Tag: Calling

Dropping the Nets- Following his Call

Sermon YOUNG LIFE, Barossa, Infusion Service, March 1, 2020

Mark 1:16-20

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

I want to encourage you tonight to trust that God does have great purpose for you and call you to keep on seeking him for it.   

Even if you are in year 7 or 8, it won’t be that long until you have to make those decisions about what you think you might head into after school. If you are in year 9, subject choices have begun. If you are in the last few years of your school journey, you are right in the middle of working at the choices you have made.

I remember all this being pretty overwhelming. I really had little idea of what I was heading for after school. Whenever someone asked that question that you get asked all the way along; from grade 2 to year 12; ‘What are you going to be when you grow up?”, I never had a clue.

How about you?  

Who would say that they have a pretty clear picture of career/ job after school?  

Who would say they have got a few choices of which one will probably come off?  

Who would say they really don’t know at all?  

I found it all pretty hard. Maybe it is because the school journey for me was hard – not because of the school or the teachers, but because of what was going on for me outside of school.  

I went to 8 schools in my 12 years of school. This was because of poverty and divorce and all the trouble that goes with them.  

We were constantly moving. Dad chased work. Mum and Dad never had what you would call a loving relationship.  

They split when I was in grade 2. Dad re-married. My step mum and I never got on. Mum had relationships and got married a few times – two those times where in my high school years.   

So, the grief of parents not getting on and divorcing, the constant moving, the lack of resources to do stuff, the lack of connection to other people, the lack of mentors and trusted adults at home made trying to learn anything and achieve anything much at school pretty hard.   

I spent most of the time at school feeling scared in one way or another. I was often ‘the new kid’. If you have ever been a new kid, you know it is hard. You want to fit in and find friends, but they may not accept you and you may end up being alone most of the time and that feel yuck.   

Then, there is always this thing about a bunch of kids together. Someone always seems to want to be top dog and sometimes they will do anything to get that title and do anything to keep it. In some of state schools I went to, the top dog battle was full on and it included violence.   

My worst ever new school was a huge working class suburban school For the first week there was a fight every lunch time: hundreds of kids swarming around the two people doing battle with teachers breaking their way in to break it up. Pretty scary for a new little year 8 country kid in a school of 1500 city kids who were used to this! I lasted a term. 

I got hammered by a big year 10 kid and his mates one Saturday for no good reason. That was it. I said to mum that I wanted out. I went back to the country to live with my Dad and my troublesome step mum. It was better than getting smashed around and living in fear all the time!  

Something happened though – later in the school journey that changed everything.   

About the end of year 9 my sister, who was now married to a Lutheran farmer who had a living faith in Jesus, made me go to youth camp in the summer holidays.   

I did not want to go. I only knew two guys who were going, and they were older than me. I did not want to walk into another new group and have to be the new guy again.   

But, somehow, my sister made it happen and I went.   

I couldn’t believe it. I was the new guy, but I was totally welcomed. I was not the last guys waiting to picked in the team for stuff. They wanted me to be on their team for stuff. They had fun and lots of it, and it was free of any sexual jokes and off stuff – just good clean fun with a big welcoming spirit. I was included and I was totally wrapped! 

Now, when I think about this, I think about a story the gospel writers tell of Jesus.  

Jesus has just been baptised by John in the Jordan and everyone heard this amazing voice say, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him”. In other words, “Go”, Jesus. Your work has begun. Then he finds himself out in the harsh Israeli desert struggling with huge temptation to give up his mission. He doesn’t.   

Then he is back in his home region down on the beach and he comes across two brothers….  

Mark 1:16-20 

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

They just left it all and followed him! What was it about him that enabled them to just go with him?  

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. 

 These guys did the same. Professional fishermen in a family business and a stable future (which easy not was not easy to have in their time).   

That happened to me as year 10 started in those summer holidays. Or at least it began to happen for me – not in one moment but over the last three years of school, which were my best.   

Best because I was at a really good school with fantastic teachers – a Catholic boys’ school. None of that stuff the media love to tell about happened for anyone I know of in this school.   

Those teachers, some of whom were part of an order or brotherhood, were fantastic men of discipline and compassion that were great to be around.   

But that was not the most telling thing that made school different now. It was this Jesus and his calling.   

After camp I just had to keep hanging out with my new friends and mentors. A big chunk of them happened to be a part of a local Lutheran Church only a few km’s away from where I was living. Mum was OK with me going to stuff. So I went to Sunday worship and youth group and anything else I could.   

I started to get to know real people who were not pretending to be perfect or squeaky clean or better than anyone. In fact, they were the first to admit their mistakes and their weaknesses. I learnt some of them for myself – my weaknesses and my mistakes.   

But they also told the stories of Jesus and constantly talked about him and sung songs about him and to him. I found myself loving bible study and worship and conversations and new relationships.   

It was only then that I first got any sense of what I might do after school. I still did not rally know for sure. I could have gone down the whole agribusiness kind of road – maybe get an apprenticeship in Elders or Landmark, or study at Ag college to one day be a Farm Manager.   

But I loved being with people and being in conversation about God and especially learning more of Jesus and who he is and who I am as a result.   

So, there happened to be the first ever degree level course in Youth Work being run by one of the Uni’s. So I signed up and that was what I ended up doing after school. Youth work. That eventually led to being a Pastor.   

I want to tell you some things to encourage you now  

The Lord knows you. He knows you more than you know yourself. He knows you weaknesses, your fears, your worries, your pride, your ability to chase after lots of things that you think will be great but end up just being really bad for you.   

He knows that inside you is a wayward heart that will trust in just about anyone or anything more than the words of Jesus – his promises to make plenty of you and give you the gift of faith in God’s goodness, hope for your today and your tomorrow in Jesus, and enable you to love like I was loved by those young people at that camp and ever since.   

