My Blog

Whole Worship

A sermon on a whole life as whole worship, based on Isaiah 1:1-10 (Proper 14C).

Aim:  To see that a whole life offered to God is worship.

In Isaiah 1:1-10 we have part of his first message to his people from God.  It doesn’t start well.  God begins by comparing His people to the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah, towns so immoral that God destroyed them!

Surprisingly, God then goes on to say He is fed up with their sacrifices, festivals and prayers, which is odd since God started these things through Moses!  Surely God wants us to keep praying to Him?

Meaning at the Time

This message is typical of the Old Testament prophets. Not just Isaiah, but many others say the same thing.  It’s as though God’s people are using incense as a smoke screen to cover up their wrong doings, they are using the many sacrifices and festivals to try and distract his attention from their day-to-day lives.  And we can see from Isaiah message, their ‘ordinary’ lives were not pleasing God.  He wants v16-17 instead.  God is just sick and tired of all the Temple worship, because it is fake.

Meaning & Application for Today

So, what is our response?

  • Worship.  We ask forgiveness, we give him thanks, we praise Him and we pray for others.
  • Work.  We follow the example of the prophets, Jesus and other disciples, bringing healing, justice, friendship and care in the world.  (‘But we’re retired!’)
  • Witness.  We share the Good News – this is not something we hoard for ourselves, but rather we want everyone to enjoy what we have!

I note that the world loves to accuse us of being fakes, but they don’t want the whole package either, and they never did.  Jesus and the prophets were killed because they offered that. We should not expect the godless to behave with grace.

Isaiah finishes on a hopeful note.  If the people stop doing wrong and come to God for forgiveness, they can be clean again.  If they’re willing and obedient they will have the best the land has to offer, but the disobedient will be destroyed.

Conclusion

We worship a whole God – father, son and holy spirit – and we don’t bring half a life of worship.  We commit our whole selves and a whole life in worship, because through the grace of Jesus Christ, we can.

Why Reach Out to the Lost Sheep?

A sermon on ‘the lost sheep’, based on Luke 15:1-10 (Year C, Proper 19).

Aim: To explain why the sheep is really lost, why we need to reach out and how.

If you’ve spent your whole life in the church then the story about the lost sheep is really well known isn’t it?  Perhaps we think we know it so well that there is nothing more to learn.  But let’s imagine that we are not religious insiders and that we are listening carefully, expectantly, to the story.

Luke 1:1-10

In verse 2 the Pharisees complain that Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  These sinners were Jews who collaborated with the Roman occupying forces – a foreign, Pagan invader.  (Although the Romans were relatively liberal occupiers, the Jews had recent memories of those who were not. The previous invaders had tried to destroy Jewish culture and worship.)  So these people were beyond the pale, yet Jesus ate with them!  This was too much – for the Jews eating with someone was to accept them totally, to recognize them and know them as one of  God’s people. To this day, when we take communion we cement our relationship with God and with our fellow Christians.

Meaning at the Time  

It’s easy for us to criticize the Pharisees, but we should remember that their zealous devotion to God was much greater than ours is today.  They were popular with the people just as the Taliban were in Afghanistan because the alternative was corrupt and collaborated with foreigners.  But the Pharisees were a political party and, perhaps, were focussed on the Jews as a Nation, and the power that gave them, rather then the fate of individuals.  Perhaps the Pharisees have pride – they have confidence in themselves and their earthly power, rather than in God; this is how evil men are described in Psalm 14 and Jeremiah 4.  They were rightly critical of sin, but so much so that they could not recognize repentance or rejoice about it.    So Jesus told them a story.

In Jesus’ time, those hearing the story would have known that a lost sheep would be in real danger.  Not only would the stupid animal have wandered away from the flock, it’s natural protection, the Shepherd and the best grazing, but it would be easy prey for wild animals and bandits. 

Meaning for Today

Today, those who don’t know Jesus don’t see themselves as lost, because whatever doubts they might have about their lives are masked by material wealth.  They don’t need God, because they have confidence in their wealth and strength – until they run out.  I’ve heard those who don’t know God say two things: “I’ve got nothing to say sorry to God for” and “why is this happening to me?”

