Friday, September 12, 2014

worship .... Holy Communion

An excerpt from the book 'You can Change' by Tim Chester ... reminding us about worship. 


When we worship God we are reminding ourselves that God is bigger than anything sin offers. Worship isn't just an affirmation that God is good. It's an affirmation that God is better. In worship we don't just call one another away from worship of other gods. We remind our hearts of God's goodness, majesty, love, grace, holiness and power. This isn't just an intellectual recall. God has given us music to touch our emotions. We sing the truth so that it moves, inspires, stirs, encourages and so transforms us.  
Have you ever got the tune of a mindless song stuck in your head? You find yourself humming a song you don't even like. The world around us sings a song and that song often gets stuck in our heads. We find ourselves joining in. What the world thinks and desires becomes what we think and desire. To worship God is to retune our hearts.  
One special means of grace is Holy Communion. The bread and wine remind us that Christ gave his life to make us holy, to break the power of sin, to give us a new identity and to make us family. They reminds that we belong to God because we were bought with the price of Christ's blood. The Book of Common Prayer summons us to 'feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving'. 
The Lord's supper is a fresh invitation to 'taste and see that the Lord is good'. We discover again the promise of Jesus 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty' We renew communion with Jesus by faith. we're reminded of the truth that the bread and wine represent, and that truth feeds our hearts. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Starting Out ... all parts required!

Sermon preached at 11am United Celebration in Carrigrohane on Sunday 7th September

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen

Romans 12:1-12


Today as Ian has said, we’re celebrating with those who have jsut been through the growing leaders course, we’re excited about those who are about to embark on the youth version of the course, we’re also excited about all the things that are happening this term in the parish and we’re expectant for the things God is going to be doing in our midst over the next year.


This morning I want to challenge us about the Bible Passage we’ve just read … it’s a passage that sits at a crucial point in Paul’s letter to the Romans … in Chapter 12 … it’s a passage that is often quoted … its a challenging passage but its a passage with very clear application to us in this season for our church.


Before we get to the application … we need to understand where it sits. Paul is writing to the church in Rome … a church which wants to know what all of this Christian stuff is about. He wants to lay a foundation upon which to build … The first 11 chapters of this letter speak about who Jesus is, what he has done and most importantly of all … how the church understands this … how Jesus and his teaching is different from all those other philosophies, teachings and religions of  who have gone before … he’s at pains to emphaise the importance of faith and trust … the importance of the life, death and resurrection of Christ


Once this is understood … and he goes into tremendous study of this over the 11 chapters we get to the point of … in light of all of this then we’re called to give our bodies to be living sacrifices … It is based on this passage we have our post-communion prayer … a prayer which is so powerful it has the potential to be life changing …


we’re called to use our minds to think about faith, think about who Jesus is and what he has done and then to trust him. This is a life time process … to have our minds renewed


As part of this study this morning … I believe we’re called to
  • Use our head - to Think Deeply
  • Use our Gift - to Serve Effectively
  • Use our hands and our feet to Love Practically


It’s these things which growing leaders have been covering


Before we think about these things … there’s a movie I got to watch over the summer … 

Take a look at the video ...




Everything is awesome, everything is cool … central character … like everyone else is going about his hum drum ... in a world where nobody questions anything ... everyone is just doing what everyone else is doing ... but that is not what we are called to as Christians existance before his life changes … but take a look at the opening


Head … THinking Deeply


Our world today is such a complicated place … we’re having to deal with things which generations past could not have imagined … our globalised world links us up with Brother’s and sisters around the globe, ethics and politics, money markets and instant news. We’re having to take God’s word and apply it in situations which are complex and sometimes overwhelming. But as Christians we need to be aware and struggle with these things and let our voice be heard in the public square. But for that to happen we need to do what Paul exorted the church in Rome to do … Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
This includes studying the Bible, It includes finding out situations, subjects, areas which we dont know about and discussing, asking the difficult questions and taking our stand when we need to on the issues of the day.  And there are many things as leaders … in our church in our community we need to


The church needs to think deeply about politics … It is interesting that this week in the UK that a government minister told charities that they should stick to their knitting and not involve themselves in politics … This has caused huge consternation in all sorts of places … but particularly in organisations such as Tearfund where part of the whole ethos is a call to change the world … social Justice, climate change,


And Just yesterday - Diocesan Synod met to listen together as part of the first steps in the human sexuality listening Process - this was an important first step - we look forward  to the continuing process … more voices need to be heard in this important topic for the church. We’re called to Think Deeply … this is not always easy but it is vitally important.