God knows your ability to trick yourself into pretending that you have it all together and don’t need anyone – including God. But he comes to you along that beach and says, “Come with me. See me, watch me, do as you see me doing and I will make more of you than you could ever make of yourself. 

Will you drop your net of self-focus, pretending to be what you are not, trying to be ‘In” so you don’t have to suffer being “out” with your peers?   

Will you drop the false belief that your job, your study, your career is all about you, and instead begin to let him show you that your work, your schooling, your study your life is actually a calling – a vocation; a calling from Jesus not to live for yourself but for his world?  

It was not easy for those four men and their eight other journeymen as they went with Jesus. You can tell from the stories that a couple of them tell that these guys were still confused about many things most of the time.   

They may have wondered what on earth Jesus was doing most of the time, but they were also exhilarated and challenged and fired up by what they saw and heard and were a part of. They saw him heal and love and pray and challenge the powerful.   

They eventually saw him die and they thought that that was it – it was all just a dream; another human lie; another misplaced faith of little value. They locked themselves away; scared deflated and unsure of what to do after life in Jesus’ school.  

Until they saw him alive and saying “Peace be with you” as he breathed a new life into them.   

Those men changed the world – not be power or politics or science or intelligence or great wisdom, but by speaking and doing Jesus’ word – often at great cost to themselves. They all died for their faith except one – the Apostle John.   

Kids, he is always calling you. He is on your beach and he is always calling you and as you follow cool things happen.  

School becomes something new – not something to be suffered so you can get to what you really want to do on the weekend, School becomes a place of your calling; your following of Jesus and learning from him as you learn to love others.   

Work is not something to be angry about, to curse and swear about, to worry about and stress out about, work becomes a gift, a freeing activity that teaches you much and gets you further along the growing up journey in Gods preferred future for you.   

Work and school become not all about you but all about you giving, serving, contributing to the lives of others. It becomes Jesus working through your words and your actions to draw others into his calling to drop their nets and come and follow him with you.   

It was a  Thursday night when I ended up running out of the house in fear at night with nowhere to go wondering what on earth would become of me, if you had of told me that I would be married and have fur children and two daughters-in-law and know thousands of people across the country and across the world and have a job I love and people who love me, and a contribution to make to the world…. I would have kept running!  

None of Jesus calling happens all at once. He calls you day by day to simply follow him for today. He takes care of the longer stuff, the bigger picture.   

He does not call you because you are good, or smart, or religious, or gifted. He just calls you and makes of you what he wants and that will be best for you because his acceptance and forgiveness are best for everyone.   

You can drop your net of fears. You can leave your own vision of you and plan for your life.   

No need to be scared all the time.   

No need to be worried about feeling like the stranger, feeling alone all the time.   

Trust that God does have great purpose for you and call you to keep on seeking him for it.  

“Come, follow me and I will make you catchers of people with me”.  

  

 

I think I can – Message. Pastor Adrian Kitson 29-01-16 text

Sermon, Epiphany 4Cengine
Sunday January 31st, 2016
St Petri

Jeremiah 1:4-10

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Living this Christian life can sure seem like climbing big mountains – like that Little Red Engine in the children’s story by Reverend Charles S. Wing (1906). ! Life can feel like we have to keep geeing ourselves up with pure determination and grit; “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I know I can…….”. Somehow we are all supposed to be positive all the time and will ourselves up that mountain.

We all have mountains to climb.
• I want to be the most loving and effective parent I can be to give me kids the best possible start in life that I can. I will not ever hurt them. I will always listen. I will not make mistakes. I will protect them from all harm and danger so that they never experience any pain or sorrow……. impossible expectations!

• I want to maintain a healthy body –I want to be fit, never get sick, avoid all disease, be able to leap building in a single bound and be cool enough to wear my red underpants on the outside of my blue tights!

• I want be a faithful person of God. I want to love and serve. I never want to hurt anyone. I never want to disagree with anyone. I want to be clean living and morally perfect so that God can’t lay a finger on me. I want to know my bible so I can win any arguments about creation or God. I want to relate well to everyone all the time without any problems or personal challenge. I want to be able to make the right decisions all the time about my job and family……

What’s your mountain at the moment – You might qualify for the “Little Red Engine” award!

But, was Reverend S. Wing right? Is living life really a matter of being like that little red engine that could? Are we really meant to get it all done by more effort mined from within ourselves from somewhere? I hope not.

I am sure that this is not the way of Jesus. I am sure that we do not have to always be positive and convince ourselves that we really can do the impossible tasks he has set before us from our own resources. This is not how he has ever worked for the person of God. Just look at Jeremiah.

God calls a young man (maybe 16-18yrs old. Young Jerry can’t handle it. Jerry says, he cannot speak well enough to speak God’s words. He says he is too young, lacking in experience and lacking respect from elders.

All of these things are true I am sure, and yet with the Lord, they are also not the clincher when it comes to him calling Jeremiah for his good work among others.

Note to self: You probably are inadequate for the mountains in your life.

Message to self: It’s okay to be inadequate for a mountain. That’s pretty much how God intends it to be. Why? Because God is not inadequate.

In Jeremiah we hear how this usually works.
1. God calls a person
2. The person objects and focuses on his/her inadequacies and the enormous impossibility of the calling.
3. God responds to the person’s fear, doubt, unbelief and self-focus by giving a gift for the calling – a reassurance that the task actually is humanly impossible with the truth that the person is inadequate for the calling and also the promise that this is how it is meant to be because God’s is a very good mountain climber!
4. God follows up by giving the person a sign of his promise and presence in their life and reaffirms the person in his/her call.

