Friday, November 28, 2008

Suitcase living ... and steping

At the moment in college it is difficult to find the time to stop and catch up with what is actually happening. In the midst of essays, reading and all the rest. This evening in chapel was one time when I actually stopped and looked around at what was going on.

"Be Still for the presence of the Lord, the holy one is here"

One more step along the world I go,
one more step along the world I go;
from the old things to the new
keep me traveling along with you:

And it's from the old I travel to the new;
keep me traveling along with you.

Round the corner of the world I turn,
more and more about the world I learn;
all the new things that I see
you'll be looking at along with me:

As I travel through the bad and good,
keep me traveling the way I should;
where I see no way to go
you'll be telling me the way, I know:

Give me courage when the world is rough,
keep me loving though the world is tough;
leap and sing in all I do,
keep me traveling along with you:

You are older than the world can be,
you are younger than the life in me;
ever old and ever new,
keep me traveling along with you:

How much at the moment do we as ordinands need to pray this song into our hearts ... keep me travelling along with you.

Last night in Chapel Johnny was taking Late Evening office and what he said was sooo timely - when Jesus sent out the 12 he told them to go and "preach teach and heal ... to take nothing with them ... just get on with the job" At the moment in my life I know that it is so tempting to look at parish profiles and see if I would be "comfortable there" but that is not what it is about at all. It is about hearing from God, about being where I can be of use to him, of being a part of his body in the right place for the next few years.

I really do pray that from the old things to the new that he would keep me travelling along him

It is sooo good this weekend not to have to be packing up my trunk and heading up the road. ahhh the luxury!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To-Do lists

At the moment, life in college seems to be a big long to-do list


Quiet time
Essay reading
Reading Parish profiles
Sorting out meeting rectors for this sunday
Interviewing someone for my project
Essay writing
Chapel - Assisting
Returning a camel to its rightful owner
Meeting re project presentation
Finishing off the essay
reading for next essay
Going to bed

Its all a wee bit mad now Ted!

Do you have a to-do list - where does God fit into it all?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rollercoaster .... Adventure

Have you ever been on a roller coaster?

Queued for hours ... chatted to friends ... made friends with others in the queue

It is quite amazing - you see others up ahead of you enjoying the thrill of the coaster

This evening I feel a bit like about to step onto the roller coaster that is the curacy round ... you have seen other ahead of you do it, you've heard their thoughts and feelings.

You know it is safe, you know its scary, you know it will be fine but there is a feeling that you dont really know what it will be like, what lies ahead, but you know that you have to do it!

Tonight, it is good to know that loads of friends are here - we are on this adventure together ... we will get through it! and out the other end.

Please do pray for us all (Ali, Mike, Si, Tracey, Alan, Johnny, Colin, RuthW, Patrick, David, Ruth E, Victor and myself) as we discern our way through.

I am also aware that I have stuck this blog on my CV, so if you are a visiting Rector - "Hello" you are very welcome!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sermon – Revelation Chapter 1 – St. Barts 16th November 2008

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

The Book Revelation,

Is a strange, strange book to the onlooker … it has all the features of a sci-fi fantasy – Dragons, lakes of sulphur, Plagues, a Red seven headed ten horned dragon, stars, horsemen, great cities, giant hail stones.

How then, are we to make any sense of it? Just this week, a friends daughter was told by a teacher that it was written by a mad man. However I must disagree, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a highly structured and historically situated text.

Let me explain …
In Judiasm and the Ancient world generally, numbers are important – and scholars tell us that 7 is the perfect number. In this book we have 7 Churches being addressed and then (for those in the congregation who are involved in Drama) we also see that the whole book is structured as a drama into seven Acts and each of those acts each with Seven Scenes … quite a drama don’t you think?

We begin with the churches and end the play with the glorious revealing of the Heavenly City.

Right from the outset of this book we gain a glimpse into the hope of the Christian, even under the most horrific of persecution the church perseveres and overcomes all that is thrown at it.