Perhaps they also don’t know about God, because nobody has told them.  I wonder if we still have an appetite to go out and save the lost?  Or do we just stay within our church, our comfort zone, our little club?  In our network of activities – no doubt good in themselves – have we so thoroughly occupied ourselves with business that we have forgotten our Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt 29:19 NIV)    

In Conclusion

Do we even think of ourselves as a church that does that kind of thing?  What would we have to do reach outside to the lost?  What would we have to give up in order to have the time, money and people to do that?  our regular activities?  Our habitual style of worship?  Imagine if we did go out and draw in dozens of new believers, people who don’t know how to behave in church – what changes, what sacrifices would we have to make to accommodate them and disciple them?  Are we willing to do that?  The key, as always, is Jesus.  If we recognize and accept him as the Son of God then we will accept his authority and power to forgive sin, as the outcasts did, and that would drive  everything else.

Good News for the POOR

This sermon, focussed on Jesus’s mission to the poor, is based on Luke 4:14-21. I delivered it on 27th January 2019 (Year C, Epiphany 3).

Introduction

In First-Century civilization, three classes made up society:

  • The aristocracy – the ruling class, an international elite who worked together to stay on top, no matter what their apparent differences;
  • The middle class – traders, artisans, priests, tax collectors, officials and so on; and 
  • The poor – who had to work as hard as they could just to stay alive.

This was brilliantly illustrated in a sketch on the Frost Report.

Views then and Now

If you took a conventional view of religion back then, you would assume that God blesses the rich, and everyone would agree with you. 

  • The aristocracy would agree that their rightful position was on top, (self) satisfied that their success showed them to be blessed by God and confirmed in looking down on the social-climbing middle classes. 
  • Those middle classes would be happy to agree that wanted to climb the greasy pole and join the aristocracy. They wanted to be ‘top people’ and – more than anything else – to avoid becoming poor. 
  • And those poor people would agree that being poor sucked, so they must be cursed by God; they wanted to join the middle class and get away from the daily struggle for survival, which left no time for anything else. 

In our Twenty-First-Century civilization it’s just the same.  Oxfam says that the world’s richest 26 people have the same wealth as the poorest 50% of the world’s population. 

Absolutely nothing has changed.

Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 4

Yet, when Jesus starts his public ministry, he begins in Galilee, an isolated backwater, cut off from the rest of Israel, which itself is on the very edge of the Roman Empire.  He goes home, to an insignificant village.  He accepts a scroll written by a prophet who was, it was said, murdered by a king some 700 years before (N.B. this is not Biblical).  Of all the thousands of verses in the 66 chapters of Isaiah, he picks out these verses.  God has chosen Him:

  • To deliver good news to the poor;
  • To preach a message that:
    • means freedom for the locked-away;
    • will open the eyes of those who can’t see; and
  • To set free the used and abused.

To deliver this message, Jesus is supported by the middle class: disciples who are boat-owning fishermen, even a tax collector; a doctor – Luke, who wrote this Gospel; and his ministry is funded by women who have some money to spare.

Jesus Loves the Poor: but does he Hate the Rich?

Not necessarily, but…Jesus was opposed by the monarchy, the aristocracy, the two political parties, the religious authorities, those senior officials who collaborated with the Roman Empire.  They tried to kill him many times.  Eventually, they get him, find him guilty in an illegal trial (held at night, only no witnesses) and trick the Roman authorities into murdering Him. 

It seems that our reaction to Jesus is largely determined by our wealth. 

Now, there are exceptions to any rule: those poor who accepted payment to become a mob and shout “crucify him!”; the tax-collector who repents and becomes a disciple; even Nicodemus, former Jewish ambassador to Rome, who listens to Jesus and changes allegiance from the aristocracy, his class, to the Messiah.

What should we Conclude from all this?

  • First, if you’re poor – locked out of society, deceived, duped, used and abused by the rich – then Jesus has good news for you. You will be set free and able to see what’s really going on; 
  • Second, the middle classes had better think about what their priorities are: climbing that greasy pole; or using their good fortune for good, telling people about Jesus? 
  • Third, the rich must repent, and radically change direction, or they will be shut out of heaven for eternity.  Jesus said, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25) [NIV].

But those richest 26 people in the world?  I wouldn’t bet on their chances of going to heaven; that’s not “gambling responsibly”, is it?  But you, brothers and sisters in Christ?  You’ll be just fine.  See you in heaven.  

Back to Preaching Resources.

