Sermon- Kim Cape- June 19, 2015

Kim Cape-smWhat Would Wesley Do?
Dr. Kim Cape- June 19, 2015

[this text was provided by our translator for the hearing impaired, Loveeta Baker, who did a transcription of her sermon. This is being provided in a rough-draft format.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.]

 

I am delighted to be with you this morning. I was visiting with some of the clergy and met one of your new district superintendents which reminded me of my first appointment as a district superintendent. The district to which I was appointed had a 6:00 breakfast at Annual Conference. Don’t ask me why.

I was so excited to meet my new colleagues, I bought a new dress, it was Navy with gold buttons and I was ready to go, 5:30 in the morning. I had to valet my car the night before because the self parking was full. I employ standing in front of the hotel waiting for the valet to bring my car and this big black suburban roared up this is Corpus Christi Texas, full of drunk Texans. Great big Suburban screams into the parking lot, throws on the brakes, five drunk Texans crawl out and the driver gets out and throws me the keys.

The Lord will keep you humble. Hear now the scripture lesson.

Ephesians chapter four, verse 11. The gifts he gave were that some would be Apostles, some on prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the Saints for the work of ministry for the building up of the Body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God to maturity. To the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Let us pray. Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable and pleasing unto you, oh Lord our rock in the hour redeemer, amen.

My life goes on in endless song,
above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the far off hymn that hails a new creation.

Through all the tomb, strive I hear its music ringing
It sounds an echo in thy soul, how can I keep from singing?
No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to the rock I am clinging,
Since love is Lord of heaven and Earth, how can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear, tyrants and
when friends rejoice both far and near, how can I keep from singing?
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging
Since love is Lord of heaven and Earth,
How can I keep from singing?

Today is a great day. Today this body, all of us together with your bishop, Larry Goodpaster, Bishop Goodpaster will provision you to provisional membership in the United Methodist Church in this Western North Carolina Annual Conference.

You are following in the footsteps of giants. The footsteps of Howard Allred, Jody Seymour, John Christie, and Tyler James Howell, Barbara Barden, Jim Ferry, Donald Jenkins, Julian Aldridge, Duke Eison, Ashley Crowder Stanley, Bishop Lawrence McCluskey, your forbearers, brothers and sisters, they all knelt where you will kneel and made the vows you will make, and look what mighty work has done within them. Building up the Body of Christ.

Some of you are probably here today because of their encouragement. You too will touch many lives as you preach Christ, give spiritual guidance, perform weddings, confirmations, baptisms and funerals. Because of your ordination, your priestly function, you will represent God to the people, and the people to God.

Here is what I imagine John Wesley would say to you today: Pray, study, be a great, great, great preacher, be part of this connection, and grow up.

This is hard. All of those things together are hard. If you want to do something easy, do computers or law. Wesley would say pray constantly. Pray constantly, have a regular spiritual discipline, do all in your power to stay connected to God. You must. How else will you make sense of this life? How can you make sense of the senseless murder of Christian people in a Wednesday night prayer meeting? How can you make sense of so many pastoral needs? Being a pastor will bring you your greatest pain and your greatest joy. You will be invited into people’s homes, into their heart and lives, helping them deal with their excruciating loss, helping them celebrate their triumphs of new birth, baptisms, confirmations, weddings. The holy moments of life. In the holy moments of life you will be there to bless and hallow those moments.

People will tell you things they never tell anybody else ever. Not even their spouse, and you must not tell anybody else either, not even your spouse. They will tell you their daughter is a heroin addict. They will tell you they don’t think there’s a God. They will tell you they have been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I had a young couple ask me to bury their baby and brought the baby in a shoe box to the funeral.

How do you deal with that? Prayer. Prayer. Prayer.

You will also have amazing excitement and celebration. The whole gamut of human life, you are invited into those precious moments.

People will know you, as well. They will know your favorite food, they will know the car you drive, the vacations you take, they know your salary. And they come week after week to listen to what you have to say, you better have something to say. That’s why Wesley will say, “pray, and then Wesley will say, “Study.” If you think your study is over because you are out of school, think again.

Be a life long learner. There’s a reason Cokesbury had Wesley on a horse reading a book. He was an Oxford professor, he read seven languages, he told lay preachers if they didn’t like to read don’t bother being part of the circuit. A mentor told me early in my ministry, it’s helped me immeasurably. He said, Kim, pick an area of ministry you need to know more about in order to be effective, and you read a book a month in that discipline for a year. Read a book a month in that discipline for a year, and at the end of that year, you will be able to have a conversation in that field. You will understand the questions, you will understand the dialogue that the conversation. If you have done that for a year and decide you need to do something else, pick another discipline. If not, if you need to continue that, do it another year.

You have to study. You have to study.

When I was a district superintendent I would travel around and go to pastor studies and I could look at their book shelf and tell you, either, when they went to seminary and when they stopped reading. Or, if they were still reading, by looking at their office.

A book a month for a discipline, for a year. Do that and New Testament stewardship, spiritual formation, ethics, church growth, leadership, there’s lots to learn. If you do this, maybe people would want to hear you preach week after week. Maybe.

