A Sermon Preached by Canon Simon Butler
What is God Calling St Mary’s To Do in the Next Five Years?
At the end of this sermon those present were asked to write down on a response sheet one thing that they are passionate about seeing come to pass in the life and mission of St Mary’s. These ideas would be used to help the Church Council discern the Mission Action Plan for the 2020-25.
When the Magi left the crib, unbeknown to them something new had begun. Or rather more accurately something old had been rekindled.
And old promise, never forgotten by God, was born again in a new and living way.
For these Magi were not just wise men – or maybe wise women, we don’t know – they were Gentiles.
As they left the stable, warned in a dream to return home by another route, they took with them news of the birth of one who was not just the Messiah, the Christ of the Jews, but the Saviour of the World.
But they were also the bearers of a promise, one that God had made to Abraham, to Israel through the prophets and in time through John the Baptist. The promise that God was to draw all people to himself, not just the Jews but the Gentiles too. A promise that God would bring to pass through Jesus Christ.
Promises are exciting. I like to imagine the Magi hastening to the stable in anticipation but leaving in excited conversation. Perhaps, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us?”
Today, at the beginning of a new year, I would like to invite you to remind yourselves that, along with the Magi and the disciples at Emmaus, you too have been caught up in that promise of God to mend and renew the world. You – no we – are invited to not just anticipation but excitement about what it is God calls us to do, and how we are to bear the promise the Magi did.
So, here’s this morning’s question, and for once, I’m going to ask for a fairly immediate response.
What I believe, because each of you as disciples of Jesus, holds the presence of the Spirit of God in your hearts, is that among these things, some things excites you about being a disciple of Jesus Christ, something in all of this touches your heart and makes you passionate about being a Christian.
And, yes, I know Anglican Christians, especially English Anglican Christians, are not noted for their high levels of excitement. We can be just a little bit too sanguine though, so this morning, please feel free to connect with your excitement : that is what I want to invite you to connect with this morning.
Because, as a church, as we embark on a new sense of purpose for the coming five years, as we develop our Mission Action Plan 2020-2025, I am absolutely sure that we will be more effective, more energetic and more passionate about what we are to do, if we focus on the things that excite us about being a Christian.
So, the response I’d like to invite you to consider this morning, is to share with me and the Church Council one thing that you’d like this community to focus on in the coming five years, to write it down on the sheet you’ve been given and to have it collected in at the Offertory in a few minutes.
Because this is about passion, let me say this: please don’t write down what you think I want to hear. That will do us no good, because it’s not about pleasing me or the PCC. Please write down what you feel. And because it’s about passion, this is not one of those occasions where we’re looking for lengthily considered views or opinions. We’re looking to connect with the gut here: what it is that you think you would want this community to do or become.
So, there’s a piece of paper for you to write on and I’m going to give you a few minutes to write while some music plays. If you find it hard to write, then please have a word with someone near you and ask them to write it for you. Let me remind you again of the things I mentioned so you can think around those areas
When the Magi leave the crib they begin again God’s promise to draw the world into his love. Where does God’s promise to us in Jesus set your hearts on fire? Write down your idea.
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