Only Grace, Not Circumcision

Message: only grace is needed, not circumcision or any other symbols, based on Galatians 6:1-18.

Introduction 

Thinking about circumcision made me think of the symbols we all carry around:

  • Signet ring – bears my initials, given to me by my parents.
  • Wedding ring – bears both our initials and wedding date (c.f. ‘lady in the lake’ murder story – google it).
  • Help for Heroes band – anyone can wear (for only £2!), but I used to be in the RAF.
  • My Watch – not really symbolic, but indicates responsibilities.
  • My cross – I wear it because I belong to Jesus Christ (not as a good-luck charm).

Exegesis: Galatians 6 

This is the final chapter of the letter that is all about GRACE:

  • Bear each other’s burdens to obey the law (vv1-2).
  • Judge yourself – beware prideful comparisons (vv3-5).
  • Support Christian teachers (missionaries & minsters) – in the UK! (v6).
  • God can’t be fooled, you reap what you sow (vv7-8).
  • Do good to all, all your life, for God’s reward! (v9).
  • Especially do this for you Brothers & Sisters in the faith (v10).
  • This is personal!  Personal faith is a recurrent theme for Paul (c.f. his Jewishness). (V11).
  • The circumcisers focus on outward things so they can fit in; even they don’t obey the law they say they are promoting! (vv12-13). 
  • Paul’s focus is the cross of Christ that killed the old person of sin and enables the inner transformation to the new person (vv14-15).
  • Paul is circumcised and he also has other scars to prove his loyalty to Christ! (v17).
  • In the end it’s all about Grace – that’s the best Paul can wish them (v18).

Application

I think that there are two key verses here.

  • “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”  (NIV, v7).
    • This is a warning to those in Christ who might abuse God’s grace.
    • We can’t ignore God’s instructions or neglect his Word and expect to profit.
    • In God’s universe there are consequences for every action.
  • “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” (NIV, v15).
    • I don’t think that Paul is deriding his circumcision (although it’s just one of many scars on his body).
    • But it only an outer symbol of an inner conviction – a new relationship with God that produces a new lifestyle in response.
    • Similarly, there is nothing wrong with wedding rings, but imagine that I was a lousy, abusive or unfaithful husband; then the ring would just be a reminder of my failure.
    • Worse, for those who know the truth – and God knows everything – the ring is then a mockery of everything it is supposed to be. 
    • Grace is the key to this change – we call it ‘salvation’ – that unlocks the new person.
    • Even now that we are saved, we need Grace to keep us going without backsliding or going stale, or becoming smug and satisfied with outer respectability.

Conclusion

Therefore I hope that we will never point to mere symbols to justify ourselves.  Instead I wish us all the very best, God’s Grace, to help us in our ongoing inner transformation and matching outer life style: our new life in Christ.

Keeping it Simple

A simple message: God gives simply and gives simplicity, based on 2 Kings 5.

Scripture

Weve just heard a great story of the Old Testament.  The purpose of the story is to hear a powerful and feared man, a “godless foreigner”, say: there is a real prophet in Israel.

It is also a comedy, a folktale, for poor folk, that pokes fun at the rich and powerful.  There are two Kings and a great general, Naaman, but they don’t achieve much and look foolish.  Even God’s prophet doesn’t do much.  It’s the three servants, unnamed, simple people, one a child, who make things happen.

This story contains so much but we will focus on only one idea.

A Simple Task

The formula, or presciption, was simple. A child could understand it. “Go wash yourself seven times in the Jordan and you will be made clean.” But the person given this simple task was not a simple man.  His power and reputation mean nothing, and his great riches are useless.  He drives off in a huff, like an angry teenager!

Yet when he does as he is told he is completely healed physically, and he realises the truth about God.  Verse 15: “Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel’.”  

Application

Today, we are rich and powerful, like Naaman.  Also, like him, we got our wealth and power by conquering and taking from others.  God will punish the rich for their sins and exalt the poor.

We can all be saved by confessing our sins to Jesus Christ and surrendering to him.  Many people will be too clever, too rich or too proud to do this.  This should not be a surprise to us – it has always been this way!

We however, can give thanks that we are not clever or sophisticated, we have few possessions and we have to depend on others to look after us.  In our simple lives we have few things to get in the way of accepting God’s simple grace.

