Tag: hope

Bad Dreams, Big Ideas and Butterflies

Sunday 3rd November – All Saints/In Memoriam  – St Petri Church

Transcript of Message by Pastor Noel Due

Bad Dreams, Big Ideas and Butterflies

Good morning everyone this is a very special morning.  We have come through a year where one way or another, we have all suffered losses and finally we approached death itself through 1000 losses. We lose one thing after another and then finally we lose the connection altogether. It is really good to be able to take the time, a specific time and a special time like this in the church year, to be able to remember the significance of what has been and what also we are yet to face. Sometimes we get so stuck looking at what has been, that we never actually come to move into what is.

 

I want to speak about a few things this morning that you’ll all be very familiar with. The first is bad dreams. Daniel was having some. We have three readings today, which all in their own way and each specifically emphasise, not just the bad dreams but a big idea that trumps all the bad dreams. Daniel experienced that.

 

Then there is something else in all of those readings, something which is truly gospel, something which is promise. That thing is best represented by a Butterfly. It is just coincidence today that that Pastor Adrian put his stole on and I put on my multi-coloured Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat stoll, and they both have butterflies on them. So, in case you feel like you need now go to sleep – we’re talking about bad dreams, big ideas and butterflies.  I think we have had a bit of experience each with those things. Anyone here ever had a bad dream? You sometimes can think your life is a bad dream – probably not that. Dear Daniel wasn’t really suffering bad dreams, not in the way that we understand bad dreams, not nightmares, but he was suffering very troubling dreams.

 

When we face a loss we generally face the loss of something in a personal sphere. The loss of a person who is very close to us, even the loss of a pet who is very close to us touches us very deeply.  A loss of our livelihood. A lot of our farming communities in the drought stricken areas of Australia, the loss of their farm. Some have been on that property for five generations.

 

When we face loss, we can go into an emotional turmoil which is represented by darkness, it sometimes feels as though the darkness is pressing in. Sometimes like with Daniel’s dream, it feels like the winds of heaven are stirring up all of the breakers and the sea of the world and out of that turmoil are arising beasts that would seek to devour and consume us. We face that loss personally in one or other of those ways that I’ve mentioned.

 

Daniel had faced the loss of all things. His people had lost everything and were now in captivity and Daniel, through a remarkable series of events, was being raised by God to serve the ruler of that new country in which he lived, and also to be a prophet for his own people who were in exile. Daniel’s dreams were not bad dreams in the way that we understand nightmares or bad dreams but they were deeply troubling dreams because when you come through a time of suffering loss, one of the greatest issues is – Why? How did we end up here? Why did this happen? We can become unceasingly afflicted by, what I call the “if only” or the “what if’s”. If only I had … If only we had noticed earlier. If only I had gone to the doctor a month ahead of time. If only I had been home instead of away and what if? What if I had been there? What if that person hadn’t died alone? What if? and in the turmoil and the trouble we can sense that things or it feels like things are spinning out of control. But Daniel’s troubling dream (I won’t call them bad dreams any more). Daniel’s troubling dream was not the last word because the counterpoint for that is also a triumphant exalted vision of God on his throne. One like a son of man coming up to receive from him a kingdom which cannot be shaken. One of whom it said later “all authority is given to me in heaven and on the earth” and it is also said in Daniel that those who share in that kingdom receive a kingdom themselves which cannot be shaken.

 

The writer to the Hebrews takes that up. He says at one point, “once more the Lord will shape heaven and earth” quoting Habakkuk. But he says when that shaking happens, we believe, we know, we experience that we have a kingdom which cannot be shaken.

 

In other words the bad dreams, the troubling dreams. The wind which seems to rise out of nowhere to create havoc, the dark images of destruction that come in the person of those beasts in Daniel’s vision. They are not the last word. They have to be faced. You don’t make any progress in life by making out that they don’t exist. But they have to be face in faith. In faith, based on the revelation of a far greater and more exalted vision which is of the Lord himself who is in control of all things. Even it seems, in control of the darkness. That we are not spinning out of control, the world is not spinning out of control and that is the big idea which is at the centre of all of the readings. That big idea can be summarised in one phrase – it is the kingdom of God.

 

The kingdom of God is the big idea which runs all the way through the scriptures. The kingdom of God means God’s reign and God’s rule. We say at the end of the Lord’s prayer; for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Interestingly enough, that phrase, that little segment, is not in the earliest versions of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew and Luke – but the church felt it was so important to be memorialised in the context of that prayer that for 2000 years or so we have included that phrase or that paragraph. It is a testimony to what we, as God’s people, have held and believed and which has kept us as a whole church over thousands of years, in the faith.

 

There are bad dreams, there are troubling dreams, there are deeply perplexing things, there are deeply painful things – but they do not have the last say. There is a bigger idea, a bigger reality, a bigger truth beyond all of the trouble. And that is the utter assurance of the sovereignty, the kingdom, the rain and rule of God. And if you want any evidence that that is so, you only need to look at the cross. Because in that place, through the person of Jesus Christ, you see once and for all, enacted in human history – the inescapable reality that God’s kingdom trumps everything. Even death itself and God himself in the person of his son went through the valley of deep darkness so that we might participate in the surety and the security of being in his kingdom.

 

I don’t know if you picked up from the reading in Ephesians that it talks about the holy spirit being a “deposit” and a “seal”. Do you remember that bit in the reading? Now, those two words come from the language of the marketplace,, and we are a little bit familiar with them in our own way of doing business. In those days when you put a deposit down it was the absolute guarantee that that thing against which you place the deposit; be it a jar of olive oil, one of those amphora of wine that you see being carried up from the bottom of the Mediterranean,Sea at archaeological digs or a big jar of olives or a couple kilograms of grapes. Whatever you put your deposit on, and then you went off to the other parts of the marketplace – that was yours no matter what.

 

God has made a deposit in us of the Holy Spirit. We are His, no matter what.