So what is this about … let us take a look at the text

It starts on familiar territory

It opens with an introduction quite similar to any of Paul’s writings … or any similar letters written at the time

The writer to the receiver – John to the seven churches that are in asia

And then comes some amazing words as to what it is about

It is making an amazing statement

V4 Grace and Peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

What a magnificent piece of writing, an amazing greeting.

As you know …From any drama - characters are important and understanding them is the key to the plot line. In these opening verses we are introduced to the main character … The main character in this book, the one who sits on the throne is of course None other than God Father and Son. Greetings are brought from both to the churches and to us as readers centuries after these great words were composed.

It would be great to be able to make a study of this book in-depth as there is so much to it, so many truths – I would like to simply highlight some of the things from the opening – of which please do take home and think about.

Then we see are recurring scene – that of the throne – Where the character sits – reigning over the kingdom.

In this sermon I would like to ask a few questions

The major question I would like to focus upon is – Whom is this that we worship?

Sunday, by Sunday we come to church, To Holy Communion, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Sung Compline, To Family Service … we sing hymns, chant psalms, we pray, we listen to the word, we receive communion. This chapter, contains amazing truths about the one we proclaim as Lord, the one we worship. This passage gives us some great descriptions about the God we worship

The one who is, and who was and is to come – What a statement about God
Present, past and future. (Remember Moses asking for God’s Name at the burning bush –
“I am”)

The one who is – is with us now, in the present

The one who was – The ancient one, right from pre creation, who told moses his name “I am” – through judges, the kings, the exile, the one who sent Jesus, then through the centuries. In a few weeks time we will be reading the Chistmas Gospel – In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God.

The one who is to come – This is the fantastic bit … he is always going to be … is to come … Time ticks away … I do not know what the future holds – it is probably just as well that I don’t - but the one constant, the one who was in the past, the one who is in the present is the same as the one who will be in the future …. That is an amazing constant.
He who knew my birth, loved me through my life, who I depend on now as I live each and every day is the same one who will be there at the moment of my death, and the one whom I will spend eternity – That is the God – father, son and spirit who we worship – Sunday by Sunday.

We also need to remember who these churches are … they are based in asia minor – modern day turkey … Are churches who are suffering percecution – they are indeed Christians who are facing death – being martyred for professing the name of Christ with this in mind we can then read who Jesus was

He is the faithful witness – the word “witness” in this instance comes from the word martyr – he stood and died to witness to God, he was the example for all who would go after him.

He is the first born from the dead – He is the only one to have risen eternally from the dead – The power that brought him, that is Jesus from the dead is now the one who will be our example. And that same power, that brought him from the grave will bring all those who die in the Lord from the gave – He is the firstborn – meaning that we all have the hope of eternal life. That Good news is the Gospel we proclaim Sunday by Sunday

And he is the ruler of the kings of the earth – At that moment the churches in the Roman province of Asia Minor were being threatened by the government of the Imperial Guard so, let us realise the amazing impact that this statement would have had on the lives of church members – The emperor who was seen by many as a deity has been replaced by this king Jesus, who is not only king of an empire but King of all the kings of the earth. What amazing news!

So if that is who he is,

What are we doing when we worship?

When we worship we should be doing it as an act of LOVE, an act of dedication, an act of natural response to him.

As human beings we are all worshippers – every one of us. It is what we worship defines who we are.

One of the things which is clearly seen throughout the pages of the bible is the number of places where we find other gods. One Just has to turn to the 10 commandments – “You shall have no other gods’ before me” – there are alternatives – you can “Choose life”

If we take revelation in its entireity the throne is the centre of worship – and what is on the throne receives our worship we have to ask – what are we putting on the throne. Every individual has something which is receiving their worship.

