Turning the World Upside-Down

The Magnificat
Luke 1.46-55

Jesus came to turn the world upside-down
Mary praises because finally things are going to be set aright. God is
going to turn the world upside-down. And he has already begun. She is
even proof of that. As we looked at humility last week, Mary
exemplifies how God looks on the heart, and chooses a young girl from a
poor family to be the mother of the Son of God.

Jesus begins his public ministry stating that he has come to turn the world upside-down:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed.
Luke 4.18 (quoting Is 61)

But we all know that injustice runs rampant in this world. We watch
jerks attend basketball games and throw stuff at players. And these
players who are making millions of dollars, just don’t get it. Instead
of being the bigger person and walking away, the players begin a rumble
with the fans and then say it’s unfair that he has to sit out the rest
of the season. (Artest)

Why is God wasting all of that good money on someone like Artest. Why
isn’t Artest going away empty, God? Why not give that money to some
good, upright person? I know, to someone who tithes, God. Wow, 6.1
million for his 2004-2005 salary equals $600,000 in tithes!

Just about everyday, we hear of something unfair or we get treated unfairly, unjustly.

The psalmist knew all about that, too. Look at Psalm 73.3-8
The question is, “Why do the wicked prosper?”
I will atempt to answer that question today.

Know the final destiny of the wicked
But then …
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground …
27 Those who are far from you will perish …
(from Psalm 73)

Remember that this life is only temporary. There is a whole eternity
which follows this life. Jesus came to bring change to this life, but
he said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” His kingdom is a spiritual
kingdom, ushered in by his birth, death, and resurrection. We who
belong to him are a part of that kingdom. But we will not see that
kingdom fully established until Christ comes again. And so Advent is
not only the season of looking toward Christmas, when Christ was born,
but it is a season of looking toward his coming again. It is a season
of hope, knowing that the injustices of this life will pass away. That
God will bring down rulers and lift the humble; that God will fill the
hungry and send the rich away empty.

Be a part of the answer: Turn your world upside-down!

Having said that we who belong to him belong to his kingdom, we are given a responsibility:
We, too, are sent to turn the world upside-down!

Remember our study of the Lord’s Prayer: we pray, “let thy kingdom
come.” It is a prayer for our own personal transformation, for the
transformation of the covenant community we are a part of, and the world around us. It is a
prayer that involves action on our part.

What are we going to do to feed the hungry? What are we going to do to
ease the suffering we see around us? How are we going to bring hope to
the hopeless?

We have spent some time talking about gifts: finding our gifts and
developing and using them to the glory of God. But not having a
particular gift, does not exempt us from serving in those areas. Just
because you don’t have the gift of giving, doesn’t exempt you from
giving financially, it doesn’t exempt you from titheing, it doesn’t
exempt you from giving when you see a need.

Just because you don’t have the gift of service, doesn’t exempt you
from serving others. Just because you don’t have the gift of mercy,
doesn’t exempt you from being moved with compassion by the needs of
others.

As one continues to grow and mature in Christ, more and more of the gifts will be exemplified in our lives.

Let’s go back to the gift of service. Jesus is our prime model. His
greatest demonstration of servanthood was in John 13 when he washes the
disciples’ feet.

John 13
15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a
messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these
things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Much ministry happens without my knowledge. Not every ministry responsibility appears on paper:
Visit
Foodbank
Dig up a waterline to fix a leak
You see a need, you reach out

At Faith UMC, we are becoming more organized because of our size, but you don’t need your name to appear on a particual service team to serve others. The purpose of organization is so that when there is a need bigger than what you can fill, there is a body organized and ready to meet that need.

A practical example is we now have greeters, but that doesn’t abolish your responsibility to be friendly and welcoming to our guests and to one another.

Work together
A socialist once came to see Andrew Carnegie and soon was railing
against the injustice of Carnegie having so much money. In his view,
wealth was meant to be divided equally. Carnegie asked his secretary
for an assessment of everything he owned and at the same time looked up
the figures on world population. He did a little arithmetic on a pad
and then said to his secretary. “Give this gentleman l6 cents. That’s
his share of my wealth.”

I believe Carnegie missed the point. Don’t be discouraged by what you
may feel is the little bit you can give. And I mean more than
financially. I’m really focusing on service today. What we may do, may
seem small, but if we are all doing our part, we can make a big
difference in this world. That’s the joy of being a part of something
bigger than ourselves. That’s the joy of working together as a church
and more largely as the Manor Hill Charge and Juniata Valley Parish and
JV Ministerium. That’s the joy of being a part of a connectional church and involved with such ministries as Mission Central and
UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and as each does their small part, it magnifies and multiplies,
reaching needs both near and afar.

Ecclesiastes 4.12
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Synergy:
One horse can pull of to 2 tons
Two horses pulling in the same direction, can pull up to 23 tons
(numbers may vary)

We are much more effective in the work of Christ, as we work together.

Mutual Giving
~In helping others, let them help you.
~In helping others, don’t enable them to continue to make poor choices.
~In helping others don’t take away their dignity, give them dignity.
~Don’t help others in order to feel better about yourself.
~There is no one who understands the injustice of society better than
those who are in the midst of it. They need to be a part of the
solution.

*That means that we can’t have an ad hoc committee of wealthy or even
middle-class people sitting around a table solving the plight of the
poor.
*Furthermore, that means we can’t as a church sit together and figure
out how to reach our community for Christ without being in conversation
with the unchurched. What are their needs? What are they looking for in a church? Why aren’t they involved in the life of the church?

Let’s work together to turn our world upside-down!

Joleen Willis

Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mom. District Superintendent.

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