Love {arrived}

van-gogh-nativity.jpgThe thing is …

No that won’t work

 

Joe, Joey, my beautiful man

God says I’m pregnant

O Lord give me the words

 

I get it, the whole angel thing

I really do -but Joseph

 

Lord he’s a chippy not a theologian

How is he going to understand?

 

~~

Mary, my Mary my sweet angel girl

She is still sweet

 

The angel dude he visited me too

Explained it all so even I could take it in.

We are having a baby… Whoo hoo.

 

~~

two thousand years of literal and liberal,

of conservative and radical

 

there are some who believe the incarnation

and there are some that doubt

just as some scoff at creation

 

and here’s their deal – the argument they say

Mary lied to cover an indiscretion

 

How could the Messiah be born

In such a lowly way

To a peasant girl in Bethlehem

 

~~

Me – I’m all in, believe the whole thing

Creation, Fall, Rebellion, Redemption

 

And the best bit, as in any story

In the last few paragraphs …

Of a city, a hill and no more sorrow.

Song{singing} Life{living}

Sing new songs, sing old

Make up a ditty In your head

Learn scriptures

Memorise by heart

But always keep

Eyes fixed on Him
Expound the word

Be gentle or challenge

Give examples of living well

Care deeply for those around

Listen well with mouth shut

But always keep

Eyes fixed on Him
Work hard play well

Stop and smell the roses

Pray deep from the heart

Pray out loud when compelled

But always keep

Eyes fixed on Him
Live out your calling

In your everyday

Being Christian is not a job

That can be clocked in or out

Because our eyes are always

Riveted, fixed on Him alone

In response~~~day 2

EBM ReflectionDay 2

The baptism of Jesus shows us his willingness to enter into our lives in the rituals and ceremonies that we have created and then just blow our mind.

To an onlooker this young man came to the guy in the desert – the weird one with the wacky diet and went into the river just like they did and had the dunk. But what happened next was amazing.

Heaven was torn open – think like a caesarean that rips open the womb. When we are baptised by the Holy Spirit there are birth pains as we become new. For Jesus >>>

Heaven was torn open.

Just think what that looked like >>> was it like a flash of lightening? was it like the night sky visible in a slit in the day time sky? what was it like?

If this were now, it would be recorded on at least one phone, a satellite feed sending it round the world in seconds. It would be emblazoned on the 24 hour news all through the next few days. Scientists would have an opinion, environmentalists would have an opinion, dogs on the street would have an opinion.

How did this news not do the rounds in Galilee?

We can think of heaven as a far off place and pontificate about the thin places. But the thin places are in our ordinary. They are not just in some quaint valley with an abbey. Thin places can be found doing the messages, chatting to a neighbour, turning a corner on a wee boreen.

This places are where heaven and earth almost touch, but heaven is just a breath away.

There is no long commute to encounter heaven. It is in our ordinary. It is in our “normal” life.

We just have to seek it.

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.

Charles Wesley wrote in his hymn:

Three uncompounded Persons One,
One undivided God proclaim:
In essence, nature, substance one,
Through all eternity the same.
Angels and archangels all
Praise the mystic Three in One,
Sing, and stop, and gaze, and fall
O’erwhelmed before thy throne.

In the baptism of Jesus not only is heaven rent, but the three of the trinity are in one accord and together. It was an astonishing scene and people possibly had trouble reconciling what they witnessed with what their mind was telling them was possible.

When Jesus got baptised, the “rulebook” was thrown out of the window with the bath water. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit had a moment. A checking in moment. An encouraging moment. A challenging moment.

We can have those moments too if we just centre our lives on God and live in the present, the thin places are there to be sought, in the ordinary mess of life.

Father God,

I thank you for this time of contemplation and reflection, as I look to the torture of the Cross of the friday and the glorious empty tomb of the sunday, today I am compelled to think of the waiting on the saturday. Lord I sit and wait as I meditate your word, I stand steadfast and sure in this very real living faith you have given me, I move in the community around me, sharing you as I meet, meeting you as I seek. Amen

Sermon Five ~~ Justification by Faith

Have you ever been racked with guilt and shame that your bones ached? The guy that wrote Psalm 32 knows all about it. His bones were wasting away and his strength was being sapped out of him. He was in a really bad place. Do you relate?

