Sunday, September 28, 2014

Short Reflection - Flower Festival Service

May the words of my mouth and the mediations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen

As we look around the church this afternoon we see flowers gathered from all over the globe … local and international … we see all the colours of the rainbow … we see the talents of individual members the Blarney and District Garden & Flower Club coming together to produce a collective work of immense beauty and artistic flair.

One has to ask - from where do these things come … flowers, colour, beauty, art and talent. They are things which point beyond themselves.

Let’s take the flowers which surround us today  …

We come closest to the plants we behold them in their self-chosen environment, — the cacti, sprawling in cylinders in deserts  or fuchsia on the hedgerows in west cork, daisies and the buttercups swaying on the billows of the meadow grass.

It was over a self-sown countryside that our Lord gazed when He said " Consider the lilies."

It has been remarked that " this word of Jesus is almost the only tender word about flowers in all the Bible." Which is the more surprising because the flora of Palestine is abundant and attractive. But it is here that Jesus has chosen to make his point.

We all know that every single flower has arrived at this church by a process which began as a seed … watered by hand, machine or by the clouds bursting, the right nutrients in the soil producing roots, stems and flowers, sunshine and shade … the right balance of everything necessary for growth and picked at the right time when it is at the height of its beauty.

Jesus in this Gospel reading … uses the flowers as an icon … that is - it points to something beyond itself … The flowers … they remind us of how God is provider … providing what we need just when we need it. He then goes on further and reminds his hearers and us that flowers don’t worry about where they are, what they are up to, who’ll provide.

Our world today is a complicated place … we do a lot of worrying and stressing … in a recent survey carried out in the UK some of the common stresses and worries include ...

Rush Hour Travel - 45%
Work - 34%
Managing the balance between work and home - 31%
Children's future - 31%
Financial planning - 29%
Paying household bills - 26%
Shopping - 26%
New technology - 20%
Domestic relationships - 19%
Housework - 16%
Holiday trips - 14%

In the last verse … we’re reminded that there is indeed things we have to deal with … there will be troubles today … but we’re reminded like the Israelites in the desert that God will give us the strength to face whatever we need to face today … His grace, his love, his provision is sufficient for today.

As we look around we see flowers … we’re reminded that the flowers point beyond themselves to their creator who of course is our creator too ... but could we allow those flowers to point us to the reminder that not only is he our creator … but our redeemer and our friend.

Many times over this weekend I have had the opportunity to chat to people reminding them that God is on his throne … he’s concerned about our worries, he’s concerned about our those things which keep us up at night and he loves us unconditionally no matter what we’ve done … no matter how far we’ve wandered …. no matter what’s been done to us.

Sometimes we complicate things which are simple … flowers can remind us that God can provide our needs, flowers remind us that we’re ultimately dependant upon God for all we need. Sometimes we are tempted to look elsewhere but we’re reminded today by the creator that he supplies what we need for today.

How much more valuable are you than flowers or sparrows.

May you know how valuable you are to God. And be able to respond to that value.

Let’s Pray

Friday, September 12, 2014

worship .... Holy Communion

An excerpt from the book 'You can Change' by Tim Chester ... reminding us about worship. 

When we worship God we are reminding ourselves that God is bigger than anything sin offers. Worship isn't just an affirmation that God is good. It's an affirmation that God is better. In worship we don't just call one another away from worship of other gods. We remind our hearts of God's goodness, majesty, love, grace, holiness and power. This isn't just an intellectual recall. God has given us music to touch our emotions. We sing the truth so that it moves, inspires, stirs, encourages and so transforms us.  
Have you ever got the tune of a mindless song stuck in your head? You find yourself humming a song you don't even like. The world around us sings a song and that song often gets stuck in our heads. We find ourselves joining in. What the world thinks and desires becomes what we think and desire. To worship God is to retune our hearts.  
One special means of grace is Holy Communion. The bread and wine remind us that Christ gave his life to make us holy, to break the power of sin, to give us a new identity and to make us family. They reminds that we belong to God because we were bought with the price of Christ's blood. The Book of Common Prayer summons us to 'feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving'. 
The Lord's supper is a fresh invitation to 'taste and see that the Lord is good'. We discover again the promise of Jesus 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty' We renew communion with Jesus by faith. we're reminded of the truth that the bread and wine represent, and that truth feeds our hearts. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Starting Out ... all parts required!

Sermon preached at 11am United Celebration in Carrigrohane on Sunday 7th September

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

Romans 12:1-12

Today as Ian has said, we’re celebrating with those who have jsut been through the growing leaders course, we’re excited about those who are about to embark on the youth version of the course, we’re also excited about all the things that are happening this term in the parish and we’re expectant for the things God is going to be doing in our midst over the next year.

This morning I want to challenge us about the Bible Passage we’ve just read … it’s a passage that sits at a crucial point in Paul’s letter to the Romans … in Chapter 12 … it’s a passage that is often quoted … its a challenging passage but its a passage with very clear application to us in this season for our church.

