Change

Changerev_denise2
by Revd Denise Kelsall
Sunday 5th July 2015 (9.30 am Service)
Mark 6: 1-13

Sometimes when beginning to write a sermon I think around the odd quote or truism to inspire me. Today or more correctly earlier this week after examining today’s readings, I kept coming back to the word change. And so I googled the images for change – pages of them on posters, lampposts, on all sorts of amazing backgrounds, familiar and often true words or sayings in their hundreds came up,  A few…

The only thing constant in life is change ——-who hasn’t heard that one!

If you do not create change, change will create you. (business quote?)

You change your life by changing your heart (and in reverse? what comes first?)

Life can change in a blink of an eye

Every new day is a chance to change your life

Changing is difficult, not changing is fatal.

Change is a process, not an event (both)

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change

Change your thinking, change your life.

Our gospel today is all about change – the fear of change – and the excitement creativity and unknown-ness of change.

Jesus lived in an ‘honour and shame’ society much more like that of the middle- east today – think Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine……. Honour was primary and social classes determined by birth and purity laws. Jesus is in his hometown Nazareth – where people know his birth status and his honour rating. Why he was just a kid not so long ago!

At first they were ‘astounded’ at his teaching, his authority, his power…..and then they (synagogue leaders) ask – who is he really and they look to what counts in their society – family origin, blood relations, honour rank. In asking they attempt to discredit him – he is only the craftsman’s son. Who does he think he is?

Jesus tells them and us and that his own home town doesn’t want to listen and learn. Perhaps ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ – and that there are people elsewhere who are open do want to listen learn and be transformed.

The conclusion tells us that the ability of Jesus to perform great works requires faith. That the participation of the people in their work and life through their faith, is strategic to Jesus’ ability to transform people – lives – situations – it is a two way street – the people are participants, not observers. (and that applies to us too)

Their rejection of Jesus results in their rejection of what he is capable of doing in their midst.

It follows that Jesus sends the disciples out 2 by 2. Travelling in pairs was common in antiquity, travel was dangerous. They healed the sick, cast out demons, taught the faith. They were received openly, enthusiastically, and were able to work the transformation they had come to do. They were, therefore, the exact opposite to the people of Jesus hometown Nazareth.

These two parallel stories in today’s text are ostensibly about the receptivity or rejection of Christ. Yes or no to him and his message. But it’s much more than that too. Jesus challenges the political-economic-religious system of Israel and its leaders, the status quo, making powerful enemies. He is revolutionary – and dangerous. He wants change things radically.

Jesus ministry scandalised the people of his town. It threatened them – and his extended family.

They were afraid they would be implicated, tainted by his actions, his ministry. They looked for ways to dismiss him – belittling his lack of education, making light of his lowly occupation as a carpenter. They distanced themselves and would not believe him – all of them.

So Jesus must create a new family, a new kin-ship. He is a ‘disowned prophet without honour, he withdraws from his past to create a new community, a new family in God that we are part of, a new political- social-economic order called ‘the kingdom of God.’

Among strangers Jesus will build his alternative community to that of Israel, a community not without conflict, with tragedies and pain and fear as well as victories, great love and great change.

Change wrought in the hearts and minds of people as they open to what Jesus offers them. To shake off the fear of the past, to leave it behind as their hearts and their lives change, as their vision of what life is and can be changes.

Transformation, relationship, new eyes, good company, a thirst to understand, a lifelong attempt to love madly and deeply, walking and striving to follow this man, this divine God-man, Jesus, this person in whom they see and find what God intends for them.

We might ask what we see or find God wants for us. We might ask or see what changes we might need to make or address – in our lives, our faith and our way of being in the world.

I believe it’s a process. A moveable feast if you like.

A bit about me – not quite a testimony but a glimpse……. raised Anglican singing in Sunday school – ‘I’m in the Lord’s Arm-ee’ –                           SING…..and act out?

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the cavalry,

Shoot the artillery.

I may never fly o’er the enemy,

But I’m in the Lord’s ar-my. (yes, sir!)

I’m in the Lord’s ar-my, (yes, sir!)

I’m in the Lord’s ar-my, (yes, sir!)

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the Calvary,

Shoot the artillery.

I may never fly o’er the enemy,

But I’m in the Lord’s ar-my. (yes, sir!)

I am sure some of you remember it!

