Vision: Community

For six months we have been seeking God in prayer and taking input for our VIP. This week we continue our mini-series looking at a summary of that as we look at our new Purpose and Vision.

Purpose

Serving the community of Bedhampton by sharing God’s love and friendship.

Vision

In Bedhampton Parish we seek:

To be part of the whole community building relationships and seeing God’s Kingdom come.
To be a place where the community gathers for celebration and commemoration from birth to grave.
To enable all ages to grow in discipleship and faith in small groups whilst giving and receiving support, love and practical help.
To be a place where all ages gather together to worship God in a range of expressions.

Mark 4.1-29

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…

Introduction

As I said last week, we have been praying now for six months for God to reveal is purpose and vision to us as a church here in Bedhampton.

And last week I introduced the purpose statement for us as a church.  

Serving the community of Bedhampton by sharing God’s love and friendship.

The idea behind the purpose statement is that we have an understanding of why we exist as a church. That we are not here just because we have always been here, but that we are here to share the love and friendship of God within Bedhampton. We are not here just as a social group, but we are here to share the love and friendship of God with Bedhampton.

Having looked at our purpose last week, over the next two weeks we begin to look at our vision. If our purpose is why we are here, then our vision is what we do as a community heading towards Jesus. Or perhaps a better way of saying that is what we want to become.

Your PCC leadership team and I have taken all the input from the last six months, all the prayer and listening to God and we have tried to summarise it in four parts of a vision statement that we might remember.  

In Bedhampton Parish we seek:

  • To be part of the whole community building relationships and seeing God’s Kingdom come.
  • To be a place where the community gathers for celebration and commemoration from birth to grave.
  • To enable all ages to grow in discipleship and faith in small groups whilst giving and receiving support, love and practical help.
  • To be a place where all ages gather together to worship God in a range of expressions.

Outline

This week we are going to take a look at the first two, and then next week we will look at our second two. In many ways they split down quite nicely like that particularly as the first two specifically mention the Bedhampton Community.

So this week we look at the community part of what we believe is God’s Vision for His church in Bedhampton.

Let’s start with the fact that we as followers of Jesus in Bedhampton seek:

To be part of the whole community building relationships and seeing God’s Kingdom come.

What has come out of all your input is the fact that we are to be a part of our whole community here seeing God’s Kingdom come.

We heard last week as God’s people in Bedhampton we are the salt who will flavour our community, but only if we get out amongst our community. The whole of our community. In this week’s Gospel from Mark Jesus says the same thing in a different way,

He said to them, ‘Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

We are God’s people but if we hide ourselves under a bowl, in our church buildings what use are we?

So we must go out into our community to build relationships and see God’s kingdom come. Did you notice that last part in our vision statement?

…to see God’s Kingdom come.

As I so often say that is God’s kingdom come in the here and now, not some future heaven

In my opinion all too often as Christian’s we have historically mis-sold Jesus as some type of insurance policy. Do what you want, but as long as you say this prayer before you die you will be in heaven.  

Some of us are old enough to remember the phrase Pie in the sky when you die. It is a critique from a  song by an 1911 activist called Joe Hill. The phrase Pie in the sky when you die is a dig at religious people who promise some future heaven, when  the people they are speaking to are hungry for food in the here and now.

Long-haired preachers come out every night
To tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
But when asked how about something to eat
They will answer in voices so sweet:

    You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
That’s a lie

Focusing on some future heaven is not the Jesu way.
In the gospel of Luke we hear:

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is in your midst.’ Luke 17:20-2

In Mark we read:

…Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ Mark 1:14-15

Yes Jesus does speak of a future with him, but actually he is all about God’s Kingdom making a difference here and now. Jesus vision for Bedhampton is for us to bring His Kingdom to Bedhampton now.

To do that we need to go out into His kingdom in Bedhampton and bring good news to the single Mum. We need to go out and bring good news to bloke who works all the hours God gives him because he is worried about paying a mortgage or rent. We need to show God’s love and friendship to the loney, the smelly, the grumpy, the seemingly successful, those who seem to turn us away. And as we go out into the whole of bedhampton we need to be looking for opportunities to share that love and make a difference now.

We go acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God and his people in Bedhampton. Because Jesus is not pie in the sky when you die. He makes a difference in the here and now.

Which brings me to the next part. As followers of Jesus in Bedhampton seek:

To be a place where the community gathers for celebration and commemoration from birth to grave.

Sometimes as a Church of England church community I believe we miss the opportunity God places in front of us.

We are a trusted brand.

Historically people will come to us for Easter, for Christmas. The will come to us to celebrate when they have their child baptised. They will come to us when they want to get married in church. They will come to us when they want to bury their loved one who has died.

We are a trusted brand.

Many months of the year we get an extra 100 or so people who come to us because one of their own is getting baptised, married or buried.

Now we could moan and groan. We could say they come one Sunday for a baby dunking and we never see them again. But you don’t do that. So we will continue to do what you do so well.

We say here is an opportunity to speak of Jesus to make a connection and to sow a few seeds. Once a month rather than stay away from the service because it’s a baptism. We come and make them feel welcome.  We walk-humbly and love them and see what happens. The results are not down to us, these people who come are adults and can make their own decisions after they investigate the truth of jesus

The result is down to them and God, our job is to sow the seed and not get in the way of the Holy Spirit

Jesus said in our Gospel.

 A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.’

They come to our baptism, a wedding, a funeral. We love on them and some will never come back because the seed fall are rocky ground or are scored by the sun. There is a world out there that will get in the way. They will buy into the lies of the world, that they are only worth something if they have a big house or flash car, rather than the fact they are sons and daughters of God and loved by him.

Some will  show an interest and maybe come to something else, but get choked by the weeds. Others will talk them out of it. ‘I went to church once but someone was rude to me.’ Not I went to church once, and they showed me the love of Jesus.

But others will come, they will learn of Jesus, they will seek to know more of Jesus, they will trust their own integenece and investigate. They might discover that we make mistakes just like the next person and are no different to them. And maybe they will become an apprentice toJesus, just as we are.

Our job is to just, to love on them, and not get in the way of the Holy Spirit.

Application

So there you go, a summary of half of the vision we have for this church.

  • To be part of the whole community building relationships and seeing God’s Kingdom come.
  • To be a place where the community gathers for celebration and commemoration from birth to grave.

So my challenge this week is the same as last week.

Maybe this week take away that book mark with both the Micah verse on it and our purpose and vision and pray each day. God what does this mean for me? What is my part in this purpose and vision.

Once again I believe that if we do that and then act upon the results, then we truly will be

Serving the community of Bedhampton by sharing God’s love and friendship. 

Once again I invite you to come and join me in doing just that.

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