Community

Holy Week (Palm Sunday)

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SUNDAY 25 MARCH 2018

We are in the season of Lent - the six weeks that lead up to Easter - traditionally this is a time of fasting, prayer, repentance - even now the idea of what are you giving up for Lent (chocolate, coffee, tv etc) which reminds us of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, fasting despite temptation. 

It’s designed as a space where as we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus, we bring our hearts and lives before Jesus to ensure we are following wholeheartedly  - it’s a space for a WOF - to check the core parts of our life and faith are aligned.  To recognise our human tendency to selfishness and rebellion and to have our hearts ready for the reality of Easter - connecting with both the death and sacrifice of Jesus that we might be ready for the receiving of resurrection power.

In this space leading up to Easter we will explore what that means for us as a community, as a group called to follow Jesus together. 

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This week we step into one of the most celebrated on the Christian calendar - known as Holy Week it is both an invitation and a challenge. It’s an invitation to discover what every human has searched for and a challenge to live in the light of that reality. It is both the best news you will ever hear and the biggest adventure you will ever be invited into.

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday - where we remember Jesus entering Jerusalem in the week leading up to the cross.  As we explore this today we unpack the theme of sacrifice and how we understand and connect with the cross and its continued impact today. 

And as we have been exploring as a community together - the call to intentionally choose to sacrificially love one another and to be built together using our shared gifts, resources and life to love one another and by that transform our community.  I believe there are challenges on that for us, for those of us who call CNL our community.

  • Will you commit to it by stepping into your gifting and your call?
  • Will you commit to it by honest conversations?
  • Will you commit to it by forgiving other another, bearing with one another and encouraging one another?

Community - what am I in for, and what's in it for me?

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SUNDAY 18 MARCH 2018

We are in the season of Lent - the six weeks that lead up to Easter - traditionally this is a time of fasting, prayer, repentance - even now the idea of what are you giving up for Lent (chocolate, coffee, tv etc) which reminds us of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, fasting despite temptation. 

It’s designed as a space where as we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus, we bring our hearts and lives before Jesus to ensure we are following wholeheartedly  - it’s a space for a WOF - to check the core parts of our life and faith are aligned.  To recognise our human tendency to selfishness and rebellion and to have our hearts ready for the reality of Easter - connecting with both the death and sacrifice of Jesus that we might be ready for the receiving of resurrection power.

In this space leading up to Easter we will explore what that means for us as a community, as a group called to follow Jesus together. 

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Today we move into the practices and priorities of who and how we build community together.

In the New Testament there are 94 times the phrase “one another” is used and 47 of them are instructions to the followers of Jesus about how to do life together.  It is well worth taking these one by one and unpacking them in context but for our purpose today here are some of the interesting groupings/weighting’s. Of these 47 references:

  • 14 are about Unity
    That's 30% about maintaining and growing in unit. That unity in diversity is where the power is, what we have to work on and where we experience the blessing of God.

  • 15 are about Love
    30% are the call to love - that agape, sacrificial moving towards those who aren’t like us and don’t like us. Love is the glue of community.

  • 7 are about Humility
    15% are about the underlying attitude/posture of humility - that our ability to build community relies on us taking the same attitude as Christ in our relationships with one another - humbling ourselves...

  • and the other 13 apply to different situations
    An overriding them of encouraging, building up, stimulating to good deeds, eating with one another

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But the reality is we can’t do all of this with everyone - there are overriding principles that apply to how we operate (we have an attitude of humility, we forgive, we speak well of each other).

However, there is are layers within which this community is built.  And there are appropriate expectations to have.  Sociologists & Jesus recognise this!  It is a basic human need to be known.  And when we experience that need being met it frees us and empowers us to make our best contribution.  Paul talks about this when he speaks of us as ones who are adopted into the family of God, with the immeasurable lavishing of God’s love and grace and freed from the sin and guilt which damages us to live a life of love - where we partner with God to bring the Kingdom here on earth.  That we are loved, liked and called on an incredible adventure.  Part of this is being placed in and building community.

As we unpack this today I’m hoping for us to see and recognise together what healthy and right expectations of community are.  Unmet expectations are one of the most destructive things on the planet - you see this in marriages, businesses, families and churches.  When we expect something and it goes unmet we get disappointed, hurt, bitter and grumpy!

Image Credit: 3D Movements LLC

Image Credit: 3D Movements LLC

We get into trouble when we define church/community in only one part.  We also get into trouble when we expect the wrong thing from the wrong bit. We are called to grow. You can’t now and definitely in the future won’t be able to know and be known by everyone - and we shouldn’t expect too.  That would limit what God can do through us. The reality is that as we grow the caring/pastoring and being known happens by the people you do life with - the people you mutually choose to both love and be loved by. 

This is the overriding call of the “one anothers” - to build and grow the dearest place on earth requires us to pursue unity, to love sacrificially, to have an attitude of humility, to pray for, bless, encourage and spur one another on.

Jesus loves and likes you and calls you on an incredible journey, and you can’t do it by yourself.  What is speaking to you today?

Living in Community

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SUNDAY 11 MARCH 2018

We are in the season of Lent - the six weeks that lead up to Easter - traditionally this is a time of fasting, prayer, repentance - even now the idea of what are you giving up for Lent (chocolate, coffee, tv etc) which reminds us of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, fasting despite temptation. 

It’s designed as a space where as we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus, we bring our hearts and lives before Jesus to ensure we are following wholeheartedly  - it’s a space for a WOF - to check the core parts of our life and faith are aligned.  To recognise our human tendency to selfishness and rebellion and to have our hearts ready for the reality of Easter - connecting with both the death and sacrifice of Jesus that we might be ready for the receiving of resurrection power.

In this space leading up to Easter we will explore what that means for us as a community, as a group called to follow Jesus together. 

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I felt it was a good time to address one of the core cultures - our shared agreement on how we will be with one another that builds good news stories in community.  The core strategies Jesus gives to build and maintain unity and empower mission.  Let’s read and delve into Matthew 18:15-35 together:

Dealing With Sin in the Church
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

 

Uncomfortable call to Community

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SUNDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2018

We are in the season of Lent - the six weeks that lead up to Easter - traditionally this is a time of fasting, prayer, repentance - even now the idea of what are you giving up for Lent (chocolate, coffee, tv etc) which reminds us of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, fasting despite temptation. 

It’s designed as a space where as we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus, we bring our hearts and lives before Jesus to ensure we are following wholeheartedly  - it’s a space for a WOF - to check the core parts of our life and faith are aligned.  To recognise our human tendency to selfishness and rebellion and to have our hearts ready for the reality of Easter - connecting with both the death and sacrifice of Jesus that we might be ready for the receiving of resurrection power.

In this space leading up to Easter we will explore what that means for us as a community, as a group called to follow Jesus together. 

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We start this journey by jumping into the story in John - where Jesus is deeply aware that he is about to go to the cross, and he has gathered together his disciples for the Passover supper - the last time they will be together before he dies - and in this context he gives them new meaning to the supper they are eating, and a new command. John 13:1 says “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

 

Jesus took this diverse group of people, loud mouths, cowards, detail orientated, bold quick movers, jokers, political activists, quiet ones, unknowns and the final and new command he gave them was this:  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

For Jesus AGAPE is not primarily a feeling that happens to you – it is:
• Action - a choice you make to seek the well being of people other than yourself
• Generous - Seeking the well being of people who can’t repay you in return, especially those in difficult situations
• Unconditional - ultimate test is how well you treat the people you can’t stand... your “enemies” - those who will never return it