Imagine being told that all you had to do was turn to Jesus, confess and repent and all (YES ALL) would be forgiven, that the past would never be revisited (although there may be consequences) and it would never be brought up again.

When I sit down to dinner with certain people, that is all they want to do, rake up the past, bring every last unpalatable morsel to the table and wonder why I have no appetite.

Because of Je–sus. There is no condemnation. We are justified freely by his
grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Notice the words:

FREELY              GRACE                              REDEMPTION

CHRIST

Freely justified

Free grace

Free redemption

Follower of Jesus for free.

Justified means pardoned, there is no community service, no sentence – deferred or otherwise. There is freedom and it is free.

When we choose to be followers of Jesus we are pardoned from all sin. He shows his mercy and we accept forgiveness…

And then the real work begins … santification, being made righteous over time (lots and lots of it)

Having been physically ill from guilt is a powerful thing, not in itself, but when the guilt is gone, lifted, to be seen no more, the freedom is mighty.

Three poems…

Over the last three weeks I have been focusing on essays I must write without actually putting pen to paper. What happened instead was an outpouring of bad poetry on each of the three themes: all can be saved, Holy Communion and reviewing a book.

On Writing A Book Report

Clathrate of believers

                Not an enclave or conclave

But a lacy network

That grows in the Spirit

 

Antrorse facing people

With outstretched arms to all

                Not an enclave or conclave

But a lacy network

That grows in the Spirit

 

Adducent followers

Focusing on the Cross

Not an enclave or conclave

But a lacy network

That grows in the Spirit

All Can Be Saved – even you and me

God’s love is everlasting

His love is ever true

God’s love is just and perfect

Free to all of us

 

God’s love is for all

Everyone including you

God’s love is for all

Everyone including me.

 

God’s grace is so unending

Fathomless and ever so deep

Undeserved favour waiting

For me and for you.

 

God’s love is for all

Everyone including you

God’s love is for all

Everyone including me.

 

God’s mercy, oh God’s mercy

Gives all a real Hope

Of forgiveness to its fullest

Of life eternally.

 

God’s love is for all

Everyone including you

God’s love is for all

Everyone including me.

 

Meeting at the Table

Come, come

Come to the table

 

Come, come

Meet Him today

 

Come, come

Lay yourself bare

 

Come, come

Experience life

 

Come, come

Open your heart

 

Come, come

Accept the Lord in

 

Come, come

Blessed assurance

 

Come, come

Christ is the King

ringing the changes

A number of months ago I was asked what I was doing in my next session leading Children’s Church. I explained, starting with the key theme and scripture and how we were going to extrapolate that using some drama and then expressing what they had learned either through craft or writing or painting. It was up to them.

The person, a lady person, in her mid 40’s, asked if she could come. We laughed. A seed of an idea though was planted. A lot of the people I encounter on a daily basis have not been brought up in church and if they did go, were dragged.

The concept of “Messy Church” covers this, telling basic bible stories and parables so adults and children together learn something of the bible. There are alpha courses and Emmaus for further teaching and yet for all this: I meet people who have been coming to church longer than me who don’t get forgiveness and don’t get grace and mercy and love.

Is Children’s Church about retelling bible stories over and over again in a three year cycle, or is it about giving them some foundation so they can explore their faith, grow in their faith and take over as leaders of worship, leaders of Children’s Church and youth initiatives?

When I was small going to church was treat, going to a political conference was a chore. Sitting on a stool in a Methodist Class of women, talking about “real stuff” in their lives and encouraging and admonishing each other was a treat, listening to a political argument on trivial matters of no consequence was a chore. However, I was brought up differently, for that time. My Christian friends were not allowed to play with me and committed a sin by doing so (that of not honouring parents.)

Today, I am not that differently brought up compared to the general population which is no longer church going by default of which piece of land they were raised. Church is becoming an optional extra. A friend of mine in the States tweeted the question, “will I go to the gym or church?” The Gym won.

We have to make church a treat, not so it is vapidly full of emotive music, repeating choruses to encourage fervour, or to make it what people want to hear – “You are doing okay, much better than that guy.” It is to balance the attractional elements with sound basic teaching, extoling without gushing and using language that people today will understand.

So let’s stop making the assumption that people know what grace, mercy, love and forgiveness mean just because we sing and recite ritually. Let’s not try to be clever when someone says they believe in Jesus and say something like, “what do you mean by believe, Satan knew who Jesus was?”

