|REV. PHIL LAURINGS|
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Theme: Jesus promises the Holy Spirit
Gospel reading: John 14:15-21
In the name of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, Amen.
(May the words of my mouth, the meditation of our hearts, be always acceptable in your sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer).
All of us people of faith we truly believe we have interior experiences of God. God is transcendent, that is, apart from us. Yet, God is also immanent, that is, within us.
I tell people that I am part Jewish, that is true, because, I am related to Jesus, he lives within me.
God’s Spirit is that interior urging within us that motivates us to act in Christ-like ways. God’s Spirit pricks our conscience when we’re jealous or greedy. God’s Spirit gets under our skin when we lust or lie; when we treat someone unfairly or ignore people in need. God’s Spirit also nudges us to check in with a friend who is struggling, don’t you ever get that feeling that you need to phone someone, and you do, and you find there is a problem; well that is God’s Spirit moving within us.
God’s Spirit urges us to take care of God’s creation and to be generous with our wealth. I like that to be generous with or wealth, wealth doesn’t only mean money, it is also the sharing of our God given gifts the wealth of God’s gifts, our talents, and our time, a good thing about time once given it can never be taken back, give your time to God it is for ever, we need to share with all God’s creation our time and talents.
What if you were going away and there was a group of people, family or friends you needed to address before you left because you may never see them again what would you talk about if you knew that you only had a few days left with them? If you were a preacher what would your last sermon be about?
Would you talk about the ways the love of your life enriched your journey? Would you tell about the importance of your faith: the times God gave you strength to endure a tragedy; the challenge to forgive as you have been forgiven; the hope that this life is not all there is. What would you say to your family and friends if you had that opportunity?
We would have so much to say, where would you start, to be able to put your life into perspective both know and to come?
Picture this; the scene is the Last Supper. Jesus has gathered with his twelve disciples in an upper room in a house in Jerusalem. Sensing that the end is near, Jesus says, “I am with you only a little longer.” The disciples shift in their seats and wonder what he’s talking about. Peter gives voice to what each of them is thinking: “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus responds by talking about laying down his life for them and going to be with God. As the meaning of his words begins to sink in, the disciples I imagine are struck with separation anxiety. What will they do after he is gone? How will they manage? First fear, then grief pulses through their bodies as they try to imagine life without their master. Seeing their distress and aware that the road ahead will be demanding, Jesus, in his last gathering with his disciples, comforts his disciples and reassures them that they will not be alone.
In verse 16 of today’s reading, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you.”
Some versions of the Bible have Counsellor / Advocate/Comforter/ we call the Holy Spirit or God’s Spirit. In his last gathering with his disciples, Jesus assures them that God’s Spirit will take his place and will be with them forever. The way Jesus expresses this is to say, “I will not leave you orphaned.” In other words they will not be left alone.
Jesus assures his disciples they will not be deserted. They will not be cut off from the one who gives them energy and inspiration. They will still be connected to their source of meaning, joy and hope. Jesus will not simply be with them as a cherished memory – an influential leader who transformed their lives, but now is gone – he will continue to be with them as a powerful, internal force. Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that “I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you.” Jesus reassures them that he will only be apart from them for a short time. Soon he will return to them through God’s Spirit. (Experiment)
Jesus makes it evident in this morning’s passage and elsewhere in scripture. He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The new covenant and what is his chief commandment? We are to love God and to love others as ourselves. Further, the Scriptures indicate that the chief way to express our love for God is to love our neighbour. How does Christ want us to express his love? Not through the rigid rules or predetermined prescriptions, but by opening ourselves to others in all of their complexity. We recognize each person as individuals and needing care, and we attempt to understand the needs of others by imagining how they experience life, and we have no right to judge another until we have walked a mile in their shoes. We are to love unconditionally, we might not like a certain person, but we are commanded to love them as we love ourselves.
A wonderful word that Jesus uses for love is agape. Agape love is not a mushy emotion, but rather is thoughtful and action-oriented. Thoughtful and action-oriented, it is a desire to act for the good of the other.
During my studies I was told this story about a missionary who came to central Africa where he witnessed firsthand the gripping poverty that leaves so many children hungry. The sight of starving children disturbed him and he tried to distance himself emotionally from their condition.
Then a little five year-old boy caught his attention. As he struck up a conversation with the little boy, he realized this child was in considerable pain from his hunger. The boy had a bloated stomach and other effects from hunger, malnutrition.
This missionary felt anger brewing within at the unfairness of the boy’s plight. When he could take it no longer, he turned away from the boy and cried out, “God, my God, this is despicable. This little boy has no place and no one to turn to for help. Why don’t you do something?” Then this missionary felt like this voice deep within his soul, as if God thundered in his soul the response: “I did do something my child. I sent you.”
That is so tremendous, how many times do we get that urge deep within our soul to do something that is so unexpected, that voice in our head, that is Jesus stirring deep in your body mind and soul, directing you, comforting you, guiding you to do his will. Sometimes we ignore that little voice deep within us, and when things go wrong we ask Father God where were you when I needed you, when I called upon you. Do you know God’s answer; I was talking to you but you were not listing, I am deep in your soul nudging you but alas you missed your calling.
The words Jesus spoke to the twelve disciples were intended for all of his subsequent followers. Once he was no longer physically present, he would not leave us orphaned. God’s Spirit would be present throughout the world; not only externally, but also within each of us. God penetrates your heart, mind and soul, encouraging acts of compassion, inciting anger at injustice, nudging you toward wholeness, warning you of the danger of self-centredness, and primarily encouraging you to love others with unceasing love.
You hear wonderful heart wrenching stories how people have laid down their lives for their family and friends. What prompts people to sacrifice their lives for others? What gets inside of people and motivates them to such selfless acts? Could it be God’s Spirit that prompts us to love others with the same depth that Christ loves us, and gave up his life for us?
Jesus tells us “Before long the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
We are not alone we are one with each other, united by one common cause, our love for Jesus.
Theme: Jesus Appears to His Disciples
Gospel reading: John 20:19-31
First reading: Acts 2:14a,
Second reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Sermon: Rev. Phill Laurings
In the name of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, Amen.
(May the words of my mouth, the meditation of our hearts, be always acceptable in your sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer).
If you were told to write an article on one of Jesus’ greatest achievement, which one would you write about, or where would you start? Something to think about, Jesus did so much. I would have said turning water into wine, how great was that.
Actually I would stare with the words “It is done; “Father into your hands I commit my Spirit”. When he had said this he breathed his last. Yes I would start there.
Why do I start there, this seems to be the end of everything, his work, his miracles, his life.
Jesus achieved so much when he was with us on earth, but his final breath was his crowning achievement, he didn’t just remove all our sins and open the way to the father, he healed a sick world, by uniting us all as one, and as equals.
When Jesus was with us on this earth, he converted many individuals, he healed many individuals, but at his death he healed not just individuals but the entire broken world.
The first thing he says to his Disciples is “Peace be with you!”And after he has shown them all his wounds, again he repeats these most wonderful words “Peace be with you!”
