It’s now been a year since we arrived in Lindfield, and it has flown by! We’ve had a wonderful time getting to know you all and are feeling really settled.
My first sermon was on 1 Corinthians 12 and being the body of Christ. It’s a vital picture of what we share as Christians, as it not only reminds us of our common life source, but also our interdependence.
Shortly after that, I was asked to help with our wonderful weekend at Ashburnham. One little ‘treat’ that I’d been nominated for, was to lead you all in a rap on the Friday evening. Now, I’m not famous for my lyrical rhyme to a hip-hop beat, but I was going to struggle to get out of this one!
I was asked to teach us all 1 Corinthians 12.27, from the same passage from my first sermon:
‘We are the body of Christ and each of us is a part of it - 1 Corinthians 12 verse 27’
Remember the tune?!
Well what a great reminder that verse was, as we started our weekend together. And of course it’s true all the time. If we trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we have an eternal truth in common: we are Christ’s body.
Now the picture carries all sorts of vital themes, and one of the most important, is just how necessary we all are for one another. I’m more consciously aware of my hands than my kidneys, but I’m told my kidneys are rather important! I’d certainly miss them.
So too in church life, some of us are more noticeable than others. But we’re all equally important to the health and vitality of this part of the body of Christ - All Saints’ Lindfield.
In September, we’ve planned another weekend. This time, it’s non-residential as Ashburnham 2014 will be the next big weekend away but it’s set to be a wonderfully encouraging time of fun and fellowship as we socialise and worship God together. Please, please book to come along. It’s easy to regard such weekends as another thing in the diary to juggle, but this weekend is different; a great chance for the body to gather as one, across various congregations. If you’re thinking you might not come, you WILL be missed by the rest of us, as a body only works best when it’s all together! So whether hand or kidney, grab a form and sign up today!
Jesus and Peter:
In this post-resurrection appearance to his disciples, Jesus turns to Peter and asks him three times, ‘Do you love me?’ We all know why Jesus asked Peter this question. At the time of Jesus’ trial before his crucifixion, Peter had denied Jesus three times. Peter was afraid of what might happen to him if he confessed to being one of Jesus’ disciples.
But notice what Jesus asks. He doesn’t mention Peter's fear and denial; he doesn’t remind Peter he had predicted this would happen. Rather, he asks, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Jesus didn't say it, but Peter must have been left thinking, ‘If I love Jesus, how could I deny him three times?’
Jesus is in the business of restoration. He knew that Peter loved him. He knew that Peter would end up being one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church. He knew – as we do from church history – that Peter himself would be crucified, following his Lord even in death. He knew that Peter loved him. It’s as though Jesus is reminding Peter of the true test of love. As Jesus had taught his disciples earlier ‘Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge also before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.’ (Matt 10:32).
It’s still the same today. If I love Jesus then I will confess Him and not deny Him. I will not be ashamed to confess Him before others. The bottom line is this – that the Lord Jesus wants our love. He wants our love, no matter what. He wanted Peter's love despite his denials. He wants our love too, no matter whether we have denied him or professed him, no matter how we may have fallen into sin or tried to do the right thing, no matter how strong or weak our faith may be.
When we can truly answer ‘Yes Lord, I love You’, then Jesus says to us, as he said to Peter, ‘Follow me!’ Let’s re-affirm our love for our risen Lord by following him more closely, whatever challenges may come in the future.
Pancakes go down a storm in ‘Pymble Towers’. I’ve managed to teach the children that golden syrup, Nutella and granulated sugar are the trinity of toppings! But of course, Lent is not all about burning off the calories from one of my pancakes! Rather, it’s about preparing to focus once again on the cross of Christ, and that first Easter.
Former Bishop of Liverpool, J.C. Ryle helps us immensely:
‘As we use Lent to prepare for Easter, we may follow Jesus all through, from the bar of Pilate to the minute of his death, and see him at every step as our mighty substitute, our representative, our head, our surety, our proxy–the divine friend who undertook to stand in our place and, by the priceless merit of his sufferings, to purchase our redemption.
Was he flogged? It was done so that ‘by his wounds we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5).
Was he condemned, though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty.
Did he wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory.
Was he stripped of his clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.
Was he mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honoured and blessed.
Was he reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin.
Was he declared unable to save himself? It was done so that he might be able to save others to the uttermost.
Did he die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.’
Consider what we have in Christ, and thank God, for his death in our place, this Lent.