Tag: Christmas 1C

The Father’s Business for 2019

Sermon, Sunday Dec 30th, 2018  – 1st Sunday after Christmas

St Petri

Luke 2:41-52

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

 

Whose business are you about mostly these days, and what has this special boy got to do with it? That is my question to myself and you today.

Another year is coming. Business, education, farming, caring, working, saving, holiday making, planning retirement, planning school subjects, university or gap year….That is the business on the agenda of your life. Where is this special boy and his Father in all your business?

We know the boy was special. We have just remembered all that happened at his birth.

There were angles singing, Herod frightened, Wise men wondering, Shepherds gazing, John the Baptist calling, Elizabeth and Zachariah rejoicing, Mary pondering all this in her heart. He interrupted the business of their lives and made their lives centre on God’s business.

We know the boy was special. We know his Father sent him and has some serious business to do on planet earth and in my life.

Luke gives us just a glimpse of a teenage Jesus. He is still special 10 years or so on from his birth.

Jesus has real business to learn as he is in the business of growing up. He has this concern, this interest, this drive, this shape to him that is unusual among people his age. Jesus, the young lad is consumed by Someone and Something.

This shape ends up getting him trouble one day.

While he is where he wants to be dicing it with the people he finds fascinating (and they him) in the temple, his family is already on the road heading home from the city after the festival.

After assuming the teenager was somewhere among the relatives and friends heading back home to Nazareth, they finally realise that the boy is not with them.

When you find him do you hug the boy or get stuck into him about ‘growing up’ and ‘taking responsibility’!?

I can imagine a bit of both! The anger turns to relief and joy when after having to back track all the way to the city, they finally track down Jesus in the temple with all the bearded men talking theology – as if nothing has happened!

You can tell that Luke wants us to know that the young man is that same baby of promise who came to do God’s serious business, and the business for which he came is on track.

This Father’s business of being in the world to save the world, in your life to save your life, in your face to shine God’s light and love upon you is on track.

This deep need to dwell in the Word of God and be in his Father’s presence, around the holy things of God and the people of God will mark this young man’s life. Will it mark yours in 2019?

Later on, he will come back to this same temple and clear it of trading tables and money exchange booths in pure zeal for “my Father’s house”. You can hear even here when he is so young, ‘church’ is not really the building or the stuff in it so much as a Father’s home in which he, the child, is at home – really ‘at home’. He calls church, “his own Father’s house”.  Will God’s Word, done and said in his community gathered, be your heavenly Father’s house and your home in 2019?

Luke tells us what happens as the dust settles on this particular snapshot in time. Mary does her wonderful “pondering all these things in her heart” and;

52 …Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

That is what being in God’s presence around his Word and his gifts with his people does for us all. It helps us grow in on three ways.

WISDOM: As it was for the young Jesus, so for us: the Word of God grows us in the wisdom of God.

The business of our Father begins with a respectful heart for the things of God, the Word of God and the people of God.

“Fear of the Lord is the beginning point of all wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10).

STATURE: Jesus grew in stature –“ place”, “understanding” of God and the world,  “knowledge”, “awareness”….

With a heart centred on the Word of Jesus we get changed. Why? Because the Word of God is a force, a power and spiritual reality that shapes a person and creates the very things we need to be in order to be a fuller, more complete more aware, more understanding, person.

Jesus says as much when he is beyond these young years;

“The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:10)

FAVOUR: With God and people.

Jesus grows into favour with God and with other people.

Like a young woman on the rise in business or a young student who works hard and earns good results, our respect for them grows and our encouragement flows.

This has happened before. Remember the young Samuel also in his Father’s house – centred on the Word and the holy things and the humility to hear and receive whatever the Lord had in store for him?

And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with people. (1 Samuel 2:26)

With a heart open to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit does call me, shape me, and give me a part to play in his mission community called the local church serving the world.

How will this happen for you, for me, for us in 2019? Will it be by keeping so busy with the business of my life that my business way overshadows our Father’s business in time and priority? No. I think we know that.

As we have our hearts set on the love of our heavenly Father in the shape of his Son, our Saviour Jesus, this will come out of us in everything we are and do and then we will grow God’s way – in genuine love, faithful serving, joy even in our suffering.

