As December approaches every year, Time Magazine publishes its Time100 Most influential people of the year. It lists the Artists, Innovators, Titans, leaders, Icons, and Pioneers who shape the world through what they do. The Financial Review has its ongoing Rich List which details a live list of the Top 10 Richest people in Australia. Then there is the Top 10 Instagram, TikTok or YouTube influencers. How many of us would make any of those lists? How many of us could ever have a voice, platform or influence that transforms the landscape of our world or people's lives? Chances are you have already subconsciously told yourself, "that will never happen, I am a nobody." But today God shows us how those who are "nobody's" can have an influence and impact greater than can be ever imagined when they "Hear the Voice.
#2 in series: Experience Christmas
Signs. We are bombarded by signs - from billboards to buses, taxis, shops, oversize celebrity cut-outs, helium balloons, pop-up windows, banners, visual buffers soft temporary architecture, coffee cups, commercial sculptures, and of course street signs. These days it seems you cannot even go to the bathroom in peace in a public amenity as advertisers bombard you with images there too. This visual assault causes a sensory overload that desensitises our hearts and makes it impossible to see and distinguish what is important and what is real. In the midst of the overwhelming visual pollution of doom, trouble, destruction and hardship that confront us, Jesus invites us to stand up tall, take another look and to see with clarity. For what is coming carries a promise and hope that will help you truly experience Christmas every day.
#1 in series: Experience Christmas
The roar of the crowd when the final siren sounds and your team wins the championship. The thunderous applause as the curtain comes down on the final act or as orchestra performs the symphonies finale. The mum and dad cheering wildly as their child takes their bow as Tree #2 in the Kindergarten play. Praise is inherent in every one of us. It is something we were created to do. It's an integral part of life.
Praise changes hearts. It alters attitudes. It reshapes perspective. It revolutionises lives. Praise & its twin Thanksgiving shift our focus from the moment to the meaning, from the surface to the significance, from pain to promise…from the gift to the Giver of all good things. Jesus invites us past shallow lives into deeper living & heart-level transformation. Praise/Thanksgiving open the door to the wonder of all the gifts God gives through his Son…and the ultimate wonder of his redeeming restoring love for us. Today we'll not just talk about Praise but we’ll open our hearts to praise the one who has not only poured out his grace on us as a Church but who alone is worthy of all our PRAISE!
#4 and final in series: Table Talk
"So what do you do?"
More than politeness or a quick question in the awkward silence of a conversation, discovering how someone works for their daily bread is how we locate one another on our great social kaleidoscope…shifting pattern of relationships & connections that in some eras became a measure of worth or value; a scale of honour or dignity. We viewed teachers & tradies, law enforcement & clergy, doctors & labourers differently.
One of the great triumphs of the Reformation was the reclaiming of vocation…the calling all the baptized share to work willingly at whatever you do, for the Master you are serving is Christ… Scripture reminds us that God’s love for us rebounds in love for him through the loving service we render to our neighbour in the name of Jesus.
Today…We’ll talk…about Vocation because for followers of Jesus, vocation is not just how we fill our days & our bank account, It’s where the love of God for us reaches someone else through us in the ordinary daily work of our lives. It's where we experience the transforming power of the Cross and the life of Christ in all we do.
#3 in series: Table Talk
We are one, but we are manyAnd from all the lands on earth we come…
It's a song, but it is also reality - from the dreamtime…prison ship…daughter of a digger or recent arrival from around the globe. We emerge from different backgrounds and divergent cultures. We vary by educational attainment, desire and capacity. We are socially and economically diverse. Our tastes in books, movies, music and spiritual devotion are a mix. But all of us have one thing in common…we end up in the grave…eventually.
It is that image of the grave that contains and represents collectively the grief we experience in life. Grief is how we respond to loss. Our lives are filled with losses and graves that dot the landscape of our hearts - loved ones, family, friends, ways of living and relating, lost opportunities, loss of security or self, loss of identity, trust, belief. Some grief is unending…it has nowhere to go…no hope to point it toward joy. But today, we'll talk…about the one who gives us a different reality, a living hope and an eternal joy.
Nike has the "Swoosh", McDonalds has the 'Golden Arches", Apple has, well the Apple. Mega corporations pay millions to marketing agencies to get the kind of brand awareness that is instantly recognisable across the globe. Yet there is one icon that is far more universally known and has greater market saturation than any other symbol. One icon that is both ugly and beautiful, evil and good. One icon that can simultaneously repel and attract, offend and delight, divide and unite, cause anger and conflict and bring comfort and peace. The Cross. The cross is more than an icon or symbol. The cross is the pivotal event in human history; for in the midst of hate it reveals love, in place of guilt it brings freedom and instead of death it gives life. We'll experience the transforming power of the Cross again in our lives today as we celebrate the Reformation.
#1 in series: Table Talk
Did you know there are an estimated 4200 religions in the world? That's 4200 spiritual paths or beliefs systems that co-exist in our pluralist society. 4200 options in a world that loves freedom and choice. 4200 alternatives that some believe, all hold part of the truth and whose paths all lead to the same destination. It’s not new. That's the public square in which followers of the Holy God,who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, have always found themselves in! Moses found himself in a pluralistic culture of Egyptian gods. Joshua spoke out amid the pluralism in Canaan. Elijah had to challenge the Baal worshippers on Mt. Carmel and Paul was confronted by the idolatry in Athens. So how do we as followers of Jesus live, move and engage in the public square of our culture and proclaim Jesus in a world of pluralism.
#8 and final in series: Spiritual Intelligence
True or False. It used to be the easy part of any exam. No working out. No equations Even a wild guess had an equal chance of success. There was right and there was wrong. 1+1=2. But in this postmodern and relativist world, truth has become a matter of preference, and “tolerance” is promoted as an ultimate value. If I believe 1 + 1 = a window, then it is true for me! As Andrew Thorburn, the shortest serving CEO in history recently discovered, the more “tolerant” a culture becomes, the more intolerant it is of anyone it perceives as intolerant! Individuals are cancelled and ostracised, reputations smeared and careers are ruined as people are pronounced guilty by association! But Jesus' claim to be the way, the truth and the life is a word of comfort, hope and strength for all those struggling to find where they belong in a troubled and increasing hypercritical world. They are truth in a world of relativism that transforms lives and are truly inclusive. We'll explore that today.
#7 in series: Spiritual Intelligence
The mask - nothing symbolizes the last 2 years more than the mask. A symbol of isolation that interfered with our ability to communicate with each other, hindered our capacity to relate to one another, served as an object that divided communities and became a barrier that reminded us of an abnormal life. Hospitality, as the Bible describes it is a gift that transforms relationships in an isolated world; it strips off the masks, demolishes the barriers, builds deep connection and creates authentic community. It's a hospitality we have received in Christ and one we are called to emulate. So today we explore and experience, 'Hospitality in a world of isolation.'
#6 in series: Spiritual Intelligence