Welcome to everyone joining us for our Monthly Celebration today at St Matt’s! It’s a great time of: catching up with each other’s news; re-kindling our sense of community; taking the opportunity, as community, to think again on God’s words to us; and coming to him corporately in prayer for the things we hold dear in mission and well-being for the world and ourselves.
This month, as part of the season of Lent, and therefore as we head towards Easter, we will be focussing on Jesus’ relentless pursuit of His Father’s goals. Luke 9:51 “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem”. Some different versions of the bible phrase it like this:
• ESV - “he set his face”
• The Message - “he gathered up his courage and steeled himself”
• CEV - “he made up his mind”
Jesus was determined to do His Father’s will, no matter the cost and all for our benefit. He died, so that we might have new life. We discussed last month that the devil, the enemy of God, tried to do everything to dissuade Him from this solitary goal - and failed - because Jesus was faithful to the task.
This month we discover that difficult as it was, Jesus was prepared Himself and wanted to prepare His followers for a new reality – that death is not the end, and that Jesus Himself had power over death.
As John looked back over his long life, and especially those amazing years at Jesus’ side, he could see how Jesus had prepared them for what was to come. These very famous words
. . . (John 11:25-26) “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
. . . come to us as a powerful reminder that it is God, and neither humans nor any other power on earth, who has control over life and death. The worst the world could do to Jesus was killing Him but that was not enough. Despite everything that seems wrong in our society, despite all attempts to rob us of our faith, the world just does not have what it takes to kill God, even when he came in flesh as a human being.
I find these words so comforting. Sometimes it is very hard to do the Father’s will. It has its costs. But there is always resurrection for those who believe and trust in our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
So, this is the last written word from me. I finish on 30th April and your Locum Vicar, the Rev Andrew Grills takes up responsibility from 1st May. I wish (and will be praying for) him and you very well indeed and I am glad to hand you over to his care, all the while confident that we are all in the care of our wonderful Heavenly Father.
God bless you always, Ian.
NB: The farewell date mentioned last month is now rescheduled for Sunday 23rd April at 5pm.
P.S. A new, mid-week service for Seniors and others will commence on Wednesday 10th May at 10am for coffee, service at 10:30, finish by 11:30m & rides home for those who need them!