Time of Increase: Part 2

Children grouped round table.

 

 

We finished last week with the question;

Do we – as a Parish – demonstrate a life of increase?

I believe we are, and in several vital areas that I have been observing over the last few years.

Logo from Conciliation Service

Through the Conciliation/Celebration Service, in September 2009, we acknowledged to ourselves – and to the Masterton Community – that we have a chequered history that had split the church several times.

 

 

Men practise their items at the rehearsal prior to the Conciliation Service, 2009

The blokes practise their items at the rehearsal prior to the Conciliation Service, 2009

We confessed outwardly. As a result, congregationally we are beginning to respect and trust each other and work more together. Some relationships began to heal; others discovered there are great people in the other congregations. Slowly as a Parish we are discovering a strength that comes in our diversity, as we agree to disagree and work more together – unity is possible in our disunity.

Congregation sharing the Peace at St Alban's, Tauweru

Congregation share the Peace at St Alban’s, Tauweru

But forgiveness and rebuilding trust takes time, yet it gives birth to new life and hope. It’s a work in progress – that’s Increase in action.

Catechesisreceivescommunion

Children of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd receive communion

Let us be encouraged by Jesus words to His disciples who often discussed who were the most important among themselves.

 “By this the world will know, that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

Secondly; do you notice the makeup of the congregations is changing? There is a greater diversity. More representative of the demographics of the society we live in……not just old people…..not just middle/upper class people….not just successful wealthy people?

That’s Increase. And there is more to come, even greater things, as we continue to grow in tolerance and kindness and put others a little higher than ourselves.

What do you think?

Steve

Time of Increase: Part 1

Baby's hand

Any individual, nation (or Parish)  begins with birth, then growth, but eventually is followed by decay and death. It can be argued that history repeats itself. “Church” can be the same.

 

Casket at funeral

 

But let us be reminded from the Bible (Romans 5 and 6 in particular) the hope in Christ,  because this cycle is broken. The Message version puts it like this:

Here it is in a nutshell: just as one person did it wrong and got us all in this trouble with sin and death (Adam), another did it right (Jesus) and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, He got us into life eternal! (Rom.5:18)

That’s Good News for all.

 

41-IMG_5908

One of the problems a Church faces is not giving those outside the Church a clear picture of what happens inside.

They don’t understand that we’re there to praise our Saviour for providing “Redemption through His Blood, and the forgiveness of sins.”

Yes, sinners go to Church, but receiving God’s Gift of grace lets us live for ever.

So here is my foundation:  to say that we are in a Time of Increase.

 

Children running at back of church

 

We are not a perfect Parish but we don’t have to die, cease to exist. Rather, acknowledging our condition and knowing God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were all still sinners, He died for us in Jesus, and we are now partakers of everlasting life in Him. We therefore have this Good News to share and invite others to join us.

The question is; do we demonstrate this life of increase?

Steve

Vicar’s Call for 2013 – Increase

Moses with the Ten Commandments

Moses with the Ten Commandments

When we read the story of Moses, we find that he often made decisions on behalf of the People of Israel, because God spoke directly to him in the Tent of the Tabernacle.

In the current world of growing individualism, Mosaic type leadership is not popular. Yet I believe there is still a place for it in the theocracy of the church.

Jesus himself was very forthright in “leading the way,” and the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church after Pentecost is very much about releasing the prophetic leadership ministry, but to more than just one leader as in the Old Testament time of Moses.

We need to hear this prophetic ministry of encouragement more than ever, as we seek to build the Kingdom of God in a sceptical world of unbelief.

As your Vicar I am called to lead the Parish, first and foremost. to extend the Kingdom of God – to share the God news that everyone can have life in its fullness. That is, trusting in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and giving over our lives to his lordship.

I believe we are in a time of “Increase,” individually and as a Parish; spiritually, physically and numerically.

It’s a big call and I lay a challenge to some in the Parish to confirm this, through their prophetic gift of leadership.

Over the next few weeks I will use this space to expound various thoughts on this call of “Increase” and invite you to respond directly and or by making a comment on this blog.

