This weekend I concluded our ‘Life Togther’ sermon series by doing the sermon ‘together’ with those gathered for worship. Since Paul’s letter to the Corinthians generally and chapter 12 specifically concern what happens when Christians gather for worship, I thought it most ‘biblical’ for us to do the sermon together.
So I began by giving the congregation a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series of options and let them choose the course we took:
1. What’s not on Paul’s list of spiritual gifts?
2. What’s right here in the passage that’s easy too miss but very important to see?
3. Share an anecdote that this passage calls to mind.
4. What is on this list that’s important?
5. If you had to condense this passage in to a Tweet, what would it be?
6. How is this list different from Paul’s other lists of gifts?
7. Show a video and explain how it relates to the text.
8. How do I find and use my spiritual gift?
9. Field a random question.
While I think this makes for good ‘in the moment’ preaching time, it’s probably a bit uneven to listen to afterwards.
To make it up to you, I offer you this ‘parable’ that occurred while I was preaching this Sunday. Names have been disguised to protect the guilty.
The Gifts of the Spirit – A Parable
Once a young, newly graduated Master of Divinity was in the critical care unit of the local hospital, visiting a member of his new congregation.
The patient was terribly bad-off with sores all over whose smell made the rookie Rev queasy and distracted. After a brief visit, the young minister stumbled and mumbled his way through a prayer and then left, leaving both he and the patient dissatisfied.
Outside in the hospital hallway, the pastor just happened into a middle-aged woman from his church. They exchanged pleasantries like you do and each explained that they were doing there in that hallway.
The pastor expressed his disappointment with his own discomfort when visiting the previous patient. In that moment, the pastor spontaneously asked the woman if she would go in and pray for the same patient. She agreed and they went to his bedside.
Startling her minister, the woman embraced the patient’s foul sores and uttered what sounded to the pastor as the most sincere, Spirit-filled prayer he’d heard up to then.
As they were leaving, the young pastor asked the woman:
‘Do you think perhaps you have the gift of healing?’
The woman began to cry.
‘Yes, I do think so’ she said.
‘You just never have asked me.’