Our Father’s business is to draw all people into his loving embrace by repentance of all that separates us from him and the receiving of all his grace toward us. It is our business too.

How we will go about our Father’s business in 2019?

Same way God’s people have been in the family business of the Kingdom for ages…

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

What will be your main business in 2019?

The young Jesus and the gospel-writer Luke are saying;

Let him rule in our hearts that are full of thankfulness for everything we receive from his hand.

Let his peace rule in your relationships – practice forgiveness. Say it. Do it. Mean it.

Share the word, share life in the word, share the experiences God gives with each other, including the teens and the little kids. Receive his Word said and done in song and liturgy and proclaiming

Sing. Sing your faith a lot.

Pray to your Father. Pray all the time for people – known or not.

That’s the business of a gospel man, woman, young person, child. That is our business as a church in 2019: our Father’s business. 

 

Our Coming Saviour – 4 Strands of spiritual growth

SermonOur Coming Saviour
Sunday Dec 27th – 1st Sunday after Christmas
St Petri

Luke 2:41-52
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

We know the boy was special. We have just remembered all that happened at his birth. There were angles singing, Herod frightened, Wise men wondering, Shepherds gazing, John the Baptist calling, Elizabeth and Zachariah rejoicing, Mary pondering all this in her heart.

God’s glory turned up on our experience in the way we can grasp – one of us, as Isaiah and all the prophets said – “Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God” in flesh and blood – and all for the love of the world, not to condemn anyone but to invite everyone in from the highways and byways to taste and see that the Lord is good and be regenerated in heart, mind and body by his presence…

We know the boy was special.

Luke gives us just a glimpse of a teenage Jesus. He is still special 10 years or so on.

Jesus has this concern, this interest, this drive, this shape to him that is unusual among teenage boys. Jesus, the young lad is consumed by this shape, this character, this interest.

It ends up getting him trouble one day. While he is where he wants to be dicing it with the people he finds fascinating (and they him) in the temple, his family is already on the road heading home from the city after the festival. After assuming the teenager was somewhere among the relatives and friends heading back home to Nazareth, they finally realise that the boy is not with them.

Now, this is dreadful feeling. As a parent who has had that awful feeling that one of the kids is lost on my watch, I can only imagine the more and more frenzied panic that must have set in as Mary and Joseph search for the young man among the travelling group.

Then I can imagine the anger quickly overcome with relief and joy they might have felt when after having to back track all the way to the city, they finally track down Jesus in the temple with all the bearded men talking theology – as if nothing has happened! Do you hug the boy or get stuck into him about ‘growing up’ and ‘taking responsibility’!?

Whatever they did, you can tell that Luke wants us to know that the young man is that same baby of promise and God’s plan is very much on track.

This interest and drive to be around the word of God, the holy things of God and the people of God will mark this young man’s life. Later on he will come back to this temple and clear it of trading tables and money exchange booths in pure zeal for “my Father’s house”. Jesus sees things differently than other people right the way through. His vision of ‘church’ is not really the building or the stuff in it so much as God being present among his people – “his own Father’s house”.

Luke tells us what happens as the dust settles on this particular snapshot in time. Mary does her wonderful “pondering all these things in her heart” and;

52 …Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

That is what being in God’s presence does for us all, especially the teenagers. It helps us grow in on four ways.

The Word of God grows us in the wisdom of God.
This begins with humility before God – a respect in the heart for the things of God, the Word of God and the people of God. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning point of all wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10).

What we hear from the Lord in his Word shapes our lives so we know what to do and say at the just the right moment.

Jesus grew in stature – place, understanding of God and the world – knowledge, awareness…. This Word of God we hear is not merely another story among many that a person can choose to enjoy or take pride in or learn. The Word of God is a force, a power and spiritual reality that shapes a person and creates the very things we need to be in order to be a fuller, more complete more aware, more understanding, person. God actually shapes us by the telling of Christmas and all the rest.

Jesus grows into favour with God and with other people. We might say “respect” or “place” among peers and in God’s calling on our lives. With a heart open to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit does call me, shape me, and give me a part to play in his mission community called the local church serving the world.

