Bring Heaven to Daily Life: Rev. Maria Wiblin Conference preacher, June 2015

By WV UMC Admin

The call of God does not always come at times convenient or expected, but He continues to need people to answer it, according to the message delivered on Saturday night in a celebration of ministry service.

“We are called to love one another, just as Jesus loved us,” Maria Wiblin said in her sermon. “He loved us to the cross.”

The doxology, a few minutes later, had the congregation singing, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Wiblin recalled that Moses, when he talked with the Lord at a burning bush, did not feel adequate to carry out his mission, but “God doesn’t call the equipped; God equips the called,” Wiblin said. “We are called and gifted by the waters of our baptism.”

“God’s call doesn’t come the way we expect it to come (or) the way we want it to come,” said Wiblin, the Campus Minister at Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community and Technical College.

She talked about the advice given to young Samuel when he was awakened by the voice of the Lord. “Go, lie down and listen to God,” she repeated. “Offer yourself as a servant.”

That kind of serving was illustrated in a video near the beginning of the service. Examples included a five-fold growth in the youth group at St. Luke’s Harrisville; volunteers helping feed students once a week at Fairmont State; and a “compassion fund” at Glen Dale United Methodist that had a year-end “surplus” of $18,000 — an amount that was given away.

Wiblin said, “We are to love everybody without stopping to ask if they’re worthy or not.” She said that too often, worship becomes “more about us and less about God.”

“Our vocation, our calling is not to get to Heaven,” she said. “Our vocation, our calling is to bring Heaven into this life.”

An informal invitation to ministry followed the sermon. Members of the congregation “who work toward perfecting their love of God, neighbor and self” were invited to get up and visit a “station” at the chapel. Clergy were at each location to offer to anoint people with oil, to pray with them and to offer to help them discern what their next steps toward ministry might be.

While a praise band led people in songs, including “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus,” dozens walked over to the stations and tears flowed from several faces. Other individuals scattered across Wesley Chapel held up an outstretched arm in praise. Couples stood, holding hands.

In a closing prayer, Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball asked God to “fill those who have been called with your almighty, gracious empowerment and love.”

“Lord, we thank you for the people you put in our paths … so we can see you more clearly and love you more dearly, not just for the moment but for the rest of our lives.”

Wrapping up the service, the Bishop reminded the congregants, “The service is over — but the serving continues.”

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