Fourth Sunday of Easter

Arise and Live – 21 April 2013

Good morning and welcome to worship today.  Firstly, I’d like to thank Andrew for his leadership of worship last Sunday while Cheryl and I were in Sydney attending my nephew’s wedding.  Isn’t it great to worship together in the presence of the Lord?  God always honours His Word, “wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst”  (Matt 18:20).  Secondly, today is our annual General Meeting (AGM), and you are all invited to be part of that event from 10.20 to 11.45 this morning.  I hope that you have had an opportunity to read the Annual Reports and are now more informed about the life and witness of Ashmore Uniting Church over the past twelve months.  We are certainly on a journey of growth and discovery and I thank God for the lives that are being changed slowly but surely through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the life and example of Jesus.  All thanks and glory to God for His transforming power in the world and in His Church.

I’m often using the analogy of “The Body” (referred to by Paul in Romans 12:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12ff) as an example of The Church and whilst we are in the Season of Easter our Bible readings are pointing us to how the early church was establish and some of the challenges that it faced on a daily basis.  The Easter season is a call to get up and live in the power of the risen Christ, which can empower us o overcome those things that have harmed and hindered us and to take a lead in loving service in our communities in which we live.

Today’s reading from Acts 9:36-43 is the personal story of a much loved and much needed woman, Tabitha (Dorcas in Greek) experiencing first hand the resurrection power of Jesus.  The story is also a reminder that the focus of community life, worship, prayer, the working of miracles, and the experience of new life was being celebrated in upper rooms like that of Tabitha, rather than in the old public arena of the temple.  While Jesus saw the temple become a den of thieves, the upper rooms were becoming places to wash feet, eat together, pray together, and do good for those in need.  The locus of the spirit was on the move into people’s lives and homes and the call to get up and live was being heard in such personal stories.  The apostle Peter was following in the example and power of Jesus, as he was the channel of resurrection power.  As the body of Christ we too are called to be channels of this same power.

One of the beautiful aspects of being a minister here at The Church of the Good Shepherd, is the opportunity to hear again and again these unique and individual stories of transformation and change, stories of new lives that have come into relationship with Jesus.  I love seeing God at work in peoples lives and in my life through the ministry of God’s people to me.  This week I received a beautiful text message from a member of this congregation.  It was from Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too.  You will be like a well watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring”.  I was ministered to by that verse but I was equally challenged by the next verse which I now offer to you as “The Church of God” in this community:- it is as follows – “Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.  Then you will be known as the people who rebuild their walls and cities” (Isaiah 58:12).  Now what a wonderful reputation for a church to have, a “people who rebuild”, a “people who restore back to wholeness”, a people who ARISE AND LIVE, a people who are REACHING OUT AND CHANGING LIVES.     

That’s who we’ve been called to be….and our children are part of that grand vision.

May we have a Grace filled Annual General Meeting today.

Rev. Brad Foote

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