Fore Street Topsham, Exeter

Reverend Paul Collings BTh (Hons) - - - paul.collings@methodist.org.uk - - - 01392 206229 - - - 07941 880768

About Us

We are a community of faith seeking to discover the face of Jesus Christ in our Church, in our Community and in our Commitment.

Monday 31 October 2022

Saints


So here we are at All Hallows Eve when we are encouraged to think of all the saints. The idea of the word “saints” is a group of people set apart for the Lord and His kingdom. There are three references referring to godly character of saints: "that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints …" (Romans 16:2). "For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12). "But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints" (Ephesians 5:3).

For the most part, when we think of saints or heroes of the faith, we think of people who are altogether different than we are. They seem to embody a quality of communion with God that is impossible for the rest of us. On closer inspection, we find that most great “saints” are ordinary people who, in the midst of daily living, discover and interact with the reality of God’s presence.

One man like this was Nicholas Herman. His life seemed much like our own. Nicolas had a number of jobs in his life, starting out in the military and then in the transportation industry. After that, he found work in the food service industry, serving as a short-order cook and bottle-washer.

Eventually Nicholas became deeply discouraged by his life. He spent a lot of time, like us, thinking about himself. “Am I saved” was a particular question that burrowed deep into his soul. He struggled deeply with worry, until one day when everything changed. On that day, he was looking at a tree, not the most thrilling exercise, but something occurred to him: what makes a tree flourish is not its self-reliance, but it’s rootedness in something other than and deeper than itself.

With this in mind, Nick began an experiment to have a habitual, silent, secret conversation of the soul with God. Today we know Nick as Brother Lawrence, whose book,  The Practice of the Presence of God has become a spiritual classic, continuing to beckon readers to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God 300 years after it was first written.

 O Living God of past and future,

 we praise you

 for this present moment.

 Fill us with your joy and empower us with your Holy Spirit,

 that our strength may be renewed

 to sing a new song of your glory

 in a world which longs for your justice and peace.

 All this we ask in the name of Jesus,

 in whom we become

 your new creation. Amen


Saturday 29 October 2022

Discipleship - stewardship


2 Corinthians 8:1-15 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, 

A final word on stewardship this week in the form of a story.


Once, a man said, "If I had some extra money, I'd give it to God, but I have just enough to support myself and my family." And the same man said, "If I had some extra time, I'd give it to God, but every minute is taken up with my job, my family, my clubs, and what have you--every single minute." And the same man said, "If I had a talent I'd give it to God, but I have no lovely voice; I have no special skill; I've never been able to lead a group; I can't think cleverly or quickly, the way I would like to."


And God was touched, and although it was unlike him, God gave that man money, time, and a glorious talent. And then He waited, and waited, and waited.....And then after a while, He shrugged His shoulders, and He took all those things right back from the man, the money, the time and the glorious talent. After a while, the man sighed and said, "If I only had some of that money back, I'd give it to God. If I only had some of that time, I'd give it to God. If I could only rediscover that glorious talent, I'd give it to God."


And God said, "Oh, shut up."


And the man told some of his friends, "You know, I'm not so sure that I believe in God anymore."


Lord, you know how often we have resented our work;

Forgive us, Lord, for our ingratitude.

And you know how often we have neglected our abilities;

Forgive us, Lord, for our poor stewardship.

And you know how often we've been careless in our studies;

Forgive us, Lord, for not using our minds.

And you know how often we've wasted time on the job;

Forgive us, Lord, for our heart's insincerity.

And you've seen how shoddy some of our work has been;

Forgive us, Lord, for our carelessness.

And you've heard how often we've said we can't wait to get out;

Forgive us, Lord, for not working with all our heart.

And you know we've often worked only to please others;

Forgive us for failing to remember it is you we are serving.

Hear our prayer,

and in the mercy of Jesus Christ,

cleanse us for his name's sake. Amen.


Friday 28 October 2022

Discipleship - stewardship


1 Corinthians 4:1-2 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy

Being a servant of Christ is not a mission reserved for the ordained. By my baptism, I am called into service and trusted by Jesus with the tasks closest to his heart.