Steve. 

Walking in the footsteps of St James

Steve and Leonie Kimberley walking The Way of St James (El Camino de Compostela)

Steve and Leonie Kimberley walking The Way of St James (El Camino de Compostela)

Leonie and I had the good fortune of combining our holidays and part sabbatical through the generosity of the Parish, to visit Europe for the first time. In fact our nine week journey was a first in so many ways.

From flying in big aeroplanes, (one flight for 13 straight hours), negotiating huge airports with their own internal transport, fleeing the Paris Metro after just two stops, to acknowledging: “Yes sir, that’s my flight bag….oh, I packed our kitchen knife in it?”

Leonie and Steve Kimberley with suitcases

We passed through six countries; one taking nine weeks, others just an overnight stay.

 

Leonie and Steve Kimberley at Stonehenge

Leonie and Steve Kimberley at Stonehenge

Walking across the north of Spain on El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James), covering 880 kilometres was an an unbelievable experience of new sights, cultures, language and self awareness: try sleeping in a community with anything from 12 to 100 others every night for 34 days.

No wire fences, but cowbells for the animals; huge stone churches and cathedrals in every town and city; church bells ringing out every quarter hour, 24 hours a day; and driving on the righthand side of the road.

Every building was made of stone. History wasn’t just 200 years old – more like 2,000 years. Some of the roads we walked on were the original stone roads built by the Romans in the first century, apparently with three metre deep foundations if there was no bedrock.

 

Steve and Leonie Kimberley at the Colesium

Steve and Leonie Kimberley at the Colosseum

Six countries visited and six different languages. It got to the stage we didn’t know if we should look left or right at intersections and found ourselves replying to questions in the language of the previous country.

If Spain was old, then England and Italy were more of the same.

But Israel topped them all, as we viewed ancient 3-4,000 year old ruins buried 60-100 metres deep by successive cultures who simply pulled down the previous city and rebuilt on top.

And of course there is the city of Jerusalem, a city of struggles, not just to survive, but rather peoples vying to make it their own for all sorts of reasons.

 

Change

Have Leonie and I changed for all our experiences? We would both say emphatically, yes!

How much? I would like to say continuously and for ever, if we but let ourselves take the time to reflect on all of our trip.

I sent someone a postcard that said something like this:

 “Experiences don’t change us, rather what we take from them.”

It is going to be important that we take the time to reflect on all the experiences we had, so we can move on, the richer for them.

An eighth century Camino pilgrim, Paul Coelho said:

 “Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished. Stop being who you were, and change into who you are now.”

I have been reflecting on this since returning and recall a comment by my new spiritual director just before we left. In our first session he asked me to tell him who I was. His summary was a one liner, “You like living in the past!” I was somewhat stunned by the reply; after all he did ask me who I was, and my past is part of that. But he was more interested in how I see myself now!

 

Living in the past?

Walking for 34 days continuously, some days covering over 40km, gave me a lot of time for me to reflect on who I am now. Have I turned over the chapter(s) of my life’s experiences and moved on, or remained addicted to my past?

Join with me and reflect on the centrality of Jesus to our life. Are we still living in the past or still evolving? Are we still only really connecting with our old friends, religiously protecting the way we operate our particular church, hoping for the next revival, busy with programmes, even compassionate social services, but forgetting it is more, more about who we are becoming in Christ today?

Is it painful to even consider we might be still living in the past?

Are we more inclusive, tolerant, accepting, responsible, without gossip, free of judgment on fellow Christians and our neighbour, more Christ-like and loving to all of God’s creation than ever before?

Sadly, yet with confidence, I am going to turn another chapter in my life with Jesus to be the richer for it, but better still, a greater blessing to others.

Let us be inspired by the words of the Apostle Paul:

“My life is worth nothing unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord.”(Acts 20:24)

Notice that it’s a commitment to a future goal – one we don’t make ourselves – rather one we are called to, just as Jesus humbled himself and came into our world, naked, vulnerable and alone.