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  • Bamford 22 Jan 2005

    "The time is now"
    Jonah is a wonderfully comic story of a reluctant miserable prophet. On hearing God's call he runs away, tries to hide, as if he could really hide from God. Spewed up on the beach covered in fish he heads for Nineveh - with all the enthusiasm of a teenager sent to make their bed! And we have the a brilliant eight word sermon - which brings repentance m- and still Jonah isn't happy. How many of us have head God's call and behaved like Jonah? - running, hiding, getting busy  -doing anything except God's will - there is no place to hide - but still excuses are heard and God's call ignored.

    Simon, Andrew, James and John didn't prevaricate with excuses. They had  work - a family business for James and John, families - a mother-in-law, so presumably a wife, perhaps children for Simon,-  fears, doubts, uncertainty, risk - but it was time to follow- time to listen to God’s call - time to repent (turn around) believe - Believe in God, Jesus, self

    The time to follow Jesus is now - not some indeterminate time in the future, we can’t plan the future, in a moment everything changes ....

    And not a lifestyle choice - To “repent and believe” - is to turn around, to embracing a new set of values and norms.  It will change forever the way in which those who respond – the disciples – will view the world and live in it.  It is a call to take up the struggle against all the powers that hold the world and its people captive – demons, sickness, hatred, discrimination, political and religious authorities.  disclosing new worlds
    The call to fish for people picks up on Jeremiah, Amos, Ezekial where “hooking of fish” is a euphemism for judgement upon the rich - Jesus mandate “inviting common folk to join him in his struggle to overturn the existing order of power and privilege.” 

    Our lives? - Repent?
    private life - shame?, unworthy? - can’t be hidden from God
    working life - transforming?, liberating? “hooking fish or fattening the fish? - 
    kingdom life - This is an active faith - come, go, follow, on the way, producing fruit, go out, proclaim, heal, - putting faith into action, living as the people of God. And in the kingdom there is a role for each of us - perhaps within the church, our work, our daily life. We don 't have to go far to find the mission field it is here, it is now. 

    The time is now - to become a kingdom person  - it is time to put down your nets, to break with business as usual - to follow Jesus, are you coming or hiding?

  • 8 January 2006 St. Andrew's

    Confirmation, Covenant, Contemplation

    A busy service which combined The Methodist Covenant Service with the Confirmation of K, a young woman who has grown up within this church. Our text is Romans 12:1-2

    I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

    Confirmation of Baptism, of discipleship - of belief and a way of life in which Jesus is at the centre.  
    Do you commit yourself to this life? - question for each of us - commitment seems so hard to come by, yet here K has committed herself to a life of discipleship - do we live by the commitments we have made?
    Do you accept the gift and cost? - there is gift & cost to any commitment - time, energy, focus, priorities - “in daily life and work” - putting theory into practice - living out the gospel, the words of Sunday in our work, in our social lives, in our moral ethical lives. It's not all cost - the gift is to live in the presence of God.
    With the whole church will you proclaim by word and action? Will you put faith into action - 
    Powerful statements, daunting, but we are not alone  - part of a community of faith - strengthed by the power of the Holy Spirit - to be a living sacrifice, to be transformed.

    Covenant - submission - service - I willingly offer ... don’t say it if you don’t mean it - essence of discipleship is discerning the will of God and carrying it out.  We belong to an Active Faith - follow, on the way, producing fruit, go out, proclaim, heal. This covenant is another powerful statement - we do not say it alone, we do not need to work out God’s will alone. We belong to a worshipping, praying fellowship - we share this journey with one another and the whole community of faith - discernment - prayer - strengthening, transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

    Contemplation - We need to seek God’s will as a whole church. There is always a danger of drift - WADITW - If we take baptismal/confirmation promises seriously we need to look at where we are, and where God is calling us to be. So the Elders have been reflecting upon our life together and are giving the whole congregation a chance to reflect with us - a questionnaire, which can give us some pointers, a report on 2 April, - together we look to discern the will of God for this church — what is good and acceptable and perfect.?

    I am no longer my own but yours.
    Your will, not mine, be done in all things, 
    wherever you may place me, 
    in all that I do 
    and in all that I may endure; 
    when there is work for me 
    and when there is none; 
    when I am troubled 
    and when I am at peace. 
    Your will be done 
    when I am valued 
    and when I am disregarded; 
    when I find fulfilment and
    when it is lacking; 
    when I have all things,
    and when I have nothing. 
    I willingly offer 
    all I have and am 
    to serve you, 
    as and where you choose.  

    Glorious and blessed God, 
    Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 
    you are mine  and I am yours. 
    May it be so for ever. 
    Let this covenant now made on earth 
    be fulfilled in heaven.  Amen. 
  • 8 January Hallfold & Bamford

    ”The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”

    Welcome to Mark’s Gospel - action, immediacy, Jesus-centred, God-inspired, Good News. - v Rome, v Temple, v Strong Man.( See  disclosing new worlds for a fuller summary)

    Jesus is announced as good news - the Son of God. The next time the title is used (other than by a demon) he will have died. The gospel will keep asking the questions Who? How? Why?- and you the reader will know. Briefly, back to the messenger - in the desert, on the margins - away from those who believe that power only happens at the centre, and that God’s power can be controlled - He preaches repentance & forgiveness and the people flock to him. Repentance - turn around, be changed - heart of which is forgiveness - otherwise all the baggage weighs us down - fresh start, new life. order in chaos, light in the darkness - time to repent, to seek forgiveness?

    Baptism - water brings life and death, cleanses, purifies

    Wilderness - place to be lost and to meet with God

    In Jesus there is a merging of heaven with earth, his baptism symbolises God grace breaking free upon earth - the Spirit is there, the Father proclaims the Son - confirms the narrators assertion in v1. Jesus confronts the powers - bringing life out of death - Focus on Jesus - are we Jesus-centred? God inspired? Is there a merging of heaven and earth? Do we need Jesus to bring light to our darkness? is it time to repent?

    When Jesus enters the story - enters our story - the time is fulfilled - (present not future tense) - the kingdom (reign) of God has come near - (decision is yours - Jesus knocks, calls - next move is yours - belong to the good news that is the reign of God or the bad news that is the reign of death) Repent and believe the good news.