Conclusion

We can take pride in the cross of Christ – we don’t have to be clever or great to be healed (saved) from sin/mortality, in fact in helps if we are not!

In Desperate Need

A story of endurance and faith in desperate times, based on 1 Kings 17:8-24.

The Story

Elijah the prophet has told Ahab the wicked King that there will be no rain or dew in Israel, because “Ahab … did more to arouse the anger of the Lord … than did all the kings of Israel before him.”  That’s quite an achievement, if you look at the four chapters of murder, idol worship, etc., that his predecessors had been guilty of!

God tells Elijah to go to a foreign (godless) land to lodge with a widow, i.e. a woman with no means of support!  Does Elijah need to learn some humility? or to depend on God?  Elijah finds her and begs (with a stunning lack of sensitivity) for water and bread from her – she replies that she is in a desperate state (v12).

Note that God does not promise a miraculous end to the drought, or even a miraculous but isolated plenty in the place where Elijah is going.  God promises only enough for today, and then the next day, and so on; Elijah and his adopted family can see no way out, they have no security other than God’s promise in the midst of catastrophe.  

However, the situation grows even worse.  The widow’s only son dies and, with him, her only hope of survival after Elijah has gone and into her old age dies too.  Naturally, she is heartbroken and angry with the man of God.  Tragically, she assumes that she is to blame, and that the presence of the man of God has only brought God’s attention to her sins, and divine retribution for them.  Elijah cries out to God in genuine need – at last he has learned to identify and empathize with the plight of the ordinary people, rather than just himself.

Application

The rich, the powerful, the leaders who should be doing God’s will, have led the whole nation into sin.  Big issues are being worked out here, with big consequences. Unfortunately, even God’s prophet, and the innocent, must suffer the consequences. 

Today, we understand natural cause and effect (as opposed to early Old Testament (mis)understanding that God does everything directly).

A Christian Perspective

Jesus’ approach is to draw people to him, not to condemn their sin, but to bring them healing and to know the presence of God.  In Jesus presence we are saved from our sins, no matter how desperate the situation around us. We will be liberated from the consequences of sin in the world around us, as we look ahead, eagerly, to God’s Kingdom on Earth and the next life in heaven, whichever comes first for us.

Grace

A sermon on grace, based on Galatians 1:1-12 and 1:11-24.

Galatians 1:1-9: Grace is Key

Paul’s greets his audience, prays for them and gets straight to business.

  • Vv 1-2.  Paul: an ambassador sent directly by God and Christ – raised from the dead.
  • Vv 3-5.  A (short) prayer for the Galatians (northern Turkey), emphasising Jesus’ sacrifice to save them from their sins and from living a world ruled by ungodly powers.
  • Vv 6-7.  Paul tackles the issue head-on:
    • The Galatians have strayed from the pure Gospel of grace from Christ.
    • They have been distracted by the Jewish tradition that demands the observance of practices such as circumcision, in order to be accepted by God.
    • This is no Gospel – where is the Good News of forgiveness at no cost to us?
    • This is an insult to the sacrifice of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross!
  • Vv 8-9.  Paul issues a ‘double anathema’.  He denounces anyone who would pervert the Gospel, even if they were an angel; perhaps he is reminding his Jewish critics that Satan (the ‘accuser’) was an angel, who seeks to punish us for our sins. 

Galatians 1:10-12: A First-rate Gospel 

Paul makes a plain statement to rebut his critics.

  • He is not a populist seeking favour with an ‘easy’ or second-rate Gospel to please people.
  • The Gospel that Paul preaches comes direct from God himself.

Galatians 1:13-24: Grace is Central

Grace is absolutely central to Paul for very personal reasons.

  • Vv 13-14.  Paul persecuted the church fiercely (inc. murder) driven by his zeal for Judaism.
  • Vv 15-16.  Yet God revealed Jesus to Paul and called him to preach.
  • Vv 17-19.  Paul did not seek by men (even the apostles), but followed God’s instructions.  (He refers to Peter and James – other good Jews who betrayed Jesus, but who were forgiven.)
  • Vv 20-24.  In his previous missionary work Paul did not rely on endorsement by church leaders; rather his totally transformed life and witness spoke for themselves.  

Conclusion

Paul is very passionate about God.  It was always in his nature to be so, but God has personally forgiven Paul’s very personal persecution of God:

‘“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”  (Acts 9:4b-5).

