Do you want to make a difference?
This question, in many forms and phrasings, shows up in our lives over and over again. It shows up in the checkout line at the grocery store when we can donate to March of Dimes or Children’s Miracle Network. It shows up in the commercials with sweet animals and little children. It shows up in Jennifer Aniston’s promises that with St. Jude’s, your dollars help children with cancer. Again and again, we are offered the opportunity to “make a difference”. If you’re anything like me, the charitable offerings become almost as common as the offer to buy, get better, or achieve, all things that I hear from advertisements, too. Yet this question is a bit different and pulls on a different part of my heart than the newest iPhone. As human beings, there is something innate in us that desires to improve the conditions of the people around us, no matter who we are, our political affiliations, or what zip code we live in. Charitable organizations know that, and so they offer us, again and again, the opportunity to “make a difference,” with our dollars and our time. The number of non-profits and non-profit requests for funding has exploded in the last 20 years, in part because of our compassionate hearts and desires to do well.
This innate compassion is what inspired our friends in the Scripture for this Sunday, Mark 2, to pick up the mat. See, they may have not been offered the same glossy opportunities to make a difference, but they were determined just as well to see good happen in the life of their friend and neighbor. They scaled a roof, dropping him in front of the healing love and presence of Jesus. They did not need to be asked the question; they saw the opportunity and would stop at nothing to make sure their friend was made well. In their act, there is something more intimate than a TV commercial or a mailer: they knew the person they served, and they loved him well enough to make sure he knew Jesus. This is an act of love, compassion. This is a difference-making behavior!
This week, we continue in our sermon series on our Finish Strong Campaign. As we explore Mark 2, we’ll be talking about what it means for us to be “difference makers” in the lives of our neighbors and our world. We will hear again the ways that Suntree UMC has made a true difference in the lives of its congregation members, and our neighborhood. Through the work of our church over 35 years ago, countless families and individuals have been placed in the presence of the healing love of Jesus… through you! Your work as a church has truly made a difference. You have loved and known your neighbors, and you have served them well. Just as with the men in Mark 2, you continue to place yourselves in the presence of God and our neighbors, so they might know the love of Jesus. Our hope within this campaign is that by paying down our mortgage debt, we will be able to continue to make that difference here, and around the world.. Literally!
Pastor Annette often says that as a District Superintendent she would ask one question to determine church vitality: would your neighbors miss you if you weren’t here anymore? The good news for Suntree UMC, that you’ll hear again on Sunday, is that yes- your neighbors would miss you! You are a church that has made ripples in your community for many years, and our goal going forward is that we would continue to be a place that loves and impacts our community well. I am so proud to be a part of this larger body, one that loves its neighbors well. I can’t wait to share that impact with fun and excitement this week in worship.
See you then!