Monthly Archives: January 2006
Emerging Grace: Disillusionment Can Be Good I hope this title is correct. Right now I am struggling a bit. I am not sure why God has called us here. I don’t sit easy with my denomination – to survive I sit as loose as possible to the structures. Admittedly I am the sort of person for whom the glass is habitually half-empty. But I pray God will use this experience for good.
Hat tip to Randy McRoberts for the link.
This made me LOL:
Hat tip to Richard Hall for recommending this blog.
Author and preacher Selwyn Hughes died on Monday. His is a sad loss to the Christian community. When I left my last appointment I was given his autobiography as a leaving present by two dear friends. For a man who has achieved as much as him, it could have been an autohagiography (I’ll invent that word if it doesn’t exist). But it is far from that. It is one of the most humble autobiographies I have ever read. Full of sel-examination and frank admission where mistakes were made or pride got in the way, the tone of his writing says as much as the content.
Rest in peace, Selwyn: while you know of many lives you touched, there are thousands and millions you haven’t a clue you affected.
It was an unexpected early Christmas present. There we were, holding our communion service on Christmas Eve in the refurbished worship area. I had not expected to be in there until Christmas Day. So much hard work by church members, friends and contractors, and there we were. Phew!
OK, so there are some furnishings still to come and a bit more fundraising to do, but its tempting to breathe a huge sigh of relief that the project has basically been concluded.
Youll notice I used the word tempting. That was a deliberate choice of word. We would fall into temptation if we think the project has finished. It would be the same error that an engaged couple would make if they planned only for their wedding day and not for their marriage. We have not reached the end, only the end of the beginning.
As David Hodgkinson rightly reminds us elsewhere in this issue of Topic, our purposes were not only to have premises fit for the twenty-first century; they were also to be for the sake of fulfilling Our Calling in Broomfield.
In other words, if we think the refurbishment has been for ourselves (rather like a redecoration of our own homes) we are off target. Archbishop William Temple once said that the church was the only organisation that existed for the benefit of those who did not belong to it. And Emil Brunner wrote, The church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.
So our focus has to shift to mission: to sharing Jesus Christ in word and deed. Our much-improved premises will be a resource for that, and they will also be a base from which we go out into the community.
Exactly how? I have to be honest and say I dont know. And thats good. Because it means that our call now is a call to prayer. We dont know, but Someone does.
And it is not the only sign that we are being called to prayer. Those who came to the open Church Council meeting about childrens ministry in December heard calls for a new dependence upon prayer.
Which makes it a twin focus, then: mission and prayer. And the two go together.
One of my Christmas presents was the book Red Moon Rising, the story of the 24-7 Prayer Movement. The leaders of 24-7 practise this twin focus: they call it intimacy and involvement. Intimacy with God (prayer) and involvement with his world (mission).
Who will answer the call? Will we? Will you? Will I?
For 30 years … the church has been gathering to say “Come, Holy Spirit”, and in his grace he has come. But perhaps the tables are turning. Perhaps it is now the Holy Spirit’s turn, and he is saying to us, “Come, holy people.” Perhaps the Holy Spirit is waiting for us to attend his meetings in some surprising places.
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The call is to leave all that is familiar, that makes sense of life and provides security … How is it that to follow Jesus has become, for so many, too easy? … What demands has our faith made of us? … Instantly, the early followers are plunged into a community where they see God at work in new ways. They live on the edge, not only in terms of the sacrifice they have made but also in the way they experience God.