The Mission of the Church:

Sunday October 4, 2020 | Teaching Notes | TMH Waterloo

Week 1: The MAKING of the Church
Week 2: The MEETINGS of the Church
Week 3: The MINISTRY of the Church
Week 4:  The MISSION of the Church
Week 5: The MESSAGE of the Church
Week 6: The MULTIPLICATION of the Church


Song for kids: Knock, Knock, Knock

Knock, knock, knock!
I hear Jesus knocking.
Tug, tug, tug,
Tugging at my heart strings.
Thump, thump, thump,
My heart started thumping, when I heard him knocking.

Jesus stood outside my door,
Asking to come in.
But he would not step inside,
Until I asked him.
(Thump, thump, thump)

POSTURE PRAYER: FOR KIDS (… and adults too)
Surrender, Generosity, Mission | Link for pdf

  1. HOLD FISTS TIGHTLY
    “God, sometimes I’m worried, nervous, or angry.”
    OPEN HANDS AND RELAX: SURRENDER
    “God, I trust you with everything.”
  2. CROSS OUR ARMS
    “God, sometimes I don’t want to share and say: ‘No, that’s mine!’”
    PUT OUR HANDS OUT: GENEROSITY
    “God, I want to share everything I have.”
  3. HANDS AT SIDES
    “God, Sometimes I don’t care about others or their feelings.”
    EXTEND ARMS OUT: BEING ON MISSION
    “God, I want to think about others!”

Week 4: The MISSION of the Church

What challenges did the early church face as they grew, matured, and expanded?

Welcome to week four of our six-week series about the making, meetings, and methods of the early church. We are drawing inspiration from the first-century church for the decisions and direction of our church today.

This week we look at the MISSION of the early church, with a focus on the challenges they faced as they grew, matured, and expanded. As the church is sent at the beginning of the book of Acts we read…

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Later in Acts, the Church has grown but so has opposition.  Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” is stoned. A Pharisee, Saul, also known as Paul, stands in approval of this killing…

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. … Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (Acts 8:1, 4)

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20)


APPETIZER: The Great Commission in two-parts

The Great Commission as missio Dei (mission of God)
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v. 18)

  • His rule and power are now over the whole cosmos.
  • The whole world has now become the arena of God’s mission, beyond Israel and the church.

The Great Commission as Incarnation
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (v. 20)

  • Jesus goes with his disciples into the world.
  • We live, teach, disciple, and baptize under his authority.
  • God’s work isn’t “generic” but concrete as the Spirit extends Christ’s presence visibly through the church into the world.

Our Purpose at The Meeting House
We exist to grow loving communities of Jesus-followers who live and share his irreligious message.
Or, in one word: discipleship.

Our Vision at The Meeting House
To introduce spiritually curious people to the Jesus-centred life, through a movement of Jesus-centred churches.
Or, in one word: evangelism.
(In a fully enfleshed and grace-filled, not “yell-y street-preacher sort of way)


DINE IN: The Church Scattered and The Church in Lukewarm Water

Scattered Church
Acts 1:1–8 & 7:54–8:4

  • It’s important to follow Jesus’ instructions! Remember that disciples are baptised with the Holy Spirit and in power.
  • Don’t get confused with that the power actually is.
  • Our key characteristic here is witnesses (see more, Rev. 3 below)
  • The Church under persecution becomes scattered: “those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (8:4)

Luke-warmness in Laodicea  
Revelation 3:14-22

  • Jesus is the faithful and true witness (Heb 1:1-3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being”).
  • Jesus knows us and our deeds, whether hot or cold, whether rich and proud.
  • Submission to Jesus is necessary; mutual submission to one another too.
  • Jesus rebukes and disciplines those he loves.
  • Jesus stands and knocks at your door, he’ll come in if we open the door.

TAKE OUT:  Scattered and Still on Mission – Even in a Pandemic

If our mission is to participate with Jesus in his work — making disciples, being witnesses — what does that look like right now?

