Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sermon ... Thomas The ...

Sermon Preached in the Church of The Resurrection on Sunday 27th April 2014 at A Service of the Word

Lets Pray ... Speak to us through your word today

Covenants ... Old and New ... God's Plan

Today we're looking at Thomas

Thomas is a very interesting character that we are looking at today.

He gets really bad press … His name is forever known as the Doubter but theres more to him than that … Let’s look at the scene we have this morning … He hasn't be there when Jesus has appeared, he’s heard all the talk, he’s wondering if its true or not … he’s not going to settle for anything less than the facts … he’s not going to be willing to die for something that there is no evidence about… he’s not going to be fooled … and he means it

Thomas...  the one with real courage … real Tenacity 

The first is in John 16 … its the that is used at many funerals time Jesus was teaching about going to prepare a place for them, a heavenly mansion. It was Thomas who scratched his thoughtful head and asked, “Jesus, we don’t know where you are going and so how could we know the way.”
Thomas did not understand what Jesus was saying and so he asked Jesus the questions. None of the other disciples raised their hands and expressed their curiosity. Thomas did.
The other time in the Gospels when we encounter Thomas is the religious people had attempted to kill Jesus at least twice (Luke 4 and John 10). Then Jesus got word that His good friend Lazarus was sick, along with the request to go heal him. The only problem was Lazarus lived within sight of Jerusalem, and Jesus had already told His friends that Jerusalem meant death. While guys like Peter tried to say they would never allow that to happen to Jesus, Thomas simply said, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

… if he says something he’s prepared to put his money where his mouth is… he’s not going to settle for anything but the best

Thomas the one who is completely Honest… Somebody who doesn't beat about the
bush … says it like it is even if its not what everyone else is saying … or like to hear. Even when everyone else has faith, has been assured that Jesus is really there … Thomas doesn't go and say thats great … yeah for you… he says Look I haven't been here … I wont or cant believe the way you do … but I want to … but the only way that is going to happen is for me to be convinced .. and when I am … then I’ll believe

Thomas the one who is content with difference in the community …This is vitally important … he is not someone who is willing to run away, shut himself off from the others or even pretend that he is someone he is not. He is someone who was called to be a disciple… he is one of the ones Jesus taught, he knew that something was happening, he couldn’t say that he believed. but he was not prepared to give up simply because he hadnt seen Jesus alive He needed to own his faith for himself… and to be perfectly honest …all of us at one stage and another need to be people who do the same - questioning our faith, grappling with paradoxes we find and struggle with. Wonder how faith and life go together.
Actually … all those pre meeting Jesus were skeptics … the women … tell me where youve put the body!

From Thomas’ life we’ll highlight a few things for us to think about !

Thomas’ questions and doubts were struggled with in community - And this is the best place for these things to be aired, people with various experiences of the risen Christ … people who love< us and who have walked with us are able to assure us that what we are going through … they’ve gone through, going through or know that there will be a time when they will go through … The Christian community is made up of a diverse range of people … we just need to look around us, ages, life expeinces but somehow God has called us together to share life together!
Thomas was someone who was completely and appropriately honest - he was able to share that he was struggling I suspect that there was much prayer in that community that week … O Lord wont you come back and meet Thomas … we want him to have the same faith we do … and thomas is probably praying a similar prayer himself … Lord want to believe, help my unbelief
In his honesty he was able to find answers to his deepest questions
We also see that Thomas’ Courage then allowed him to do some amazing things for God
The Chruch Historian Hippolytus records that Thomas was an active missionary, and that he met his fate in India: before which Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians, and was killed with a pine spear at Calamene, the city of India, and was buried there.

Faith is scary sometimes ... Indiana Jones ... Stepping out in faith ... sometimes we are called to do something as radical ... as scary for us as it was for Indie!

I Conclude with Jesus’ own words to Thomas

“stop doubting and believe.” There is a time in all of our lives where God says to us, “It is time to stop your doubting. It is time to move past your doubting. It is time to believe and experience the power of belief.”

In the Book of Job, Job went on doubting, complaining and questioning God for thirty eight chapters and God finally got tired of Job’s doubting and said, “Be quiet Job. I am tired of your wailing and doubting. Be quiet and believe.”

Yes, there is great power in a life that believes in Christ, loves in Christ, walks in Christ.
And so we come to the end of the sermon and the end of the story of Thomas. Thomas, after all that questioning and doubting and skepticism, came to the time when he fell on his knees and he said. My Lord and My God.