How powerful and what a wonderful way to bring peace and tranquillity to a very tense and stressful situation, that the disciples are going through, and have just been through. How would you feel if they just put your friend, companion, leader to death?
This was a life threatening time for the disciples, a time of denial and confusion in their own lives, a time when they seemed abandoned by their leader, a time of a very violent crucifixion, a time of fear for their own lives.
The words “Peace be with you” from the risen Jesus seams to say DONT WORRY, everything will be alright, and of course his prescience among them, was also reassuring.
The second time when Jesus passes the peace he also instructs them to carry out the work he has started. The time is ready, he tells them “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”. Jesus crowning glory is coming into play.
Not only are they assured by Jesus’ presence he also gives them the power of the Holy Spirit, to give them courage, and to help them carry out the work of the Father, against all odds, and the work is life threatening, would you do it, would you put your life in danger, for your job they did?
They got to, and they get to live and experience the true death and resurrection of our Lord, as we do as we get to re-enact year after year, this very important time of Easter in our lives as Christian’s, and as true followers of Jesus,
There was one who didn’t have the privilege of seeing Jesus the first time, and that was Thomas. The first thing he dose he disbelieves, what he is told by the others. In order for him to believe he needs to have the evidence in front of him, he needs very much to touch, for himself the trueness of the living Christ, in order to believe. Are we Doubting Thomases?
We are blessed by Jesus and encouraged by him because we believe without having that evidence in front of us as did Thomas. Jesus tells us “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.
We are challenged on a daily bases about our beliefs and our understanding of our religion. In the media, in the news papers, the books we read, the movies we watch, the people we meet. We are being challenged, but through the power of the Holy Spirit we are reassured of who we are, and what our true mission is. That is why our church of St. Dunstan’s is growing, through everyone’s involvement in the life of this parish, intern bringing people to know the true living God, as the Disciples did.
Jesus gave his Disciples reassurances when he breathed on them and said. “Receive the Holy spirit”. That is all the evidence that we need to carry on the work that is set before us by Jesus, the assurance that we are not alone.
There is a lot that we can get from the lessons we have had this morning.
First of all, through all the events that has just happened we are assured, we are guaranteed in fact a share in the eternal kingdom and that the work and death of Jesus was not in vain.
Secondly as hard as the things may seem in our lives, the peace of our Lord is always with us, and will always overcome all seemingly unbearable difficulties. Have faith in the words of Jesus and all of us will find that never ending joy, love and peace.
Thirdly Jesus has faith in us, we need to have faith in our Lord Jesus and all will be reviled to us. Our eyes will be opened, like Thomas when Jesus told him to reach out and touch his wounds; he received that wonderful gift of faith.
Finally through the power of the Holy Spirit the work that Jesus started will continue in all of us. We have received that gift of faith, remember faith is a doing word that is why Jesus instructs us “as the Father has sent me I am sending you”.
Hard times will happen in our lives, it is part of life, good things will also happen, in our lives, with all that happens in our life we must not let the events of the crucifixion and the death of Jesus be of no benefit to us.
Why do we celebrate Easter every year? We need to go through the events of the death and resurrection of our lord and saviour each and every year so we are reminded of how blessed we truly are. To have that wonderful gift of Faith, There is only one way, that way is JESUS.
When Jesus meets with his Disciples behind lock doors, he is showing them, that through him nothing is hidden, and anything can be achieved. Jesus is telling, not only his Disciples but also all of us that through his death, and his rising from the dead, that he has defeated the sting of death. Death or satin has no hold on us.
So we go back to the last words of Jesus on the cross, Father into your hands I commit my Spirit,” and we must all be proud and stand up for our faith, and say to the Father. Here I am Lord use me, take me. Your Son died so I may live. I believe, I have FAITH.
Theme: Living Water
In the name of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, Amen.
What a long Gospel reading, there is so much to try and absorb from this reading.
Jesus comes to a well that provides substance that continually contains life, cool clear water. There is nothing that can live without water, water sustains all life. Jesus uses this wonderful source of life to put his point across in the Gospel reading.
Water is a very important source of life without water we would die. You need water for cooking, bathing, cooling down; we need that constant supply of water. You must constantly supply yourself and everything around you with water otherwise nothing would survive.
Jesus sees a Samaritan woman and asks her for water. She challenges him because she is a Samaritan and he is a Jew, they don’t normally associate with each other.
What is Jesus telling us within this reading?
So much to take in, where do we start? We know it is all about eating and drinking, sustenance for the body, mind and soul.
Let’s start with Jesus a Jew talking to a Samaritan woman, not just talking to her, but he asked her for a drink. That means he draws her into his confidence, and she starts to absorb all that he is telling her
Jesus breaks down the barrier of discrimination that separates us all from his love, that sort of nonsense doesn’t interest him, Jesus has come to unite all people and everyone is equal. That is where in our Creeds we affirm our faith by making a statement that we are “One Holy “CATHOLIC” and apostolic Church..... Catholic meaning universal, we are an Anglican Catholic church; all people are welcome to worship here, and at the Communion rail where we all share one common cup.
The next point Jesus offers her water, not just any water, not the water that she needs to constantly take to sustain life; no water that will grow within her and she will never thirst again, the Holy Spirit welling up within her.
In the collect we read “Gracious Father, your Son is the source of living water; grant that the gift of his Spirit may be to us a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. This says it all, the water we get from Jesus last for all eternity, the spring within us welling up to eternal life, we are blessed by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives for ever.
Then Jesus tells the Samaritan woman things about her life that any normal stranger would never know. (Think about it) Jesus in doing this for a reason, Jesus calls to mind her sinful life, he knows about her life of sin, and he still accepts her for whom and what she is. He doesn’t judge her. He also boosts that spring within her and she believes even more, her faith in this man has grown.
Jesus then goes on to confirm who he really is, he now allows the truth about who he is to Confirm her faith. From the Gospel reading “The woman said”, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “Is coming. When he comes he will explain everything to us”. Jesus answers “I who speak to you am he”. “Wow” what a bold statement, is the women surprised? No she accepts what Jesus has told her, as the truth.
She goes back to her town and tells everyone about Jesus and she tells them, “Could this be the Christ”. In doing that she has planted the seed in all the people of the town, and they all run off to meet this man who could be the Christ, the Messiah. The seed is planted; all the disciples need to do harvest the crop.
Imagine the excitement and enthusiasm contained within her as she tells the people of her town about this wonderful encounter, the type of enthusiasm we have when we talk about the Messiah (the Christ). Are you enthusiastic and excited when you talk to strangers about Jesus? Yes of course you are.
Finally the disciples return with food and they urge Jesus to eat to gain his strength after the long journey. Jesus tells them “My food is to do the will of him that sent me to finish his work.
When you are sent out at the end of the service with these words, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. And you all say “In the name of Christ. Amen”.
Image these could have been the words that Jesus said to the Samaritan woman? Who immediately went out to serve “the Christ”?
Jesus is the water and the food that keeps us going. He is our reason for living.
