler, then asked this question: What is the equivalent of great wealth in your life? What is Jesus asking you to give up in order to follow him completely?

The answer for me was” RECOGNITION. The minute Pastor Bill asked this question, it was like the word was written in red letters across the sanctuary in front of me. I had only wanted to be involved in projects or work where I was in a lead role or received credit and accolades. From that moment on, I vowed to listen for the Lord’s guidance each day, regardless of whether the project or assignment was big or small. I began doing tasks for the sake of others’ glory, instead of volunteering only where I was in a lead role. I became satisfied to “go about doing good,” whether it was licking stamps, photocopying reams of paper, making cookies or leading campaigns. That small change made a huge difference. Not only did I learn new skills, I gained appreciation for the richness of authentic team efforts. I would discover that I cannot exist without affirmation, but if no feedback comes to me, I am satisfied that God sees my efforts. That has been enough “recognition” to happily carry on each day.

1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, remember a life-altering sermon. Who was the pastor? Where were you? How was your life changed by the message?

1. Read aloud Session LXXXIV.
2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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