Here’s how it worked for Jerry.
God calls him to be a prophet to all nations – and particularly to the under pressure, faithless people of Israel.
• In his lifetime, Israel will seemingly come to an end when in 587BC, the capital city is razed to the ground and its leading people taken off to exile in Babylon by King Nebbedkednezzer.
• Quite a task to call a nation back to God in repentance and faith in God. Just ask Jesus as he goes to his home town and they try to kill him!
• They tried to kill Jerry too. In fact, every prophet was quite reluctant when God showed up with that Calling! None of them wanted the job. Remember Moses at the burning bush? Remember Isaiah? “Woe to me a man of unclean lips” – a profound sense of personal sin and inadequacy for the calling.

God does not give up. He is actually the little red engine that can – because he can!

“Well Jerry, you say you cannot speak well and you don’t know enough; you have not got enough experience for the job? I know. I will speak my word through you. It will be me working in you in this calling. You’re not the little engine that thinks he can. I am the One who knows I can and so, we with your many brothers and sisters can”.

God goes further. In Jerry’s doubt and fear and ducking for cover, God gives Jerry a gift. He puts out his hand and touches Jerry’s mouth. This is the sign that God’s words are in Jerry’s mouth for this impossible calling.

God completes the picture and the call: He reaffirms his call on Jerry’s life; but now with this special gift to take into it. “See, Jerry, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

How is it working for you?
You have been called and commissioned by God.
• If you’re not sure about that, reflect on your baptism. That’s the commissioning ceremony where God touched your lips and put his Spirit Word in you. You are called into God’s family and ordained for a life of service to him and his people and his world.
• Recall those moments you have had when God gave you a specific nudge to do that thing in that place with those people.
• Reflect on the day you got married or the day your child was born, or the day you got that job or the moment when it was handed to you to steward for the next generation…..

Whichever way you look at it, you are called and commissioned by God to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1)

God is responding to you today.
• Don’t know enough? “No. You don’t. But I do”, says the Lord.
• Want people to like you? Yes. Everyone does want this. This is impossible. Not everyone will like you and being faithful to Jesus will cost you at times but the reward of His approval forever outweighs that.
• “I like you”, he says. “I love you. I love you a lot. I formed you in the womb and have known you since birth”. (Psalm 139)

And what of a sign for you of God’s continued calling?
• Signs can be many and varied. A visible spiritual experience, like Jerry received. A palpable dream that was more than imagination. A word of scripture that is enlarged to fill your being for a moment and you just know. A quiet word from stranger or fellow traveller in faith that creates a ripple effect in your life.
• And let’s not forget those visible signs of God’s presence that he gives – that visible moment when the Holy Spirit came to free you and live in you – baptism – a sign that was real, that happened in your personal history and on your physical body when water and Spirit flowed. “Be opened that you may hear and speak the Word”. And then that sign of Jesus’ continued healing, encouragement, power and peace – the holy meal of his body and blood in bread and wine shared with his body, the church.

Friend, you are called by God to be his mouthpiece and presence where you are. That is the truth of who we are and what we are.

No need for excuses. No need to be a Little Red Engine. No need to try and get ourselves over the mountains before us. Only a need to seek the Spirit and receive his gifts, his love, his power for any mountain.

The psalm writer gets it. He utters are prayer of the heart for the called person of God living in the world today – a prayer for every lived day in the call of Jesus for every mountain.

Psalm 71:1-6
In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

Our Coming Saviour – Week 4. Wondering Why

SermonOCS_Postcard
Advent 4
Sunday December 20, 2015.
St Petri

Luke 1:39-45
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”

Media file is played – Mary and Joseph

They are wondering why!
A moment of shock for an overwhelmed Mary and a confused fiancé and tradesman, Joseph! Is this good or bad? Will this thing be good news or bad news? Joseph is all ears now! So is Mary. Are we all ears now?

In our times it seems to be no big deal to many to have children if married or not. In an ancient community this is a big deal because it is a dangerous place, not only for the person or couple who but for the community. Children being born outside the support of a mother and a father who are committed to each other for life is a disruption to how a family and a community worked.

These folks are not living in the affluent West as we are. They are living in the poor East. In their time, life is lived in ever-present poverty. Life often hangs on by a thread at the mercy of corrupted occupying Romans authorities, threat of invading armies, bad weather and natural disaster.

When anyone in the local community steps outside of how the community best works for everyone, that person disrupts the community and makes everyone more vulnerable to all of the above threats.

Mary and Joseph surely will be judged to have placed their home town and their family in harm’s way by engaging in sexual relations and becoming pregnant before they had entered into the life-long marriage relationship, even though this is not what they did – but who is going to believe their miraculous story!?.

Being judged to be outside the family and community shape is also dangerous for Mary on a very personal level. She could lose him. Joseph is a devoted partner. Sure, he is kidding himself, saying that a man can do two things at once! But Luke tells us that Joseph is a righteous man, displaying great humility, kindness and concern for his young fiancé.

“Highly Favoured”?

Joseph may be a really bad listener but there is love and loyalty in this relationship. This so called favourable news, this “great honour” bestowed on Mary, may cost her this hard to find man. He could ‘walk’. He would have every community expectation with him. It would be no skin off his nose in terms of family or friends or business.

But he would lose the hard to find Mary too. …If Joseph decides to pull up stumps, Mary would have a much more tenuous future and a lot less love in her life – at least for a time….

Us too

When you think about it, the call of Christmas to us is the same. That infant in the cow trough is God in a way we did not expect or understand – at least at first. The longer I live the more profound this event becomes. Christmas is like a deep ocean. God becoming human for humans is deep and long and wide and you never will reach the bottom of it: Not in this lifetime anyway.

God’s ways are not our ways and his plans are better than ours. Just like God shifted Mary and Joseph’s life sideways into his much grander plan for his world, God’s calling on our lives at Christmas shifts the way we live and makes it matter in the very largest of plans God has for his world.

Christmas says that God is the Creator and Sustanier of all creation winning his creation back from evil and darkness in all of this very surprising and often hard to deal with plan he is putting into effect in the lives of these everyday people; people just like you and me.