We come to this communion rail every Sunday to share the common cup, to partake in the wine and water that represents the blood of Christ, and the food that represents the body of Christ. We become one with Christ in body, mind and soul.
When you are sent out at the end of the service with these words, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”, then we are ready to take all that wonderful nourishment, excitement enthusiasm that we have received from this service, that is welling up within us into the world and we use that life giving water within us to grow this wonderful church and to serve our community, in doing that we grow the kingdom of God.
Then we can all proudly say that my food is to do the will of him that sent me to finish his work. You can say, I am filled with the Living water, I thirst no more. AMEN
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart always be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer? Amen.
What is prayer ? Why am I asking you that ? Of
course you all know.
In our Anglican prayer book on page 435 it tells us that Christian prayer is: “…..responding to God the Father through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit”.
It also says that Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.
Everything we do should be done prayerfully through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We say in the prayer that Jesus has taught us, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. How is that suppose to happen, if we do not submit to the will of God ? How is the will of God supposed to happen if we do not do something about it?
We, as Anglicans, are regarded as one of the strongest praying denominations. We, as Anglicans, put everything to Prayer. It is so wonderful that we are branded as praying community !
Are we as good with our deeds as we are with our prayers? I hope we are. We must also be known as a good praying and doing community.
In the Gospel reading from Luke the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. So he gives them the Lords prayer, that we all know so very well, but he goes on to explain what it all means.
He talks about a man that knocks on his friend’s door at a ridiculous hour when everyone is in bed, and he is asking for help. But the friend’s first reaction is to chase his friend away. However, because of his gumption and persistence, the man gives in and helps his friend.
Let us think about that for a minute. The boldness of the friend to ask and the persistence in asking got the man his reward.
“Knock and the door will be opened, seek and you will find, ask and you will be given”. If you do not ask you will never receive. Even if God knows our reason for asking, be specific and persistent in your prayers.
Luke goes on to say that Jesus also says, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will you give him a snake”.
Remember whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus, we will be rewarded in good, not in bad. Sometimes we might not like what we are given but it is what Jesus knows is just right for us. He will not close the door on our prayers.
Imagine how confusing our prayers could be to God. A good Anglican family, well known for their prayers have planned a holiday in the Greek islands. The husband prays for a safe flight to and from the Greek Islands, while the Wife prays for a safe cruise to and from the Greek Islands. Who does God listen to? What do they want? Be specific about what you are asking for and that everyone is praying for the same thing. Together in unity of prayer then, you will receive what you ask for.
When we pray we need to be sincere in what we are asking for and that the prayer is beneficial to those lives it will effect.
Now we need to look at the “DEED” part of prayer.
Prayer is a powerful tool. The more people that are praying, the more powerful are the prayers.
We have a lot of prayer groups within our Cathedral - do you know about them? Do you belong to one of them ? If not, then why not?
If you have faith in prayers then “FAITH” becomes a doing word, to have faith in something like prayer, you need to do something about it.
There is the Guild of St Luke, run by Jean Ellis, who pray for all the sick within and outside the parish. They meet at Eucharist every Wednesday at 09:00am here in the church.
If you cannot attend that, Con Roux also runs a Healing prayer group session every last Tuesday of the month here in the Lady Chapel where specific prayers are offered up for the sick and the needy.
Every Sunday after Communion there are prayers and laying on of hands in the Lady Chapel.
There is a Prayer chain, run by Margret Morris for prayers that are urgent. You phone one person and within minutes a whole lot of people are phoned and are all praying, from wherever they are for what is needed to be prayed for.
There is the Substance abuse prayer list that only I am given to pray for. This is a confidential list for people with addiction of any kind who are prayed for daily.
There are the prayers for the Parish, and for everyone in the Parish, called the Intercessory prayer list. Some of you have already been contacted. This is where one of the parish families is prayed for on a specific day.
If you haven’t been contacted by our wonderful prayerful lady Vivienne Keen then please have your name put on the list. It is up to you to check and correct all the details. This group meets once a month for half and hour, every last Wednesday of the month here in the Lady Chapel from 06:00pm to 06:30pm.
There are other prayer groups and home groups in our parish that involve prayer. If you are not part of one of these groups then and you would like to join us in helping to grow the kingdom of God through the power of prayer, please join a group now - don’t procrastinate, “you snooze others loose”.
It is very easy to sit down for two hours watching a mind wrenching move, but very hard to sit quietly for half an hour in conversation with our Lord.
Remember there are lots of prayer groups within our Parish; I have only just scratched the surface. If you think there is a specific pray group that needs to be started then you are challenged to start one and get people involved.
In reality, our own Parish is bleeding, due to a lack of commitment. Come, commit and help us to grow our Parish.
Prayer is a vital part of our Parish, for the needs of our Parish and all the people, and families, within our Parish. We need to lift up our prayers in communion with other Parish families and heal the needs of our community and our entire Parish.
My wonderful wife put together a beautiful prayer for St Dunstan’s; I will read some of it to you, as it is too long to read it all now.
A beautiful prayer for St. Dunstan’s Cathedral
Holy and Blessed Father, thank you for our beautiful cathedral, for all the buildings where we are able to gather together as your people whom you have called out of darkness into the light and love of your Son. Shine in each one of our hearts that through our faithful worship, witness and service, we your cathedral parish may BOLDLY proclaim YOUR Kingdom of LOVE through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Lord we praise you and thank you for all those who teach and lead your flock at St Dunstan’s. We pray Father that you will bless us with a strong and enigmatic servant in Christ to guide and inspire and to strongly encourage us to be the church that we should be, a loving caring parish of strength of character desiring only to grow in Faith.
Holy Father, we pray that your Holy Spirit will be powerfully evident in every one of us that we may once again become a people of FAITH, doing, giving and trusting in your word and promises
Bless us Father as we Love, Encourage and comfort each other that your house of St. Dunstan’s may be a home of” Love and Healing”.
Merciful Father you have taught us that when two or more gather (agree or ask) in your name, you are there (it shall be given). (FAITH- TRUSTING, BELIEVING AND DOING)
Written by Veronica Laurings and Inspired by God.A parish family that prays together stays together.
Second Sunday in Lent
Reading: Genesis 15: 1-12, 17-18
A short joke, I don’t usually tell a joke during my sermons but this time I will make an exception. Paddy was going to the bank one Saturday morning at the end of the month, it was near closing time and when he got to the bank there was no parking’s at all around the block. On his second time around the block, he called out to Jesus, Jesus please help me get a parking right outside the bank. I promise if you do that for me, I will go to church every Sunday in Lent, and I will give up drinking for Lent. As Paddy was praying he saw a car pulling out of a parking spot right outside the bank, and in an instant he shouted out to Jesus, don’t worry Lord I found a parking spot !
How strong is your promise to keep away from temptation to abstain from what you have promised to give up through lent. Are you sticking to it ?
Has your Lenten promise become an obsession so that you loose focus on what Lent is all about ?