Such fun – all the kids with make-believe guns marching up and down eagerly – and swooping around with arms outstretched as aeroplanes and maybe giving a salute at the end – yes sir! The clatter of feet and exuberant yelling that was heard in church.

Gosh we say – rather militaristic and not very PC in this peace longing desperately needing in this world of ours. From there to a Christian rally in my teens where with beating heart I went forward and got a terminal jab of the reality of God of Jesus in my life – my parents suffered with ‘you’ll burn ……if you don’t” – good OT fundy stuff that amazed even me and thankfully not lasting long – off on OE and London, parties, boys, exploring and back to NZ. Married I took my children to Sunday School, my faith rekindling, maturing and growing – shifting my knowledge and perceptions of the world and how it should be.

Your story might be similar – and still I/we continue to change and gain new insights perspectives into what we believe we are called to be and do as Christians in this world. Our faith journey within waxes and wanes sometimes, our beliefs can be challenged and they can change. We hide and we struggle with our world. God is not static, yet constant.

In this story today Jesus is telling us that our social perceptions and our need for approval limit us and our vision, capture our spirit and make us fearful. We buy into our current wildly rapidly changing culture – or not – it’s difficult and can be dangerous to change.

Jesus is asking us to leave behind our fears of change and difference, to leave behind our perceived need for lots of stuff, our media fed desire for accumulation, our predilection for pretty lives, indeed – to shake these off as foreign dust and to walk freely into a world that God wishes and wants for us.

It’s not an easy task, one that asks us to constantly re-evaluate, to walk with others in our spiritual quest, to be open to the prompting of that still small voice within that with courage and honesty changes our actions our way of being, our faith. It’s a revolutionary way this way of Jesus – it demands much. It is ours.

Thanks be to God

Amen

Foul Weather Faith

Foul Weather Faithstormysea3
by The Reverend Michael Berry
(Chaplain, Royal New Zealand Navy)
21 June 2015

Readings: 2 Corinthians 6: 1 – 13 and Mark 4: 35 – 41

To cross the open ocean, has for me, become something of a spiritual experience.

During the 2013/14 summer, soon after joining the Navy as a Chaplain, I made my first voyage to sea, travelling aboard our Anzac Class Frigate HMNZS TE MANA to the coastal waters of Somalia where we conducted counter-piracy operations.

As we sailed from Darwin, and made for the coast of Africa, amid the excitement and anxiety of beginning our mission, I was awakened to the profound reality of just how very big the ocean really is. As hours turned into days, turned into weeks, the horizon remained unrelenting and I realised just how very small we really were… how small I was. We were alone out there and, whilst the weather was calm and spirits were high, there was no one to save us should things go wrong; no ambulance, no supermarket, no gas station; just 181 sailors bound by 118 metres of ship.

I remember one morning as I stood alone on the port waist, looking out and thinking… praying… how mighty is our God to have created all this; to have power over all this; to be watching over us – insignificant as we might be; isolated as we might be; vulnerable to the sea as we were.

The sea often plays a special role in biblical imagery and the Bible starts and finishes with passages that give us some insight into this symbolism. Genesis 1: 1 describes the universe at the beginning of creation as a formless void and darkness, covering the face of the deep waters. And just inside the back cover – in Revelation 21: 1 – heaven is described as a place where the ‘sea is no more’.

Those two passages alone, as well as the many references between, help us to appreciate the way in which the biblical narrative uses the sea as a symbol for the darkness of the world; for chaos; destruction; persecution; and even evil. The sea is a place of the unknown, the abode of demons or, as Luke calls it, the abyss. And it’s in the midst of this context that we might read Mark’s account of Jesus and his disciples that day as their little boat was caught by a big storm in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.

The earlier verses of Mark 4, some of which were read last Sunday, also provide context for the storm narrative. Jesus begins in that chapter by sharing the ‘Parable of the Sower’ in which he implores the disciples not to be the barren or thorny ground, where the seed withers or is chocked, but to be the good soil in which the seed may grow and prosper. In other words, as Jesus explains, the disciples must be receptive to his teaching so that when the time comes, they will stand ready for ministry; ready to take on the challenges that will face them, ultimately, as they build the church. He then goes on to summarise his teaching with the image of the mustard seed in which even the smallest amount of faith has the power to achieve great things in the name of God.

So, Jesus tells them, hear my words and strengthen your faith that you may not falter, that you may stand firm when the time comes; that you may fulfil your calling as my disciples.

