I'm loving being able to welcome so many new folk to St Matt's! The last few weeks have been an amazing time in the life of our church as we have celebrated all that God is doing amongst us. If you are visiting today you are also very welcome, as are all our regular attenders. God wants everyone to know that he loves them and helping other find a way to belong to his family is our core business.
We believe this is made possible spiritually, by trusting in the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf on the cross. But it is our determination to be radically inclusive in our community which gives flesh, if you like, to those spiritual "bones". In other words, we may not be the perfect example to follow but we are certainly the only living example many people see of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. And how we relate to each other demonstrates what God's Kingdom is like.
Wow - that's a big call! But notice this passage from the Apostle Paul:
1Th 1:3-7 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (4) For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, (5) because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. (6) You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (7) And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
Thank you to everyone who worked hard last week for our guest service to the Bishop and the families and friends of the Marimba Taters. What they witnessed was a genuine and generous, loving and welcoming community. We can be very pleased with our result as was Bishop Philip who wrote us up in his weekly newsletter to clergy, " . . . Ian and the congregation have rebuilt the relationship after some of those years when secularism and sentiment against RE took hold . . . Our worship attracted "non-church" goers who all stayed long after the service ended. The St Matthew's folk made them all welcome with kindly smiles and fine food for both lunch and morning tea . . . Ian, like others, is deeply invested in this model as a way to re-engage a community indifferent or alienated from the Church, rebuilding trust by faithful and humble service."
You guys are awesome - I love leading this church! God bless, Ian.