It’s Not About What We Want

By Rev. Cindy Marino

In today’s world, we can get exactly what we want, exactly the way we want it. Want a Grande Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte with Soy, extra foam? You got it! Need new shoe polish in navy blue without searching ten different stores? Order it online and it can be on your porch by evening. And if it’s not right? There are other places to go. It really is a great time to be alive.

And then we come to church.

And we’re asked to put aside our own wants and even our own needs at times for the greater purpose to which God is calling us.

What other organization asks that of us?  Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others.” The church is us, offering ourselves in union with Christ’s offering for us. We come to give, not to receive. 

The church is unique in both its purpose and mission. The overall purpose for the Church has been consistent since Jesus launched it through the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

But the mission of this church changes over time. The mission is the specific goal that God lays before us for this time and this place. We cannot possibly ever complete God’s ongoing purpose, but we can complete the mission if we look past our own desires and ask what it is God is calling us to be and to do; how is God calling us to stay firm in our faith? 

Several years ago, when the population of Naperville was exploding, the mission of Grace was to inspire and care for those who were coming in the doors. That was challenge enough! 

But today, the mission is different. Today’s mission requires each member of Grace to consider why Grace UMC exists: What unique message does Grace have to offer this community, and how are we to share that so that others can hear. What has it meant to you to be held in prayer or to experience God in worship? What is it like to see God through someone else’s eyes, to see someone’s tears when they realize how much they are valued; to find purpose for your life beyond achievement? How might these realizations bless those beyond this congregation?

Grace has developed a new outreach video that will be played before every movie at the Ogden 6 Theaters for ten weeks beginning Friday, November 22. Supported by a grant, the 15-second spot will feature a paraphrase of John 6:60-68. Jesus’ disciples are venting a bit: “This is a hard teaching,” they say. “Who can stand it!”  And scripture says, “Many turned back and no longer followed him.” 

The words on the screen will then be, “The world needs you to stay: Stay Generous, Compassionate, Peaceful, Curious, Humble, Caring, Open, Connected, Grateful, Aware, Loving." And it will be signed,

The world needs the people of Grace to stay … stay focused on God and the mission God is revealing for us in this time and place. Stay grateful for all with which God has blessed us. And stay rested in the peace of Christ!