Like the Matric year for most girls - I am not saying all girls. The year is focused on what dress to wear, and what hair-do will I have for the Matric farewell dance, and will my shoes match my outfit. Only after the dance, they really focus on what the year is really about, that is preparing for their Matric, and for the rest of their lives.
Do we focus so much on what we are abstaining from through Lent and loose focus on the meaning of lent ? Sometimes the temptation is so great that we spend more time fighting that temptation than on the reason for your abstinence through lent.
I was at the intercessory prayer session yesterday here in the Cathedral, when the Lords prayer was challenged. It was asked why we have to say in the Lords prayer “Lead us not into temptation”. Does the Lord lead us into temptation?
Here is something to think about. In the Old Testament the Lord God leads Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden which is perfect in every way, and into the world of Sin. Is that not the Lord leading mankind into temptation, into a world where there are things that will tempt us ?
He says, “….now I give you a choice, accept me and turn away from temptation or allow temptation to lead you into trouble, which will create a barrier that will separate you from God.”
We are but of human flesh, and human flesh is weak. We break down and we can’t wait for Easter so we can indulge in what we have given up throughout Lent.
You never crave anything until you decided to give it up ! One Lent I gave up drinking alcohol. I am not a big drinker but this giving up drinking bugged me so bad I couldn’t wait for Lent to finish. On Easter Sunday after Church, I couldn’t wait to get home to have my first drink, and so by lunchtime I was so tipsy that I fell asleep and missed Easter.
I don’t normally worry about drinking, I go three, four, five months without even thinking about drinking, but through the forty days it became an obsession. I was more focused on the drinking than on what Lent is all about. Yes it is a time to fight temptation and to prepare ourselves for Easter. Yes, I was good, I didn’t drink through Lent even though I was tempted.
In the Gospel reading Jesus sits crying over Jerusalem. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”.
Can you picture Jesus sitting on a hill (mine dump) in Benoni, saying these very words to us …. “how often I have longed to gather you my children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”.
How often do we loose focus on what, not only Lenten goals, are our goals in our Christian life. That is why prayer is so important in our lives, Jesus talks to us in lots of different ways through prayer.
I wear this cross every day, not to show everyone I meet that I am a follower of Jesus. No, I wear this cross around my neck, as I have for the last thirty years, to remind myself that I am a sinner and I am easily led into temptation, by all the sin around me, “lead me not into temptation, but Lord yes, also deliver me from all evil.
Our loving Father is a loving God, and he will not lead us into temptation. He longs so much to gather us into his arms as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. However he needs to set us free so that we come back to him of our own accord. Then God knows that we are truly his and he will keep the covenant he made through the death of his Son on the cross. I will be your God if you will be my people, love me and trust me but most of all have faith in me.
How sad when Jesus looks out over Jerusalem and says - you have killed the prophets of old that have been sent to save you - and I know that I will be next. Wouldn’t you feel sad as well, knowing that you give everything including your life for humanity and humanity still denies Him?
Yes at times we do sadden the heart of our Lord, but he will never lead us into harm, we do that ourselves.
When my daughter
was involved in that horrific accident the other day, the first
thought in my mind was to say, “Lord why are we having so much bad
luck”. Then the thought came to me - you are having good luck for a
change. Your daughter is alive. How much good luck do you want ?
So through this lent set your focus on Jesus and not on what you are abstaining from. Yes, deny yourselves but do it with the sole purpose of glorifying Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
TIME TO REFLECT
We have progressed this far
through Lent. Have we taken on a task, or we have given up something for
This is not only the fourth Sunday in lent, it is also known as Mothering Sunday. This is the time when we thank our moms and the Mother Church for all they have meant in our lives. This is when the church celebrates Mothers Day. Some people do not celebrate the commercial Mothers Day, but treat their moms on this very special day. Why not treat your mom on both days. She deserves it.
This Sunday is also our Refreshment Sunday - the middle of Lent, when we break our fasting and abstinence for one day, on our journey to the Cross, this is when we evaluate the past three weeks, and when we refresh ourselves at our "Pit-Stop". It is time now for refreshment for the rest of the journey to the Cross of Jesus.
Also on this Sunday we have Simnel Cake, a fruit cake with marzipan instead of icing. In some Simnel cakes the middle of the cake may have a layer of almond paste or marzipan, with eleven little marzipan balls, to represent eleven of the twelve disciples, (the twelfth being, Judas Iscariot). There are different presentations of the cake. Some cakes also have one large marzipan ball in the centre to represent Jesus. Tradition has it that in medieval times, young girls in the service of a household, would consequently be with their mothers only once a year and they would bake this cake and take it home to their mothers, on Mothering Sunday. There are a lot of different ways of presenting the cake, with just as many different stories and traditions.
When we begin our abstinence for Lent, it becomes our own personal commitment of sacrifice for the love of Jesus. This is all part of our personal Christian growth. At the end of Lent we can say that we have achieved this much and that we are changed persons from when we first started our Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday, over three and a half weeks ago.
Through our devotion to our Lord we grow in faith and Love of Jesus - that is good, because that is what Lent is all about.
Sadly for some people their Lenten fasting and abstinence becomes an obsession, a duty that must be performed every year, because it is the right thing to do as good Anglicans. In that case it becomes more of a superstitious ritual, than a declaration of our discipleship and love for Jesus. Some people think that if they do not abstain from something they will be condemned by God. Some people do not even take on anything for lent. Why ? Perhaps they are scared of failing. That is nonsense. Our God is a loving and caring God. Through God there is no failure, and it is a reason for God to stretch out his hand and say, "here, let me help you good and faithful servant".
If you have not taken on anything for Lent or given up something, start today - it is never too late to start a Lenten discipline.
Someone mentioned to me that two of the hardest things to give up for Lent was to stop worrying and to stop stressing.
Being a born worrier, that is very difficult for me to do because I automatically worry about everything - so I know that I will start worrying about not worrying. I will try it for the rest of lent. As from today I will try not to worry throughout the rest of lent.
Lent is a time of discipline and a time to reflect on our journey with Jesus, as we prepare ourselves for the most incredible events up to and beyond Easter. I am not saying that you must cut short your Lenten obedience. No, all we need to do is to evaluate our journey so far - how are we doing? Why are we doing this fasting, this abstinence, this taking on of something? Are we doing it for ourselves or for God?
We only have three weeks left so let us put everything we have into our commitment to Jesus. Yes, we are getting weary. The only way we can complete our commitment is to focus on our faith in Jesus. Jesus is the Light of the world as it tells us in the Collect:
"Eternal Father your Son is the Light of the world: dispel the darkness of our sins with your celestial brightness".
Do not give up - Jesus is our guiding light.
Jesus says, "Come to me all who are weary and I will refresh you" (Matthew 11:28). You get tired and are scared to continue the journey, for fear of failure. Yes, we are only human, we are weak but He is strong. Draw your strength from those around you, and from Jesus.
A refreshing phrase from St.
Theresa of Avila:
While God is in your heart nothing is lacking. Why worry - you will achieve greatness with God in your life. He gives your strength to carry on no matter how difficult it may be.