 

The other word that is very close to it conceptually is the word seal. He has placed a seal on us, and again that’s from the language of our ancient Greco-Roman markets. When, let’s say it was a barrel of herring or something really wonderful like the fish sauce that the Romans used to prize so much. When a seal was placed on that by a trader it had his mark on it. That barrel of goods or container of goods could not be touched by anyone else except with the express permission of the owner. It had to be presented in a written document to say “I give permission for Joe Bloggs to touch this thing and move it” but apart from that, that seal meant that the item was sacrosanct and no one else could get near it. That’s the way God relates to you! He has put a deposit within you of the Holy Spirit which says that you are his is no matter what. And He has put a seal upon you, which means that nothing can come to you except if it first come through God. You might think of the dreadful suffering of the old Testament person called Job. Even all that happened to him, could not happen without the express permission of God to say “you may touch this one even though he is sealed”.

 

For us, therefore this time of perplexity and pain and confusion, this darkness, this raging of the wind in the rattling of the shutters at night time and the trouble that gets us like Daniel turning on our beds. (A bit like a rotisserie chicken 2 o’clock in the morning?) All of that we actually now face by faith, because if we had to face it in our own strength and with our own resources and just in the life span that we have – and nothing beyond it, nothing under it, nothing over it, then we of all people would be most to be pitied. It would be truly hopeless.

 

God is granted as a great assurance of a kingdom which is an everlasting kingdom which cannot be shaken and which goes beyond death itself. Which takes me to the butterflies.

 

Now, this is probably a question you might not want to put your hand up for, but the first part is okay. Did any of you have silk worms growing up? They were good fun. They were not butterflies, but at least they hatched into a moth and that’s close. Did any of you growing up see? Do you still get them here? Those wanderer butterflies which came in the beautiful blue and silver chrysalis?

 

Now this part is probably what only boys are going to put their hand up for. Did anyone ever try and cut one open to see what was inside?

 

Well, I had a friend. I still have a friend. He ‘fessed up to me during the week. He said he found one and him and his dad and his brothers, decided to cut one open and see which bit had turned from the caterpillar into the butterfly.

 

Now, what happens? How does that process take place? Getting from the caterpillar to the butterfly. Does it happen bit by bit? Do you have half caterpillar and half butterfly? or do you have some butterfly feelers and caterpillar legs? How does it happen?

 

Well, my friends said they cut this one open and to their surprise it was just all grey mush inside. They said – and their dad agreed – “This is probably a dead one, it has gone off” ‘cause they couldn’t see any butterfly bits. In fact it wasn’t a dead one, it hadn’t gone off, because the way in which those transformations happen – from caterpillar to butterfly, is a complete and utter undoing of one thing and an entirely re-doing of a new thing out of the soup that is in the chrysalis. It’s not as though it changes bit by bit from the top down or from the bottom up or from the legs outwards. The whole lot is  dissolved and then the whole lot is reconstructed. So why am I telling you that?

 

Welcome to your life! It’s not just a picture of death and resurrection in the physical sense. Most of us, if I may say looking around this congregation this morning. Most of us have lived long enough (that means we are over 21) to have had an experience where the whole of our lives seem to be broken down – true?  It’s not just that sometimes we lose a loved one and we wonder what’s happened to them, but in the midst of that loss it seems as though within our own selves everything is deconstructed. You think, can anything ever come back out of this again? and what comes back out of that again is a new thing but it is connected to the old thing.

 

I’m convinced that we don’t get over grief. What happens is that that grief is used under the hands of God to bring as into a new future which is connected to all that has been. But it is not the same as all that has been, and in the process coming through that chrysalis phase, it seems as though everything is just dissolved and you wonder, can anything good ever come out of this? and the answer is “yes” because something good came out of that cross. When everything seemed to be dissolved, and they had suffered the loss of all things, and the disciples and the others scattered into the night. Their internal life and their spiritual life and their sense of God’s presence and their love for Christ was totally destroyed – and out of that a whole new thing emerged. That’s why throughout the history of the iconography, (the sacred art of the church) the butterfly has always symbolised not just resurrection but new hope.

 

The word that I want to bring to us today is that if you are still, or have been in that place where it is still bad dreams, don’t fear, because there’s a bigger idea beyond that. The reign and rule, the personal presence of God and the assurance that out of that which you have lost, God will bring a new future. That person whom you have lost is already experiencing it now.

 

We’re sort of stuck in the chrysalis waiting for it yet to happen but it will happen. Personally and corporately.

 

I serve in the Department of the church which works with churches which are suffering the loss of all things. Many on the verge of closure, some wondering if they have a future. I don’t know whether God will want to keep the Lutheran Church of Australia going, we are a bit of a funny bunch. But I am absolutely convinced that he will keep the church going and revive it!

 

We all live in that hope and it’s not just a wish – it is a sure and certain future. It’s a promised future. It has a deposit and a seal and you can be absolutely sure that God is bringing you into it even today.

 

So may the Lord be with you, particularly now, as we come from a time of remembrance and to share the Lord’s supper together in Jesus name. Am

Hopelessly Confused – Pastor Noel Due

Sunday 29th September, 2019

Pastor Noel Due – audio and transcript of sermon preached at St Petri.

We’ve got  three readings before us this morning.  As you’ll see from the bulletin notes on the front page, these are centuries apart.

One is the story of Jeremiah buying a plot of land. He is buying that plot of land immediately before the catastrophic destruction of Jerusalem. So when everything is torn up and destroyed, he does the most nonsensical and counter-intuitive thing. He is commanded by the Lord to buy a piece of real estate that everyone else would regard as utterly worthless. But of course the issue is not piece of real estate itself. The issue is what does this purchase say and the purchase says that God is going to do something beyond the destruction.  In other words if your hope has been in all the things that you’ve spent your life building and that is destroyed, is your hope is destroyed. And for Jeremiah his hope was not destroyed because the word of the Lord came to him, and there was a promise of resurrection beyond the death and destruction of the invasion that was about to happen.

