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Reflection #1: University Church of Christ circa 1991.

There was a similar event every year at University Church of Christ in Abilene. At that event we just collected blue jeans. I recall as a young man how our preacher, Eddie Sharp, would come dressed in blue jeans and take his place at the austere pulpit in University’s old cathedral like worship center. It seemed wonderfully out of place. Here was this man in work clothes invading the holy arena of the pulpit.

But the impression was a positive one. It formed in me the notion that who I was on Monday-Saturday had to do with who I was on Sunday. It brought my worship life and my work life together. It made me realize that before God there was no casual side and formal side. It let me know that Sunday morning was not an isolated, restricted compartment to my life. I was shaped by that experience and I began to think of faith as something that had to do with action and service.

Reflection #2: How This Started.

Blue Jeans Sunday isn’t my idea. Not really. It isn’t anyone’s idea. It is a spirit. It is an emerging reality. Dare we say that God’s Spirit might have something to do with it? Let’s see, but if the events of today and the spirit that follows is anything like the growth leading up to this, then we all ought to be thrilled.

To start with, there was some discussion about how the Hope Chest needed donations of Blue Jeans before school started. A vague recollection of University collecting jeans made Karen and me think about that event and talking about it created some interest.

We put the event off (it was going to be "Jeans in July"). The Hope Chest board starting thinking about it, and they began to see the possibility of not just collecting jeans, but welcoming people to help stock them. And then the possibility of other work projects came to mind. Then someone suggested wearing blue jeans so we could work. And then it was suggested that the elders definitely should wear Blue Jeans. And this wonderful energy and creativity began to swell up. The sort of energy you encounter when people get interested in what God can do. And now the event really isn’t over. It will keep going beyond this day.

Reflection on Preaching

Chris in blue jeans in Mexico The jeans I am wearing today are the jeans I wore everyday at the worksite during our mission to Mexico. The joke on that trip was that I wasn’t “the preacher” that week. I was just a rebar-cutting, nail-pulling, wood-hauling worker. After all, what kind of preacher wears dirty jeans and a sweaty T-shirt? If I might differ, I humbly suggest that I did preach that week. Maybe I didn’t use words, but the actions preached and they served God’s purposes. Our work is also the kingdom of God.

There are so many of you here who are talented in so many types of works. I hope you regard your skills and service as valuable to the kingdom. Don’t bury those talents. Don’t disregard them. And certainly don’t be lazy in the kingdom of God – the mission is too important.

Reflection #4: Created to Do Good Works

What were you baptized for? Salvation, right? But what does it means to be saved? You were saved to do good works. Your baptism was your ordination to do good works. Work out your salvation. That doesn’t mean work for it. It means put it into action.

As you go along. Today we are aware of our mission and next month we will start praying for our mission works. The great commission of Jesus isn’t really “Go Ye.” That’s a bad translation. A better translation is “As you go on your way, make disciples.” We’ve focused on the GO part to the neglect of making disciples. And that has caused us to neglect being disciples. So missionaries and evangelists are the only ones who go. But that’s not what it means to follow Jesus. Being a disciple means baptizing and teaching as you go on your way.

As you go on your way today, you are going out to participate in good works. Those good works are works that glorify God, so that means that they worship him. As you go out today on your way you are going out there to find Jesus and join in with what he’s doing.

I want you to realize that when you are cutting branches over here, that you are worshipping God. Every sentence you write with a pen [on a greeting card] is worship to God. Every step of the walk [on campus] and every breath of prayer are worshipping God. Every box you move, every shelf you stack, every tire you wash worships God if you offer that as a joyous sacrifice to him and surrender it to his purposes. How is it worship? I’m glad you asked ...

Reflection #5: Worship is Moving

Worship is active. It is a verb. One of the oldest definitions of worship is “the work of the people.” We can get so focused on worship being about us and serving our members. We can make our preferences the measuring stick of worship. We can come to the assembly and sit and wait for something we can get out of it.

I love the song that I learned on a mission trip to the Caribbean so many years ago. They sing, “You’ve got to move, you got to move – when my Lord he gets ready, you got to move!” And then they add in verbs ... “You’ve got to preach." "You’ve got to pray," etc.

In most places in the world and throughout history, worship is much more active than we often regard it. The people don’t just sit. They gather. They bring the bread and wine. They serve it. They wait on tables. They talk to one another. They stand and sing. It’s not about being entertained; it’s about the work of God’s Spirit motivating people to do right.

We talk about a living God. Paul said that “In God we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28.) He was trying to translate the living reality of God to a bunch of philosophers in Athens who thought that God was far away. He was quoting their own philosophers. Intellectually, Paul was dressing up in such a way that he could relate to the world around him.

God is active and our world needs to see that. Now I ask you, how can we sit around idly and lazily in the presence of such a God? We ought to at least jump off our pew and bow down, yes?

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 27 September 2009

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