On our journey we are given the choices we need to make. The opportunity to make decisions where our Faith sometimes will be tested. Here is a story about faith.
A letter was found in a baking-powder can wired to the handle of an old water pump that offered the only hope of drinking water on a very long and seldom-used trail across the Nevada Desert it reads; "This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new sucker washer into it and it ought to last five years. But the washer dries out and the pump has got to be primed. Under the white rock I buried a bottle of water, out of the sun and cork end up. There's enough water in it to prime the pump, but not if you drink some first. Pour about one-fourth and let her soak to wet the leather. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You will get water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. When you have drunk enough, fill the bottle and put it back like you found it for the next person.
(Signed) Desert Pete
P.S. Don't go drinking the water first. Prime the pump with it and you'll get all you can hold".That bottle buried in the sand is the only water around for miles, do you drink it? Or do you put Faith in what the note says and do the right thing, so not only you but others can also benefit from that refreshing water.
In the middle of Lent some of us might also be having a challenge to move on in faith. We need to continue with what ever we are doing for Lent so others can see Christ in us and they too can also share and benefit in the refreshing water that is Jesus. "Jesus says: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life". (John 4:13-14).
Do we continue with our journey so others can benefit from what we have learnt on this most incredible journey, or do we just give up because we are tired and scared of failure.
In our Gospel reading we read. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life".
To believe, is more than an intellectual agreement that Jesus is God. It means that we put all our trust and confidence in Him, that He alone can save us. This means that we must trust and put Jesus in charge of our present plans and commitments, which will secure our eternal destiny.
Without our "pit-stop" we run the risk of giving up. This Refreshment Sunday is a time to be refreshed. A time to be strengthened by Jesus. Yes, splash cold water on your face and be ready to continue your journey to and beyond the Cross. Yes, we all need to take a break from our journey to have that reality check, otherwise we reach our destination tired and weary.
As we enter the Eucharist we come to the Table of Our Lord and as we partake of the body and the blood of our Lord, we will be refreshed. We are strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can continue on our journey.
"Come to me all who are weary and I will refresh you"
Eternal Father your Son is the Light of the world: dispel the darkness of our sins with your celestial brightness. Shine Jesus Shine - on us - through us.
THE PROMISED PROPHET OF GOD
In today’s Collect we read, “Merciful Lord you are the only giver of pardon and peace cleanse us your faithful people from our sins that we may serve you with a quiet mind”.
We face our sinful nature on a daily basis and sometimes we find it very hard to forgive ourselves, for sins present and past. Some of the past sins hold us captive, and even after we hand them up to God we still find it very hard to let go, it is a sin to take back what you have already handed up to God, in doing this we lose focus of what God has set out for us. Sin separates us from God. Our lives are predestined before we are born; God has a specific purpose for our lives, like it or not God is in control, even though sometimes we feel and think that we have been forgotten by God.
When Fr. Joe, having been given authority as a representative of Jesus holds up his hands at the absolution, and says “Almighty God who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy on you; pardon your sins and set us free from them”. He has the authority and permission from Jesus, through Jesus to absolve you of all your sins, making you free to be able to come up to the sanctuary to partake of the Holy Eucharist, without the burden of the sins that separate us from God, and to be part of what God has in mind for us.
There is a wonderful song we sing in the evening service, it is called Indescribable, and the chorus goes like this. “Indescribable, uncontainable, you placed the stars in the sky and called them by name, you are amazing God, all powerful, untamable, awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim, you are amazing God”. Yes God is an Indescribable, uncontainable, amazing, all powerful, untamable God; he is all this and more. How blessed we are to know, and be loved by such an awesome God.
What wonderful words these are, we need to understand the awesome power of God, so When we confess our sins to God they are gone, they are no more, and if God says we are forgiven, who are we to dispute that, when we are forgiven then we are forgiven, there is no question about it.
In the First reading we heard, that God gives authority to his Prophet, God will put the words in his mouth and he will give them whatever I command. “I COMMAND HIM”, he will do as I tell him, and he has the knowledge and the authority to carry out my will, I have given him all the authority he needs to do the right thing.
Behold if you break this authority entrusted to us by God, remember God holds us accountable for all our actions.
We are to submit to Jesus all that we are and we must have enough Faith to believe that whatever we know and do comes from Jesus. We have been given the authority and knowledge and we need to teach others who need guidance teaching and faith, to do the correct things, so through our faith we are being used and tested all the time, so we need to speak and act with authority that is from Jesus. We must get it right we are all representing the most Indescribable, uncontainable, amazing, all powerful God, what an awesome privilege.
All power comes from the Word, and the Word is Jesus, and through Jesus we have the authority.
I said earlier that our lives are predestined. Our life’s journey is predestined before we were born. God knew us, before we were born; we are destined to carry out the work set by Jesus. You ask how will and when will we know when the time is the correct time. When the time is right we will know, “MAYBE THE TIME IS RIGHT, - RIGHT NOW”. Everything happens in God’s time, why do I say all in God’s time, because our lives are set out by God, before we are born, God knows when we are ready. Remember Jesus will never give us something we can never handle.
Take for instance, Moses, his life story for “us” starts with Moses in a basket in the bulrushes. For God it all started when Moses was within his mother’s womb, as was John the Baptist, who stirred in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary came close.
God didn’t say Moses climb out of that basket and get out of those bulrushes and save my people. No His time hadn’t come yet, the time had to be right when Moses was ready to take on that challenge, to save God’s people, not in the basket in the bulrushes, but at the burning bush. Why did God wait so long? When Moses returned to Egypt they all thought they knew who he was, and what he was about, that is how God intended it to be. The returning Moses was not the same person that had run left Egypt. No this time he came with the authority that “IS GOD”. He was ready to carry out the work set for him by God.
Another very good example was Saul of Tarsus. Saul held the cloaks of the men who stoned Stephen to death, and Saul was said to approve of the stoning, and death of Stephen. It wasn’t time for Saul’s to carry out what Jesus had set for him, the correct time was when Soul was on the way to Damascus, where his eyes were closed, and his eyes and heart were opened anew to the Word and authority that is Jesus. Yes his life was predestined by God when he was still in his mother’s womb. Why did God wait so long, because Saul wasn’t ready yet? Saul was feared by all followers of Jesus, and because of that when he spoke of Jesus he was more convincing, because of where he had come from, and after Saul’s conversion as a representative of Jesus, he spoke with full knowledge, authority and wisdom which came from Jesus, people knew him for what he was but Jesus had changed him to become one of the greatest missionaries, evangelist that ever lived, so that everyone knew that the words he taught were truly from Jesus.
The Word, (the Bible) is full of people whose lives were predestined by God before they were born. Even Judas Iscariot’s life, his life was predestined before he was born. Somebody had to betray Jesus, so Jesus could die for us all. Even the soldier who had to hammer the nails into the hands and feet of Jesus, his was chosen by God before he was born, somebody had to do that job, and the time had to be right.
Were people only chosen by God in the Biblical times? No we all are chosen by God today, and like it or not we are all chosen before we were born, our lives are predestined, may it be dying at birth or living to a hundred and twenty, Jesus has a purpose for our existence.
