By Rev. Chris Jorgensen
w/special guest Deaconess Leah Wandera
October 10, 2021
Video of entire service: https://www.facebook.com/hanscomparkchurch/videos/454255885964810
Scripture: Mark 1:9-11
I hope you were all listening during the children’s time because honestly, there’s not much more to say here. This truth is so simple, yet I know it is so hard to believe sometimes. But I’m just going to keep telling you until you believe it.
You are God’s beloved child with whom God is well-pleased.
I want you to hear your name spoken today. I invite you to say it out loud. Fill in the blank with your name: ____________________, you are God’s beloved child with whom God is well-pleased. It’s true. Say it again if you didn’t believe it the first time.
God loves us. God delights in us.
How many of you have ever held a newborn baby? Then you know the kind of love and delight I am talking about. You hold that newborn baby and you LOVE that kid. You don’t know what they are going to do or who they are going to be. They are really lumps of flesh, these newborns, right. They are not accomplishing anything. They never did anything productive in their lives. They are not doing anything to earn your love but just being themselves.
That’s how God loves you. That’s how God loves every person of every race and class and culture and sexual orientation and gender identity and ability or disability. God loves and delights in every one of us.
And God claims us for God’s mission in the world. In our Wesleyan Covenant Prayer today, we prayed, “I am no longer my own, but thine.” What that means is that God claims us in love. We belong to God, and God claims us to share that love with the whole world. We are saved for that work. We are saved so that we can proclaim the love of God to all people.
Now, there is an order of lay people in The United Methodist Church called deaconess and home missioner … (deaconesses are those who identify as female, and home missioner is currently used by those identifying as male or non-binary persons).
Our guest speaker today, Leah Wandera, is part of that order. She is a deaconess. As a deaconess, she chooses to be a lay person – just like y’all – who very intentionally commits her life in service through The United Methodist Church. She commits her life to going out into the community and sharing the good news of God’s love through words, sure…but mostly through being the hands and feet of Jesus for people who are struggling.
Here’s her mission according to the Methodist Book of Discipline:
“Deaconesses…function through diverse forms of service directed toward the world to make Jesus Christ known in the fullness of his ministry and mission, which mandate that his followers:
- Alleviate suffering;
- Eradicate causes of injustice and all that robs life of dignity and worth;
- Facilitate the development of full human potential; and
- Share in building global community through the church universal.”
Leah, you are God’s beloved child with whom God is well-pleased…and I am so glad you are here today.
Would you tell us about yourself and your experience at the first Reconciling Church in Kenya?
[Visit https://www.facebook.com/hanscomparkchurch/videos/454255885964810 at 23:00 to hear Leah.]
Thanks be to God for your work and witness, Leah.
Thanks be to God for the way God loves us, delights in us, and claims all of us for the work of sharing the good news of God’s love to all people.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1) Pastor Chris shares the example of one’s love for a newborn baby as being like the unconditional love God has for us. Think back over your life. Have you ever felt that kind of unconditional love for another human being? Who was the person you loved? What was that experience like?
2) Has anyone ever shown you that kind of unconditional love? How did you know their love was not conditional?
3) On a scale of 1-10, how hard is it for you to believe that God loves and delights in you?
1 = not hard at all…of course God loves and delights in me!
5 = sometimes I believe that God loves me, and sometimes I don’t
10 = it’s impossible to believe that God loves me unconditionally
Why do you think that it’s sometimes hard to believe that God loves and delights in us?
4) Next week, we are going to explore how God call us into mission in the world more deeply. While you go through your week, think about how God loves and delights in you…and how you are being called to show others God’s unconditional love.