Remember who we are:
Witnesses.
Baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Given Power (but not earthly, Acts 1:6).
Not Alone, but Together (with Jesus and one another) in the Spirit.
In your hospital room alone,
In the pain of your difficult marriage,
In the loneliness of living on your own,
In the busy and messy home with kids, and overwhelmed,
In the confusion, depression, and struggles with mental health
In the concerns of joblessness or financial struggle
In the concerns of running a business and responsibility over other’s employment.
In the persecution or martyrdom (of Stephen, Acts 8:55-56)

A Witness Tells a Story

A real and true story. Tell each other stories about God’s faithfulness.
E.g., When has God been present? When have you felt close and known that Jesus is with you? When have you felt the Spirit and power? When has the church made Jesus’ presence present?  

Embracing the Now

“Make the most of every opportunity.” Col. 4:5

Except “the now” might be paralysis. What kind of paralysis are you feeling? Fear or comfort? Longing for the past? Share this with others; open up; make space for honest and real conversation. Take action, if you’re able. Be ready to give this be ready to hear encouragement or challenge.

Lukewarmness – What does this look like?

Story | Golf in itself is not fulfilling. Life over zoom is not good. Wired for getting in there and getting honest. Once we helped someone move, we got closer, people shared about their mental health, a shift in the group.

Knowing our brokenness and leaning on Christ and the Church is core.
From there, Grow and Give and Go all meet at “Together”:

“At that point in life where your talent meets the needs of the world, that is where God wants you to be.”

Marcus Bach, often attributed to others.

Digital Diaspora/Divide.
We can come “together” but it’s hard. It’s a new culture and new place, it’s sometimes uncomfortable, with new custom and a new language (Jeremiah 29:4-10 – “Build houses and settle down”). And for those who literally can’t, let’s do church like it’s 1950.

Not everything is online!
Get in a huddle. Go for walks with others. Home Churches might meet in-person. Apple picking or farm visits with others? Outdoor skating? Let’s make it a party (of an appropriate size) and have fun.

Don’t do the “Nortel Nod”
Don’t listen to what you hear, nod in agreement, and then go off and what you were doing before or your own thing.

What steps are you taking to hear from God?
Try Posture Prayer: pick a version!
For Kids, 1-Page, 3-Page.
Tape or pin to the wall or fridge or wherever you’ll see it; preferably 2x a day!

Have you Tried the Lord’s Supper Lately? Try it today at lunch.
I put together a simple communion prayer here

Reminder from Week 2: A FALL 2020 NEXT STEPS STARTER PACK

  1. Got questions? Ask your parish pastor.
  2. Inquire about baptism.
  3. Establish a (new) Sunday routine.
  4. Sign up for a Home Church when possible.
  5. Attend Home Church online and in person to grow and to give.
  6. Engage with your parish’s Compassion partners: MCRS and A4C!
  7. Contribute financially, if and when you can.
  8. Have fun!

Use these questions like a menu, not a checklist. This is not mandated material you have to cover, but options to help guide your discussion.

HANGOUT [Warming Up to the Topic – in one Large Group]

  1. What ideas stood out to you from this week’s teaching? Review the notes and discuss.
  2. How do you feel about our response at The Meeting House to this new season of pandemic distancing?

HEAR [Listening to God through Scripture – in Discussion Groups]

Read Acts 1:1–8 & 7:54–8:4.

  1. What verse or idea stands out to you? Why?
  2. What is the mission of the church? What does it mean to be a witness?
  3. Read Acts 1:8 and 8:1. What are the differences? What is relevant for us, the church today? How do we need to think about being the church in this moment?
  4. We’re obviously not actively persecuted by Covid-19, but we are “scattered” – we can’t be gathered in large collective settings. What can we do right now and how can we care for one another? What can we (huddles, Home Church, Hub, kidmax, youth, compassion) do to prepare for the day when we don’t have restrictions?

Read Revelation 3:14-22.

  1. What verse or idea stands out to you? Why?
  2. What are the criticisms of the Church in Laodicea? In what ways are they appropriate to the Church in Waterloo? In what ways are they appropriate to you/us?
  3. What is a rebuke or discipline Jesus is telling you in love?
  4. When does Jesus knock at the door? Give an example.