Someone I know told me that they were part Jewish, I was surprised, and answered I didn’t know that you were part Jew. He said yes Jesus is a Jew, and he lives in me, that make me part Jewish. We all have that Jewish inheritance let us exercise our authority as Jesus intended us to do.
So when a Priest, with the authority from Jesus says; “Almighty God who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy on you; pardon your sins and set us free from them”. Your sins are forgiven. Our burdens have been removed, rubbed out; we are free to live as Jesus has taught us. We are free to come to the table of our Lord with confidence, to partake in His Body and His Blood that is why we have a time of penitence before every Eucharist, so our hearts and minds won’t be clouded on who we are, we can then give our full attention on who and what Jesus is in our lives. .
We need to take up the challenge set before us by Jesus and carry out his work with knowledge and authority that is Jesus.
There is no time like the present time, maybe “Your time is right now, are you not standing in front of that burning bush, or are you on the road to Damascus”. Remember whatever we do, your life is in God’s hands; it is our God given right to chose what path we take, remembering that all paths leads to God anyway.
All authority and knowledge is ours given to us from Jesus. Yes we have been given free will to choose as we want, we are all part of God’s big plan. We only see what is in front of us, God sees the bigger picture. We can chose to accept Jesus and the life he has set before us, or we can reject Jesus, but we will still end up on the journey where Jesus wants us to be.
My prayers for us all, is that we go through life without kicking, screaming and fighting against what is inevitable. Our lives are in the hands of God, we are all, through the authority of the New Covenant that is Jesus, free from all sin, accept it; let us free our hearts and minds, and do what Jesus has predestined for us.
Gospel reading: Matthew 5: 3-12
WE HAVE A GOSPEL TO PROCLAIM
Gospel reading: Luke 4:14-21 Second reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-30
THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
I have done the job I was ordained to do. A Deacons Job is to minister to, and gather the Church scattered, a Priests job is to minister to and keep the Church present. As you can see I have done my job you are all gathered, now it is up to Fr. Joe to keep you all here.
I am going to read you one verse from each of three readings and the psalm we heard this morning, and combine them into one reading.
(John): The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives in you”. (Acts): “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being”. (1 Peter): “For Christ died for our sins, once for all the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you God” (Psalm): “Who has held our souls in life, who has not suffered our feet to slip”.
That is awesome. Christ died for all the righteous and the unrighteous, to bring us all to God. That means we all are saved by God’s grace.
Jesus is soon going to leave his disciples, but he will remain with them (Like the Africans saying Yah / neer. Well which is it yes or no). So how could this be, our beloved Jesus is leaving them but he will remain with them. The Counsellor the Spirit of God Himself would come after Jesus was gone to care for the disciples.
The Holy Spirit is the very presents of God within us, helping us live as God wants, and building Christ’s church on earth. By faith we can appropriate the Spirit’s power each day.
An insight into what the Holy Spirit means in our lives. Johns Gospel teaches us about the truths of the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, comforter the powerful Spirit within every one of us, he will be with us forever. The world at large cannot accept him, even thou he lives with us and within us. He teachers us, and he keeps reminding us of Jesus’ words and how we should live. He reminds us of our sin and our dependency upon Jesus as the connection between us and God, for the forgiveness of our sins. The Holy Spirit guides us into the truth and gives us assurance and security to our future. The Holy Spirit brings glory to Jesus. Many people are unaware of the Holy Spirit activities within their daily lives, but those who hear Christ’s words and understand the Spirit’s power; the Spirit gives us a whole new way to look at life.
Some people wish they knew the future and what it holds for them and their family’s, so they can prepare for what is to come. God has chosen not to give us that knowledge. God alone knows what our future holds, and what will happen. God sees the bigger picture. But God tells us through Jesus and the Holy Spirit we need to prepare for our future. When we live to the standards set by Jesus, God will never leave us. He will come to us and he will be in us. And yes God will show himself to us. God knows what will happen in our lives, because he is in us and we have accepted him by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the love of God we don’t need to know the future, to have faith in God, our future is secure.
We all have a bright future ahead but you must remember we are the Church, without all of us here we have no Church, without the Church we will loose our focus on God and our secure future. What do we have to look forward to, “nothing”.
In the reading from Acts Paul explained the one true God to all those educated men of Athens; although these men were very religious, they did not know God. Today we have a “Christian” society but to most people God is still unknown. We need to proclaim who he is and make it clear what he did for all mankind through his Son Jesus Christ. We cannot assume that every religious person around us truly knows Jesus or understand the importance of faith in him.
That is where we come in. We are growing up in a very fast and scary world we need all the protection from the evils of today’s fast pace. How do we do that we acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit at work within our own lives and we live a life set before us by Jesus. We should be boisterous in sharing our faith, but we should always be ready to give the correct answer, gently and respectfully, about our faith about our lifestyle as Christians. You need to think about, if Christ lives within me can others see Jesus in me.
We all have a role to play in the Church, may it be music, serving at the Alta, sides person’s duty’s, serving tea after the service, readers or even giving ten percent tithing. All these things will keep the place for the Church going.
You young people doing confirmation, you have your whole lives ahead of you, you need to be part of the church in order for you, and the church which is you, to have a future.
“When God is with you who can be against you”.
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Electronics is the thing of the future; we tend to put far too much time and energy into our electronic gadgets, and less in Jesus.
Computers and cell phones, are suppose to make our life easier, we work longer hours, and every weekend because the system has crashed, and we take work home on the computers and through our cell phones.
There is so much information that needs to absorb now days that our brains are not quick enough or large enough to take in all that information.
Man has created a brain that is quick enough to do that work for us, it is called a computer. We don’t need to remember things, or think to hard about anything. If you want information you just Google it, if you want to add or subtract you use a calculator.
When I us to play darts, a game called 301or 501, when you have to subtract your score from the amount on the board you would work it out in your head quickly, walk up to the board and write down the figure you needed and it would be correct. If it wasn’t correct someone would shout the correct numbers, in an instant. Now days we need a calculator, and if you did put down the incorrect number, and no one had a calculator the figure would stay incorrect. Our brains are getting lazy.
I remember the days when you were given a telephone number you would remember it. Now days all you have to do is put it onto your cell phone. Some people don’t even know their own number.
In the old days when you went on a holiday for two weeks, you would lock up your house and go away, and nobody could get hold of you for two weeks, you came back from that holiday refreshed. Know days you can’t even go to the toilet without people wanting to get hold of you urgently. They ask where you were, I was on the toilet, why?
In the old days the world could survive for two weeks without you, when you were on holiday. Now days the world can’t even wait for you to get off the toilet.
We have become to instant generation that is what we are growing our kids up to be, “instant families”. No time for relaxing, no time for church.
Today’s readings are all about having “faith”, faith in God.
In the Gospel reading the Disciples wanted the crowed to go home because they can’t feed them. After they have been with Jesus for awhile they still didn’t have faith in him, Jesus tells them give them what you have feed them, and you will find that you will have plenty.