Gift- Serve effectively


In this passage we see that there are many different gifts and this is not a exhaustive list but certain there are important principles here which Paul repeats in various letters


Things that we are called to do … but more than that … that we were created to do … but which needs to be fanned into flame within us


Over the weeks and months ahead we are hoping that as we move ahead with vision 2015 that we as a parish identify and apply giftings to the situations … In this passage we see Prophets, Servants, Teachers, Encouragers, Givers, Leaders, Mercy people,


Hands … Loving Practically


This is the bit that we are reasonably good at … we are good at the doing … the Verbs in the passage … the doing words … and also the “not doing” words in the passgage … Let’s look at what the church should be doing


I wonder which of these areas we’re called to … or is God laying some of these things on our hearts this morning… which of these gifts does God want us to fan into flame … which of these do you and I need to work with over the next term … in response to God’s love.

Conclusion
Let’s bring all of this together now … all of us are created as individuals … all of us are loved by God, all of us are unique and have a place in his church, in his kingdom. Do we know we are loved by him, do we know his care, his protection. If not let this message penetrate through our mind … let this good new renew our mind … the rest flows from this


If we know how much God loves us, then how are we communicating that with others… do we allow this message to penetrate our heart and be expressed with our mouth … How will the world know if someone doesnt speak about God to them. We need to be people speaking out our faith to those around about us. Our world needs to know about Jesus. In a world which is growing increasingly hostile to Christianity … to the message of Jesus we need to stand up and speak out … because we have the answers to so many of the worlds problems!


Take six eight-stud LEGO bricks (2x4) – how many ways can they be combined?


With the aid of computers, the exact number of combinations has been calculated as 915,103,765!


To the Lego … in the seats we have lots of lego ..little bricks … little individual things small in themselves … but which have huge potential to be put together in so many different ways to build space crafts, elephants, and lots of fun


I wonder if we are prepared like lego to be put together by God … to be used by him in new ways, in creative ways … to do things that he wants us to do over the next term as we are brought together as a holy temple.


I’m really excited to see Prophets, Servants, Teachers, Encouragers, Givers, Leaders, Mercy people,


Where the local church is a place where love is sincere, where we are hating what is evil, clinging to good, where we are devoted to one another in love, where we are zealous from eachother, joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, sharing with those in need


That’s the attractive picture of a local church … this is what we are called to … its radical, its exciting, it calls us to step up and out, beyond ourselves … but it needs us all. Are we prepared to do this?


I don’t know how every piece fits together at the moment … but the promise is that it does .. it will and it will be to God’s glory.


Here’s something we encountered at New Wine this summer … a radical vision of what happens when we become the piece God has created us to be


“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed, the die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made- I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.


My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed vision, worldly talking, cheap giving & dwarfed goals.


My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.


I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me & when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear.”


Over the summer I have been challenged myself and I believe I’ve got to challenge others … To step out of the normal … to speak out … to think deeply as to what difference our faith is to make …. and to love unconditionally … The Christian way of life is a radical call to the other …  If you want to make this sort of commitment … as nike says … just do it. Life is short are you prepared to play your part in this great kingdom building project … just do it!


As you go out … please take a piece of lego … take it in your car, set it on your desk, on top of your tv as a reminder that you are a valuable piece of something bigger than you, that you are an essential piece of what God is building

If somebody asks you ...why the lego … why not use it to talk about Church … how Valuable you are Each bit is vitally important

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The message ?

September is the start of a new School Year ... and in some ways it is the start of a new Parish year... yes I know the Church year begins with Advent but for all intents and purposes it is September which sees new things happening in the parish.

It's also a time when we can look around and question the things we are doing, and ask about how effective we are being in ministry and mission.

