We conclude this worship series completely out of breath—or we ought to anyway. This week, we’re about giving our all. About living full out, about being alive the way Jesus describes living. “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 NRSV). This is what the life of faith offers; this is the example that Paul presents with his full-out life, embracing all that came to him, the good and the bad.
This is not to say that we present a life that ends up in jail. For most of us, that isn’t really the result of living a full-bore life of faith, although there are those who invite us to get into “good trouble.” The abundant life brings change, challenges status quo, works for justice and equality, threatens power and privilege. The life poured out in service draws attention, and the attention is not always positive.
Yet, that is the invitation in this witness from 2 Timothy. This might be an occasion to call upon a missionary you support. Find a way to get a witness from her or him to describe this life of pouring oneself out in service. Or maybe there is someone within the congregation who has given himself or herself to a cause or a vocation. Give people space to speak of their call, their decision to live this life, to follow this path. Not to say, “Do what I’ve done.” But to ask, “What will you give your life to?”
Listen to the hymns we sing and what is being asked of us, or what we are agreeing to when we sing. There is a high calling in the United Methodist Hymnal, one that we might think about before singing again. “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold” (United Methodist Hymnal, 399) Wow.
Think about our prayers and what we ask God to do in us and through us. Think especially about the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan tradition that we sometimes use at the beginning of the year. “I am no longer my own but yours.” Amazing. “Put me to doing, put me to suffering.” We pray that.
We also need to lean into the benediction in our text. This life that just might wear us out, would wear us out if we tried to do it on our own, but it comes with a promise. “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17 NRSV). We who are called to give everything find that there is more of everything than we knew, because of the one who stood by us. We are sent with a challenge, but more powerfully, we are sent with a promise.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.