Then of course there’s the reading from Luke chapter 16, which is the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Again it’s a story of misplaced hope that the rich man felt because he was rich because he had so much, because his life was so defined by his well that he was impervious to suffering, and of course death comes to us all – death reverses things and so those who had nothing in this life typified by Lazarus are the ones finally who inherit the kingdom. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Then you have the account of Paul giving some advice to a young Pastor called Timothy and his telling him about the danger of wealth and the necessity for generosity. and how it is that he, as a young Pastor, must;

a)    He himself must keep himself freely from the love of money which is the root of all evil

b)    To also instruct his congregation, his people, not to be trapped in the love of money which is the root of all evil.

It is significant I think that if you go through the entire scriptures from beginning to end, you will find at some point either the prophets, or the law, or Jesus himself or all of the new testament writers in one way or another – bring a warning about misplaced trust. And that warning about misplaced trust is very commonly expressed in that trust being misplaced because of our wealth, our riches, our money.

So how does a Pastor preach to a congregation about money, and wealth, and misplaced trust apart from wearing a suit of armour. so you don’t get stoned.

If you were here last week and listen to the Lectionary readings. In Luke chapter 16, the last verse of the Lectionary reading was this. Jesus said to them that you cannot serve God and – money. Some translations say you cannot serve God and wealth but actually it says you cannot serve God and Mammon (not marron, they are crayfish!). You cannot serve God and mammon.

Mammon can be understood as wealth, and it can be understood as money, but it’s not just that. Mammon stands for that whole system where you are at the centre of everything. It’s all about you accumulating things and stuff. It’s about you defining yourself by what you accumulate and how you accumulate it.  You providing a display to the world of your worth by what you accumulate and how you express that accumulation. Mammon is all about that activity which money can express, which is an expression of your own selfish ego. That’s what Mammon means it’s not just wealth and not just money. Don’t misquote what Paul says in Timothy. It’s not money that is the root of all evil, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Mammon is really not wealth or money but the love of money – that attachment to this stuff which is the expression of your hope.

Now you’ve heard another verse, not in the recent series of lectionary readings, but it comes from 1 Corinthians 13:13 and I bet if I started you’ll be able to finish this:  Now abide these three; faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.

If you think about Faith Hope and love, I think you will discover that the whole world needs them. Indeed the whole world seeks to express faith, hope, and love in some way. In other words, there is not a Christian world in which there is faith hope and love and another Christian world in where there is not faith, hope and love. Actually there is the kingdom of heaven where faith hope and love are properly centred. And then there’s everything else where faith hope and love are all scrambled.

So you think about the Jeremiah reading, faith hope and love all scrambled. Loving the wrong things, in the wrong way. So faith is misplaced and hope disappears when the destruction comes.

Think about Faith Hope to love and the rich man. Faith hope and love all scrambled. Loving the wrong things, Mammon in the wrong way for the wrong reason putting his hope in the wrong place. So his Faith is not in God, and when the destruction comes, he has no hope. He is, to quote Timothy, trapped! That is a very strong word in Timothy.

He is trapped by his love of money.  He uses the word trapped and also talked about people destroying themselves.  He talks about are making shipwreck of the faith and that’s because faith, hope and love are all scrambled. It’s not that they don’t have faith, hope and love – but it’s faith in the wrong thing. It’s love, loving the wrong thing and therefore putting your hope in the wrong place. So you and me and every other person that you ever need is a person who runs by faith, hope and love. The only question is;

a)    In whom is your faith placed?

b)    What therefore do you love?

c)    Therefore, where is your hope?  Does that make sense to you?

We live in a society in which faith, hope and love are all scrambled. Everyone in Australia is looking for faith, hope and love or even expressing faith, hope and love in a certain sort of way – but it is faith trust and confidence in the wrong things. It’s loving the wrong things and so, hope in the wrong place. And when, someone drops a brick on your glasshouse, how do you cope? Or, if someone called “God” dropped a big brick on the glasshouse of Jerusalem, by means of an invading army called “Babylonians”. Jeremiah says “Hope comes, not from our security, nor from our ability to defend our borders – but from God, who promised that there would be resurrection beyond the destruction.

Both Pastor Robert and I, in our respective ministries, move around the church a lot. I think that what we are seeing, if I may say bluntly, in the Lutheran Church is that God is bringing us face to face with the fact that we put Faith Hope and love in the wrong baskets. We put faith hope and love in our structures, and our institutions, and our theological formulations. In our liturgies, in our patterns of worship, and if we touch any of those we get all scrambled. We are, as far as congregations go, falling off a cliff.

Within 10 years on current trends, the number of people worshipping in a Lutheran congregation anywhere in Australia and New Zealand will be half of what is now. Within 10 years!

So if faith hope and love are scrambled – Where is the gospel in that? I read the Gospel reading this morning. There’s a bloke cooking in Hades, and there is a gap fixed between him and Abraham’s side and there is no crossing over. There is no redemption. Like there’s no second chance. That’s it, you are done. At the end of the reading I said, “This is the gospel of the Lord” and you said, “Praise be to you, O Christ”. Praise be to you, O Christ for what? What a hopeless picture where there is no second chances. Is that gospel? This is the gospel of the Lord. What that parable does, what that picture does, is actually to press the urgency of what happens when faith, hope and love get scrambled.

Remembering 1Timothy they become trapped! The gospel of the Lord, in that gospel reading, is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Not to the rich man, not for you and me. It doesn’t have to be that way – but you have to work it out now. Not then.

There is an urgency to this beloved, a real urgency and I believe the Lord is asking through the circumstances that he is bringing, where the church is collapsing institutionally. Where all the things that we put our trust in can no longer sustain and buoy us up.  I think the Lord is saying “Listen, there is a resurrection”!

If that thing goes, like Jerusalem, and in its entirety, there is still hope. It’s just that if you’ve got everything in that basket you won’t see this one. If you’ve got all your hope here you won’t understand the true hope.

