Sunday, November 25, 2012

Baptism & Kingship of Christ

This morning we celebrated in Blarney the Baptism of Holly using the whole of the Baptism Service.

It was a fantastic celebration of God's gifts as well as his rule in our lives.

The sermon was geared towards thinking about kingship and about our idea of rule in our lives

If you or I were High King of Ireland what would we do?

Some Ideas included

No Taxes
School Holidays increased
Sharing laws so no one would go with out

In a very short clip from the Lion King we discovered the young Simba had ideas

That he could boss people about
That he wouldn't have to do what others tell him to do
That he could run about and play


For us as Christian we have a king ... we sang loads of songs about worship and about his rule in our lives.

Today we celebrate a commitment, a decision which parents and God Parents make to have God's Rule in the Life of Holly ... They made a solemn promise which they will try and keep

Do you turn to Christ as saviour?

Do you submit to Christ as Lord?

Big questions --> basically saying that you are open to God's rule in your life and wanting that rule in the life of Holly.

What does that Rule look like
- truth
- Laws
- Living out the values of the kingdom

Importance of Worship
- Kneel before the Throne - day in day out
- Prayer - the privilege of access to the king

For all of those who have been baptised we have a challenge to live under the kingship of christ
obeying his laws and commandments

Of living out his provision for us - No better way to live



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Faithful One



A Fantastic song which we began our service with this morning ... A reminder that God is with us whatever we are going through.

Let Us ... Do what?

Sermon notes prepared for Holy Communion Service on Sunday 18th November 2012 in Church of The Resurrection Blarney.

Epistle  Hebrews 10: 11-25
The Gospel Reading - Mark 13: 1-8

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 Last week we looked at the preparations for this passage ... we looked at the fact that Jesus is High Priest, he has sorted sin and the consequences of sin ... even in our messy lives ... sin is sorted and also that for those who are in Christ ... salvation is sorted ... as we come to the Epistle passage this morning we come to the out workings of this.

What does it mean, what can we do?.

 The Letter to the Hebrew’s is trying to sort out for the early church in one location what it means to know the theory and also to put that theory into practice ...

 It is about trying to make sense of the changes which have happened in their generation.

 In the passage that we have before us this morning ... the preparations have been made and now the church - which was uncertain as to what they should be doing - the Holy Spirit through the writer of this letter is trying to work out what needs to be done.. he does work this out systematically...

 Remember the context ... It’s one where there are issues ... real issues of people drifting away, of looking to other gods, other ways to live, other philosophies, within the church there, there were those who thought that they could could be a Christian on their own, there were real struggles.

 It is into this world which the writer is writing Today we get a summary of what the writer is contending for in this letter Through Christ ... once repented ... sins are no more ... we have a clean slate BUT we have a responsibility to live out this new way of life ....

 And this is where we are today This is where the let us passages come into their own ... there are 5 lettuces in our passage this morning

'lettuce' photo (c) 2009, liz west - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
 Let us 1 - Draw near to God with a sincere heart - in the full assurance of faith

This is a privilege which we have ... that we can come to God ... to our father, to Creator God who knows and loves us unconditionally... that we can simply say ... Look God I don’t know what to do or what to say ... but I want to know what you want me to do or say. I wonder today are there issues which we need to bring to God We can bring issues big and small ... to what God want us to do.

 Let Us 2 - Hold Unswevingly to the hope that we profess ... the Greek word here is rooted in the image of grabbing something and not being prepared to let go for anything ...

Baboon story ...

 Not letting go of it ... Many things in our world are telling Christians that it doesn't make sense but for those who have encountered the living God we know that this is the only thing that actually does make sense. That other philosophies, other stories make much less sense that what we proclaim. The passage then goes a bit further ... and proclaims why ... for he who promised is faithful Throughout Scripture there are many many promises ... to do with life, relationships, death, resurrection, provision and so on. He who promises is faithful... What promises do you and I need to take hold of and hold unswervingly to?

<< highlight Biblical Promises>>

 Let Us 3 - consider how we may spur each other on

The other 2 Lettuces ... could be taken as individuals but I don't think they are meant to ... but the third is definitely a corporate statement ... Nobody is called to do life alone ... outside of community ... we were created to be in community... when we try to do life alone it gets messed up ...

The church when it’s at its very best is when we draw along side one another and do what we can for one another ... when we ask how are you? Really ... when we get beyond I’m fine ... when we get down to opening up to each other on a personal level ... appropriately ... when we are able to help those who need help ... when we are open to receive the help that others can do and encouraging one another in what they are already doing

 I know it’s not quite the right time of year for resolutions ... but as we progress through the year I wonder could we integrate these things into our Christian Walk ...

 Let us 4 & 5 (in some versions) state that we are to
Not give up meeting together and encourage one another

Highlight Importance of this in the local church in a small community such as ours

... Let us Draw Close to God ! ... in prayer and worship, in Bible Study, in taking time out to be with him Let us Hold Unswervingly to the hope that we profess ! ... to the promises which he has made Let us consider how we might spur each other on ! ... and allow ourselves to be spurred on by others, 

 For a small community encouraged in faith and in living our lives ! for God


 Collect
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son was revealed to destroy the works of the devil and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that we, having this hope, may purify ourselves even as he is pure; that when he shall appear in power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. 