Before we get to the application … we need to understand where it sits. Paul is writing to the church in Rome … a church which wants to know what all of this Christian stuff is about. He wants to lay a foundation upon which to build … The first 11 chapters of this letter speak about who Jesus is, what he has done and most importantly of all … how the church understands this … how Jesus and his teaching is different from all those other philosophies, teachings and religions of  who have gone before … he’s at pains to emphaise the importance of faith and trust … the importance of the life, death and resurrection of Christ

Once this is understood … and he goes into tremendous study of this over the 11 chapters we get to the point of … in light of all of this then we’re called to give our bodies to be living sacrifices … It is based on this passage we have our post-communion prayer … a prayer which is so powerful it has the potential to be life changing …

we’re called to use our minds to think about faith, think about who Jesus is and what he has done and then to trust him. This is a life time process … to have our minds renewed

As part of this study this morning … I believe we’re called to
  • Use our head - to Think Deeply
  • Use our Gift - to Serve Effectively
  • Use our hands and our feet to Love Practically

It’s these things which growing leaders have been covering

Before we think about these things … there’s a movie I got to watch over the summer … 

Take a look at the video ...

Everything is awesome, everything is cool … central character … like everyone else is going about his hum drum ... in a world where nobody questions anything ... everyone is just doing what everyone else is doing ... but that is not what we are called to as Christians existance before his life changes … but take a look at the opening

Head … THinking Deeply

Our world today is such a complicated place … we’re having to deal with things which generations past could not have imagined … our globalised world links us up with Brother’s and sisters around the globe, ethics and politics, money markets and instant news. We’re having to take God’s word and apply it in situations which are complex and sometimes overwhelming. But as Christians we need to be aware and struggle with these things and let our voice be heard in the public square. But for that to happen we need to do what Paul exorted the church in Rome to do … Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
This includes studying the Bible, It includes finding out situations, subjects, areas which we dont know about and discussing, asking the difficult questions and taking our stand when we need to on the issues of the day.  And there are many things as leaders … in our church in our community we need to

The church needs to think deeply about politics … It is interesting that this week in the UK that a government minister told charities that they should stick to their knitting and not involve themselves in politics … This has caused huge consternation in all sorts of places … but particularly in organisations such as Tearfund where part of the whole ethos is a call to change the world … social Justice, climate change,

And Just yesterday - Diocesan Synod met to listen together as part of the first steps in the human sexuality listening Process - this was an important first step - we look forward  to the continuing process … more voices need to be heard in this important topic for the church. We’re called to Think Deeply … this is not always easy but it is vitally important.

Gift- Serve effectively

In this passage we see that there are many different gifts and this is not a exhaustive list but certain there are important principles here which Paul repeats in various letters

Things that we are called to do … but more than that … that we were created to do … but which needs to be fanned into flame within us

Over the weeks and months ahead we are hoping that as we move ahead with vision 2015 that we as a parish identify and apply giftings to the situations … In this passage we see Prophets, Servants, Teachers, Encouragers, Givers, Leaders, Mercy people,

Hands … Loving Practically

This is the bit that we are reasonably good at … we are good at the doing … the Verbs in the passage … the doing words … and also the “not doing” words in the passgage … Let’s look at what the church should be doing

I wonder which of these areas we’re called to … or is God laying some of these things on our hearts this morning… which of these gifts does God want us to fan into flame … which of these do you and I need to work with over the next term … in response to God’s love.

Let’s bring all of this together now … all of us are created as individuals … all of us are loved by God, all of us are unique and have a place in his church, in his kingdom. Do we know we are loved by him, do we know his care, his protection. If not let this message penetrate through our mind … let this good new renew our mind … the rest flows from this

If we know how much God loves us, then how are we communicating that with others… do we allow this message to penetrate our heart and be expressed with our mouth … How will the world know if someone doesnt speak about God to them. We need to be people speaking out our faith to those around about us. Our world needs to know about Jesus. In a world which is growing increasingly hostile to Christianity … to the message of Jesus we need to stand up and speak out … because we have the answers to so many of the worlds problems!

Take six eight-stud LEGO bricks (2x4) – how many ways can they be combined?

With the aid of computers, the exact number of combinations has been calculated as 915,103,765!

To the Lego … in the seats we have lots of lego ..little bricks … little individual things small in themselves … but which have huge potential to be put together in so many different ways to build space crafts, elephants, and lots of fun

I wonder if we are prepared like lego to be put together by God … to be used by him in new ways, in creative ways … to do things that he wants us to do over the next term as we are brought together as a holy temple.

I’m really excited to see Prophets, Servants, Teachers, Encouragers, Givers, Leaders, Mercy people,

Where the local church is a place where love is sincere, where we are hating what is evil, clinging to good, where we are devoted to one another in love, where we are zealous from eachother, joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, sharing with those in need

That’s the attractive picture of a local church … this is what we are called to … its radical, its exciting, it calls us to step up and out, beyond ourselves … but it needs us all. Are we prepared to do this?

I don’t know how every piece fits together at the moment … but the promise is that it does .. it will and it will be to God’s glory.

Here’s something we encountered at New Wine this summer … a radical vision of what happens when we become the piece God has created us to be

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed, the die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made- I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed vision, worldly talking, cheap giving & dwarfed goals.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.

I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me & when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear.”

Over the summer I have been challenged myself and I believe I’ve got to challenge others … To step out of the normal … to speak out … to think deeply as to what difference our faith is to make …. and to love unconditionally … The Christian way of life is a radical call to the other …  If you want to make this sort of commitment … as nike says … just do it. Life is short are you prepared to play your part in this great kingdom building project … just do it!

As you go out … please take a piece of lego … take it in your car, set it on your desk, on top of your tv as a reminder that you are a valuable piece of something bigger than you, that you are an essential piece of what God is building

If somebody asks you ...why the lego … why not use it to talk about Church … how Valuable you are Each bit is vitally important