Romans 15 v 5/6. Last year, I think it was, I began to use various Scriptures as a blessing at the end of Sunday Services, one of which is Romans 15 v 5/6 appears on the front of all this year’s News Letters and is our 2015 Church Text. As I haven’t done any teaching on it I’m including some now.
One commentary on Romans summarises Chapters 1-15 of Paul’s letter using the word ‘Righteousness’, as follows: Righteousness from God, The Unrighteousness of all Mankind, Righteousness Imputed, Righteousness Imparted, God’s Righteousness Vindicated and Righteousness Practised. (Putting it this way is a bit like the The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s treatment of Shakespeare! (www.reducedshakespeare.com/) The verses we are looking at come under Righteousness Practised, i.e. you’ve had your theology now do it!
Another commentary summarises using the word Gospel, as follows: The Significance of the Gospel, The Gospel Servant of the Gospel, The Summary of the Gospel, The Problems of the Gospel, and The Practice of the Gospel. Again verses 5 & 6 come under Practice. As James’ Letter says don’t be hearers only (of the word) but doers too.
Chapter 15 begins by pointing to Jesus as our example. Jesus put the will of God first of all. He’s the one who didn’t please Himself even bearing the insults that should have been ours. The Scripture itself is our example too, it teaches and encourages us to endure. There are many Apostolic prayers from Paul for the church, as verses 5 and 6 are. It’s good to use these prayers for each other, for we all need to receive endurance, encouragement and a spirit of unity from God. The purpose of which is to glorify the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are praying, amazingly, that the nature of God would be our way of life toward each other in our fellowship, our Church! As God gives endurance and encouragement so should we give these to each other, as God the Holy Trinity is united so should we be as we follow Jesus. The qualities which make for harmony in the local fellowship of believers are to be found in God Himself.
To earth these verses take some time out to make a list of your brothers and sisters in St. Mary’s or Holy Trinity. As you write the names down, picture them, give thanks to God that He’s called you to love each other – to put Romans chapters 1 – 15 into practice. Now here’s a question, is there anyone on your list that you endure? Or who you find discourages you because you have negative feelings toward them? Are you disunited with someone in the fellowship, would rather not spend time with them? How do verses 5 & 6 help, convict or change your attitude? Hard isn’t it – putting theology into practice?
It’s good also to thank God for those who you get on well with, those you have unity with, who are encouraging to you, especially the closest ones Ask God to deepen even the best relationships that you have.
Do use these verses regularly for prayer.
‘When we commit to a vision to do something that has never been done before, there is no way of knowing how to get there. We just simply have to build a bridge while we walk on it.’ You may remember this from Kerry Dixon’s visit or the screen in church and hopefully from the May News Letter. See page six where the words are superimposed on a very scary piece of bridge building! In this season at St. Mary’s and Holy Trinity I believe we have two particular priorities, Jesus HIMSELF and continuing HIS Mission, and the practical love as expressed in Romans 15 verses 5/6 which I touched on above. As we ‘build the bridge of these two things bridge while we walk on it there are bound to be scary things, challenges, laying down of firmly held ways of doing things. One example is learning from Acts 15 where the church listened to each other, discussed deep things and came to an agreement in the Holy Spirit. On some Sundays I teach a little with the purpose of stimulating giving time for discussion then and there during the service. Hopefully discussion continues afterwards at various times. This openness together in church causes a little shall we say tension for some, partly because it may be personally uncomfortable and partly because of what it isn’t – a proper sermon either expository or otherwise. We need to do more listening to one another in order to be in agreement and a Sunday service is an obvious time.
1 Corinthians 14 v 26 helps, ‘What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.’ We are very good at sharing during a service and need to do more as this verse says.
Expanding this argument I would like us to ‘build a new Sunday Service bridge’, being open to what may be to us new ways of valuably using the time. Scary!’ When Holy Trinity is reordered there’s much opportunity for creative services alongside the familiar and traditional.
‘Who we become in the process is as important as the achievements on the ground’ was another slide that Kerry showed us, and that is quoted in the May News Letter. I believe that the Holy Spirit disturbs us to help us know what’s in our hearts, what our (often hidden) motives are, why we respond in certain ways. So building a bridge while walking on it is a spiritual exercise that the Spirit is taking us on. It’s His idea to build this part of the bridge and to walk on it.
I’m very happy to meet and talk more about this with groups or individuals. The next Church Prayer Meeting for St. Mary’s and Holy Trinity would be a good time and place to talk about this. It’s on Wednesday 17th June, from7.30pm -9pm at Holy Trinity. Last month’s Church prayer meeting went well though we do need to use a microphone so as to include everyone.
If I may mention bridge building again, our evangelistic / mission work hasn’t brought very much fruit over recent years in either Parish, has it? We invested in three banners to advertise weekly Children’s Church at Holy Trinity, have given out invitations through the schools and personally to some families including baptism ones, and the response was one visit from a mum with her toddler. Interesting isn’t it? It’s similar when advertising Easter and Christmas services and events, though seemingly good to do, the return though welcome is little. So part of our bridge is looking at our evangelism. At another time we would benefit from praying and thinking through the difference between Christianity as we have it today in the West and Jesus.
Service as in gifts, talents and ministries. As I said at the APCMs (AGMs) we are thankful to each other for all the gifts, talents and ministries given to the Lord at both our churches by His saints. There’s tons of hard work, some seen lots unseen. Thank you.
Particular thanks to John (Philips) for his work with Christian Aid, from advertising, collectors decorating Holy Trinity church and motivating us. Thanks to Val, Sue and team for making the Craft Day a big success, the ‘light’ bring and share lunch with fellowship was very good too.
I’ve mentioned having the west transept (school) side of church as a permanent art & craft place for use during services. Sue (Crabb) has done a brilliant job with arts & crafts when Children’s Church has not met. The children and young people seemed to have enjoyed this opportunity and it’ll be very useful during the holidays. The idea is not to keep children and the youth from being bored during services, rather to enable our God given skills to be used. Grown ups are encouraged to go use the arts and crafts to express themselves during (before or after) services.
Another example of bridge building?
Many congratulations to Linda Webb, who was on placement with us for three months as part of moving from being a Pentecostal pastor to an Anglican priest. Currently Linda and her husband John are with two friends driving a blue Chevy from Chicago to Los Angeles or Vegas (can’t remember!). Linda has sent this email message to us all:
‘Hi Guys. Just to let you know I’ve been accepted for training & ordination. Incumbent status to be reviewed down the line which I’m not upset about. Only God knows his specific plan. Thanks for all the help, support & prayers.
The plan so far is Oxford for a year ….will need more prayers but can’t wait.
Love and God Bless. Linda’
If you’ve read this thank you! It may be a bit long however I’m sharing my heart and leading us forward.
Every blessing in Christ Jesus, Nick