• Mark Coronna

Sermon: All God's People Have a Place in the Choir (2.20.22)

Introduction

If you remember the Prairie Home Companion radio show you might remember a regular performer named Bill Staines. Bill passed away in December and was known as a modern-day Steven Foster for capturing the essence of American culture through folk music. Bill’s most popular song is called “A Place in the Choir,” and I thought it made a great theme for today’s service as we talk about individual uniqueness and spiritual gifts, especially if we substitute the word “people” for the word “creatures” in the Bill Staines song.

We know that we are all God’s children and are “wondrously made.” In the Bible, we learn about spiritual gifts—gifts from the Holy Spirit to each individual. Today’s question is this: why do we all have different gifts instead of the same set? God could have structured us that way, but instead, each of us has the opportunity to develop unique gifts. What might God’s thinking have been around this? And what would a choir sound like if everyone were a soprano or a bass?


Readings

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Hebrews 2:3-4

Message


If you remember A Prairie Home Companion radio show, you might remember a regular performer named Bill Staines. Bill passed away in December and was known as a modern-day Steven Foster for capturing the essence of American culture through folk music. Bill’s most popular song is called “A Place in the Choir,” and I thought it made a great theme for this article as we talk about individual uniqueness and spiritual gifts, especially if we substitute the word “people” for the word “creatures” in the Bill Staines song.

We know that we are all God’s children and are “wondrously made.” In the Bible, we learn about spiritual gifts—gifts from the Holy Spirit to each individual believer. Today’s question is this: why do we all have different gifts instead of the same set? God could have structured us that way, but instead, each of us has the opportunity to develop unique gifts. What might God’s thinking have been around this? And what would a choir sound like if everyone were a soprano or a bass?

God has many gifts available for us. But only if we ask for them and are willing to receive them through the Holy Spirit. You might be surprised to discover that there is not one universal list of gifts. Some sources identify as many as 25 and other sources only talk about a list of 20 or as few as 8 gifts. Almost all sources agree that as individuals, we might have one or two primary gifts and one or two secondary gifts.

We can construct a list of spiritual gifts mentioned in three bible passages in the New Testament: First Corinthians 12:4-11 and 28 lists at least 11 gifts, Romans 12 mentions seven gifts, and 1 Peter notes two gifts for a total of 20 specific gifts.

Spiritual gifts are often organized into categories. Let’s identify them.

Ministry Gifts: Ministry gifts serve to reveal the plan of God.

Manifestation Gifts: Manifestation gifts serve to reveal the power of God

Power Gifts: Supernatural healing and miracles.

Revelation Gifts: These gifts help turn insight into truth and include discernment.


One question we should ask is WHY God provides spiritual gifts. There are several reasons.

1. Gifts help each of us determine God’s will for our lives and especially for our vocations. A knowledge of your gifts will provide a context for making career and personal ministry decisions regarding what not to attempt as well as what to enter into with confidence.

2. Gifts help mobilizes the entire community for mission. Every organization: church, non-profit organization, or business, needs a mix of skills, expertise, and gifts to be successful.

3. Gifts give each person a sense of dignity and self-worth. There are no “second class” citizens in the Christian community because each person is a vitally important member of the body of Christ. That is true for all organizations—everyone deserves respect and deserves to be valued.


Think about a scenario where every person in a community or organization has the same two gifts. In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about how each of the body parts contribute to help make the body work efficiently and in the way it was intended. Different gifts build stronger, more effective communities.

You might be curious why each person isn’t given full set of gifts? Why do we each have specific gifts rather than each of us having the full set? I think the answer is best found in Hebrew’s verse 4: “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” God created spiritual gifts and distributed them according to his will. While we cannot know God’s mind and some things remain mysteries, we also know how important it is to God that we are productive members of our communities.



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