January 23, 2018

We Are Called To Be A Community of Followers of Jesus (Epiphany 3, Proper 3)

In the Readings (Jonah 3.1-5, 10) the prophet is called to go to the ancient city of Nineveh and warn them of God's plan to destroy them. They have an epiphany moment, realize they are in trouble, repent and God spares them. In the Epistle Paul is instructing the Christian community of Corinth on how to prepare for the End Times by focusing on God to the exclusion of worldly issues and relationships. This is how to respond to the Epiphany moment in the Gospel of Mark (1.14-15) when Jesus announces "The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News." The Good News is that God is intervening in history and making a new Covenant in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus is calling individuals into a community of followers who are developing a spiritual life of love in Jesus Christ through:

·         Orthodox Bible teaching, worship, experiences of the Holy Spirit and Christian community.
·         Serving the needs of their neighbours (Relevance) and
·         Telling people about Jesus (Outreach).

1. We are called into a special community relationship
Community and relationships of love with others is perhaps the most desperate need of many people in our time. The nuclear family has been the greatest disaster in Western culture in the 20th. Century. Even the nuclear family is failing as marriages are destroyed by our self-centred culture. Many people feel unhappy, alone, rejected or abandoned:
·         Experiences of love as a baby or infant calls our personal spirit to life
·         Community relationships nourish our spiritual life 
·         Kingdom of God in heaven breaks in more tangibly as we experience fellowship and gather together to worship God
·         Christian community connects us in love to each other, God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit

2. We are called into a love relationship with Jesus (Orthodoxy)
Jesus calls us individually to make a decision to repent and give up our old focus on self and separation from God. When we make this decision and clean up our spiritual life we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who teaches, comforts, heals and guides us in our daily lives.
  • ·         Experience our personal spirit rejoicing when we hear and celebrate the truth about God - how we know it's true
  • ·         Effective church communities keep people in touch with the truth about God through Bible study, teaching and mentoring.

3. We develop our spiritual life by serving our neighbour
Our spiritual life gives us meaning, purpose and joy. We develop this by following Jesus example of caring for the needs of other people.
·         Experience of real self-giving agape love gives us joy
·         Focus on what Jesus taught and the Holy Spirit vs self
·         Keeps us from being jugemental Pharisees
·         See evidence of the Holy Spirit healing people physically, emotionally and spiritually
·         Outreach experiences give our spiritual life meaning

4. Called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to our neighbour
We are all called through our Baptism promises to proclaim the Good News of forgiveness, right-relationship and joy to our neighbour.
·         Means we have to do some work to read and study the Bible so we can share our story of what Jesus and the Holy Spirit has done in our lives.
·         Our spiritual life, like love, grows and develops as we share it with other people.
·         Proclaim by who we are as a community
·         Proclaim by what we do as a community
·         Proclaim by what we say to others, particularly in difficult times

I am revising my manuscript "Going Spiritual" and these readings are helping me explain how to develop a spiritual life of love through personal experiences of intuitive love:
1.    In relationships in a Christian community,
2.    In Orthodox teaching and experiences of the Holy Spirit that connect us to God
3.    In serving the needs of others through Outreach experiences
4.    By discovering meaning, purpose and relevance in our lives


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