Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mustard Seed Mission

This morning ... I was reading through the CMS UK resource for Lent and the whole issue of "Mustard Seed" came up ... the small things which we do which can have unforeseen kingdom consequences.

This is a facinating area which has really been on my heart this week ... for a few reasons ... take a read at the reflection below ...

Mark 4:30–32


“Do you know what’s in a bottle of washing-up liquid?” asks Caroline Gilmour-White, a SAMS partner.  
“At a training day in an urban church in Asuncion, Paraguay, we saw the following ingredients being added:
  • Water
  • Caustic soda
  • Sulphuric acid
  • Trietanaloamina - an ingredient that softens and/or lubricates the skin
  • Scent
  • Colouring
“The government programme DEAG, a bit like the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, uses every opportunity to share their trained knowledge to improve people’s lives or economic situations. We had sewing in the morning and detergent making in the afternoon. The day was a hit with everybody. Our prayer is that lots of people take initiative and start mixing, bottling and selling. Everyone uses detergent and the supermarket quality is often not as good as homemade. People can boost their incomes very easily by selling door to door.”

Reflect on how God can use even small things to bring transformation to people and societies. Where have you seen God at work in the small things?

Lord, great things grow from small beginnings.
Trees from tiny seeds. New quality of life from a small business venture.
Faith in Christ from a word shared or kindness performed.
The Kingdom of God from shoots of faith
Lord, please - give us vision and give us faith.

RF - For me this is crucial ... whilst we in Blarney are not called to make and sell washing up liquid ... the small things we do for the Kingdom do not go un-noticed... This monring I drove up to the church gates and out of the corner of my eye ... I saw a card sitting on a seat at the church gate, covered in plastic and addressed to "whoever finds it" ... I have no idea who put it there ... but I opened it and found inside a letter reminding me that I am special and some other encouraging words. After resealing it and leaving it there its great.

I wonder who put it there? it doesn't matter ...  but it is my prayer that whoever else sits and reads it will be encouraged in whatever they face today.

Small things ... we have no idea what effects they will have in the greater scheme of things.

What small things will you do today ... to help, to encourage

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mission, me and Lent

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the topic of Mission for a variety of reasons ... It is a topic which I have thought about quite a bit from college days.

This morning I woke up, and over breakfast was browsing around various websites ... and came across Church Mission Society - UK website and found this resource which is great!

 The resource itself is very simple and easy to use ... straight forward and cuts to the core of what mission is all about and why we should be about the things of God in this our generation and in our culture.

As people of God we are called to communicate in a way which resonates with our society ...
what does that look like ... well.. it will be different for different people but from this resource there are many challenges ... I particularly like this resource and practical outworkings of the challenges it poses.

Take for example today ... which by my reckoning is Day 8

The reading which they pose is ...

Luke 4:16-24

16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 23He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ 24And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town.

“Can someone from Kibera [the vast informal settlement outside Nairobi] be ordained in the Anglican Church?” I posed this question to a class of students from an ecumenical university who were studying at our Centre for Urban Mission, based in Kibera. It wasn’t a very original question. Forty years ago, our vicar in Bermondsey had asked something similar about dockers in London’s East End. Thousands of years ago, Nathanael asked regarding Jesus: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “No”! my class replied. Whether the students were being pessimistic about Kibera residents or the Anglican church, I’m not sure. Either way, they were proved wrong. On 26 October the Archbishop ordained three Centre for Urban Mission graduates. Lillian had lived in Kibera virtually all her life until she had to flee the post-election violence a year ago. Her classmates, Zadock and Barrack, helped her get out of Kibera with the few belongings she could carry. Seeing all three of them ordained was a wonderful affirmation of the gifts, calling and experiences that people from Kibera and other “slums” can bring to the rest of the church. I don’t know whether they were the first people from Kibera to be ordained, but three in one day – that must be a first! (Anita and Colin Smith, mission partners in Nairobi)

  • Where do you see mission flourishing in your local context? 
  • Is God stirring up a new call to mission in surprising people or places you know?
  • Is God stirring up a surprising new call to mission within your own life?
  • How might God be stirring up the CMS mission community (RF- or our parish community?) for action – and what might your part in that look like?

This is a huge challenge ... are we looking for the surprising people ... are we looking our for opportunities in our local community... finding the points of contact in Blarney, in Carrigrohane, in Belfast, in Banbridge ... wherever we are ... in misison in its fullest sense. 

The invitation here is to accompany us in this journey through lent and take to heart some of the lessons from the world church and apply them to what we are doing in the church in this our wee corner of the globe! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Listening to Jesus … … In times of Temptation

A Sermon preached in The Church of The Resurrection – Blarney on Sunday 17th February 2012 – Luke 4 reading – Jesus’ Tempation.

This is the Second of in a series – Listening to Jesus …

… In times of Temptation

Life can be hard! (For many this is a complete understatement … depending upon the situation you find yourself in today!)

