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The idea of being clean through and through. Body and soul and mind. Pure, white as snow is very appealing isn’t it. To be clean, fresh, light and clear. That’s what we’re thinking about today.
As we’re approaching Holy week and Easter in this season of Lent we are thinking about the Cross; the death of Jesus and what it achieves;
It Rescues us from Judgement
Redeems us from Slavery
and today we’ll see that the Cross removes our Dirt and Shame
The scriptures preach to us the multifaceted achievements of the cross. The death of Jesus rescues us from judgement, removes our shame, reconciles us to God.
and - what we’re thinking about today - The cross Redeems you
To redeem is to purchase something or more accurately to buy something back. It’s the language of the pawn shop where I redeem my property - i pay to get it back.
Or it’s the language of ransoming a hostage or liberating a captive slave. Purchasing freedom.
The cross of redemption tells you what you are really worth. what you are worth to God.
The cross (accompanied by the resurrection) is the means by which humanity is brought back into relationship with God, with one another and with our very selves. It is the place of salvation, healing and restoration rescue.
It transforms our human destiny and can transform our lives now..
While there is a place for an appeal to emotions, or reason or conscience - here Paul focuses on a different reason for being generous. In a word it’s what the Bible calls ‘grace’. As you may know grace is underserved favour – it’s getting something good – when you deserved the opposite. Paul thinks it’s at the heart of generosity.
We're thinking about church; about the Christian community.
Community, real relationships - to know and be known, to love and be loved is something we all long for. It’s inherent to our humanity. The God in whose image we are all created is in himself a community of loving relationships. The glorious Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When humanity fell out of relationship with this God - we also lost one another. Community is fractured at every level of existence.
So.. part of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, his restoration of humanity back to the image of our creator is to bring us back into true community together, Christ is our peace. And the beginnings of that - the full realisation will only be seen when Jesus returns to establish his kingdom - but the beginnings, the first fruits is the Christian church.
Church is not a human institution. It’s not an optional extra that you can tick or leave when you become a Christian. As if being a Christian is just about my personal relationship with Jesus which occasional church attendance may or may not resource. No, becoming a Christian means being incorporated into Christ’s body - the church. Becoming part of the new humanity.
Furthermore It is for the sake of the watching world outside that the church exists
The church at its heart has a missionary dynamic. That’s what we’re thinking about today.
What is it that no one else knows about you?
Maybe there are details of your life that you would hate to be disclosed. The idea fills you with dread, with terror. A decision you wish you’d never made; an event you want to forget, a pattern of behaviour that you can’t shake. Maybe it’s not something you did but something done to you. Perhaps you wrestle with tormenting thoughts and feelings that you are convinced no one will understand.
Secrets. We all have them. Human nature seems wired to withhold and tuck away areas of our lives we deem undesirable. The best option seems to be keeping our secrets in check and out of sight.
We dare not come into the light to show who we truly are because we fear shame and we fear rejection.
But there’s great danger in keeping secrets hidden. Secrets have the power to hurt everyone you know and love.
A small boy was at church with his dad and asked, "Dad what are those names carved into the walls?”
“That’s a list of names of people who died in the services,” his Father answered.
The boy’s eyes widened. “The morning or the evening services?”
We’ve been talking about the centrality in the plans of God of this peculiar thing called church!
The church is the beginnings of God’s New world. Humanity restored in his image.
It’s the community that all people are made for!! Come to church!
Here’s the story we told last week:
God the Trinity.. God who is in himself the perfect community of persons united in love -Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 3in1
Creates humanity in his image - that is, to be in community. Relationships are at the heart of what it means to be human.
That community is lost and broken when humanity breaks contact with God
But is now being restored again by Jesus Christ IN THE CHURCH
Here’s a radical conviction:
That it is inside the church that is found THE community that we were all made for and that we all long for. All people
Does church matter? Does church have a future?
it is inside the church that is found THE community that we were all made for and that we all long for. The church is where it’s at. It is the showhome of the New Creation!!! It is the trailer for the main event!!!
This last week I had the privilege of holding a newborn child in my arms. The first son of my friends Emily and Saadat: Ezekiel Hasan Jesper Mir. Less than a week old. Beautiful little lad. I held him and he cried a few tears. And you know how it is the parents anxiously try and work out why he’s crying: is he hungry? it is wind? has he filled his nappy? is it just Giles’s face? Why’s he weeping?
And it reminded me of part of a Christmas poem written by William Blake to a newborn child entitled ‘A song.’ It goes like this:
Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy Image I can trace;
Sweet babe, once like thee
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me:
Wept for me, for thee, for all,
When He was an infant small.
why’s he weeping? For us!
The season of Advent.
Advent means coming and this season exhorts us to think deeply about the coming of God to us..
Did you know that God is not distant; nor is he indifferent to our troubles..
He has come to us in the past - Christmas, the child in the manger.
He does come to us in the present - he meets with us by his Spirit
And he will come to us again in the future - the promised second coming of Christ to judge the world and restore all things.
The advent of God.
In our passage today, 700 years before the first Christmas - the prophet Micah predicts that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. That this child would be a King who’s greatness and peace will one day fill the earth. And so Micah’s great Advent theme is HOPE. I wonder how is your hope? Your hope for the world, for your family, for yourself. Sometimes in our frailty we can feel hopeless. But Micah says to us God is coming - in your weakness be people of hope.