All Saints Day – Sermon 288
All Saints Day
6.30pm Evening Prayer CW
4th November 2018 [Not Preached]
Prayer to Start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
When my children were growing up – they loved throwing stones in the water – the bigger the better – since the more exciting the splash –
Not that water needs a big stone to have a profound effect – just a tiny pebble tossed into the center can send ripples radiating outwards towards the bank
In a sense the same could be said of our Christian lives – the size of the pebble doesn’t matter – only that we are prepared to make a splash and send ripples outward affecting all around us –
Point 1 Encouraging the Christian message
In our NT lesson we hear about the Church at Colossae which as far as Paul was concerned was making a good splash –
It was doing very well but it was only just starting up – full of energy and enthusiasm but unaware of the great dangers and problems that they could face.
Paul was in prison and couldn’t be with them in person to guide them and reach them – He knew that human instinct alone would not be enough to get them through to Christian maturity – and so he helped this process by writing to them and supremely – praying for them –
He prays that the grace given by God will lead them into a new lifestyle –
Paul knows they need God’s wisdom and spiritual understanding – and a deep inner sense of who they are.
He prays for help in their behaviour towards each other and others – a sense of knowledge of what might hurt or damage the church – and help in bearing fruit.
He prays that the new Christian life that has been implanted in them will also give them energy and enthusiasm – he prays for God’s power and strength to enable them to live the new way.
The climax of Paul’s prayer is for them to learn the art of thanksgiving – this is something he comes back to over and over again – a central theme to his letter –
What Paul most wants to see growing in a church is a sign of a healthy Christian life – showing gratitude to God – for the extraordinary things He has done for us through Jesus Christ – and the remarkable things He continues to do in the world
Spontaneous gratitude of this kind is a sign that they are coming to know and love the true God –
Paul would say to us as he said to the young Christians in Colossae – a life saved and lived in the presence of God – will be a life of thanks giving –
Point 2 Work out your faith you are
Our reading from Colossians, is typical of all the beginnings of Paul’s letters to the Churches – they all have one thing in common –
Not only prayer and teaching – but also – they all relate to a specific group – in a specific place – called to perform a specific task –
One or two of his letters were designed to be passed on to other groups in similar situations – but Paul’s underlying intention was always the same –
He wrote to encourage Christians in a variety of locations and situations – to work out their faith where God has put them.
For Paul – this was important because he knew that involving Jesus in our day to day living – not only reinforces – our need to be committed and visible Christians – but it also provides a catalyst for growing the church.
Here this evening in Church – we are all Christians together – making our prayers and praises to God – together – which is important – because together – as Jesus says – we can be effective in alerting God to the needs of others and of the world as we see them –
But what Paul is also emphasizing and encouraging is the need to put – our faith into practice – outside the Church – in our village – in our homes and workplace – in the things we do and say – wherever we find ourselves.
As Christians – we will be judged by those around us not on what we do in church – but whether the person we are – corresponds to the person we profess to be – outside – in our daily lives –
whether the Christian love we talk about – is seen in action – by those around us who are in need of that love –
Yes we should proclaim the name of Jesus as often as we can – but Paul asks us too – that we make our commitment to Jesus visible to others – through action outside this building – and so encourage others to come to faith –
Point 3 Sharing our Christian Faith
Sharing the faith is never easy – but spreading the good news of the Gospel – by talking about and reflecting the love and blessings that Jesus brings – provides significant benefits – nothing less than a new creation – both in those spreading – the message – and in those who receive it.
When we become Christians – or when we talk about and show our Christian Faith to others – this pleases God – and in response He gives us a new sense of His presence and love – a new sense of His guiding and strengthening.
Sharing our faith in practical service with those around us – reinforces maturity and development not only to the individual but also to the Church Community in general.
Paul’s message to the newly developing Colossian Church is about encouraging the ‘word of truth’ the seed planted in them to grow through God’s power and to bear fruit that will last.
In the same way we here must develop and bear fruit and so grow the seed in our Church to reflect the good news that Christ brings.
What Paul is so grateful to hear is that the behavior that marks out so much of the world – anger, lies, greed, which splits up so many families and communities – is being replaced by kindness, gentleness, forgiveness and an acceptance of one another as the same family.
This as far as Paul is concerned this is the true sign of God at work.
The power of the Gospel over the centuries has spoken and changed many lives – through God’s grace it transforms and creates.
We should not rest until God’s will is done – and His Kingdom Come – Jesus who plunged Himself into the pool of Human history changed the world – such that it would never be the same again –
Today He calls us to change the world of those around us and so continue the ripple and growth of His church from this generation to the next.
Are we ready to make a splash for Jesus – prepared to send ripples outward affecting those all around us – inside our Church and outside –
the size of our splash will be up to God – the important thing is that we are prepared to throw out lot in for Jesus –