I’m missing the opportunity to prepare a sermon for St Luke’s Centre this month, so I thought I’d commit a few ideas to paper and share them here:
In the last few weeks, we’ve all been snowed under with statistics in news broadcasts and on social media. Here’s my favourite: The use of the word “unprecedented” has reached unprecedented levels! It seems that everything has changed – the way we work, the way we communicate, the way we worship. It’s a challenge for people in all walks of life and it is certainly a challenge for the church.
Christians are reminded, of course, that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8), so there is always one constant that we can rely on, however turbulent the rest of our lives may become. In the present circumstances, it really is something we must rely on, but it needs a little thought.
I’ve been reading the book of Acts in the Bible over the last couple of weeks. It’s the book in which we read about the growth of the church in its first 25 years or so, beginning just after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. Those were turbulent times, indeed. As the story unfolds it is absolutely clear that the message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit are the constants around which everything else revolves – but that isn’t the whole story. As we read about the beginnings of the churches in Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Phillipi, Athens, Corinth and the rest we cannot escape the fact that in each place those early missionaries faced different situations, different cultures, different languages and different people. They had to adapt to each situation.
Right at the beginning of the book, in Acts Chapter 1, we read of the disciples gathered together in Jerusalem after the Ascension, hiding away, sorting out only the most urgent matters and waiting for God to do something spectacular. In our present situation, we can feel bit like an Acts Chapter 1 church – but that’s not what we are.
The book of Acts doesn’t really have an ending – in Chapter 28 the church is still growing, the great missionary apostle, Paul, is under house arrest in Rome but still preaching and writing to other Christians. It’s not the end of the story, it’s just that it’s reached the time at which Luke wrote it all down and he didn’t know what would happen next. He couldn’t write Chapter 29, because he didn’t know what the future would hold. We’re not an Acts Chapter 1 church – we’re an Acts Chapter 29 church. We are stepping out into new places, new situations, “unprecedented” times. Christians must adapt to the “new normal”. Jesus Christ is, indeed, the same yesterday and today and forever, but to do his work we, with the power of the Holy Spirit, must find new ways to be His voice, His hands and His feet.
Many people are finding ways to worship and meet in prayer with the help of the internet as well as television and radio. Do take a look on line at the services and discussions being shared by local churches and national Christian organisations. Think about what more we can do as a church even without the use of our wonderful buildings – and about what we might do differently when we can open them up again. Keep on the work that so many of you are doing in the community, look after your families, your neighbours and yourselves and keep us all in your prayers.
Here are some links which may be helpful:
Church without Walls Sundays @10am Everyone welcome, whatever your age or stage. Email Katherinelyddon35@gmail.com and she can send you the zoom link and password.
Worship, discussions and children’s activities from Taunton:
“Spring Harvest Home” – Discussions and activities for adults and children:
Bible games for all ages
Out of the Ark craft at home
Faith Inkubators – Share/Read/Talk/Pray/Bless – family devotions for Covid 19
Kitchen Table – 10 things to do at home to maintain faith
Together at home – weekly resources
Sessions for home based on the lectionary readings
God venture @ home
Pilgrims at home
Bible story videos