Would you, could you if God asks you?

given on Sunday, March 9, 2014 as the first of a series based on Rev. James Kemp’s book The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss.

            Certainly the words we just heard from Dr. Seuss are familiar and they may be running around in your head just like Sam-I-Am is chasing his friend all over the place with these insistent questions:

Do you like green eggs and ham?

            I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

            I do not like green eggs and ham.  . . .

            Would you like them in a house?

            Would you like them with a mouse? . . .

            Would you eat them in a box?

            Would you eat them with a fox?  . . .

            Would you?  Could you?  In a car?

            Eat them!  Eat them!  Here they are!  . . .


Oh my!  Those rhyming words just echo over and over again in our heads, but that pattern, that sound keeps the message right at the front of our thoughts.  Now try it with this phrase:  Would you, could you, if God asks you?

Certainly it is Lent and the tone of the Christian season typically becomes somber, dark, and reflective.  Nowhere in any of the seminary materials does it say that Lent must be dark and gloomy; instead, materials use the term reflective or pensive to describe Lent.

On Monday, March 3, schools and children celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday and the emphasis is placed on reading skills.  Certainly this is a rather contemporary development and is not linked to our churches, by the messages in many kid books still echo and support the very same moral and ethical rules as the Bible.  Therefore, children’s books often take a major theological concept and break it down to the “bare bones” of the rule.

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

            The line fits right in with Green Eggs and Ham, doesn’t it.  So why not use it            as a trigger for the reflection and the pensive thinking we Christians are asked to do?  We can ask this question on two levels:  personally and congregationally.

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

Personally:  Do you practice your faith openly?

Congregation:  Does the community know you are believers?

These are tough questions, but once a year each one of God’s children should be able to stop the daily routine and begin listing what practices they do daily, weekly, even monthly and annually to continue growing in faith.

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

Personally:  Do you read your Bible casually or intentionally?

Congregation:  Does the church provide Sunday School or study groups regularly or even annually?

These are pretty difficult questions to answer with 100% honesty.   When we look back over the past year, these are two questions that make us feel uncomfortable.

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

Ezekiel must have felt that way!  Here he is a prophet and he talks with God personally.  His congregation must have thought he had gone off his rocker—or whatever the saying was at the time.  We know from the Bible’s story that God had to demonstrate his awesome power to support Ezekiel’s prophet by raising up the bones found in an entire valley.

Sam-I-Am found a way.  He just kept repeating his question over and over in all types of contexts.  He was persistent.  Persistent, a key word, in the story and finally he did get his friend to take a bite of the green eggs and ham.

What was the result?  Remember it?  The green eggs and ham were tasty after all.  All that running around, question after question, and was it worth it?  Well, tasting the green eggs and ham might be risky, the risk is often worth the outcome.

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

Personally:  Have you tried studying the Bible daily?

Congregationally:  Has a Bible study offered through the church’s curriculum ever been conducted either at church or in a member’s home?

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

Personally:  Are you attending church at least 48 out of 52 Sundays of the year?

Congregationally:  Does the community know when the church is open and what times the service begins?

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

            Personally:  Do you invite friends, co-workers, family members, or even strangers to come to church?

Congregationally:  Does the community turn to the church as a fixture in the community knowing they are welcome anytime for any purpose?

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

Personally:  Provide a testimony to others inside the church or outside the church how God is the foundation for your life’s journey—from baptism to death?

Congregationally:  Does the community see the church and/or its members as practicing Christians within the local as well as global neighborhood?

Sam-I-Am knew that persistence would pay off.  He did not give up trying to make a difference in his pursuit of his friend.  He knew he had something so valuable that it was worth the effort to share it with his friend.  Does this congregation also know the value of persistence?

Ezekiel knew he had to be persistent, too, but his doubts just about destroyed everything.  God knew, too, that a demonstration of his power was necessary in order for Ezekiel to have the authority to lead the faith community forward.

Would you, could you, if God asks you?

Personally, would you, could you, if God asks you to change?

Congregationally, would you, could you, if God asks you to change?

Right now, during Lent 2014, consider the persistence of Sam-I-Am.  Do you have the same persistence to be a Christian?  Do you have a vision for this church?  Do you know how to change in order to tell others how good God is all the time?

NORRIS:  Would you, could you, if God asks you?

–identify the community you serve?

–know why the church is shrinking?

–know what you can do personally to make a difference?

–identify a necessary change to be the best steward of God’s word?

CHILHOWEE:  Would you, could you, if God asks you?

            –continue serving the community as you have and even in new ways?

–identify the unchurched and ‘burned’ individuals in the community?

–develop a plan to share the good news in order to make new disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.

Would you, could you, if God asks you to make a change, either personally or congregationally?  Using Lent, take some time to consider this question.  Identify your own behaviors, your own understanding of today’s world and the needs of belonging that seems to be critical for the unchurched and the burned in our communities.  What can you do?  What can this congregation do?  What is the best way to make a change because God asks us?  Remember the verse:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?  Remember the response:  God is with you, all the time.  All the time, God is with you.  –Amen.




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