As I relate to other Christians, and bear witness to the love of God in Jesus in quiet and sometime quite verbal ways, my connection to my heavenly Father grows. I never need to demand more of or preach at people by telling them what they should believe, but simply invite them to see what I have seen in Jesus. Respect often grows and the genuine questions inevitably come.

We want this 4 stranded kind of growing in or congregation. We want to be a part of helping our children and young people to grow in these ways as Jesus grew – “in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man”.

How will this happen? Will it be by doing more programs, being more active, spending more money, being more creative, – well maybe. But it always happens when we are “about our Father’s house”.

As we have our hearts set on the love of our heavenly Father in the shape of his Son, our Saviour Jesus, this will come out of us in everything we are and do and then we will grow and so ill the young as they also are like this – like Jesus when he was 13.

If we want our children and young people to grow in wisdom and stature and favour with the Lord and other people when Paul has some encouragement and calling for us as we close off Christmas and enter New year one more time.

He says a growing church with growing young people and families will do these kinds of things.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

Yes, let him rule in our hearts that are full of thankfulness for everything we receive from his hand.

Yes, practice forgiveness. Say it. Do it. Mean it.

Share the word, share life in the word, share the experiences God gives with each other, including the teens and the little kids.

Sing. Sing a lot pray all the time for people – known to them or secretly.

Trust the Jesus is everywhere you go and in your work and home and decisions and troubles and live in his good name – in his good presence receiving his good gifts so you grow in his wisdom and favour above all others.

And in it all, and through it all love and learn to love and give love and receive God’s love in Christ over and over again until one day you look at what we have become – a local Christian community who value and teach and love our teenagers and children and support their parents in a million ways because we know that as we do, God will grow them in wisdom and stature and favour with him and people.

New Clothes for the New Year

Sermon: Christmas 1C, Sunday Dec 30th, 2012Dance man

St Petri, Combined Service

New Clothes

Colossians 3:12-17

 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves…And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

How did you go at Christmas? Gifts all good? Some gifts are great because they are fun – they are toys to play with, even for big people. Some gifts are not so much fun, but they are practical – like that usual pair of new socks that grandma always gives, or that pair of underpants that your mum always manages to put in somewhere, or that summer T shirt or nice new shirt.

Sure, getting clothes doesn’t give the big excitement factor as the present is opened, but a few weeks after all the presents have been opened and some of the toys worn out, that new pair of socks will come in to their own and that new T shirt will become a much appreciated piece of clothing. New clothes are good for that – they last. They are practical.

New clothes are good for other reasons too – they make us look good (hopefully!) and that all helps in helping us to feel okay about ourselves when we are out and about. It is a good feeling to feel like we look good (even if others might not agree!).

It is true though, that the whole new clothes thing – the fashion thing – can become a little too important for us. We do have this human need to feel okay about ourselves. If new clothes are the thing that we rely on to be okay with ourselves and others we will become fashion junkies – addicted to that new fashion look – dressing in self chosen clothes to cover up all the things that are not okay within us and our relationships.

The new clothes we choose to wear can keep us on something like a tread mill where we are totally focussed on ourselves and how we are looking among others – and of course, when we are focussed in on ourselves – seeking to always please others, we are getting into the territory of selfishness and pride in a destructive sense. We somehow disconnect ourselves from others and certainly disconnect ourselves from God and his presence in our lives and hearts. When we get to this kind of reliance on our own clothes we are not in a good place as far as being fully alive disciples of Christ.

It is lucky for us that God’s got a whole set of new clothes for us – clothes that he has made and which he has placed on us in baptism. Paul speaks of new clothes for a new year and a new day. These new clothes both make us “other-person” focussed, and help us to remain other- person and God-focussed in our living.

The reason why Paul can call us to “put on” these new clothes for a new day is because he is sure that God has already given them to us. God has given us the clothes of his own Son, Jesus. God has chosen us to wear the life and love of Jesus to display him to others. We have been made new on the inside by the love, peace and joy of God again this Christmas, and we have been made living bearers of the shining clothes of the light of Christ. We walk through life on God’s cat-walk as we show off Christ and his clothes.