If others are to think of me as Christ’s servant, that is how I must think of myself. Like Ignatius of Loyola, I ask, ‘What have I done for Christ, what am I doing for Christ, what will I do for Christ?’


A traveler, between flights at an airport, went to a lounge and bought a small package of chocolate chip cookies. Then she sat down and began reading a newspaper. Gradually, she became aware of a rustling noise. From behind her paper, she was flabbergasted to see a neatly dressed man helping himself to her cookies. Not wanting to make a scene, she leaned over and took a cookie herself. 


A minute or two passed, and then came more rustling. He was helping himself to another cookie! After a while they came to the end of the package with one cookie left, but she was so angry she didn’t dare allow herself to say anything. Then, as if to add insult to injury, the man broke the remaining cookie in two, pushed half across to her, ate the other half, and left. 


Still fuming sometime later when her flight was announced, the woman opened her handbag to get her ticket. To her shock and embarrassment, there she found her package of unopened cookies!


Oh Lord, giver of life and source of our freedom, we are reminded that Yours is “the earth in its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” We know that it is from your hand that we have received all we have and are and will be. Gracious and loving God, we understand that you call us to be the stewards of Your abundance, the caretakers of all you have entrusted to us. Help us always to use your gifts wisely and teach us to share them generously. May our faithful stewardship bear witness to the love of Christ in our lives. We pray this with grateful hearts in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday 27 October 2022

Discipleship - stewardship


Luke 16:10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much


True wealth consists, not in what we keep but in what we give away. As soon as a person has more than they need, the extra they have belongs by right to the person who has not enough. We are God’s stewards. All that we have belongs to him - our time, our talents, our money, our property.


There is an African proverb which says: ‘When you pray, move your feet’. It is good to be silent and attentive in prayer. But the love that grows in me through meeting the Lord in quiet prayer must translate into deeds of love. Saint Ignatius says that ‘Love is found in deeds rather than in words.’


O God, grant us full knowledge of the goodness of your creation.

-We seek this gift for your love's sake.

O God, grant us obedience to the good gift of your law.

-We seek this gift for your love's sake.

O God, grant us ears to hear the prophetic call of your justice.

-We seek this gift for your love's sake.

O God, grant us full knowledge of your love crucified.

-We seek this gift for your love's sake.

O God, grant us complete hope in your love raised from the dead.

-We seek this gift for your love's sake.

O God, grant us joy and power from your love filling us with your spirit.

-We seek this gift for your love's sake.

O God, grant us full knowledge of your loving providence.

-We seek this gift for your love's sake.

O God, help us to understand and care for your creation.

-We seek to give you this gift because we love you.

O God, help us to obey the commandment to tithe out of all we have.

-We seek to give you this gift because we love you.

O God, help us to be agents of your justice.

-We seek to give you this gift because we love you.

O God, help us to die to sin as we stand at the foot of the cross.

-We seek to give you this gift because we love you.

O God, help us to live in radical hope.

-We seek to give you this gift because we love you.

O God, help us to be signs of your love, joy, peace, goodness, patience, gentleness, and self control.

-We seek to give you this gift because we love you.

O God, help us to be generous with others as you are generous with us.

-We seek to give you this gift because we love you.

O God, you have given us so much, grant us one more gift, the gift of grateful hearts. Amen


Wednesday 26 October 2022

Discipleship - stewardship


Luke 12:42-46 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful

In this gospel, it is clear that “gloves are off” in the challenges Jesus puts to the Pharisees. It seems that Jesus has had enough. He has listened to and observed the hypocritical religious superiority of the Pharisees for long enough. They have become obstacles to the emergence of God’s kingdom in people’s lives. Their focus on petty rituals and purity fills them with pride and arrogance. They think they are better than ordinary people. Their situation is, in truth, far worse. They have moved away from God. Jesus is calling them to their senses.


