The next few months are very important for us as a church here at Emmanuel. We have both Church Council and Congregational meetings coming up where we will be discussing how we move forward as a church. We have responded well to COVID, we have kept things running but we need to move from surviving to thriving. Changes in staffing mean that we are in a position to invest into our future but we need to make sure that we look to the future. What sort of church do we want to be and how do we invest into that? We need to do some dreaming about the church we want to be. We can build upon our strengths, and we will, and bring on people to resource us for the Emmanuel of the future. We will be a church that seeks to minister to all people regardless of age, background or circumstance. We will continue to be a church that wants to grow disciples, encouraging people to come to faith and grow in their faith. We will grow disciples who will exalt God, explore what God is saying them as they engage with Scripture, who embody the Christian lifestyle in their workplace, school and neighbourhood, and continue to engage with friends and family to help people know Jesus and come into a living relationship with him. We will do this through living out our core values of transforming worship, Intentional Outreach , Fervent Prayer, Healthy Relationships , Christlike Growth. These basic commitments of our church do not need to change but the important question is how do we do this? How do we adapt to our changing society and culture so that you are empowered to be the best disciples you can be. What will help you grow to be disciples who grow disciples? As we look at our future as a church then real question is how we help you to be the best disciples you can be?
There have been lots of positive comments about our Easter services so thank you for the encouragement, and thank you to the team that have helped prepare these services. Also for the craft and creative events that were provided. But Easter is over, school is back, life has returned to normal, or has it. As you have participated in the Easter services, how have you engaged with God, and as a result what has changed for you. The events of Easter are so earth shattering and world changing that our life is changed. Our life should be different. When we encounter God, life is and will be different, and we should expect this to happen. God wants to know you and wants you to know him and this should change your life. So the real question is not did you enjoy the Easter services, but how have they made a difference to you, and your relationship with God, with your family, with your world. As much as we might want nice and innovative church services it is far more important that people have encountered or re-encountered God, and that as a result you have drawn closer to God. The questions that are at the core of the Bible Discovery method, Questions that ask
What does Easter tell me about God?
What does Easter tell me about humanity?
What is God trying to say to me?
What am I going to do about it?
Who am I going to tell?
Each Sunday should not be a pat on the back or a feel good session but rather a new encounter with God where we are asking ourselves the questions above. My hope and prayer is that you come to church expecting to meet God and that you actually do. That your relationship with God continues to grow and grow.
Today we begin Holy Week and will take the time to remember and reflect upon the events leading up to Jesus’ death. The week before Easter is celebrated both as Palm Sunday with the emphasis upon his entry into Jerusalem or Passion Sunday looking a little bit broader at the events of Holy Week. Both draw us into the Easter story and encourage us as we reflect upon the events as to what they mean for us as 21st century disciples. Consider these narratives not simply as historical accounts but reflect upon how we experience them today. You could enter today’s passage at one of several points—perhaps as the disciple sent to retrieve the colt. Jesus calls us to do such strange things. Or you could enter it as one called to give your very best, even today, offering the colt simply “because the Lord needs it.” Each of those pathways leads to both joy and sacrifice. Or you could enter the narrative along with the “multitude of the disciples” who greet Jesus as their king. As we walk through Holy week we will contrast Mary and Judas as they recognise what they treasure, we will experience the servant king and the pain of Gethsemane, and Jesus trial, death and resurrection.
In a realm with emperors, naming anyone other than Caesar as king could bring lethal consequences, as it did for Jesus. But what about us today? Those who call Jesus king may be tempted to see themselves as his royal courtiers and favourites, but as we read the Gospels this week and the other texts that we read this week will have none of that. Yes, we’re to follow, as subjects must do, but we are to follow in his way of self-giving love and service. What will that mean for you for this week and for the rest of this year? If you can try and place yourself into the Easter story and what does the easter story mean for you as a contemporary disciple.
Life is messier than a diagram but loosely this is how new Christian communities develop. Listening come first and guides the process. Listening to God and listening to the people we want to engage with.
People can find it really hard to move from the first three circles (listen, love, community) to the second three (share Jesus, church, repeat). It can only happen with intentionality from the leaders and may happen with the people of peace as the existing community continues.
Each of the circles displays an aspect of God’s kingdom.
Listening shows respect which is a kingdom quality (Acts 11:12)
Love can take the form of pastoral care. (Matt 25:40)
Community is integral to the kingdom. We were created for community. (Luke 10:25-28)
Sharing Jesus is to have conversations about the person who announced the Kingdom. (Mark 1:15)
Church and the kingdom will bcome one when Jesus returns (Rev 21:1-2).
Repeat witnesses to the expansive nature of the kingdom, like a seed that grows into a vast tree (Matt 13:31-31).
As much as we seek to move through the circles, each circle has its own kingdom value that continues to be of benefit. Not everything we do will move through all six circles but each is of value. What is more the great commandment (to love others as we love ourselves), and the great commission (to go and make disciples ) are brought together into one initiative.