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  • Hallfold 13 May 2007

    Acts 16: 9-15   
    Amos 5: 7-14

    In Prayer Paul  finds a new direction - Macedonia. He acts on the vision - in looking for the place of prayer he find the women who gather outside the gate and despite the barriers of gender, race, religion he tells them about Jesus and Lydia’s “heart is opened”

    Much of Christian Aid's work is done with the women in any community - directly with the people who can make an impact on their own community - like Lydia they are often prayerful, they often have access to other women and their needs, they will often have the business skills (or can be taught the business skills)  to help themselves and their hospitality provides a safe space to grow a future.

    Every community need people who pray together - we have one regular group - we need more.

    In hospitality Lydia is able to break down the barriers caused by culture and ideas of purity - feel Paul’s reluctance, uncertainty. Lydia’s hospitality open heart, creates a a new church - a fresh expression of the gospel, a place where others can find care, grace, love.  

    CA work with people who open doors to them - local partners looking to help themselves - hospitality involves willingness to give and to receive (give and collect) - hospitality opens new doors -  

    where does our hospitality open new doors for the gospel?

    Prayer & hospitality in the name of the gospel leads to new action. Lydia forms a new church, Paul has a base from which the gospel can be spread around the region. The church in Phillippi will grow into a place where God is active amongst the whole of society.

    CA puts compassion into action - “Growing a Future” turns our money & prayers into new opportunities for thousands of people.

    Where will our prayers and hospitality lead to new action? How can we grow a future?

  • St. Andrew's, 6 May 2007

    Cleanliness and Churchiness

    Acts 11:1-18
    leviticus 11: 2-28 

    - purity issues - fellowship issues - hospitality issues - evangelism issues - how do you tell those who are unclean good news? How do we eat with those who regard our food as unclean?
    The result of Peter's vision was an understanding that all people are clean - (& all food - though Peter would still struggle with that one - see Galations)

    I doubt we would have any problem that in God's eyes all people are clean - or would we?
    Who is unclean? 

    - sexuality issues? - big issue in the churches - a sin that needs to be repented of? or a natural state that should be accepted? unbiblical? or can acceptance be read in to various texts? we are faced with sexual orientation regulations, the possible blessing of gay marriages... - how would we react?

    - cohabitation issues - part of today’s life - uncomfortable issue for many churches - biblical view is an acceptance of local marriage customs - sexual, economic, social & faithful - to “live together” fulfills those criteria therefore can be viewed as  marriage - but we miss the community celebration & legal protection for vulnerable. However there is still a sliding scale of cleanliness - we may accept a member living with their partner - eyebrows might be raised at an Elder - but would we accept a Minister who was not legally married to their partner?

    - language - no swearing in church - or in hearing of minister - swearing is common in all sections of society yet in church is unclean, unacceptable. Summed up perfectly by Tony Compolo

    "I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night." 

    Jesus worked amongst the unclean, the ritually unpure, the outcasts, the socially unacceptable and offered the life that all the purity regulations denied - the church emerged as a movement of the poor, the slave, the unclean, the rabble, offering new life, offering cleanliness before God even whilst still unclean within society - washing away the fear, anxiety, exclusion of purity laws - for all are clean. Cleanliness may have developed as part of churchiness - but let’s not kid ourselves that it is next to Godliness - for in Godliness a homosexual cohabiting with a sexual partner who swears like a trooper and slurps their coffee is just as welcome as someone who manages to live a life in which all the purity laws - written and unwritten are religiously observed.

    If such ideas leave us feeling very uncomfortable - then so be it and thanks be to God.