Over the past little while I've been reading and thinking, discovering and pondering. As a parish we've been looking at our mission and what we're doing - but in a microcosm of this, as a team in Messy Church (which we run once a month) we're going to be looking at our message and how we communicate that message to those coming along to Messy Church.

At the heart of all communication is a message ... and I wonder what message we are communicating? As a church to the surrounding culture.

What is the heart of the message for us as Christians? ... That could take a lifetime to sort out or it could be done in a few seconds.

It could be done in various mediums, ways and techniques but we need to find ways of Just Doing It!

It needs to be done simply and straightforwardly, unashamedly but also sensitively to the culture into which we are speaking.

We have a message to proclaim ... good news in the midst of a world of bad news ... news of hope and a future for all.

God doesn't want a people who are sitting on the fence ... he wants a people who know him to tell others about him. Simple and straightforward people.

So the question i'm asking over the next while to Facebook friends, fellow bloggers, Messy Church Team ... What's The Message?

and subsequent followup questions ...

  • how is it best communicated?
  • what prevents us from sharing The Message? 



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Update from Blarney ... Sowing Seed

As anyone who stops by here infrequently will know that I am definitely an infrequent blogger ... and that is definitely the case. I go through phases of blogging and not-blogging. The excuse I tell myself is that i'm busy ... but so is everyone ... but anyway ... here's an update for friends who are interested

Things are working out really well here in Blarney ... over a year and a half in now to this parish and theres good things happening ... Recently in sermons we've been reflecting on the parables of the sower and the seed as well as the parable of the good seed. I do think Jesus had a lot in just these two stories. Just today at Staff meeting I was reminded about Jesus' parables and the layers that it takes to explore its depth  ... so as Shrek  might say ...

 

And certainly over the past weeks and months We've been looking a lot about the seed we sow and how we sow it! and all the layers of those stories

As a church we're called to be sowing seed ... some of it will grow and bear fruit and some of it might not ... and that's all OK its all part of the story.

It has been great to see growth in all sorts of areas, Its been an encouragement to see new people commit to the parish, to see new people find us through social media, the website, word of mouth invites and various other means. It's our prayer that the church family would be built up

Its also been a great encouragement to see lots of people grow in discipleship and bearing much fruit.

After Easter I was asked to take on Messy Church Co-ordinator Role in Ireland and I'm really excited about that as it's helping me to see the real benefit of Messy stuff for reaching those on the edges of church and bringing them into an environment which they can interact with Bible and faith issues in an informal environment. Looking forward to seeing what opportunities this raises over the months and years ahead.

Over the next week we're really looking forward to welcoming lots of kids and team members to our Holiday Club and then their parents to a great Big Messy Church Celebration on Saturday.

It is so good to be part of a community which is working hard to helping each other wherever we can.

As we sow seed ... its my pray that the seed we sow will take root and be a blessing and also share the blessing wide and far.

:-)


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sermon ... Thomas The ...

Sermon Preached in the Church of The Resurrection on Sunday 27th April 2014 at A Service of the Word

Lets Pray ... Speak to us through your word today

Covenants ... Old and New ... God's Plan

Today we're looking at Thomas

Thomas is a very interesting character that we are looking at today.

He gets really bad press … His name is forever known as the Doubter but theres more to him than that … Let’s look at the scene we have this morning … He hasn't be there when Jesus has appeared, he’s heard all the talk, he’s wondering if its true or not … he’s not going to settle for anything less than the facts … he’s not going to be willing to die for something that there is no evidence about… he’s not going to be fooled … and he means it

Thomas...  the one with real courage … real Tenacity 

The first is in John 16 … its the that is used at many funerals time Jesus was teaching about going to prepare a place for them, a heavenly mansion. It was Thomas who scratched his thoughtful head and asked, “Jesus, we don’t know where you are going and so how could we know the way.”
Thomas did not understand what Jesus was saying and so he asked Jesus the questions. None of the other disciples raised their hands and expressed their curiosity. Thomas did.
The other time in the Gospels when we encounter Thomas is the religious people had attempted to kill Jesus at least twice (Luke 4 and John 10). Then Jesus got word that His good friend Lazarus was sick, along with the request to go heal him. The only problem was Lazarus lived within sight of Jerusalem, and Jesus had already told His friends that Jerusalem meant death. While guys like Peter tried to say they would never allow that to happen to Jesus, Thomas simply said, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