When I was sometimes teaching students in the theological College, I talked about the difference between hopes with a small “h” and an “s” on the end, like hope that greater Western Sydney might win. I hope this time, this week, that I win the x-lotto. I hope that no my coffee is nice this afternoon. Short-term hopes. If that’s all you’ve got and they taken away, you are trapped and you’ve got nothing compared to hope with a capital “H”, whose name is Jesus.

The gospel is that God is doing everything to realign the faith, hope and love that is being misplaced and scrambled in us and has left us hopelessly confused. God is doing everything to undo that, so that our hope, faith and our love may be in Christ. Does that makes sense?

So even if those things seem to be falling apart it’s only because God loves us so much that there is a greater thing that he wants us to belong to. The question is simply “Do we trust him”?  Not even a question of “will we let him” because he is going to do it anyway. It is “Do we trust Him’?

As we come to the end of the sermon and turn shortly to the Lord’s supper. you have an absolute, sure, guaranteed token of God’s love, in which Christ gives himself and says “No matter what else happens, no matter what else collapses no matter what we have to do to unscramble your faith, hope and love when it’s misplaced, here is true love. “Here, take and eat”.It is where faith is, “Here, take and drink” that’s where our hope lies.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Hope Rising

Sermon: Pentecost 8B, Sunday July 15, 2018

St Petri

Ephesians 1:3-14

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he[c] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen,[d] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.

 

The world is a brutal place. It is now, and it was in Jesus’ time. It is brutal because people can be brutal. From the first murder recorded in Genesis, that of Abel at the hand of his own brother, Cain, to all that is happening in Syria and Turkey and in our own cities and towns, life can be very brutal. A few years back in Geneva, UN human rights expert, Ben Emmerson named human rights violations at the hands of ISIS and etc these last years as occurring on “an industrial scale”. (June 22, 2015, (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16122&LangID=E))

This hurts. People hurt. How telling it is that Jesus hurts too? Jesus obviously knows the pain of injustice and violence personally. We hear it today. His cousin, John the Baptiser. John was brutally killed for no noble reason. Jesus knows unjust, innocent suffering and its dark grief.

Here’s what we know. Jesus feels as we feel. He knows loss. He knows grief. He knows brutality. When he stands outside his best friend’s stinking tomb he hurts to weep. When his own blood stains his own body as he is brutally ridiculed, tortured and crucified, and his public shame complete – he drinks this violence to the last drop.

And because he knows our pain and stays the course through it with love unyielding, there is another story to tell alongside this grizzly tale. There is a grand story of light and love at work among us, even in the unfair, unjust brutality we know and fear in our day.

This other story is beautifully proclaimed by another man who knows the pain of life. he also proclaims this story of love and life from an unjust brutal prison cell to a community he loves. Paul dictates a letter to his trusted friend and co-worker Tychicus from a prison cell in Rome toward the end of his missionary work.

His beginning words to his people in Ephesus lift us out of dark damp despair of any kind. These high words lift us out of human brutality, fear and the many, many questions that feel like a prison at times.

This is two hundred Greek words strung together without a comma or full stop in 1:3-14! So much to grasp, so much to see – all compressed into these 11 verses!

Would you lift your eyes from your concerns, your questions, your pain to gaze in wonder and praise at the awesome sight of the universe moving in procession to its appointed goal of being “gathered up in Christ (1:10)

1:3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

A brutal world blessed. A dark mind enlightened by grace. Dead person Spirit filled. Heaven here, not just at the end or far away. Heavenly spiritual life in life today, not just tomorrow.

1:4 …just as He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love, he destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ according to his good pleasure and will. .

Family. Divine family. Holy friends, we are. All his choice of you; his awareness and commitment to you. You; an adopted child; one of billions. You are fully known and fully ‘in’. You have his name; his family name. When suffering comes we call on his name and remember ours – ‘Son, Daughter”, “bride”, “beloved”, “child”, “church”, “holy, blameless, accepted”, “people of the Way”; “Christian”, “Baptised”.

1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins…

Once we were dead in self worship; unable to find the family or the Father. When suffering comes all we had was us; our skills, our pep talks, our self-help, our best guess. But now we can do better than guess. We can trust. Wan seek and we can receive that glorious gift above all gifts – forgiveness with all its hope and possibility and joy.

And as many a mate or parents has said “A man needs a plan”, and so does a woman and so does God. it is a grand plan and it is here – even if it is mysterious stuff!

1:9  God has made known the mystery of his will that he put into action in Jesus.

Our life in God, beyond our own is a mystery. Like anything a bit mysterious, this plan can only be received in good faith. This mystery into which we have been baptised and called is lived only by faith and trust. By trusting what the Lord Jesus does and says we are lifted into his story beyond our own.

1:10 Now God has put a plan in place for the fullness of time. That is, the plan will come to fulfilment in his good time. But what is the plan?

I worry about the world, and I am anxious about my place in it, and our place in it.  From a prison cell, or a community surrounded by many gods of self to families falling apart to a fight with a friend, there is this plan that will bring fulfilment of it all. Like a band or orchestra searching for that final resolving note, we will resolve. he will resolve it and us. The tune will eventually be sweet and complete.

What’s the detail of the plan?

1: 10  …to “gather up” all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.

God is a gathering God. Like a bower bird or a collector of fine things, the Lord is the God who gathers friends like shoes. God is collector of people. God welcomes strangers in and adopts them as his own kids. Jesus the Son is the gate, the door through which the Father welcomes us and adopts us into his large house. Jesus is the shepherd too who finds the sheep and brings them on home.

Friend, in your questions, your suffering, your pain and your worry about the world and your own family, the truth is that all that is alienated, disjointed, lonely, hard, unfair and doubtful will be sure. You and I and we as a church community are always being put back together, like Humpty Dumpty’s shell. That is what our God does. he is always gathering, planning, working, drawing us in, inviting us to know and love and be known and loved.

The world may be brutal, but it is still the Lord’s, and the Lord of Church has a plan to end the brutality and sadness.