Paul has been forgiven much and therefore loves much (see Luke 7:42b-43 and v47b). 

Today there is a danger that, in a faddy effort to be ‘inclusive’ and encourage ‘diversity’, the church may abuse grace and offer forgiveness to the unrepentant.  However, this appeasement of sin, this twisting of the Gospel, this heresy, should not put us off.

Paul stakes his life on grace: all sinners are accepted by God, because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Paul knew that he had sinned much and been forgiven much, and he loved God greatly as a result and lived accordingly.  So should we.

The Cost of Discipleship

Message: when we have a real picture of God, we can understand why discipleship costs. Based on Luke 14:25-33.

Introduction

Today the church often seems to offer a nice, fluffy, cuddly God to people.  A sympathetic, empathetic God of unconditional love.  A God who saves us and loves us and looks after us.  Now there’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but it’s only a partial – and hence a biased and unrealistic – picture of God. It’s also an irrational picture of God. 

A Tough, Rational Picture of God

If God is so unconditionally loving then it wouldn’t matter that we were sinners, because God wouldn’t punish us anyway.  Indeed, in this portrait, God is too nice even to mention our shortcomings and selfishness.  We can just carry on doing what we’ve always done and ignore God, who will love and accept us no matter what.  So, rationally, logically, there is no need for forgiveness, no need for the cross and no need for Jesus.  If we offer people an irrational faith, parts of which contradict each other, is it any wonder that sensible people reject it?  Is it any wonder that about 70% of people in the UK believe in God but only 10% regularly come to church?

Fortunately, if anyone reads what Jesus actually said and did, He destroys that silly, childish and sentimental picture of God pretty quickly.  Jesus says tough things to people.  He talks about being disciples.  Hey, that implies discipline – following, obeying, serving – that costs!  Where’s my fluffy God gone?  Actually, Jesus does this quite a lot in all sorts of ways, but in this reading, he speaks explicitly about the cost of following Him. 

Discipleship: Responding to the Real God

So how do we put together these pictures of a loving God with the disciplinarian who demands obedience, sacrifice, service, even the surrender of our lives?  Can we resolve them into one?  Should we even try? 

First of all, I think we should.  Those people who don’t believe in God aren’t foolish (well some are, but we probably won’t reach the truly selfish ones who are only interested in what they can get[1]). Most people recognise that when they are offered something for nothing there’s a catch.  Hence our offer of a fluffy, free, gutless God turns them off: maybe that’s why Jesus never offered that picture of God?

Discipleship: An Application  

So how do we picture the true God, the real deal, a seemingly contradictory God of love and judgement?  I’ve been reading ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren recently, and he offers a picture or model (there may be many more) that seems to work.

Warren’s focus is on discipleship, and underpinning the many ideas in this very rich book, is just one idea, the idea of ‘character’.  He suggests that the character, or person, we are when we die is the one we will keep throughout eternity.  So if we are full of hatred, jealousy, rage and selfish ambition[2] then we will remain so forever.  Even if we are saved and living with God, we will still be us: in essence, the same character we were on earth[3].

Therefore Warren’s conclusion (and his book is soundly Biblical) is that this life may be our only opportunity to hone and develop our character into something that we could and should be: forever.  Now, IMHO, all models of God (theology) are wrong, but some are useful, but perhaps this idea helps us makes sense of a loving God, who allows us to suffer, even after we become Christians and are saved.

Conclusion 

There is a reason that God wants us not only to be saved, but to be disciples and to change and grow in character – however painful and costly that might be – because the alternative is awful.  God requires us to live a good life of worship, service, fellowship, sacrifice, mission – discipleship – not because he is a distant, disinterested God, but because He is our Father, He is Jesus (‘God with us’), he is the Holy Spirit within us and because He loves us..


[1] Are you shocked?  Jesus said the majority of people will enter the broad gate to destruction (Matt 7:13-14).

[2] Some of the fruit of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19).

[3] Can we still change in heaven?  Warren suggests not; CS Lewis says yes, we can change, that there is still pain in heaven.

Lord over All

Message:  To remind us that God is Lord over all things, time & space – based on Psalm 148 & Revelation 21:1-6.

Introduction 

Blizzards, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes – we have recently been reminded how powerful nature is and how we are subject to that power.  As the song says, “We’re not as smart as we’d like to think we are!”