Just as he highly favoured Elizabeth, Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, the working class Shepherds, the scientists of the stars and a whole town, a city and nation and this world, so he has highly favoured you and me.

He has called you into the stable, shown you his deep commitment and love for you and given you the privileged position of being part of his world-changing plan to heal help and hold this world together. He has made our small lives bigger than we could have ever known and we are all favoured, even if God’s favour sometime causes us some stress – like it did for Mary!

The joy of being loved that much

“Shalom” to you, Cousin Liz”, says Mary. “Peace be upon you!” says a young pregnant Mary to an older pregnant Elizabeth. Little tiny John moves and kicks in his womb and Lizzy is full of joy at this stunning news for both of them. Two woman at the opposite ends of life joined together in a special bond of joy all because of God’s gift of hope given to them. They are jumping for joy because they know for sure that God is on the move and things are changing fast. There are good days up ahead. That’s Christmas for Christian isn’t it?

A privileged calling

Advent is the time to ponder your privileged calling as a fellow traveller with Elizabeth and Mary and the rest. Advent and Christmas are times to ponder what on earth we do with the favour we have been given – chosen, called, named, loved, given a mission, grafted into a Living Vine called the local church, daily bread, forgiveness as we forgive, hope beyond illness and death, joy, peace, hope and love.

We might ponder things like;

  • Mary lost and gained. What could you lose if you trust the promise of God for your life and what do you gain?
  • Mary and Joseph had to keep trusting the Lord, taking him at his word. What are you willing to risk to take the Lord’s at his word and be a person through whom the Lord’s saving activity comes to your family, friends, and acquaintances?
  • Mary risked her lover, her marriage, her future, her family, her good name, her place in the community to partner with the Lord in his bringing a new time, new era, new relationship, new light, new life to a broken, troubled and dark world. Are you risking things to be God’s woman, God’s man, God’s young person, God’s child?

Emulate them

Luke tells us about Mary and Elizabeth because they are to be emulated; copied.

As we receive their example and the good news they were enabled to bring, I am praying we can be like them both and take this good news of God with us in such a human way as pure joy – the joy of being loved by the Lord that much!

I am praying for myself and for everyone that life jumps to life in us as God’s people as we enjoy the songs, the prayers the words of Christmas. We need Mary and her baby. We need the peace and the sheer joy of good news God gave through her to Elizabeth. God is love and he loves.

We need it so we can truly down tools and hear God speaking to us. Maybe we all can’t do two things at once or serve two things at once? We need to be shocked into downing tools sometimes like Joseph was.

Getting our attention

God is looking for our attention like Mary was searching for Joseph’s attention. Mary finally got it. In the moment of shock at the big news of God Mary speaks, Joseph finally listened.

God speak to you. God shock you. God get through to you. God surprise you again. God love you and give you genuine joy in his great love for you and everyone else.

God shift you with so that you are a person of love to live this life he is calling you to live so that you’ll risk anything just to be his and share in his plan for his world right here where you live.

Amen.

Comfortable or called?

Sermonaustinnazareth
Pentecost 6B, Sunday July 5th, 2015
St Petri.

Mark 6:1-13
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Accepting change is a difficult thing for most people. Accepting that something so familiar is now very different to what you thought it was either delights the heart with joyful acceptance or hardens our heart against this ‘impossible’ thing.
It’s like watching the kids grow up. They get to adulthood and you can be so surprised at them. You either be transformed in your thinking or you resist and become a grumpy old man even more!

They used to poo their nappies and hare around on their bikes and skin their knees. They use to wear you out wanting you to push them on the swing for hours. They got themselves into a real mess eating chocolate cake.

But then the same gifts of God transform you. They look all responsible and grown up. They drive a car. They have relationships you don’t know much about. They work in a job you know only a little about.

What was so familiar and accepted now is unfamiliar and needs new acceptance so that relationships continue to flourish and be transformed from one joy to another. The familiar gift transforms me.

Jesus heads home and does not find an accepting hometown community. Like his own family prior to this, the whole town just cannot accept that Jesus could be anything special – anything different than what they already know him to be.

They know his background, his family, his home, his trade. They ask each other, “How can Jesus the local tradesman now be an instrument of God’s mighty hand bringing in the long promised new era of the Anointed One, the new King David, the new age promised by all the Prophets, the new Moses….? They answer their own question. “He can’t be”.

They are offended that he says otherwise. These familiar folks can see that the man has a divine power and presence but they cannot believe what these signs and wonders and this new preaching with new authority show – that Jesus is God present and willing to transform them.

As a result of this lack of faith and taking offence at him and his kingdom message, Jesus can’t do much transforming serving among them. Even though he has all the authority and power in the world his Word needs a receptive human heart. He finds few of these. The Lord’s kingdom work is limited. People are left in their old behaviours and beliefs. Relationships stay unreconciled, disease runs its human course with no hope and peace, suffering is joyless and life in this town remains largely untouched by the transforming faith, hope and love that Jesus offers in sheer grace.

Friends, the message in this account that Mark chooses to share with us is clear – for us long-term disciples living 2 millennia after the resurrection, it can all become far too familiar to us.

The problem we face is that we can be like the folks in Jesus’ home town – the problem of comfortable familiarity – when we are unable or unwilling to believe that the Lord is bringing a new thing to bear in or midst.

When we sense a new call, a new movement of God’s Spirit, a new Word from God that requires new thinking, new belief or new behaviour, we can go back into the default position of familiarity – treat a 20 year old like she is still 12. We can dismiss what the Lord is requiring of us and be of little use in his mission to get to the other side of the sea where unclean, sinning, unaware people live.

As a result nothing changes for us or them. Most importantly, they don’t hear him and so cannot be transformed by God’s amazing grace. We are so much less than we could be as we settle back into life in our own hands.

