2 Chronicles 24:1-16 (Part 1) – Sometimes A Coach Has to Brag on His Team!

Posted: October 2, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 24:1-16 (Part 1 of 2)

Joash Repairs the Temple

Opening Illustration/Comments

Back on March 17, 2020, the bishop of the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC), based on the medical evidence that he was evaluating, issued a memo to all South Carolina (SC) UMC churches to suspend all in-person worship services, meetings, and other in-person activities until further notice. That was over six months ago now. We remained under full suspension of in-person activities through June 11, 2020. Even after the full ban was lifted and we could return to some semblance of normal church life activity, the lifting of the ban was limited. Each SC UMC church had to prove that it could comply with the social distancing and virus spread reduction protocols recommended by the conference’s headquarters office in Columbia.

So, even now in early October 2020, my church and many like it in the SCUMC have reopened to limited in-person church life activities. However, many of our SCUMC churches have still not returned to in-person church life due to not being able to reasonably comply with the conference recommended protocols. With our church, though, we returned to in-person church life in the limited way recommended by our conference. Having said all that is my lead-in to what my biggest fear was concerning the virus. Part of this fear has been realized and part of it has not.

The part of the fears that I have had about the impact of the virus on my local church is that it would have a negative impact on church attendance and participation in other church life activities. This has been true. Even though I had suspected that the greatest impact would be the attendance and participation of our 65 and older crowd at our church. To say that portion of our church is a significant one would be an understatement. In a town where the population in general is aging (because of the flight of most younger residents to larger towns and cities after high school and college, the town itself is aging), our church’s regular attenders over age 65 comprise about 80% or more of active members. However, the pleasant surprise is that they have been the most faithful of our people. Sure, a good swath of them have stayed away due to their personal health concerns, but the majority have continued to be present at church. However, the negative surprise was that the under 65 crowd has been the least faithful. Their attendance has been sporadic and spotty. For all those who have stayed away, the general fear and social stigma of potentially or actually having the virus is real and must be accounted for when thinking about our public gatherings. However, among what is considered by health officials to be the most vulnerable group in our society (the 65 plus crowd), they have in general been present at church when our limited church life activities have taken place. As pastor to this flock, I thank you, those of you who are among our 65 and older crowd. A further benefit has been that our people have responded well (even this 65 and older crowd) to the greater use of video and other technologies to help us maintain church life, including Zoom meetings, Facebook Live worship service broadcasts, and pre-recorded videos and audio files used to support worship.

The other part that was a big fear was with the negative impact of, first, no in-person church life and now with reduced attendance in our limited church life, my fear was that the finances of the church would be severely impacted as well – to the point that it would be difficult for our church to maintain basic operations. It is clear however that our people responded and responded in a big way. Miraculously, we have maintained the same level of giving each month during this six months and counting of the pandemic and the limitations it has caused to our church. Regardless of whether we have had in-person worship services or not, our people have given to their church. Our people has responded willingly and generously. I believe that many of them see that without their support, our church could potentially falter and die. With our church approaching 140 years of existence, none of our people want to have dropped the ball on giving the church the lifeblood that it needs to continue existing. Of this fact, I praise God for the faithfulness of our people. The ground on which our people come together and have fellowship is holy ground and it is ground with a history of being devoted to the people who call it their home church. To honor that legacy even in times of trouble makes me proud of our people.

In many ways, I believe I was sent here by God to challenge our people to awaken to the potential that they have to be a highly impactful church. I believe I was sent here to challenge them to be a church that faces outward to the world around it rather than inward toward each other. In that, I often have pushed and prodded and challenged people to move beyond their comfort zones. But when I get the chance to pat them on the back for being a faithful people, I will do it. I see myself as that coach that drives you hard to excel and be your best but yet at the same time who will praise you when you do well.

So, here, at this moment, six months plus into the pandemic, our church still is receiving more funds in tithes and offerings than our spending on the daily and special event operations of our church. It is not because our spending has necessarily been reduced (though it has in some ministry areas). It is because our people have been faithful in their giving. I want to pat my people on the back for that! It could have been disastrous for our church (and there are many churches out there that are suffering mightily financially). But our people responded. Of that, I am so proud (like a football coach of his football team when they respond to adversity well)! I pray to God that He will bless our people and our church because of their faithfulness to the causes and purposes of Lamar UMC.

It is that idea of God’s people responding in times of crisis that I thought of this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 24:1-16. Let us read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

16 Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and the king and the people that they would be the Lord’s people. 17 And all the people went over to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They demolished the altars and smashed the idols, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

18 Jehoiada now put the priests and Levites in charge of the Temple of the Lord, following all the directions given by David. He also commanded them to present burnt offerings to the Lord, as prescribed by the Law of Moses, and to sing and rejoice as David had instructed. 19 He also stationed gatekeepers at the gates of the Lord’s Temple to keep out those who for any reason were ceremonially unclean.

20 Then the commanders, nobles, rulers, and all the people of the land escorted the king from the Temple of the Lord. They went through the upper gate and into the palace, and they seated the king on the royal throne. 21 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was peaceful because Athaliah had been killed.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that, evidently, the Levites were not convinced that the people would want to contribute to the rebuilding and repair of the Temple, but the people were glad to give of what they had for this project. This passage reminds us that it is often in times of trouble that the people of God have banded together and responded well to a real crisis. When challenged by circumstances, they will often respond well.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that, as a pastor, we must indeed challenge our people to go above and beyond where we are at currently. We are to challenge our people to be the hands and feet of Christ in real and tangible ways. We are to challenge our people to continue to mature in Christ. We are to challenge our people to be more and more like Christ each day. It is often tough and hard spiritual work to be that person that says “don’t rest on your laurels, keep pushing hard toward perfection!” However, there are moments that you are just so proud of your team of which you are the coach, so to speak. And it is in those moments, that you have to pat them on the back for a job well done. Sometimes, you gotta brag on your team. Pat them on the back for having listened and responded. Pat them on the back so that we can build upon this level of obedience to the Lord. May the Lord richly bless my people at this church at this moment in history with many blessings, one of which is to always be moving forward, always be pressing hard toward Christ’s perfection, always be looking for ways to improve our impact on the world around us…always being a maturing, humble force for the cause of Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.

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