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The year is 1520. A 37 year old man in present day Germany was under tremendous pressure from the Pope. This man was a monk himself having been ordained to the priesthood in 1508 at the age of 25. He was frustrated with a church that he loved deeply. He had seen how the church was trying to raise money through the sale of indulgences. People could buy their forgiveness by giving money to the church. This was an idea that offended his beliefs. Forgiveness could not be purchased; forgiveness had nothing to do with money. Do you know the name of the man who Im talking about. Its Martin Luther. SLIDE Heres a famous picture of this Protestant Reformer. In 1517 this man had written a document that changed the course of history. He had nailed something called the 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. Pope Leo had written Luther a letter saying that unless he recanted much of what he had written that Luther could no longer be a priest. But instead Luther took the letter from the Pope and burned In 1520 he was writing down another idea that would change the course of history. In August of 1520 Luther wrote an article to the nation called To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation. He put forward an idea that resonates with Protestants today. He said this: SLIDE That the pope or bishop anoints, makes tonsures, ordains, consecrates, or dresses differently from the laity, may make a hypocrite or an idolatrous oil-painted icon, but it in no way makes a Christian a spiritual human being. In fact, we are all consecrated priests through baptism, as St. Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 said, You are a royal priesthood and a priestly kingdom. Two months later Luther wrote On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. He wrote this: SLIDE How then if they are forced to admit that we are all equally priests, as many of us are baptized, and by this way we truly are. On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church From Martin Luther came an idea that connects Protestants worldwide. The idea is called the Priesthood of all believers. As Protestants we believe that all of us are priests. We dont need a special mediator to approach Godwe already have one in Jesus Christ.

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Another way to describe the priesthood of all believers is everyone is minister. That is the title of this last sermon in a three week stewardship sermon series. With that introduction Id like to encourage you to get out this brochure that is in the bulletin. Each week in this brochure I include a devotion. This week I wrote a Bible Study on the book of Ephesians. Ephesians has six chapters, and Im encouraging you to read a chapter a day. Would you do that with me? You have an opportunity to grow in your own knowledge of Ephesians. Send me an E-mail and let me know what your thoughts on this book. You also have a place to take sermon notes. Im guessing that God is going to speak through me and share something with you that youll want to write down. You also have a place for prayer requests. This week I asked on my Facebook page what the priesthood of believers means to folks. I was very pleased with what people wrote. One man wrote about the priesthood of believers. SLIDE That God empowers believers through the power of the Holy Spirit to read and interpret the Bible in accordance with Gods desiresthereby empowering us to be earthly witnesses to the kingdom of God. A woman wrote this: SLIDE That we, as laypersons cant leave any aspect of the church to the professional clergy. We must be involved in development/definition of our faith; involved in the life of the church; and, involved in service to the world. WE ALL are called by God. A pastor wrote a longer response. SLIDE Before the reformation, priestly theology deemed that only those ordained by the church could mediate through prayer, absolution, scriptural interpretation, sacraments. The reformation reclaimed that every believer could petition directly to God, could hear anothers confession and affirm forgiveness of sins, could read and interpret scripture for themselves, that elders were as important as clergy in the administration of the sacraments SLIDE The priesthood of all believers was a game changer, for sure!

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This is a game changer. Weve experienced some game changers this last week at Chain of Lakes. This last Tuesday eleven of us from Chain of Lakes gathered to watch the Presbytery vote on our new property proposal. Who all attended that meeting? Would you stand up? I wrote a blog called, A Night to Remember. It was inspiring for us at Chain of Lakes to experience the support that the Presbytery has for us. There is a lot of good will among the Presbytery for Chain of Lakes Church. This property will be a game changer. . I believe the way we organize our ministry around gifts is a game changer. Even if you are relatively new to our congregation think about how powerful it would be if a congregation first thought about the needs of the people who came instead of the needs of the institution; think if we had a discipleship culture where we thought and prayed and strategized about helping people become the people God desires for them to be. Thats a game changer. We can do this. We can do this when we live out and create a system based on Luthers idea of the priesthood of all believers or Everyone is a minister. Today were looking at using our gifts as an expression of our own love for God. We cant talk about our own love for God unless we first talk about Gods love for us. God has a deep and abiding love for us and wants to set up shop in each of our hearts. This is amazing. SLIDE This is a picture Ive shared before. The picture was painted by Holman Hunt in a makeshift hut in 1854. It is based on a Scripture in Revelation. Jesus is knocking on the door of our heart. He wants to come on in. Whats significant about the picture is the placement of the door handle. Its not on the outside of the door. Its on the inside. Jesus doesnt force himself into our heart. He loves us so much that he waits for us to open up the door.

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Theres all sorts of reasons to invite Jesus into our heart to set up shop. The best reason is to experience the gift of grace he has given us. Jesus wants us to experience this amazing love unconditional love and acceptance. We receive something from Jesus that we wont receive anyplace else in the universe. When that love sets up shop in our heart that love inspires us to love others and share our gifts. To love God we first have to realize in our hearts how deeply God loves us. SLIDE Another great leader of the Protestant Reformation was John Calvin. He wrote this: [the Holy Spirit] enflames our hearts with the love of God and with zealous devotion. From this effect upon us [the Holy Spirit] is justly called fire. For by the inspiration of Gods power [the Holy Spirit] breathes divine life into us that we are no longer actuated by ourselves, but are ruled by Gods action and prompting. Gods Spirit causes us to love God. How would you describe your own love for God. How warm is our heart for God? Lets compare it to an oven. What temperature would we is it? Is it 500hot and its heat coming out of the oven; is it 350cooking along nicely; or is the heat of our own love for God no different than the temperature around us. Id like you to write your own number in your sermon notes what is your heat number? Let me share a simple prayer with you this week. You can say this prayer at any time of the day. The prayer is this, Increase the heat number of my heart. I encourage you to write this down and put it in a place where youll see it. Increase the heat number of my heart. We have eight Core Values at Chain of Lakes. It wouldnt be out of line to incorporate another one. Everyone is a minister. If you can take one idea from this sermon take this one. I am a minister. Say that with me. I am a minister. ___ you are a minister; you are a minister. I know that Gloria Ivers is going to watch this sermon on-line this week. Gloria, you are a