It all then comes together in today’s storm narrative as Jesus’ teaching on faith is tested. Having heard the words on faith, after all that they have learnt, the storm becomes, in many ways, a litmus test. For Mark it’s about the storm, but it’s about more than that too, as it’s also about all that the storm image represents; the struggle with darkness, chaos, evil, the unknown.

And the disciples? Well… they fail… miserably…

With Jesus asleep, confident himself that the Father will protect him in that environment, the disciples fear and fail. Calm when they set out, a storm rises without notice; the winds howl, the waves beat against their small boat, filling it with water. It’s a sailor’s worst nightmare, and they cry out to be saved.

‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ they say. Do you not care that we are about to sink… and die?

Jesus responds – disappointed, frustrated, almost heartbroken, I think. ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ I’ve just been teaching you about this; I wanted you to be the rich soil, in which faith will grow. I wanted you to be ready, not just to witness the miracles and enjoy the good times, but to face the dangers of the world head-on; to embrace and overcome the difficulties; to accept the challenges of being a disciple of mine. I need you to have more than just ‘fair weather faith’.

This passage would have spoken loudly to the original audience of the gospel for they were, as the saying goes ‘all at sea’. In the year 64, around the time Mark’s Gospel was being written, a great fire ravished the city of Rome. Historians propose that it was actually started by the Emperor Nero, a twisted plan to clear space for a new palace. Nero blamed the Christians though, this weird group of blood drinking nutters (at least that’s the picture he painted!).

So, just a few short decades after Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, the Church found itself under threat by an unwelcoming and militant Roman Empire. Christians found themselves facing a very dark time indeed as they became the subjects of brutal persecution. This was the very real storm that Jesus was asking his disciples to be prepared for.

Likewise, we heard Paul’s words to the Corinthian church as he considers his ministry. In the same breath that he celebrates ‘purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God’, he recalls ‘afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, [and] hunger’.

We know, from our reading of the Book of Acts, that Paul came face to face, both figuratively and literally, with severe storms that tested and put pressure on his resolve to see through his call to be an Apostle and a Disciple of Jesus. Ultimately, we celebrate Paul as one of the heroes of the church because he had more than just ‘fair weather faith’. He had, what we might call, ‘foul weather faith’ that called him to persevere in the face of death itself

And, to be fair to the disciples, despite failing in the midst of that storm, they too did grow and learn themselves and, despite stumbling into other hurdles, they did – ultimately – stand up as the leaders that built the Early Church.

The Gospel is full of promises. Yes, God promises much to those who love him; hope, love, meaning, forgiveness, new and eternal life. There is so much to celebrate; no doubt that is high on the list of reasons for us to gather in worship today.

Nowhere though does it promise an easy path for disciples. In a month of sermons themed around discipleship that will no doubt be a consistent message. Jesus promised that discipleship would be anything but easy, saying, ‘See, I am sending you like sheep out into the midst of wolves…’ (Matthew 10: 16).

Discipleship is about accepting the call to go where others will not. To accept a life of vulnerability, healing the sick, forgiving the forgotten, embracing the marginalised, and loving the lost.

And to truly minister in that way, we do have to make ourselves vulnerable; we do have to risk all that we have, because we live in a world where people would often rather be blind because the alternative seems to be too hard.

No, we might not, as the early Christians did, be facing a lion’s den. We do though still live in a world where just a few days ago a young man walked into a Charleston Church and killed 9 people while they prayed. We live in a world that continues to suffer from intolerance and ignorance as factions and nations continue to war; over land, over conflicting ideologies, and sometimes just because they’ve always fought in that way.

All over the world, Jesus’ words ring true, when he said, ‘you always have the poor with you…’ (Matthew 26: 11). In our own backyard, it’s a sad indictment on our nation, that we have over 100,000 kids who have no idea where their next meal will come from. Our own City Mission reports again and again, that the need is growing… and growing.

So the ministry field is as deep as it is wide. There is much work to be done

If we’re going to talk about discipleship then, we need to understand that that is the stormy sea Jesus is calling us to sail upon. It’s a journey that requires a fair amount of ‘foul weather faith’.

