Monday, 25 April 2016

Honest Sinners - Sunday 24th April 2016

St Peter is widely heralded as the founder of the Christian church, a great among the great saints of Christianity. However, like many people who become celebrated, his beginnings were very ordinary.
A quick read of Peter’s story can lead to an assumption that Jesus simply turned up one day, said, “Follow me”, and off Peter went. But that isn’t how it was. Peter encountered Jesus at various times and in various places over those opening months, and while Jesus repeated his invitation for Peter to become a disciple, Peter remained unconfident about his own suitability. By the time Jesus guided Peter to an astounding catch of fish which nearly sank his precious boat (Luke 5), Peter had been hanging around Jesus, on and off, for some months. Still Peter felt himself to be unsuitable: "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
However, Peter being a ‘sinner’ didn’t disqualify him from Jesus’ group, and neither did his underlying insecurities. Jesus expected to be working with sinners, and preferred honest ones.
Many of us, like Peter, disqualify ourselves from actively serving God. We tell ourselves, and God, that we are not good enough. We may convince ourselves with this message, but we won’t convince God.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Suitably unqualified - Sunday 17th April 2016

God does not always choose the most obviously qualified person, when he is looking for something to be done. Indeed, God seems to be more likely to choose the someone who is evidently unqualified. When he was seeking a leader for his chosen people, he opted for Moses - a murderer on the run. When he was looking for a mighty warrior to defeat the encroaching Midianites, he chose Gideon - who was hiding in a wine press. When he was seeking a king for Israel he selected David - a shepherd boy. And when he was seeking someone to spread Jesus’ message to the gentile world, he picked Paul - the chief persecutor of Jesus’ disciples.
There is a pattern here.
So, when we are considering what God might do in our church, or in our community, there is no point waiting for him to send along the perfect person for the task. That isn’t his style. More likely, God may be measuring you up for the challenge. And if you feel desperately unqualified for the task, you may just be the person God is looking for.
What is God asking you to do for him?

Monday, 11 April 2016

Soaked in God - Sunday 10th April 2016

As soon as Jesus’ disciples had begun to come to terms with his resurrection, he gave them something to do - and it was no small task. He placed his whole mission in their hands. Up to that point, they had been his disciples, and he had been their rabbi. Now it was time for them to become rabbis and teach disciples of their own.
Our task as Christians is to teach: to teach what Jesus taught, and to teach how Jesus taught: in word and action; gently, passionately and with good humour.
In his typically colourful way, Jesus sent his disciples on their way using a metaphor: soak people in the knowledge of God as Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)
Jesus did not send them into the world to make converts, to win arguments, to impose new laws, to build a religion, or to establish a political regime. He sent them to soak people in the knowledge of a loving God.
In the same way, he now sends us.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Proof & Faith - Sunday 3rd April 2016

Jesus’ tomb being empty didn’t really prove anything. The discovery of the empty tomb only left Jesus' friends and family feeling frightened and confused. What made the difference was when those friends and family finally met Jesus - alive and well - two days after seeing him executed, certified dead, and buried.
In the 21st century it can be hard to hold up our faith under the demand for physical proof which our scientific age has come to expect. However the most important part of Jesus’ resurrection does not lie in the physical facts but in the restoration of relationship. This can be seen in the story of Thomas: when he met finally met with Jesus, he no longer needed the hard proof of putting his fingers in the nail holes in Jesus’ hands.
After that first Easter, Jesus made no attempt to prove his resurrection to the people who had rejected him. His consistent priority was to reestablish relationship with the people who loved and trusted him.
As we consider Easter, what matters most is our relationship with the risen Jesus. It is a relationship that is founded in love and trust more than on evidence and proof. And in the everyday realities of live, love and trust are the factors that really direct and motivate us.