HUDDLE [Making it Personal and Praying Together – in Huddles]

  • Tell one another stories of God’s faithfulness.
  • What has God been saying to you this week? What encouragement or conviction have you sensed from this discussion? Talk about it and pray for one another.

Jesus by John | John 8:21-36 | Aug 30, 2020

LOOKING FOR JESUS | QUESTIONING JESUS |BELIEVING IN JESUS.

APPETIZER: So far in John 7 and 8…

The Feast: Tabernacles/Booths/Sukkoth

Jesus’ teaching impresses crowds.
The chief priests and Pharisees are concerned about the crowds were beginning to believe that he was the Messiah.

The guards sent to arrest Jesus even stop to listen (… and didn’t arrest him).

Jesus embodies The Feast:

  • Manna (“I am the bread of life”) John 6:35
  • Water from the rock (“Come to me and drink/living water”) John 7:37
  • Pillar of light (“I am the light of the world”) John 8:12

“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of real life.” (John 8:12)

DINE-IN: Looking for Jesus & Questioning Jesus

Looking for Jesus

v.21 | Life-threatening confrontation (out of abundant love)
There’s nothing we can do to find Jesus.
They were desperate then and we are too. Disciples or not.

v. 22 | It’s already been asked once…
The first time (7:35): is he going over the mountain?
The second time (8:22): is he going to kill himself?

Bewilderment: of the Jewish religious at Jesus.

v.23 | Above and below; of this this world and not.
There’s a lot of emptiness in this world.
There’s so much to buy and sell but not that much real life.
Caffeine Free Diet Coke

v.24 | “I AM HE”
The first sin (8:21); and all other sins (8:24, 34, etc.)
If not trusting Jesus, what? Self? What follows from that?
Multiplied mistrust, persistence in the primal sin.
Is Jesus not life itself? Not trusting in Jesus is refusing the Kingdom of God.

Jesus loves us so much. He wants us to know this deeply and truly—here, his warnings are centred on believing that he is who he says he is—he is I AM (Ex. 3:13).

This warning is life-threatening; Jesus doesn’t want us to die in unbelief or in our sins. How easy is it to be trapped and enslaved in sin (8:34)? With Jesus in front of them, in the face of Freedom and Truth, it was possible.

Whenever we don’t rely on grace, we try to go where we “cannot come,” we show our true colours as “from below.” This is why not believing is the primal sin.

Questioning Jesus

v. 25 | The Question at the Core
Who are you? Who is Jesus?
All the allusions, references, and direct quotes from the Scriptures… is that not enough?
For Example: Suffering Servant: “he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted” (Isa. 52:13); The Prophet to Come: “I will raise up for them a prophet… I will put my words in his mouth” (Deut. 18:15-18//Acts 3:22–23); Jesus’ correction of their misinterpretations, “A prophet come from Galilee” (Isa 9:2) or even that they want to kill him, “you shall not commit murder” (Deut. 5:17)
Jesus isn’t being cheeky—he wants them to know.

Bewilderment: of Jesus at their question.

v.26 | Avoiding judgement, centring on Jesus relation to the Father

v.27 | Thick skulls (or more generously, insistent on their interpretation)

v. 28 | The Exalted Son of Man is “I AM HE”
“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
Jesus gives a key to the Torah following Jews (Deut. 18:21–22).

The Cross is the place where God meets humanity in an entirely inexplicable and, yet, entirely explicable way. This horrific scene is also the moment of clarity—God’s single greatest meeting place with the human race. The cross shows us what God is like, how much he loves the world, and how we can come to know him.

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:18-30)

v.30 | Ears that hear
The doubling work of the Holy Spirit. The Presence of God at work.

Belief: of many who heard Jesus speak.

TAKE-OUT: Believing in Jesus

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” (John 8:31)

“Hold” = menō. Remain or abide; in reference to a place, time, or state/condition.

It is the feast of Tabernacles. Seems like a good place for an abode.

Jesus, in essence, says: you will know me by my teaching. He is exactly what he has been telling us (8:25). Jesus will find us, and so we will come to know God, by our trusting and living in his teaching.

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:26)

Even in all of the life-threatening warnings above (“you will die in your sin”), there is great hope given here by Jesus. Everyone who is a slave to sin can be set free and be made a child in God’s family by believing in Jesus.

