So I made this a few weeks ago. I had a rough few weeks dealing with the reality of leaving our church as I think I’d been keeping a lid on it for a while and then it just got me when I was least expecting it. I finished in my job this week so seems like an appropriate time to publish it as I continue to deal with the emotions whilst planning the move on to new pastures…
So I wrote yesterday about the low level anxiety I am feeling approaching a time of change.
This morning I spent some time with a lovely and wise friend of mine who reminded me that I am in a season where I am focussing on God’s love and bringing that message to my church, she also reminded me that fear (the root of anxiety) does not go with love. I know it’s obvious but sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious.
So today, I am focussing on the love because God’s word tells us that love drives out fear, fear cannot remain in the presence of God…
What does trust mean to you? Ask for responses – what does it mean to trust someone? interact with responses.
For me when I think about trusting in God it is remembering that God knows what is best for me. He loves me and has good plans for me so I know that what he asks of me is good. It means not being scared. Because sometime we have to do things that make us scared don’t we? what makes you scared?
For me as an adult. One way I know I have to trust God is in knowing that I have enough of what I need. Enough food, enough clothes, enough money.
Each of our roots we are going to have an action or response and for this one we are going to take up and offering, because when we give away from what we have, we have to trust that God will give us all that we need. So as we take our offering, think about how much you trust God and perhaps ask him to help you increase your trust in him…
“Prayer is like a telephone where we can talk to God”
What is praying? Talking and listening to God.
What can we talk to God about? Anything and everything!
Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know!
Key Verse – 1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer and Praise Alphabet- what reasons have we got to praise God for? (Go through each letter of the alphabet asking congregation to name things for each letter we can be grateful for)
Response – Leaves Praise & Thanks leaves – have leaf shapes cut out and pens that people can write short prayers on then come and stick/hang onto tree. we used a tree branch but you could use a fake Christmas tree or collection of twigs in a large pot. Play a song while people write them and then come up and stick them on.
God’s love is incredible – it is different to peoples love because..
It can’t be measured – its too big (use a tape measure as a prop)
It can not be stopped/broken – it is too powerful (hammer as prop)
It will not run out – its everlasting
It is not conditional – God will never love you anymore or any less than he does right now (spirit level)
We can not be separated from it – Romans 8 – Nothing in the whole of creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We need to let our roots go down deep into God’s love – to have his love living and moving in us each and every day! To be aware of his love – to remember that we are his treasured possessions dearly loved by our Heavenly Father.
Stop for a moment and reflect on God’s love – possibly read a couple of verses about God’s love.
Right for root number 4 we are looking at God’s word. In years gone by they used to tie Gods scripture onto their heads and hands (could do an example of this with a volunteer) but that doesn’t really work today does it?! So we’ve hidden some lines of scripture in the hall – send people off to find pre hidden scripture.
Get them to put into right order and read out.
What does this mean for us? It means Gods word is for us, for now and it is powerful, full of truth!
For every situation we are in, every thing in our lives, Gods word is there for us
If we read the bible regularly that root will be so strong that we can face anything!
Response & Pray – Seeds & Pots or bulbs
So we’ve been looking at roots today, roots that feed us, keep us strong and healthy. quick recap on the 4.
And we wanted to find a way to help you remember this, so today we are giving you a little gift to take away, a bulb to plant. These bulbs, if you look after them will grow roots and then a plant with grown from them will grow. But you have to look after those roots, they need soil to be planted in, they need to be watered and looked after. Then that plant will grow and thrive, will grow flowers (or fruit) and will not wither.
So take these home, plant them and let them be a reminder of the roots you need in your life to help you to grow more and more like Jesus…
: Final Song
: Blessing & Goodbye
We had images for the screen for each root and scrolls to unroll (see below)
A few nights ago my husband and I visited the bridge of flowers at Shoreham. We used to live just a few miles from here (and in fact are not that much further away now). We have spent many an afternoon on the beaches at Shoreham and Lancing and of course visiting the airshow, even being stood very near the crash site in previous years. This year it was a last minute decision not to go and for that we are incredibly thankful.
So, we just had to go. Just to be there. In a small way to stand with those who are grieving and with a community in shock. And to pray.
It was late when we arrived, the sun going down and a storm in the air, but there were a lot of people out doing the same as us. We walked onto the bridge, quietly chatting and taking a few photos. But as we walked along, a silence descended over all who were there. As people stopped, read the words written, looked at the flowers, words became surplus to requirements.
A girl in front of us walked gently from candle to candle, relighting those that had gone out in the rain.
On that bridge we saw and felt an outpouring of pain but also of love. People have come from far and wide to leave flowers, or a tribute, to leave a note, a poem or a prayer.
As we walked the sun went down and the rain began. Bit fat heavy blobs like Godly tears.
As we got into the car, the wipers began and the ipod sprung into life with this song. It was incredibly poignant. Because God’s love is strong here, despite the terrible tragedy. The churches are seeing streams of people come through, lighting a candle or just sitting and pausing, reflecting for a moment. The Chaplains and clergy are facing something I am sure they hoped never to deal with, but are going about their work sharing the love of God, a word, some comfort with those coming to terms with it all.
As we walked and prayed I felt to speak life and love over the town. This will not be a town defined by tragedy but by their response to it. As the media have drifted away so this is a town becoming defined by the outpouring of love and a community pulling together.
