How will you use your freedom at end of lockdown?

I have enjoyed this week’s prayer and art journal. I took photos each step of the way so that the individual parts of the picture could be used to illustrate my sermon. Therefore the picture was drawn and painted in the same order as the sermon.

Romans 6 vs 12-23

In the end though my powerpoint wasn’t as visible to the dispersed congregation watching online as I had hoped, and so not sure if the effort was worth it. The gospel was Matthew 10:10-42.

I have extracted the readings and sermon from the service video and uploaded it onto YouTube, so if you wish to see me in action, here it is : https://youtu.be/mfKlrm8SjlM

Here’s my sermon notes:

Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, will never lose his reward.

Our gospel today is at the end of the section where Jesus gives instructions to the 12 apostles as he sends them out to announce the Kingdom of God has come near and to heal and drive out demons.  He warned them that they may not be welcome everywhere they go.  But when they are offered hospitality and made welcome, then they stay there. 

Today we hear Jesus tell them that everyone who does welcome them, welcomes him.  And whoever gives even just a basic cup of cold water will not lose their reward. 

Whenever we welcome the stranger, offer hospitality to someone, we don’t know if they are also a Xian or not.  We don’t know if we are welcoming Christ or shunning him.  

Remember the parable Jesus told to describe the KoG – like a King sorting the sheep from goats…..

When I needed a neighbour, were you there?  A drink, food, clothing, visit when sick or in prison.  When did I do or not do that?

Whatever we do or not do to the least of Jesus brothers/sisters (ie other Xians) we do or not do for him. 

Elsewhere it is made clear that we should also behave in a loving and hospitable way to everyone regardless of faith.

Who are the little ones?  opposite to Big ones!  not the leaders…. those less experienced in the faith ???

In our context – anyone who says, Yes I follow Jesus, or I want to join in.

Our online worship has been showing hospitality to many people who aren’t normally in church on a Sunday J .  The worship isn’t the best… compared to a cup of water ….. but it’s the best we can do.

Lockdown is ending YAY!!!    Church services from next Sunday

Come back to church (if you are not still isolating).. everyone welcome – If on-line = cup of water, together worship = champagne!   But no refreshments…. no hugging…. we will have rules to follow to keep people safe.  

LOCKDOWN has shown many people what’s important in life

  • relationships, family, meaningful work
  • time to think – own inner thoughts… too much time!!!
  • on-line worship etc – much needed & appreciated
  • new habits of prayer and worship???? 

FREEDOM beckons!  

What will we do?  Society – go back to being selfish???

You & Me??? those of us who say we are followers of Christ, how will we use the freedom?

This is what the first reading is addressing.  Paul writes to the church in Rome and uses the analogy of slavery.

We find it hard to understand concepts of slavery used by Paul in NT.   We tend to think of black South America – slave trade… or modern day slavery – car washes, sex trade, fruit pickers etc.

Different society in Paul’s day.   Moses, David and Elijah, being a slave or servant of God didn’t bring to mind drudgery or enforced hard labour but honour and privilege.

Being enslaved = bound to someone…. belonging to them….. Mr & Mrs

When we turn to God through Jesus, asking for him to forgive and put right our relationship with God, then the old self has gone. ✞

The hymn And Can It Be?  My chains fell off…..my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed thee.    being a slave to sin ends.  No longer bound to selfishness.   (chains = symbol of slavery)

Bound to him through the covenant sealed with his blood on the cross.  HC wine  cf covenant of marriage.  Who has your heart?

New self = Christian = freed form sin – born again into eternal life.

Not by following rules & regulations, not by being good by our own efforts, but by Grace – the Gift of God in JC on ✞

I am a new Creation! No more in condemnation, here in the Grace of God I stand.  Parody of song… video….. person singing the song and with each repeat gets gradually less joy, and drifting away from faith.

Why does that happen?  All the joy and enthusiasm evaporates when the difficulties of following Jesus arise.

We are free from rules and regulations.  Danger is that we do what we feel is right, follow our instincts. 

but what drives our instincts, our feel for what is right?  Our minds.  Who is in charge of your mind?  You + ‘me’  OR Christ… mind of Christ.

How do we choose what to do with this freedom?  What road are we going to travel? The one that leads to life?  or death? 

Eternal life = fullness of life, forgiveness, healing, wholeness, fruit of the spirit….

We all have the choice?  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our lord.

Do you want to do right or wrong?
                            Love or hate?
                            help or hinder good community, justice, loving ?
                           have eternal life OR separation/hell?

Jesus invites us to enter a new way of life- the way of the Cross – the way of Grace – accepting his invitation.

 The daily challenge we face is to live the life of the New Self – the Christian – bound to Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit.  And not to fall back into the old self sinful habits and behaviour, ways of thinking….. it takes a long time to break old habits and form new ones.

We all need the Holy Spirit to help us to follow Jesus + know God’s love in our lives

 A card from Holy Island has a lovely prayer based on the idea of being bound to God.  I would like to use it now and lead us in prayer.

I bind my mind to the mind of the creator God and I loose from my mind all that offends my God. That I may worship completely.

I bind my body to the will of the Saviour Christ and I loose from my body all dis-ease.  That I may serve freely.

I bind my spirit to the Holy Spirit my helper and I loose from my spirit all that is not of my God. That I may love joyfully.

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