7 ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
Over the next few weeks we will explore some ideas and we will embrace them. Our first one is Embracing questions, today we turn to the sermon on the mount to see what Jesus says about asking questions.
When I was first starting out in ministry as a youth director, I had a youth leader who was a former engineer at Boeing, he also played a lot of golf. I would find him reading books all about the mental game of golf. Playing golf with him was great but extremely humbling. But I digress…I have a distinct memory of one youth committee meeting, you guessed it, we had regular meetings with youth leaders, youth, parents, and others to help guide and shape the direction of the youth program. One meeting around budget time he said, "Why do we have a youth program?" I was taken aback by this question. What do you mean why do we have a youth program? Do you mean you don’t think I’m a good youth director or not the one to lead us? Do you think youth ministry is unimportant? Do you want to cut the budget?
Let’s just say I got hot and spun out and I wasn’t the only one. When we settled down were able to hear him. We realized he was asking what is our purpose, and once we have it, how to we achieve our goals? When we were able to embrace the question, when the question was not seen as an attack on identity or the value of the ministry we were able to have a really great conversation which led to a lot of really great relationships and ministry. Over the years that youth leader became an invaluable resource for planning, visioning, and making sure we stayed on track.
My dad tells a story about when I was a pre-schooler and I pointed to the thing that hung on hinges, had a knob, and separated my room from the hallway and said, "What is that?" my dad responded, "It’s a door." I asked, "why?" and he told me that’s what they call it and I said, "why?" He tried to explain the purpose of doors, but my next question was, "why?" Flummoxed I think he probably took me outside to play in the sandbox.
In our world, we are often wary of questions. We sometimes don’t ask questions because we don’t want to appear to not understand, or we don’t want to ask questions because we think it might be rude, or we don’t want to ask questions because we think that someone else must already have the answer, or we don’t ask questions because we’ve always done it that way. Sometimes we don’t ask questions because raising our hand or interrupting or having someone look at you is terrifying and very unwanted.
I think that these are perfectly legitimate reasons to not ask questions, but I want to point you to this moment in Matthew, as Jesus is concluding his longest recorded sermon, known as the Sermon on the Mount. Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Today, I want us to practice embracing questions, asking questions, and then listening for what is being offered.
I wanted to start off with some information about some of the questions that have come up in the last few weeks about some of the work of the church.
The first is to talk a little bit about Night Church on October 29 and our vision for it….
The next is to talk a little bit about the Salem Youth Collective and the Salem Welcoming Faith Leaders partnerships that are being built.
Warming Center volunteers
Finally, I want to talk a little about what it means to be a deacon or a ruling elder. What the nominating committee was talking about a little earlier.
Koolulam is a social-musical initiative, meant to bring together people from any and all walks of life. Our Idea is to simply stop everything for a few hours and just sing - together.
Matisyahu, an American, Jewish, reggae, rapper his song here is called One Day.