Most importantly, the Gospel today concludes with a very important question; one that we need to know the answer to. ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

Jesus is the calm amidst the storm; he is the healer amidst the sick; he is the voice of reason amidst the confusion of life. As disciples, Jesus is the one who calls us to have faith. Day in, day out; Sunday to Sunday, as we read scripture, listen to sermons and gather in prayer, we come… so that we may go… strengthened, encouraged, uplifted, motivated. We come, and we go, so that we can offer ministry, in our own ways and places, in our workplaces, amongst our friends and family, through our influence, in the wise use of our resources and in the decisions we have to make. To be the hands and feet of Jesus, to seek justice, to nurture forgiveness, to be the voice of those without a voice.

At the end of the service, I pray, as we ‘go in the name of Christ’, may we do so hearing the words of Jesus to the storm that day.

Peace

Be Still

May we speak those words to the dark places we encounter and when we come up against a wall, when we find derision from those who scoff at our efforts, when we encounter deaf ears to the message that we bear, may we have the faith to stand firm and trust that Christ is with us. To push through the obstacles. To focus on God’s call. And to speak a little louder.

Mighty God; strong, loving and wise. Help us to depend upon your goodness and to place our trust in your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of Godmustard_tree
Rev Charmaine Braatvedt
14th June 2015

Mark 4: 26 – 34

We are about to embark on a sermon series called Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark and so I thought I would spend a bit of time today giving you some background on Mark’s Gospel.

Firstly there is no direct internal evidence in the Gospel itself that tells us who the author is. However, it seems to have been the unanimous testimony of the early church that this Gospel was written by John Mark, a close associate of Peter. The content of the book appears to have come from the preaching of Peter. We think John Mark arranged and shaped Peter’s sermons and in so doing produced this Gospel.

The first mention of John Mark in the Bible, is in Acts 12:12 where we learn that his mother had a house in Jerusalem that served as a meeting place for believers.

Then in Acts 12: 25, we learn that when Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from Jerusalem, Mark accompanied them.

Mark next appears as a helper to Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:5 when they were on their first missionary journey.

Then for some reason or other in Acts 13:13 Mark returned to Jerusalem leaving Paul and Barnabas in the lurch at Perga, in Pamphylia, Turkey.

Paul must have been deeply disappointed with Mark’s actions because we see in Acts 15: 36 – 39, that when Barnabas proposed that Mark joins them on their second missional journey, Paul flatly refused to have him along.

That refusal broke up Paul and Barnabas’ missional relationship. Barnabas split from Paul and together with his cousin Mark went to Cyprus instead.

After that no further mention is made of either of them in the book of Acts. However, Mark reappears in Paul’s letter to the Colossians where Paul sends a greeting from Mark. At this point it seems that Mark was beginning to win his way back into Paul’s confidence.

By the end of Paul’s life, Mark had fully regained Paul’s favour see 2 Timothy 4: 11.

It is generally thought that Mark’s Gospel was written around AD70 when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. This would make it the earliest of the Gospels.

Many believe that the writers of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, used Mark as a major source for their writings and this explains the similarity between the 3 Gospels, known as the Synoptic Gospels.

According to early church tradition, Mark’s Gospel was written in Italy near Rome where Peter spent the last days of his life and where he was martyred.

We think Mark was writing for a gentile audience because he takes the trouble to explain Jewish customs 7: 2-4 and 15: 42 and translates Aramaic words. He would not have had to do this if his audience had been made up of Palestinian Jews.

Mark frequently pictures Jesus as a teacher. The words teacher, teach, teaching and rabbi are applied to Jesus 39 times in Mark’s Gospel.

Mark’s writing style is succinct, simple, unadorned and practical in the sense that he emphasises what Jesus did more so than what he said.

He moves quickly from one episode in Jesus’ life and ministry to another often using the adverb immediately.

So let’s take a look at the two parables in today’s reading :

The first parable of the Growing Seed is found only in Mark, while the second one about the mustard seed, is found in both Matthew and Luke.

At the end of this talk I will give you an opportunity to share something it may be saying to you today in your context.

These parables are closely linked and teach us important truths about the kingdom of God. In a sense they support each other. The term Kingdom of God refers to the reign, the activity the purposes of God.

  • They each have a sower.
  • In each a seed is planted which blossoms into usefulness.
  • In both parables we get the sense that the seed will mysteriously produce results which are inherent within it even though in both stories the seeds look insignificant and unpromising.