Perhaps Jesus’s words challenge us also. Sometimes we can become complacent and assume that our way of living conforms to the Gospel. Our conversion is on-going. Perhaps I do not speak out when I should!. If so, I may need to pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom in proclaiming Jesus’s message!


Lord, make me aware of my needless preoccupations and infuse my heart with your spirit of love and justice. Take my poor heart and make it like your own. Amen


Tuesday 25 October 2022

Discipleship - stewardship

Matthew 25:14-30 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. ..


Today’s gospel makes it very clear that far more is expected of us. We are expected to make an active and positive contribution to the work of the Kingdom and to the Christian community as the Body of Christ. In practice, that might mean taking an active part in our Church, in our parish, volunteering for social justice initiatives etc . So, it is important for us to spend some time reflecting on what are my unique ‘talents’ or gifts or abilities and then to ask to what end I am using them?


The gospel suggests there is an urgency about this - as we do not know when our ‘employer’ is coming back to check his accounts with us. In this time of prayer do I have a sense of where I am being drawn to use my talents?


The parable of the talents is a fitting text to be applied to our everyday life in this context. There is a definite need for the care of creation to be at the personal level of each of us caring for “our home”. Like a family expecting each member to ‘pull their weight’ at home, so the idea of proper care requires each of us to have an awareness of how God has shared his creation with us, and asks for co-operation in looking after our shared inheritance.


When God’s gifts go unused, God’s goodness comes to be doubted. I ask that I be better able to recognise how I might serve God and others with all the opportunities that I notice.


Fulfilling God’s will takes a different shape for each of us as our blessings and situations vary. I pray that I become neither vain not despairing, but am able to be fully alive to every opportunity that presents itself.


Dear Jesus,
I thank you for everything You have given me. My gifts of time and talents are precious gifts, enable me to use them to do Your will.
I offer you this day all my words, actions and good intentions to reflect my love for You and my neighbour.


Please help me realise that I need to share these gifts and all my gifts with the Church and others, help me to be generous, patient, forgiving and holy. Amen


Monday 24 October 2022

Discipleship - stewardship


Genesis 1:26-28 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Shortly before his death, the legendary film producer Cecil B DeMille wrote this beautiful meditation:


One day as I was lying in a canoe, a big black beetle came out of the water and climbed up into the canoe. I watched it idly for some time. Under the heat of the sun, the beetle proceeded to die. Then a strange thing happened. His glistening black shell cracked all the way down his back. Out of it came a shapeless mass, quickly transformed into beautiful, brilliantly coloured life. As I watched in fascination, there gradually unfolded iridescent wings from which the sunlight flashed a thousand colours. The wings spread wide, as if in worship of the sun. The blue-green body took shape. Before my eyes had occurred a metamorphosis--the transformation of a hideous beetle into a gorgeous dragonfly, which started dipping and soaring over the water. But the body it had left behind still clung to my canoe.


"I had witnessed what seemed to me a miracle. Out of the mud had come a beautiful new life. And the thought came to me, that if the Creator works such wonders with the lowliest of creatures, what may not be in store for the human spirit?" 


This week a we consider our response to God’s gift to us, we too may well ask “what may be in store for us” as we take our stewardship of his bounty seriously.


John Wesley said, :”Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?” 


Lord, giver of life and source of freedom, I know that all I have received is from your hand.
Gracious and Loving Father, You call us to be stewards of Your abundance, the caretakers of all.
You have entrusted to us. Help us to always use Your gifts wisely and teach us to share them generously.


Send the Holy Spirit to work through us, bringing Your message to those we serve.
May our faithful stewardship bear witness to the love of Jesus Christ in our lives. We pray with grateful hearts, in Jesus’ name. Amen


Saturday 22 October 2022

Discipleship - Service


The greatest among you will be your servant. Matthew 23:11

The Master was searching for a vessel to use;
On the shelf there were many—which one would He choose?
Take me, cried the gold one, I’m shiny and bright,
I’m of great value and I do things just right.
My beauty and luster will outshine the rest
And for someone like You, Master, gold would be the best!


