I thought I would have some ‘down time’ one afternoon during the week with some tv viewing when a programme presenter looked at me and told me “not to change channels!”
I am sure there were others who, like me, had only just tuned in to TBNUK, on channel 65, but it was as if she was speaking directly to me. “Someone has just tuned in to the channel,” she said. “I want to encourage you not to change channels, but to stay with us!” How could I do anything else?
She was talking about one of my favourite gospel readings, the Samaritan Woman from John 4, and her theme was about how Jesus is waiting for YOU! He sits in the public meeting places waiting for people who need spiritual refreshment and gives what we need. It doesn’t matter who we are, where we are from or how good or bad we are. He offers the refreshment we need which is far more than the world can give and I find the image of Jesus waiting for us such an inspiring thought.
It might not be at a well, as it was for the Samaritan Woman, but Jesus is waiting for us somewhere to encourage us to leave behind who we have been to become the people we can be. He will ask us to give something, but what he gives back is far greater.
I was thinking about it on Wednesday morning, Epiphany, and it occurred to me how Jesus was WAITING in the beginning. He was waiting for the wise men to find him so they could leave their gifts. He waited for the shepherds to find him so they could share the good news. He is waiting for us to find him so that we can take him with us into the world and make disciples of all nations. He is WAITING for us to come to our senses and recognise how better off we are with Our Father than we are in the world….
So, I woke up on Wednesday morning and started reflecting on the link between Epiphany and baptism — which is the leap the lectionary makes this week.
I had the picture of people FINDING Jesus and then making a COMMITMENT(BAPTISM) to take what we find from the birth place into the world — to make disciples of all nations. It is a local (shepherds) and global (Magi) discipleship that can be separated by distance or wealth — the differences that can be between us — but we are united in the same family with the same mission. We leave whatever gifts we have in the presence of the Lord to use as and when needed. There are many differences between us, but we share a journey that we are still on and our Baptism/commitment is what unites us, wherever we are and whatever our tradition so the most powerful message we can deliver is a visible coming together to encourage each other.
I am convinced that Jesus is WAITING for us to work together so that all nations may be embraced in the Kingdom of God. What is Jesus WAITING for YOU to do….? You will get more back than you can ever give!
Mark sent an encouraging message for us all when he received a Christmas greeting from Margaret James and I pray we will continue to reach out to the community with the love and welcome that people appreciate. Mark said:
“t’s wonderful that people attending our outreach groups have taken the time to write, ring, and email to express their gratitude. It’s very encouraging to know how much what we do is appreciated
Here’s a card that also demonstrates two other very positive things. Margaret recognises that the activity is part of the church and that it is a church community effort hence addressing to “all at the URC”
“Secondly she sees it as one of ” our favourite things”. Showing that she views the activity as a member of a community. This has been said by many other participants in different ways. It has been further demonstrated by the way that you and everyone associated with church activities have maintained contact, addressed need, and grown friendship with the folk who are neither of faith nor attendees at worship on a regular basis. It’s emphasised too in the calls we have received from them to see how we are and to encourage us. And that they are in touch with each other directly. It is wonderful that you do what you do, as we show what it means to be a Christian as we become closer friends with our neighbours, pray for guidance of what to do, and leave the rest to God.”
The above message was sent by Mark as I was negotiating a two hour Zoom meeting with our Methodist friends discussing the budget, job description, employment legislation and more for a possible new Community Outreach Worker. Yes, we might be moving slowly, but we are moving, but there is one important thing to remember: An Outreach Worker can’t do it FOR US and can only do it WITH US. When we, and the Methodists, can open the doors to our churches and Church Hall again we can’t bring in the harvest through our activities without more workers.
God Bless, Richard