I have a good friend who has enriched my life with his friendship. One of the gifts he brings to that friendship is the gift of colorful expression. He grew up in Carteret County and perhaps that explains it. For example, when someone does something completely ridiculous, he is fond of saying, “Well he just swallowed a whole bottle of stupid pills, didn’t he?”
We served on the Bishop’s Cabinet together and it was there that I learned one of my more favorite of his expressions. We’d be discussing a pastor who was chronically unhappy and my friend would say, “He has the spiritual gift of complaint.” It never failed to make us all laugh.
It also never made me fail to think. While Dennis would be speaking tongue in cheek, he was also speaking a truth. Everyone has a spiritual gift – and while complaint is not numbered among them, Paul does offer several lists of them. Gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, speaking in and interpreting tongues, to name a few. Gifts that we see evidenced in the life of FUMCC. Gifts that are precisely that – gifts. The Spirit that animates our life gives them to us and they are given to us with purpose: “for the common good.”
Frequently, people will tell me that they don’t have a gift or they don’t know what they have to offer. I tell them that they do have a gift; we just haven’t found it yet. The truth of Pentecost is that the Spirit of God gifts all of the people of God for ministry, for building up the church, for witnessing to Christ. The question is not “do I have a gift?” but rather “what is my gift?” and “how may I best use it for Christ Jesus?” When we start to think of ourselves that way – gifted and graced by the Spirit, through our baptism, for the ministry of the church – then none of us have cause to sit back and wait for someone else. The work belongs to all of us. What’s more, Paul points out, we need everyone’s gift for the whole thing to fit together.
That’s when we can look at one another and seriously say “She has the spiritual gift of….”
We’ll be talking about all of this on Sunday in our worship services. The scripture for the morning will be 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 and the sermons will be on “What Did You Get?” The worship committee is inviting everyone to wear red; we will commission summer mission teams; we will gather at the Table for Holy Communion; we will celebrate what a community of the Spirit’s gifts looks like. It will look a lot better, by the way, if we see you there.
Grace and peace.