A student survey conducted at one of our local schools determined that young people see the church as being full of old people and pews. And they think that the pews have to go. There’s some good news in that survey, they didn’t say the old people should go, only the pews.
Think for a moment: How does their perception match reality?
We might immediately begin to defend the pews. They've been good enough for generations. They keep us awake. They haven’t killed anyone.
Or we might be offended that they’ve labelled us as old. We might argue that we’re not nearly as old as our grandparents were at the same age.
We might want to join James and John to ask Jesus whether we should call down fire from heaven and destroy them.
But before we get too defensive, these young people are crying out for the church to recognise and value them. They don’t think the church cares about them, they don’t think we care. They think the church is only interested in the people who’re already involved, which to them means old people.
I wonder whether they’re any different to those of any age who aren’t connected to our churches. Would the whole ‘unchurched’ and 'previously-churched’ community agree that we don’t care. Would they contend that we’re only interested in ourselves.
If we’re so busy polishing and defending our pews then they have to go. If there’s anything in our church that uses up our time at the expense of living our lives for Jesus then it has to go.
Even more urgently we have to go. Not leave the church, the community of God’s people, but go with the good news that because God loves and cares for every single person in this world so do we.
“As you go”, Jesus says, “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus cares about this because he has ‘skin-in-the-game’. He died for each and every one we encounter as we go about our lives.
How do we, as individuals and a church, need to change so that no one in our community will feel that we don’t care about them?
This is a picture of a stake and its tree. Or is it a tree and its stake? The stake was once a pine tree and even now you can see signs of the way it grew. It was sacrificed to become a support stake for a little gum. This gum tree will never be a giant but it has completely outgrown the stake. The stake is now redundant but it remains there as a reminder that this tree was once little and in need of support. Can you imagine someone coming across this stake and its tree many years ago and noticing the tree was getting taller than the stake? What if that was considered disrespectful and the tree lopped just short of the height of the stake? It might have killed the tree and if it didn’t it certainly would’ve stunted its growth. The past is like a stake which has done its job and has often done it well but the present is where we live and wouldn’t it be sad if the past killed us or held us back and restricted our growth. We celebrate the past and learn from the past but we can’t live in the past. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) but he speaks to us in today’s language. God is the God of the living not of the dead. (Matt 22:32) His truths are timeless but they are also timely. We read and study his word not so we can live like the ancients but so we can discern how we are to live today. I think if the stake could talk it would tell us it is very proud of what its tree has become. Are we doing our forbears proud by who we are and what we’ve become and will become as God’s people in this time?
As we begin 2020 large areas of our land are still in the grip of drought. Fires have been ravaging our land and destroying the homes and livelihood of people and animals. We might like to ask is 2020 going to be a year of destruction and death or a year of goodness and grace?
Some will say that because it’s begun so badly it can only improve but others might say this is just a foretaste of much worse to come. What about us?
What is our vision for the year of the Lord 2020 and can we claim to have 2020 vision to explain the current circumstances?
If we want to throw Bible verses around to prove our prediction or our version of the truth we’ll easily find them. But that’s not what the Bible is for and not a very helpful way to proceed. It’s much more important and helpful to have a holistic view of the Bible and the nature of God and to allow that to inform our thinking.
We know that
· God is love and nothing can separate us from his love.
· Our lives are in God’s hands.
· God will never leave us or forsake us.
· No matter what happens God’s always doing his best for us.
· We live in a broken and sin-filled world.
Therefore if you say 2020 will be a year of destruction and death, I’d say, you could be right. And if you say 2020 will be a year of goodness and grace, I say, you’re absolutely right because we’re children of God. Our hands are prayerful and we’re holding hands with our loving God.
In 2020 - Lord, teach us to pray.
Whatever 2020 brings - Lord, teach us to pray.
At the end of 2020 - Lord, let us look back and thank you for the privilege of prayer.
Prayer is conversation with God and therefore all prayer is by its nature relational. Some prayers are more relational than others and sometimes we’re more aware of the relational aspect than
When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray he gave them an example and model for prayer which we call the Lord’s Prayer.
This amazing prayer is relational from beginning to end
but we can rattle it off rather than relate to our God
Not only is it addressed to our heavenly relative, our Father (Dad) but Jesus taught us to pray ‘our’ Father rather than ‘my’ Father.
As God’s children we’re related to God and to all God’s people. We’re all brothers and sisters. The Lord’s Prayer focusses on both of those relationships.
We pray for God’s name, kingdom, and will. We’re at the same time asking for and committing ourselves to a good relationship with God. We praying to the God of the universe and therefore the prayer has a universal focus.
There’s no ‘I’ in the Lord’s Prayer.
It protects us from selfishness
We pray for the daily needs of the world-wide family even though we might be thinking about what’s in our own pantry.
We pray for good and lasting relationships. Because we often muck them up we ask God to forgive us so we can keep on
We pray we’ll neither lead our neighbour into sin or be led into sin by our neighbour.
Our prayer for God to deliver us from evil applies equally to ourselves and our neighbour. We desire as much good for our
neighbour as we do for ourselves.
Lord, teach us to Pray!