So, what are the clothes we both have been given are now called to wear for the new year?

Well, Paul gives a pretty good list of our new clothes of Christ.

Two of the new garments are about HOW WE ARE TO TREAT OTHERS. First is the garment of tender mercies The first word, “tender”, (splagchnon) literally means “bowels” because a person’s bowels were regarded by the ancient people as the place of the tenderer affections, especially kindness and compassion”.

The second word, “mercies”, (oiktirmos) describes “compassion, pity, mercy”. God has given us “an inner life in which compassion lives”, or as we might say today, a heart of compassion. We are to live this inner life outwardly for others.

Then there are the clothes of kindness (chrestotes). The Lord has given us his kindness in his Son in that little manger and on that rugged cross, and so, we are to speak and act in kindness as Jesus speaks and acts toward us in his Word and Sacraments.

Two more pieces of Christ’s baptismal clothing are concerned with THE STATE OF MIND WE ARE TO POSSESS. The first is humility (tapeinophrosune); having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s “littleness” with others before God. Having a healthy modesty, humility, lowliness of mind as Jesus had as he lived his life in service to his Father and people around him – all kinds of people!

Then there is meekness (praotes). Gentleness, mildness, meekness. As the Lord acted in gentleness to us – even being born as an infant, we speak and act with gentleness, even if sometimes boldly and with conviction – but still never for the beating of our own drum – always to show the new clothes of Jesus’ forgiveness we have received.

Paul knows what life is like and how people are not always kind, meek or compassionate – even if we are! Three garments in our new wardrobe relate to HOW WE SHOULD ACT WHEN MISTREATED.

Paul commissions us to be longsuffering (makrothumia). These are the new clothes of Christ’s patience, forbearance, longsuffering, and his giving up of revenge on others. These enable us to bear with one another (anechomai), rather than leave each other when life gets tough. As the Lord bore us and our sin and weakness and self-orientation in his own body on the cross, so we bear those things in others when we encounter them.

And then there is that most precious garment that we constantly need from God and constantly need to give – the garment of forgiving one another (charizomai). The Lord has put his forgiveness on display again this Christmas and as the new year begins, his promise is to forgive and forgive again because of what he has done in Christ for the whole world. So we do something pleasant or agreeable to someone else. We do people a favour by forgiving them in Christ’s name. Sometimes we let things go and sometimes we call people to account and assure them that we will not keep them imprisoned in our hurt or anger.

The final garment that tops off all the others and makes our clothes “work” in displaying the light of Jesus among people is LOVE (agape). This is the best new garment: true self-giving, self-sacrificing love that God has showered upon us. We are clothed in his undeserved love and so we bear that and give that away in his name and strength.

Self-giving love is described by Paul as “the bond of perfection”. Love is “the perfect tie that binds” the other clothes of Christ on us. Love is a belt binds pieces of clothing together. Love is the reality that makes us people who fulfilled and complete. Our outward actions match our inner convictions and we are at peace with ourselves. Without love, none of the other pieces of Christ’s clothing can last; with it, the others can be easily maintained.

How good it would be in 2013 to happily wear these new clothes that Jesus has already provided. In the challenges the new year will bring, there will be people bearing with each other, serving each other, forgiving each other, letting go of revenge for others and we will be a people of love.

Friends, the new year starts with us setting our minds on things above, says Paul (Col 3:1-2). Our minds will be set on the good things of Christ by letting the Word of Christ live in us richly. As we let the Word of Jesus have free reign and free course in our thinking and acting, the Spirit of God, working in his Word and his Sacraments, will fix our minds, our goal, our work, our words, our purposes on Christ and his will for us we will experience his peace – his shalom and life then can be lived in thankfulness.

The new clothes of Christ are tailor made for his people and we are his holy and chosen people…

a. We are “God’s elect” (His chosen ones) – Col 3:12

b. We are “holy” (set apart for a sacred purpose) – Col 3:12

c. We are “beloved by God” – Col 3:12

d. We have been “forgiven by Christ” – Col 3:13

So, chosen, holy, loved and forgiven people of God, clothe yourselves this day and this next year with the Lord’s new clothes and teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

All thanks be to God in the name of Jesus.

Amen