  1. Abiding in the Scriptures — reading the Bible
    1. Got a rhythm? Great
    2. Need a rhythm? Good. Consider:
      • Independent, w/ family or friends, Saturday night
      • Make it regular, digestible/feasible
      • Ensure it’s a “get to” not a “have to”
    3. Try this plan – seems flexible enough and Danielle and I are going to try it.

  2. Being in the body — our local church
    1. Pandemic life is weird. Focus on living and being present with one another, sharing in brokenness, really communicating and trusting, then praying and knowing how to support and be supported. How to give grace and receive it too.
    2. What does a “huddle” look like right now?
      • Story from Michael
    3. What do Home Churches look like moving forward?
  3. Taking Action:
    1. Confession.
      In what ways do you reveal that you are “from below”? Specifically, what sins are you struggling with? Lying, lust, greed, pride, and whom do you need to confess to: God? Someone specific?
    2. Overcoming fear.
      What prevents you from living out Jesus’ teaching? Do you ask: “What if I get it wrong? What if people don’t like what I say or do? Don’t be afraid of doing something wrong if your heart is in the right place and it looks and sounds like Jesus.
      Realize that suffering, like Jesus on the Cross, is real life, it’s “from above,” and is the way of Love, Truth, Freedom, Reconciliation, and Real Life. Don’t let yourself be paralyzed with fear because the ways of this world seem easy, they aren’t actually free, and they aren’t true. It’s a kind of slavery. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that doing nothing is good, either. Luke-warmness isn’t any way to go (Rev. 3:16).
    3. Training Active Bystanders.
      Ask Rod about it. Registration closes today (Sun. Aug. 30)

Which of these things are you going to talk about at your dinner table today? This week?

This Virus is Teaching is All of Us How to be Pacifists

The Time of the Virus has taught us all many things. We’re learning new words, how to cook new meals at home, and that we rarely washed our hands for twenty seconds. But I’ll bet you didn’t think that you were learning how to become a pacifist!

That’s right! You have been embracing the enemy-loving, Jesus-y ethic that is pacifism!

Pacifism gets a bad rap. It gets mixed up with passivism – doing nothing. In our present situation “doing nothing” would mean continuing on with how we used to live: meeting with friends and family, hugging or shaking hands with others, going out to work, school, restaurants, parks, and gathering in large groups for sports, weddings, or funerals. Doing all those things would actually mean “doing nothing” in the face of this virus.

However, like good pacifists, we are actively working against the spread of this virus by doing the hard work of not “doing nothing.” We are staying home, washing our hands for twenty seconds, cleaning or disinfecting more frequently, socially/physically distancing, and only making essential trips. 

Pacifism requires creativity, commitment, trust, and a whole lot of patience. It is much more than being anti-war. Pacifism also engenders criticism by those who want quick, decisive, and often violent actions. This virus can’t be defeated that way. People talk about “fighting the virus,” but there’s nothing violent about staying home. We need to be patient, creative, and actively not “do nothing.” We’re all learning how to become pacifists.

People, despite their wealth…

People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish.

 וְאָדָם בִּיקָר בַּל־יָלִין נִמְשַׁל כַּבְּהֵמֹות נִדְמֽוּ׃

Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendour of their houses increases;

אַל־תִּירָא כִּֽי־יַעֲשִׁר אִישׁ כִּֽי־יִרְבֶּה כְּבֹוד בֵּיתֹֽו׃

for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendour will not descend with them.

כִּי לֹא בְמֹותֹו יִקַּח הַכֹּל לֹא־יֵרֵד אַחֲרָיו כְּבֹודֹֽו׃

Psalm 49:12, 16–17

The Bible Project

If you sometimes feel like the bible is way too big, too complicated, to ancient, and/or not understandable–check out The Bible Project and their videos!

I highly recommend The Bible Project and their YouTube channel. I especially like the Read Scripture series (both Old Testament and New Testament), which gives and overview of each book of the Bible in a 7-10 minute video. There’s also videos for biblical themes, word studies, and other specific series.Everything is graphically crafted in ways that a visually stimulating, memorable, and helpful for learning!

