Start Up Sunday/Commissioning

Date: 7th February, 2016
Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers
Lectionary Reading: Exodus 34:29-35, Ps 99, 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2, Luke 9:28-36

Twenty four hours…that’s all we had.  What were our expectations if any?

Twenty four hours….not long, but I believe a transformation was in fact happening.

This was the time the parish council members and myself spent with a facilitator, Libby Delbridge, up at Toolangi last weekend.

You will hear shortly, their ‘take’ on their experience as we met together for conversation, lectio divina of bible passages, personal time, singing, worship and eating together (it wasn’t  just the Toolangi tavern that had good food, we had our own ‘chef’!)

I was reflecting on the time Jesus went up the mountain to pray and took with him three of his friends.   He went there to pray.  What happened was something extraordinary.  The appearance of his face changed and two men, identified as Moses and Elijah were talking to him.

I’m sure Peter, John and James were not expecting this!

What an amazing experience!  And not only did they ‘see’ but heard as well: “this is my son, my Chosen: listen to him!”

There is always the temptation to stay in a place that has given us some ‘arh hah’ moments…when something we may have been troubled about, we found some clarity or for some further understanding of who we are as a child of God.

We need to come down from the mountain… we need to come back to our ordinary lives and share what insights we have gained about ourselves, others, God.

When we were away, we looked at Spirit Given gifts. Just to share a little about this.  The introduction says: ‘Throughout the Bible we can see that God gives different people different gifts to accomplish God’s purposes.  Beginning with Abraham and Sarah, where would we be today without their gift of Faith; David’s gift of Creativity, Solomon’s gift of Wisdom, Dorcas’s gift of mercy, Paul’s gift of Multiculturalism, and so on?

And so it continues today that God’s Spirit, gifts each of us differently so that the Body of Christ is strengthened to better fulfil God’s purposes.

The introduction goes on to say: apart from many useful and practical reasons for discerning your gifts, the most profound reason is simply that your gifts are the place where God is closest to you in your life.  Go where your gifts are and you will be closer to the source of those gifts – God.’

And so this is what we looked at through completing a questionnaire and sharing what our top two or three gifts were with each other.

A very enlightening exercise.

I would now like to invite the parish council members to share with you what they expected, what they learnt about themselves, others and God; and finally what they bring back to the parish.

Council members speak:

As I said earlier, I believe transformation was happening up at Toolangi! We shared our thoughts at the end of the last session and I said I felt blessed.  Blessed to be with each of these women and men who were so willing to speak honestly and freely about what we have each learnt about ourselves, each other and God and will be I’m sure, seen in the ways we minister together as parish council.

We heard in the gospel passage the time the friends had on the mountain with Jesus. They needed to come back down and we then heard a more ordinary scene of Jesus responding to human need. A father concerned about his son who probably had in today’s understanding, epilepsy.

And so it was for us, to leave Toolangi and come back to our homes, work, and parish and engage in an awakened way with those we come in contact in our lives.

We are about to enter a time of deeper reflection as we enter the season of Lent next Wednesday.  (Maybe not for our orthodox friends. Lent is a bit later!)

I would encourage you all to take time out to deeply engage with your faith. Maybe you are unsure about religion per say, but know there is mystery, an energy in and around us that you can tap into more.  This mystery and energy is God for me, but that may not be your language.

Worship on a Sunday (I hope) does provide a time of reflection, immersion, companionship and prayer.

Are there other times you can give to deepen your faith?

I have many resources and books etc which I will put out in the narthex next week if this will be of help.

The reason to ‘come away’ for a while to pray and get to know God and I hope to know yourself better and your gifts, is so that you might embrace your calling in the world to respond to the needs of all God’s beloved children with renewed energy, confidence and determination.

Today, Start up Sunday, is a great way to commit ourselves afresh to our parish, to kinder, local community, family, work places and with our friends.

We are doing this together!

How great is that!

The Lord be with you