Saturday, 13 February 2016

Words and Actions

Sermon preached at Earlston on 7th February 2016
Mark 8:27 - 9:8 

I have a confession to make!!
I went to bed last night with no sermon!
I have had a sore back since I got off the plane on Thursday; and with catching up with the mail and getting caught up with domestic stuff and preparing all of the other things for today – I just was not finding the right words for this morning…
This is not totally without precedent, but usually I do manage to have the gist before bedtime on Saturday
I couldn’t work out why either.
Transfiguration is one of those events that comes up every year; I have therefore preached on it many, many times. I could even, have gone through the archive and found one from previous years to share with you all... but somehow I felt I was being prompted to something else; and generally, when the Spirit starts prompting, I stop and listen.
So, I set the alarm super-early and decide it would be better to sleep on it and see what this morning would bring!

This morning as I brewed coffee and thought about what to say this morning it suddenly became obvious to me!!
The sermon title I chose three weeks ago, before I went off on my study leave / holiday.
Words and Actions.
Words and Actions.
The gospels share with us many events and stories from Jesus’ earthly life; each gospel gives us a slightly different view depending on who has written it and what their inspiration was; each one gives us insights into how God works; how God loves; what God wants us to know and how God would like us to live.

During my study leave we were looking at how culture – the place and time we live in is affecting church life; how church life is changing, growing, evolving to meet the needs of the world we live in today.
Two things became apparent to me:
We are already doing many of the things needed to serve the world we live in now
The church in America is beginning to do this, but is in a different place to us. They are challenged now by the things that were challenging our church back in the 1990s.
Many of the things suggested as part of the teaching are becoming part of our everyday church life – to be a missional church in the 21st century.

The transfiguration is all about change:
Jesus’ appearance changed before the disciples eyes
What they saw changed them forever, even if they did not know it at the time

Jesus’ message to the disciples, and to the crowds who followed him was transforming:
“To follow me; to walk the path God calls you to, you need to set aside the ways of this world; forget about yourself; forget about striving for worldly success; give yourself to the gospel: dedicate your life to God’s ways.”
Winning the world is as nothing if you do not also claim God’s Way.

While we were in America the presidential election kicked off; and I watched with fascination as the first caucus in Iowa played out.
Watching the pundits; the political commentators; the politicians themselves as they waited and watched for the first result to come in.
The priority for everyone was to seem better than all the others; to have a better grasp of life, the universe and everything.
The political machine there is very different to ours; and of course, we do not elect a president, so it is difficult to compare like for like.
But. One thing that really stood out for me, was how some of the candidates chose to claim that God was on their side; that they followed biblical guidelines.
But. I do not see anywhere in the Gospel that Jesus proclaimed that only the rich get into heaven; that only employed white executives have access to God’s love. In fact, the Christ that some politicians claim is not in my bible at all.

Jesus calls us to be transforming, radical people; people who are prepared to go the extra mile; people who will not only call themselves friendly and welcoming, but to BE that.
To live out the vision of transfiguration we need to take our faith out into the community: to carry on and develop the things we are already doing.
Messy Church
Community Café
These are reaching into the lives of people who have not been part of the church;
The church is not just the building on the hill.
The church is each one of us; and whatever we do, we do as if we were doing it for Jesus.
I know that our church has plans for more activities away from the building: that there will be new and exciting things to be involved in.
We are the church in our community
We are the transfiguration people
We can bring the gospel right out into our community
With words and actions the gospel will come to life right here in Earlston
God’s people, sharing God’s love, showing God’s concern, answering questions and sharing insights…

We are the church seven days a week; on Sunday we gather, we worship, we share, we nurture each other and prepare to be the Word in Action in our community.

The days of keeping Jesus a secret are long gone!

Listen to him
Follow him
Be Jesus People – be Words in Action
Shining for all to see

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