Exegesis:What is the Bible saying to us today?

Psalm 148.  We hear a hymn of praise.  All of creation, heaven and earth, is to join in.  Nothing and no one is left out: angels; sun, moon and stars; the sea and its creatures; the weather; the land; all plants and trees; wild and domestic animals, birds and insects; and all people – royalty and commoners, men and women, young and old.

Revelation 21:1-6.  These last chapters of the last book of the Bible, we see the final vision of the last things, the end of history.  In this passage, the seer invites us to share a vision of “a new heaven and a new earth” (v1). The old familiar things – and their limitations – are swept away by God and replaced by a heaven and earth, the like of which has never been seen before!  Think about that…scientists tell us that in the Big Bang, not only was the physical universe created, but time and space itself came into being.  At the end God will repeat and renew this creation (v5).  “It is done” (v6) God’s plan is completed.  God is “the Alpha and the Omega” (explain Greek alphabet). There is nothing outside of, or beyond, Him.

In these passages we could draw many lessons, but one that strikes me is God’s power is universal.  He is God over all creation, over earth and heaven, over all time and space.

Application: Lord over All?

What should be our response to these visions?

  • Some people want to exclude God from public life, because they don’t understand faith, for example, the desire to avoid ‘Christmas’ for fear of offending Muslims, when, in fact, they revere Jesus.
  • Some want to say that there is a conflict between science and religion – I don’t accept that.  I believed in evolution and the big bang theory before I believed in God.  Whatever the scientists discover about God’s creation, it doesn’t stop us having a relationship with Him.
  • We need to remember that we can pray for everyone everywhere – no one can stop us!  Praying for people is a great way to avoid the temptation of judging them, which – sadly – what many people expect from us. 
  • Just as we should not judge, no one can judge us.  We can wear our religious symbols and talk about God: let’s stop asking permission to do this and just get on with it. 
  • Perhaps most threatening of all though is that God wants to be Lord over every part of our lives.  Dare we surrender everything to Him?  Can we submit all to His scrutiny, for His approval and blessing? 
  • Do we have integrity? Are we consistent in our private thoughts and public words?

Conclusion

When those without faith look at natural disasters around the world they look at so many deaths and see only tragedy.  However, the faithful know that there is more to creation than this physical world. There is heaven, and death is not the end for those who accept Jesus as Lord.  For us this physical life is only part of the story, indeed there is no part of our outer or inner world where God doesn’t belong.  Without God life is incomplete and our individual lives and community life lack meaning.

The Holy Spirit, Jesus’s Legacy

A sermon on Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Birthday of the Church. (Scripture for the day: Genesis 11:1-9; John 14:8-17, (25-27); and Romans 8:14-17).

Jesus’ Legacy: the Holy Spirit.

  • Not just a Birthday, but Our anniversary – a time for reflection and thinking ahead.
  • When we reflect we often think of our legacy – what have we achieved, what have we left behind us?
  • The Holy Spirit is Jesus ‘legacy’ (legacy = bequest, inheritance, gift, donation).

The Holy Spirit is… 

Who is this person we’ve inherited?  What are they like?  What do they do?

  • Holy – set aside for God’s purpose or work.
  • Of Truth – leads people to the truth about God and who Jesus is.
  • Reminder – of Jesus (person), actions, teaching and message.
  • Peaceful – allows us to rest in intimacy with God, rather than fear.
  • Counsellor – helps and advises us, especially to obey God because we love Jesus.
  • Advocate – our defender when accused (Satan = ‘accuser’).
  • Comforter – someone we can turn to for reassurance in trouble.
  • Adopter – lets us know that we are adopted, and receive God’s inheritance (legacy).
  • Has personality – not a characterless, distant force, but a person we can know.
  • Dynamic – changing and responsive to our situation; active in God’s plans.
  • Guide – leads us to do new things, meet new people and see new places.

Our Legacy 

In around 25 years’ time I will be retiring (I hope) and looking back upon a life of…What will I have achieved?  Where will I have fallen short?  [“because …”]

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  Teddy Roosevelt, 23rd Apr 1910.

In 25 years’, what will our Church look like?  Many congregations will have died our entirely; their buildings will no longer be holy.  Yate and Staple Hill are larger and have families with children, so they should still be here.  We will endure; but, given what we know about the Holy Spirit, is that enough?