So I told you all about giving my first sermon at my new call. Well here it is! I used the reading from 1 Timothy 6:6-19. I hope you all like it! I love to write but writing a sermon can be such hard work.Know that the name of the SO athlete has been changed to protect her. Looks like I will be preaching again on Reformation Sunday!
Gracious God, May the words on my lips and the meditations of my heart glorify your name alone. To yours be the glory forever and ever. Amen!
In the Farrelly Brothers movie “The Ringer,” Johnny Knoxville plays a character who pretends to be a Special Olympics athlete because he believes it is the only race he can win. However the Special Olympics athletes catch on to him and convince him to continue to compete so he can beat the one athlete they all hate…the jerk, the mean one, the enemy.// Now I’m not saying that we should lie for Special Olympics but what I am saying is that these athletes were fighting for something worth fighting for! And in the end, it is Johnny’s character that is blessed by these athletes by their faith, love, and gentleness.
It seems to me that these athletes understand what it meant to fight the good fight. They understand what it meant to run the race set before them no matter the obstacles placed in front of them. They truly know what it meant to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness” in the midst of their lives.
It seems to me we also know what it means to fight the good fight// but do we always fight the “good” fight?// Or do we too often get caught up in the busyness of our own lives to trust that God is with us in the good fight?// In all honesty, I think we too often get caught up in our own lives to fight the good fight. However in today’s reading from Timothy, we are being called and challenged to fight the good fight in our own lives! And we can fight this good fight because of the transforming power bestowed upon us in our baptism.
In our baptism, God has claimed us as God’s children. This wonderful gift given to us by God transforms us by calling us to serve God’s people…whether it is the sick, the down-trodden, the lonely, the rich, or the poor. We are called to fight the good fight of faith among all God’s people.
Fighting the good fight of faith isn’t always the easiest thing. In fact, it is so much easier said than done!// Growing up my mom lived with a mental illness that landed her in the hospital at least once a year. I found myself keeping her illness quiet because of the stigma associated with the illness. I was afraid of how others would look at her and our family. I was afraid to fight the good fight of faith. I was scared to turn to God and ask for his love and care during this difficult time. Fighting the good fight was definitely so much easier said than done…that is…until some wonderful friends came into my life and taught me what it truly means to fight the good fight of faith.
So what does it mean to fight the good fight of faith? Is fighting the good fight turning to God during those challenging times? Is fighting the good fight opening God’s precious love letter to us---the Bible---to find comfort in God’s words? Is fighting the good fight turning to God in prayer when it seems so much easier said than done? Is fighting the good fight allowing God to bless us so others can be a blessing to us?
Can you think of times when you were blessed by others?// Who were these significant individuals in your life?// How did their blessing to you become a blessing to others? (Or have you held back?) For me, it was working at a Bible camp for seven summers. So often the children I served during the week blessed me more than I ever could imagine. However the greatest blessing is the gift God gave us in sending God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ to die for all of us! And through this wonderful blessing, we can see that love, beyond doubt, does flow from faith.
This love that flows from faith is a powerful love that allows us to fight the “good” fight of faith each and every day. It is a love that God gave us and continues to give us that helps allow for change. Through this love, God’s truth, and the Holy Spirit, we can see amazing things happen in our lives. We can use this love to fight the good fight of faith and stand up for people, events, etc in our lives that are worth fighting for.
How can blessings in our lives help us to fight the good fight of faith? Little did I know how big of an impact the Special Olympics athletes would have on my own life. However they are one of the many examples of how God’s love has helped me to be a blessing and example to others of how to fight the good fight.
It was the summer of 2005. I had just graduated from seminary and was looking for a place to do my field work. I sent letters and a resume to the Ronald McDonald House, the Ruth Myers Hospitality House, and Special Olympics North Dakota. I was praying that I would hear back from one of these organizations and eventually I did. Special Olympics North Dakota offered me a position to come work with them for the summer. Like I stated earlier, little did I know how big of an impact the Special Olympics athletes would have on my life. They taught me what it truly means to be a blessing to others.
Mary*, one of the Special Olympics athletes, taught me what it truly means to be a blessing to others. She fights the good fight each and every day. She lives in an apartment building and one morning while showering a stray bullet went through her window and hit her. She was shot. Mary though was able to move past this unfortunate incident and continues to fight the good fight. She is only one of the many examples of how these individuals fight the good fight and are a blessing to all those around them. Her injury could have been so much worse. However it was not, God had blessed her. She was able to live her life and stand up for something worth fighting for!
These little blessings help us to stand tall, to listen to what God is saying to us, and to fight the good fight of faith that is set before us. By fighting the good fight of faith together---through the power of God’s love, spirit, and truth---we can make a difference in the world just like those Special Olympics athletes do each and every day.// Through God’s love, the blessings bestowed upon us, by fighting for all that is worth fighting for//, we all in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “can be the change we wish to see in the world.” Amen!