Jesus often used illustrations from the growth of nature to describe the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Thinking about it, nature’s growth is often imperceptible. We do not see a plant growing. If we see it every day we do not notice the growth taking place. It is only when we see it and then go away and then come back after an interval of time that we see the difference. A bit like a teenager.

Nature’s growth is also constant and unfolding and inevitable. Growth is very powerful. When you leave here today, take a look at the footpath in front of our church and you will notice how the trees have split the concrete pavement with the power of their growth.

So it is with the Kingdom of God. The extension and growth of God’s work in the world is often imperceptible on a day to day basis yet despite this God’s work continues.

Nothing in the end can stop the purposes of God.

Tell my experience when Julian was born with the lilac trees in Shrewsbury.

So what is the life application of the two parables?

I think we can learn much about evangelism, mission and the ministry of the church from them:

  1. These parables are a great encouragement to us in those times in our ministry when we might feel that the Spirit has gone on holiday; when we feel inadequate and unable to do justice to the calling that God has placed on each of us and on the Church. These parables convey the seed of truth that God’s kingdom works powerfully and effectively despite the skills or lack of skills of those who are the messengers of the Gospel viz you and me. Sometimes God’s Kingdom even works invisibly like a seed hidden in the soil. The farmer who planted the seed had no idea how the seed grows. He simply planted the seed in faith and then waited for it to germinate. He most likely prepared the soil, watered the ground and tended it but he could not cause the seed to grow. It is God who makes it grow.                                  So it is for the Church. It is our task to plant the seed of the Gospel in faith and to trust it’s inherent to grow in God’s time and bear fruit in the lives of those who hear it. We can tend the soil and water the ground but only God grows that seed.

I hope this parable encourages you if you have shared the Gospel with someone and you can see no evidence of that person growing in faith. Remember you have no idea how and in what time frame God is growing that seed.

  1. Both parables remind us never to be daunted by small beginnings. As God transforms a tiny speck of mustard seed into a 6ft high shrub, so God will accomplish great things including the salvation of the world, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This mystery of how God accomplishes his purposes in the world also applies to our situation.

Think about a church plant or a ministry initiative you may be involved in. Again the parable reminds us to trust that God will use and prosper our efforts in ways we cannot imagine as yet.

  1. The second parable in particular teaches about the hospitality of the Kingdom of God. In Palestine the mustard seed was the smallest of seeds. Yet it grows into a tree that, when it goes into seed, clouds of birds hover over to feed on the little black mustard seeds. Like these birds, the Church of Jesus Christ which began in Palestine with one man and his band of 12 followers has grown and flourished and now there is room in it for every nation in the world, all kinds of opinions and many different styles of worship.

Finally the last two verses which conclude this collection of parables, are significant.

The comment that “Jesus explained everything to his disciples privately”, makes it clear that one must come to Jesus as a disciple who will listen carefully, if we are to gain the deeper spiritual understandings he offers.

In a sense the parables are a test of our faithfulness and discipline in that they discern the thoughts and the intentions of the hearts of the listeners. Do we really want to know what Jesus is trying to teach us?

To understand his parables requires more of us than mere intellectual comprehension, it requires that our hearts are open to hearing God’s word to us.

Jesus uses parables to plumb the spiritual perception of his audience, because he knows that the fundamental concept of a Messiah who dies an ignominious death can only be understood through a rare spiritual discernment. The outrageous message that Christ crucified conquers the world, will be an impossible riddle for those who hang on to the worldly understanding of success.

Only when we take the time to gather in faith around Jesus as a listening community of Christ followers with open minds and teachable spirits, will we be able to assimilate such divine wisdom as is embedded in his parables.

What have you learnt from this parable today I wonder?

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sundaysunrise1
by Rev Charmaine Braatvedt
31st May 2015

Isaiah 6: 1 – 8

John 3: 1 -17

Today being Trinity Sunday we have two bible readings that reflect Trinitarian theology. That is the concept of God as being a community of three persons, Father Son and Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel reading reference is made to the Trinity when Jesus refers to himself as the Son who has been given to the world in love by the Father and to the autonomous Spirit that blows wherever it pleases.

Last Sunday we marked the birth of the Church when we discussed the anointing of this autonomous Spirit we call the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus at Pentecost,

As we celebrate our naming day we continue to look at the implications of that anointing for each of us and for the church here in Devonport.

In Genesis 1 you will recall that at the time of Creation, God spoke the world into being. “And God said let there be….”

