Online Services by Rev'd Chris & team including Bi

Sunday 5th July Service

 

Once again the week has come around; this one has been blustery and wet. It's made filming challenging and has kept me inside more. (But we've made cherry jam and gooseberry jam!).

This week I have included two hymns which I hope you enjoy. The video can be found clicking on the date above.

Attached below is a copy of my little homily. Again, if you know of anyone who hasn't access to a computer or who might like a hard copy, please feel free to share it.

In it I talk about our ministry in the world being 'culturally useful'. Not being trendy but meeting people where they were and re-imagining how we do what we do. I've reflected on it this week, particularly in light of the films we've seen celebrating the anniversary of Glastonbury. Last year the star act at Glastonbury was a young man called Stormzy whose song 'Blinded By Your Grace' is one of the most powerful Christian messages I've heard for years. I'm not suggesting we introduce 'rapping' into our services! But do have a look at it at; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxsjQ967kV8. I thought it was awesome!

Please continue to stay safe and pray for one another.

Blessings

Chris

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-end 

 

Finally, after over three months, the lockdown is finally starting to be lifted. We’re now told that churches can begin to open.

Things will be different. No singing. No shared cup in communion. Social distancing. No bodily contact. Different.

These are challenging times for us as a church community. We could look at these as severe restrictions to our worship and our praise – or we can look at this as an opportunity for us to begin to explore new ways of a church life beyond Covid-19.

For example, I am constantly surprised by the numbers of people who engage with these videos. Often the number of viewers is greater than the number who would go to our churches on a Sunday.

There are new ways of doing things – new ideas and new opportunities and maybe now is the ideal time to be exploring some of them. There is a seismic shift in culture and society today and any church that is to survive and thrive must, first and foremost, recognise that in a non-judgmental way and be prepared to work with that in a creative fashion.

A church congregation can sit there with its arms folded saying “this is who we are, like it or not. And we want you to join us.” That church is doomed to failure and their doors will close very quickly over the coming few decades.

Our church needs to recognise where it is directing its efforts and learn to distinguish what is culturally relevant from what is culturally useful.

Being culturally relevant is about striving to follow trends; trying to keep up with the prevailing culture.

Being culturally useful means searching deeper into ourselves and asking what is the church that this community needs? What type of church does God want us to become? How can we best live out our gospel lives?

In our reading Jesus had been speaking to the crowds about John’s ministry when says this;

“To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market placed calling to one another “we played the flute for you and you did not dance; we wailed and you did not mourn.”

I can imagine my own children playing in such a manner; complaining that they “didn’t want to play this, its boring” or moaning about something not being right. It’s never right for them is it?

Then the reading says;

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say “he has a demon”; then the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors.

Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Some people are just never happy, are they?

John saw for his ministry to be culturally useful he had to lead a strict ascetic lifestyle. For that he was criticised.

Jesus knew for his ministry to be culturally useful he had to work on the margins; the poor, the sick, prostitutes and the outcast. For that he was criticised.

I think what Jesus means is this; both he and John had very different methods of getting across to people. These were very different approaches of cultural usefulness; yet they both had one thing in common; they both preached the Gospel and they both pursued the wisdom of God.

You see it doesn’t matter what the methodology is provided you are using wisdom to preach the Gospel in a culturally useful manner – because then “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

It doesn’t matter if you are High Church, Baptist, Pentecostal or whatever – provided you are preaching the Gospel in a culturally useful manner and staying true to the calling God has placed on a church or an individual, then that is wisdom in action, and that will be vindicated.

As Christians we are faced with a challenge as we head into the uncharted territory of a post-Covid 19 Britain. To build our church we must respond to the world around us; to the times, the technologies and the environments and apply our Gospel message in ways that people can relate to in useful ways. We must remind ourselves that it is God’s message, not ours and that with God behind us nothing is impossible.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”