Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting, watching and celebrate with a cold Pepsi

I don’t know about you, but when I like to have something cold to drink, I like a stone cold diet Pepsi. And If it is at all possible, I prefer it to be from Newfoundland. You might think me foolish for saying such a thing but there it is. I like a stone cold Newfoundland diet Pepsi. I say that because of had Pepsi in our places in Canada and in other parts of the world. In fact I can remember being served a Pepsi in Moscow a number of years back and thinking it was the most awful substance on the face of the earth. Not because it was diet nor because it was made in a different country but because it was, of all things,  warm. It was tepid. It was in a word, awful. It was nasty, thick and well, yuck!

We need to keep in mind that when we hear the steward of wedding banquet congratulate the groom on his willingness to keep providing the best, even at the late stages of an evening, the groom was unaware of the plan. He didn't know what Mary and Jesus had talked about. He did know what Jesus had the household servants do. he was in the dark, so to speak.  He was expecting the complaint that the wine was of a pro quality and that it was a good thing that everyone else was well supplied for the moment. They weren't going to care what they were drinking at 2am when all the rest was gone.

But why did Jesus do this first sign? – it is not a miracle but, as John would have it a sign. It was an epiphany for those who were watching and wondering what would happen next. The servants did a Jesus asked and the disciples came and watched. Then servants took the water now wine to the Steward and the Steward went to the Groom with high praise for the amounts of generosity to his guests. Jesus showed us that first that God is willing to provide the needs of his people, his Church. More importantly they saw that not only would God step in, but that God would provide in such a way that others would be blessed in the giving. And God can give gifts like that, then how should we as his people, his Church respond to such generosity and such giving? The Gospel’s response? Come and see.

There is a simple implication that if there is no wine, then there is no blessing. And without blessing there is no life. The wine is far more than just an excellent compliment to a great meal. It is a symbol of the circle of life and what happens when we have drank the dregs of the barrel. The wine is a symbol of the harvest: a symbol of God’s abundance for the life of a family and a nation that he calls his own. Providing the wine and the blessing allows not only for life to continue, but also the ongoing opportunity to discover more and more about the grace, the mercy and the life that God offers in the life of his one and only Son.

Life without Christ is to invite death while choosing to trust Christ and to be willing to die with him through baptism and possible with your own death is to move into eternal life with him and for him.

So the question clearly is: If you cannot put new wine in to old wine skins, how will God put his Holy Spirit into old Anglicans? I don’t know how he will do it and I don’t know what the church will look like, but why don’t you come and join me. It will be fun to sit back with an icy cold Pepsi and watch as God moves fills his people with his Spirit and see what happens next!


Its not about how wet you get but how you serve that matters...

Baptism is more than a moment. It is about all the days and moments that follow after the baptism and what they will mean both to you and to those around you. We are not baptized for a moment, but to experience death with Christ so that we might become new creations that will live with him and for him in the days that are ahead. This in the moments that follow our baptism we need to find and to share with others the grace, the mercy, the love that we find and know on an ongoing basis because of a life sustained by the Life offered to us.

Baptism is a life of Christ (for it is not we who live but Christ in us who believe) lived in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is a life that can be offered to others in service to enable them to discover the same things that others have and for those people to take for their very own. We live and lead others around us – where are we taking them and asking them to believe about God if we are not offering what we have? And how often are churches of every stripe in North America these days living just to survive and make their own ministries survive instead of looking to the Lord not only for life and provision, but to know and fulfill its mission thereby learning to thrive.

A colleague called me one day a while a while back and wanted to know how I managed to build up congregations in the multipoint parish to grow. Essentially, I told this colleague I work with whom I am given and those who will come and participate and go from there. And I have done this consistently in my ministry. It takes time, effort, and most of all patience but things can and do change. Loving people back into relationship with the Church is not an easy thing but it has to begin with getting them back to their first love Jesus and going from there.

It is always important to remember that if you have been away from God and from the Church that you are wanted, needed and loved. The Church in which you are baptized is not whole without you. You are the only you that God has and because of that you are needed in the Church to bring your gifts, time, talents and other things to bear on the life of the congregation. Baptism is not just a decision or a moment. It is a lifetime that is offered in love to God and in service to whomever we find as a neighbour.

We are made i the image of Christ to reflect his image, his light and love into the world that the world might discover and come towards the kingdom. He has purposed, pursued, and propelled us into life and ministry with him through the Spirit that we might glorify our Father in heaven. He will not give up on you so you might want to choose to surrender to him.

Remember, it is not about how wet you get, it is about how you live and preach it in the days after you are baptized that God concerns himself with. May you be blessed as you live out  your baptism and your call.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Time to get in to line

Have you noticed it yet? The days are already discernibly longer than they have been in the weeks leading up to Christmas; the darkness is slowly being overcome by the light. It is only a few minutes today and a few more minutes tomorrow. It will be a while before people will generally acknowledge that the days are lengthening. But they are already discernibly longer if one pays attention to this.

So it is fitting that we are celebrating the Epiphany of Jesus. Yes he has come among us and yes he is the Light of the world. But if we stop there, we miss something that is huge. He did not come alone. He is bringing the kingdom with him. Some might say that we are going on a six week journey to find God, but if that is the case how are we going find God when we cannot find ourselves? The thing about God is this: God seeks us. God finds us. God desires and calls us – even draws us. His light and his life reveal who he is and who were are because we are his people. We are signals and signs of his presence in the world for the rest of the world to seek, to see and to join in service of God and his coming kingdom.

God causes his Church not to husband a little fire around which a few may gather for warmth but to light torches that we might seek out the least, the lost and the last, that all whom God calls are enabled to come to him. We are called to seek out the sick, the hurt, the broken and those weighed down by their sins and those who are dying to care for them and comfort them in any way possible. We are called to turn the values of this world on their heads and in that journey find that we have light to guide us in our way as we lead others into the kingdom.

Thus, this season calls us not just to live an obedient life. Each and all of us are called to live a life that fulfils what God has planned for it. All of the cosmos witnesses to the coming of the Lord Jesus. All of creation proclaims and celebrates his birth. How will you use your time, talents, treasure, trees and tears to respond to the fact that his light and his kingdom are coming? Will you get in line with the rest of us and join the great exodus that is coming, for the line forms right here on the desktop. Will you not come and get into line with us so that we might seek, see and serve the Lord Jesus?