I came across this article yesterday via Twitter, it’s from the Telegraph. Got to admit I only know what it says in the article so I won’t be commenting specifically on this Vicar or his church, but just in a more general sense…
This kind of attitude infuriates me. The church is continually accused of being judgemental and here it is being reinforced in the national press. If we as the church don’t want people to think we’re judgemental, then let’s not be judgemental. Every time someone steps foot into a church it’s an opportunity to show them Gods love. It might be the only opportunity we get to share that with each person who comes in. So let’s make the most of it…
Many, many people only attend church at Christmas – but I would say, at least that’s once a year not zero times a year. And on top of that labelling people as hypocrites for attending church once a year is pretty rich when many churches don’t bother to reach out to those same people at all, let alone once a year. If your church is full at Christmas and not during the rest of the year then what does that tell you?
Many people only attend church for weddings and funerals – is that hypocritical too? What about those who want their funerals/weddings in church – do we turn them away because they only come once a year? As a church we have a message to share with people, a people who often do not want to hear it. And they will be even less likely to want to hear it, or even be open to it if they think that they are not welcome in our churches.
I love the Church of England and I will always defend it but I do also get so frustrated with it and with this kind of attitude. The Church of England that I love is vast and broad, it is loving and open. It is non judgemental and loves all people. It welcomes everyone who steps over the threshold no matter who they are or where they are from, or whether they have been to the church 1000 times or zero.
If you want to come to church this Christmas for your annual visit, you have every right to come and feel welcomed. Please come and sing the carols with gusto, please come and comment on the organ playing (or in our case guitar playing), please come and say hello to people who haven’t seen since last years Christmas service, please come and then run away to the pub afterwards, it’s all fine, we’ll just be delighted to see you and to celebrate with you. Please don’t be put off by a few grumpy individuals, I assure you the church welcomes you, we welcome you and most of all Jesus welcomes you…
So I’ve been thinking this week about what it means to witness for our faith. We are called to preach the gospel, to show the love of Christ and be Jesus to those around us. Most of us choose to do this in different ways and this is good. God has gifted us all in different ways and through those different gifts we have the ability to reach all people.
One thing that annoys me about Christian circles is the labelling of people, for example, liberals, evangelicals, conservative evangelicals, charismatics, Anglo-Catholics, theologians, social commentators, and so on… It annoys me because these are just labels, they don’t tell you anything about the person themself. On top of that they can be totally misleading, if I describe someone as an Anglo-catholic, that description comes with a set of assumptions about what they believe, how they practice their faith and how they are likely to feel about certain situations or theological view points. Those assumptions are often complete rubbish. As just one example, when I felt called into ministry the first person I spoke to is someone who has regularly been described as an Anglo-Catholic. As a more charismatic believer I assumed a lot about what his reaction would be. In fact I was completely and utterly wrong, he was incredibly encouraging and made no mention of the fact that I was a woman or a charismatic evangelical. In fact it was he who first put me on the road to Ordination.
So why am I going in to all this? Well it’s twofold. Firstly because the worldwide church is so broad and vast that it takes in many different viewpoints, theological issues and denominations and yet we are all united in our love of one God. Secondly because as Christians in this vastly differing melee of views and standpoints, we are all representing that God who unites us, to the world at large.
Someone once told me a quote which was attributed to John Wimber, and I’ve got to be honest I can’t find any evidence of that, but it was along the lines of:
You’ve got to love the whole church, from the smells and bells to the weird and wacky. It’s all God’s church and who am I to decide which bit is getting it right?
Now as I said I don’t know for sure it was Wimber who said it but I do know that it’s a great quote! It speaks of unity, and love of God, and of his church. I remind myself of this often, when I am frustrated with a particular part of the church or a particular belief. The truth is if we are going to reach the world with the Gospel we are going to need many different ways of doing it.
So often we see different areas of the church and different people within it getting annoyed with each other publicly. Different ideas are good and debate is certainly healthy but I would really love to see this done in a more loving way. If I find myself speaking to someone holding a different view point to mine I want to find out more – I mean what if they are right and I’m not?! I don’t often change my mind on these things but I do like to be challenged because then I find, you can be sure of what you believe, if it has been questioned and yet you are still standing in the same place then your belief becomes stronger.
I admit it, I do like to be challenged, I like a good debate and I hope that I come across as loving in my questions and not arrogant. So I would always encourage others to do the same, to discuss differing views, to look at opposing ideas, but to do so with love and understanding. I have found on several occasions recently Christians in the public eye being less than loving towards one another in the public arena. If you don’t agree with each other that’s fine, but have some respect for each others position and don’t forget that if God has put you in the public eye you can be sure people will be watching closely. The bible says that those in ministry will be judged more harshly and that’s a tough calling, and I know many of us make mistakes, after all being a Christian or a leader does not make you perfect, but we just need be aware of who is watching. The church gets slated in the media, especially over anything that divides it, and we have a responsibility to avoid that wherever possible, not add to it.
I love social media, but so often we can be tempted to fire off something online as a response to a problem or personal situation when really our first response should be to seek God, pray and see what the bible says. Many times I have heard the phrase ‘ and she calls herself a Christian’ or ‘I thought you were a Christian’. Hardly a good witness is it…
As Christians we all have a responsibility to be salt and light to this world wherever we can, we have a responsibility to walk Gods line and not that of the world, we have a responsibility to show the world that there can be another way to respond. And yes, of course, sometimes we will get it wrong but let’s try and make those times as few and far between, as possible. Let’s turn to the bible before responding out of frustration or anger, let’s put love first rather than taking offence.