Sermon: Christ’s Compassion and Our Hands

July 29, 2018 [Green]
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21
Pastor SeokCheol Shin

Christ’s Compassion and Our Hands

The Mission Week with Youth
During the last week, I was privileged to meet our youth and work with them as we reached out in downtown Hartford. It was a lot of work. I can’t count the hours and efforts that our teachers put into this deal of youth ministry. I am so proud of our youth who were willing to serve people on the streets; they are faithful disciples and our hope for the next generation.

More than a miracle
Based on our youth ministry, I had meditated on today’s passage from John’s Gospel, which is about Jesus and his disciple’s feeding ministry. Over the next few weeks, we will continue on this theme of “the Bread of Life,” and I hope we can find how we can share of God’s abundant love and lavish grace to all humanity.

Jesus feeding more than 5,000 people is one of the well-known passages in the Gospels. If we include their wives and children, the crowds would be about 20,000. Jesus did it only with five loaves and two fishes. Our preachers tend to focus on Jesus’ compassion and power to bring out a miracle to feed the hungry. Yes, I never doubt that Jesus Christ is the bread of life and whoever comes to him will have enough for their lives!

But, I’d like to point out that this story is more than a miracle. Good Christians tend to take the Bible literally, and if we consider some of Jesus’ teachings and miracles as parables or signs or symbols, they will say that we are less faithful to God. Still people want to raise a question, “how is it possible?” We know there are things in the Bible that we can’t explain with human reason or science. But we have a very nice answer for all the mysterious events in the Bible. That is, “God can do it!” And we want to shout to those who are still in doubt, “Just believe!”

By the way, if God is the same yesterday, today and forever, why do those amazing miracles written in the Bible never happen in our actual life? If it is all about Jesus’ miracles, why do we talk about discipleship; why do we respond to his command as his disciples? Why do we want to nurture our children and youth and bring them into action?

In terms of miracle, I have no problem saying that miracle is everywhere in God’s creation: God has already given us a world out of nothing, already provided sun and earth, water and wind, seeds and materials everywhere. Everything we have is divine because everything comes from God!

The Old Testament highlights that God provides something out of nothing. That is how God created the world and everything in it; God provided manna for his people when they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. But this Gospel story is different. Jesus didn’t make something out of nothing here. Rather, he took what God already provided from people’s hands. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, when the disciples turned to Jesus and asked how to feed the crowds, Jesus turned back to them and said, “You give them something to eat.” That means they already had enough resources to resolve the problem there.”

Of course, feeding the large crowds would be impossible. That’s why Philip complained, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little” (v. 7). As Andrew points out, all they could find is “five barley loaves and two fish” belonging to a little boy in the crowd. And then just like Philip, he also complained, “[What can we do with this little lunch?]” (v. 9)

Our society tends to believe that bigger is always better. Unfortunately, the church has bought into the same philosophy. We think that the bigger church is the better and more successful church. (Honestly, I am not exceptional – talking about how I responded to my new appointment here in Rockville and how the Vermont congregations responded to it). Does Jesus command us to make a mega church? Does Jesus call the greatest to accomplish his salvation ministry?

Let us think about some of the small things that God used to do incredible things: God called a young man David to defeat the giant Goliath; Jesus chose twelve ordinary men to change the world; Jesus even taught us that we have to be servants if we want to follow him… Small things in the hands of Christ can accomplish amazing things.  This congregation accomplishes amazing things every week through the small actions of a few people.  If everyone did a small thing to help, we would make the world a better place to live.

Today’s passage is another example that Jesus used a small thing to do a great thing. He took the modest lunch from a little boy, gave thanks to God, broke the bread, and started to share with people. And what happened? There was enough to throw a big party. This would be like a backyard cookout with everyone spread out on the grass, enjoying the sunset and the cool evening breeze. What Jesus showed in this miracle is that whatever God has already given us, no matter how many or little, how big or small, whatever we have is always enough, if we decided to share with others. And when we share our resources, there is always plenty for everyone, and more left over besides.

Some of you would want to argue that they could have a party because Jesus multiplied the little food; without his power, there is nothing like a party in our lives. You still want to believe that this is nothing but a miracle (but not as a parable) and only Jesus can do this. Yet here is one thing you and I have to agree on although we have a different perspective on how to interpret the Bible. That is, Jesus worked this miracle through ordinary people.