The wilderness is a difficult place to be … for each of us it is a place we do not choose to be but sometimes find ourselves
A couple of years ago … I led a trip out to the Holy Land … It was a trip which T and K R from this union were on as well. I had the privilege of celebrating Holy Communion in the Judean wilderness …Somewhere between Jerusalem and Jericho …  Nothing there except rock. A barren desolate place. Sun beating down and no shade whatsoever to be found.

It was probably the most poignant communion service I have ever conducted because of the scenery, the hostile nature of the terrain. The Gospel reading was read that we had this morning.
And there was a real sense of having to rely on God in that place … In the heat we needed the sustenance of our water bottles … and when it came to food … we only had with us the bread of communion.

Over these weeks of Lent we are reading the readings laid down by the church … but are also keeping an ear to our theme …listening to Jesus … this morning is in the Midst of temptation.
Our reading this morning follows on from Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River and he is driven into the desert for 40 days … this has all the echoes of 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness following their exodus from Egypt. It also reminds us that Jesus was tempted as we are … in his own way…and we see how he faces his struggles … struggles which we face will undoubtedly be different to his but none the less real for us.

As we think of temptations … we know Jesus faced 3 temptations
… the first was breaking his fast, turn these stones into bread … He could … it would only be a minor thing you may think …but actually he knew it was something he shouldn't be doing and replies with the words of scripture

… Then there was the worship … bow down and worship me … this seems to be a more serious one where … could you imagine what would happen if  Jesus got down and worshiped the devil the whole story would have been very different… The importance of worship … what we give our worth to is so vitally important Jesus knew this … its fundamental in terms of the commandments
… Then we have Jesus deciding not to be a super man character … not to jump of the temple … the only signs which Jesus did had meaning beyond themselves … showing his power over nature, over sickness, over death … he wasn’t show off / show man but rather he was into kningdom building

Jesus’ Temptation in the wilderness seems a whole world away from the lush green, wet weather here in blarney … 2000 years after the events  
However …  if we look at these temptations … we see that actually the same fundamental things are still around … As Ecclesiastes reminds us “There is nothing new under the sun”
Whether they be  small things … which we think won’t count in the great scheme of things
… things of our worship –OK we might not be tempted to  bow down to golden calves or the devil but we could possibly be putting other things before God…  And this can be lots of different things … what we spend an enormous amount of time doing …
… the bigger stuff which glorifies us rather than God … then maybe we shouldn't be  actually doing those things .

Temptations are those things which we are constantly being prompted to do which if acted upon have the potential to destroy the our life, our relationships, our security and our minds but also the smaller temptations might seem to be insignificant in themselves but lead to more things if we keep going down that road and .

Once you pop you can’t stop … somehow this seems pretty true  (Pringles Ad) / Jaffa Cakes

In our world today there are many, many temptations around us.  The things I find tempting will be different from yours and vice versa … all will be different from each other but the heart of the matter is the same… They are things which have the potential to destroy.  

Overcoming temptation …
I am no expert in this … and certainly I have been preaching as much to myself as I’ve been preparing this sermon.

I do think it comes back to Self Discipline … Of the old faithful ways of the Spiritual Disciplines

Knowing Scripture … Knowing the promises / words of God
For parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles … anyone who has influence on young minds here … this is something which is key for you guys … of trying somehow to help kids and young people know key verses so when temptations in you kids lives come they have somewhere to turn for truth

This is one of the reasons that next Sunday we are giving out to parents … new books which have been produced of ideas for parents to take time out with their kids and help them to get into the Bible
For all of us … having a knowledge of God’s word the resources of memory verses and committing scripture to memory for those times of struggle

Knowing God … Taking time  … Coming before God at all times during the day … Knowing Whose we are …. And who we are … Before the wilderness experience … Jesus heard God’s voice … This is my son …

Community of faith
Not many of us will face temptation in a physical wilderness with no-one else around … even  though we might feel it is so.
The church community is called to be there for each other, to hold each other accountable … to ask the questions … How are you … really?
The Wilderness times are not nice … but none of us need to go through things alone.  As a community here It is my hope and prayer that we are a people who are able to chat to each other, to support each other.
Not one of us has this all sorted … all of us do find ourselves at various times in situations which are scary, which worry us, which have the potential to destroy good things … but also each of us also have the potential to encourage and to build each other up in the Lord.

In listening to Jesus… and his word this morning

… know that he has gone through temptation … in the words of
Hebrews 4:15 - New International Version (NIV)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
… Know that temptation is able to be overcome -1 Cor 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
… Know that temptation is not sin
So often we beat ourselves up when we think of those thoughts about what we could do …its when those things are acted upon then there are issues … temptation is common to all … find someone to chat to, pray, read the Bible, find ways of diverting yourself from giving into temptation. Things can be overcome.

Lent is traditionally a time of self examination … as you look inwards today … in what areas do you need to be careful …what temptations are you tempted by and how are you going to overcome that temptation?

O let me feel Thee near me! The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me, around me and within;
But Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.

All of us have to keep our ears tuned to what God is saying to us… Which is great in theory  … it is my prayer that we may know this in practice.

Folks this lent, if there are things which need sorted … please do find people to chat to you, to encourage you.