Thursday, 31 January 2013

Church: The Body of Christ

“We were all baptized  by one Spirit into one body…”

I Corinthians 12:12-31


            An article in the Monday, January 28 Windsor Star reads “Churches Battle Dwindling Numbers” and describes the decline in several established churches and why churches today are not filled as they once were. Several reasons are cited including the fact that the world has changed and is not the same as when our parents attended. People’s needs are different. Families are struggling with the demands of work and school and extracurricular activities. Sundays are often seen as a day of rest and family time rather than going to services.

            But what happened to the promises of having faith and serving God in the church in generations past? Have people lost faith in the world? God? Other people? How are people coping with everyday living and stresses?  Maybe our increasing mental health issues  are also spiritual health issues?

            We read about youth who have difficulty to cope with the stress of educational tests, papers and general stress. Maybe this comes from a lack of knowing how to cope and relying on God in faith through any kind of process of evaluation. But do we know how to help these young people sort out these changes and values?

Our high school youth are required to have forty hours of community service in order to graduate. Some youth complete this requirement within the first months of school. Others have no idea where they can help out and get volunteer hours.  The answer is simple young people connected to a church will fulfill this requirement easily because they know that their gifts are needed and accepted by those in a church. But our youth also need to know that they are accepted for who they are so when situations arise our youth and young adults  raising families can know to come and get this help from a community of loving people who have been where they were and can share experience. .

            Paul wrote to a struggling church in Corinth to encourage them to work together and using the example of a human body he emphasized that Jesus is the head and not people. Paul emphasized that the needs of all people are equal and all the gifts each person brings only further benefit their church family- their community. He also goes on to say that what is absolutely necessary is that there needs to be a loving spirit and caring people who welcome others in their midst for who they are. All are equal- all have fallen short of God’s glory and need God’s Spirit to grow in grace and truth and all may receive God’s gift of forgiveness. And the church needs to emerge in new ways to be relevant to the problems of people today. We need to see what is really happening in our community and go from there. People are struggling- sickness, aging, loss, loneliness, and fear. How we reach out as a church and welcome others makes a difference. How we share with others is God’s Spirit working in us and through us. Let us be Christ’s body and live for him.

PRAYER:  We praise you that the church’s one foundation is Jesus but somehow the church has lost its stronghold on people today. Something different is emerging; something unknown is coming our way; something that doesn’t even have a pew or steeple is saying to us that you love us. How do we understand this for ourselves? Show us O God we pray. Amen.

What would make the church more relevant to you? What does ‘moving the church forward’ mean?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

“Miraculous Signs”

“This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee.”
John 2:11           

            Jesus and the disciples were at a wedding in Cana celebrating with many people over a few days as was the custom at that time. Many people would have attended this celebration and the feasting would continue along with the dancing. The master of the banquet had a special role to play in ensuring the tables were always full and that the wine would be available throughout the party gathering. This master of the banquet would know from experience as to what wine would be served first and what would be held back until the guests would no longer be drinking for the taste of it but merely  to keep the room relaxed.

            However when Mary, Jesus’ mother tells him that they have run out of wine, Jesus does not want to respond. Yet the option of going to pick up more was not there. Wine would take a long to prepare for a wedding feast and a few bottles would not be enough to keep this crowd celebrating. Jesus knew a lot of wine was required. But he tells his mother my time has not yet come. Yet Mary knows Jesus well enough that she tells the servants to listen and do what he says. 

Jesus then asks the servants to fill large jars with water. They do this and then he asks one of them to take a sample of the contents to the master of the banquet for testing. He remarks that this wine is better than what was put out for the guests first. He tells this to the groom as well not knowing where it came from. The party is saved. The wine is poured. But only a few know about the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine Mary, the servants, and the disciples. But as a result of this miracle the disciples put their faith in Jesus.

Miracles happen every day. We might not always get excited about them but when some one is healed after being diagnosed and treated for a terminal illness it is a miracle. And when someone is almost dying and new life enters and enables them to get stronger, this too is a miracle.