Idols Past and present – We think of the Golden Calf in the exodus story – which critiques the need for graven images; In our world today there is so many people who have put something else in the place of God on the throne. Whether that be
The pursuit of Youth & beauty

If we search for a while all of us know instinctively that there are times when we have worshipped other gods. Of course this worshipping of wealth dosen’t mean going to the church of money and singing hymns and songs to the god of money. But it could mean being engrossed with it, spending so much time thinking about it that it becomes top priority to make more and build bigger houses.

The Bible calls that sin – putting something on the throne in our lives that is God’s place. One just has to look around the world today to see the effects of replacing God with something else – something less.

When we come to church, we are saying – Nothing is more important that you God.
We are responding to his love and his dying on the cross for us

We remind ourselves that – we are doing this worship, we are coming Sunday by Sunday not because it is a nice thing to do – but because God took the initiative he first loved us and continues to love us with an unfailing love and freed us from our sins by his Blood.

What are the outcomes of our worship?

Take a look at verse 6

He loves us
He has freed us
He has made us

He has made us to be a kingdom and priests

He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords – and he wants each one of us to be part of his establishment. Not just those who wear robes and have collars round our necks. All of us have been made priests. The priesthood of all belivers. A priest in the Jewish system was the one who made the sacrifices and who offered prayers for the people. They worked under the great High priest

We now have one great High Priest and thus we are working under him. We all have access to God now.

If all of us as priests and our worship is to mean something on a Sunday, it is worked out right throughout the week – in our homes, in our offices, in our universities, in stranmillis, in Royal Avenue wherever we find ourselves.

The Kingdom of God, The Kingdom of Heaven. If it is to mean anything - it will take all Christians who pray the Lords prayer seriously to act in their own calling and be the body of Christ where God has placed them.

Let us recap

Whom is it that we worship tonight in this Church?

The God who is Past, Present and Future – Who Knows the end from the Beginning – the alpha and the Omega

What are we doing when we worship?
We are responding to his Love – we are giving him his worth

What are the outcomes of our worship?
We are commited to his will, his Kingdom and His Glory

Let us Pray

Heavenly Father,

I pray that the words I have spoken which are of you may so take root in our hearts, so that your kingdom may be built up and your name Glorified

In Jesus name I pray

Monday, November 03, 2008

Can things get any busier?

This article has been prepared for the Nov. Issue of the College Review this year

In the midst of New Testament and Anglicanism essays, Curacy Rounds, Seminar Presentations, Ecclesiology and Old Testament essays, Preparation of CV's, Chapel Rota, Preparing of Sermons for placement, pastoral visiting, Research for project, Project Presentation preparation, mealtimes, writing of prayers for Sunday mornings, Spirituality preparation, preparation for exegesis, College Societies, RTE service, meetings, practicing for carol services and for some the added headache of Greek and Hebrew learning as well as classes to attend as well as keeping things under control in our other lives at home – to say that this is a busy term is a complete and utter understatement!

But then there is one other thing to add to the mix – yup the Bishop's list. All of that said there is a sense that yes, God actually does know what he is doing. Of course, after 2 and a bit years here in this place there is a realisation that God has called us here and we as a group will get through – and more than that will end up in the place to which God has prepared for us.

It is difficult at the moment to see the light at the end of the tunnel with so much work and everyday-ness of what we are doing now but once we take a step back and a look at the bigger picture and the fact that through it all – the assignments, the placements, the lists - God is sovereign – he is working his purposes out. It is to this alone I am clinging!

It is great to be able to turn to the pages of the Bible – to find some great promises

For I know the plans I have for you – plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give a hope and a future - Jer 29:11

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Prov 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

These promises, more now than ever have to be relied upon. It is to his word that we need to continually turn for strength and for encouragement. Please also do pray for us as we discern God's way through – in conversations and meetings with prospective rectors, as we visit parishes over the next few months. Also please do pray particularly for time management – good periods of work, periods of relaxation, periods of family time and periods of worship / prayer spent in God's presence.