The food was not suddenly dropped from heaven but was offered from a little boy among the crowds. Thus, the boy’s small contribution or sacrifice of what he had was the first step toward Jesus’ miracle. After Jesus blessed the bread, it was his disciples who distributed the meals. Even though the miracle did not take place through their power, they were participated in sharing the meals and feeding all the people in the wilderness. Therefore, we can say that the disciples’ hands for distribution were part of the vehicles of God’s grace.

Some scholars think it is possible that the real miracle of feeding the crowds was that the people were so inspired by the little boy who offered his own lunch, that they all shared what they had—and it was more than enough to feed everyone!

I like this interpretation even if it tends to diminish the reality of God’s unlimited power in Christ. Let us look around our world. The world already produces more than enough grain to feed every human being. But one billion people are now hungry. God has provided enough for all humanity, but the problem is, it is not being shared with all. Why couldn’t we experience all those amazing miracles written in the Bible? It was probably because we might not share or sacrifice what we have; we might not give our hands to serve those who are in need.

The hands and feet of Jesus
With a little boy’s contribution, Jesus fed more than the 5,000. What we have, what we bring to Jesus’ table (or Food Pantry in terms of our ministry) seems too little to meet all the needs we see around us. But let us realize that it is not the amount of our supplies but the power of Jesus working in our sacrificial and serving hands that can transform this world into the world where all the hungry are satisfied. Last week our Youth Ministry worked to feed the hungry and helped the homeless obtain some of life’s basic needs.  They gave of their time and energy to provide for others.

Let us remember that Jesus himself is the hope of our life. Christ’s compassion for the hungry world will be our hope. And we as his servants should be his hands and feet to share and distribute God’s abundant love, and when we participate in sharing and serving others, we can always bring forth God’s mysterious miracle to our hungry world. Amen.

Sermon: “Hungry, Naked, Sick, Imprisoned”

Hungry, Naked, Sick, Imprisoned
Matthew 25:31-46
RUMC November 26, 2017
Pastor Paul R. O’Neil

Aesop once wrote a fable about a Greek slave named Androcles, who escaped from his master and fled into the forest. While there, Androcles became hungry and depressed; then he heard the roar of a lion.  Because of his fear, he began to run and tripped over a tree root.  As he lay on the ground, the lion came towards him.  However the lion wasn’t attacking; the animal limped on three legs and held out his paw.
Androcles was so scared, he froze and expected to be eaten, but to his surprise he realized the animal was in pain with a large thorn in its bloody paw. Androcles mustered all the courage he could find, pulled out the thorn, and bandaged the wound.
Sometime later, Androcles was captured and taken prisoner. As an escaped slave he was sentenced to die; his punishment was to fight the lions in the Roman Coliseum.  When Androcles was brought to the middle of the arena, the lion that he helped in the forest met him.  The animal approached the frightened slave and gently stroked him with the paw that had been injured.
The Roman Emperor was surprised to see such odd behavior in a lion; he summoned Androcles and asked for an explanation. The slave told the story of the injured lion.  Satisfied with the explanation, Androcles was pardoned and the lion was taken back into the forest.

It has been said that kindness is a language that the blind see and the deaf can hear. My scripture text for today includes that personal quality of kindness which Jesus saw as a vital component for personal salvation.

We will read Matthew 25:31-46
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Back in Biblical times, sheep and goats grazed together during the day. At night when they came in from the field, the shepherd would separate them.  And it was this nightly occurrence that Jesus turned this into a parable.

From a spiritual standpoint, our Lord tells us that everyone falls into one of two classes. The sheep represent the people of God; they are the righteous ones who will receive eternal life.  The goats are the ones who did not do the will of God who will be judged and punished.
It is not that our Lord loves sheep more than goats or considers one better than the other. This parable shows that sheep are examples of people who saw the need of others and responded.  The goats are the ones who saw the need but for whatever reason failed to act.  Those who showed kindness were rewarded; those who ignored the need were judged and punished.

Aesop also wrote another fable that illustrates the importance of kindness. One day the wind and the sun had an intense discussion about who was more powerful.  To solve this dispute, they waged a contest to see who could get an individual to remove most of his clothes.  Kind of an odd contest, but that was what they decided.
The wind went first. He blasted with all its might, but the person in question wrapped his cloak even tighter around his body.  Now it was the sun’s turn.  The sun then shone down with all its warmth and the individual who felt the pleasant rays began to remove garment after garment.  With just his undergarments on, the individual jumped into the nearby stream and the sun was declared the winner.

