What does it mean to be Christian?
We continue to explore the answers … and as God is known as three-in-one, our exploration includes an initial three dimensions. After ‘abba people’, we continue this Sunday with ‘disciples of Jesus’. Join us! It is of course Jesus who teaches us to reach out to God intimately and trustingly as ‘abba’.
But what is a ‘disciple’? The original Greek word means ‘follower’ or ‘learner’. And what does that mean for us? Often being a Christian has been reduced to an imitation of Jesus’ earthly life or an obedience to particular rules or rituals of the Church, and leaves most mortals with a sense of frustration and even failure rather than fulfillment.
We will take a look at Mark 3:13′ Jesus went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve … to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim’ the gospel in word and deed. Might being ‘disciples’ be more about a dynamic of being called by Jesus and coming to Jesus and being with Jesus and being sent by Jesus? More of a relationship than anything else?
It is a profound question, and, Jean Vanier suggests, pressing …
‘Either we will receive into our hearts the Spirit of Jesus and become, as never before, men and women of prayer, mercy and peace, real followers of Jesus: or else, everything will disappear in chaos. Today is the moment of Jesus’.
Included in the bulletin this Sunday will be a prayer by Brian Louis Pearce …
you pour out your life for us,
you pour out your life in us,
you pour out your life through us.
Help us to pass it on.
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What does it mean to be a Christian?
We begin a new congregational year with a three-fold exploration …
This morning, ‘Abba Worshippers’.
Many might have the feeling that there is ‘more’. Some might acknowledge the Holy, or a Creator.
The history brought forward in the Bible tells of the almighty, eternal, transcendent God choosing to enter into a closer and closer relationship with humanity. Due to this divine grace known most fully in Jesus Christ, Christians are a people who turn to God as intimately and spontaneously as a child turns to a loving parent.
Though the New Testament was written originally in Greek, it refers to God three times retaining the Aramaic word ‘abba’ – this was the language spoken by Jesus himself, and the word is best translated as ‘dad’. A Christian is one who knows and trusts God as ‘abba’.
Consider studying the sermon texts in advance of the service – Mark 14:32-36, Romans 8:14-17, Galatians 4:4-7.
Come early (10:10 a.m.) for a by-request hymn sing – ‘Come, let us sing of a wonderful love, tender and true’!
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The Wild Goose.
In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is seen as a dove, descending upon Jesus at his baptism – ‘You are my Son, my beloved’ (Mark 1:9-11). Amongst the ancient Celts of Scotland another image for the Holy Spirit seems to be found in their art, that of the Wild Goose.
It is a wonderful image, speaking both to the ways of the Holy Spirit and the dynamics of Christian community. Come and explore the Wild Goose with us this morning!
We will also be celebrating the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. All who ‘love the Lord a little and yearn to love him more’ are invited to join us in this time of assurance.
Here I stand, looking out to sea,
Where a thousand souls have prayed
And a thousand lives were laid on the sand.
Years have passed since they have died
And the Word shall last,
And the Wild Goose shall fly.
Here I stand, looking out to sea,
And I say a prayer,
That the Wild Goose will come to me. (George McLeod of Iona)
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Stradivarius, with his two sons, made wonderful violins, violas and cellos in their Italian workshop in Cremona 300 years ago, instruments much appreciated to this day. I once read a probably apocryphal story that when Stradivarius went out to select wood for his instruments, he chose the part of the tree that had faced north. That was the the side which had known the buffeting of wind and weather, and had been brought through it. Stradivarius believed that that side of the tree produced the most sincere and beautiful music. Alternatively but similarly Wikipedia notes that recent studies suggest that the wonderful sound of his violins is due to an extreme density was the result of slow growth during the harsh conditions of the Little Ice Age in Europe between 1645-1750.
Either way, might it also be somewhat similar with our lives? Do we not often find that people whose lives have been touched by hardship and sadness, who have been most aware of the reality of the human condition, seem also to be the ones who live with great sensitivity and strength?
This morning we gather to begin another week of grace in the worship God, and will focus upon the great 103rd Psalm. The song acknowledges the hard dimensions of life … the brokenness and the fragility of humanity, ‘sins’, ‘inquiries’, ‘transgressions’ and ultimately ‘as for mortals, their days are like grass’ … but does so in the larger context of God’s promises and power, beginning and ending with the song ‘Bless the Lord’.
We will be join in singing ‘Praise my soul the king of heaven’ based on Psalm 103 with its wonderful words ‘ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore his praises sing’, and the sermon will conclude with the Scottish metrical version of 1650 ‘O thou my soul, bless God the Lord, and all that is within me be stirred up his holy name to magnify and bless’.