Monday, November 17, 2008


To laugh, is to risk playing the fool.To weep, is to risk appearing sentimental.To reach out to another, is to risk involvement.To expose feelings, is to risk exposing our true selves.To put your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd is to risk loss.To love, is to risk not being loved in return.To live, is to risk dying.To hope, is to risk despair.To try at all, is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken,Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn, change, feel, grow, love, live…Chained by their attitudes they are slaves.

A survey was taken recently of people who are over 95. The people were asked one question. It was an open ended question they could answer any way they wished. The question was: If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently? Among all the different answers, these three answers came back most frequently:
1. If I could live my life over again, I would reflect more.
2. I would risk more.
3. I would do more things that would live on after I'm dead.

There are a few different ways in which this parable could be understood. I would like all of us to consider this parable in the light of taking risk.
In light of the current economic situation maybe that’s not something most of us would like to consider since we all feel like we have taken considerable risk with our finances. But that’s not the kind of risk that I’m thinking about this morning.
I want all of us to think about the questions that were asked of those folks who were older than 95 and the answers they gave. Why do we have to wait until it’s too late and then wish that we’d done things differently? Why don’t we do some of the things now that these folks wished they’d done? Why are we so afraid of doing things that some people would see as foolish?
We live in a relatively safe society, here in the United States of America. Granted some of us here may remember what it was like back in the 30’s when the drought came along with bugs and insurance companies foreclosed on quite a few farms. But for people my age who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s when times were more profitable and people didn’t worry as much about jobs we have a different perspective than our fathers and mothers who grew up during the Depression. That doesn’t seem to make much difference though when it comes to taking a risk for Jesus Christ. It doesn’t seem to matter what era you grew up in, people are just afraid to step out in faith and talk to their family or friends about Jesus.
Friends, following Jesus does involve taking risks, sometimes a very high risk. But when risks are taken higher rewards are possible, rewards that we can’t even imagine.
I’m not quite sure how I want to do this. What I want all of you to do is to think about things that you do well, things that you really love to do, or maybe even things that you wish you could do but haven’t quite developed the proficiency for doing them well yet. Now out of all these gifts which ones could be used to develop a welcoming church community? Which ones could be used that would lead someone to be involved with leading a worship service? Or, which gifts do we possess that would give us the courage to share God’s Good News out there in the wider community in which we live?
You all know each other’s gifts. You may not be as aware of your own gifts so much as you are pretty certain of the gifts of your neighbor. I would imagine that most of us here today could turn to our right or left and come up with two or three gifts that our pew neighbor does well. In fact they probably are so good that the gift could be used to accomplish one of the three things I mentioned.
The sad fact is we’re too afraid to take the risk. It’s not like someone is asking you to give some of your hard earned income. No, God has given us many blessings and gifts and some of us are just sitting on them. We keep them hid hoping no one will ask us to do something, like go talk to a neighbor about coming to church with us. Or sharing with someone we strike up a conversation with about how Jesus has enriched our life.
We’re all alike in this room. We’re all afraid to take the risk. What are the things that keep us from doing what those people surveyed thought were important? What are some of our excuses? What do we need to know or do so that we do grab the opportunities that God presents us with? What can we do to help each other?
Friends, the first thing is to realize that Jesus didn’t set us up to fail. He told us the truth. He is here with us. And God sent the Holy Spirit to interpret God’s Word to us and to speak for us when we don’t have the words to pray. God is love and the Good News is the kingdom of heaven is here today. The kingdom of God is right here today.
The thing is we just have to believe with all our hearts that these words are true. We have to believe what Jesus told us. We have to believe that God hears our prayers and answers our prayers. We really have to believe that God is real and cares what happens to us. We have to believe.
If we believe it in our hearts then we can take the risk and try doing something we’ve never done before, something we never in our wildest dreams imagined ourselves doing. And know that’s its all right if it isn’t perfect, because God’s the one who’s in control of the world. So whatever we do in Jesus’ name is just the way God planned it. So let’s go ahead and risk everything in Jesus’ name.
What have you got to lose if you try? The bigger question is, “What have you got to lose if you don’t risk everything?”
Friends, God asks us to take chances everyday. The one’s who take the risks are the ones who are bringing forth the kingdom of God. It’s kind of like the doctors have been telling us about our bodies, use it or lose it.
God has given all of us gifts. As Paul told the Thessalonians, “…speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.”
Brothers and sisters in Jesus, close your eyes, say a prayer, and step out there trusting in Jesus to be the way, the truth, and the life. Trust in Him to never fail you. Thanks be to God for his grace. Amen.

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