But, thanks be to God that he does not stop at our unbelief or over-familiarity. He shows us what can we be too? We can be carriers of the Apostle’s Word, no matter who we are.

After this hometown experience of lack of faith, he shows us the Twelve in action. They are the model of faith here, not the settled hometown community. They are sent at Jesus command to other people in his name and authority.

That is us – the church now – sent by him for him and with his authority to even forgiven the sins of sinners, as well as to pray for their healing of body, mind and spirit, their release from evil things and powers.

In a community that is nearly 150 years long, the obvious challenge Jesus puts today is this: Have you grown so familiar with the gospel and the gracious gifts of God on offer as we gather in his name that you don’t expect or actually want him to send you into anything new and challenging for their sake and his?

The great thing about being in a liturgical church that has a high value on God’s gifts of preaching and sacraments of grace is that we do indeed passively receive these wonderful transforming gifts all the time. He serves us with the very best and we say thank you very much!

Because of what life throws at us, it is true that sometimes all we can do is be carried along by each other and the Lord as we gather in his name and this is good.

But those same wonderfully familiar gifts of the Spirit’s power and grace like baptism, Holy Communion, Absolution, the whole framework of how we gather in worship, the songs, the prayers, the fellowship we share are also transforming gifts.

They are given to raise us, resurrect us, heal us, call us and empower us to join the load-bearing Twelve.

Church is meant to change us and make us more like Jesus – more loving, more courageous, more confident, more aware of our reliance on him, less inclined to trust money, power or try to control our lives. The gifts of grace are for our comfort and peace it is true. And yet at the same time in these same gifts are his authority and power to make changes, believe and act and go to the other side of things for others.

Baptism pushes back evil and darkness and death. Absolution unties the bound and frees the captive. Holy Communion heals the broken hearted and bodied, calms the troubled conscience, renews the confused mind, the Blessing empowers the weak, re-sends the fearful and reignites confidence to live and tell of Jesus, like they all did even though Jesus commanded them to keep quiet about what he had given them. They just had to say something!

He has been calling us as a church to change – change the way we organise our leadership, the way we prioritise our activities, reaching out for new staff to do new roles, calling us to spend more of our time and focus more of our heart in his Word. All of this change is for the gospel – the transforming message of Jesus that heals the world right here.
The hometown folks could not believe that something so familiar and so ordinary could be so extraordinary. Can we? Will we?

Will we choose to continue in all familiar ways, believing the same familiar things about St Petri, about each of our part in this church, what I am as a Pastor, what this congregation has been in the past, or will we all accept his newness, his transforming Word of good news that melts the heart, enlivens the mind and sends us into the fray where we live – always together, never alone; like the Twelve – two-by-two at least?

I am praying that we are not the hometown crowd. I am praying that we are with the Twelve with Jesus – on the move, active, attached to his Word, powered by his Spirit, together, trusting him for the outcome, witness to his transforming presence and power among people not here – yet.

This town needs Jesus. This church needs Jesus. Your family needs Jesus. The goal of your marriage is to bring your spouse to Jesus. The goal of your parenting is to teach the kids Jesus. The goal of all of our ministries is to bring Jesus to bear in peoples lives – so his kingdom work continues and his mission to draw all people into his transforming grace is fulfilled in our community now.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Share or reflect on your high and low for the day or the week…

PRAY: Lord, open the eyes of my heart to this Word so that I may know you better.

Listen to the text making note of the place, the situation, the people and what Jesus says and to who….. Share your insights.

This is the second time we have heard that Jesus family have had a lot of trouble accepting him and his message. See Mark 3:20ff. It must have been difficult for Mary and Jesus’ brothers and sisters to believe that their very own son and sibling was God! I mentioned the surprise a parent can get as their children become adults and become so much kore than they used to be. Reflect on your own experiences of having to accept the change in a child or a person or even a situation and how that has been for you.

The whole town is not coping with Jesus’ message and the change it requires in their assumptions about him, about God and about themselves. What do the four questions they ask reveal about them? (v 2-3)

I suggested that Jesus’ gifts of grace in all that happens in worship are for our comfort and healing. He serves us and helps us and we rest in his gifts given in worship. But on the other hand, this same Jesus gives these same gifts for transformation. His gifts of preached word, baptism, Lord’s Supper, Blessing, song, prayer and fellowship we share in him are given to send us out like the Twelve. Share your thoughts on this belief…..

How is the message of the Twelve like that of John the Baptist and Jesus himself (Mark 1:4) and 1:14-15).

How has familiarity with Jesus and his Word and gifts blocked you from trusting him for who he is? How has familiarity sometimes stopped you from hearing his call to go, to be called by him, to work with him and others in his kingdom work among the people with whom you work and live….?

How does your family react to Jesus’ and the Apostle’s message in the Bible that we are sinners who need to repent and believe in the good news of God’s grace and love? Share your experiences? How does this affect you?

Where else is Jesus sending you to be his messenger of good news? How is that going for you? What kind of things would help you be more confident with this calling and where might you get those things?

Jesus, certainly does not let his hometown people stop his mission or the weaknesses or flaws of his Apostles. He is a teacher. He teaches them instead of condemning them in this text. Same for us. We share this mission to bear his good news message where we live. We share it as a local church. Do you think we are taking up our calling well? How could we improve?

PRAY: Lord, we thank you for our calling and for the grace we receive by your Word every day. Help us to live in the freedom that comes from your acceptance and love and speak of this when and where able wit confidence in your power and authority to transform us and others in the process. Amen.

Forgiven and Called

Sermon, Epiphany 2A, 19 January, 2014Lamb of God

St Petri

John 1:29-42

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”[a]

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter[b]).

I heard of a tourist who visited a church in Germany somewhere. She was surprised to see the carved figure of a lamb near the top of the church’s bell tower. She asked the locals why it was there and she was told that when the church was being built, a very long time ago, a workman fell from a high scaffold.

