9.11.08

Thursday sermon by Eileen Turner...what I captured...




The preacher wonders should she quote from notable theologians, like William Temple who died in 1944. Should her piece contain information about herself. It should reference scripture. Perhaps it should do all three. There is the need for the gospel to be unpolluted - most certainly. It does matter how I speak. Just like Paul, in his letters to the Thessalonians, I need to be a salesperson but an honest broker. There is the need to exhort people, nudge them towards the faith. I Cor applies here and the words 'Woe to me if I preach not the gospel.' In the letters to Thessalonica, Paul will speak the word in power and spirit. He is full of conviction. God has given him something to hold. Paul is entrusted. He 'dares' to tell the gospel in spite of opposition. When the church hears it, it is not human words - this is the word of God - they recognise, it as something that they have to have. So what are we if we are 'full of the Gospel'? We need to learn. Paul knew the scriptures both before and after he knew Christ. God has given us the privilege of learning more here at St John's - we need to pray for evangelistic hearts. As a preacher, you are approved by God. You are to be entrusted with the gospel message. As Christians we have this kind of zeal, enthusiasm or we should have. En theos - in God. Possessed by God. Full of the gospel. we can't be Christians in name alone. It's communal and out-going. We should foster a deep missionary spirit in the context of all the people we meet in your life. We can't keep the gift of Christ to ourselves. We have to give it away. This gift - if you keep it, you've not really got it.

Paul is full of the gospel but not full of himself. He is there just to preach the gospel, as purely as is possible. His motive is to please God, who tests our hearts. He is pure, upright and blameless. He wants for no-one to doubt his message. He doesn't court admiration. We must guard against using attractive elements of our personalities. If something is attractively presented, it doesn't necessarily mean that it will have integrity. We shouldn't pollute the message with our agendas. In Paul's day they were just as guarded as we are about free gifts and special ways. We need to test our preachers - do they just want to line their pockets, lure the young or gain power? Don't let any agenda obscure God's message. You will have a particular taste in worship, music, style, sermon delivery etc. Don't ever assume your way is the best way - it is tempting to think that these latest fads will work for everyone, if they work for you, but these things will pass and new things will come. Ask yourself who it is you want to imitate - it should be Christ. There are not yet many role-models for women in leadership. Robert Warren was influential in Renewal. He wasn't typically charismatic; he wasn't an extrovert. He was most often seen with his hands in his pockets when everyone else held theirs aloft. There really wasn't anything about him that obscured what God was doing.

Paul continues with his tent-making. He doesn't want money from the Thessalonians. We need to take from this a lesson about handling our money with integrity. William Temple spoke about how we should view it as an opportunity and beware lest it become a snare to the spiritual life. It's about exchanging goods and where we're not straight with money, it pollutes the message we're selling. You can diminish your own ministry.

Having said all this, we can not obscure our personalities because we share not only the gospel but our own dear selves. We share our selves, we become involved. There are two complementary images: that of a mother and that of a father. In verse 7, we learn of the nurse caring for her own children. The wet nurse did her duty, but how much more she is involved with her own children - there's a huge difference. Paul shares the gospel out of this duty but also these people are a part of him - the relationship is totally compelling and absorbing. Paul puts these people first, before himself. Like a father, he comforts, urges and encourages them and so the mother nurtures and the father exhorts and teaches. Don't appropriate these as gender-roles into our family - life, it is the image that matters - it speaks of how very important these things are. When power becomes completely subordinated to love (William Temple) - this is getting near to a definition of the kingdom of God. We should do nothing to obscure the message but that same message means nothing unless we live it out. Le us be full of the gospel but not full of ourselves. Let us absorb ourselves in the lives of others so that that might be what they see - the gospel in all its glory!

Amen

Thank you Eileen.

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.