Their videos help inspire me (and others!) to read the bible. How great is that?!

Screen Shot 2019-08-07 at 10.41.43 AM

 

Sermon on Acts 23:12–24 (Psalm 121)

This is a sermon I preached in Founders’ Chapel at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto; Wycliffe students regularly preach on Tuesdays at Morning Prayer and occasionally on Thursdays at Evening Prayer.

This sermon is addressed to those who regularly attend Morning Prayer, but I hope you can also life-giving. For those who testify and bear witness to Christ:

Audio: 


Readings from: Acts 23:12–24 | Psalm 121, 122, 123 | Micah 1:1–9

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
      from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
      who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1–2)

Last week Tuesday, and two chapters earlier (Acts 21), we heard about Agabus’ warning to Paul in Caesarea:

Thus says the Holy Spirit: The Jews in Jerusalem will bind you Paul: your hands and feet, and hand you over to the Gentiles.

Paul response is courageous:

“I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Where do we find Paul in today’s reading?

After the mob in Jerusalem attentively listens to his every word…
After they raise their voices and shout for Paul’s death…
Sure enough, hands and feet, Paul is bound in the Roman barracks.

This morning, I want us to pay attention to verse eleven of chapter twenty-three:

“That night the Lord stood near him and said, ‘Keep up your courage! (Or “Be of good cheer!”) For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.’”

I want us to think and pray about what these words mean for us. We aren’t in the Roman barracks in Jerusalem—we’re in Founder’s Chapel at Wycliffe College. We are seminarians, theologians, teachers, and servants of Christ.

What does it mean when we know that Christ is standing at our side and saying: “Be of good cheer, have courage, you have testified for me, and I have more people and places for you to be my witness”?

—————————

Paul’s question to the centurion: “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is uncondemned?” get’s those soldiers and the Roman tribune in a bind of their own (pun intended).

Being bound in Jerusalem works to Paul’s advantage.

Paul is safe from the angry Jewish crowds that want to murder him. Paul has his Roman protectors back-pedalling, now that they are aware of his Roman citizenship. Huge kudos to Paul’s nephew, who reveals to the Roman tribune the plot of the pact-makers that wish to murder Paul. The Tribune, who does not want a Roman citizen murdered by a Jewish mob under his watch, gives Paul safe passage to Caesarea and governor Felix.

Paul has been bound by Roman soldiers before. We read in Acts 16 about the authorities apologizing to Paul and being afraid after finding out about his citizenship. Was Paul HOPING for this to happen again? Did Paul have a smirk on his face or, even, have hope when Agabus prophesied of Paul’s chains? We now hear the words of the Holy Spirit not as a prophetic warning, as something to avoid, but as a prophecy to be fulfilled—for God’s will to be done in Paul.

As one chosen to bring the name of Jesus before Gentiles, Kings, and the people of Israel, Paul knows this prophecy is now fulfilled. However, I really don’t think that Paul was saying to himself: “Yes! Sitting enchained in Roman barracks is how I’m going to witness and testify Jesus before Gentiles and Kings.”

But I do think it is possible that Paul was saying the words of Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord.”

The Lord stands with Paul in those barracks: Keep up your courage! Have good cheer! You must also bear witness in Rome.

—————————

Those in professor Paulsen’s evangelism course this term are required to do a bible study project with someone they know that isn’t a Christian. Each student will be reading and talking through three different encounters that Jesus had with people. At first, I had some fear about this; the friend whom agreed to do this project with me is someone I still want to be friends with… but as I prayed about it, I heard Christ say to me:

“I am so ready to bring my love and my joy into their life. What part of me are you afraid to proclaim? Get rid of that fear.”

God is present with Paul. Regardless of uncertainty, suffering, corrupt or virtuous authorities, even plots of death, God is working his will through his willing servant.

And so, in hearing this morning’s text, may we—as a people who testify and bear witness to Christ—know that our help comes from the Lord.

Christ stands with us, encouraging us, saying: “Be joyful and filled with courage. I have more for you: more people and places to bear witness and testify.”