But not all miracles happen with a physical healing. What is essential is a transformation from one state to another. Miracles happen when people choose to follow Christ and their lives change from within their hearts and minds to being and doing something different. The disciples put their faith in Jesus and so in many ways this too is a miracle because they believed and now realize again that Jesus is the Son of God.

What about you? Do you believe and know that Jesus is the Son of God? Has your heart been opened and you life changed because of your belief in Jesus? Let us be thankful for miracles as Jesus continues to reveal himself in you. 

PRAYER:  God of love, Jesus revealed his glory through the miracle of the wine at the wedding feast and this is a miracle. We pray that you would again reveal yourself to us and give us miracles to share with others. Enable us to understand what we experience as miracles and call us to tell the story again and again as we reach out to others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 BLOG QUESTION: How would you describe a miracle? Have you experienced miracles in your life because of Jesus? Describe this as you share it with others.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Epiphany Moments

An epiphany moment is one where there is a realization of truth, an understanding is acknowledged, an ‘aha’ moment, or a moment in time when a person ‘gets it’. Cartoons often acknowledge this moment with a light bulb going on and a big smile emerging from the character.
            At the Jordan River one day, John the Baptist had been preaching the message of repentance to all who came to him and listened. Many took to heart this message of the need to confess their sins and be renewed in faith. After confession took place they went into the water of the river and were baptized. John’s purpose in doing this was to prepare the people for Jesus and his teaching of a new way of life.
            When Jesus presented himself for baptism, John objected to this. Jesus did not need to confess or be reconciled with God. John knew who he was. But Jesus insisted in this so that he would be the same as the believers- baptized and made new. John did what Jesus asked and all was good. But when Jesus came up out of the water a moment of wonder, joy, and hope was shared in each drop. The heavens opened up and the voice of God acknowledged Jesus. God revealed himself in the moment of Jesus’ new beginning. The Spirit, in the form of a dove, flew down over Jesus. The Trinitarian God was present in that moment and the people present would have been in shock wonder and yet filled with the knowledge that Jesus really is the Son of God. There would have been no doubt within the minds and hearts of the people that day at the river. Unlike the doubt that surrounds people today even about the mere existence of God in any form.
           The Spirit of God descended upon Jesus and is present with those who have been baptized in Christ’s church. Yet somehow, sometimes we do not remember that the Spirit is with us wherever we go including in the church. Let us reflect on this story and invite the Spirit to come in again and again for the sake of the church and particularly for the sake of those who seek to know who Jesus is as God reveals him to be.
Did Jesus need to be baptized?  Please post your comments and reply to other comments with your views.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

“A Prayer for the New Year 2013”

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you
 and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
  Numbers 6:24

The hopes and fears of all the years were met when Jesus was born in the stable so long ago. The hope and fear of beginning 2013 brings us to wonder and rejoice in Jesus for Jesus will help us each moment of every day in this year before us. Right now the calendars are empty and it is up to us how we will fill our days and nights sharing and giving of ourselves. And if we are unsure of what to do pray to God to lead you into doing something new. Pray to God and ask him how you may serve others in Jesus’ name through His church.
God made all things possible and throughout the world everyone has just changed calendars and our future is before us. Yet none of us know what is to come. No one knows how God will connect with us in these days. All we do know is that God will lead us if we truly have faith and believe in God and in the Christ who came and is with us now.
            One of the most important things to do in this New Year is to pray and give thanks for the last year with both good and bad days; celebrations and sad times, and times of growing in faith. This may also be one of your resolutions for this New Year to pray to God more regularly and to think of others as you remember Christ as the Risen Saviour. And if you do this God will bless you and you in turn may bless others not just once in a while but each day! Give thanks to God and may God bless you in 2013.
            My question to you is what will you pray for this year?  What actions will you carry out as a Christian to ensure that your prayers are answered.