Making Your Mark Sermon
“Making Your Mark” September 15th, 2019 at Harbor Church
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”
(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 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. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s 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 properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Exodus 31:1-11The Construction of the Tabernacle and it’s furnishing; Bezalel and Oholiab
Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. 4 He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. 5 He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft! 6 “And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make:
7 the Tabernacle;
the Ark of the Covenant;
the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement;
all the furnishings of the Tabernacle;
8 the table and its utensils;
the pure gold lampstand with all its accessories;
the incense altar;
9 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils;
the washbasin with its stand;
10 the beautifully stitched garments—the sacred garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments for his sons to wear as they minister as priests;
11 the anointing oil;
the fragrant incense for the Holy Place.
The craftsmen must make everything as I have commanded you.”
“Making Your Mark” September 15th, 2019 at Harbor Church
Marks on the Door
It seems like every family home I’ve ever been in had at least one door with pencil marks on it. Sometimes it was the bathroom door, sometimes the inside of a closet-
Do you know the marks I’m talking about? The ones that kept track of the children’s height as they grew. My parents made marks with names and dates of their three boys, and I think that they kept better records of our growth than the family pediatrician! When I started a family of my own, we did the same thing four the four children, and we’d compare the marks each year and try to predict who would eventually grow the tallest?... who’s mark would be the highest? I’ll bet some of your families did the same thing. It’s human nature to want to leave our mark on the world . to keep track of growth, or accomplishments, of rites of passage, of landmark moments in our lives.
Speaking of landmarks, on the shore we keep track of the tides, lows for safe boating in shallow waters, and highs so that we can anticipate and plan for storm surges. high water marks are recorded on signs, or the sides of buildings to reflect an all-time high. But the expression high water mark has come mean something more: it has become an idiom that alludes to the peak of something, as in crowning achievement, or noteworthy attainment.
The apostle Paul spoke in similar terms in our reading today. He spoke of growing into spiritual maturity, of growing up to the measure of the full stature of Christ. He was speaking in the context of using the gifts that God has given us to serve others. He was talking about using our God-given talents for the work of ministry, for the good of others. The high water mark, the mark on the back of the bathroom door by which to evaluate how we are doing has been made by none other than Jesus himself. We are all challenged to grow up to the full measure and stature of Christ.
Your mark doesn’t have to make history. I’m currently studying for a course in Baptism History, so that I can transfer my credentials into the American Baptist Church, so that I can become an official American Baptist pastor. As I said a year ago when we were first getting to know each other, I was born a Roman Catholic, Ordained as an Evangelical Presbyterian, served as a United Methodist, but I’m gonna be buried as a Baptist! (Hopefully, no time soon). The early Baptists made their mark in history, but it was one of very small and humble beginnings. In the 16th century, As a part of the protestant reformation, a small group of separatists fled to Holland to seek relief from religious oppression in England. Eventually they returned, and Thomas Helwys gathered a group of 10 people together in what was noted in the public records as the first Baptist Church in England. A group of merely TEN PEOPLE made their mark and now we trace some of our earliest Baptists roots back to their efforts. When Helwys died, John Murton became his successor. He was eventually imprisoned for his teachings. However, he survived for 10 years and while in prison his writings helped plant eight more Baptist congregations in and around London. One, man, making marks on a piece of paper, made a huge mark in our beloved Baptist tradition.
Your mark doesn’t have to be big.
Most big accomplishments, most high water marks starts with a series of small marks that eventually combine to make a big difference, a noteworthy mark in our world.
Every building, from the most humble home to the most towering edifice, begins with little marks. It starts with an idea. Then, An architect make marks on a paper and creates a blueprint. The a builder makes marks on a paper , first with a signed contract to make the building, and on order forms for the building supplies. A carpenter is hired, and makes marks on piece of woods, one after another, then cuts them and begins to put them together. The other contractors make marks on pipes and electrical wiring and conduit, and before you know it , the whole thing comes together. Each person contributes their own expertise and as they work with each other, the building takes shape. Just like our reading, in Ephesians about the church. We read it is “joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” Each of us has a part to contribute, a mark to make. But many of us think to ourselves, “who am I? There’s nothing special about me, heck, half the people in my church and community probably don’t even know my name!” Well, do you know the names of the craftsmen: Bezalel and Oholiab? I had forgotten them, I’m still not sure how to pronounce their names, but what a difference they made in the lives of the community of the Israelites . These were the men who helped to construct the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary where the community worshipped and offered ritual sacrifices in the practice of the early Jewish religion. These were the men who built the Tent of Meeting, the Ark of the Covenant, and created all the furnishings and utensils used by the priests to lead the people in the practice of their faith. This is what we read about these two relatively unknown men:
The Lord said to Moses, Look, I have specifically chosen I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts…And I have personally appointed Oholiab to be his assistant. What’s more, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things [needed]…
What were their qualifications? Bezalel was specifically chosen by God to be His master craftsman, to lead the work effort. And Oholiab was personally appointed to be his sidekick, his assistant. Were they up for the task? They were. Why?, because they were full of the Spirit who gave them all the wisdom, ability and expertise they needed. And because of their faithful service to the covenant community, the worship and work of this community flourished and prospered. Brothers and sisters, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, it doesn’t matter if people remember your name. What really matters is what you have done for the kingdom of God that will remain, the mark that you have made.
Your mark is unique to you.
I believe that the Lord specifically choses each of us to do something wonderful for Him and his people. When he does this, he also gives us all the skills and expertise that we need to get the job done. Have you ever asked God, “What have you personally appointed for me to do?” What do you have for me that can really make a difference. If God appoints you to the task, be assured that you will have everything that you need to accomplish it.
Your mark can be indelible.
Each of us has the potential to leave a lasting mark for others.
It can be like the indelible ink of a Magic Marker. Nowadays we give our children water soluble markers, washable markers that rinse off easily and completely. But we probably can all remember stories of the times that they got the other kind of markers in their hands, and the artwork they created on our walls of furniture that never did come all the way off. Or maybe we’ve made the mistake of using an the wrong kind of marker on the whiteboard instead of the dry-erase kind! Those marks last and we remember them! So lets choose the marks that we make with our lives with care. Lets move forward making good marks that last- in the ministries we choose to serve in and in the areas we feel that Lord calling us to participate in. If we can do this, individually and together, our small , faithfully contributions to the work of the church and the kingdom of God can combine to create a lasting legacy for those who follow after us. We can all make a difference, as each one of us makes our mark.