No more talk of ‘the church dying’ or you ‘dying’ as if there is no plan of Jesus in you and ahead of you. Only pray, trust, thanks, words of witness to his presence and you hope as a result.

Sense hope rising again today – for whatever has squashed it lately or a long time ago. Hear the hope and give the thanks. Be free from prisons and darkness and pain in Jesus. He is hope and light and love.

Hope, mysterious hope! Hope against all hope! You can because there is a plan and a God who is working the plan.

I’ll invite again……Would you lift your eyes from your concerns, your questions, your pain to gaze in wonder and praise at the awesome sight of the universe moving in procession to its appointed goal of being “gathered up in Christ” (1:10)?

Let the Spirit give hope rising for your today and tomorrow. that is faith and that is life.

PRAY

Lord Jesus, lift us up into your hope rising that we be patient, confident, loving people of yours where you have placed us.

 Amen

Hope brings Confidence – Sermon and Conversation Starters

SermonHope Confidence
Pentecost 25B, Sunday November 15, 2015, St Petri
Hope brings confidence under pressure because all Life heads somewhere good
Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-25

Mark 13:1-8
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

 

IT CAN ALL COME TO NOUGHT

Last year I had the blessing of going go to the USA on a professional development journey. On that journey I had the time to get to New York city. I managed to visit Ground Zero of the September 11 attack that brought down those huge Twin Towers. Now there is only two massive holes in the ground where those enormous twin structures once stood. I marvelled at the enormity of what happened in this place. I marvelled at how human beings can reach to the heavens as they construct these enormous buildings, and also how fragile it all can be as even these symbols of wealth, power and human enterprise can be reduced to rubble in an afternoon. I remember remembering this very word of Jesus that day.

For the citizens of Jerusalem and all of Israel, Herod’s temple was similarly regarded – the place of power, the symbol of calm and wealth and future life – surely immovable because of its largeness, magnificence and beauty. Like that TV program, “Megastructures”, shows, human beings can create such magnificently large, technical and awe inspiring buildings. Why do we do it? Maybe to reach for the sky in an attempt to believe that we can master our own lives and destinies – as in the Tower of Babel. Or maybe it is our way of trying to express the vastness and beauty of God; like the gothic cathedrals of Europe. In the city of Jerusalem the Temple is all of this for the people.

As his disciples marvel at what seems sure and solid and everlasting to them, Jesus reveals that there is a day of reckoning for even the highest, surest most beautiful human thing – and for those humans who made it! He stunningly declares to his dumbfounded friends that there is a final judge who has complete authority and power to bring to nothing even the greatest symbols of our human power and might or our attempts to capture God. “Everyone brick will be thrown down”, he says. He declares that there will a day of reckoning for everyone and everything. There is an end point. There is a final word on life and death and how human beings live. There is One who has the power to fulfil perfect and right judgement and will do so.

PLEASE TELL US WHEN!

Like many of us who were witnessing those planes hit those towers, these disciples could not take in this news. Like those hearing Jesus, the blame shifted almost immediately to those who we thought should know of this catastrophe before it happened. Where was James Bond? Where was the FBI and the CIA and all of those names we hear in the movies?” If only we had had fair warning we could have avoided this destruction.”

The disciples are like that. They want to know. “Tell us, Jesus, how to avoid this or at least be ready for it when it happens as you say.” We are like that too. “Tell us Jesus. Tell us exactly what will happen so that we can be one step ahead of the rest”.

MINIMAL DETAIL ENOUGH

Jesus’ response of the frightening fact that human beings and their attempts to either be God or reach God or sum God up will eventually be destroyed, thwarted or so very limited is general at best.

Conflict, war, poverty, famine disasters of earth and sea will show you that we are heading in this direction. No specifics, just fair general warning of signs that God has us covered no matter what happens.

NO STOPPING GOD

And that is the comfort today – that even war and the violence and the poverty are heading toward something – or actually Someone and that somewhere and someone are very good. Evil within and without has its moments, but God has the final moment.

The hope Jesus gives these troubled people is that even the worst things are not bad enough to stop Him in his tracks. Not even the most tragic thing, the darkest thing, the most painful thing, the most evil thing can stop God’s movement, God’s plan, God’s desire, God’s activity, God’s future from coming to be.

Friend, our congregation, our families, our community, our lives are oriented toward fulfillment in Christ.

ACTIVE PRIEST

As we heard in that word to the Hebrews, by his suffering, pain, facing evil, entering death and rising, Jesus the Great High Priest “offered for all time a single sacrifice for human sins”, and “sat down at the right hand of God,” where he rules in grace and love. It is so very hopeful hearing that the Lord is not passively watching the “pain show”. The Priest of all is active in making the enemies of faith, love, peace, good health and great love “made a footstool for his feet.”

Jesus is actively engaged in this making all things new and right now. And so we have great hope. We trust that all wrongs will be made right, all evil will be dealt with finally. All injustice, poverty, pain and tragedy will be righted. Like a damaged ship at sea, there will be a safe harbour where all repairs are complete. We don’t seem to need too much detail. Like a patient in the hospital facing major surgery, too much detail does not help! Just assurance that you will get through it is enough.

WE ARE HEADING SOMEWHERE GOOD

Friends, even though our everyday lives are organized around various overlapping daily, weekly, and yearly cycles and schedules, we are heading somewhere and it is a good place. The Christian faith is essentially a linear faith. God has a mission, God is fulfilling and perfecting, God is shaping the future toward an end. We live in his hope. We are people with a golden hope to share. Life is going somewhere good, not because we say so but because he has done so. By faith in Jesus, the end is brilliant because we have already passed from death to life, according to the Bible. The end is more life – beautiful life in him – now in part, then in full.

WHAT DO WE DO WITH HOPE?

What do you do with confidence that comes from hope? Do we smugly keep it to ourselves? Do we separate ourselves from those we believe to be ‘unbelievers’ who are on the way to destruction like Herod’s temple? Do we rest on our laurels and do life our way believing that we are already in and therefore can live the way we choose without reference to the Judge of all things?

