‘Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus’. (Philippians 2: v. 4-5)
I wish you all a very blessed New Year and hope, in the midst of a busy Christmas season, you have been able to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour? I know for some Christmas is a challenging time, a painful time, as well as a joyous and celebratory time. Whatever yours was may you know the peace and hope that Jesus brings to all.
2019! Not sure where 2018 went, but it went very fast! I am sure for many there were blessings you want to be thankful for, challenges you were not expecting, and times that you were just grateful for friends, family, and Jesus. Looking back in my journal over the past year I can certainly verify to all three.
I wonder what New Year Resolution’s you have made, if any? Mine are usually very similar at the beginning of each year, but I feel that is okay. Some I achieve more successfully than others, and I just pray for perseverance and strength from God that each year I get a little nearer the target than the year before. I have given up beating myself up when I slip and struggle – God knows my innermost thoughts and feelings, as he knows yours.
However, at the beginning of each year I do pray and ask Jesus for guidance, wisdom, and knowledge, and if He has a specific word for myself and the church.
Some of you may remember that last year He gave me Proverbs 3: v. 5 & 6 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight/understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths’. I believe that as we looked at Going deeper with God, with each other, and out in our community; and looked at the Book of Hebrews, and the letter of 1 John, that our trust in Jesus has grown, as has our understanding of His love for us. And though there were difficult and challenging times, He has begun to straighten out our paths.
This morning I was taken to Philippians Chapter 2: v. 1 – 18 (do read them), and verses 4 & 5 spoke deeply into my heart, ‘Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus’.
I have watched a number of films over the last week from ‘The Young Victoria’ to ‘’Cinderella – yes diversity in my viewing; but the words Cinderella’s mother left her have also resonated in my heart and mind, ‘be kind and have courage’. Could I go as far to say, ‘be kind to others, and have the courageous mind of Christ who, ‘emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross’. Jesus risked all for humanity and He did it because He knew who He was – God’s precious Son, and He knew His purpose – to inaugurate God’s Kingdom here on earth as it was in Heaven.
As I have said in this term’s Preaching Card, I believe God wants to equip us to become even more missional disciples, and that means knowing who we are, and having the courage to share our faith with others – ‘each one reach one’ – each one of us reaching out to one another, and taking the risk to say ‘Come and See’, Come and meet Jesus’, as Jesus said to his first disciples in John Ch.1.
Our purpose is not to take care of the Church of God, but to take risks for God’s Kingdom, and to help us do this we will be looking at missional GRACE - practical ways to reach out with God’s love. Being kind, courageous, and looking out for those who don’t know Jesus, letting go of our own interests, emptying ourselves, and sacrificing a little more of ourselves this year, in order that our minds become more and more like Christ’s.
It’s going to be challenging but also very exciting as we see Jesus meeting people in our neighbourhood, breaking down barriers, and taking up residence in their lives – and we all have a part to play, each and everyone one of us.
At the beginning of this new year may I suggest two books for individual or Life Group study:
The Whole of Life for Christ (Enriching Everyday Discipleship) 7 Studies by Antony Billington and Mark Greene IVP
Whole Life Whole Bible 50 readings on living in the light of Scripture by Antony Billington and others LICC brf
Mission-Shaped Grace by John McGinley (from which we will be preaching)
Ministries of Mercy (Learning to care like Jesus) by Timothy Keller which looks similar to Mission- Shaped Grace, and which I am looking forward to reading.
Let’s all pray that God will do the unexpected in our personal lives, in the life of St. Mark’s and out in our community and frontlines.