Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Good news veiled

Paul talks about the gospel – the good news of God acting in and through the life of Jesus Christ – as light shining in a dark world but that somehow for many people they are unable to see that light so cannot respond to it.
And Paul is one that should know of course. He is proof that you can have quite enough knowledge about Jesus to actively persecute his followers as he did.
After presiding at the stoning to death of the first Christian Martyr Stephen he was on the road to Damascus to go and bring a group of Christians back in chains. It was a personal, supernatural experience of Jesus, a experience that told him that he was alive and vindicated by God.
So you can know all about Jesus. You can know lots and lots about him. You could be a Biblical scholar and write books about him and still not believe in him or even actively reject him and persecute his followers.
Having knowledge about someone is very different from knowing someone. The first is second hand knowledge, the second is first hand and personal.
It is sometimes said that God doesn’t have grandchildren, only children.
So it follows that what we should be praying for each other is that we will have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that our knowledge about is changed to knowledge of.
My prayer before all services is that people are touched by a religious experience in a service. That could be as seemingly trivial like having a good warm feeling that touches your heart – that makes you feel good.
You might be beguiled by a particular set of words in a reading, a prayer, or even a sermon. You might feel moved to pray yourself, to reach out in faith to someone you only half believe in or perhaps don’t believe in.
You might be attracted by the feeling of being part of a community whose very core values is to become better people – kinder – more accommodating – more settled in your mind– more peaceful in body and soul. You might be drawn to the feeling that you do have a purpose in life after all.
I am quite aware that I spend a lot of my time imparting head knowledge. My prayer is that too is converted into heart knowledge. Today I want to major on heart knowledge.
I am going to ask everyone here to pray silently – I don’t want anyone to say anything. I want you to pray for the person on your left and on your right. If you are sitting on your own I’d like you to pray for the person in front of you and behind you.
Let us pray this prayer: I pray for you. I pray that your life will be fulfilling. I pray that you will know love and support in your life.  I pray that you will know the love and support of God in your life. I pray that you will be touched at some point in the service or later this week by the Holy Spirit of God. And we pray that will respond. Amen. 

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