Parables...Poems...Prayers!

One of the things I have always enjoyed as a pastor is the variety of things that I am often asked to do. In a very real sense, the calling to pastor is the work of a generalist. The pastor is a care giver, a leader-administrator, and a proclaimer of the gospel. Of course, we are also friends, family members and citizens in our communities. Each of the roles we play are opportunities to serve.

The Good Shepherd
Image credit: freebibleimages.org

Recently, I was asked to preach the traditional service in my home church - Springfield First UMC. One of our pastors took some much-needed time off and I had the privilege of substituting for him. Since the pastors were in a pre-Easter series on the Parables, I was assigned the one on the Talents from Matthew 25. Here is an excerpt from that message…

”This story today in verses 14-30 of the Talents, shows us the necessity of using well what God has entrusted to us. The point of this parable is not how much God has entrusted, but rather how well we are using it!

Life is An Adventure. The 'one talent' man was afraid and couldn’t risk failure. He buried the master’s talent in the ground. The rabbis of the day would have commended his commonsense approach because they believed and taught that the safest way to protect something of value was to bury it. They thought what the man did was prudent. Yet, what sends shockwaves through the crowd no doubt is that Jesus offers no commendation for the man who hid his master’s money.

Do you know what your spiritual net worth is…your passion, personality, natural talents plus your spiritual gifts? The passion that the Holy Spirit infuses within us makes us the most spiritually blessed and spiritually wealthy individuals in the world! We have a trust, and it is high adventure! The God who risked everything on our behalf - the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of His One and Only Son - calls us to choose Christ as our Savior and Lord. And He commands us as His stewards to scatter the seed of that Sacred Trust of abundant and eternal life among the hearts of a lost world. That’s our adventuresome calling.”

Our twelve-year-old grandson, Klayton Michael, provided us a second opportunity for the week. He has been engaged in raising money for the American Heart Association. He lost his sister, Kayley, six years ago to a heart defect and subsequent stroke that made it impossible for her to sustain life. Klayton was chosen to be an AHA Teen of Impact this year and his team raised the incredible sum of $35,321 during the eight-week campaign. Monique and I, along with others from the team, recorded a surprise congratulation to Klay that was played on the program night when each teen was honored for their efforts. Klay finished in second place among the  twenty-five teens and received a $500 scholarship! Here is the short video-poem we shared…

 We honor you, Klayton, our grandson,
By stating these ways just for fun!
 First, we think of your engaging smile.
And how inspiring it is that you go the extra mile.
 
 With the love of your sister, Kayley, deep in your heart,
Your willingness to help AHA was just the start.
 You never give up in answering every question
By quickly coming up with so many great suggestions.

 

 Mimi and Poppi’s buttons are poppin’ with pride!
For all your hard work and initiatives besides.
 Klay, a great blessing you will always be
To the Lord, your family, friends and community!

 We love you grandson!

The final opportunity of this particularly busy week was to bring an invocation at our local convention center on the 100th Anniversary of the Illinois State Police. Since 2012, I have been privileged to serve as a chaplain for ISP. Here is the prayer that was shared…

 Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of being in this place today on this historic occasion. We rejoice to join in this celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Illinois State Police. Since its humble beginnings, with only eight officers patrolling on surplus motorcycles, to the 1,846 troopers who serve and risk their lives today on our behalf, this great force of ISP sworn officers, along with 1,084 civilian employees, make us proud through their commitment to excellence.

It lifts our spirits to be gathered around the rich symbols represented by these flags. We acknowledge that there are precious families among us today who have experienced great loss. Their loved ones have paid the ultimate price for their extraordinary service in the line of duty. Theirs is an unspeakable pain. May this ceremony bring comfort to each of our highly esteemed Gold Star Families today. We, as citizens, seek to remember their great sacrifice and give thanks for all who are committed to public protection and safety.

Lord, we ask You to bless this ceremony and each of us who participate. May this time together refocus and bring encouragement to us. May the bond of this great family of public servants be strengthened and further committed each day to the enduring values of this great institution: integrity, service, and pride. And may this centennial celebration and reflection of our rich past shape a bold vision for the years ahead. We pray all of this in the name of the One who is the ultimate hope of our lives and this world. Amen.”

Peter reminds us that we are shepherds to the flock of God. “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willing, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.” (1 Peter 5:2, NLT).

I thank God for my calling to vocational ministry, but I am also thankful for the stewardship of life for all believers who are to give time, talents and treasures to advance the greatest kingdom on earth, the Kingdom of God. We are to care, lead and proclaim whenever there is an opportunity!

Find your joy in service!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 

 

 

 

 

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