PC Prayer 
Gracious Lord, in this holy sacrament you give substance to our hope. Bring us at the last to that pure life for which we long, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sorted?

These are notes of preparation for a sermon preached in Church of The Resurrection Blarney on Sunday 11th November 2012
 
The theme = “Sorted?”

Based on the Epsitle reading for Sunday

Hebrews 9: 24-28

24For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.25Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own;26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement,28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

I don't know about you but I have been always been someone who struggles with saying something is sorted.
Sorting out ...  Black Bin Bags & Boxes
 
'Storage' photo (c) 2011, Ran Yaniv Hartstein - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I wonder do you have a fictional literary hero you can relate to? … Maybe this might tell you a bit about the minister you now have in Blarney … but my hero is one created by Richard Havergrave


Today I would love to tell you about a great character, one who is one of my all time favorite fictional hero’s ... Mr Messy ... this contains spoilers ... I hope you don’t mind


Mr Messy lives in a messy house
which has a messy Garden
but he is quite content with his messy life
Until he meets a couple of people
Mr Neat and Mr Tidy who are sorting out the garden of a neighbour

They offer Mr Messy their Services
Mr Messy reluctantly agrees
They tidy his house, his garden and basically show him that things can be different
Now the last thing that they do is sort Mr Messy out with a bath

and then Mr Messy at the end of the story laughs and says to Mr Neat and Mr Tidy that he shall have to change his name as he is no longer Messy.

Mr’s Neat and Tidy were able to show Mr Messy that there was a different way to live

When Mr Messy saw this he was able to try and live less messily
I Share this story with you for a few different reasons … Mr Messy reminds us that all of us … myself included have different things in our lives which are messy … perhaps it is our past, perhaps it is stuff we are going through at the moment.
This afternoon for our kids and parents we have Lighthouse

As I have read up on the Messy Church stuff … one thing grabbed my attention immediately … and I can certainly relate to it is that life in 2012 is messy and crazy … time is at a premium


Our world is a messy world … its a scary place … its a crazy place.


And the thing is that us who call ourselves christian are not immune from it at all … we are caught up in the mess …


This morning … I suppose I would like to remind us that somethings are sorted … some things we need to anchor oursleves to … points of reference from our two readings


Firstly In our Hebrews reading

Background to God's Dwelling - Tabernacle / Temple ...
'Jerusalem Temple' photo (c) 2006, midiman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
 
Altar; Sacrifice
Sin is sorted … through Sacrifice – In OT times annually the priest would have had to go and sacrifice a goat to sort out the sin of the people … The Law demanded it
But Sin today is sorted through the working out of what happened to Jesus on the cross … as we accept this then


Salvation is sorted … through waiting on God – This is where some of us are this morning … we know that salvation is Sorted, we know that … discipline comes in


Today we know that there is no longer a temple ... but we read in scripture that we are the temple ... you and I are where God Dwells ...
 
In the messiness of Life … don't let that define who you are …

Sorting out isn't a moment in time … rather it is a life long process … in the church we love to have big long words for things … this is one of them … Sanctification … which for our purpose means Becoming more like Jesus.

Becoming more holy ... The Great High Priest has made that way open for us.
 
God is dwelling in us ... Sin is sorted through Christ  ... Salvation is sorted through Christ BUT sometime in our lives we but rubbish in with the good stuff in our lives.
 
How can we clear it out ...
 

I wonder are there areas in your life ...we know need sorted... are there areas we need cleaned up.


Do we need to know that SIN … the stuff thatwe know is not pleasing to God … can be dealt with. 'Factory in the Mirror' photo (c) 2008, Ruthanne Reid - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


Some of us need to be assured that salvation is sorted … we need to be assured that God is indeed for us … not against us … and in our waiting on him we might ask the question … where is God in my situation … where is God? He is in our problems … are we eagerly seeking him

God is dealing with us as individuals … whatever we are going through.

Our Hebrews passage reminds us that we can be included individually in the sacrifice … so that our sin can be sorted and our salvation … as we trust … as we eagerly wait for him.
 
Let us pray
 
 
 




Monday, November 05, 2012

Dedication

This sermon was preached at the United Service of the Carrigrohane Union of Parishes - on Sunday 4th November 2012 11am

The theme of the service was dedication ... and "blessed to be a blessing"

 At the beginning of my sermon I mentioned a video clip of Archbishop Albert Chama (Primate of Central Africa) ... a man dedicated to God ... who was sharing his faith ... clearly in his life

video
This video appears on anglican communion in Canada website http://missionmoments.anglican.ca/index.php/marks/videodetail/99 



Today is a day of new beginnings, It is a great privilege for me as associate minster to be beginning a new chapter of ministry here in the Carrigrohane Union.

It is great to see so many new faces, and to re aquiant myself with old friends and people who I have met on a few previous visits to the parish.