We can have the same effect as the sun with all its warmth when we show acts of kindness. Dr. Albert Schweitzer once said, “Just as the sun makes the ice melt; kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

When we see those in need we should not look at them as an inconvenience, but instead look with compassion as we give food or drink, show hospitality, or visit and care for those who do not feel well.

Most of the activities I mentioned do not require much money or gifted ability; they require a little kindness. Jesus does not tell us to fix all the world’s problems, but instead invites us to make a difference, one person at a time.

Though Jesus did not mention this, there is another aspect of kindness: the gift of time. Peggy Noonan, the former speechwriter for President Reagan once told a story of this very thing.  It involved an 83 year old Frances Green from San Francisco who survived on her small Social Security check.  Though she had very little money, Mrs. Green managed to send one dollar per year to the Republican National Committee for a decade.  One day Mrs. Green received an RNC fundraising letter that invited her to attend a White House dinner to meet President Reagan; however she did not see the small print which suggested a generous donation.
So Mrs. Green scraped together every last cent she had and took a four day train ride across the US. Unable to afford a sleeper, she was forced to sleep in the sitting position.  When she arrived at the White House, she reported to the guard at the gate, but her name was not on the invitation list and she wasn’t allowed in.  A Ford Motor Company executive happened to stand behind her and realized something was wrong, so he took her aside and listened to her story.  Then he asked her to return at the same gate the following morning at 9:00 am.
In the meantime, the auto executive was able to speak with a presidential aide who arranged a personal White House tour for Mrs. Green. He even worked out the possibility that Mrs. Green could shake President Reagan’s hand if all went well.
However, the next day turned out to be a difficult day in the Reagan presidency: the Attorney General had resigned in the morning, and there was an overseas military coup. During Mrs. Green’s tour of the White House an aide told her that due to the day’s events a meeting with the President was out of the question.  The most the aide could promise was that she might get a glimpse of him walking down the hall.
However as Reagan left a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he saw Mrs. Green in the hallway and said, “Frances, those darn computers have fouled up again. If I had known you were coming, I would have been there to greet you myself.”  He then invited her to sit down in the Oval office where they talked leisurely about California, her town, her family, and her life.

Now some people suggested that the President gave Francis more time than he should have, and the meeting was a needless waste. But the president gave her a little of his time and a little kindness.

Here is a list of things you will never regret

  1. When we show kindness to an aged person.
  2. When we destroy a letter written in anger.
  3. When we offer an apology that will save a friendship.
  4. When we stop a scandal that will ruin a reputation.
  5. When we help a young people find themselves.
  6. When we take time to show consideration to others.
  7. When we refrain from gossip while others might do it.
  8. When we take a stand to do the right thing.
  9. When we live according to our convictions.
  10. When we accept the will of God.

God has blessed us that we might be a blessing. We are Christ’s ambassadors. With our hands, we bless others. Don’t be afraid to say God bless you, God love you or Merry Christmas. If someone asks why you are doing this? You can say Jesus is in my heart and I want to share the love of God with you.

Let me close. John Wesley, the founder of the UMC challenged his followers when he said. “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Sermon: God Sightings

God Sightings
Genesis 28:10-22
RUMC 23 July 2016
Pastor Paul R. O’Neil

A God sighting is a term that seems to be in vogue in some churches circles. I would define it as a spiritual event where people can see the hand of God in their lives.  Because of these unplanned encounters, men, women and children have found the Lord or had their faith renewed.

My scripture text is about one particular God sighting: when Jacob was literally between a rock and hard place. He experienced the Living God in a dream.  We may have our own God sighting; if that were to happen, it would show our Lord is real and that He is involved in our lives, seeking to bring to pass His will in our lives.

My text is Genesis 28:10-22.
Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14 and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15 Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” 17 And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.”
This is the Word of God.

By way of background, the Old Testament Patriarch Jacob was forced to leave home because he had caused a lot of trouble. It first started when he outwitted his brother Esau and took his birthright or inheritance over a bowl of soup.  Then through deception, he tricked his father and stole his brother’s blessing which recognized him to be the head of the family at the future death of the father.  So with the uproar and the family drama and a brother about to kill him, Jacob’s parents decided it was best that he go live with a distant relative some 500 miles away.  Three days or 70 miles into his journey, Jacob stopped for the night after a long day of travel.  With a stone for a pillow and a cloak for padding, Jacob slept.  It was here that young Jacob had a God sighting or a visitation from the Almighty.

