Welcome to everyone worshipping with us today at St Matt's. This is our monthly Celebration Service where, as the name suggests, we celebrate what God has been doing amongst us in the past month or so.
Today is extra special as we will also celebrate Joseph Pilon's decision to follow Jesus, by reaffirming his Baptismal vows. We welcome all those who are here to support him.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, (current leader of the Anglican Church worldwide), said last year in an interview, "The decision to follow Jesus Christ is the most important decision in anyone's life!" That's a big statement. I happen to agree with him, of course, but what would make us say that?
Firstly, there are some of the things Jesus said about himself in the bible. For example, "I am the way, the truth and the life - no one comes to the Father except through me". He was saying that if you really want to know God, then follow and learn from me. He was speaking in a context when there was no doubt that God was real - the question was more a case of, "How can I know God personally?"
Secondly, there are things that others have said about Jesus of Nazareth. A Jewish historian, writing in the mid to late 1st Century AD wrote, "Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure . . . He was the Christ; and when Pilate . . . had condemned him to the cross . . . he appeared to them alive again the third day" .
C.S.Lewis has said, "You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse . . . but let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being [only] a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
So, what about you? What have you decided about Jesus? How does it affect your life? St Matt's is offering a ten week course, called Alpha, commencing Thursday 9th April, 7.30-9.00pm, (and then weekly on Thursdays), at which you can ask any question you like about Jesus and the Christian faith. You'd be very welcome to join us for lively discussion and /or ponderous reflection - and I guarantee it will help you make your mind up!
God bless, Ian.