VIP – The Journey
What do you pack for a journey? For me, the first thing I grab is that black bag you may see me carrying around. Inside is everything I would want to have to hand. My Bible, notebook, pens, glasses chargers, cables, and the list goes on. This week we continue our Journey of walking towards Jesus as a church here in Bedhampton, and the next leg is a particularly import part of our journey. Over the next few months, we are going to be listening to God to discern what vision He might have for Bedhampton. It is important we pack well for this journey, and that is just what we are looking at this week.
Speaking Notes – Caveat
These notes are my speaking notes and are provided as an accompaniment to the recording. Please accept that they are not intended to be a published grammatically correct essay. I do hope and pray however they help you move towards Jesus.
Now onto the content…
Have you I wonder even seen the film The Way? The Way is a film starring Martin Sheen as Tom. Without giving too much away Martin Sheen plays Tom who ends up on a long walk, a pilgrimage along The Camino de Santiago. The Camino is many things, part of which is something like a 500-mile walk a walk along Northern Spain. The film depicts the journey he takes with its ups and downs and the strange people he meets, and ultimately walks with. It’s a journey of discovery with new friends where Tom finds out that what his son said to him is true. He said:
You don’t choose a life you live one.
I was reminded of the film this week when I sat down to try and describe to you what I hope will be the next leg of our Journey as a church who walks towards Jesus. Tom from the film discovered that the destination is not always the only goal and that there is much we can discover, there is much we can learn about who we are, along The Way.
The same is true of course from our reading this week. We join Moses as he kneels before God and receives the commission to set God’s people free.
We know the ending and so we know that God’s commission is but the beginning of the 40-year journey to the promised land. We also know that much of what God’s people needed to learn, needed to discover was had along The Way.
It is six months since Suzy and I joined you on your journey. Like Tom picking oddballs up you have picked Suzy and I up en-route. Hopefully, you have discovered over the last six months that whilst we may be a bit odd, we do have a heart for us all as one church to journey towards what God has planned for Bedhampton. And so as we head into the next six months I wanted to explain what the PCC and I believe God is asking us to do. I want to invite you on the next leg of our journey.
Over the next six months there are three things I think we need to listen to God about, and strangely I think I can tell you now what God is going to say, because he has already said much of it in this book, we call the Bible. But as I have said before it is about discovering the nuances, the specifics of what God has to say about the journey of His people here in Bedhampton.
So I have packed for our journey.
Identity – Who are we? – We are God’s People – Mirror
I have packed a mirror. I have packed a mirror as a sign of Identity. Who do we see when we look in the mirror? Who are you, who are we as a church?
When I look in the mirror I see a few more bags around the eyes than there use to be. I see grey hair, where once there was a mop of dark hair. How about you? I like you could look in the mirror and decide that my identity is one of someone who has had the best and now needs to coast through to the end.
But that identity is not one I see in this book.
When God speaks to Moses and commissions him he speaks about a group who have a different identity.
….‘I am the God of your father, …‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt’.
You might have missed that among the flames of the burning bush, but God is saying I am your God, your father, and you are my people. He is saying the Egyptians may have told you that your identity is one of a slave, but I say you are a son, you are the daughter of the most high God. And he says the same to His people in Bedhampton.
You may have been told by the world and the media that the church is dead, but God says you are my people in Bedhampton, and I promise you life and life to the full.
That is the identity we know, as we continue this journey towards Jesus. We are God’s people, God’s sons, God’s daughters.
But what identity are we going to discover as we journey? Who as a church are we going to discover we are?
Purpose (Mission) – Why Do We Exist – Love God and People – Army Belt
The next thing I have packed for our Journey is this. It is my shoulder belt for my Army dress uniform. And on this belt is this pouch. And recently when I wore my uniform for remembrance someone asked me what is the purpose of this pouch, and the answer is I have no idea. Which is wrong, I should know the purpose of what I wear as I journey.