One of the Hymns from this morning's service

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday Sermon

Sermon Preached on Sunday 20th April 2014 in Church of the Resurrection - Blarney 
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

Today we celebrate the power of God to change everything ... Completely and utterly everything

  • ·         World Views changed .... From what we see to the potential of eternity
  •        Identity changed ... Sin and death has been removed from our identity and we are now one with God ...
  • ·         Mission has taken on a whole new emphasis

In a song we sang both on Thursday and Friday night ..."History was split in two "

And this is what indeed did change ... Life itself fundamentally changed

Before Christ and after Christ ...

 When we think about our identity ... And how God sees us as individuals and us as a church. The cross and the tomb are crucial this.

What happened that Easter Day is crucial ... Sin was defeated on the cross ... And death was  defeated in the garden tomb the consequences of this 

This morning I would like to take a look at 3 particular changes

... Hope has been restored
... Life takes on new significance
... Love has a new definition

Hope has been restored.

The disciples hopes and dreams were shattered on Good Friday ... Life as they knew it had come to an end ... What they thought would happened didn't ... Who they thought he was... He wasn't
They were in fear, they were so distraught ... What was it about ... They withdrew ... They had let him down. Life couldn't get any worse ... They were without any hope whatsoever.

I don't know if you've been in that place ... Can't see any light in the darkness ... Or worse ... Can't see the potential of light ... No source of any hope from any quarter. It is not a nice place to be at all. If you've been there ... You were in good company ... The disciples, countless saints ancient and modern have all stood there.
The dark night of the soul

But wherever that place in our lives is...  Easter bursts in ... There may be pain, there may be emotional turmoil ... There may be despair ... There may be grief... There may be fear But there is surprising hope ... And the only place that this sort of hope rests ... is in the creator God who created us and who can put in a plan to sort this sort of despair out.

Life Takes on new significance

The disciples themselves are part of the evidence of the fact of the resurrection ... From cowards to  fearless proclaimers of the risen Christ ... From deniers to being prepared to face death and persecution themselves. The apostles who are sent go and take the message from Jerusalem, the ends of the earth.

When life takes on new significance ... Life becomes a gift from God ...  Which he has given each person unique passions, gifts and opportunities. He gives us a general task and specific plans. It's up to us how we fulfil those with the decisions we make and how much we involve him in those is up to us. But within the resurrection we see the out working of Gods plan for the church and for individuals within that just. In today's reading we see bereaved women being changed into the first apostles sent to tell the disciples that Jesus is on his way!

Yes there may be pains from the past ... God doesn't take those away ... But he can redeem them ... He can weave them into an even greater plan ... Look at peter ... We'll see how Jesus is able to weave his denial into a greater relationship opportunity and commission to go and do greater things.

The new significance is that life eternal begins now ! ... Eternal life is not pie in the sky when you die ... But a renewed creation here and now ... With life potential right here right now. So what are we going to do about it

Love has a new definition

... This is crucial ... We see this in the facts of the past few days ... Love is God serving humanity ... Jesus the servant washing the disciples feet, Jesus the messiah willingly dying in our place, speaking so tenderly to Mary ... Forgiving those who were killing him

We also see this definition being worked out as Jesus appears to the disciples and helps them through their unbelief, their own issues ... Cleopas ... Thomas, Peter and the others

These three things are so vitally important to us as we sit here in Blarney this morning ... Whoever we are we need to know

In Christ ... Hope is restored ... Whatever ... And I mean whatever we're going through now or whatever the future holds

Easter reminds us that there is always hope ... Whatever the disaster ... Whatever the situation ..

In our generation there seems to be such a loss of perspective ... People loosing hope ... In Easter we proclaim that there is always hope ... We are a people of hope

Life's meaning ... Our purpose ... What we are here to do ... What life is all about are huge questions ... The Easter message confronts us with the God of mission ... Who has created us humans ... Fearfully and wonderfully made ... Who has given us passions, things we are good at, things that fire us and places where we can do those things. He wants us to flourish ... Yes we might stuggle sometimes but he wants what is the very best for us.

Love's definition has changed to a whole new level of meaning ... Jesus died for us... He died for you and for me ... Not because he had to but because he wanted to ... God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that who so ever

So with these 3 things what do we do?
Hope, Life and love 
I finish with a story which appears in  “The Gospel according to Starbucks

There once was a rather rough, uncultured man who for some reason fell in love with a beautiful and hugely expensive antique vase in a shop window. Eventually, after saving for a considerable time, he bought the vase and put it on the mantelpiece in his room. There it became a kind of judgment on its surroundings. He had to clean up the room to make it worthy of the vase. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The old chair with the stuffing coming out of the seat would not do. The wallpaper and the paint needed redoing. Gradually the whole room was transformed.

God wants to transform into the people he would have us be … none of us are a finished work
But we need to work with him in this process … he will never force us to do anything.
In our questions, in in our doubts in our work and in life he is working his purposes out