This is the third in a series of posts about new monasticism in parish church. Here, I begin to ponder what items might appear in a rule of life for a parish-based expression of new monasticism. I’ve been preaching on these things so, where appropriate, I’ll include links to sermon recordings/transcripts. We’ll start with just two or I’ll never get round to publishing…
31 January 2016 sermon: Malachi 3.1-5, Luke 2.22-40
Perhaps the hardest part of my job as a church leader is when I don’t see faces. The people I want to tell something or ask something or just be with, who aren’t there when we gather. It’s like a car engine misfiring, or when your foot reaches out at the top of a staircase expecting one more step which turns out not to be there. Something is missing in our worship, in our working together, in our meal out, in our team – wherever we thought we might meet members of our church family and then found them absent. The body of Christ is diminished.
And those with whom we wanted to share miss the action. Miss the moments when the Holy Spirit moves. Miss that next step with God.
But there are so many distractions and so many pressures and, let’s face it, turning up is not always fun or interesting. So we don’t. And the Lord’s people stop gathering. The family light grows dim.
It shouldn’t be like this. First, the times we share together ought to be life-giving, wholesome, fun, enriching, joyous, deep. Not always, not every time, but in general, yes. Turning up ought to be what we yearn to do. And second, we need to make a choice: I will turn up. I will be there. I will be faithful. And I will do my level best to make it the very best experience for all of you that I can.
Loving on purpose
24 April 2016 sermon: Acts 11.1-18, Revelation 21.1-6, John 13.31-35
Love and Unity (transcript)
Loving on purpose is hard, especially in church relationships where we’re lumped together with people we didn’t choose, who are different from us, who disagree with us, sometimes on very important questions, who make mistakes and hurt us. Loving on purpose means going deep in relationships with each other – avoiding the desire to keep it superficial and safe. Loving on purpose means not giving up on each other, not just quietly slipping away, not just avoiding each other, not just papering over the cracks. Loving on purpose means letting go when all we want to do is dig in deeper, opening arms of love when all we want to do is put up our fists in defence. Loving on purpose means saying sorry and forgiving. Loving on purpose means learning and caring about what the other person wants and needs. Loving on purpose means learning why other people push our own buttons and seeking healing for these things.
It isn’t easy. And, when all is said and done, loving on purpose means doing all this not just for our nice Christian brothers and sisters, but for everyone we encounter. It means being like Jesus.