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Not Peace, but a Sword

posted 23 Jun 2014, 05:01 by CHS Info   [ updated 23 Jun 2014, 05:05 ]

Mtr Louise argues that Christ was urging us in today's Gospel  not to take up arms to change society but nonetheless not to mistake his message of peace as a recipe for nice cosy peace and quiet.

The full sermon can be viewed here or downloaded below.

Pentecost 2014

posted 14 Jun 2014, 04:45 by CHS Info   [ updated 14 Jun 2014, 10:07 ]

Mtr Ruth reflects on how much we can achieve as one. You can download the sermon below.

Acts 2: The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

Stand up Michael. Take a bow – that was an epically hard reading “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs” - If you can pronounce all those names correctly anything else is a piece of cake.

If pronouncing the names is hard, imagine what it was like to have to speak in all those languages.We are told at the beginning of the passage that the disciples were all together in one place. 

But imagine if you will for a moment there was just one disciple, waiting for the Holy Spirit on his own … imagine what might have happened when the spirit came. Filled with the power of the spirit our one disciple would be sent out to address - Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia. Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - I imagine that this mighthave taken some time… 

I imagine that whilst our one disciple was talking in Egyptian to the Egyptians, the Cappadocians and the Pamphylians might have wandered off – because they didn’t speak Egyptian. I imagine that the job would not have got done. I imagine that the disciple might have got discouraged, maybe given up … maybe scaled back his goals, maybe never even attempted the job in the first place …

So thank goodness then that there were a lot of them and that they were all together.The disciples in our story were sent to the Libyans, Phrygians and Egyptians and the rest of them. This year we have been thinking and reflecting on who the Holy Spirit is sending us to.

At the beginning of the year we had four HOPE workshops. We invited everyone to come - so that we would all be gathered together just like the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Over 50 of you came and we had men and women and young and old just as in the reading today. 

And we asked you what your vision was for our future here at the Holy Spirit. 

And this is what you came up with:

Welcoming committee, Renewal of vows, Home/study group, Pastoral/visiting team/SPA, 20-30s, 60-70s, Iona/retreat, financial stability and robust processes, 25hr day, Reach Notre Dame, More diversity, Benefits advice centre – centre of community – coffee shop, Mentoring – work experience – internships, Lighting outside church, Front garden, Internal layout, Sound system, Administrative support, More people, Open church, Skills audit, Increased participation in decision making, More volunteering, Regular choir, Training in tradition, High profile concerts, Preschool, Cinema, youth/children, Community outreach, More BME, Study Groups, Church to be open all day every day, Administrative help, Army of volunteers for fete, recommitment, Communication and presentation, Increasing our diversity – more BME, more 20-30’s and 60-70’s, Connecting with wider community, Connecting on the street – space outside to connect community – contact centre too, Growing connections, Signpost on main road, Increasing congregation and worship, Increasing accessibility – pre-schoolers, Non Eucharistic services, Evening prayer, Film club – publicity, Prayer groups, Spiritual and pastoral support and resources, Home groups, More money, Role models, Dance/drama ... Band, create relationships with organisations such as Lambeth college, Explore how we can help support unemployed, Local market, Pastoral outreach, Home visits, Open church, Minibus to pick up old people, Older teens, Strategic review of toilets and storage, Legible wording on pulpit, Spiritual nurturing, Retreats / away days / weekends, Choir with no name community, Pastoral visiting, Visiting programme for persons in need outside the church, Form a group whose members visit the isolated / aged / sick etc, Pastoral visiting team, Older people visits / activities, More connection with old and lonely, Lifts for old or infirm people, Derby & Joan club again, Outreach with the estates, Youth club, More positive activities / after school for young people, Mentoring for young people (16-25) to support access to education, employment or training, One hour drop off childcare, Youth club open to all with youth leader, Make CHS a centre for resource exchange, Church based wonga, Classes on how to shop and cook on a low budget, Provide literacy lessons, Learn to read outreach, Train volunteers to help to advise and give support to those who need it within the community, Host literacy or English as second language classes, Help local charities to capacity build, Study groups, Study / prayer / meditation small groups, AND MANY MORE! 

So, thank goodness then that there are a lot of us!

Even though there are a lot of us and even though we have the Holy Spirit among us, I don’t think we can do everything – well, at least, not yet. What we need to do is to start with a few things. 

So we asked you to prioritise to tell us what you cared most about. 

And you chose the following 3 things:

Young people, old people and opportunities for all (both old and young and those in between) to encourage and explore our faith. 

Which was very interesting because if you were paying attention to the second half of reading from Acts in it God promises that on the day of Pentecost His Spirit will fall upon ALL people, he promises that our YOUNG shall have visions and that our OLD shall dream dreams. 

Coincidence? I don’t think so. We are after all the church of the Holy Spirit.

So what do we do next? 

Next, we need to get down to some serious planning. We are putting together a team called the map team which stands for 
mission action planning. This team will be talking to our youth and children’s committee, our growth and nurture group, our community outreach group and will then be drawing up a list of activities to love and serve our young people, our older people, and to equip and empower all of us to be fully part of God’s community.

Our dream, our vision is that everyone will be involved. Of course if everyone is involved we will get more done. But that is not the point. 

When the Holy Spirit was poured out each disciple received the gift of a different language - a different skill. No one disciple had all the gifts. 

Every day several times a day I am brought face to face with the reality that I don’t have all the gifts. I don’t have the time, the energy, the intellect, the gentleness, the creativity, the patience, the courage to do the work of God in this community.

Sometimes when I realise this I feel that I am failing, failing God, failing you, failing this community. But in fact all that I am failing to do is to recognise I do have all these gifts it is just that they are in you (and you and you). 

God gave us all different, not so we would get more done but so that we would rely on one another. We are like pieces of some great jigsaw – we cannot see the whole picture if there is just one piece, or even a few or if there are lots but they are scattered all over the place. 

It is only together that we realise the breadth vision that God has for us;it is only together that we begin to reflect the fullness of God’s life here in this place;

It is only together that we can become the community of the Holy Spirit. 

RB-T 8 June 2014

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