Cross
The First Week of Advent
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God always for you, because of God’s grace that was given to you in Christ Jesus. 
That is, you were made rich through him in everything: in all your communication and every kind of knowledge, in the same way that the testimony about Christ was confirmed with you.
The result is that you aren’t missing any spiritual gift while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also confirm your testimony about Christ until the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and you were called by him to partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
You Are Rich Enough to Share
A few years ago, I was asked to be the Chaplain of the Week at Lakeside Chautauqua Retreat.  The duties included preaching on Sunday morning at the big auditorium and a daily Bible study.  I decided to tie the entire week together by preaching and teaching from Esther, one of my favorite books of the Bible.
 
Saturday evening, I arrived at Lakeside ready.  I had my sermon memorized and all my Bible studies for the week written.  Although I am always nervous when I preach, I wasn’t any more nervous than usual.  While I prefer small groups, I had preached to large crowds before and I knew I could do it.  Then my host for the week announced that his friend Peter Storey was visiting him and would be my liturgist.  All of a sudden I stopped frozen to my spot.  He could not really expect me to preach in front of Peter Storey.
 
Dr. Storey was a hero of mine.  He is a South African Methodist bishop, former president of South African Council of Churches (SACC), and Professor Emeritus of at Duke University Divinity School.
His 40-year ministry in South Africa was defined by sustained opposition to the infamous apartheid government and its oppressive racist policies, first in Cape Town during the forced removals of people of color and as chaplain to Nelson Mandela. Later he was appointed by President Mandela to help select the members of the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I had heard him preach at Annual Conference once and wore out the tapes listening to it again and again.
 
There was no way that I could preach in front of this man, who I so admired.  I was upset enough to call Bishop Palmer and beg him to send someone else, which was ridiculous at that late date but I was desperate!
Bishop Palmer, in his usual calm way, told me that he knew Bishop Storey and that he was a very nice man.  He went on to say I would be fine.  Finally, he said, “You have everything you need.”
I think that is what Paul is saying to the people of the Corinthian church and to us today.  Paul is saying, “Don’t be afraid to act like disciples of Jesus, you have everything you need.”  Actually, he says they have more than they need, in fact they are rich – rich in grace, rich in spiritual gifts, rich in God’s love. 
 
So many times, we falter in doing the good that we want to do because we are afraid that we are not enough.  That we aren’t smart enough, educated enough, young enough, old enough, good enough. 
But Paul reminds us that through Jesus Christ, we are not just enough, we are rich.  To do good in the world, we do not have to be perfect or even close.  We just have to believe that God has given us enough love to share with someone else who believes they are enough!
 
I preached the sermon, I had prepared that morning.  After the sermon, Bishop Storey explained that his wife had recently died and that my sermon was just what he needed to hear that day.  Later one of the technicians told me that he asked for a CD of the sermon to take with him.
 
My life and ministry will never hold a candle to all that he has accomplished but God gave me enough grace and love that day to share with him just when he needed it.
Someone you know needs grace and love you and God has given you riches enough to share.