Even though Jacob had deceived his brother and father, God still loved and cared for him. In a sense, God gave Jacob a do-over.

In a God sighting, the Lord will show up when we least expect. It could be a surprise visit, a phone call.  It could come in the form of some helpful assistance or a timely word.  But the message is always that God cares, which is usually enough to turn a life around or deepen our faith.

Let me read to you an account of a God sighting that was posted on the Internet. “John and I were in a horrible wreck when we rolled our Chevy Tahoe SUV. We both prayed as events unfolded.  As we walked away with bruised and sore bodies, we encountered angels in the form of men who stopped to save us.  They pulled us from the wreckage and called for help.  Blessings on these wonderful men who cared enough to help.”

Maybe you have had something similar happen. Large or small, when you have a God sighting, it is a special moment of faith.  It changes the way we look at things.

Let me summarize another God sighting. Recently there was a pastor who lost control of his motorcycle and was badly injured. The accident took place on a very isolated road outside of San Antonio, TX.  Moments later a man in a car drove up and stopped to help.  For some unknown reason he had phone numbers for a life flight helicopter and a local ambulance service.  In 20 minutes, a rescue helicopter arrived and transported the pastor to a hospital.  Though he was injured with broken ribs, a ruptured spleen, a lacerated liver and other bruises, he survived.  The people in his congregation definitely believed this was a God sighting.

I am sure many of you have had your own experiences and it too turned your life around and deepened your faith.

Psalm 34:7: “The angel of the Lord camps around those who fear him.”  This tells us there is help and protection available for the people of God.

Usually most people before they come to the Lord have had some experience that brings them closer to the Lord.

It seemed that Jacob had no prior experience or relationship with God, but it was here that he had his first taste of the supernatural. And because of it, he vowed to serve the Lord the rest of his life and give a tenth of his income to the Lord.  That is another instance where believers give 10% of their income to the work of the Lord.

Other God sightings in scripture include the following:

  • Exodus 3:1-5: when Moses saw the burning bush in the desert. Because of that God sighting, Moses went on to rescue the Hebrew people.
  • The next God sighting involved a man named Isaiah who saw a vision of God seated on his throne, surrounded by angels. After that incident, Isaiah became a prophet of the Lord.
  • The next God sighting involved Saul of Tarsus who was blinded by a bright light. When Saul fell to the ground, he saw Jesus in a vision. Because he was converted, Saul became Paul the Apostle.

Have you ever heard the term “Pay it Forward?” A popular example is when a person is in their car goes through the fast food drive through in McDonald’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Dunkin Donuts, etc and what they do is pay the order of the person behind them.  They do this in the goodness of their heart.  This happened to me when I went through the toll booth in Hooksett, NH.  When I gave $1 to the attendant, she told me that the car in front had paid the toll.  I was so surprised, that I tried to chase that person down to see who it was, but I could not catch the car.  But it did have a wondrous effect on me.  I could almost feel God’s love in a special way.

As believers in our church, when we make those special phone calls, give rides, send cards, make visits, etc., they could be God sightings for the individuals we are helping.

The lyrics to a song remind me of the effect that God sightings have: “God will make a way. Where there seems to be no way.  He works in ways we cannot see.  He will make a way for me.  He will be my guide, hold me closely to his side.  With love and strength for each new day.  He will make a way.  He will make a way.”

Let me close. Jacob’s God sighting was a life changing experience; he was forever defined by it.  I am sure all of us have had some life changing experience or God sightings or spiritual experience; it may have been dramatic or quiet.  However regardless of who or what or when, it was real and it changed our faith.  So may we continue to be a blessing in the Kingdom of God and, in effect, be a God sighting for a person in need.

Sermon: Making an Impact

Making an Impact
Acts 9:36-43
RUMC April 17, 2016

During the Civil War, a Union nurse treated wounded troops in a military hospital.  Though she cared deeply for her patients, this nurse was very much aware of her physical appearance because her face was disfigured when she was younger due to a fire.  When asked why she volunteered to work among so much death and carnage, she said, “The wounded soldiers don’t notice my scars as much as the others.  To them, I’m beautiful.”

And so it is when we have faith and do things for God, he doesn’t look at our sins and short coming, but when he looks into our souls, we are beautiful in his sight.