It is also a real encouragement to see so many people who have traveled so far ... family & friends from Banbridge and from Belfast. Thank you all for coming so far. And to John Auchmuty - Rector of St. Columba’s Thank you once again for alll your support & wisdom over the past 3 1/4 years.

Last Sunday ... in St. Columba’s I had the opportunity to look back ... over the past few years ... This morning is a morning to be looking forward ... looking into the future ... looking at what God is doing here and how we can invest for the future in this place.

There is an illustration which may be familiar to some of you ... A Professor in a university produced on the first day of his first year class ... a lesson which the year group never forgot...

He turned up with a Jar ... a Bag full on tennis balls, a Bag full of pebbles, A bag full of sand and a jug of water.

He first stuck tennis balls into the jar and asked the class if it was full ... the class replied yes ... no more tennis balls would go in

but he the produced ... bag full of pebbles ... with a gentle shake ... the pebbles filled the jar ... and again ... he asked the class was it full ... the class replied ... yes ... sure enough no tennis balls nor pebbles would go in ...

but then again ... he produced ... his sand ... 


What he was illustrating was the importance of priorities ... if the students put the important things in place then there would be plenty of room to put the others in ... BUT if he had focused on the unimportant, on the small things and forgot about the main things then some of them would have to be left out.

On this day of dedication ... we are focusing on the important things in the parish ... focusing on focusing on our faith, our vision for the future, focusing on our finances.

In our reading this morning - Jacob gets a Glimpse of the future and is reminded of the promise of Abraham ... of God’s blessing to him and his offspring

Three big areas and getting these right so that in the months and years to come all the other things - important as we as a parish reach out into the communities to which we belong... we can see that these have been included.


Focus on faith

Each of us here this morning have a story to tell, how you have come to this particular point, a story of how God has been working, guiding, directing, calling, teaching or whatever way we would like to describe our encounter with God.

Throughout the centuries of the church ... there always has been people with stories of faith - people who have dedicated their lives to God ... ordinary people with extrordinary stories to tell ... lives devoted to God’s service. At this service as we think about the theme of dedication we do so simply because God uses dedicated people living lives worthy of the calling to which God has given to them.

I look forward to hearing and witnessing what God has been and is doing in this place and sharing stories of what God has been doing in Belfast, in Zambia as well as my own journey of faith to this point.

Focus on the future

I’m excited to be here at this time ... I’m excited to be part of the team who under God will be able to see new things happen, strengthen what is already happening. I do believe that greater things than have happened in the past will happen in the future. But they will only happen when we work together, when we as the Body of Christ in this place share our skills and our talents, when we take time to pray, to study and to seek God’s direction.

Vision & Strategy group forming 

Focus on finances

Again this is one of the important things ... On this day of dedication ... it is taking what we have been blessed with and blessing others through that blessing.

We can choose to look on this negatively or positively ... time after time in Scripture we see the Israelites being commanded by God to give back to God a thank offering for all that he had given to him.

Dedication is choosing positive to give back to God a bit of what he has given to us. It is saying that we are in this all together ... we are investing in the vision this parish has for the future, we are investing in the faith stories of our friends and family members.

The day of dedication ... this is an extremely important day for this parish ... but I am also aware that there are many people who are here from other parishes from Seapatrick and from St. Columba’s - these things still hold true for ... wherever you come from...

Faith stories don’t just happen ... they need people to invest in “making disciples” ... that means time spent with people ... they need people to teach, they need people to chat, they need preachers, they need youth leaders, MU leaders, opportunities to put faith into action, they need people to reach out, to chat at work & people to challenge appropriately

Future vision ...Churches are called to grow, they are called to have vision ... in proverbs ... without vision people perish ... if churches don't know where they are going, or what they are about then they flounder... are you prepared to get behind the vision for the parish you are involved with ... whether that be the vision of this parish which you have read about???

or if you are from seapatrick ... it simply and succinctly is Growing in God’s Love and sharing it with others

or if you are in St. Columba’s the vision is expressed in the prayer for the parish ... making the door of the church wide enough to welcome all who need


finances ... We all know that finances are tight at the moment, and things are not good in the economy north or south ... are we prepared enough to invest in the priorities of the vision which our parishes are working towards to invest over the next year in seeing what God can do with the resources we have been given.

The challenge has been set out to people here in this union of parishes ... but it is a question wherever we regularly worship .... are we prepared to invest sacrificially and dedicate our resources of time, talents, ourselves to God and to the work to which he has called us to.

If we are ... are we prepared to lay down a marker, to remind ourselves of God’s provision, of his Goodness and loving Kindness to us?  

Sunday, November 04, 2012

I'm here!

Over the past 7 days a whirl wind of emotions and activities have taken place ...

From Belfast to Blarney
From Good byes to hellos
From packing to unpacking
From familiar to unfamiliar

And all the rest ... I have been sincerely gobsmacked by the thoughts and love shown both by St. Columba's people and Cork people as well. It was simply wonderful to witness.

As I Start out on a new ministry here in this small community in Blarney I am excited about the possibilities and the opportunities which we will witness in this place over the coming months and years ahead.

Some photos of the weekend will be posted here soon :-)