A few thoughts via video from KBC pastor, Nicholas Tuohy.
I remember spending quite a bit of time in my later high school years thinking through what I might do when I finish Year 12. I could not make up my mind! I think the major thing that turned me off the idea of any one career was that I couldn’t see myself being a journalist, or a teacher, or a lawyer or a human resource manager or anything else for the rest of my life. It seemed so boring!
I have the type of temperament that enjoys change. Of course, for others, the mere mention of the word ‘change’ creates feelings of anxiety.
Leaving the security of home for an unknown place is certainly up there with the more stressful changes in life.
For the thirty-two students joining our community today, there will be those who simply cannot wait for this change in their lives and there will be a good number who will be battling feelings of nervousness, uncertainty and perhaps even fear. Probably for most, it will be something like nervous anticipation.
We can probably safely assume that the vast majority of our students are coming from homes where they’ve experienced love, support and care. When the ancient Israelites left Egypt, it was a very different situation. Leaving Egypt meant a move away from slavery, a sense of homelessness and disorientation.
I remember a time many years ago now when I was lost in the bush and wandering around trying desperately to find something recognisable. With each minute that passed, I grew increasingly anxious and wondered about all the potentially horrible things that might beset me! When I finally heard the voice of someone I knew, I was overcome by sheer adrenaline-fuelled excitement.
I can only imagine that such feelings of joy, relief and expectation must have been all the more overwhelming for the Israelites as they finally left Egypt. To leave Egypt was the hope of coming home.
Home is not necessarily a place to be thought of geographically, and certainly not as a fixed, physical dwelling. The sense of coming home should be about coming to a place where you feel loved and accepted – a place of belonging. Home should be a place where you are able to be yourself, to have others take an interest in the real you. Home is a place where you are supported and challenged. It is the place where you are able to recharge. It is a place where you are secure enough to be able to grow and to flourish.
We know that the Res is successful if, by-and-large, our returning students feel that they are returning home today. For those who are joining us – excited, nervous, fearful or all three and more! – we hope that, with time, this will become a place that you think of as home. We want to welcome you today, not simply to a new address, but into a new community and a new sense of home.
The church is irrelevant. It’s clearly corrupt. The church offers nothing of value to the world. These are fairly common sentiments. But have you ever heard anything positive about the church in the media? Can it be that bad? What do you actually know about the church? Actually, what’s the point of the church- or, what is it?
There’s a number of things the church, through its people, has offered the world:
But in fact, all of this pales into insignificance when compared to the greatest thing the church has given the world: Jesus. Actually, it was Jesus who gave the church to the world so that his life, truth, love and ministry could go on.
Over the next several weeks at NightChurch we will seek to answer the question as to what is the point of the church with a focus on:
Source for some material: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/features/2011/05/06/what-the-church-has-given-the-world/
Tuesday’s prayer breakfast is a great time with a mix of people from 10am and NightChurch. It is so wonderful to gather as a church other than on Sundays, share life, prayer and breakfast. See you on Tuesday at 7am. PUT IT IN YOUR SCHEDULE NOW!
Just on Prayer, it is my intention to start each term this year with a Week of Prayer. Similar format, but open to creative and imaginative ways of praying. If this is something you believe God might be leading you to be involved, have a chat to myself. I believe persistent, committed, loving prayer needs to be infused in our blood as a church; prayer needs to be the double helix of our DNA. Ok, enough metaphors, but I am very serious about this.
There can be a tendency in our sophisticated, technological and progressive society to see prayer as something we move on from, or grow up from. But it is more something we grow in to. And truly, it is a keystone practice that underpins the life of the disciple and the life of the church. As breathing is to a physical organism, so is prayer to our spiritual lives and vitality. We don’t run classes in breathing because we all know how intrinsic and fundamental it is to life. To not engage in breathing is to die. Prayer is the same for us individually and as a church.
Prayer is not a gimmick, not even a means to an end; coupled with faith in Jesus it is the doorway to walking with God and living by the leading of the Holy Spirit. As one author put it some years ago:
Whenever a congregation begins at any point to centre down in prayer, God engineers new developments which may loosen the constricting lethargy and make possible the deep breathing of the Holy Spirit into the soul of his church. Dr Charlie Shedd.
On Thursday 29 January, Anita and I returned from two and a half weeks in Western Australia, enjoying times of relaxation, refreshment and marvelling at God’s creation. Since then, this last week has been a flurry of activity; prayer breakfasts each morning, the prayer and worship night on Wednesday, the leaders’ retreat on Saturday, and a full set of services on Sunday!
Despite this potentially exhausting schedule, starting the ministry year in prayer and reflective planning has been invigorating, and set a refreshing tone for 2015. Since my natural tendency in my Christian walk is to seek outward service of God in action, this week of prayer has again reminded me of both my constant need and the benefit of seeking God through prayer and reflection.
Throughout 2014, this need for a combination of both inner nurture of faith and outward expression of faith became particularly clear. While some people felt spiritually drained through constant service activity, others felt disturbingly comfortable and restless for ways to live out what God was growing in them. Some people even experienced the feeling of swinging on a pendulum; in one season under-emphasising outward expression of faith, and in another season feeling drained by over-expenditure of energy in outward action, at the expense of personal development of faith.
On Saturday at our leaders’ retreat, we spent the morning in prayer, singing and solitude, and ended the day sharing communion. The middle chunks of the day were spent in planning, visioning and robust discussion. Despite the long day, this helpful combination of seeking God inwardly balanced with active planning and discussion ensured we were neither too drained nor inactive in our time together.
Jesus provides us with a similar pattern in training and preparing his disciples. In Mark 6, Jesus sends the disciples on mission, to preach repentance and perform miracles (Mark 6:7-13). On their return, Jesus then takes the disciples on a retreat (Mark 6:30-32), to enjoy rest in a solitary place with him. Jesus’ passion for mission and active faith is matched by his desire for us to have quiet time with him, growing in personal faith.
In 2015 at NightChurch, we will seek to follow this healthy model of balancing inward and outward elements of faith, particularly through our small group ministry. In March, we will be launching a “missional” vision for our groups, that they might both continue to encourage inward faith, and provide genuine, practical opportunities to serve. Please pray that, both as a church and personally, we might seek to know God more and grow in faith, and serve God as we are able, in practical action in the world.