In the New Testament, St John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is the word made flesh who spoke his church into being when he first called his disciples and then commissioned them to be his messengers and to preach this Gospel to all nations.

There are many examples in the Bible of people being called by God to be his messengers. These include Moses, David, Samuel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and of course Isaiah whose calling is described in the Old Testament reading set in the lectionary for today. Not everyone who is called responds as Isaiah did with such alacrity to that call. Some people called by God run from that call, try to hide from it, argue with God over it or take years to respond to it.

I have two dogs one called Snowy and one called Max. Snowy is a dog that doesn’t immediately come when he is called. He takes his time and often will only come if Max comes. Max on the other hand comes the instant you call him. I think those who hear God’s call can be divided into two groups: a Snowy or a Max. Moses was more of a Snowy while Isaiah was definitely a Max. I wonder which category you may fall into?

Let’s look more closely at Isaiah’s call or commissioning.

Firstly, Isaiah has an epiphanal experience. He has a vision in which he sees God in all his glory. The language in this passage resembles the language in the book of Revelation when John describes his vision of God.

Then by contrast Isaiah sees himself in all his sinful uncleanness and his society in all its sinful uncleanness.

He is humbled by this contrast and fears for his life and soul.

God’s compassion is revealed as we read that God gave Isaiah the assurance that his sins are forgiven.

Isaiah’s gratitude overflows into a commitment to give his life to serving God. In response to God’s question who shall go for us? Isaiah immediately offers to go and to proclaim the divine message His quick and positive response reflects the profound transformation that has occurred as a consequence of his encounter with God.

Both the book of Revelation and the Book of Isaiah make the point that encountering God is a profoundly transformative experience.

Now I wonder if you noticed one unobtrusive little word in the Isaiah passage which is loaded with meaning in the context of today being Trinity Sunday. It is the word “us”. Who will go for us? Us Here implies that God is in some sense plural and seems to point to the existence of the Trinity, three persons making up one God. Perhaps the seraphs calling holy, holy, holy implies the same theology?

It goes without saying that the message that Isaiah is asked to proclaim is not an easy one. As is often the case when God’s truth is proclaimed the message is a prophecy that his rebellious and stiff necked community will find difficult to swallow. Isaiah would need to equip himself with the power of the Holy Spirit with which he has been anointed in order to proclaim it.

There is much we can learn from Isaiah’s calling:

Like Isaiah each of us needs to prayerfully prepare ourselves for our own personal encounter with God. It won’t necessarily look like Isaiah’s. Take Nicodemus. His encounter with Jesus had a totally different look about it. What both men had in common was that they were hungry for God and wanted to have a meaningful encounter with God. Any Such encounter will be transformative. It will cause us to look at our own lives with an honesty that will inevitably evoke a repentant response in us and cause us to submit in humility to the saving grace of God.

This is what Jesus means when he says to Nicodemus you must be born again. He means we need to be born in a spiritual sense into a new relationship of submission to God through Jesus Christ. We are born into a familial relationship and become children of God, part of the community of God, the Trinity.

However, here’s the thing, this is not where it ends either for God or for us. God has chosen to save the world through Jesus and his church and so it is, having committed our lives to him, we are called like Isaiah to share his message of salvation with others.

The point of difference between the old and the new testament is this: Isaiah was one individual man called by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit to go out, on his own, to proclaim God’s message to the people. We on the other hand are called to collectively to out in Jesus’ name, as a community of faith, anointed by the Holy Spirit. This is done through the various ministries in the Church. Everything we do or say or plan as Church has this central purpose. To take the message of the Gospel out into the world.

Whether you are a Snowy or a Max, I believe that Church is a community made up of people who have each had an encounter with God, heard his call on their lives, submitted to his authority over their lives and either immediately or eventually responded positively to the call to go out into the world bearing witness to the Gospel message of Jesus:

Who will go for us? ….. Here am I send me.

And what is this message?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It is a message of God’s love for the world expressed most perfectly in the gift of Jesus.

We proclaim it by word and deed through our mission statement as a church:

To know Christ and to make Christ known and through our vision

To be a Christ-centred community that attracts all people into a relationship with God and inspires them to serve.

We do this together as a community.

On this special day it is good to celebrate the ways we are working towards exercising the calling that God has placed on each of our lives and on our corporate life as Jesus’ church in this corner of his vineyard.