Sunday, 2 December 2007

Let us go up

Jesus is the living stone…the rock upon whom the house is built… there is no other foundation for all who gather here and have gathered here…generation after generation.

Friday was the 70th anniversary of the laying of St Ninian’s foundations stone…and on Friday we honoured this place and those whose lives have been poured into her sacred spaces.

Her stone steps have not worn down like those of Westminster Abby and St Giles, but never the less they still resound with the blood sweat and tears of all those who entered these doors not only to care for this place…but to observe… the milestones of what it means to be human… in birth life and death… in light of the reality of God.

I’d say countless thousands will have gathered here for worship…for thanksgiving at God’s providence …and for sorrow and lamentation when the world just doesn’t conform to the promises of God.

We come to this house as well… for confession and repentance… for how we’ve failed to live up to Jesus example… in our relationships with one another and with God. And how we fail to be good stewards of creation…

Yet all the while trusting the promise that God’s spirit goes ahead of us… to work for good…
out of the mess we make.

We come here for guidance and forgiveness
and to hear a fresh word from God… and my prayer is that we leave with fresh resolve… to conform ourselves more closely to Jesus our master…

And you might say this building and its community are a banner and a sign for all to see… that we are not alone in this universe.

But sadly we often admire her architectural beauty…her bricks and mortar and forget…that the Church is actually not a building at all…but it’s people…a community of believers… for whom Jesus is the foundation – his person his teaching his life… over and against all other loyalties. He is the way the truth and the life.

But the story of St Ninian’s isn’t over and the family isn’t complete. And I dream of the day when the promise in Isaiah’s vision is as true for the house of St Ninian’s as it is for the house of Jacob...

when every family of this community streams to this mountain knowing they are welcome here...
when every man woman and child in Hawea will come and say, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of St Ninian’s and He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths."

Friday we looked back today I want to honour and pray for all those ministries of welcome and hospitality that are the hope of this community of faith in the future...Those who are extending the warm love of Christ to all those who stream toward this place already...those who dream Isaiah’s dream ..
Ministries like mm [please stand...] those who work for St Nins café Sacred Space AA toward the future of our facilities here...

In this season as we celebrate the birth of the churches one foundation... we remember and yes we do look back at Jesus story and the churches story... but we also look forward to the future of God coming toward us and we look forward with hope. These ministries we have honoured are sacrificial and costly just as those who went before them.

And though we honour an innocent babe this Christmas, we remember just how far Jesus was prepared to go to speak hospitality forgiveness and reconciliation into the world…

how far are we prepared to go… what cross are we prepared to carry…to speak hospitality forgiveness and reconciliation into this community…

It’s a questions echoed in the poem Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems .
If there is no cross in the manger, There is no Christmas. If the Babe doesn't become the adult,
There is no Bethlehem star. If there is no commitment in us, There are no Wise Men searching.
If we offer no cup of cold water,
There is no gold, no frankincense, no myrrh.
If there is no praising God's name,
There are no angels singing.
If there is no spirit of alleluia,
There are no shepherds watching.
If there is no standing up, no speaking out, no risk,
There is no Herod, no flight into Egypt.

If there is no room in our inn,
Then "Merry Christmas" mocks the Christ Child,
And the Holy Family is just a holiday card,
And God will loathe our feast and festivals.

For if there is no reconciliation,
We cannot call Christ "The Prince of Peace."
If there is no goodwill toward others,
It can all be packed away in boxes for another year.
If there is no forgiveness in us,
There is no cause for celebration.
If we cannot go now even unto Golgotha,
There is no Christmas in us.
If Christmas is not now,
If Christ is not born into the everyday present,
Then what is all the noise about?

Come, O house of St Ninian’s, let us walk in the light of the LORD.