Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Baptist Assembly 2015

In May I spoke at the Baptist Assembly. I was asked to address those who were being commissioned for ministry, to share with them something of what I've learned during my time in ministry.

Because I don't use notes I can't give you the word for word transcript, but below should be something along the lines of what I preached.

'This day you are being commissioned and validated in the ministry that God has called you to, prayed for and sent out as ambassadors of the Gospel, this Gospel that has been testified to through history.

And the one thing I know a little more now that I wish I knew when I started in ministry that I want to pass on to you this evening is this…

Jesus is Lord.

This may seem a strange thing to say for surely in the waters of baptism, in the call to a life of discipleship, in the setting apart and call to ministry the Lordship of Christ was affirmed and reaffirmed? Well of course, yes. But in brutal honesty and openness how often have I lived as one who declares the Lordship of Christ with my mouth and yet follow the pride of my own heart and the whims and fads of the world around.  The constant temptation in ministry is to forget, to have amnesia about the call of the gospel and to pursue quick fix ideas, to take the easy road of marketing the church like another product in the world of consumerism, to view the people of our communities as targets and the people of God as resources to reach those targets.

How often do we forget that Jesus, not us or our ideas, is Lord.

The pages of history are splattered with the ideology and blood shed by rulers and dictators, Kings and Queens, Caesars and politicians, each demanding, through the shedding of other’s blood, and the blind pursuit of ideology, that they be seen as ruler, as in control, as the one whom citizens will follow. How often do they declare lordship over our lives?

Yet as these bloody pages of history are written, the Wind of the Spirit blows carrying upon it a whisper uttered behind locked doors, that turns into a joyful declaration on city streets, which in turn becomes a movement that transforms an Empire; that whisper?

Jesus is Lord.

Whilst many of the rulers of this world throughout history have governed through drawn sword or loaded gun, this Lord commands forgiveness of enemies, prayer not violence, washes our feet and sheds his own blood for the salvation of the world.  This Lord, this Prince of Peace, brings about his Kingdom through the revolution of agape love, the outrageousness of grace, the transforming power of hope.

We stand in the Son-rays of resurrection morning, the testimony and validation of Jesus’ Lordship, each of us beckoned in and invited into the very Life and dance of God.

The call to trust in God is a difficult one. Fear and panic can often set in. The feeling of needing to justify yourself. The striving to see 'results'. All of this can lead us down paths that reflect our own narcissistic desires rather than obedience to the will and heart of God.

Irenaeus writing in the second century compared the way we can try and manipulate and change the gospel and will of God to suit our own opinions and desires to that of a beautiful mosaic. This beautiful image is of a king constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels. It is as if we take this image of the king to pieces and rearrange the gems, fitting them together into a new and different image, and even then it is poorly executed.  Yet we maintain that this is still the beautiful image of the king as we point to the various jewels that make up the mosaic.

But it isn't the king.

This is our constant temptation, to forsake the Lordship of Christ, to take the beautiful mosaic and shape it according to our own will and desire.

So we are called to remember. The Spirit of God beckons us once again to the truth, the reality, the eternal glory that Jesus is Lord.  No power or ruler or authority will ever unseat our King Jesus from his place of Lordship. Remember.

Jesus is Lord.

Each of us, whoever we are, whatever our calling, is to live in the light of this reality.  Trial and temptation will come our way. Desire to transform the beautiful mosaic of the Lordship of Christ into the whims, desires and fads of the day will come our way. Fear of failure will echo in our ears luring us in. Yet this day we declare the Yes and Amen of the risen Christ is greater than the No of sin and death.  This night we declare Jesus is Lord.

You are called and commissioned to go into a beautiful yet broken world, to beautiful yet broken people with the Good News.  Their hope, our hope, the hope of the whole cosmos lies in the truth, the reality, the wonder that Jesus is Lord. The darkness of sin and death will not, has not had the final say. The hope of the resurrection breaks forth like a new day bringing healing in its wings, the God of history ushering in this new dawn.

So we pray Father God, in your grace, by your Spirit, empower us to live as your faithful people in the wonder and truth that JESUS IS LORD. Amen.'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So nice to living very safity life by grace knowing that the Lord cares us with his promises to be steadfast and provide us of best seed to sow and reap and working with faith that spread the word in bless into save,thanks and bless and pray,keijo sweden