Malachi 3: 1-4. The word messenger and angel are the same in Hebrew. The essence of this piece is that God will come to refine and sift so while people may look forward to "the day of the Lord" it will be a mighty uncomfortable process for many, particularly the priestly caste!.
Philppians 1: 3-11. A word of hope to a church that often seems to face a bleak future. Despite all outward appearances, the work started by God will be brought to a conclusion. The church lives in between the "first day" and "the day of the Lord" with all the personal and moral ambiguities that we face because that final completion and resolution lies in the future.
Luke 3: 1-6. Here John the baptist is unmistakably fulfilling the role of a prophet. The deeper meaning of the text is that the people who think they rule this world do not. God is ultimately in control. The three themes introduced by this passage are the word of God, repentance, and God's salvation.
This Sunday has been designated Mission Sunday so how does mission correlate with the Advent themes?
As I said last Sunday the church lives “between the times” between the first and second coming and what we do in this in-between time has an eternal importance and significance.
We are the light on the hill radiating Christ’s light to a lost and hurting world.
So “How we radiate that light to the world is mission.”
That is my working definition of mission.
This naturally covers a wide range of activities and even a sense of being as a church.
Mission encompasses everything from sponsoring Heather and David Sharman in East Africa via C.M.S. and there will be a retiring collection for C.M.S. to sending a Christmas card to the people in our area. Both are mission because it is a part of how we radiate the light of Christ.
How we see ourselves, our church, is vital to our understanding of mission. The very best way, the Biblical way is that we see ourselves as the body of Christ.
This involves a perception change. We no longer go to church – we are church.
It’s an important perception change because it means church is no longer something outside of yourself to which you can be a part of or not, it is an intrinsic part of your very self
We are the very presence of Jesus in the world. Who we are, how we act and behave, what we do, reflects directly on Jesus and is a projection of Christ’s will and purposes in this world.
Mission then I have already said is how we radiate the light of Christ to the world.
It is an overflow of Love and gratitude for what God has done for us in our lives.
So supporting missionaries is an act of love. Sending a Christmas card is an act of love.
Performing Bible passages in the schools as they do in “Open the book” is an act of love.
Rendezvous and solos lunches are an act of love.
All acts of love are costly in some way, either in time money or energy which is why everything must be undergirded by prayer certainly but also supported by tangible signs like encouragement and support.
Mission then is not an added extra to the life of the church it is a by-product of who we are – the body of Christ.
Mission is a sign of the grace of God working in and through our lives.
I have already mentioned various of these signs; open the book; rendezvous, solos, loaves and fishes, the new church café in East Budleigh;
What else could we or should we be doing? To build a healthy church here in the R.M.C we need to ask for God’s guidance.
It is not important at the end of the day what I think we ought to be doing. We need to ask for God’s guidance on what He wants us to do.
A healthy church is built on embodying and proclaiming God’s will for us and our corporate life together.
In the new year, I want to organise an away day, or even a series of days away where we pray, talk, discuss, and through our interaction discern what God’s will is for the R.M.C.
Because at the end of the day this is not MY church. This is GOD’S church.
How we build our church, how we witness to the people is not my endeavour it is OUR endeavour working with the will of God for our community but first we need to find out what God wants us to do.
Only as a community discerning His will together can we discover that.
Because God works through his people. He wants to work through us. If we allow Him to, He will.
Once we have reached a consensus on what God wants we can move forwards together with confidence.
God’s love already overflows in countless ways through this church to our community and it is time for us to seek afresh his will for us, without putting any pre-conditions in place.
The RMC, me, you, Karen, I guarantee will be surprised by what emerges as we build on what we already do, adapt some other things and strike in some directions perhaps that we may not even have in our sights at the moment, but God does – and He wants to reveal these things to us.
We don’t need to wait for that occasion to pray of course.
We can pray at any time, either in our private prayers or whenever we meet together in any groups, pray for God to reveal His will for the life of the RMC and I encourage you to do so.
You prayed for the right ministry team to be placed in situ here. Karen and I believe that we are in the right place at the right time and I believe that it is my role to lead us deeper into God by seeking Him as a community.
Mission is part of who we are. Let us rejoice in who we are and let our love and gratitude overflow to the community in which we are set.