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minister. I know that my Dad watches this sermon on-line. Dad, you are a minister. Whoever else watches this sermon on-line. You are a minister. At the retreat yesterday Judy Urban talked about a paradigm shift that needs to be made in order to have a system of shared ministry. One change we need to make is instead of saying the word volunteer we say the word minister. None of us at Chain of Lakes are volunteers. We are all ministers who have a ministry. When you share your time at Chain of Lakes its important that you see it as a ministry. When you share your time on Sunday morningthats a ministry. When you are a door greeterthats a ministry. You dont know whats happened to that person during the week. WelcomeIm really glad to see you. Im glad youre here. Could we at Chain of Lakes do our best not to use the word, volunteer. Lets use the word, minister. Were all ministers who have a ministry. . Its easy to think, I thought the staff were ministers that we were hired to be ministers. We are ministers. You are right. I am a minister. Just as the other staff at Chain of Lakes are ministers. Jennifer is a minister, Kellie is a minister, Joanne is a minister, and Sherri is a minister. Its easy for people to think that one of the purposes in a church is to watch the staff do ministry. If I used a football analogy the staff is on the field doing ministry and the rest of the congregation is in the stands watching. I think a better way to think of this metaphor is that the staff are the coaches on the sideline and were helping you to do ministry. Right now our staff is writing a staff covenant. This covenant sets the expectations for staff and future staff at Chain of Lakes. One of the expectations is that the staff will empower people to be ministry. Well know that this idea that everyone is a minister has gotten deep into our congregation when the people of our church can identify their ministry.

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One of my dreams is for every person to be able to articulate their ministry. I would love for each person here to say, My name is ___. My ministry is _____. Our ministry is the way we use our gifts to serve and bring glory to God. Your ministry doesnt have to be at Chain of Lakes. Your ministry could be with your family, or your ministry could be at your work or your ministry through another organization. The beauty of a church is we can have a shared ministry. Judy Urban shared a definition of shared ministry yesterday that is worth for all of us to know. SLIDE Shared ministry lives out the affirmation that God calls all people to ministry. As disciples at faith communities, we are invited to serve together in a spirit of mutuality as partners. Working collaboratively, we strive to discover, develop, engage, and support the gifts of each person and, as responsible stewards, to participate in Gods ongoing creative and restoring activity in our communities and the world. A week from tomorrow the Steering Committee is going to set up some goals for 2012. One of my personal goals is we can start to set up a system where we incorporate this idea of shared ministry. Judy Urban taught us yesterday the elements of a shared ministry system. The ideas are this: SLIDE Planning Discovering Gifts Designing Recruiting Interviewing Matching Training Supervising Supporting Evaluating Managing Data Risk Management.

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This is very consistent with what the writer of Ephesians wrote about what happens when people are equipped to do ministry. He wrote about the purpose of gifts. SLIDE To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up 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. Ephesians 4:12-13 Today were handing in our Estimate of Giving cards for the year. I havent talked too much about these Estimate of Giving cards during this stewardship sermon series over the last three weeks. I did write a letter to you and wrote how Amy & I approach our giving in an E-mail I sent. One of the reasons we give is so we can develop this type of congregation. If we can be a congregation for everyone is equiped for the work of ministry, where we come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity and the measure of the full stature of Christ, we will be a powerful congregation. We will be unique as a congregation among congregations. We give our finances so that we can become this type of congregationThis is our hope and this is our dream. Our financial giving is a reflection of this passage. The write of Ephesians went on. SLIDE We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by peoples trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working property, promotes the bodys growth in building itself up in love. Ephesians 4:14-16 Let me give you an example. Im going to take a risk in sharing this example because I wasnt able to talk to him in person about the example. One person who has a ministry is Gary Wassam. He has a ministry to bring people to People serving People. People serving People

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serves meals to homeless folks in Minneapolis. Its a wonderful organization (say more about People serving People). For at least two days of every month Gary brings people to serve food at People Serving People. Shortly after we started Chain of Lakes Church hes brought people to People Serving People. How many people here have gone to People Serving People? Ive only gone once, and Im sorry that I havent gone more. Gary has enthusiasm for this ministry. Hes been doing this ministry for a long time. I remember on his Facebook page a couple months ago, Gary noted that he had been going to People serving People for over ten years. I bring up this example not to bring special attention to Gary. Just like when I talked about John Ivers last week and the work he did with Kwanzaa I wasnt trying to bring special attention to him. I shared these examples so we can see the impact that a person has who is sharing their gifts in a ministry that reflects their love of God. Look at much influence one person has who has a ministry. Look at all of the people who have gone to People Serving People because of this ministry. Think about how all of us have a better understanding of homelessness because of this ministry. My name is ___, and I have a ministry. Ministry is not done by people with a Rev in front of their names. Its done by people who know their gifts and want to use them for God. Everyone is a minister; Luther was right. Its the priesthood of all believers. Lets live that out at Chain of Lakes