So I place this in our bag, to remind us that we have a purpose, a mission for God and we should know what that is.
The purpose we know about is that we are here To Love God and Love, People. We know that because we read in the Bible Jesus tell us that our ultimate purpose is to Love God and then to love people.
But what purpose are we going to discover as we journey? What are the nuances of our purpose for God as a church here in Bedhampton? How are we going to discover our purpose?
Identity and Purpose we will discover more of them on our Journey.
Vision – Where are heading – Binoculours
Finally, I have placed in our pack a pair of binoculars. Binoculars because we need a vision for the future, where are we heading?
The vision we ultimately have. The vision we know about is that Jesus will return that God’s kingdom will; come to this earth. That is the vision we know about. We know ultimately we are heading in that direction.
What we are yet to discover is the vision God has for us here in Bedhampton. How is He going to take our Identity, take our Purpose and have us implement the fact that we are Sons and Daughters of God who will love him and His people here in Bedhampton?
What has God specifically called us to be and to do here as a church? That is what will begin to discover on our Journey of the next six months.
Identity, Purpose and Vision that is the journey we are on.
If it helps you remember you might want to swap the initials around rather that IVP you might want to remember that God loves you and to Him you are a VIP. A person who has Vision Identity and Purpose. We are a church who needs VIP, Vision Identity and Purpose.
Strategy – How do we get there
So that is our Journey a journey of VIP. But how do we get there? Because every good pilgrimage, of course, has a map. And this one is no different.
Our map is one of based upon this book and what Jesus said in our Gospel reading today.
…when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father….
And so our journey will be one backed by prayer. Now let me be honest with you I find prayer as much as a struggle as the next person. But I know that if we are to discover God’s Vision for us, God’s Identity for us, God’s Purpose for us we much do that in prayer. And so the PCC as the leaders of this church will pray, and we invite you to join us in prayer.
…This, then, is how you should pray:
Then he prays the prayer that He taught, the prayer we pray every week. He doesn’t say this a a magic prayer, pray this way and your prayers will work. But he does say when you pray
Worship God – He says hallowed be your name – so out journey will include worshipping our God.
Forgive – Forgive us .. as we also have forgiven – So our journey will be one of saying sorry for our mistakes and seeking forgiveness. But also forgiving others of past hurts. Of looking back at our past as a church and where people mucked up saying that is OK, this is a new day as we journey together.
So we will be worshipping and forgiving on our journey, but then Jesus also says.
‘When you fast…
Did you catch that
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
Now I have got the time today to go into depth about fasting, but I will teach on this just before Lent next year. However, if I can be real honest, if I am not very good at prayer I am worse at fasting.
I use to think that fasting or the giving up of something for a short time was for the extremists. For the slightly odd overly Holy people. And yet Jesus says when you fast, not when the Rector fasts or when the Bishops fasts, but when you fast.
I also use to think prayer and in particular, fasting was about twisting God’s arm. ‘Look, God, I so desperately want you to do something that I have given up jelly babies for a week.’ But of course, it’s not.
It’s not twisting God’s arm and it’s not for the super Holy. So some of us where is medically safe are going to fast for 24 hours every week as we journey over the next six months. If appropriate and safe for you, you can join us. Or you might choose to fast from TV or social media for some time each week as we seek God’s Vision, Identity and Purpose for our church as we moved forward.
As I said last week on this Journey there is a place for everyone. All sorts of oddballs like Suzy and I are welcome. Whether you are new to the church or have been here for every you are welcome to listen to God and feed back to me and the PCC what you hear.
Over the next six months, there will be opportunities to join us and you are invited to do so. In the new year, we will be announcing some afternoon and evening services which are specifically about listening to God as we seek his Vision Identity and Purpose for Bedhampton. We will also be inviting others to join us and give us input. But don’t wait for then, the way, the journey continues today. And you are a key part of it.
Because in the same way that You don’t choose a life you live one. You don’t choose a church, you are one. So come and join us on the journey and see what we discover along The Way.