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Dead Ringers, November 15, 2015

Sermon: Dead Ringer in Feeding the Flock Series

Lead Scriptures: I Samuel (Hannah offering her son to God); Hebrews 11 and Mark

In our first feeding the flock sermon, we approached lessons from The Cracker Barrel :

We talked about ambiance, abundant servings of a variety of options and attending to the details.

And we ate chicken and dumplings, coleslaw and cornbread.

Last Sunday we learned from the Colonel himself, founder of Kentucky (not Southern) Fried Chicken.

A man who challenged the status quo hamburger.

A man who created a secret “original” recipe with 11 herbs and spices.

A man who was willing at the age of 65 to take his first social security check and invest in “buckets”

A move from individualized servings to family take out. Historic for the restaurant industry.

From our Mark text, we revisited the Original Recipe from the Woman’s Mite…

Faithfulness is created by seeking, finding and offering what we’ve found.

Growth happens when we are willing to seek, when we recognize new truths or discover old ones and

When we offer our findings to God.

Oh, by the way, we ate five buckets of chicken, some really great string beans and 4 gallons of mac and cheese.

So, today… we continue.

I want to tell you why I think this concept is so important.

This book, Feeding the Flock, is actually an old book.

Like the church, the restaurant industry is required to

Read the culture and respond accurately and quickly?

Who offers us more choices than those who sell us food?

Where can contamination cost so much?

Where can creativity be more explored and repeatedly delivered?

This is an industry where the stakes are high.

This is an industry where intentionality is crucial.

This is an industry where sustained good work is required.

This is an industry where offering choices is really important.

This is an industry where complaints are taken seriously.

This is an industry where quality repeated matters?

If you do not retain your customer base and expand it, you will not survive.

There is that other piece too – Jesus is constantly teaching in the midst of eating.

And it seems that some of Jesus’ greatest teachings were in the midst of eating.

It is at breakfast on the beach that Jesus is revealed as the Risen Lord.

It is dinner in the midst of a religious holiday where our highest sacrament is born.

“Feeding the flock” is Jesus’ commandment to those disciples he left…

If you love me, ‘feed my sheep.”

I know my current calling is to feed this flock.

I know within the Scriptures there is what we need to eat.. digest.. and grow.

I so badly want to somehow ring the right bell, the right way.

Taco Bell was the first fast food to introduce the value menu.

It didn’t take long, before others followed…

And dollar tacos were competing with dollar McDoubles.

At the same time, there was a movement towards healthier eating in this great country of ours.

And Taco Bell decided in the late 90s to introduce a lower fat menu..

They called it “Border Lights” …

It was the same time they brought in chicken… whoever heard of chicken tacos.

Border Lights was less fat, one percent sour cream, lower calorie guacamole

They thought they had read the culture and were offering a valid alternative.

To greasy beef buriots, loaded with cheese and beans.

But Border Lights Bombed!

Their customer base were late twenties males, who did not care about healthy eating.

The lights went out!

And Taco Bell who thought they were being responsive to a new American trend,

Had to regroup and reinvent.

You’ll notice their current strategy and its’s booming by the way is

HOT HOT HOT.

The truth to be learned from this simple example,

Is we can read the facts correctly, and still mess up with our responses.

People of faith, can see accurately the current needs of their communities –

and respond in ways that just aren’t helpful.

We can do it with our own selves.

Some of us are trying to live on fat free faith, when what we really need to do is spice it up!

These are not the days to go lean… these are the days to be bold.

These are not the days to reduce the content of our services.. but to boldly embrace service.

These are not the days to question our value, but to offer a diverse high value menu.

What might that look like?

You know the story of the old historic monastery in a small coastal village.

For over a half century it had had the same bell ringer.

Day in, day out, he rang the bell calling people to prayer and worship.

The bell gave a strong, loud, but somehow gentle bell.

But after over fifty years of ringing the ringer died.

Monk after monk tried to ring the bell. . . but to no avail.

So, they decided to audition for bell ringer.

Townspeople lined up for the job.

One after another they tried to ring the bell = the same way the old man had.

Some jerked the bell up and down.

Some would sway the bell from side to side.

None could ring the bell the way the people were accustomed to.

Then an old fellow showed up; he’d heard the bell most of his life.

He climbed to the top of the tower.

The monks gathered below to hear his attempt.

The man got all the way to the other side of the tower and took off.

He grabbed the rope and swung out with it – tolling the bell’s full depth.

But as he reached the top of the swing, his hands slipped off and he flew out of the opening.

Landing on the ground. The monks were thrilled until they got to the man still grounded.

The head monk, reached down, checked out the situation – stood up and said..

Now that’s a dead ringer…

Some of us are killing ourselves, trying to get it right.

Sometimes we are killing others, trying to get them right.

But the truth is – what we need to be, what we need to be about is right here in this Hebrews reading:

It is not a mystery. It is a dead ringer, if we will just hear it – and put it in our hearts menu.

Hear this from Hebrews:

“Because we have this confidence in Christ, our high calling – now there’s the beef my friends.

“Because we have Jesus… you gotta land on that one folks. Jesus is crucial. Jesus is central.

The core ingredient for our lives – for our life together is this Jesus!

Study . . . worship . . . serve – know Jesus.

Because we have this Jesus then…

Let us not forsake the gathering together (yep… be here!)

But why?

For the purpose of provoking one another to love and good deeds…

For encouraging one another … until that day comes..

It’s a dead ringer.

Every mouthful — where is the Jesus in it.

Every value – where is the Jesus in it.

Every worship – where is the Jesus in it.

Every sermon= how does it provoke you to love more fully?

Every meeting – how does it equip you to do the good deeds for which you are called?

Every word spoke, eyes engaged, hand shake, meal eaten – how do we encourage one another.

Where else in this world can you get this value meal?

It is not enough to provoke or inspire each other to love and good deeds?

We are to equip ourselves as well.

It is not enough to think doing mission is a noble cause.

We are to equip it to happen.

It is not enough to believe in people or have confidence in what God can do with them.

We are to encourage one another… oops .. get that again.

We are to encourage one another – yes, that means you are also to be encouraged!

Let the bells ring! Let your bell ring.

It’s of great value to your live and your world.