As many of you may know we have introduced a new Communion and Blessing service into our rota of services. I would like to share with you part of my sermon which I preached at that new service on 12th February 2017 ....
"One of the most important things we do as a church family is to come together with Christ as our head and to share bread and wine as we remember what he did for us. Communion is central to our worship and I know many of you will agree that it is part of what makes us who we are today. That said, we must also understand that for many who have joined our church community it is a little difficult to understand especially when it is wrapped in a language that is very ‘churchy’.
Today is about beginning to share the mystery of the Eucharist in a way that excludes no one. It struck me recently how the church is one of the few organisations that is open for non-members - I mean that it’s not about us and what we want or feel comfortable with, but for every member of our parish outside of these walls. This means we sometimes need to adapt to the needs of those who are either outside the church or newly acquainted with it.
So this service is my attempt to bridge the gap a little, see how we go and ask our new church members if they understand what’s going on, are they feeling welcome and most importantly are they meeting the Lord in worship?
My hope is that you will work with me, join in new songs and hymns, persevere with the new format and make your priority to grow the kingdom.
We all need to trust that God will lead us and as Daniel put his trust in God so must we. It says in scripture “So Daniel was taken out of the den and no harm was found on him because he had trusted God.”
Much of the Bible is about teaching us to trust to be faithful and to wait on the Lord because he is doing new things in this place and in this generation.
One of my favourite readings in the bible is taken from Matthew 19:14 when children are trying to draw close to Jesus, and his well meaning disciples try to chase them away. Jesus has none of it and calls the children to him, takes them in his arms and blesses them. He rebukes his disciples ‘let the children come to me for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ In other words, don’t get in the way of God’s little ones - they are much loved by the Father.
Similarly we too, all of us, are his children - whether we attend church regularly or not. The elders of the church should be doing anything and everything they can to bring down and remove all that hinders any journey to the Lord. What an awesome responsibility we have to provide a place of accessible and acceptable worship. This week Gillian and I spent a few days away by the banks of the River Severn and close to our hotel was an ancient church first recorded in the Domesday Book but sadly no longer a place of weekly worship, more of a museum to an age gone by. Nothing it seemed had changed in that place for a very long time - some might see that as good but my feeling was no more than a feeling of sadness for missed opportunity.
We have to be willing to try new things, we have to willing to be part of God’s evolving plan we have to join in with Him, our amazing God, and He is truly amazing. With God nothing is impossible. We must trust in his plan for us, the things of Him will grow and thrive and we must be willing to review all we do in His name and never be afraid to try new things or new ways of doing what we have always done, perhaps using our screen to help illustrate a sermon?
The most important aspect of all what we do must be that we do it with a generous heart, loving and forgiving each other when we get things wrong, keeping the faith, keeping on trying and remembering who we do it for.
It is so easy to dismiss something because we don’t find it familiar. Let us not miss this opportunity to work together to grow God’s Kingdom here at St Hildeburgh’s. That doesn’t mean throwing away what we have here already which is fine and wonderful but does mean introducing new ways of moving forward."