Call the Roll Once Again

Heritage Presbyterian Church

August 14, 2022
10th Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture reading – Hebrew 11:17 – 12:2 

Before we can begin today’s sermon that will be some thoughts on the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, let me just take care of a little business first…

Is Boss Garver here?  Boss Garver?  Does anyone know if he is here?  If Boss Garver is here, good work will be done, an example of faith will be shown, and God will be praised.  I sure hope Boss Garber is here.  And let me tell you why.

I think every single church needs a Boss Garver because someone is always needed to work around the rules on occasion.  In any organization – even churches – there are rules.  Sometimes those rules keep things from getting done.  And Boss Garver is really good at working around the rules.  For instance, if you tell Boss Garver that his church can’t call a pastor until they form a pastor nominating committee, submit paperwork and so forth, he will accept that.  But then he will head down to the presbytery office and ask them all why it seems that some of the churches in the presbytery don’t go 10 minutes without a pastor and others have to work for months and months to get one.  Then if he knows of a certain seminary student that has the summers off, Boss Garver figures out a way for that guy to practice being the pastor, establish office hours, preach on Sunday, get some really good experience – all the while buying time for his church to do the other things that need doing in order to call a full-time pastor.  So, his church keeps going, never misses a beat, and everyone wins. 

And this is just ONE example!  He follows the rules – after all, he is known as a good Presbyterian, but he also figures out a way to work around those rules.  Boss is a lot more interested in the spirit of the law than the letter of the law.  And he does all his work by faith, as we were told in today’s reading.

And that’s why I sure hope Boss Garver is here.  Because I like the spirit of the law too…and I like it when believers work by faith.


Is Shelley here?  Red-head Shelley?  Does anyone know if she is here?  If Shelley is here, good work will be done, an example of faith will be shown, and God will be praised.  I sure hope Shelley is here.  And let me tell you why.

I think every single church needs a red-head Shelley because she has no problem showing the love of God to EVERYONE.  I mean every single person who walks through the door.

And she hugs EVERYONE.  She loves little kids, old people, young families, single adults, college-age kids, pastors, and everyone else.  When people find out Shelley is around, they smile.  They laugh.  They show God’s love to EVERYONE too.  Because the love of God is contagious when Shelley is around.  

Many years ago, when I had to face the various committees at Presbytery in order to finish the requirements for ordination, my family was very upset about all the meetings and the paperwork.  They asked me, “Can’t you just skip all this?  You’ve already done so much.”  Then I told them not to worry…Shelley was the chair of the Committee on Ministry.  When my family heard this, they all smiled and said, “Shelley’s in charge?”  Then they stopped worrying and began to smile.  Because they knew Shelley and they knew she did things with a smile, a big hug, and by faith too.

That’s why I sure hope red-head Shelley is here.  Because she makes me smile too, and I’m pretty sure that is serving by faith.


Is Old Ed here?  Old Ed?  Does anyone know if he is here?

If Old Ed is here, then good work will be done, an odd example of faith will be shown, and God will be praised.  I sure hope Old Ed is here.  And let me tell you why.

I think every single church needs somebody just like Old Ed because we all need someone to remind us that many times we judge each other a little more than we need to.  This happens in every social situation – and it even happens in churches (if you can believe it!).  But you might say, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”  True, and so why do we do it anyway?  Old Ed will call us on that every single time.  There was a time in much of Ed’s life that he was the one being judged.  He faired poorly when he was compared with his three brothers.  He faired poorly when he was compared with other boys his parents knew.  Ed was loved, but he also suffered by comparison to many people around him.  

Yet Ed had a heart of gold.  He would give anyone the shirt off his back if they needed it.  He would go out of his way to help anyone.  He was a friend to all, men, women, and especially children.  He didn’t have much use for church because he saw too much judging going on – instead of too much forgiveness.  But he went to church anyway because of his great faith.  And if he ever heard someone putting someone else down – especially if that someone was a friend of his, especially if that someone already had life stacked against him or her – Old Ed would come to their defense and even tell pious church folks to shut up!  He couldn’t stand judgment by others!  But he humbly accepted the judgment of his Savior, Jesus Christ.

And that’s why I sure hope Old Ed is here.


Is that short, teenage girl here?  Does anyone know if she is here?  You know her…I can’t remember her name…you know how bad I am with names.  She is short and pretty, she has long brown hair and glasses.  If that girl is here, then good work will be done, bold faith will be demonstrated, and God will be praised.  I sure hope she is here.  And let me tell you why.

I think every single church needs a teenage girl like her because a long time she showed her own church something.  That church was debating an idea to raise some money and build a center for the youth of the church.  They had a very active youth group, but they had no real space of their own.  They came up with the idea to raise money and build something.  They went to Session to pitch the idea, and Session asked for them to present it to the congregation for a vote.  At that meeting, this teenage girl spoke very passionately about the youth also being a part of the church, not just junior members.  She said that they deserved the same support that the youth had always given back to the church.  

But when the vote was taken, it was defeated by a 2-1 margin.  

I remember going up to her afterwards to express my apologies for how the vote had gone.  She told me, “Just because I was outnumbered doesn’t mean I was wrong.”  She taught me something about youth that day, that they ARE members of the church and not just junior members; that they DO support everything that goes on in the church, just like the adults do; that church is important to them too, just like everyone else.  With her example of bold faith, she taught me that the future of the church just might exist in the present.

That’s why I hope that teenage girl with the long brown hair is here.  Because I want to thank her for teaching that lesson.


Every single time we hear of the various people chosen by God for good work, it is easy to automatically assume that they also stepped up to serve.  Sometimes they did – like all of the champions of faith that we heard in today’s reading.  Sometimes they heard the call of the Lord clearly, and they stepped up and said, “Here I am Lord.”  Sometimes it took some convincing – like when we are called today or tomorrow or any time – but we respond uncertainly.  Then our Lord reminds us that he will make us fishers of men…and women, and boys, and girls, and Democrats and Republicans, and church folks and the unchurched and even – dare I say it – Presbyterians!  But all of us can step up.  Then the good work can begin.  

But every single one of those heroes in the Bible is different from all the others.  God does not call us to be exactly the same.  God does not create us from cookie-cutter molds.  We are not the same at all.

We do not think the same, act the same, look the same, or serve the same.  We look for ways to serve God that are as unique to each of us as there are stars in the night sky.  We cannot force everyone into the same mold, the same job, the same faith experience.  We are different.

But we all receive the same call – the call to believe, the call to reach out and serve, the call to step up and say, “Here I am, Lord.”

So, call the roll.  The work awaits.  The master is watching.

And all who work by faith will be blessed – no matter how that work turns out…