My scripture text, Acts 9:36-43, is about a woman named Dorcas who was known for the wonderful miracle that took place in her life, but also for legendary acts of service.
Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas.  She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” 39So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

Her Greek name was Dorcas and her Jewish name was Tabitha.  Both names mean gazelle.  In Biblical times, it was common to give an animal nickname to a woman.  A gazelle was a creature that had black stunning eyes and swift feet.

Now, if you read between the lines, it seemed that Dorcas died a premature death in the prime of life.  This must have greatly startled the entire Christian community of Lydda in that God would allow the death of someone who was still productive, kind, and had much to offer.

You see when Dorcas was alive; she found ways to serve the Lord through the skill of sewing.  She did what she could to make life easier for those in need.  Dorcas was the only woman in the New Testament who was identified as a disciple.  It is amazing of all the women mentioned in the New Testament, the title of disciple was given only to Dorcas.

Acts 9:36  Dorcas was devoted to good works and acts of charity.

The Bible does not give us a record of what she said, but we know a lot of what she did.  Her good deeds are what made Dorcas standout in her Christian community.  And whatever she did was used to reach others for the gospel.  Another way we can look at this, Dorcas was moved by the needs of others and was she quick to respond.

If you really think about it, a Christian disciple is one who not only has faith, but is a doer of good deeds.  When we lend a helping hand, it often softens a hard heart.  So whether we make meals, sew clothes, fix cars, hang drywall, work in a food pantry, or drive someone to their doctor’s appointments, God can use our service.  It can be used to point people to Christ.

Whenever our District Superintendent attends our worship service and gives the benediction, he usually quotes Francis of Assisi who said, “At all times, preach the gospel.  When necessary use words.”

Over the years, I have noticed that those who were greatly mourned in funeral and memorials services were people of faith and known for their service to others.

James 1:27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters if you say you have faith but do not have works?

One person who was universally recognized as a person of outstanding faith and service to others was Dr. Albert Schweitzer.  Earlier in his life, Dr. Schweitzer was a first rate theologian and accomplished musician.  Amidst the protest of his family, friends, and colleagues, he resigned his teaching post at the University and reentered the University as a student in their medical school.  Schweitzer did this with the express purpose to spread the gospel through medicine, and he completed his studies, in 3 years.  Dr. Schweitzer traveled to what is now known as Gabon where he built a hospital and a house for lepers.  For 50 years, he and his wife totally gave of themselves as they cared for thousands in a most difficult environment.

One of the strengths of the United Methodist Church is faith and service.  I personally find it is the best way to live and share the gospel.  Just like Dorcas in the book of Acts, we need to have faith and to be a doer of good deeds.  A true measure of our effectiveness as a church is not defined by what happens “in here” but what happens “out there”.

Most of you know that our church supports Dr. Belinda Forbes, who a dentist of the Accion Medica Christiana in Managua, Nicaragua.  There are also thousands of worldwide UM missionaries who spread the gospel; they do this is through health care, agriculture, teaching and disaster relief.  Their philosophy is this:  When the physical needs of people are met, they become spiritually open to the gospel.

Here in this church, many have become involved in the following:
Tri-Care Shelter, Hockanum Valley Community Council, Habitat for Humanity, Hockanum Valley Food Pantry, Kids Safe, Imagine No Malaria, Cornerstone Foundation Soup Kitchen, Winter coat and blanket drive, Holiday Gift Fund, and there are many others.

In several weeks, Hartford Catholic Charities will be with us to talk about how we as a church can help Syrian refugees.  I was told by the Catholic workers that the many Syrian Christians, the moment they arrive in country, will ask to be taken to a church just to give a prayer of thanksgiving.

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before people, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in Heaven. 

Let me get back to Dorcas.  She was not known as a great bible teacher.  I doubt she was a huge financial contributor, but her legacy was the compassion that she showed others.  It’s funny, after she was raised from the dead, we don’t hear what happened next.  I doubt she went on a speaking tour to other churches in Asia Minor.  I seriously doubt she wrote a pamphlet of her resurrection experience.  But what I am certain of is that after she regained her strength, Dorcas went back to her quiet way of making things for the needy.

Let me close with the words of John Wesley.
Do all the good you can.  By all the means you can.  In all the ways you can.  In all the places you can.  At all the times you can.  To all the people you can.  As long as you ever can. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, give us grace to serve our neighbors as did Dorcas in the book of Acts, as did the Union nurse during the Civil War, as did Albert Schweitzer to the people in Central Africa, as Dr. Forbes and her family in Nicaragua and to many in our congregation who serve in our community.  Speak to our hearts that we may be of service to you.