I’m here this morning in the focal point of where it all begins here at the Church of the Cross. As I stand here at the alter there’s a cross, on top of the great cross over my head, a cross behind me; 5 crosses on the top of the alter. It all reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and what it’s all about. We’re left the bread and the wine and we hear Jesus’ words: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
The question is: “What are we supposed to be doing?” See, we do the sacrament and that’s great (it’s all about us), but what more is there than that? What about all the folks out there?
We go to God’s word. Everything’s centered on that. We find in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel the first time Jesus really teaches his disciples is at the Sermon on the Mount. He tells them there that they are to be salt of the earth. Among the last words that Jesus says to his disciples, again in Matthew’s gospel in the 28th chapter, He says “Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then there’s this question, I think that’s in the minds of those disciples, of “How do we pull it off, Lord?” Then we go to the first chapter of the book of Acts where Jesus speaks to them about the Holy Spirit coming, and he gives them a strategy. He says to starts in Jerusalem and then go out into that greater area of Judea, and then head another circle and go to Samaria, and then further than that to the ends of the earth. Praise God.
One of the things I think we need to lift of is the very first teaching Jesus had where he said “You are the salt of the earth”. One of the things we’ve been getting in touch with for decades here at the Church of the Cross is that salt only has an impact when it gets out of the saltshaker. If we think about this historic building as being the saltshaker, and we who have been touched and reborn in the Spirit; If it’s just salt against salt nothing happens - we’d just as well be grains of sand inside the saltshaker. But salt is amazing. When salt touches something that is not salt, it is an aggressive agent of change. Salt changes everything it touches, and we’re supposed to leave the saltshaker, in the power of the Spirit, and go out and touch others in his name.
We’ve been doing that, and the first thing we realized we had to touch was the next generation below us and Cross Schools came out of that, then the Cross Schools campus came out. Our Jerusalem was Bluffton, praise God, and Old Town Bluffton at that. Then we spread out to greater Bluffton over on the Buckwalter Parkway. We got out there before there was anything there, but the Spirit told us “They’re coming. They’re coming. They’re coming. Be ready to be salt to this next generation.”
Now the Lord is speaking to us, and he’s saying “You’ve been right there in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and now I want you to go to Samaria. I want you to go to that next region out and I’m fixing to do some big things in Jasper County. I want you to go there. In My Name, and in the power of My Spirit; you can’t do it by yourself. But with the power of My Spirit, I want you to go to this Samaria, this next region out. I want you to understand too that it’s not the end of it. I want you to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. We’re taking it one step at a time. I want you go to your Samaria, which is Jasper County.”
That’s where we’re heading now. Why are we going there? The very same reason we got out of this historic saltshaker; To be salt. To be a transforming agent in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s not about us. We’re transformed and redeemed by the power of God’s Holy Spirit; Redeemed and transformed for a purpose. The Lord doesn’t use ditto marks. He wants us to create anew; New disciples, new generations of believers. Those that will fill pews and sit and chairs long after you and I are gone.
The strategy is there. We know that reaching young families with the needs that we can supply through Cross Schools and the Crosspoint worship services. We know that strategy works. The Lord’s saying now “Let’s reach out. Same strategy; go to your Samaria. Go to southern Jasper County.” That’s what we’re about in the capital campaign The Present for the Future. We’re laying the groundwork for those who’ll be coming. The Jasper Ocean Terminal is going to bring 200,000 new people to this area, and the bulk of them will be young families. In young families today, less than 5% of the children have ever been to church. That’s because the overwhelming majority of their parents haven’t been in churches before.
Jesus says “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few”. Well, we’re called to be laborers. We’re to do in our century what the disciples were called to do in the first century. We’re called to be salt. Transforming agents in the power of the Holy Spirit, redeeming the world in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Oh, may it be so. It starts here. It starts with sacrament, t starts with the Word, it starts with being obedient and faithful. Oh, my friends, it doesn’t end here. It doesn’t end until we get to the ends of the earth. And for the great privilege and trust the Lord has placed in us to carry that message, we can say today “Thanks be to God!” Amen.