I remember hearing that ministers only have three sermons- maybe 4 at most- they just say the same things in different ways. Just in case you missed them- I reckon these are mine.
1 If you have doubts and can’t believe anymore- don’t throw the baby out with the bath water (Do they teach that in new mum’s groups too?) Dig deeper, push through to a new understanding of God and how God works in the world. Faith has an unending depth to discover. If something is true then it is of God.
2 Jesus set a trajectory for change. Following his death and resurrection he sent his Spirit into the world that would lead us further on towards what he called the Kingdom of God- a world community of diversity, justice, peace and enough for all. Whatever changes in the world reflect that vision are of God. A quote that’s been important to me for this is: the work of God in the world, where Jesus Christ is present [is like] a ‘floating crap game’ and the church [like] a confirmed gambler whose major compulsion upon arising each day is to know where the action is so he can run there and dig it.’
3 Another foundational quote for me is : If the church isn’t connected with its poor it can’t really be the authentic church of Jesus Christ. Be involved. Never settle for comfortable middle-class religious clubbiness. But it’s OK to be middle class. The rich are usually not interested and for the poorest just getting by takes all their energy; it’s the middle class who can make a difference. The four pillars of being a disciple of Jesus are I believe: Growing in Spirit yourself, Serving Others in Need, Working for Social Justice so people aren’t in need, and Inviting others to Join you in Discipleship.
4 has been about teaching Spiritual Practices- as well as church worship, spending quiet time in prayer, meditation, or nature; reading with a spiritual search, or losing yourself in music and creativity. Anything that’s humble, quiet, open-hearted and open-minded- puts us in touch with God. And the first spiritual practice- the beginning of all spirituality I believe is gratitude.
And so I want to say thanks- for your willingness to share the adventure with me over the last 15 years. Some ministers hardly get a honeymoon period- I felt like mine has just gone on and on. I’ve relished the variety we’ve had in ministry.
Thank you for your contributions in the church, including the money you’ve put in the plate- or mostly direct debit these days. It this that’s allowed me to serve the church and community. So the kudos goes to you.
Thank you to Malcolm, Marjorie, and earlier Elizabeth for your encouragement, support, tolerance at times, and faithfulness to our covenant for working together.
Thanks to Colleen. Without her wisdom and love I couldn't have done what I have.
And of course, thanks to God. I’m not as prepared ahead as some ministers- but then not quite as last minute as others. But at the start of the week I often feel empty for next week: I believe God has given me the ideas, insights and whatever creativity to share; and led me in the direction of spiritual growth and understanding I’ve been on.
Last thing: is the grace of God who loves us as we are, and doesn’t demand perfection. Seek to be a good church, and be good people, but don’t worry about trying to be perfect- that sucks the joy out of faith and life, and can send us off into judgmentalism and derail our love of God. All faiths converge on living with kindness. Like our banners on the front of the church. They start with God is Good and end with Kindness is Everything.