 

Be Full of Care; Be Full of the Spirit

I preached this sermon at my grandparents church, Grantham Mennonite Brethren Church, in St. Catharines, Ontario. I am delighted to call pastors Mike and Tabitha VandenEnden friends, and was thankful for their invitation to preach.

You can check out the audio on the church’s website (look for: “19 Aug 2018”)


Ephesians 5:15–20 | Be Full of Care: Be Filled with the Spirit

Be very careful how you live, make the most of every opportunity.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery or excessiveness.
Instead, be filled with the Spirit!

Oast-Growler-Web

 

This is a growler.
It is from the Oast brewery down on Niagara Stone Rd. in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
It is empty right now, but you can go there and refill all 64 ounces with beer anytime.

The pulpit may seem like a strange place for such an object. But do not worry, it is meant to make you feel a little uncomfortable. It is making me feel a little uncomfortable.

 

Bringing a bottle of wine up on stage did not seem that harmful of an object, but this… especially for one person… would certainly cause to make you or I drunk. It would be unwise, it would be embracing an evil of today, it would be foolish, it would not be following God’s will, it would lead to worse things…

But, today’s sermon is not about drinking and drunkenness.

In verse 18, when Ephesians says do not get drunk on wine, it is not just talking about alcohol and drunkenness. It serves as an image, a very concrete image, like this bottle. It gives us an example of something we can very clearly grasp. We all know what walking in drunkenness looks like. But we’re talking about more. Ephesians is dealing with darkness, with sin, foolishness, and our Old Humanity—which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires–all of these things should make us all uncomfortable.

This drunkenness is contrasted with the exhortation to be filled with the Spirit.

Continue reading “Be Full of Care; Be Full of the Spirit”

Hear Your Name, Called by the Resurrected One (an Easter Sermon)

29871877_10160388152455171_1114473262367905170_oAs the 2017-18 Senior Student at Wycliffe College, I had the privilege of giving the sermon at the final Eucharist service of the school year. I thought I would share the message for those who weren’t able to make it 🙂

For those of you unfamiliar with Wycliffe, preaching in Founders’ Chapel is a significantly different experience and different community than where and to whom I normally preach. Each Wednesday the community gathers for Eucharist–faculty, students, families, and friends–and usually a visiting bishop or guest speaker delivers the homily. No pressure… right?

Note: the italicized text in square brackets is added just for you online readers.]


Readings: Isaiah 25:6–9 | Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24 | Acts 10:34–43 | John 20:1–18

Prayer: For the Extension of the Church, Book of Common Prayer, p. 42

Almighty God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give commandment to the Apostles that they should go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature: Grant to us whom thou hast called into thy Church, a ready will to obey thy Word; and fill us with a hearty desire to make thy way known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[It’s important to note that this prayer is from the BCP, an OLD prayer book that Wycliffe uses on alternating months with the Book of Alternative Services (BAS), I like the prayer, but would not ordinarily use this kind of language]

Christ is Risen! (He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!)

 [The “Hallelujah!” catches me off guard, as I’m used to simply “He is risen indeed!”  A certain faculty member was especially exuberant about the “Hallelujah!” so I laughed with joy, and also asked everyone to be aware that I will expect a couple of responses throughout the message.]

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). [link to passage]

When Jesus calls her by her name, she immediately knows that it is her Lord.

The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and “calls them by name,” and his sheep “know his voice.”

In one word, spoken by the most significant person Mary Magdalene had ever known, her entire life changed. She became the first person, ever, to experience the personal presence of the Risen Lord.

Continue reading “Hear Your Name, Called by the Resurrected One (an Easter Sermon)”

“Evangelism is not a task given to the Church, but a promise”

The invitation to follow [Jesus] is, in the Gospels, immediately followed by a promise which is often misunderstood as a command or authorization — “I will make you fishers of [people].”

Evangelism is not a task given to the Church, but a promise. Jesus promises that as we follow him we will become fishers of men, women, and children. Our lives, reflecting the image of God, will attract and change others. To hold the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to ourselves is a supreme act of selfishness.

– The Most Revd Ng Moon Hing, Bishop of the Diocese of West Malaysia and Primate of the Church of the Province of South East Asia (Anglican)