No. Again the writer to the Hebrews encourages us: Since we have confidence to enter the presence of our holy and true God by the sacrificial blood of Jesus, which has opened up for us a new and living way to hope and peace and love, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, who is familiar with all of our tragedies, loses, weakness and wins, we approach the Lord with a honest and open heart in full assurance that we are accepted, loved and holy by faith in Jesus, and so, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, here’s how we live out our hope;

  • By holding tight to the belief in Jesus who gives us our hope without wavering, for he who has promised that our lives and our world are heading somewhere good is faithful.
  • By “considering how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,  and
  • “all the while not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.

I am praying that you can pray with the ancient song writer;

“Protect me, O God, for in you I take cover.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol, the place of forgetfulness, or let your faithful one see the Pit.
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy…”.     Psalm 16

Hope brings confidence.

Amen.

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS

What is the biggest or most beautiful human-made building you have ever seen? Tell your story…

Hear the Mark gospel text again as it is read slowly, imagining the scene, hearing the disciple’s question and what they are asking Jesus to do when he says that even this massive beautiful building will come to nothing under God’s final judgement.

What is your view of the times we are living in? Do you believe that what we see and hear are signs that the end is coming or do you believe that life has always been this way and that things are no better or worse but the one day it will come to an end….or something slightly different.? Share your thoughts/beliefs….

The disciples ask for some details on when this end will come but Jesus does not see to give them much, other than to say that even the worst things are not the determining factor in God’s plan for his world. Would you like to know more detail? Do you believe there is more detail to known in the Bible? What is the purpose of us Christian knowing more details about the end time things? Is it enough to simply trust that no matter hat happens, God will determine our end and our life? Why/why not?

I said our great hope is that nothing can stop God in his tracks. Our life is going somewhere and that this ‘somewhere and Someone” is very good. The Christian life is a linear life – it does have a progression, a direction and that gives up confidence to live through whatever “birth pangs” we are surrounded by. How do you feel about this belief?

We are meant to do something with this confidence that comes from hope. That passage from Hebrews gives us clear direction for living in the hope we have in Christ. How do you respond to those three directions given in Hebrews 10;

  • holding tight to the belief in Jesus who gives us our hope without wavering, for he who has promised that our lives and our world are heading somewhere good is faithful.
  • “considering how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,  and
  • “all the while not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.

PRAY – Psalm 16.

God’s Song for God’s People

St Petri 10.30 CommunityGods Song
10.30 Music Community All In
Saturday May 24, 2014.

Opening Input
I reckon you may have heard me say at least once, “The local church is the hope of the world”.

It has been a long journey for me to believe this to the point of giving my heart and life to it.

I heard a guy say that line back when I was about 25. His name is Bill hybels. He is a pastor of a large church and global network of churches now called Willow Creek. Willow Creek is in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Why are we here ad why are we calling you to be involved; to step up and to step it up?

Play Clip… http://www.willowcreekglobalsummit.com/next_steps_2012_HOPE.asp

I believe this. I heard it 20+ years ago by this man and resisted it with all my might for ages.
It has taken me a few decades of questioning, kicking against the church, chasing more visible and more “worthy” causes to put my heart into to come to this realisation that the local Christian church is where it is really at.

I spent most of my teen years and young adult years searching for more grand, more world-beating, more important ways to serve God. I thought music was the key and playing in a band was everything. I learnt eventually that the local church is the bread and butter mission in God;’ grand mission and that belonging to and serving in a local Christian community committed to serving its community was the primary way God brings about his kingdom in the world and that I can be OK with giving my heart to it.

This is not for everyone and you may be on the search for other things. That’s OK. We are all on a long journey with Jesus.

But I do believe that the local Christian church is the hope for the local community.

I actually do believe from all my experience and my reading of the New Testament that God works the longest and the most lasting bringing his kingdom of justice and peace and forgiveness into a local community through the people he calls, gathers and sends out in the power of the spirit with Jesus Word and in his power. And he does this despite the fact that Mr Schmidt farts in the pew every Sunday, the preacher is often tired or boring, the music is not as slick as the You Tube clip or CD version, the praying is done by a kid, the oldies think it’s too loud or the mid-life people think they know it all.

Sure the local church is not as “sexy” as other worthy things, and it full of sinners, but it lasts and it shapes and it is where we have the best chance to truly learn his Word and learnt o love all kinds of people for the long haul of faith.

Not saying that other para-church ministry is not valid or important and worthy of our effort and commitment. God is big and he work when and where he wants through all kinds of people and in all kinds of places.

But, without that local long term community of faith in Jesus, we are lacking the very best and the most potent source of God’s changing love.

Sure, not all churches get it. Not all churches have the heart or the vision or the people to be of huge impact and help to their community.
But even a group of 20 people gathering faithfully to be empowered to serve their local community in Jesus’ name is the church – Jesus in action through his people.

So, why are we asking you to get better at your skills in singing and music?
• Why are we saying practice stuff before you rehearse it with the band
• Why are we urging you to turn up on time and be ready to go for your team
• Why are we working on our 4 band structure, our leadership skills and our gear?
• Why are we doing today?
• Why are we trying to give you experiences that build up your confidence and your skill and your commitment to your team?

So that this little guys gets Jesus. So that his dismal life is halted and hope overwhelms him and his destiny is changed.
Serious. You think your just playing a few songs. I think your being a steward of Jesus’ kingdom breaking into people’s lives as we gather in that church building.

You think it merely a matter of your hobby or interest or need to sing and play. I believe it is sacred calling and privileged service of people just like that little guys and his parents and his grandparents.

I believe that God works longest, broadest, across the generations, for the long haul and in the most consistent way through a community of people he gathers together in a local community.

I believe singers and musicians and sound people and pastors are stewards of God’s transforming power to change people’s lives and bring people hope and new life. We don’t preach or play music or sing or pray because its nice or because we are expected to or because we have not got anything else on. We do what we do because Jesus calls us to it, gives us the gifts and says, serve – serve them in my name.