Wesley would also support public education. Wesley started Kingswood School for coal miners’ children for them to be able to attend Oxford and Cambridge. Education fights drugs, gives people a future with home, self respect, Nelson Mandela was a graduate of a Methodist mission school. He said education was the most powerful weapon in the world.

The state of Texas and the state of Tennessee figure out how many prisons they are going to need by the reading level of the fourth graders. Is that true in North Carolina? That’s chilling. What if your United Methodist Church made it their mission to walk across the street to the elementary school and read to the children two or three times a week. Retired schoolteachers in your congregation, walk with them across the street. You will keep children out of prison. You will.

95% of the people in prison cannot read. If you cannot read, your job options, career options are crime, selling drugs or robbing a 7/11.

Share your Methodist DNA, the love of learning and education. Share that with your mission field. Wesley would say also, study, pray, and be a great, great great preacher. Preach like the Apostle Paul. This is a true story.

My first church, I was so green that cows grazed on me. Fortunately, people were eager to help. I had a lady walk out after church one Sunday and said, Kim, good sermon, so much better than you did last week.

When I did new church growth and developments for the southwest Texas conference we would interview pastors starting a new church and invite them to bring their spouses to the interview. Always, the very serious question to these want to be new church start pastors was: Are you a good preacher? They were all great preachers. When we asked the question: Are you a great preacher? I would always watch the spouse.

If he or she rolled their eyes, or looked trapped, you would know. You would know.

So friends, work on your preaching. I had a pastor say I am not a good preacher, didn’t work on his preaching. I said work on your preaching, he said I am not a good preacher. Work on your preaching. Do Dale Carnegie, Toastmasters, do something. Wesley said shall we send the dead to raise the dead?

Here’s what we offer the world, freedom from sin, freedom from fear, freedom of death, release of our self centeredness. Isn’t that good news? Wesley would say: Pray, study, preach, and stay connected. Stay connected. Be part of the connection to change the world you need companions, you need help. You can’t do it alone. We are much stronger together than apart. Pray for each other, pray together. This is very hard work. There will be times when you will be deeply discouraged, angry, hurt, and disappointed.

Stick together. Support each other. And laity, you didn’t think you were going to get out of this, did you? Do your part. Your partnership is crucial. Pastor/Parish committee people, raise your hands. All right. It’s your job to help your pastor succeed. Do I have an amen?

It takes two to tango. The unique thing about the United Methodist clergy connection is that we are part of something big. How big? Watch.

Video: People often say, what do you do? It’s difficult to know what to say because if I say to you that I am a reverend, which I am, that conjures up certain images in people’s minds as to what I might be. So I like to be a little bit creative in telling people what I do. I met a lady on an airplane, I said hello, hello. I said where are you going? She said I am going to Singapore. Then said where are you going? I said I am going to Australia. I said what do you do? She told me.

Then she said what do you do?

I said, well, I work for a global enterprise. She said do you? I said yes, I do. I said we have outlets in nearly every country of the world. She said have you? I said yes we have. We have hospitals, and hospices and homeless shelters, we do marriage work, orphanages, feeding programs, educational programs. I said we do all sorts of justice and reconciliation things, basically we look after people from birth to death, we deal in the area of behavioral alteration.

She went, wow! It was so loud a wow, loads of people turned around and looked at us. She said what’s it called? I said it’s called the church.

[Applause].

That’s it really, isn’t it? If we are a follower of Jesus, parts of a global enterprise, not only global, but intergalactic because it includes everyone who has come before us.

Rev. Dr. Cabe: Wow. The church has 1500 deacons, 427 local pastors and 490 part time local pastors, you are part of something big. Wesley said the world is my Parish. It’s yours too.

We call this conferencing. There’s a church conference, a district conference, Annual Conference, jurisdictional conference and at each level we organize, discuss, plan ministries in larger and larger areas. Each conversation is about mission and ministry that reaches more and more people. Being connected is hard work and we sometimes disappoint each other, but you know at the heart of our community there’s a word of forgiveness. Every time you celebrate the sacrament, every time you break bread, the celebrant says, in the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven, and the congregation says back you are forgiven you are

At the heart of our worship is the word of forgiveness and we must enact, do what we know, we must do what we know.

Finally, Wesley would say pray, study, preach, be connected, Wesley would say: Grow up. Grow up. Realize that you are called, yes, you are special, and yes, you are now under obedience. You are now under obedience. The elders under the obedience to go where they are sent, there is humility in the office of elder and deacon. The humility of elders to go where they are sent, the deacon, sacramental authority of Holy Communion belongs to the elder. We all defer to those under whom we are authority.

Christ is the Savior, not us.

Today you join the company of the committed, the connection, you step into the stream of those Saints who have given their life to Christ in Christ’s church. My prayer is you will pray, study preach, like the Apostle Paul. Be a lively member of the connection, and grow up. We are expecting great things from you.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging
Since love is Lord of heaven and Earth,
How can I keep from singing?

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