Patterns. No matter how small or large. Patterns in nature are everywhere. From tessellations to fractals, or spirals to symmetry, the patterns in nature are just outside our door! We all live by patterns, some are helpful, some are destructive. All are intentional. The very definition of a pattern is that it is a consistent form, design, or expression that is not random. The promised Advent-ure that we explored last week was not a random thought or idea that was hurriedly put together. It was deliberate, conceived, well-planned and entirely consistent in form and character of the one who imagined it. Today we hear and experience a consistent pattern at work in our lives as we explore the conceived adventure that God invites us to be a part of; it's an adventure to which God wants us to develop a default and patterned response.
#2 in series: Christmas Advent-ure
'And they all lived happily ever after." The end. That was the vision. That was the plan God had in mind when he created the world. Peace. Love. Harmony. Sunny days and fun times. But spoiler alert. Three chapters into the story, there's a plot twist. The villain inserts himself into the story in an attempt to rewrite the conclusion. Rebellion ensues. Suffering is the result. Yet through it all, the main character is steadfast and true. The conclusion he planned will remain. The relationship he desires will be fulfilled. A journey will be undertaken. An Adventure will be embarked on. The Promised Advent-ure will eventuate. That's the Christmas Advent-ure that is also part of our story, which we are also invited to participate in. It's that Promised Adventure that we set out on again today.
#1 in series: The Christmas Advent-ure
We've all seen it. The chain reaction caused by dropping a rock in a body of water. We call it the ripple effect, waves that lead outward growing bigger and bigger. You are part of God’s chain reaction; a ripple effect that is bigger and more epic by cosmic proportions. Because Jesus Christ died and was raised from the grave for you, you are at the epicentre of God’s loving, saving, recreating plan for the universe. He is now throwing you into the world and calling you to make a splash and create ripples, waves of influence that lead outward, growing bigger and bigger, touching more people and lives with each concentric ring.
For the ends of the earth, All the World, is where God desires his saving love to reach. His mission isn’t fulfilled until all the world encounters the good news of a life that is more powerful than death, a joy more eternal than the tears, a hope that lights up the darkness of despair, and a healing that restores every brokenness and loss. We are his witnesses, fulfilling that command. So let's go and make a splash and see the ripple effects as they grow into all the world.
#5 in series: Three Big Words
Who are you following? What people or information sources are influencing your thoughts and your actions right now? We all choose to follow someone...whether itis the craft person who inspires us with new projects, the person who entertains us or makes us laugh, who confirms the information we hold or provides value to our life. Maybe what we are looking for is the person who engages with their followers and has conversation with them. What are you looking for, hoping for, wanting desperately for in your life? Today Jesus doesn't give the disciples or us an answer to that question, but rather issues an invitation to seek something more fulfilling than the world and our culture can offer and more life transforming than we can ever imagine. We'll discover that invitation again today as we hear three big words, "Come follow me.
#4 in seres: Three Big Words.'
The Table – nearly every home has one. It’s where we eat, connect, laugh, cry, pray…just be us. It may be the most important place of human connection, belonging and acceptance. Throughout the Bible, God shows up around meals at tables. In fact, the centre of the spiritual lives of God's people in both the Old & New Testaments is a meal at a table: Passover & Communion. In the meal at God’s table God anchors our identity in him. In the meal at God’s table God creates community for his purpose. In the meal at God’s table God gives security and promises eternity. In the meal at God’s table Jesus embraces each of us personally. In the meal at God’s table Jesus speaks three big words - given for you; and those words transform the lives and destiny of all humanity. In those words Jesus not only announces the saving love of God, but embodies it and gives it freely to us. Wherever our lives have taken us, Jesus invites us to himself in his meal at his table to be filled with his presence; a presence that floods our lives with unending grace and life abundant to share. It's given for you.
#3 in series: Three Big Words
'Show and Tell" - is one of the first opportunities young children have to stand up in front of a small group and speak. It’s so simple…Take what’s precious to you. Tell the story of “Why.” Show and demonstrate its importance in your life. Nothing could be easier: “Show & Tell”
HE IS RISEN!…are the most precious words in all of Scripture…the most crucial… The resurrection IS the central event of the Bible from “In the beginning…” to “Amen.” HE IS RISEN!…is the power of God that raises you to newness of life in Christ now and anchors your future with Christ for all eternity. These THREE BIG WORDS are the most important in the life of disciples like you and me. Without HE IS RISEN we have nothing.
From that first morning when the tomb was found empty to this very day, the sole work of Jesus’ followers has been…“Show & Tell” Take what’s precious to you. Tell the story of “Why.” Show/demonstrate its importance in your life. Nothing could be easier: He is risen and in Him so are you! These three big words change everything, every day. As the Psalmist says, I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the LORD has done. Today is your turn to ‘Show and Tell.’
#2 in seres: Three Big Words
From artwork to architecture -- home renovations to the “I always thought I’d have time for…” bucket list… The human story is often told like an essay where the pen ran out of ink…unfinished. Not just the projects, or the work, the little visits or grand adventures you just didn’t find time for…but the work of our own lives & hearts…the conversations that never came…the habits we sought or the ones we hoped to drop…We call ourselves “work in progress,” but it seems at times there’s not much ‘work’ or ‘progress.”
Only in Christ, is the work of our lives complete. Only in Christ are the words, “It is finished” true. Christ came. Christ died. Christ restored us to the Father. It is finished.
The Reformation recaptured that simple truth…first as the power of God that saves & transforms human lives into agents of his redeeming love…but then as the power of God that equips & empowers the church to live that good news into our world everywhere we are every day we live.
Among all our works that end unfinished, only the work of God in Jesus is finished. Only he can & transform death to life, alienation to reconciliation, wrath to rejoicing. It is finished. That's what we will experience again today.
#1 in series: Three Big Words
“She’ll be right…no worries.” As a culture we pride ourselves on our laid back approach to life and our ability to go with the flow. We don’t get fussed if things are not perfect….she’ll be right. Whatever is wrong will right itself – no worries mate. But if only that was true. For the reality is that, as a nation, people are more anxious about things than ever before - globally, relationally and especially individually. There seems to be less resilience when things go wrong, more anger and dissatisfaction with what life deals, and more stress that burdens and robs people of joy. Paul knows the struggles of life, he knows the joy robbers better than most. Yet his call to the Church, then and now, is not to be anxious about anything. Paul has discovered the gift of Contented Joy and it’s this gift that he wants you to claim this weekend, whatever circumstance or situation you find yourself in.
#4 in series: A Pandemic of Joy
Life is a series of trade-off's You can't have it all. Every day we make choices. Choosing "this" thing will mean that we choose to not have "that" thing. We know that. You can't have all the advantages of married life and be single. You can't have children and have lots of time for yourself or your career . You can't take a lot of risks and enjoy a sense of safety. You can't have a busy weekend and get lots of rest. You can't be the "boss" and be free of responsibility. You can't speak up and remain anonymous. Some things just don't go together. Life is a series of trade-offs. Our path in life is determined by those choices…by what we value most highly and choose most deliberately. From his jail cell in Rome, Paul shares his highest value and most deliberate pursuit that leads to eternal joy. What he discovers is that there is only one priority, one value, one pursuit that is worth trading everything else for, every day of our lives. For only one pursuit, one choice will lead to eternal joy. We'll explore and discover that priority for ourselves today too.
#3 in series: The Pandemic of Joy