In my current role I can often find myself going literally months without spending two Sundays in the same Church. It's difficult then to engage with any church community so I find myself feeling very much like an outsider quite often. On Sunday morning I was asked with very short notice to come and speak at a church in Golden Bay. On my list of churches that are a priority in terms of youth work, it is very low on the list with a largely elderly congregation and having been a church that has had a few splits and bad experiences in the last few years. I said yes but felt immediately after that like I should have said no, but I went all the same, hoping that God would use me, that nothing would be thrown at me and I wouldn't be accused of heresy half way through my sermon (yes it has happened here).
I could not have been so far wrong, in terms of being part of a community they were so loving and welcoming I felt more at home there than I did in the church I semi regularly attend. The worship was 70's style but really up lifting – so much so that a holidaying couple who were walking past came in because it sounded like there were angles singing in the building. I think given what has gone on their maybe there were angels giving everyone a lift. As for my input I preached on Jesus' presentation at the temple (see below), for those who know me what I write in a sermon and what I actually say on the day can be different, this Sunday was no different – I really wanted to focus people back on Jesus and the price he paid for us, there were a few tears, there was also a room full of people inspired to keep moving on, to keep telling God's story to each other and to their local community. God came through, and I am humbled that he so often does that. The feedback was that it was a word in season for so many people – one women who was on holiday visiting from the largest church in our region said it was the best sermon she had ever heard (part of me said I should have handed over my business card and say I am available for a call in December).I am a very good preacher, with an ability to capture an audience, keep them entertained as well as challenging them, Mark Driscoll claims he learned about preaching from comedian Chris Rock, for me it was Billy Connolly, but unless the Spirit is moving then it's all fluff, comedy and words. It's humbles me how much God does use me when I speak – given I think so often I am a screw up. But then as Mike Riddell use to always say to me when he mentored me that if the light contained in a clay pot, it's going to need a few cracks to come out (I think he stole this off Paul!).
It was a Golden experience for me, one that reminded me of my call to ministry AGAIN. So as I reflect upon the year ahead (my last year in this current role) and wonder what opportunities God will place before me, I'm reminded that I still have a call to ministry, and in spite of the fact that I have felt many times over the last few years that I should "get a real job" that God still has work for me, and yes he still wants to use me.
Thanks people at Golden Bay, you have been a band of angels for me lifting this tired servant up again – may God's grace continue to stir you and lift you also