His co-workers rushed down, expecting to find him dead. But to their surprise and joy, he was alive and only slightly injured.

How did he survive? Well, it just happened that at that very moment of the fall a flock of sheep was passing beneath the tower, and this bloke landed on top of a lamb. The lamb broke his fall and was crushed to death, but the man was saved. To commemorate that miraculous escape, someone carved a lamb on the tower at the exact height from which the workman fell.

Landing on top of the Lamb…. Saved by a lamb… John the Baptist saw this in Jesus, who he names “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” in our text (John 1:29).

It is a strange name to be called but it also name rich in spiritual life for us…

It is a name that is pregnant with meaning from the Old Testament experience of God’s people and john the Baptist and then john the Apostle see this and proclaim it to the world.

Let’s take a quick look at the rich texture of this name of Jesus and what it means for you and me.

We have to see Jesus in terms of those big events way back in the Exodus with Moses and God’s people. In the crescendo of those 10 plagues and the defeat of evil, God tells his people kill a choice lamb and smear the blood of the lamb on their door frames so that their lives would be spared from God’s final judgment and defeat of Egypt and its gods. The people of the Exodus were saved by the blood of the sacrificed Lamb.

Later on, when God had given his people a ritual pattern of worship there was the one day of the year (Day of Atonement) when the High priest was called to enter the holy of holies in the tabernacle and later in the temple to sprinkle the blood of a sacrifices lamb over the mercy seat or ark of the covenant containing the ten commandments God gave his people. On this day the priest sprinkled blood over the ark of the covenant thereby enacting God’s forgiveness of all their sin and the re-dedication of their life with him by his grace and love.

Also a sacrificial lamb was sent out of the city into the desert to “bear the weight” of the people’s sin. This lamb or goat was called a “scapegoat” because by its sacrifice the people were saved from God’s judgment on their many sins. (Leviticus 16:15-22).

In the Prophets of the Old Testament, the promised Saviour is often pictured as a “Suffering Servant” who will be like a “lamb led to the slaughter” as he bears the sins of many (Isaiah 53)

So, in the Old Testament God both gave his people ways in which they could ritually get rid of their sins by means of the Passover Lamb, the scape-goat, the ritual offerings of lambs and other animals and that special day of year when as a nation their sins were atoned for by the sacrificial lamb.

No wonder John the Baptist and John the Apostle along with the other gospel writers and the early church could see Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away their sin and the sin of anyone who comes to him in repentance in and faith.

This is not just some Old Testament Jewish history thing but a spiritual now thing for you and me. This is not just some nice info to have on the bible should you ever have to answer a bible round at a quiz night somewhere, this is living faith now…

In the water of baptism we fell immersed in the water and the Word and there Jesus, the sacrificial lamb who was condemned by God in our place, stopped our fall with his own life. There we were dipped in the blood of the Lamb and made pure. On that rugged cross he was crushed by our sin and in his amazing grace he sat us up straight and sure with a new life lived in the very presence of our God.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, has given us the gift that makes all the difference in the world – he gave us the supernatural gift of forgiveness. John says that this is what Jesus, the Lamb of God specializes in – forgiveness, forgiveness of that “other us” that separated us from the love and mercy of our God.

Not only has God given us the gift which only He can give – forgiveness of any sin and dark thing, freedom from having to follow our dark impulses as they tear ourselves and others apart, and new life lived in the pure and wonderful light of God’s grace and truth – he has given us these greatest gifts for a purpose.

John the Apostle makes it clear in our text that Jesus is the forgiver of our souls alright, and he also caller of our souls. He forgives and calls. His forgiveness and new life are also a call to follow – follow him and every word that he speaks.

We come to a problem when we think of our calling – or our answering the call. To have a calling is to set our hearts and minds on the one who calls. To live our calling as Jesus’ own people in our world means following his direction, listening to what he says and then doing it – because he says it.

Often we don’t know what to do or say or even doubt that doing anything that Christians are supposed to do really are worth doing. Often I think we find ourselves doing everything but following the word of Jesus and doing it in practice everyday. We have misguided goals.

Our Misguided Goals:

I read this during the week and it struck a chord with me….

There’s an emptiness in pursuing anything less than God’s call. Darrell Bock is one of those baby boomers who has entered mid-life. A teacher at Dallas Theological Seminary, he writes in Christianity Today how as a young, idealistic man, headed for seminary, he thought being a successful Christian meant “being a winner for God, taking control, and doing all I could for his kingdom…The essence of our spirituality was to do all we could for God in the 40 or so years we had.” Now, at mid-life, he has discovered that such spirituality is empty. Much of it was influenced by American culture with its bent toward independence and self-fulfillment. Darrell writes:

“Many pews on Sunday morning are filled with people seeking God, praying like mad, studying the Word, but who still wonder why God seems so distant.

Maybe it is because our culture has taught us to pursue goals that do not bring us closer to him. Perhaps those goals undermine the relationships we are to have with him and with others.

What are some of our misguided goals?

  • “Where our culture says, ‘Seek your place in the world!’ our God says, ‘Seek the kingdom of God.’
  • Where our culture bids us to ‘find yourself!’ God calls us to ‘lose yourself, and so find life.’
  • Where our culture calls us to ‘be your own self-made person!’ our God calls us to become ‘members together of one body…’
  • Where our culture teaches us to ‘look to your own needs and interests!’ God calls us to have ‘the attitude of Christ Jesus, who took on the nature of a servant.’
  • Where our culture promises, ‘You can have it all!’ God calls us to ‘consider it rubbish, that we might gain Christ.’
  • Where our culture mandates, ‘Be at the top of your game!’ God calls us to ‘be crucified with Christ.’

Friends, Andrew found out first hand that his life was centred on and surrounded by the call of Jesus to come with him and take away the sin of the world. He must have discovered such clarity about life as he left his old life and took that hardest step of all – the first step in answering the call of Jesus.