Unheeding, the Master passed on to the brass,
It was wide mouthed and shallow, and polished like glass.
Here! Here! cried the vessel, I know I will do,
Place me on Your table for all men to view.

Look at me, called the goblet of crystal so clear,
My transparency shows my contents so dear,
Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride,
And I’m sure I’ll be happy Your house to abide.


The Master came next to a vessel of wood,
Polished and carved, it solidly stood.
You may use me, dear Master, the wooden bowl said,
But I’d rather You used me for fruit, not for bread!

Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay.
Empty and broken it helplessly lay.


No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose,
To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.

Ah! This is the vessel I’ve been hoping to find,
I will mend and use it and make it all Mine.


I need not the vessel with pride of itself;
Nor the one who is narrow to sit on the shelf;
Nor the one who is big-mouthed and shallow and loud;
Nor one who displays his contents so proud;
Not the one who thinks he can do all things just right;
But this plain earthy vessel filled with My power and might.

Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay.


Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day.
Spoke to it kindly. “There’s work you must do,
Just pour out to others as I pour into you.”—Author Unknown


Lord God, our Father,

you keep speaking your Word to us

through your Son Jesus Christ.

Make us listen to that word and welcome it

with all that is in us.

Let that word change our mentality and our ways,

that it may direct our life

to make it a lived message of Good News

for all to see, to be inspired by, and to follow.

Let it be the living power that leads all

to give you praise and glory,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Friday 21 October 2022

Discipleship - Service


Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him. And he said to her, 'What do you want?' She said to him, 'Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.' But Jesus answered, 'You do not know what you are asking…..whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:20-22;27-28

How easily we ask God for the wrong things, as James and John and their mother did. How quickly we apply the world's standards to the church, and see her leaders, on the lines of presidents and politicians. We need Christ’s reminder that authority is a form of service, and that those who exercise it must be prepared to suffer.


Jesus uses the incident as a lesson for his disciples. ‘Greatness’ among his followers is not to be measured by one’s power to ‘lord it’ over others – rather, the opposite : it is those most willing to put themselves at the service of others, who take the prize.


Greatness for Jesus is in serving. Greatness of spirit lies in moving from being caught up in our concerns to engaging with the real needs of others. Greatness of soul is expanding the soul to allow God and the concerns of God become first in life. This is best seen in the life of Jesus. Watch him through the gospels as he empties himself and spends himself for others, and finds refreshment in his relationship with his Father. That is what prayer can do for us - it expands our concerns to include the whole world, and opens us to the Spirit of the living God.


Lord, you put that cup of suffering to your lips in Gethsemane, as you foresaw all that was to happen to you. Let me see the suffering in my life as a sharing in your cup.


Thursday 20 October 2022

Discipleship - Service


Learn to generously share what you have with those who ask for help, and don’t close your heart to the one who comes to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42

To this day, the tit-for-tat law, 'lex talionis', is seen as a sensible custom across many cultures, but Jesus raises us beyond it. Nowhere is he more radical than here: challenging us to accept attacks and insults without resentment, and to respond with love. We may well ponder, can I rise to the challenge?


God’s love is unconditional. It extends to enemies. That challenges neat categories and personal preferences that can hold so much sway in life. It is only with his heart that we can love in a way that is humanly impossible.


Holiness means imitating God and trying to be as generous as we can. We are to act as God does in loving all, just or unjust, good or bad. His mercy and graciousness is radical, disproportionate, and outrageous. Is mine perhaps a little more cautious?


O God, send your Spirit upon us and light our path,

that we may travel the road you have prepared for us.


Having heard your scriptures proclaimed, and your word revealed, enable our hearts and minds to more fully understand your goodness and your grace.


Help us break free from ideas that no longer bring life, that we may embrace the life-giving work of your Spirit.


Challenge us to forsake paths that ask little of us, and help us resist the evils and temptations of this world, that we may truly follow the way of kingdom living. Amen.


