2nd February 2024
'something beyond ourselves'
"I have a dream!" The famous words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
My dream is that we, as a Christian community, can make a significant difference.
We all meet people looking for 'something beyond themselves' to give meaning and direction to their lives; they want hope when in dark times.
For our church to meet this urgent need we must understand what our faith in Jesus really gives us; how utterly, radically different it is to anything else this world or even other faiths can offer.
What's all this talk of mission and growth got to do with stewardship?
Our goal is transformation. Transformation of hearts, of individuals, of community, of society, of the world."
This is what God calls us all to, as a church and as individuals because he made us stewards of his creation.
However you read them, the opening chapters of Genesis set the agenda for the whole bible.
They're not a factual, scientific text book, but describe the story of God's very first interactions with his creation.
It's abundantly clear that, however it happened, God is the originator of everything.
Creation was his to bring into being, and his to dispose of, as he saw fit.
Genesis 2 tells us that he saw fit to dispose of it by creating a steward to tend his creation - mankind.
His direction to us is to care for creation, to work in it, to make it fruitful.
When we're selfish, keeping stuff for ourselves, we deny what we're made to be and we become distorted somehow; selfishness turns us inward, away from our God-given calling to be outward-looking stewards of his creation.
After all, a steward's job is to consider first and foremost his master's well-being and affairs; a steward can only consider his own needs after those of his master have been met.
So, as we learn to give of ourselves more and more, we actually become more of what we're meant to be; we become more fulfilled, not less.
Ask any good parent, spouse or partner. You gain your greatest fulfilment by giving of yourself to see others grow.
So if stewardship is our calling, what's our response?
The rich young ruler learned he couldn't DO anything to earn his place in God's kingdom.
Renouncing things that kept him from God and following Jesus was what mattered.
The truth is in the parable.
This vineyard story is one of God's utter generosity towards us.
It's God's generosity that keeps inviting new workers into his vineyard for a full day's pay; it's God's free invitation that gives us all access to his kingdom, regardless of 'how far the day has gone'.
His call is always to come and help make his vineyard fruitful.
How wonderful to be part of that! And do you see parallels with Genesis here?
I asked what should be our response to God's call for us to be stewards of his creation.
God placed Adam and Eve in beautiful Eden.
He's placed us in our beautiful churches.
God, in the parable, called the workers to make the vineyard fruitful. He calls us all to do the same work here.
One of the reasons the American civil rights movement succeeded is that people believed it really could transform society; I believe we can transform ours too.
Otherwise, why has God put us all here?
He wants us all, his church here, to be fruitful, to convey the message of his incredible generosity; we're all involved in it, just by being here, and we have a message that can truly transform our community.
Yet we must all play our part in that provision.
The largest item of expenditure is our parish share, which gives parishes their vicars with housing and pensions.
It's good value for money. It's an area of our own vineyard.
Above all remember we're all called to be stewards of God's vineyard, to work for it to bear fruit, and to share the generosity of God with those around us.
To return to where I started, I have a dream, a dream of a growing church, a church working for growth and transformation in this vineyard where God has placed us.
After all, if we don't want to be a growing church, a transforming church, what kind of church are we?
This is an edited version.
The full article and Bible references are avaiable on request
The Church building
may be at the end of Church Road, but you will also find us out in the community in the Parish of Hook-with-Warsash.
Contact the Rector
Land Line: 01604 - 815496
(Can be accessed from the mobile device)
thebeneficeofbhkandr at gmail dot com
Contact the Benefice Office
Sunday School Rooms, Church Lane,
BUGBROOKE, Northampton, NN7 3PB
Land Line: 01604 830373
thebeneficeofbhkandr at gmail dot com
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9:00am to 11:30am
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