Alstonville Anglicans

Thought for the week

Call

Isaiah

The meaning of the texts today is
summarised with the word CALL. The prophet says: Here am I Lord Send me.  We have been breathed into being by the Creator of the
Universe. We are mandated by God to share this “God presence” with the world, with those around us, with creation. Each of us will give a
different shape and form to how we share God’s presence with the world. Some in the parish are called to teach, others to be parents, others to be artists and musicians,
others to pray for others. This is their unique way of sharing God’s spirit with the world. When they do so, they bring nourishment to their souls and to the souls of those around them. Jesus said it is my food and drink to do my Lover’s will (if you don’t like that name for God use ABBA or Father).

 Luke 5:1-11

1 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

 

Rector Alstonville
Lost

Lost and Found  Luke 2:41-52

Panic that causes suffocating anxiety is the loss of a child. Children are seldom “lost” though – parents are rarely so careless as to “misplace” a child. It’s more like malevolent magic – one
second a beloved child is holding your hand and in the split second of blinking one’s eyes they have disappeared –‘poof’. Thus, understanding the obvious terror of Mary and Joseph is not difficult for any adult who has had responsibility for a younger person. There is a deeper loss that the Gospel is preparing us for. Parents’
expectation often clash with the dreams of their children – Jesus
argues with his parents: "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them.

Since the call to follow Jesus overrides every other call, a normal family
tension is often exacerbated in the sphere of discipleship.  Jesus says it very bluntly: "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” No would-be disciple can avoid the pain of this, for it goes to the centre of what God in Christ has come to do for us: to raise us to a level where absolute love holds absolute sway.

 

Rector Alstonville
Children as sacraments

Jesus Christ is the centre of our faith;  the child Jesus is the centre of the mystery of Christmas we have just celebrated.

 

When Jesus grows up, he will teach “let the children come to me for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” and “unless you
become like a child you will not inherit the kingdom.”

Alstonville Anglicans take Jesus seriously. We regard children as a sacrament – an outward sign of invisible grace. Why? Because Christ became a child. Why? Because Jesus said the kingdom of God belongs to children.

 

Here are some important things to remember about sacraments.

1. Sacraments ‘work’; they  communicate God’s love and presence.

Sacraments work because God is good; not because the giver or receiver is good. Children are sacraments, pointers to the kingdom of God, because God is good, not because children are good, pandered to, put forward,
entertained or made into entertainment. It is enough for children to
merely be a part of us.

2. We create spaces around our sacraments- we have an altar for the Eucharist and a font for baptism. Likewise, Alstonville Anglicans
create a worship space that indicates that children are welcome.
We achieve this by:

 

a. Inviting children to the front of the church where there are comfortable cushions to welcome them.

b. The Godly Play models inside and around the altar
communicate the sacred story of God’s work with God’s people.

c. The Godly Play models are lovingly made by the saints and ministers in our church family. They are not clutter, but holy things for holy people achieving a worshipful atmosphere.

 

3. Sacraments ‘work’ when they are received. Bread and wine
remain bread and wine until they are given and received as the body and blood of Christ.

Likewise, Alstonville Anglicans explore wise and sensitive ways to ‘receive’ children.

To this end I offer my gratitude to all of you for

working with me as fellow ministers in receiving

children as sacraments.

 

I am especially grateful to those who have offered
self-emptying love in creating Godly Play models (holy things for holy people) and working with children and families in Messy Church and other projects.

 

 

 

 

Rector Alstonville
Before...

Jeremiah 1:4–10 (NRSV)

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” 9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

There is a commonly held conviction that “calling” applies to pastors only. I would like to break that definition. The truth of the matter is quite
different. Every human being has a vocation, has a “calling”. By baptism you have already accepted the invitation to carry out your vocation, to
carry out your “calling”. Every Christ follower is a called person. Listen to the words of Jeremiah, they apply to each of you: “before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I called you”. One of the chief tasks of an ordained person is to help people uncover and develop their calling. What is a calling? Calling is a Biblical word to describe how each person has something beautiful to do for God. Each of us has an
assignment to do that has our name written on the tag. Each of us has a song to sing, a message to deliver, a special gift of love to offer that no one else can offer. This is what Jeremiah could mean when he says that “even while I was in my mother’s womb you formed me, you called me.”

 

You have something beautiful to do for God, I wonder what it could be?

 

Rector Alstonville