He had to tell his big brother, Simon. He went and found Simon and Simon was changed forever and given a new life, now as a man called “Rock” (Peter). These brothers would live the call with their heart, mind, hands and feet and they would give up their lives earlier than they should have following the call of the One who alone could change their hearts and make them so much more that they ever could have been.

Through these two people, and another 10 like them, the history of the world as we know it would be altered beyond recognition and people on the other side of the world would know what happened this day when the Lamb of God sent from the Almighty to restore the human race to its original place in God’s heart of love called two brothers into his community of forgiveness.

Here we are and here is the Lamb of God who has taken away our darkness. Can we give up trying to figure it all out by sheer intellect or super-spiritual activity and hear the call and follow?

The Lamb is still forgiving and calling normal people like Andrew and Peter and making them strong a significant part of his mission to forgive the sins of the whole world.

He even is calling you – no matter how young, old, smart, tired, busy, wounded, happy, weighed down or successful in the world’s eyes you may be.

He is calling us this year to be different, to get on board his mission train, to throw caution and any self-worship out the window and love each other and the people of this community.

He is calling, will you follow….

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Share your high a low for the week or Christmas period.

Read the text slowly noting anything that stands out to you….. If there was a biblical scholar in the room, what would you ask?

trace the “Lamb of God” theology that is mentioned in the sermon – from the Passover to the Worship of Israel to the Prophets to John the Baptist adding in any other key parts f that theme you know about (if any) and then think about Jesus as that sacrificial Lamb whom God has given to us and the whole world so that people’s sins can be dealt with – not in judgement but in God’s grace. Share your thoughts/understanding of this rich biblical teaching on Jesus….

I said we are “forgiven for a purpose”. That comes from this text about Andrew and peter and the others being called by Jesus – the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin.

i also referred to baptism as the moment in time that all of the benefits of of Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sin and death came to us. Romans 6:1-7 on that….

We are “forgiven and called”. What have you been called to in your life? Has there been one calling or a few? Share a part of your story….

if you could name just one “misguided goal” you may have had what would that goal be and how did you see this and return to trusting Jesus for forgiveness and a new start? Share your story…

I contrasted God’s goals with ours…..,

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-AU
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

  • “Where our culture says, ‘Seek your place in the world!’ our God says, ‘Seek the kingdom of God.’
  • Where our culture bids us to ‘find yourself!’ God calls us to ‘lose yourself, and so find life.’
  • Where our culture calls us to ‘be your own self-made person!’ our God calls us to become ‘members together of one body…’
  • Where our culture teaches us to ‘look to your own needs and interests!’ God calls us to have ‘the attitude of Christ Jesus, who took on the nature of a servant.’
  • Where our culture promises, ‘You can have it all!’ God calls us to ‘consider it rubbish, that we might gain Christ.’
  • Where our culture mandates, ‘Be at the top of your game!’ God calls us to ‘be crucified with Christ.’

Which of these stands out you you a the moment and why?

Close with a prayer asking the Lord to help us receive his forgiveness in baptism and the Lord’s Supper and then be people of his cross who give up our own lives for the life and hope of others.

Light the Fire

Sermon, Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2013, St Petripentecost

Light the Fire

Romans 8:14-17

 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Bonfires are great things to behold. A number of our families beheld one just the night before last at Roennfeldt’s property. We reflected on the description of the Holy Spirit as flame and fire in the New Testament. We can see that same description of the Holy Spirit as flame on our banners here in the sanctuary. It is good to look into those flames.

It was good to feel the glow of that bonfire and see the faces of God’s people of all ages lit up by that flame Friday night – God’s people, adults, and children and young people gathered around the flame seeing each other lit up by the fire of the Spirit as we live our lives in his glow, his love, his fire….

But, as we know life is not always like a nice cozy flame filled bonfire. Life can be cold. Life can be alone. Life can be doubting. Life can be confusing. What about when it feels like the flame is just not there? We can’t see the flame of the Spirit. We can’t sense the flame of the spirit working in us?

When we can’t or won’t sense or trust that God’s Holy Spirit is working in us we find ourselves giving up on all the St Paul says here.

When we are away from the flames either in fear, or doubt or because we are looking around in the dark trying to find some peace and joy in other things, we give up the truth that we are baptised dearly loved children of our God. We tend to dismiss the reality that we are still indeed being led by the Lord.

We think we are all alone in our day, having to churn out the good works to somehow stay connected to God.

We return to the slavery of trusting only ourselves or our idols for our day and our decisions and troubles which puts us right back onto that murky world of fear, self-centredness and timidity when it comes to bearing the grace and love of Jesus among others.

We reject the future we share in God – living outside of our inheritance – the truth that we are already adopted sons and daughters of God, heirs to all his promises and power for living this life well in Jesus’ name.

By our walking away from the bonfire of God’s Holy Spirit active in our day in love, we cannot hear the Spirit crying those beautiful words to the Almighty and Holy God of the universe, “Abba, Father, Pappa, Daddy”. In our cold fear and disconnected doubt, we feel fatherless, loveless, isolated and alone in this calling to live the life of a disciple of the resurrected Jesus. As a result we are a lone ember from the flames – slowly going out or of no warming, lighting value to anyone.

So, to live out our calling to be alive, be aglow, be functioning bearers of the gospel of Jesus, sharing the love and hope of Jesus with everyone, we need to hear, see, sense, feel and experience the warming presence of God’s Holy Spirit.

To be fully alive and fully aware and fully joy-filled and bold witnesses to the grace of God living in us we need to hear the Spirit’s cry, “Abba Father” in our own spirit and live from that warmth of belonging in the Lord and in each other as his church. To be the best partners, workers, students, friends, colleagues we can be we need to stay close to the glow of the Spirit’s counsel, power, dynamite, presence, wind and water…

But where? How? When? By what means?

