Monday, February 20, 2012

Mission - What do we proclaim?

A Sermon Preached in St. George & St. Thomas', Dublin on Sunday 20th Feb 2012 at a Service of the word - with our Parish Zambia Team visiting the parish during a weekend of training.

It is a great Privilege to have been asked by your rector to preach this morning.

I am here this morning with a fantastic team of people ... parishioners in the parish which I serve in Belfast. Over the past 36 hours we have been living together in the Chruch of Ireland Theological Institute ... working very hard ... doing lots of preparations for our forthcoming trip in the Summer to the Diocese of Northern Zambia.

This team which I have the privellege of leading is made up of extra-ordinary people ... everyday people who were prepared back in November to dip their toe into the water and see if this adventure with God was for them!

Thanks! Guys!

Turning to the task for this morning ... I’m going to pick up on some of the things which are in the 2 Corinthians Reading

For we do not proclaim ourselves;

This was a real issue for the Corithians as it is for us today - We live in a society ( and I spent 3 years down in Dublin, and it is the same in the North).

It is a question we need to ask ... as we live our lives ... what are we proclaiming?

When we are at work - what are we proclaiming

When we are at school - what are we proclaiming

When we are in the pub - what are we proclaiming

When we are ... wherever we are - what are we proclaiming

Our team knows I get very excited about the trip we are going out on ... I’m excited because of the possibilities of the working relationship we will develop with locals in Zambia.

But above that I am excited about mission - I don’t know if you realise this ... the old view of mission is that people who go and preach to the natives, to convert them, make church our way.

However, today our thinking has increased and the church does need to get to grips with mission which Jesus implemented in his ministry

I’m excited about mission as a concept because it is not just something “Missionaries” do away from home ... It is something to which each of us has been called to do both where we are and where we will be in the future.

I’m excited because in the anglican church of which we are a part we have embraced the wholeness of mission. When we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord we proclaim the Gospel in its fullest sense ... and there is something here for everyone.

One of the many reasons I love being an anglican is that we have put this theory in practice - we proclaim that:

We as the Church are called to

  • Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom - that could be in a million ways!
  • To Teach, Baptise and Nurture New Believers
  • To Respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation

This is exciting as it emcompasses the wholeness of the word of God and our responsibilities as his disciples ... it also gives us a big dream, a vision of what life could be about ...

Imagine a world where the good news is proclaimed in relevant and creative ways

Imagine a church where all are taught and nurtured to maturity in the faith in ways that are appropriate to them

Imagine the community were needs are met, where resources are available - to serve those who have needs of any description

Imagine a nation where the church is voicing its opinion on the topics of the day and where they are giving a clear and consistant critique of injustice wherever it exists

Imagine a world where the church leads the way in green issues ... simply to fulfil our responsibility as stewards of Creation!

I love the idea that you and I can indeed make a difference in this world. We can make a difference to one life or to a whole nation. What is your idea?, what is your passion, your dream when it comes to proclaiming God’s love?

The one thing that lasts in this world is the work for God’s Kingdom ... it lasts beyond the grave ... the nation needs to know about it ... when economic systems fail ... when poverty is on the rise ... when there is despair all around ... it is the church which should be showing love.

We do not proclaim ourselves ... as a brand or as a shop does ... trying to make people come to us but rather we proclaim Christ Crucified.

Let us Pray

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sermon - John 1:1-14

A sermon preached in St. Dorothea's Gilnahirk on Sunday 12th Feb 2012.

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

This morning’s gospel reading is a very familiar passage ... a passage which we regularly hear at Christmas - It is usually prefaced by the words ... ‘St. John unfolds the great mystery of the incarnation’ ... It is good to have it here at this point in the church’s year as it contains the overview of all that is happening in the gospel. Between the nativity and the beginning of Lent

All of the gospel writers - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Begin their gospels in different ways, Matthew concentrates on the genealogy of Jesus, Mark looks at the ministry of John the Baptist, Luke focuses in on Mary and Joseph and John, well he is a poet and focuses in on a summary of what the rest of his book is about.

With John he mentions lots of themes ... and gives us a taster of what is about to come along. One of my curate colleagues whilst preaching in college described this text as being like tapas small dishes to taste what the main dish is like.

We could pick up many of the themes in this text but what I would like to focus upon is the final sentence And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,* full of grace and truth.

Within this sentence we have so much of what the Gospel is about.

One author has described it as God has come into “our real world where we live all year long - a world where there is political unrest and injustice, poverty hatred jealousy and both the fear and the longing that things could be different”

It is great to know that God knows what it is like to be human ... he knows our limitations, he knows our faults and failures of our flesh. Within John’s gospel we see this being worked out ... in terms of the fact that we see Jesus weeping, we see him in all sorts of circumstances

As we read this we get a glimpse of what the incarnation was all about - and the fact that it is great news ... news that the one who created the world has become human so that we might have eternal life.

This has immense implications for us ... for those of us who are struggling to find meaning in life ... Jesus is able to say “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full”

For those of us who are grieving over loved ones who have died ... Jesus is able to say “ I am the way, the truth and the life” and Peace I leave with you ... do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid

For those of us who are looking for direction ... Jesus is able to say ...”I am the Good shepherd”

For those of us who are in despair ... Jesus is able to say “I am the light of the world”

The fact that we have God who knows our weaknesses and is able to stand with us in them is so very important to all our lives.

John wrote his gospel mindful of the community of which he was a part - he wrote, we are told to recall all of the things which Jesus said and also that his community might believe and trust in his words. just under 2,000 years later his words echo across the world and Christians still find comfort and guidance in the words recorded.

As we come this morning to the communion table where we are fed by Christ’s body where we join as community, sharing in the miracle of the incarnation the Word made flesh.

We gather not because we are perfect, nor because our faith is unshakable nor because we have everything sorted out in our lives, but rather we gather as a community dependant upon God and one another - we come in the flesh we have been created in, the same flesh which Jesus came in... we come together as community in our weakness looking for strength to carry on ... and also to support one another as we grow in God’s love and share it with one another.