Wednesday 19 October 2022

Discipleship - Service


For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served by everyone, but to serve everyone, and to give his life as the ransom price in exchange for the salvation of many.” Mark 10:45

Christian discipleship is not like human authority nor is it based upon power and lording it over others. Quite the contrary, it is genuine when expressed in service. Jesus came not to be served but to serve. What about us? How are we of service to others?


I recently read this article online….


There are many reasons why God shouldn't have called you. But don't worry. You're in good company. Moses stuttered. David's armour didn't fit. John Mark was rejected by Paul. Timothy had ulcers. Hosea's wife was a prostitute. Amos' only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning. Jacob was a liar. David had an affair. Solomon was too rich. Jesus was too poor. Abraham was too old. David was too young. Peter was afraid of death. Lazarus was dead. John was self-righteous. Naomi was a widow. Paul was a murderer. So was Moses. Jonah ran from God. Miriam was a gossip. Gideon and Thomas both doubted. Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal. Elijah was burned out. John the Baptist was a loudmouth. Martha was a worry-wart. Mary was lazy. Samson had long hair. Noah got drunk. Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse? So did Peter, Paul, and in fact lots of folks did.


But God doesn't require a job interview. He doesn't hire and fire like most bosses, because He's more our Dad than our Boss. He doesn't look at financial gain or loss. He's not prejudiced or partial, not judging, grudging, sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need.

As much as we try, God's gifts are free. We could do wonderful things for wonderful people and still not be...Wonderful.


Satan says, "You're not worthy."


Jesus says, "So what? I AM."


Satan looks back and sees our mistakes.


God looks back and sees the cross


Meditation


I stay prayerfully with these words of Jesus and consider how true these words are. I hear them as a call for me too, to make them my own, as I desire to live a life of service to others. I ask for pardon when I choose to be served rather than to serve.


God with us,

When we privilege our own agendas,

hurt others in the effort to impose our will,

or chain ourselves to our fears,

tumble us off the throne of our pride,

and release us into finding our worth in your love.

Lord have mercy on us

Lord Jesus Christ,

you know us, you love us, you free us,

then call us to follow you

and we bless you.

Your mercy meets us in our confusion;

may your spirit meet us in our everyday living. Amen


Tuesday 18 October 2022

Discipleship - Service


And the King will answer them, ‘Don’t you know? When you cared for one of the least important of these my little ones, my true brothers and sisters, you demonstrated love for me.’ Matthew 25:40 

This dramatic verse calls us to conversion to our sisters and brothers who are in need. It calls us with Jesus to look at our lives. The question remains, “Do we put ourselves out for others and share what we can?” We may also ponder. “Do we listen to how he may be prompting our poor hearts to greater compassion and sharing.


Our behaviours rather than our beliefs reveal whether we are  Kingdom people. Our treatment of others is the criterion by which we ourselves will be treated.


Years ago, the Salvation Army was holding an international convention and their founder, Gen. William Booth, could not attend because of physical weakness. He telegrammed his convention message to them. It was one word: "OTHERS."


St Ignatius says ’Love manifests itself in deeds more than words.’ St John of the Cross tells us: ‘In the evening of life, we will be examined in love.’ Lord, you call me to recognise you in all those who are in need. May my response be one of concrete and loving service. Amen


May we honour your name

not by paying it lip service, Lord Jesus

but by trusting the vision it speaks of

and the way it calls for


May we honour it by following you

speaking into the word with our actions

and showing who we’re chosen to follow


May we love in your name

speak in your name

care in your name

that willingness to touch the outcast

feed the hungry

remember the sick

visit the imprisoned

clothe the naked

give water to the thirsty

in your name. Amen


Monday 17 October 2022

Discipleship - Stewardship


Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My father will honour the one who saves me. John 12:26

God can use us to affect the lives of many people for good. But for this we need to be following Jesus, not following our own whims and preferences. We are to surrender our lives and ask the question ‘Lord, what do you want me to do with my life today’?


Jesus says here that ‘serving’ and ‘following’ him are the same thing. It is not for us to choose how or where to serve him. We must follow first and let him lead us to where he wants us to serve. A disciple cannot say, ‘I did it my way!’