Is there time for “faith in God”, in today’s society? The older generation were all like Thomas we doubted and we questioned, but we grew in faith, because we grew up with Christianity. We believe in what we read and in what we were taught about our Christian faith.
The youth of today are loosing touch with Christianity, because they don’t have daily contact with the teachings of Jesus. The youth believe if you can’t goggled it, or if it cant be found on a screen than how can they believe that it is true, are their brains and hearts becoming lazy for Jesus.
One thing that the older generation benefited from is that we all grew up with Christianity around us; the young families today don’t have that great privilege.
In a computer shop a youngster was looking for information on the website for a project about Easter, and all they could find was Jesus stuff. The youth then remarked, isn’t it enough that they have brought Christianity into Christmas, now they are also bringing it into Easter. These are the people that confess to be Christians, as regards to what Hindu?
Isn’t that sad, Christianity is slowly being removed from public contact, if you don’t go to church you will never learn about Jesus. They have even started to remove Christ from Christmas; they put an “X” through Christ and make it Xmas, they are crossing Christ out of Christmas. If your family are not committed church goers where do the youth of today learn about Jesus?
Are we loosing our Faith in Jesus, and we are putting more and more faith in our electronic equipment, which contributes to the fast pace of life today?
A family that prays together stays together.
Where do you hear a family that goggles together stays together? What youth now days will go onto the internet to get Christian teaching?
When a Christian movie comes on the television they change to a fast action movie, more exciting.
How do we make Jesus more acceptable and exciting for our youth today, how do they learn about faith in God unless we teach them? It all starts here, with us in the Church of Christ. We need to encourage young families to come back to Church.
We need to say to them cut yourself off from the material world, slow down, switch off your computers and cell phones for a couple of hours and come and listen to what Jesus is saying to us, here in the church.
When the youth go on Happening we ask them to hand in their cell phones for the weekend. That is the worst thing you can ever do. They don’t come on the weekend because they can’t give up social networking for the weekend. They prefer to live without Jesus for the weekend than their cell phones.
Young families are not attending church today because it isn’t fast and instant, so they can get home to their electronic world, a world without Jesus.
You ask me, how can, we the church make the church more exciting for our young families.
· Knowing Jesus in your life, now that is exciting
· spending time with Jesus every Sunday in church that is exciting
· Spending time with other fellow Christians, that’s exciting
· Helping the church grow, with our God given talents that’s exciting
We always ask what can the church do for me and my family. I ask you what you can do for the church and your family, with Jesus at your side.
It isn’t going to be easy, giving up your electronic equipment, and the fast lifestyle for a couple of hours each week for Jesus, give it a bash you will find it exciting and you will be well rewarded that I can promise you.
We need to have faith in Jesus in order to grow our church, if we don’t preach the word of Jesus to our youth, who will.
It is all up to us.
THE CHURCH IS ONE FOUNDATION
If I had to live according to what was read in the Gospel reading today all that would exist of me is a head on top of a body. My arms and legs would have been cut off and my eyes gouged out, only then I might be ready to be accepted into the kingdom of God, but my God is a loving and forgiving God. I am not perfect at all, but I try to live according to God’s law, building my life upon the foundation that is Jesus Christ.
The readings today have given me an opportunity to talk about my journey to where I am today and how I got to be here and how these readings have given me an opportunity to reflect on my life, and I hope has a big influence in your life.
Me personally, I believe we are all born for a set purpose in life, as was John the Baptist, Saul of Tarsus, Judas Iscariot the disciples. It states very clearly in Pauls letter to the Corinthians. “.By the grace that God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, (For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid), which is Jesus Christ “. Further on we read, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are Gods temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you. I am the church and I have been accepted by God with all my imperfections to carry out the work that is set before me.
I have always tried to put off the unexplainable urge to follow Jesus, but through the persistence of God’s glory, God eventually got out of me what he has set for me.
(“I chose as the introit hymn “The Church is one foundation it is Jesus Christ our Lord”, because it fits into where I am in my life right now.)
A little about myself, I was baptised in St. Pauls Cathedral in Durban. We went to a little Anglican church in Rose Hill in Durban where I was chosen to be part of a Christmas concert, not because I could sing, only because I knew the words to Silent Night. I was given this long robe to wear, a cassock, and I thought, I enjoy wearing this, I felt comfortable in it. The journey already started right there and then, I was only seven years old.
I didn’t have very much to do with church after we moved to Rhodesia. My sisters got confirmed in the Presbyterian Church. I refused to get confirmed, I was twelve and that was the end of my Church life. Even thou I had left the church the one and only true foundation that is Jesus was waiting to build his church through me, Jesus had that bigger plan for me the journey begins, the seed is planted.
In the Old Testament reading God understands and knows exactly what we need and where we should be. I thought I was in control of my life, no I wasn’t in control God was, he was in control of my life’s journey, without my knowledge, or acceptance.
Right from the beginning of my life, from my career choice, to my moving back to South Africa, and the union with my wonderful wife. This was all part of God’s great plan for us.
I met my beautiful wife Veronica; we fell in love, next step we wanted to get married so we went looking for a church. Veronica wanted this big fancy church wedding.
Veronica was Anglican and I was baptised in the Church of England. We found this church St. Dunstan’s, and agreed to try a Sunday service, that was very brave of me.
I told Veronica what I could remember from my younger days was the church aerobics through the service, sit, kneel, stand, sit kneel, stand. Ten minutes into the service I leaned over to Veronica and told her this is the correct church. I didn’t know at that that time that the Church of England was the Anglican Church.
Fr. Fred Vaugn-Jones wouldn’t marry us because I wasn’t confirmed. . Then he looked at us and said to me for some reason I trust that you will be confirmed, so I am going to marry you. We got married in St. Dunstan’s church in 1980. Over an eight year span we had three daughters and all were baptised at St Dunstan’s church. We only attended the church when we needed to baptise a child. The journey continues.
In 1989 my mother died, where did we go, back to the church. They sent a Deacon to come see us Dudley Greenshields. He walked into our house and I felt this special urge to confess to him. Telling him that I haven’t been to church for a very long time. Dudley stopped me and told me that this was between God and you; he was here to bury my mother.
Before my mother died she was in a sort of conscious, unconscious state, she said to Veronica congratulations on the birth of your son. We were struggling at that time to have a son, Veronica already had a ectopic pregnancy, were they had to abort the foetus and tie up the tubes, Veronica fell pregnant again this time for the first time ever she fell pregnant in the left side. This was also a ectopic pregnancy. This time instead of surgery Veronica went to visit a very good Christian friend Stephaney, who laid hands on her, and during the laying on of hands Veronica felt the foetus move up the tube and into the womb. Nine month later we got our son. Yes God does see the bigger picture, long before we can even fathom the reality and purpose of what God has in hand for us.
