Untitled

Sometimes a good title can sell a book or story better than anything else.  I discovered that for myself when a well-known Methodist evangelist, Rev. Charles Allen, was preaching in revival services at a neighboring church.  It began on Sunday night and our church cancelled the Sunday night service and went together to the opening night.  At the service, Rev. Allen announced that the next night he was going to talk about the “second most important woman in the Bible”.  He said Mary was the most important, but if we wanted to know who number two was, we had to come back the following night.  A large part of the group from our church went back to find out who it was.

I was thinking of using the title “Nude Descending a Staircase” this week to see if that caused heightened interest. That is the name of famous modern art painting by Marcel Duchamp.  And despite its name, I really don’t see a nude or a staircase in the picture.  (Well, I guess the staircase is somewhat visible.)  So I chose another famous art title instead.

Deborah and I like to visit art museums when we are on vacation.  We have been to many, including the Tate in London, the High in Atlanta, and others, large and small.  But no matter how different the layout, style or content, there is one fact that is true of every art museum I have ever visited.  The most popular title of all is “Untitled”.

I don’t know whether the artist was too lazy to name it, or just wanted the viewer to see their own message in the painting or sculpture.  Some have produced so many untitled works that they are numbered, “Untitled, Number 39”.

So I chose “Untitled” for my title this week.  It will be interesting to see whether it gets as much attention as last week’s “Amy Grant’s Phone Number” got.  That title intrigued double the previous week.

If someone were writing your biography, what would the title be?  Giving it a title might suggest you have finished your life’s work.  It might mean there was nothing left to accomplish.  I hope that it never true for you or me.  We might have to the use another title that some artists use, “work in progress”.  That means there is more to come.  We still have things left to do.  We still have a purpose in this world.

Years ago there was a button that some Christians wore that seemed like a jumble of letters.  It was PBPWM; GINFY.  The letters stood for the phrase, “Please be patient with me; God is not finished yet.”  No matter how old we may be (and some of us are getting up there), there should be more we can accomplish. Even retired folks have things we can do.

This month, many churches are conducting stewardship campaigns.  Most of those are focused entirely on money for the budget process.  The church I attend will be looking at financial support also, but this week they are looking at time and talents.  They are asking the congregation to get involved in the ministry of the church in many different venues.  It is important to realize that as long as we are alive, there is something we can do for Christ. We may not be able to preach or teach or lead in music, but we can do other things.

For example, one of the most overlooked spiritual gifts is encouragement.  Some people have the ability to encourage others in special and unique ways.  As a pastor, I was blessed to have some who would give me encouragement when the road was difficult.  It was a precious gift they gave me.

So what gift can you give the Lord?  What are you able to do that others may not be as able to do?  Perhaps that is the best gift you can give God.  Everyone can give financial support, even if it is only a few cents.  But not everyone can do what you can do.  And if you cannot name that thing, ask your friends, they will probably know right away. Sometimes we are blind to our own worth.  But we are all valuable to the world and we might as well do what we are best able to do.  Who knows how much difference it could make?  Only God knows.

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About edwardsoule

The Rev. Dr. Edward A. Soule is now the pastor of Big Cove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Brownsboro, AL. He retired as a United Methodist pastor who served 28 years as a minister in churches around the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Before that, he was in Christian radio for 10 years and was a Baptist minister for two years. Over the years, Ed has also been a teacher in public schools, a private school principal, and taught at a Bible college. He has a B.A. from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; a M. Div. from Bethel Theological Seminary; and a D. Min. from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH. Ed is now widowed. He had been married to Deborah (Mendelson) for 38 years. She was the executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free Community. He currently resides in the Hampton Cove community of Huntsville, AL, where Ed enjoys walking with their dog, Churchill, daily, running and keeping up the landscaping. "Dr. Edward" is available to speak to churches and other groups in the north Alabama/southern Tennessee area. Contact through this blog or directly at edsoule@comcast.net.
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