I had another conversation a couple of weeks ago where a person was blaming the government because people didn’t know how to cook and live on a budget. It is easy to blame government for this and it is easy to blame “Church” for the lack of understanding within the church.

Let’s turn the world upside down and meet people one-to-one, let’s listen to what they know as well as the deficit in understanding, let’s fill that gap. Each one of us, individually live out the authentic life of a Christian, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not just what Jesus would do, it was what he did. He invited us to his upside down Kingdom, let’s share that…

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9

don’t worry ’bout a thing

Children’s church on Sunday looked at worry and discussed our worries (mostly homework.)

We then read from Matthew 6, what Jesus talked about worry and how even in this little thing he turns our worlds upside down. We don’t need to worry because God provides for our needs. The children were then asked to respond to the passage by creating flowers and birds using construction paper or colouring or in working with words and numbers looking at the passage.

 

In this world where we think so often in terms of wants or manufactured false needs, we sometimes need to think in simple terms of food and clothes. We don’t need ten pairs of shoes. We don’t need exotic ingredients.

 

Simple living is about recycling, reusing and reducing waste. It is about spending less so we can give more. And we refer back to the beginning of Matthew 6 in how we are to give – not with a fanfare of trumpets and an oversized cheque but quietly, anonymously without our egos attached. For example if we have an old coat with a broken zip, we fix the zip for ourselves and buy a new coat for a homeless girl or guy. We follow the Lord who provides abundantly for us, by providing abundantly for others.

 

To live, to really live we have to learn to let go of our “material possessions” mentality. Some challenges to finish: We can live without the internet. We can live without mobile phones. We can live without central heating. We can live without dishwashers and tumble dryers. We can live without running hot water. We can live without the latest styles both in food and clothes. We can live full and complete lives without all of these things. We can live simply.

 

Matthew 6:25 (The Voice)

Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Don’t worry about how you clothe your body. Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up.

 

Don’t Worry

We love Jesus

We love Jesus

We love Jesus Christ (chorus)

 

We don’t worry ‘bout

Money in the bank

Cos we trust Jesus Christ

 

chorus

 

We don’t worry ‘bout

Food in our belly

Cos we trust Jesus Christ

 

chorus

 

We don’t worry ‘bout

Clothes on our back

Cos we love Jesus Christ

 

(slower)

We love Jesus

We love Jesus

We love Jesus Christ

 

We trust in Jesus

We don’t worry (why?)

He abundantly provides

Who?

who looked after the sheep?

the shepherds went off to visit the newborn babe

but who minded the sheep?

there is very little told of Jesus’ birth and yet we know so much

why is that?

Mark’s gospel has him entering stage left as a grown up

John has him at the beginning but no details: 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

Matthew and Luke have accounts, but for all that. There is loads we know, that isn’t written in the Bible.

We know the names of the Magi

We know how long they travelled, following the star, which now is a comet or is two planets colliding.

We know nothing. Let’s face it. We can’t possibly get our heads around the enormous honour bestowed on us all that Jesus, left his place next to his Father and came to earth as a humble, vulnerable baby.

And it was not into a sterile maternity hospital with midwives and doctors. No it was in a grubby room that Mary delivered. Infant mortality was high as were maternal deaths during labour. There were no drugs to stop haemorrhaging. It would have to be messy, sticky, bloody.

But we don’t want to think of those things. In our carols we have a baby that doesn’t cry. Meek and mild. Oh so very cute and totally unrealistic. But it is what we know.

I like the idea of nativity plays with fish and octopus and daleks and other aliens because, we know so little, is it such a stretch to have them there.

What do we know?

Christ is not Santa

Santa is not an invisible angel

Jesus really was born, he really did preach and teach and heal and met people in the most desperate of circumstances and loved people.

Jesus really did die, a most horrific tortuous death, that he did nothing to deserve. He was the perfect one, we were the imperfect, we were the sinners that caused his death.

Jesus really did rise from death, he really did meet with some of the disciples and he really did return to heaven from where he came.

And he really will come again.

So instead of thinking about who looked after the sheep when the shepherds went to see him in the grubby room.

We should be thinking about how to look after the sheep now, how can we share the good news to the lost sheep, how can we encourage and challenge, nurture and feed the sheep today?

How can we be the person Jesus calls us to be if we get caught up in the myth and the legend surrounding his birth?

Just a thought as a distraction from my main task today