Lamentations 1: 1 – 6
2 Timothy 1: 1 – 14
Luke 17: 5 – 10
- Parish Review – congregation identified what was needed – outreach: and that means the Gospel. We all know this is the major shortcoming we have as Christians.
In fact so urgent is this imperative that some churches have rushed off to present false Gospels: because it’s easier to do something rather than the right thing – even if it is false good news, like:
- Believe in God and all your troubles will disappear (especially if you have faith). You’ll get rich. You won’t be sick.
- Or worse, still believe in a concept called god and don’t worry about the afterlife – this life is all we have – so live life that is convenient because god (with a small ‘g’) is love, and won’t hold you accountable for anything.
- Or more commonly: don’t get too involved in Scripture, or the cross, or demanding discipleship. Just give people the warm fuzzies. Don’t inconvenience them. Then they’ll come back for more.
Have you noticed the common denominator? No cross. No commitment.
- None of these is the Gospel – neither is the Gospel simply a ticket to heaven while everything else is unimportant.
The Gospel is this:
We have all fallen short of God’s standards. Hence God in Christ died and rose again for our salvation. We respond to that with:
- repentance (turning to God)
- remorse (feeling sorry for our separation from God) and
- faith (reaching out towards God.)
God in turn embraces us like the Prodigal Son’s father embraced him, with great joy and love.
The final part of the Gospel is what results from it:
- a relationship with God through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit that sees us become more like Jesus, and
- a commitment to love others, especially the unlovely.
That involves a resolve to be a follower of Jesus – a disciple, and the lifestyle that logically follows which includes a promotion of the values of Christ in everyday life.
- Quote Paul to Timothy – 11For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. Jesus commissioned us to go out into all the world with the Gospel.
- However, before we can learn to speak, we need to learn to listen. The first task Lesson one – listen.
Listen: Isn’t this what pets do? They are there for us. CS Lewis said God gives us pets so that we can learn to love.
Pets do far more listening than anything else. They are a great example of loving listening. Our homework for the week ahead is: intentional loving listening.
- Intentional because you plan to do it and are aware that you are doing so.
- Loving because you do so with the full intention of hearing what they both say and mean, without leaping to conclusions or judging them.
I’m going to end with Where Do Pets Come From?
(An internet discovery from Saint Elizabeth’s Anglican Church in the Anglican Province of America – which I have adapted slightly.)
And Adam said, “Lord, when I was in the garden, you walked with me every day. Now I do not see you anymore. I am lonely here and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me.”
God listened carefully, and God said, “No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will know I love you, even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish and childish and unlovable you may be this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourself.”
And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased.
And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and he wagged his tail. And Adam said, “But Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and all the good names are taken and I cannot think of a name for this new animal.”
And God said, “No problem! Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG.”
And Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him. And Adam was comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail, and never spoke back.
After a while, it came to pass that Adam’s guardian angel came to the Lord and said, “Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but no one has taught him humility.”
The Lord listened carefully and the Lord said, “No problem! I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not worthy of adoration.”
And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam. And Cat would not obey Adam.
And when Adam gazed into Cat’s eyes, he was reminded that he was not the Supreme Being.
And Adam learned humility.
And God was pleased. And Adam was greatly improved.
And Cat did not care one way or the other.
And all this improvement came from God listening carefully.
That’s our task for this week: intentional and loving listening.