Franklin Roosevelt's closest adviser during much of his presidency was a man named Harry Hopkins. During World War II, when his influence with Roosevelt was at its peak, Hopkins held no official Cabinet position. Moreover, Hopkins's closeness to Roosevelt caused many to regard him as a shadowy, sinister figure. As a result he was a major political liability to the President.


A political foe once asked Roosevelt, "Why do you keep Hopkins so close to you? You surely realise that people distrust him and resent his influence." Roosevelt replied, "Someday you may well be sitting here where I am now as President of the United States. And when you are, you'll be looking at that door over there and knowing that practically everybody who walks through it wants something out of you. You'll learn what a lonely job this is, and you'll discover the need for somebody like Harry Hopkins, who asks for nothing except to serve you."


Winston Churchill rated Hopkins as one of the half-dozen most powerful men in the world in the early 1940s. And the sole source of Hopkins's power was his willingness to serve.


Lord, grace me with the gift of letting go of all that I cling to. May I not block your Spirit moving in me. Work through me so that I may carry you to all those whose lives I touch.


Saturday 15 October 2022

Discipleship - Being Church

 


Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.’” (Matthew 19:26)

The church is not:
* An ark for the saving of a select few.
* A ferryboat to take effortless passengers to the shores of heaven.
* A life insurance company, with no obligation on policyholders accepts the payment of a small annual premium.
* A social set, welcoming certain people and excluding others from its fellowship.
* A Sunday pleasure club for the providing of pleasant occupation on the day of rest.

THE CHURCH IS:
* A lifeboat for the rescue of sin-wrecked and perishing souls.
* A family, in which love and service are expected from each member to each member.
* An organised community, with constant activities and continual growth and development.
* A company of believers who have found the one way of life and obey the one Lord of life.
* A union of those who love for the benefit of those who suffer.
* A centre of social worship, in which the spiritual life of each is helped by the spiritual life of his fellow.
• The representative, Ambassadors -- the "body" -- of Jesus Christ on the earth, reflecting his spirit and controlled by his will AND DOING HIS WORK!


Almighty and every loving God, who has built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head cornerstone: Grant that all who profess the name of Christ may be joined together in unity of spirit and faith, setting aside all doctrinal quibbling of our fallible human minds; that we may be a holy temple, a royal priesthood, acceptable to you, living in unity and Godly love as you have commanded us to do. Amen


Friday 14 October 2022

Discipleship - Being Church


Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give”

 A group was visiting a heavy-duty grease factory and was ushered into a large room, where a tour host introduced them to the company history and the number of employees at work producing the best machine lubricants in the world. They toured the noisy factory, with lots of machinery and wheels whirling, mixing, packaging—there was incredible activity.


As the tour ended, one of the visitors said, “I didn’t see a shipping department.” The guide responded, “Well, we don’t have a shipping department because it takes all the grease we make to lubricate our equipment and keep the wheels turning.”


The church is the best lubricated grease factory in all of history. What’s too often missing is the shipping department. The church does not exist for itself; it exists to bring others to a commitment to Jesus Christ.


In all that we do for your church, O God, whether we are in the spotlight or behind the scenes, help us to honour you and to discern how best to serve you. Increase your kingdom, Lord. In Christ, Amen.


Thursday 13 October 2022

Discipleship - Being Church


1 John 3:17 "But if someone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but refuses to help — how can the love of God dwell in a person like that?"

Today’s thoughts come from the pen of Fred Beuchner - “The visible church is all the people who get together from time to time in God's name. Anybody can find out who they are by going to church to look.


The invisible church is all the people God uses for his hands and feet in this world. Nobody can find out who they are except God.


Think of them as two circles. The optimist says they are concentric. The cynic says they don't even touch. The realist says they occasionally overlap.


In a fit of high inspiration, the author of the book of Revelation states that there is no temple in the New Jerusalem, thus squelching once and for all the tedious quip that since heaven is an endless church service, anybody with two wits to rub together would prefer hell.


The reason for there being no temple in the New Jerusalem is presumably the same as the reason for Noah's leaving the ark behind when he finally makes it to Mt. Ararat.”


