Church, Discipleship, values, vocation, Worth

Church and Everyday Life…

I’ve been thinking too much of late about Church and everyday life…

Many people come to Church, but the question remains how does this help me in my every day life as I seek to follow Jesus?

Or is Church just something I attend out of a duty because I’m a Christian and feel like I ought to?

I said yesterday when meeting with someone we only ever seem to pray for teachers and nurses in Churches, when was the last time we prayed for a caretaker, a computer programmer, a plumber, a solicitor?

When I worked for a Church as a Youth Worker, there were two types of Churchy Youth Workers (youth workers are often very pretentious!!) and they would say things like I am a CHRISTIAN Youth Worker -in other words they saw role as about evangelism and discipleship- as others would say “I’m a YOUTH WORKER who is a Christian” in other words they saw their role as much more about pastoral care of young people, support, mentoring, informal education etc.

As I thought about this, I thought this is very silly. God is interested in the whole person, I believe God is as passionate about youth workers doing Bible studies with young people as he is with youth workers sitting with young people outside a court room.

Yet worse that this is that sometimes the fall for the “sacred and secular” myth.  Our faith isn’t something we feel we can leave out because it is at the heart of who you are.

Our Christian values, the presence of Christ in us by his Holy Spirit, the love that shines from us, the way we treat clients/customers/colleagues is all a witness to some degree to him, our whole lives reflect him in us, after all it is “Christ in us the hope of glory” or as Paul writes: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

I remember speaking to a woman who was working out the last few weeks of her job, and they hadn’t treated her very well, and yet she said she wasn’t slacking off and was working to the same high quality as when she had started, I remember thinking “Wow, what a amazing witness”.

I want to get her to share her testimony in Church, great story and example…

How does being part of a Church community help us serve Christ better at work?

Do our colleagues notice that we are different because of Christ?

Do we think that there are areas of our life that God isn’t interested in? I don’t think that there is any area of the human life that God doesn’t passionate care about because he loves us.

I believe that he calls people to work in organisations not just in Churches.

I believe he calls people to live in areas.

I believe he sets us on frontlines with people we meet and interact with everyday.

I believe God is as passionate about our friendships with people from the pub quiz as he is about our friendships with people from the Bible study.

I often think we need to look at our lives afresh, seeing all of it as valueable service to the King of Kings.

Yet…

How often does your Church leader talk to you and ask about what you do at work rather than ask you to do something for them at Church? I know I get this wrong all the time!

Do we ever ask people in our Churches, is there anything that would help you be a good mum or dad?

how can we as Church help you care for a grandparent with dementia?

How as Church can we help you be a better husband or wife?

What does it mean to be a good neighbour?

How can we be a good boss?

How can we serve a boss well (especially if s/he is horrible!)

As I was thinking about how as Christians we can support people in the work place I was thinking about the wierdness of our views on work… We probably would be funny about a Christian who was bookie and yet someone who works in the arms industry probably no one would bat an eyelid at?

What do people do when they feel their faith and their work requirements clash?

Are  their some jobs which Christians shouldn’t do?

As I ask these questions, I realize that we need to discover afresh what it means to be a follower of Jesus not just for an hour on a Sunday but letting him be Lord of every hour of every day?

I’m trying to be different and embrace a concept of whole life discipleship, yet lets work out how to do this together, as community, loving and valuing each other?

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Celebrity, The Cross of Christ, values

Celebrity? Or the Cross?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x530xSkAdk

Sixth in a series of clips from the 2000 Jesus Christ Superstar film. With Glenn Carter as Jesus and Frederick B Owens as Caiaphas. Buy tickets for your near…

Just thinking about Ash Wednesday service yesterday, for those not familiar with Anglican/Churchy stuff, what happens is on Palm Sunday people get given palm cross, we remember that when Jesus came into Jerusalem the crowd went bonkers and waved palm branches at him as a way of marking their excitement to see him…Today Jesus would be greeted by the flash of mobile phones with people scrambling for a selfie.

Palms branches being waved were a sign of celebrity, popularity and praise.

Yet less than a week later the fickle nature of people had the crowd that shouted “Hosanna” were shouting “Crucify” as Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross.

So to turn a palm into a cross is talking of taking our desire for adulation, praise, ego, honour, celebrity and celebration and say that as a Christian I am not living for peoples praise and affirmation, I am living for my crucified and risen Saviour. It is an act of defiance against a shallow celebrity obsessed world saying that (to quote one of my heroes St. Francis of Assisi) “the world has been crucified to me”…

Jesus talked of two ways to walk, wide and broad -which leads to destruction- and narrow and crooked the way to life.

The Narrow way is not the path of popularity, celebrity and stardom but of picking up your cross and following Christ, after-all “Jesus said ‘if anyone wants to be my disciple me they must forget self and carry their cross and following me”.

Ultimately the Christian faith asks us one simple question, who are you living for, for Christ or yourself, the way of celebrity of the way of the cross?

Yet the imagery of Ash Wednesday isn’t simply digging out the Old Palm Crosses but to burn them and turning them to ash, fire is a symbol of judgement (the idea that our works will be judged in the fire where wood and straw burn up but what remains is Gold, Silver and Costly Stones), and Ash is a symbol of mortality and repentance.

The idea that without Christ we are nothing, is something our pride rails against, our mortality is scary to know that one day we will be no more and we will have to stand and give an account for ourselves, it is a sobering reflection when we realize afresh our total dependence on God.

I spoke last night we sung a line from an old Hymn which reminded us that “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling”, I reminded the people that when we come to Communion we come with empty hands, but are kneeling before a loving and generous God.

Ash Wednesday is a reminder of the bad news of our sinfulness, our fallenness and our inability to save ourselves, but as we draw the sign of the cross on peoples heads we are proclaiming forgiveness of our sinfulness, resurrection that restores our fallenness and Grace that gave us what we could not earn Salvation, eternal life with Christ.

I’ll end with a wonderful quote from the Martyred Missionary Jim Elliott who famously once said: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep (i.e his life) to gain what he cannot loose (eternity with Christ).”

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