… if he says something he’s prepared to put his money where his mouth is… he’s not going to settle for anything but the best

Thomas the one who is completely Honest… Somebody who doesn't beat about the
bush … says it like it is even if its not what everyone else is saying … or like to hear. Even when everyone else has faith, has been assured that Jesus is really there … Thomas doesn't go and say thats great … yeah for you… he says Look I haven't been here … I wont or cant believe the way you do … but I want to … but the only way that is going to happen is for me to be convinced .. and when I am … then I’ll believe

Thomas the one who is content with difference in the community …This is vitally important … he is not someone who is willing to run away, shut himself off from the others or even pretend that he is someone he is not. He is someone who was called to be a disciple… he is one of the ones Jesus taught, he knew that something was happening, he couldn’t say that he believed. but he was not prepared to give up simply because he hadnt seen Jesus alive He needed to own his faith for himself… and to be perfectly honest …all of us at one stage and another need to be people who do the same - questioning our faith, grappling with paradoxes we find and struggle with. Wonder how faith and life go together.
Actually … all those pre meeting Jesus were skeptics … the women … tell me where youve put the body!

From Thomas’ life we’ll highlight a few things for us to think about !

Thomas’ questions and doubts were struggled with in community - And this is the best place for these things to be aired, people with various experiences of the risen Christ … people who love< us and who have walked with us are able to assure us that what we are going through … they’ve gone through, going through or know that there will be a time when they will go through … The Christian community is made up of a diverse range of people … we just need to look around us, ages, life expeinces but somehow God has called us together to share life together!
Thomas was someone who was completely and appropriately honest - he was able to share that he was struggling I suspect that there was much prayer in that community that week … O Lord wont you come back and meet Thomas … we want him to have the same faith we do … and thomas is probably praying a similar prayer himself … Lord want to believe, help my unbelief
In his honesty he was able to find answers to his deepest questions
We also see that Thomas’ Courage then allowed him to do some amazing things for God
The Chruch Historian Hippolytus records that Thomas was an active missionary, and that he met his fate in India: before which Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians, and was killed with a pine spear at Calamene, the city of India, and was buried there.

Faith is scary sometimes ... Indiana Jones ... Stepping out in faith ... sometimes we are called to do something as radical ... as scary for us as it was for Indie!



I Conclude with Jesus’ own words to Thomas

“stop doubting and believe.” There is a time in all of our lives where God says to us, “It is time to stop your doubting. It is time to move past your doubting. It is time to believe and experience the power of belief.”

In the Book of Job, Job went on doubting, complaining and questioning God for thirty eight chapters and God finally got tired of Job’s doubting and said, “Be quiet Job. I am tired of your wailing and doubting. Be quiet and believe.”

Yes, there is great power in a life that believes in Christ, loves in Christ, walks in Christ.
And so we come to the end of the sermon and the end of the story of Thomas. Thomas, after all that questioning and doubting and skepticism, came to the time when he fell on his knees and he said. My Lord and My God.

One of the Hymns from this morning's service

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday Sermon

Sermon Preached on Sunday 20th April 2014 in Church of the Resurrection - Blarney 
 
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen


Today we celebrate the power of God to change everything ... Completely and utterly everything

  • ·         World Views changed .... From what we see to the potential of eternity
  •        Identity changed ... Sin and death has been removed from our identity and we are now one with God ...
  • ·         Mission has taken on a whole new emphasis


In a song we sang both on Thursday and Friday night ..."History was split in two "

And this is what indeed did change ... Life itself fundamentally changed

Before Christ and after Christ ...

 When we think about our identity ... And how God sees us as individuals and us as a church. The cross and the tomb are crucial this.


What happened that Easter Day is crucial ... Sin was defeated on the cross ... And death was  defeated in the garden tomb the consequences of this 


This morning I would like to take a look at 3 particular changes

... Hope has been restored
... Life takes on new significance
... Love has a new definition


Hope has been restored.