That is when I got that wake up call from that moment on we attended church every Sunday, without fail. One Sunday in the middle of a service I just stood up and then confessed in my normal loud voice, to the embarrassment of my wife, telling her that I wanted to be, in the front of the church wearing all those long fancy robes, I am normally a quite shy person why the outburst, who knows the Holy spirit working within me, Veronica didn’t care, she just told me to sit-down and shut up.
Ten years after we were married I got confirmed, and then I became a Lay-Minister, then I got involved in youth work, my journey continues.
One day I got this urge to pick up the phone and, phone Fr. David, why I don’t know, on the pretence that I had some youth matters I needed to get his approval on. And I needed to talk to him about something that was niggling me deep inside the pit of my stomach. I wanted to get ordained, why I wanted that I do not know.
I was accepted the next part of the journey started. I was invited to Fellowship of Vocation, and then to the board of Ministries. When I was at the board of Ministry someone asked me, why do I want to be ordained I told them I don’t know, I don’t want to be ordained, God wants me ordained, at that very moment it wasn’t all about me anymore, it was all about God. It was like being on this raft going down a rapid. You want the raft to stop so you can get off, but it keeps going faster and faster. This was the same, I wanted out, but God had other plans for me this new found Christian life started to pick up momentum, what an incredible journey I was having.
When God called me I was angry, after fighting the urges, I eventually shouted to Jesus and told him alright you win, take me, but I am not changing, because Christians are wimps, plus Christians don’t know how to enjoy life. I heard Jesus say to me, in a loud and clear voice, as much as did Saul on the road to Damascus, Jesus told me “Good, I will take you as you are, I want you whatever”.
I have changed, sorry Jesus has changed me to who he wants me to be, I stopped drinking, I stopped smoking, and I stopped swearing. I have no worldly possessions to hinder me in my growth with Jesus. The foundation was laid and as the Church, I was being built on that special foundation that is truly Jesus Christ my Lord.
I ask you, what has Jesus got in line for you? Run through your life what are all the events that has brought you to this Church, today. You are not here by chance; Jesus has this ultimate purpose for your life. You might not see the bigger picture but God does.
What an awesome privilege it is to serve Jesus, and all of you who are made in the image of God. From the reading from Isaiah; all material things that has been taken away from us, will surely be given back to us in abundance, to the glory and in the glory of God. Once we accept this spiritual declaration all darkness, and doubt will disappear and we will be guided by the power of the Holy Spirit into new heights.
This is true; after thirty years of marriage, Veronica and I have been through that transformation. We stand before you transformed, renewed, and the happiest we have ever been
our imperfections God has created someone special out of every one of
us, all our lives are destined to spend eternity with our Father in
Heaven (with or without our arms and legs). The foundation has been
laid, we are the Church, let us stop trying to build on that foundation
ourselves, and allow Jesus to mould us into his foundation. We pray
Lord Jesus that you take us, break us, and mould us into who you want us
to be, Lord Jesus our life is, in your hands.
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
I was asked one day, “What is a Christian? I answered, “ a person who believes in Jesus, and reads the bible, and who prays every day.”
You are probably thinking that going to church every Sunday makes you a Christian. Being baptised makes you a Christian. Being confirmed makes you a Christian. Being married in church makes you a Christian.
Tell me then, does standing in your garage, wearing Ferrari kit make you a Ferrari?
No it does not !
None of the above makes you a Christian if you don’t accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Yes, they all play a big part in our Christian journey towards accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.
You can be baptised as much as you want, you can be confirmed as much as you want, you can even come to church every Sunday, pray ten times a day, but if you don’t accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and start to grow the kingdom of God, as we are called to do as Christians, than what are we doing? Who we are kidding by calling ourselves Christians?
Think about this: Imagine that when we are born we are put into a perfect little bubble, our own little Garden of Eden, shielded from the realities of the world, until we die. Where we are never able to experience the fullness of our faith, of God’s work and His creation. Then what have we gained? What has God gained - a puppet? God doesn’t want a puppet he wants a true believer and a person than can grow the Kingdom of God with other people of faith.
God has given us free will. We all have our own crosses to bear. Jesus will carry us through our troubled and hard times. Jesus will answer our prayers, he will send his angels to protect us, but we are ultimately in charge of your own lives, we need to make the correct choice, and the correct choice is to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, life does not become easy, and nowhere in the Bible does it say that when you become a true follower of God your life will be trouble free. As Christians we have rules to live by, and things to consider, more so than other people. We are especially set apart from other people, (non Christians). Christianity is a way of life, twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Not just on Sundays.
In the Nicene Creed we make an affirmation of our faith, we say that we are : “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”, but do we really understand that statement?
“One” - we As Christians confesses that the Church is “One”. Somewhere with all the different Christian Churches, we tend to lose that true meaning of the Oneness within the Church. There is only one true living God.
The Church is “ONE” foundation that is Jesus Christ
our Lord (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Holy”- in the book
of Exodus 3:5, God tells Moses to remove his sandals as he is standing
on Holy Ground. The ground being Holy was different from the rest of the
ground that he had been walking on, so as such, the ground around the
burning bush must be treated differently. Holy is not the same as
everything else on earth, it is Holy of God, and must be treated as
such. Anything that is Holy is not used for ordinary every day life it
is put aside and used only for the purpose of God.
God is Holy, as is Jesus, Jesus being God, the Messiah Emmanuel. We are “One with God” and through the death of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, we are made “Holy”. So we are different to others in the world we have been separated, cut off from the normal everyday things in life. Our purpose is to expand the kingdom of God here on earth. We are chosen by God - that makes us Holy. Through baptism we are welcomed into the family that is God’s Holy family.
“Catholic”- Jesus did not come to earth to start a new church, “the Christian church”. No he came to reconcile all of us as one catholic Church. Catholic means universal. Not just Jews, but every living human, living on the earth, no matter what race, colour, creed or gender. Catholic doesn’t mean Just the Roman Catholic Church; the Roman Catholic is just the universal Church of Christ in Rome. Jesus sent out his disciples to make disciples of everybody, everywhere all nations, baptizing them in the name of, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Ancient Jews kept God to themselves, you had to be born a Jew in order to be one with God. Jesus came to earth so that everyone everywhere may worship and be one with God.
I was first introduced to the Anglican Church as being a part of the
“Apostolic Succession”, the going out of the disciples as the Apostles
did, to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). The Anglican
Church exists through the following, actions, and teachings of the
Apostles, so we believe we are an old church with the traditions that
extend from the teachings of the apostles. So that makes me very proud
to be an Anglican catholic.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel reading today “For whoever is not against us is for us”, as we join together at the Holy Communion as one family, who can separate us when Jesus is on our side? No one. We are One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Parents, when you bring your children up to be baptised this morning, remember when you take the vows and promises for your children you are expected to also take them for yourselves. You are expected to be true living examples to your children.
Godparents, do you know what you have let yourselves in for? “God Parents”, that’s what it means - God Parents. You have made a commitment to ensure that your Godchildren are brought up in a good and healthy Christian tradition, you are Godparents for life, that means you are expected to know and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and to teach your Godchildren to be good Christians. What a truly wonderful and humbling job that is, good luck.
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