Dear Jesus, thank you for making us your church. Keep building us to praise and honour you always. In your name, Amen.


Wednesday 12 October 2022

Discipleship - Being Church


Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19-20

Whether we like it or not, the moment we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, that is, from the time we become a Christian, we are at the same time a member of the Christian church … Our membership in the church is a corollary of our faith in Christ.  We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a person and not be in a family. 

Membership in the church is a basic spiritual fact for those who confess Christ as Lord.  It is not an option for those Christians who happen by nature to be more gregarious than others.  It is part of the fabric of redemption. There are Christians, of course, who never put their names down on a membership list; there are Christians who refuse to respond to the call to worship each Sunday; there are Christians who say, “I love God but I hate the church.”


But they are members all the same, whether they like it or not, whether they acknowledge it or not.  For God never makes private, secret salvation deals with people.  His relationships with us are personal, true; intimate, yes; but private, no.  We are a family in Christ.  When we become Christians, we are among brothers and sisters in faith.  No Christian is an only child.


Thank you, Lord, for inviting us to become part of your everlasting family by trusting in Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. Amen.


Tuesday 11 October 2022

Discipleship - Being Church

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20


”William Temple once said that “The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”


A man went out on a starry night and shook his fist at the heavens yelling, "Oh, God, what a lousy, rotten world you’ve made. I could have done much better." Then a voice boomed from the clouds saying, "That’s why I put you there. Get busy." In these verses  Jesus puts us in charge of his mission and of his work, promising to be always with us. Prayer can also be a time of asking and discovering where each of us can work in this world.


Yet here’s a further complication: the church is not an entity outside of me. I do not stand on the outside looking in. I am as much part of the church as (in the words of Paul) a hand is a part of a body. And when we see this truth we also see God’s power because, in this body of Christ, we find a place where we can be gloriously and devastatingly human. We find a place where we can fail and repent and grow and receive grace and be made as we see our part in God’s mission.


The name of God at our baptism is the name of love: the Trinity exists in a community of love. Such love has brought us into being, has introduced us into the community of Jesus in the church, and love in Jesus Christ is with us all our days, and with God's world until the end of time.


Lord, you are with me whenever I speak of you to others. Give me the courage to be church to others. Amen


Monday 10 October 2022

Discipleship - Being Church


Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16 


A little boy said, “Dad, did Grandpa make you go to Sunday school when you were my age?”


His father said, “He sure did. We went every Sunday.”


The boy said sadly, “Well, I bet it won’t do me any good either.”


It is not enough to just go to church. We must apply the Bible to our everyday lives.


Listening challenges us as we are asked to give the attention to another. Hearing the message invites a response, an inner change, not just an outer one. Putting God’s word into practice provides a solid foundation in life that can stand against any challenge. Failure to do that leads to short-term decisions the results of which crumble easily.


This is our life; listening to the word of God and doing it. We are building up the Church, the Body of Christ, founded on the rock of Peter.


Only one who does the will of my Father” - what is that will? That we are filled with the spirit of the Kingdom and work to make this a reality in our world which involves constant outreach beyond ourselves. We have to go to God by finding him present in the world around us and helping others to be aware of that loving presence also. We will not do that by piously calling on God’s name while ignoring the needs of our brothers and sisters. To do that is to build our house on sand.


I can ask myself – how does my relationship with the Lord influence my decisions and ask for the Lord’s help with it? I am invited to listen to the Lord and the different ways the Lord speaks to me. The message is – speak, Lord your servant is listening, not listen Lord, your servant is speaking. I pray for the freedom to listen and to respond as the Lord desires.


The “houses” in this narrative are people’s lives. Nobody else can build our life for us. It is we who must choose what kind of foundations we will use – the shifting sands or the solid rock. If the houses represent our lives, then the Bible makes clear what the rock is: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress”.


Lord, grant that I may build my life securely on your unchanging, immutable Word, that no storm can shake, no floods overwhelm, no vicissitudes destroy.