The disciples hopes and dreams were shattered on Good Friday ... Life as they knew it had come to an end ... What they thought would happened didn't ... Who they thought he was... He wasn't
They were in fear, they were so distraught ... What was it about ... They withdrew ... They had let him down. Life couldn't get any worse ... They were without any hope whatsoever.


I don't know if you've been in that place ... Can't see any light in the darkness ... Or worse ... Can't see the potential of light ... No source of any hope from any quarter. It is not a nice place to be at all. If you've been there ... You were in good company ... The disciples, countless saints ancient and modern have all stood there.
The dark night of the soul

But wherever that place in our lives is...  Easter bursts in ... There may be pain, there may be emotional turmoil ... There may be despair ... There may be grief... There may be fear But there is surprising hope ... And the only place that this sort of hope rests ... is in the creator God who created us and who can put in a plan to sort this sort of despair out.


Life Takes on new significance

The disciples themselves are part of the evidence of the fact of the resurrection ... From cowards to  fearless proclaimers of the risen Christ ... From deniers to being prepared to face death and persecution themselves. The apostles who are sent go and take the message from Jerusalem, the ends of the earth.


When life takes on new significance ... Life becomes a gift from God ...  Which he has given each person unique passions, gifts and opportunities. He gives us a general task and specific plans. It's up to us how we fulfil those with the decisions we make and how much we involve him in those is up to us. But within the resurrection we see the out working of Gods plan for the church and for individuals within that just. In today's reading we see bereaved women being changed into the first apostles sent to tell the disciples that Jesus is on his way!


Yes there may be pains from the past ... God doesn't take those away ... But he can redeem them ... He can weave them into an even greater plan ... Look at peter ... We'll see how Jesus is able to weave his denial into a greater relationship opportunity and commission to go and do greater things.



The new significance is that life eternal begins now ! ... Eternal life is not pie in the sky when you die ... But a renewed creation here and now ... With life potential right here right now. So what are we going to do about it


Love has a new definition


... This is crucial ... We see this in the facts of the past few days ... Love is God serving humanity ... Jesus the servant washing the disciples feet, Jesus the messiah willingly dying in our place, speaking so tenderly to Mary ... Forgiving those who were killing him


We also see this definition being worked out as Jesus appears to the disciples and helps them through their unbelief, their own issues ... Cleopas ... Thomas, Peter and the others



These three things are so vitally important to us as we sit here in Blarney this morning ... Whoever we are we need to know

In Christ ... Hope is restored ... Whatever ... And I mean whatever we're going through now or whatever the future holds

Easter reminds us that there is always hope ... Whatever the disaster ... Whatever the situation ..

In our generation there seems to be such a loss of perspective ... People loosing hope ... In Easter we proclaim that there is always hope ... We are a people of hope

Life's meaning ... Our purpose ... What we are here to do ... What life is all about are huge questions ... The Easter message confronts us with the God of mission ... Who has created us humans ... Fearfully and wonderfully made ... Who has given us passions, things we are good at, things that fire us and places where we can do those things. He wants us to flourish ... Yes we might stuggle sometimes but he wants what is the very best for us.


Love's definition has changed to a whole new level of meaning ... Jesus died for us... He died for you and for me ... Not because he had to but because he wanted to ... God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that who so ever


So with these 3 things what do we do?
Hope, Life and love 
I finish with a story which appears in  “The Gospel according to Starbucks

There once was a rather rough, uncultured man who for some reason fell in love with a beautiful and hugely expensive antique vase in a shop window. Eventually, after saving for a considerable time, he bought the vase and put it on the mantelpiece in his room. There it became a kind of judgment on its surroundings. He had to clean up the room to make it worthy of the vase. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The old chair with the stuffing coming out of the seat would not do. The wallpaper and the paint needed redoing. Gradually the whole room was transformed.


God wants to transform into the people he would have us be … none of us are a finished work
But we need to work with him in this process … he will never force us to do anything.
In our questions, in in our doubts in our work and in life he is working his purposes out