Sunday, 21 October 2012

Serenity and wholeness in life with God Step 11

Pentecost 21 year B Sermon  1 Kings 19:11-13 Mark 1: 29-35
Title slide
Are you busier than Jesus?

Is your work more important…more urgent…than Jesus’ was?
What about your obligations?
Would you say God’s placing more demands on you
than God placed on Jesus

Blank slide
He’s leading a team… showing the way
God’s way… of peace and wellbeing for all people.
Jesus is preparing his team…to speak the truth
to the powers and principalities that enslave people…
in unjust religious and political systems.

He’s feeding and healing God’s children
casting out forces contrary to God’s goodness…
rebellious spiritual
forces...that oppress people and cripple them emotionally physically and spiritually…
forces that separate people from community.

Jesus is travelling… preaching teaching and
demonstrating the power of love…founding a movement
a new covenant movement…which will spread throughout the Roman Empire and throughout the world…
to the ends of the earth…to Aotearoa New Zealand

Jesus is carrying with him…the tension that every time he opens his mouth…he digs a deeper holewith the religious authorities who are judging him and want him dead
He’s a fragile…breakable…fully human vessel …called to reveal the will of God…in the face of resistance rejection …and ridicule [pause]
And how does Jesus cope… how does he deal with all this? What did our reading say this morning

Slide words
Very early in the morning…while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Did he have to be facing death to do this……
Did he have to be at the end of his tether to do this…no

Scripture tells us…Jesus did this because it was his practise to do it… his discipline…the rule of his life! [pause]

12 step slide
In our latest preaching series...that’s precisely what we’ve been learning…a rule of life… modelled on the life and teaching of Jesus… exploring twelve steps…twelve spiritual tools… toward serenity and life with God.

And we see how they work…one step at a time…to build us… individually and corporately…into a global family
of disciplined disciples… who can fulfil our calling…
to be bearers of the good news of God’s love to all people.

Reveal wisdom
Taking the first step we seek wisdom…to discern what we can and cannot control.
Reveal restoration
taking the second we pray for restoration to wholeness
only God can bring
reveal surrender
Then…we surrender our will and our lives to the care of God
reveal reflection
strengthened in faith in this way…we can reflect honestly and fearlessly…on our own motives and actions…past and present …good and bad.
reveal confession
In Confession…we bring the whole unvarnished truth about ourselves before God [pause]
reveal willingness and consent together
Cleansed and forgiven…we gain the willingness
to submit to every change…God wants to make in us. 
And humbly consent to this…asking God to re-shape us
so God’s justice and peace can be worked through us.

After steps six and seven… we’re ready to take eight and nine

Reveal Resolve and Make peace
and we resolve to do justice and work for peace within our families…our community and the world. To be Gospel bearers …to do whatever it takes…to bring about God’s Shalom.

In doing this we list everyone we’ve harmed and become willing…to make amends to all of them. And we do this
where ever possible except when it would produce more harm.

Coster slide
And last Sunday…from the lips of our new Moderator…
I brought you the best message I’ve ever heard...on
our reasons for taking step ten…recalling how Paul tells the wayward church in Corinth he doesn’t care if they judge him…or if any human court judges him…
he doesn’t even care how he judges himself

Paul knows he’s not innocent…but his only judge is God.
He’s been made rightjustified
through faith in God’s grace … revealed…announced…
and accomplished by Jesus Christ.
As so last week we owned that freedom from judgment
for ourselves…through Jesus we learn God loves and accepts us…we don’t have to do things to please God. Our identity’s given us in Jesus…not defined by other people or even ourselves

We don’t have to do things to make ourselves look good. 
We can love…from a place of wholeness
We can serve others just for the joy of doing it…
Our identity in Christ… takes us out of the courtroom forever. The trial is over. We neither prosecute nor defend…

and we participate in the reign of God by offering others
the grace to step out of the courtroom of condemnation…
and when we do this… the flame burns brighter and the church moves forward… in mission, in love and service to all creation.

Step 10 slide
And in the freedom that comes from Grace…because we are justified by faith…we take last week’s step…
and we continue to take inventory… and every time
we fall short of Christ’s teaching… we promptly admit it.

What better way… to stay out of the courtroom!

