The Year of Discipleship is part of the Uniting Church in Queensland's Vision 2020, focusing on the call to form active and accountable disciples of all ages. Linda Hamill implores people to embrace their discipleship gifts this Pentecost.
Discipleship is about being disciplined in what we do. At Pentecost, the first disciples of Jesus made a stand for what they knew to be truth. In the face of condemnation (and a mob!), Peter stood up and told the story of Jesus: died and risen. Peter's brave action took discipline or, said in another way, his action demonstrated discipleship. His past experiences ensured that when the time came he would not be afraid to speak out.
I spent 21 years in the US Air Force.
I cannot tell you how many ditches I dived into with heavy protective gear and a gas mask on when there was no danger.
We practised these actions and many more over and over so the people who depended on me and the people on whom I depended were certain that all of us could do it when there was danger.
Discipline is continuing the mundane, boring, hearing of the stories that we have already heard again and again, so that at that moment when the Spirit moves you will have the confidence you need.
The church depends on your being so practised at your particular gifts that you can respond at a moment's notice. Often I hear people with strong gifts of one type, who consistently perform their tasks well, say, "I wish I could do something more exciting for God".
I believe this thinking misses the mark of discipleship. Mother Theresa is quoted as saying, "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies".
The people who reliably and consistently use their gifts are mentors in discipleship. You cannot get a more exciting job than that.
Peter, the Rock, stood firm in a difficult place.
Be rock solid using your gifts.
And you all have them. In the Uniting Church in Australia's foundational document, the Basis of Union, the Uniting Church affirms that every member of the church is engaged to confess the faith of Christ crucified and to be his faithful servant.
So if your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, serve; if it is teaching, teach; if it is to encourage, give encouragement; if it is giving, give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6b-8 TNIV).
Remember, I depend on you and your gifts as much as you depend on mine.
Have an amazing Pentecost!
Rev Linda Hamill, Granite Belt Uniting Church.
Photo : Linda Hamill. Photo: Jason McCartie