Monday, July 25, 2011

The potential of small things

A sermon preached on Sunday 24th July at 10:30 Service in St. Columba's Parish Church

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at a few of Jesus' Parables ... the sower and the seed, the wheat and the weeds,

'Seeding Fava' photo (c) 2010, Klearchos Kapoutsis - license:

Potential can be defined as capable of being or becoming

Over the course of the past few days I have been looking over the first parable in the set which we read ...The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

The seed is planted with potential .. it is capable of being a bush, or becoming a bush... it has potential.

All seed have the potential. Teachers look at young people in Primary School and say that they have great potential. We look at the world today and see that it has great potential ... it is capable of being or becoming something fantastic.

There is also negative potential ... the human being has also the potential of doing great harm. Yesterday as I was at home I switched on to BBC News Channel as it was covering the events which happened in Oslo. One human being causing so much harm to so many people, as I watched that then news started breaking about a train crash in China, and further news about Singer and Song Writer Amy Winehouse, and then more news about the nurse who is alleged to have tampered with medical products.

Potential ... each and everyone has great potential ... but our God given best potential is to live as citizens of the Kingdom of heaven. To use our gifts and skills, our talents in the way God intended us to, to make an impact for good on the world around us. But he will never force us to make these decisions.

God has always been a God of freedom,

God always has been God of Transformation,

God has always been a God of potential,

When we look down through the pages of History God has used ordinary people to transform this world... and the truth is he still does it today.

Down through the years Christians have been at the forefront of some of the major things we now take for granted ... In Modern Society we could point to Christians

Men and Women who saw thing were not right, that humanity was not living to its full potential and who decided to do something about it.

• Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children - first laws to protect children from abuse (Rev B Waugh)

• Barnardo's - world's largest orphange system (T.J. Barnardo)

• Richard Oastler campaigned to protect children through the Factory Reform Bill and Anti-Poor movement.

• Almshouses birthed and were the first to offer formal care for the elderly and disabled in society.

• Prison Reform pioneered by the Quakers.

• Braille system for the blind developed by Louis Braille.

• Pioneers of free health care for the terminally ill (Douglas Macmillan)

• Advocates of International Fair Trade (Tearfund)

• International Housing for the poor - Habitat for Humanity (Millard Fuller).

  • Leprosy Mission - caring for those no-one else wants (Dr. P.Wilson)
  • Abolition of Slave Trade (W.Wilberforce and wider Church)

• Pioneers of Microfinance for poor countries (D.Bussau)

• Pioneers of education for the deaf (Rev. Gallaudet)

• Fathers of modern Foster Care (Charles L. Brace)

Simple Ideas which we now take for granted ... but which came from Christians living out their faith in their own fields of influence.

All of us are called as part of our Christian faith to be involved in the mission of God where we are ... of doing the small things which we can ... even though we think that they are so small and insignificant ... of remaining faithful to the small things and seeing them grow into something which is of great significance, of living lives which mean something ...

situated under the covers of each of the pews ... you will find that there are some seeds really small seed ... but seed which have the potential to grow ...

Sunday by Sunday we come to church ... we read readings, we hear sermons, we receive communion we commit ourselves to be living sacrifices ... and we go out. .... the past few weeks we have heard loads of things about Good soil, about producing a good crop .... there is a real challenge I believe.

As a church we are called to grow ... we are called to develop ... we are called to find out more about God ... we all have potential to do great things for God.

Perhaps we are not called to start a new organisation as some of those people were

Prehaps we are called to find out more about God’s will is for our lives

Perhaps we are called to get involved in something new here

Perhaps there is some particular need / injustice that we are concerned about

Perhaps we would like to get involved in a particular role in church life

The potential is great ... the seed that you have in your hand has the pontential to produce a vegetable, a tree, a flower ... each something different.

The only way we can know what we have got is to plant it and see what happens.

None of us know really what the future will hold, nor what our faith will look like in days weeks or months ahead but we do need to take care of it.

If you are up for a challenge, take the seed, and plant it, give it some water, and see what is produced!

If you are up for a challenge, take the faith which you already have, add a wee bit of Word and Christian Fellowship and see what could be produced

God always has been God of Transformation,

God has always been a God of freedom,

God has always been a God of potential,

It has always been up to us ... either we plant the seed and allow it to fulfill its full potential or we keep it in our pockets and don’t let it grow.

As a church we get the variety and the nourishment when everyone finds their full kingdom potential.

I Look forward to hearing in the next months as to what has been produced!

Monday, July 18, 2011


A Sermon Preached at 7pm Late Evening Office in St. Columbas Parish Church 17th July 2011

Text Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56

Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.


This evening I would like to consentrate on the first bit of our reading

Our lectionary is great as it causes us to take a balance in our Christian life, sometimes we are caused by our readings to get out and do things, sometimes we are caused to reflect on Sin and then to repent, sometimes we are caused to think about others and other times we are reminded to pause, to take stock of where we are.

Every single one of us needs rest ... we need rest to recharge our batteries, we need rest to re-engage with God, we need rest to remind us where we are and what we are doing. Our american brothers and sisters may call it a “Time Out”.

We are spiritual beings, we are called to take time out, to reflect on how much more there is to life. We are called to mediatate on Scripture, to discover the richness of prayer.

The greatest resource that we have, the most limited resource we have on this planet is time. How we use this time allotted to us speaks so much about our priorities.

Over the past couple of months I have been very concious of this ... I have met lots of people in homes the length and breadth of the parish who are extremely busy either with work or dealing issues within their families.

I also know from speaking with Good school friends that spending time with the important people in their lives is difficult - due to other demands on their time.

It is one of the reasons that I am I running with the idea of Pause. Simply taking “Time out”. Of giving people the excuse to meet up for a picnic lunch, or a cup of coffee and a chat detail of the events are in the magazine.

The whole Idea of Pause is to use it as an excuse be honest ... I’m very happy if nobody turns up ... as I would be glad if 100’s do! if you cant get out to the pause things in the magazine ... please don’t worry ... It is simply an excuse to take a break from the norm. To meet up with friends, to encourage one another.

To do what those disciples were trying to do in that boat ... to get away and pause but pause with a purpose ... to be with Jesus and with one another.

We are called to be people who do pause, If the all powerful Jesus and his disciples needed to take time out how much more do we.

Every single one of us has a spiritual side to our lives ...

Nobody is called to a 24/7 Job, we all need to take time out, to an active rest which can sustain us but as Christians we are called to life in all its fullness. And here in lies the tension of being and doing, of as Mars Bar’s famously.... Working, Resting and Playing

It is my prayer that we discover what this means in our lives. That we would find places in which we can pause, that we can build into our lives a rhythm of places where we can be fed, challenged, where we can process how we are developing in our walk with God and then put into practice what we are thinking.

A couple of practical questions

  1. How in the past week, month and year have you rested?
  2. How in the past week, month and year have you taken time out with God?
  3. How in the past week, month and year have you done something practical for God?

Let us Pray