Sunday 7th May 2017
Each year we have to have a meeting of the congregation which is called the Annual Stated Meeting but the problem is that nobody knows what we’re supposed to do at it. It used to be a meeting where everyone got a copy of the accounts for the year and went through them together. Now, the Kirk Session has already done that and agreed the accounts, but we still have to have a meeting.
So, what I want to do is very quickly talk about the church and what we do, what we spend and why we do it. Don’t switch off thinking this has nothing to do with me because it does, and I’ll tell you why in a bit.
What do we do here? Thank you
Our money in and out
Graph of fixed spending.
All of that is so that – we can make disciples
Being a disciple: what is a disciple? A disciple in the time when Jesus was alive was someone who chose to follow a person they thought was able to teach them, someone with experience, someone wise. What that meant though was that they gave up everything else to be with their teacher. They lived with them, ate with them, spent time watching them and learning. Some slept at the entrance to their master’s house just in case he had something really important to share with them in the middle of the night. Most of the people who had disciples were Rabbis – people who taught about God and the Hebrew bible.
It was an important role because it was how knowledge of the history of the people was passed on, but it was also how new teaching was developed.
Jesus had disciples: Simon Peter; Andrew; James (son of Zebedee); John; Philip; Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew; James (son of Alphaeus); Thaddaeus; Simon (the Zealot); Judas
Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen; Matthew was a tax collector; Simon was a political activist and troublemaker. They were a pretty mixed bunch and they soon realised that Jesus was a very different kind of teacher. He called them to follow him, they didn’t go looking. He often said things that were really radical and totally different to what they knew or expected – it is said, but I tell you; love your enemies…
Then he did something totally different – he sent them out before they were fully trained and told them to come back and they would chat about how they had got on. Matthew 10:5-9 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” 8 Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
If that’s what disciples were like then, what should a disciple be like now? That understanding of discipleship doesn’t make sense today and, even in later parts of the bible, the word isn’t used. Some people use the phrase ‘follower of Jesus’ rather than disciple, although they mean the same thing.
Decision: you have to decide to believe in Jesus. The call to us today is the same as to those first disciples, “Follow me.” That will mean different things to different people – for some it will mean giving up jobs and serving God as their job.
Inspiring: people who follow Jesus should be inspiring. There should be something about them and their lives that makes you think, “I want to be like that.” Paul: shipwrecked, beaten, bitten by a snake, caused an earthquake. Charles Wesley; Corrie ten Boom; Martin Luther; Jim Elliott. Most people don’t have the chance to do big things like that but you can still be inspiring simply by being faithful to God – couple in Inverness
Scripture: We know about Jesus from what is written in the bible – John 21:25 25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. That probably means that what was written down is what they thought was most important for future generations to know. Christians believe that the bible is ‘inspired’ – Holy Spirit helped the writer to know what to write and helped them remember the stories and incidents that took place.
Christ: We can learn what Jesus did, why he did it and what we should do. We believe that Jesus was both human – he was a real man; but he was also God. We believe that he was born in Bethlehem and that he was crucified and buried in a cave but that he didn’t stay dead. He rose from the dead and was seen by hundreds of people
Interested: interested in finding out what God is doing and joining in with him. God is at work in Prestwick and Monkton, and across the world. Disciples should be interested in what’s happening in other places so that we can pray and give support. We should be interested in our own community so that we can help people get to know Jesus for themselves.
Prayerful: one of the things Jesus did most was pray. Pray means that we talk to God and there are lots of different ways to do that: quietly, loudly, alone or as part of a group, by writing, drawing or singing and by listening. You can stand, sit, kneel or lie on the floor. You can close your eyes or keep them open. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, just that you do it! Friendship requires communication
Loving: God is love. Forgive them
Energy: Pentecost – Holy Spirit
Forgive us if we have ever shown you by our words or actions that being a follower of Jesus is dull and boring. Being a follower of Jesus is the best decision I have ever made and, although I don’t always get it right, I wouldn’t change it for anything.