These steps…all part of a process…a practise…a spiritual discipline…of making ourselves ready and willing to allow God to shape us…into his children…into peacemakers…
into the likeness of Christ... [pause]

Blank slide
Whew…what a spiritual journey…and it’s not over
it’s never over in this life…because we continue to be fragile and fallible. So we start asking… what disciplines… what practises… will keep us to this path… and we’re ready to take… the eleventh step?
Step eleven slide
In daily prayer study and stillness…we listen for God’s guidance…and try to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Who is our model? [ask]

Jesus slide
Yes…Jesus…the revelation of God… the Word made flesh.

You see there are God ordained means…
to the life of Grace we seek…the life of serenity and wholeness not just for ourselves… but for the world

In his book, Life with God…Richard Foster writes…
these means of grace…involve us in an intentional process
of ‘training in godliness’… as it says in first Timothy.
Have nothing to do with godless myths and meaningless fables; rather, train yourselves to be godly.

This regime…these spiritual disciplines
crop up all the time in Scripture… as the way God’s people
are trained by God toward godliness …prayer and fasting …meditation on the Word… service to others…confession and worship…contemplation and silence…simplicity…
thrift and celebration.

The psalmist sings of the meditations of the People of God
‘My eyes are awake before each watch of the night…
that I may meditate on your promise.’ Daniel turns to God with prayer, supplication, fasting and confession.

Jesus goes out early in the morning… to a deserted place.

The purpose of these God ordained disciplines…
is to bring us all the more fully into life with God…
in doing them…we bring what Foster calls ‘our unique power adapter…our very body… before God
to be recharged by God’s love.

By these means of grace…by practising the spiritual disciplines …in time we become the kind of person…
who naturally and freely expresses…What Paul calls

Slide words
the fruits of the spirit
love joy peace patience, kindness generosity faithfulness gentleness and self-control.

Our church library is full of wonderful stories about
how people practise the spiritual disciplines
in order to grow in grace. In much the way Graham and Jenni’s boy is training for the Olympics…
we adopt the spiritual disciplines so we can become the athletes of God. The early Christians called this a ‘rule of life’ – the way you live your day. [pause]

Sunset slide
And through all this we’re never ever fearful.
Because we aren’t left to our own devices. God is with us. Christ is our ever-living teacher. The Holy Spirit will guide and direct us. Wise Christian counsel can be found among loving and mature friends. And when we’re open to it…
God will teach us which discipline is right for us and when.

Our task…is to listen and obey for as scripture reveals…
God is relentless… in pursuit of us. [pause]

Were I not practising… my own rule of life
every day without fail…I’d go under very quickly.
Without a daily practise of listening for God’s living Word
in Scripture, and consenting to God’s work in me…in silent contemplation…and praying for knowledge of God’s will for me… and the power to carry it out…

I simply couldn’t survive the emotional…physical and spiritual demands of ministry. I had a tough week this week …my diary was already chocka before the week began …then

somehow I had to find the extra time and energy to create a memorial service for a long term resident of Elmslie House
so her fragile aging friends and staff could honour her. Then came the unexpected news of Anne Tompkin’s sudden death.

Did I abandon my spiritual disciplines to make time for these unplanned and demanding tasks? Not on your life.

Every morning Reg and I break open the word of God together after breakfast. We read some inspiration from the life of other Christian and we share Holy Communion. Yes we do…

And then…I spend half an hour in consenting to God
in silence and solitude. It is the place my life is saved
it’s where my spiritual battery is recharged…it’s where
I’m redeemed… over and over again… for a life of discipleship and service.

Now I’ve practised this rule of life for decades and it hasn’t always been easy…before my daughter started school…I just did the best I could…but without this conscious time in the presence of God I could never have made it through to this ministry here beneath these mountains and beside these lakes.

As you take step eleven…what will you adopt
as your rule of life…to keep you on the path
marked out by Jesus? Will you practise with him in prayer and silence? Will you keep yourself fit and ready
for the discipled…the disciplined life?

Oh, there’s lots to practise as we already know
and only step four of the twelve…where we take inventory of our lives…is a once and for all spiritual step…all the others require practise and discipline…especially today’s step…
step eleven.

Slide words
In daily prayer and stillness we listen for God’s guidance
and try to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Reflect to O Christe Domine Jesu