I am only here because someone took this seriously. I can list mentors, friends, and strangers who had the fire in belly to be serve little me with their gifts – musical and otherwise. Who are you serving into a relationship with Jesus? Who might the Spirit call and gather through you and the using of your gifts for his kingdom?

As Pastor of St Petri and community song leader myself I want to see you all develop in lots of ways;
• Your skills in singing and playing your instrument,
• Your understanding of how bands work and team work.
• Your understanding of your gifts and your calling
• Your understanding of worship and what the Lord is doing when we gather in Jesus name
• Your understanding of what a local church is and why it is worth growing in your gifts and serving God’s people.

I don’t really care about music that much in a way. I don’t really mind about your skills or lack of or your great moments or your mistakes and I don’t think the Lord is concerned about these things as we are at times. He cares about you and I do too and I care about this local church – the hope of this town.

But why wouldn’t you want to give it your very best? Not for me or even your band mates but for him? So sure, we don’t strive for perfection because that is just silly. But we do strive for excellence – for him and each other and God’s people.

So in as much as we sing and play and hold ourselves well as we serve and play and sing and give of our time and effort for the love and hope of others, I am keen, I am proud and I am committed.

So, don’t play to just take some noise or fulfil some personal need or because it is expected by someone or because you’ve got nothing else to do – learn to serve to be a steward of Jesus’ transforming love in this community of people – your home, your community, your place where Jesus is on the move in this town.

For the local church really is God’s hope for this town, what does this require of you?
Where do your attitudes need to be changed?
Where do you need to shuffle your commitments?
How do you prepare for your singing and playing?
How will you develop your skills on your own?
What will you commit to in your band and how will you hold yourself?

Prisoners of Hope

Sermon, Advent 1 – Service of 9 Words

Sunday December 2, 2012.

Advent 2012

Prisoners of Hope

Zechariah 9:9-12

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River[
a] to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.


12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
even now I announce
that I will restore twice as much to you.

I can’t really imagine what it would be like to be a prisoner. To have your life completely controlled by others; to have your eating, drinking, sleeping, exercise monitored…. not in a spirit of care and safety, but from that of control and punishment. To have a deep longing for contact with your loved ones – and yet know that you will never have it while in this prison. Disconnection from those you love would surely be the hardest thing about being a prisoner.

For a little while in my younger days I used to accompany a Lutheran Woman into Yatala Women’s prison. She was the chaplain and I was assisting her with my guitar playing. Those prisoners needed some outside contact. They longed for someone to bring good news from outside their prison cell life. They needed to taste freedom again; taste joy again to keep living their prison experience.

You and I may not know what it is like to be a prisoner in one of Australia’s gaols or in some underground room in Beirut, but we have our own prison to deal with.

The prison we deal with daily is largely self-made. We do get help from others too, but largely we build these prison walls ourselves. It is the prison whose walls separate us from our Creator and his new creation begun already in Jesus. These walls we construct rob us of freedom, joy and growing in love for our God and other people. They kill hope.

The prisons we make? Fear. Fear of self – our weaknesses, our pain, our wounds and what these may bring out in us. Fear of our addictions, our aging, our future. Fear of others – what they are saying about us, what they would say if they really knew us and our troubles.  Fear of these last times and the Evil One and the seeming destruction of our world. Fear is a major prison we construct and others help us construct daily.

Idols – things and people we trust for our well-being more that the One who created us and gave us life – both at birth and in baptism – birth into the new creation that has been begin by Jesus in his birth, his death, his resurrection to life beyond death.

Unresolved anger. Unforgiveness toward others or from others.

Self –righteousness: living as if God is only on about us being “good” and believing then that we are good enough and others are not.  And so it goes….prison – self made…

The Word of the Lord speaks into your prison now…

The prophet Zechariah enters our prison and brings a taste of the outside – a taste of freedom and of joy that comes from freedom.

Rejoice greatly, woman, man, young person, child of the Lord!     let yourself go – shout, people of God’s family!

See, your servant king Jesus coming to you,     at peace, right with, freely living with the Creator again – back in the garden, in his new city, his new heaven and earth….

Bringing a gift – THE gift – freedom in Christ – the way of self-giving love

See him – human, normal, everyday, flesh and blood – on average transport – a donkey colt.


He is visiting you in your prison this Advent. He is telling of peace to all those captive to self, to fear and the rest.
He is ruling your life already begun in God’s new creation – not to control you but to love you and make you more fully alive and fully human than you think possible – even this side of death and before we fully know what it is to be fully free and fully alive with our Creator free from pain and sorrow.

Jesus rules in the darkest places. He loves in the darkest prison cell of the soul. He is not locking you in the cell, he is bringing new light into it and chipping down the walls daily as you die to prison life and let the new life break in.

 So, man, woman, young person, child, worker, homemaker, partner, farmer, friend, professional, tradey – Christian: because of the blood of Jesus the incarnate – “in the flesh” Son of God and his life for yours, you are no longer incarcerated prisoners without hope and light but now you are free. Now you are His. Now you are still prisoners – or at least still daily dealing with falling back into the old prison ways, but now you have the gift – hope within any prison – we are prisoners, not to fear or idolatry or self-righteousness or anger but prisoners of hope!

Hope springs eternal in us who have already passed from death to life in God’s new garden of life in Christ. We know the Humble man present with us – who has and always is breaking down the walls we make for ourselves. We know by faith, that Zechariah’s word rang true and we live in the both the end times and the beginning new day of the new king – and with him we are free – free indeed.

And he whispers in our ears – “a better time is coming”. A new day has already dawned but will come in full light, and when it does come in full, there will just be no hint of this prison making going on any more. In the new heaven and the new earth with its beautiful garden, abundant life and light streets surrounding the throne of the Lamb the taste of freedom and love and joy that we live in now will be magnified a million times and the joy and the freedom and love we now experience will seem like mere shadow of what we will know then.

