Strengthened and Equipped

Reviewing our Vision and Values

Welcome to everyone.  It is with a sense of expectation, hope and joy that we gather together for worship.  I’m looking forward to engaging with God in worship and then after morning tea working with the congregation and The Holy Spirit to see where God is leading and directing us in the months and years ahead.  Today is the first of three workshops that Dr. Jill Gray will be facilitating as we review our Vision and Values that are now part of our DNA as we work towards a plan for the future.  Please engage with this process so that your contribution can be part of the gift that we will receive when we complete this journey in a few months time.

I have found the August Midday Monthly Prayer printed in the August Journey (bottom right corner of page 1) to be inspiring and stirring as I’ve been praying for our Congregation leading up to today’s workshop.  The prayer is as follows:-

 “Lord Jesus, life giver, release us for reckless discipleship so that love and laughter; grace and goodwill; hope and helpfulness; faith and fruitfulness; wisdom and wonder will bubble up and overflow, changing us and transforming our community. Amen”

That prayer is full of life, and picks up many of the themes that we’ve been hearing about and experiencing in our worship services over the past few weeks:- Living Wisdom, Christ-like Living, Jesus-Bread of Life, God IS with us, and Vision of Unity.  All these themes have been directing and shaping our thinking so we can come today with an attitude of openness to each other and to God’s challenge to this congregation.  The story of David and his life and death (from the Book of Samuel) has been inspiring and the six weeks of preaching through the book of Ephesians comes to a close today as we reflect on the spiritual forces that get in the way of our living as God calls us to live.

Ephesians 6:10-20 is a fitting conclusion to the challenges that we face in the spiritual life.  As we come to the end of the letter, Paul suggests that humans may not necessarily have the capacity to resist temptation on their own because there are greater spiritual forces battling for human hearts and minds.  Therefore we need to “put on the whole armour of God”.  We need to be ready and prepared at all times to engage in the spiritual battle that continues in and around us each day.  To explain that a little better, I found this helpful excerpt from the Introduction to Ephesians from Eugene Peterson’s The Message (The Bible in Contemporary language):-  “What we know about God and what we do for God have a way of getting broken apart in our lives.  The moment the organic unity of belief and behaviour is damaged in any way, we are incapable of living out the full humanity for which we were created.”

“Paul’s letter to the Ephesians joins together what has been torn apart in our sin-wrecked world.  He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behaviour before God so that the bones – belief and behaviour – knit together to heal” (The Message p.2122).

God’s got a plan (to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ –  Eph 1:5) that will come to fruition (At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ –Eph 1:10) and we’ve been asked/commanded to participate in that plan.  So let’s put our armour on.

Today’s scripture passages (1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43;  Psalm 84, John 6:56-69 and Ephesians 6:10-20) have a powerful thread woven throughout.  There is a call to be faithful to the roots of Judaism, to be courageous in following Jesus, to be grounded in the love and presence of God, and to live truth-telling lives.  Which of these themes most resonate with you at this point in your life of faith?  Please ponder this question in your life journey  this week.

May you be Strengthened AND Equipped …..this week…..Rev. Brad Foote

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