Welcome to this morning's Worship service.
Worship today is led by Peter Gray (also available via Zoom this week)
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God Bless x
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Rev Christine Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all those who have been part of putting together this weeks service.
Below you can find this weeks Message. Click here to find the whole worship sheet.
● Who has good friends? Hopefully all of us, where we draw the distinction between just friends and “good” friends is a matter of personal perspective.
● How do you feel about them? Do you love them? That probably depends on your definition of loving them, but I personally have some good friends for who I would go a very long way to support, and who I hope would do the same for me. I am fortunate to be able to spend 2 evenings a week in the company of friends I have known since university. There are very few weeks in that time that I have not seen them at least once. In fact I only see my family more than I see them. Yes I love them as family.
● How do you show that? Do they know? Have I ever explicitly said “ I love you” to them? No not in words, but I hope in actions they know that. Maybe I should tell them. They are so important to my wife and I that we asked them to be amongst the Godparents of both our daughters. We have helped them when they moved, we have helped them in difficult times and at a moments notice.
● How have you managed to stay in touch over the last year? Zoom, phone, housecalls when permitted, just think how much more isolating it would be without the wonders of modern technology. Not everyone is comfortable with technology though and may feel far more alone than we appreciate. Inevitably for each of us there will be some people we have become distant from because of the social restrictions we have all had to endure. Are we going to try to rebuild those relationships and rekindle those friendships once restrictions allow us to - I think we must.
● Have the events of the last year had an impact on your friendship? Hopefully not, apart from frustration at not being able to spend time together in the way we normally would. I feel very fortunate that since my friends and I play boardgames together as our hobby, we have been able to use online platforms to continue this. Still though we bemoan the fact we are not meeting face to face.
● How many are Christians? Two of them have faith, but are not practicing christians, although over the last few years I have seen one move closer to that. Sadly one has had his faith challenged through the loss of his wife. Does their faith or lack of it change your relationship? I don't think it does mine but it might for you. Why should it though? More about that later...
● How do they feel about your faith? If our friends mock us about our faith, are they really our friends? That doesnt mean we should be friendly though, and most certainly we should be challenging their viewpoint - but also consider why they might be mocking it - is it because they themselves are uncertain what they believe. Do your friends support your faith? I am quite fortunate I think that mine accept it as part of who I am, and we do occasionally discuss aspects of faith.
● How much do you share your faith with them? I have found that in recent years I am sharing may faith more and more with them. I think this is more about my journey and confidence about my faith rather than them. If we don’t share, are we excluding our friends? Not very friendly! My Christian friends enable me to discuss topics and have conversations that I might not otherwise have and have definitely helped my faith grow. The disciples must have discussed things with one another trying to understand what they had been told. In the time after Christ left them they would have needed to share their thoughts and get support from others who had been through the same journey. Collectively they would be stronger in remembering what they had been taught.
Who do we share our faith with?
● Who do we share Christ with? How many of us are comfortable sharing our faith with people who are not close friends? Have we shared our faith with colleagues at work? Yes they might know we go to church but how many of us discuss what that actually means? To an extent human nature is working against us here - the majority of people are not comfortable discussing personal things with people they are not as close to. As a teacher I discuss my faith with other teachers I know are Christians, quite regularly, but less so with colleagues who aren’t. I find it difficult at times to discuss it with the students - even though some are very interested and are obviously starting to explore what they themselves believe.
● Who is God’s love for? The simple answer is everyone, regardless of whether they believe in Christ yet or not. One of the things we should be doing more, to be more missional in our lives is to share that.
● Are we a select group? The danger of gnosticism - that we make God's love and the patterns of church life into secret rights and knowledge into which people are initiated. Most Definitely we should not, and in his first epistle John is writing to counsel against this. It is a constant risk though. Again human nature and the desire to compare ourselves against one another and form into tribes makes the idea of keeping Chrisianity for ourselves so we are saved whilst others may not be, an attractive idea. This reading shows this happening - the surprise of some of the group that outsiders received the spirit had to be challenged by Peter. At the end of the day God is for everyone.
● How often do you share your faith with others who are not necessarily your friends? Probably not as often as we could or should, but as I said before human nature makes this a daunting prospect. One of my favourite comedy shows The fast show had a recurring sketch in which someone likened events to “the love of our lord jesus” anyways improbably and in a toe curlingly cringeworthy way. This is a stereotypical view of christians, but one that will persist if we don't try and change it. How to change it is the challenge we face.
● How missional are we? Do we minister to our communities? I’m not going to try and answer this question, you need to, it's something we all need to think about though.
● How do we share our faith? What do we say? This is THE big worry for many people - I don’t want to discuss my faith because I might get asked something and don’t know what to say. I came across a great piece of advice recently from a friend who is a pioneer minister in the Church of England. It was to talk about what you know and if you get asked something you don't know about to say “I don’t know that, but what I do know is…'' and to talk about our own personal experience of Jesus in our own lives. It's probably more relevant to them than we think and it's certainly something we know. If we try to be the person with all the answers, that can be off putting and we might just get caught out. Better to be honest, and human
● Sharing God in our lives - it might not be easy but sharing the joy of having God in our lives and how that impacts on our day to day life is what anyone approaching faith wants to hear about, friend or stranger, they want to know what being a friend of Jesus could mean to them, and what having the love of such a friend has meant to us is a really good way of showing that. Then through us the kingdom can grow/