August 21, 2013

God’s Work In God’s Way – What Is My Ministry? (Proper 21c)

The Call of Jeremiah (1.4-10) reminds me of  Interim Ministry. It is also a teaching on what all Baptized people may be called to do. What is God’s work? What does God want us to do? These are important questions right now at St. Magloire’s as we begin implementing our Strategic Plan. Our task is to develop a model of ministry leadership which is not priest dependent and help each person discover their gifts for ministry and move into a ministry where they can succeed and grow. But we are not to do this in the usual human way of people fighting for power and control. We must begin by surrendering our way to God’s way – the way of self-sacrificial love.

1. What is God’s work?

August 20, 2013

Christian Marriage is a Sacrament

A sacrament s defined as an outward visible sign of an inner spiritual grace. This is where the physical dimension interacts with the spiritual dimension. Since our culture has lost its sense of the spiritual dimension it is important that we review how this works. The most common sacrament is Baptism, where we use the outward physical sign of washing with water to represent the inner spiritual grace of cleansing through faith in the shed blood of Jesus - and the outward giving of a Christian name to represent the inclusion of the person in the spiritual kingdom of God. The Eucharist or Holy Communion is another sacrament where we renew our membership in the Spiritual kingdom by saying “amen” to the prayers over the bread and wine that represent the body and blood of Jesus.

 In Christian Marriage we use the outward visible signs of promises, exchanging rings and wrapping with a priest’s stole to represent the spiritual union of two people in the Body of Christ. We talk about hearts being joined together but it is actually deeper. Christian Marriage is about souls being joined together for eternity.

1. Tara and Jim are joined together by their love for each other

August 16, 2013

Jesus Came To Bring Fire (Proper 20)

It is tempting to skip over this passage (Luke 12.49-56) with it’s dark warning about family divisions and check the other Readings for something happier. The problem is the Good News often seems to come out of the bad news. The verses before our Isaiah (5.1-7) Reading mention a “Spirit of judgement” and a “Spirit of fire”. It is important to understand what Jesus means by ‘bringing fire’. Fire brings with it light, destruction and purification.

1. Jesus is often described as the light of the world
Light helps us see what is hidden in darkness. The darkness Jesus talks about is often spiritual darkness.
Jesus quotes the Isaiah mission of opening the eyes of the blind:
·         His ministry included miraculous healings of physical blindness
·         It focussed particularly on spiritual blindness
·         Spiritual blindness has always been our greatest challenge
·         People understand that there is an invisible spiritual dimension  – and that things that happen there affect what happens here
·         Beyond that we have very little understanding – Book of Job, Elijah
·         By shining the light of His teaching and experience on the world, Jesus opened human eyes to the spiritual dimension
·         This light freed humanity form the prison of spiritual ignorance
·         This light freed people deception and  spiritual oppression

2. Jesus fire destroyed the power of evil to deceive us

August 9, 2013

Life Is A Test Of Faith (Proper 19c)

Many people are unhappy and seem to live lives driven by fear. Fear is not always a bad thing - it can save us from physical and emotional harm. But like everything in excess, it can paralyze us and rob our lives of joy. The Readings (Isaiah 1.1, 10-20; Hebrews 11.1-3, 8-16 and Luke 12.3-40) encourage us to overcome our fears and have joy in our lives by growing stronger in our faith.

1.     Faith is what we put our trust in and hope for
·         Faith is more than what you know in your head – what you believe in your heart about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit
·         Faith includes what we believe about the unseen spiritual dimension
·         Faith is often confused with a religion or a denomination – i.e. Anglican
·         Faith is often confused with knowing a religious doctrines
·         Faith is trust and hope for the future based on head knowledge, experience and heart dependence

2. Faith is what we believe will happen in the future

Love Is A Choice (Teaching for a wedding)

We use the word “love” carelessly. It is a verb, and action word. Love is something we chose to do. The Readings remind us that God is the source of all love. The Joshua Reading teaches us that God’s love – and all love, requires a response. Without a response love can turn into grief, anger and even hatred. St. John gives us the very good news that God loves us with an extravagant, self-sacrificial love. When we really grasp this, our response is to love God’s creation – and especially other people. But God has loved us enough to give us freedom - so we have to make a choice.

1. Joshua called the Hebrew people to choose which god to honour
·         Scene is just after the conquest of Palestine around 1,200 BC
·         People had settled down, prospered and intermarried
·         Some had begun worshiping other gods – idols etc.
·         Like our time when many people worship materialism etc.
·         Joshua called on them to make a real choice – to “come home”
·         Weddings are a time to make a real choice to love one person
·         Weddings are also a time to chose a church community where your life can be enriched by spiritual teaching, experience and fellowship

2. St. John reminds us that we love others if we know God loves us