Sunday, 22 January 2017


Acts 10:25-29
On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, “Stand up; I am only a mortal.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?”

We imagine the apostle Peter, who learned hard lessons as a disciple of Jesus, would have a handle on living the gospel faithfully in the culture in which he was rooted. But then he meets Cornelius and his foundations are shaken. Each converts the other to a new way of being in the world, in the kingdom work of joining God in mission.

Meeting last week to review the journey that is Path of Renewal, we spoke of the unraveling and dismantling that has confronted and challenged us as we seek ways of faithfully being disciples in our culture today.
The work of discerning where and how God invites us to join in mission for this age involves relinquishing our hold on things we thought we had learned and the laying down of skills we thought we had mastered to make room for new possibilities that God sets before us. Being involved in God's mission renders us novices instead of the seasoned professionals we previously considered ourselves. We find ourselves questioning all that we thought we knew.*
It's hard work - and it's tempting to return to the status quo, where we feel slightly better equipped and where we perhaps better fulfil the expectations of others. Life would be so much easier if we could stick with what we think we know. (Perhaps!)
But, having glimpsed that preferred and promised future that God lays before us and beckons us to pursue, we cannot turn back, no matter how awkward the terrain or how slow the journey.
We are compelled by the God of mission to keep on seeking out the Cornelius's who challenge us to broaden our horizons, to change our mindsets, to embrace a new commitment to discipleship and to keep on following God whose mission we are about.
And so the hard work of listening to God, of forging and deepening relationships, of letting go, of laying down our professionalism, of encouraging and empowering others and of continually re-aligning our notion of mission to that of God become the things that we take up every day - the tools and the work of the Kingdom. The great unraveling!

*Ministers involved in Path of Renewal Pilot have from 2 to 30 years experience!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Discerning the task

Mark 1:35-39
A Preaching Tour in Galilee
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Discerning the focus of the ministry to which each of us is uniquely called is not an easy task.
There are so many distractions and seductions that lie in wait diverting us from that one thing that is ours to do.
And rarely do we have the opportunity to step aside and take time to enquire of God: What is it you would have me do?
Our lives are lived fast paced in the melee of juggling so many demands and calls and opportunities - in being busy.
To say no to anything that seems like it might extend the love and grace of God to others is a risk we are unwilling to take. We hate to disappoint. We live in fear of that one time we held back being the time we might be involved in kingdom work with God.
Discernment is crucial.
So, too, is creating the space to dabble.
Creating space, the foundations of which are listening, love, grace and forgiveness, that allows trial - and error, that encourages stepping out and embraces return, that fosters growth even when pulling back, and that provides a safety net for risks undertaken.
Finding that one thing requires resisting seduction but, rather, taking time to listen, finding courage to try and embracing both hope that we are in tune with the heartbeat of God and forgiveness when we miss the mark, along with resilience to learn and to try again.
...for that is what I came out to do.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Escape to Egypt

Matthew 2:13-14

The Escape to Egypt
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,

The season of Epiphany is not just about gifts and stars and wise travellers but also about fear and flight and a whole caravan of slaughter. Those wise visitors left chaos in their wake. They stirred up the fears of a nation, precipitated the slaughter of innocents and the Son of God was forced to seek the relative safety of Egypt.
Egypt as safe space or as a refuge is a recurrent theme in Scripture. When the people of God became disillusioned in the wilderness, they longed for the familiarity of Egypt, conveniently forgetting the oppressive regime they had endured while slaves in that land.
In the business of transition, which is a slow and often painful process, there will always be the temptation to "return to Egypt" whatever or wherever Egypt may be for us. 
In the midst of disorientation and confusion we will be tempted to settle for what we know, however unhealthy or ineffective we know that to be.
The work of renewal demands that we hold tight through the chaos in the knowledge that, though arduous, the God-inspired journey is worth making however uncomfortable it becomes.
And identifying the "Egypts" in whose safety we are tempted to seek refuge will help us recognise when we are settling for less than the promised land that can only be reached by faithful travelling alongside God.
Our prayer is that, on the journey, God gives us glimpses of affirmation - Epiphanies along the way.

(Coddiwompling: travelling purposely toward an as-yet unknown destination.)