Last week (1st & 2nd May 2014) saw the first of our four All Aboard sessions. On Thurs evening/Fri morning 45 people from around the Wilford Peninsula Team met to explore what is at the heart of our faith and what that might mean for our churches.
The basis of our discussions uses the ‘six serving men’ of Rudyard Kipling’s poem and we are looking at the following key questions:
- Who are we as God’s people?
- Why are we here?
- What are our callings and gifts?
- Where are we going to?
- When is God’s time for this?
- How can we together shape the future?
We were reminded that our meetings at this stage were not about reaching decisions. We began by looking at 7 bible-related values which could provide a summary for our understanding of what a church should be and do. These 7 values are shown below. For each one there is a picture and beside the picture, a brief description with some biblical references.
We were asked to share a phrase from scripture, prayers/liturgy or hymn that was significant to us and these were matched to each value (though many matched more than one value). These phrases are shown beneath each picture. We then, in groups of four, considered the biblical passages and suggested answers to one question for each value. The questions and answers are shown to the right of the phrases. Much food for prayer and reflection!
|| Jesus born in poverty, to an unmarried mother, becomes a refugee.
Manger has shadow of cross.
God knows what it means to be human.
Unique to Christianity – the human face of God.Bible References :
birth, life and death of Jesus
|‘You are the body of Christ’‘In the beginning was the Word’‘The Lord’s my shepherd’‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…’‘…opened wide his arms on the cross and won for You a holy people’
||Q. What do these words about incarnation say to us about our life as a Church?Family – linking Jesus’ life to ours
Come – Invitation, open door
Faith – is a gift
Time – God’s time; gift of time
Emmanuel = God with us
Jesus who is on the margins and at the edges and creates community there.
||God continually creating, saving (healing) and inspiring.
God calls us into relationship …
- with creation
- with each other
- with God
God’s nature is to be fully united but in relationship.
Bible References :
|‘O love that will not let me go’‘Nothing can separate us from the love of God’‘Praise, my soul, the king of heaven’‘The peace of the Lord’‘God is love and those who live in love, live in God’
‘Underneath are the everlasting arms’
|Q. What are the key relationships with God, in the Church and with your community which need developing?Relationships with God – being built together – called to unity – empowered by the Spirit – peace, love.
Healing of relationships.
Sharing of God’s power
Access to God – called into relationship
Image of building – cornerstone – all stones – living temple.
In Christ, called to break down barriers
Shepherds as well as sheep
||Focussed on God’s kingdom.
Doing God’s will and work in God’s worldBible References :
1 Peter 2:9ff
|‘I am the way, the truth and the life’‘We have a gospel to proclaim’‘I will be with you always until the end of the world’‘ .. to be a pilgrim’‘Do unto others…’
‘..try His works to do’
‘Here I am, Lord, send me.’
|Q. What are the signs of God at work in your Churches and communities and how are you witnessing to the world?
Despondency about missional activity
Called to witness within the community
Importance of food
Commitment of local community to opening church building
||Seeking health and wholeness of individuals, families and communities.Everything Jesus did and said was about transformation – preaching, parables, healing, water into wine etc.Bible References :
Miracles of Jesus
|‘In my desolation I cried out…’‘God so loved the world….’‘In my Father’s house are many dwelling places’‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’‘The grace of God has dawned upon the world with healing for all mankind’
‘How shall I sing that majesty?’
‘It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back’
‘Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us’
‘Behold, I make all things new’
| Q. What transformation is taking place here? What other stories of transformation are there in the Gospels and what are their implications for the Church?Cornelius – transformation from rule-based living to following the Spirit
Water into wine
God can take ordinary things and do extraordinary things through us
Being prepared to overcome our pre-conceptions and do things in different ways.
Cornelius was seeking change – God was already at work.
||Working in God’s strength (rather than our own), with the gifts he gives usBible References :
1 Corinthians 12
Ephesians 3:14- 4:16
|‘God so loved the world…’‘Guide me O thou great Redeemer’‘In confidence and trust will be your strength’‘Be still and know that I am God’‘Let us pray’
‘Be still for the presence of the Lord’
‘God moves in mysterious ways’
|Q. What does this mean for your Church?Service – different gifts – wisdom – love – strong in faith
Defining our mission and thus strengthened to engage with mission in the world.
Each one is given
9 gifts – can’t expect any one person to have them all – group of people needed.
Ministry of all believers
||Strengthening the church numerically and spiritually.
Commitment to ‘life-long learning’Bible References :
John 15: 1-11
|‘Go and make disciples’‘Teach me my God and King’‘The Lord is my Shepherd’
||Q. A disciple is both one who learns and follows- what opportunities are there for learning in your Churches?Diversity of attractive services/learning opportunities
e.g. Café Sundae, Messy Church, Pudding Club
Reluctance among young people to engage with didactic teaching
Has to be lived by example
“I am with you always”
Early church – lay led – organic
||Willing to die to self for the benefit of others.Bible References :
1 Corinthians 10:23f and 31
|‘Make me a channel of your peace’‘Love one another as I have loved you’
||Q. What does your servant ministry as a Church look like? What might it look like?Kernel of wheat – falling in ground and dying;
If we allow the seed to grow, it calls for decisions for us to give / do.
Coming alongside people in suffering/pain
Good neighbours – active in community
Activities reaching out to community
Different gifts drawing people in