Kingdom Family

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One I the fun things about being an Associate Minister is that I occasionally get invited to preach at other congregations. My colleagues know that I don’t have to preach at my own congregation every Sunday, so I can spend some Sundays away. I love worshipping at St. A’s and I believe it is important to help lead worship and participate in worship even on those Sundays when I am not preaching. But still, it is a special thing to be invited to share my gifts with other churches.

This Sunday I will be preaching at Knox Presbyterian Church in Midland where my friend the Rev. Alton Ruff is minister. Alton has duties as an Interim Moderator at a two point charge in his Presbytery. So while he is leading those congregations in worship and Annual Meeting activities, I’ve been asked to preach at Knox.

I am excited about this. I love the drive up to that part of Ontario. I love that I will get to visit friends. I love that I will get to worship in another corner of
The Kingdom, before returning to the place to which God has called me.

Though I will be physically away from home, spiritually I will be right at home. Jesus prayed that all his believers would be one. Anytime I am with the church – I am home and amongst family. That’s one of the most precious things about belonging to God.

My prayer for you, wherever you worship this Sunday, is that you will know the joy that comes from belonging to the world-wide family of God. That whether you sit beside brothers and sisters who are well-known to you, or whether you are away from your usual church family, or even if you are not physically able to be in a sanctuary this Sunday – you would know you are part of something bigger than yourself and that you are loved by brothers and sisters who do not even know your name now, but someday will party with you in Heaven.

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
John 17:20, 21 NLT

It is finished…

It has been a really busy week for me. After some time off at the beginning of the week, I have found myself rushing from one thing to the next. Today was the busiest and tomorrow will be no different. Of course, this is also a week when I am preaching. It never fails, right? (I shouldn’t complain. My friends who are not Associate Ministers face this every single week…where as, I only have to feel the sermon-crunch one-out-of-every-four.)

I got home late this evening and wanted to just go to bed, but instead I spent some time online, chatting with a friend. We ended the conversation about 20 minutes ago and I had decided to go to bed and deal with the sermon (which really only needed a read-through and a final thought after the work I put into it last night) early tomorrow morning.

But I am so pleased to say that I didn’t do that. Instead, I took a moment to run through the sermon and amazingly (the Grace of God at work, people!!) my final thought presented itself almost immediately. So now, the sermon is finished and I am thankful. It is a privilege to preach God’s word to those who belong to or are seeking for His Kingdom.

It is finished! AMEN!

From humble beginnings…

I have been thinking about Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed recently. Here’s what Jesus said:

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field.
It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants;
it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
Matthew 13:31-32 NLT

The Kingdom of Heaven – the place where Jesus reigns, the place where we find ourselves in relationship with him – starts small. It starts humble. The smallest of all seeds. But it grows. It grows into great things which have an impact on the world around them. The tree big enough for birds to find shelter in its branches.

I walk every day along a path with some of the greatest trees. They are huge. And as I was walking the other day I was stopped dead in my tracks by the thought that there was a time that these trees were nothing more than a tiny seed falling into good soil.

This tree, in particular, is right at the beginning of my walking route. It is a beautiful tree, and there is no arguing that it is a majestic specimen. But even this was once only a tiny seed. It took good conditions, and a whole lot of time. And now the birds can find shelter in its branches.

I think we sometimes find ourselves frustrated with time it takes for the growth to happen. I think sometimes we miss the mustard seed all together – not noticing that it has been planted, not sensing the growth process as it begins beneath the surface.

I think I have been in that kind of season recently. But tonight I have hope. Tonight, I think I have begun to glimpse the first hints of green shoots poking through the dark soil.

If you could spare a prayer for me, for the community of faith where I serve as Associate Minister, for the future of the Kingdom and for humble beginnings that grow into great trees, I would appreciate it.