Hope, friend. Grab this hope. Be surprised by this hope! Let him open the door on your cell. Let him give you a taste of his freedom this Advent – freedom to love, to be loved, to know others and be known;  freedom and joy to live in whatever prison walls are yours – for what you know, feel and understand now is only half of what is to come…..

The new king says: “I announce that I will restore twice as much to you”.

Amen

Hang On

Lay Sermon, Sunday November 25, 2012. St Petri

Day of Fulfilment

HANG ON

John 5: 21-29

Jesus says…..24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

 Are you always in confusion? Surrounded by illusion? Sort it out, you’ll make out. Seem to make a good beginning, someone else ends up winning, don’t seem fair, don’t you care

These are the words of a popular song. We’ll hear more of them soon. But they give us a springboard into the focus for the day. Today is the last day of the church year and we focus on last things – the end or judgement day. But better than the last things it’s also a focus on better things for those who believe and “Hang On” to what we’ve been given.

Hang on, help is on its way, I’ll be there as fast as I can, “Hang on”, a tiny voice did say, from somewhere deep inside the inner man.

Have you worked out the song yet? Even if you haven’t it doesn’t really matter! Rather let us borrow these words from the Little River Band to help us focus on Christ and his word of grace and comfort, but also his word of warning.

God calls us to, “Hang On”, because he has come as fast as he can! In fact he is with us, inseparable, but hidden, given at the cross, given in baptism. It takes faith to know this – to “Hang On” until the end, and not lose hope! Hang on help is on its way! This inner person of whom the song speaks is, for us who have been baptised into Jesus’ death and resurrection, the “New Man”, the new creation, the new person, risen from the dead, the New Adam, Jesus Christ.

This New Person within is revealed by the tiny voice of the Holy Spirit, encouraging us to “Hang On”, to persist, persevere, endure, and remain, until Jesus comes again as victorious Lord of all, so we might regain, what the Old Adam lost for us all those years ago in the Garden.

The first verse of the song reads,

“Why are you in so such hurry? Is it really worth the worry? Look around, then slow down. What’s it like inside the bubble? Does your head ever give you trouble? It’s no sin, trade it in.”

These lyrics are close, but the poetic lisence isn’t right! Let’s take some liberty to change the last line and correct the verse so it fits the true reality. Rather than saying or singing, “It’s no sin”, let’s change it to “It’s a sin, trade it in.” After all, if worry is not a sin, why bother trading it in!

As we live our lives, these days, we all seem to be in such a hurry! Time seems to be always fleeting! No time for anything! Perhaps it because we waste it worrying! Look around. Then slow down. Open your eyes and see with the eyes of faith that God is with you, take a deep breath and then rest in him. Sabbath in the Lord, the Lord of the Sabbath.

Rest in the arms of Jesus Christ your Redeemer. He has traded in your time for his time. He has paid a price to release you from being bound in slavery to worry, doubt, pride and fear. Rest in the ransom he bought for you and trust in his sacrifice, rather than sacrificing your time to the slavery of sin and death by returning to the worship of worry and doubt!

So it’s a sin, to live inside this bubble, inside your head of trouble. If fact, when we sin in this way, we honour and we promote the god we all struggle with the most – the old self, the ego. This is the god of our old sinful Adam that demands we don’t “Hang On” to the New Adam because the New Inner Person condemns this old god — this I, me, mine, ego god — and calls us to look out of ourselves to the Great I Am, who is the only way, the only truth, and the only life which “Hangs On” to the eternal peace won for us on the cross.

When you look out of yourself, not trusting in the Old Adam, you and I venture into foreign territory, and this reveals we’re not the towers of strength we like everyone else to think we are. You and I show our weakness.

Yet, in this weakness God “Hangs On” to you. God came, God continues coming and is with you, and he will come again! In your weakness he shows himself to be strong. Therefore, you can walk in your weakness with faultless infallibility due to the faith God gives through his faithfulness to you.

It’s time we heard that chorus again: Hang on, help is on its way, I’ll be there as fast as I can, “Hang on”, a tiny voice did say, from somewhere deep inside the inner person.

Let the tiny voice inside you be the Inner Person, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ who says,

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. The person who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; this person has crossed over from death to life.

“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.”

“And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:21-29).

Have you done the good which allows you to rise and live? Well, yes you have when you “Hang On” to Christ. Or to put it even better, when you allow Christ to remain hanging on to you!

This good is done when you believe and trust in the One who the Father has sent — who is, and who was, and who is to come! Hang On! Let Christ “Hang On” to you and know that you have crossed over from death to life!

God “Hangs On” to us! God’s word in Revelation chapter 1 reinforces this:

 To him (Jesus Christ) who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and has made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power forever and ever Amen. (Revelation 1:5b-6)

So in our doing right by believing, let us remain in him, “Hang On”, by receiving the gifts he freely gives to drown the old sinful doubting, worrying and hurrying Adam in us. And let’s allow this good “Hanging On” to flourish into good works amongst others, so through us God might reach out and grab them. So they too might “Hang On” to him, and he to them.

Hang on, help is on its way, I’ll be there as fast as I can, “Hang on”, a tiny voice did say, from somewhere deep inside the inner person.

Our help is in the name of the Lord! Our Alpha and Omega, the Almighty — the Father, his Son our new Inner person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit! Amen.

First Baptism at Redeemer and a Funeral of Faith

That’s been my week so far – a packed Luther Park room with the first baptism of a lovely little man named Jack Grope (son of Scott and Lesleah), surrounded by the faith of children on display as the Year two classes led the worship service on Sunday, and then a St Petri church building full of the church – all kinds of Christian people, all with story to tell, as we remembered, thanked the Lord and farewelled Dorrie Nitschke, a faithful loved daughter of God for 88 years.

This is the church and there is no other community on earth like it. I am with Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, Illinois, USA, when he says (and has said for the lst 25 years on the world stage,

“The local Christian Church is the hope of the world.”

This is the Spirit working through everyday people at St Petri.

 

Peace,

Pr A