  •  Do we have to reach some spiritual place to get close to the flame of the Spirit?
  • Do we have to achieve certain good behaviour in God’s sight to receive the strength of the bonfire of God’s grace and power for living?
  • Do we have to understand certain mysteries or acquire certain hard-to-find wisdom to truly live as a loved person of God with freedom and courage for all we face?

No, No and No. We do not have to reach some super-spiritual place, do some super good works or acquire some super spiritual knowledge to hear the cry of the Holy Spirit telling us we are the dearly loved people of the Almighty, Holy and only Living God.

Before we are spiritually aware, perfect in good deeds, wise to the ways of God, the Spirit comes to us in the grace and power of Jesus’ fiery forgiveness, just as he did to those 11 Apostle’s and the whole world present on that great Pentecostal Day.

WHAT DOES THE SPIRIT DO?

The Spirit calls us from our darkness, idolatry, death and doubt to light, the worship of our Father in heaven, faith and life. He does this when we were in those things and when they still entangle us. He calls to faith. He calls to hope. He calls to love.

The Spirit gathers us. He places us all on the knee of our Father in heaven where we bounce to heart’s content in the joy of belonging to God, whether we are doubting, dying, disconnecting or dead on the inside. We are us because he has made us his community and he is sustaining us and firing us up for our prime purpose – to call and gather them in to the fire of God’s love and grace in Jesus.

The Spirit enlightens – he expands our limited horizons, teaches us the narrow way of faith in Jesus’ love in the everyday experiences of our life – suffering, joyful or otherwise. He walks with us to offer us wise counsel, good advice, power – dynamite of brothers and sisters in the same fiery community to be the enlightening presence of Jesus in this town.

HOW DOES HE DO THIS?

By the wind of his Word blowing through our minds, spirits and bodies. The Spirit of the Lord is the Word of the Lord. The Word of the Lord is the Spirit of the Lord.

Apart from the Word of God spoken, preached, shared, prayed, sung, lived out there is no faith and belonging in the one holy community of God. With the Word, the Spirit living, breathing, acting on us as we sing it, share it one-on-one, proclaim it, dwell in it there is calling, gathering and the lighting up of our hearts and minds like a bonfire.

The Spirit is the Word and the Word is the Spirit, poured over our heads in baptism in water, heard in our ears in that beautiful word of forgiveness for our sin, taken into our bodies in the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus in that holy meal of love, shared in our homes and our groups and between fellow travellers in this life led by the Spirit/Word, prayed to our Father in heaven in whose name we gather as we use the ancient words to sing, speak and pray our faith in his goodness and love.

So, can you see, friend, that you are always being called, gathered and enlightened by the Spirit. Will you trust that as you gather with everyone else here in large and small gatherings the Holy Spirit is offering you counsel, guidance, power for overcoming any sin and obstacle, power to live this life he has given you fully and freely with the joy of a little child being bounced on Dad’s knee?

WHAT’S HE DOING HERE?

St Petri – the community called, gathered and enlightened people by the flame of God’s grace, by the power of God’s dynamite of the Spirit rushing through our minds and hearts….

What shall we do fan the flame of the Spirit’s work here? What shall we do with this fire in the belly?

Mission. That’s what we shall do with this fire in our hearts. Mission. We will pull together and we will engage in the work of bearing witness to the flame holding us together in God’s presence. We will work while it is still day to be instruments of the Spirit calling, gathering and enlightening his people into the holy community of God the heavenly Father who loves all and welcomes all by faith in his Son, Jesus.

That is our task. The church only ever has one mission – to draw others to the flame. To be the flame in cold places. To be together so we can be apart so we can be together again – with a few extra people!

The flame s burning here, friends,. The Spirit is on to it. Things are on the move. The Spirit’s wind of change is upon us.

Here’s the Spirit’s question and invitation: What is God calling us as his community of the Spirit to do specifically in our place here?

That is the question on our minds and the question we are seeking the Spirit’s counsel on. Will you seek this with us and tell us what you here? What specifically is the Spirit wanting to make of us in these times ahead?

We can’t lose, even if we take some risks, because Jesus is the head of his church and the Spirit is the one active in love among us whether we get it right or get it wrong at times, he will stay and he will remain because he has said so.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to us about our mission – to be a celebrating people sharing the love and the hope of Jesus with everyone right here?

What might the Spirit be calling you to do and be here? Older, younger, newer, longer, saint, sinner, man, woman, powerful, weak.

What gifts has he given you for service in the mission we share?

Why has he placed you here now?

What changes is he nudging you to make?

What wind of change is blowing through your heart as you watch, do and listen here these days around St Petri?

It is time to think and pray boldly trusting each other and the Spirit’s promises and presence to call us, gather us and enlighten us on this question before us.

Spirit of the living God, come. Come to us your people here and show us the ways in which you are making us a community of people living in the last days who do indeed live in the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, calling, gathering and enlightening

Jesus make us a people and a place where anyone and everyone can call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:21)

Amen

MEDIA REFLECTION     [wpvideo izqaApMb]

GROUP STARTERS

  1. Share a time when you senses the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  2. What kind of things hinder you from believing that the Holy Spirit is active in your life?
  3. What helps you believe that the Holy Spirit is with you and helping you?
  4. How has the Holy Spirit called you to believe and be a Christian?
  5. How has the Holy Spirit gathered you to St Petri?
  6. How has the Holy Spirit enlightened you as you have shared your journey of faith with other Christians?
  7. How does being named a “son” of God and heir to Jesus’ throne make you feel and how does this truth help you live with confidence in the Lord?
  8. The question, What is God calling us as his community of the Spirit to do specifically in our place here? was aksed. Share some of your thoughts on this question and pray that the Spirit would help us all ponder this and hear his voice as we journey on together in mission at St Petri….