A Summary of This Week’s Keynote Message for Prayer, Reflection & Response.
Signpost: To SEND and SUPPORT the harvest workers
Theme: ‘Reimagining Christmas Part 2 of 3’
Reference Scriptures – Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-11
Speaker: Graeme Hush (as I have reflected on ‘Reimagining Christmas’ by re-examining the ‘incarnation’, I acknowledge the revelatory work done by Brian Medway, Michael Frost, C.S Lewis, John Wesley and Brennan Manning and recommend it to you)
Reimagining Christmas Part 2
What would a more Jesus looking Christmas look like and how can I/we respond?
3 Things that will help us ‘Unwrap the Gift’
- Embody the Gift so others can receive it Truly, & Worship Fully
- LAST WEEK I FINISHED WITH ‘The world, our nation, our neighbourhoods and families won’t see Jesus if they keep being subjected to a facsimile of the real thing. Jesus wants you and I to put flesh on heaven so the gift can look like something that can actually make a difference (incarnation) … Come & See / Taste the Real Thing’
- Not a religious Jesus (only found in dark, moody cathedrals OR through rituals of worship that eventually take priority over the object of our worship)
- Not a sanitized baby Jesus (‘Christmas is Really for the Children’)
- Not a Carols Event portrayed Jesus (the safe traditional songs that inoculate us against the full disease as it were)
- Not a packaged Jesus (no Jesus unless you accept our church program or the whole church package)
- The Jesus that embodied The Father and heaven ON earth …
That’s the true gift so to ‘unwrap the gift’ we need to firstly (like Jesus) embody the Father ON earth as in heaven i.e. declare, represent and demonstrate the kingdom of heaven
AS I MENTIONED LAST WEEK … the resurrection IS the deal which makes the difference BUT, not unless there is a meaningful death and a meaningful death is only possible if it takes the RIGHT LIFE … The true gift therefore is the WHOLE incarnation …. Life, death AND resurrection
Colossians 2: 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.
- 2:9 Or in Christ dwells all the completeness of the Godhead
(C.S Lewis in his book ‘Miracles’ New York: Macmillan, 1947), p. 112. Says …
“The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.”
(Michael Frost, whom I have had the privilege of supporting in a few speaking engagements a decade or so ago in his work, ‘Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement’ (pp. 78-79). InterVarsity Press. ) says …
“The enfleshing of God in the person of Jesus stands at the centre of our faith. All that Israel hoped for was realized in him. The resurrection proceeds from it, as does the birth of the church and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, any drift toward excarnate forms of faith (disengagement, screen culture, rootless – uncommitted lifestyle) denies in some measure the central nature of our faith.”
A couple of Sundays ago I said ‘A greater incarnation is THE CALL on us as a church because NOTHING can deal with excarnation like incarnation. (i.e. Jesus in our hearts expressing the kingdom of heaven on earth)’
PAUL regards this Call as the Church’s …. PRIMARY VOCATION (Philippians 2:5-11)
– i.e. Jesus embodies humility
Humility is NOT a feeling or an attitude; it’s a doing word – it’s how we unwrap the gift because it’s how Jesus unwrapped it.
Stepping intentionally into our world to SERVE OTHERS is the doing of the CORE KINGDOM VALUE = deny self
Deny Self, take up your cross and follow me = deny self, deny self and deny self
The main reason WHY we have spent all this time reframing why we do what we do (and we’ll testify to this in today’s AGM) is because we need to re-learn together from Jesus, HOW TO DO COMMUNION(ITY) ON THE EARTH …
The reason we want to redefine church membership as a covenant partnership here at CCC; the reason we want to redefine leadership as intentionally and voluntarily submitting to Jesus and each other is because THIS IS OUR PRIMARY VOCATION AND THE MOST LIKELY WAY OTHERS WILL EXPERIENCE AND RECEIVE THE GIFT OF JESUS.
Our redefinition of church as a ‘Community of Heaven On Planet Earth’ (The HOPE Project) is purposed to prioritise Jesus’ strategy for transforming lives.
His cause is our manifesto for becoming and being covenant partners and that is …
(Philippians 2:5-11) –
‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (i.e. death to self – the ultimate humiliation and the primary motivation for my baptism) 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’
EMBODY THE GIFT SO OTHERS CAN RECEIVE IT AND WORSHIP THE GIFT FULLY
Our neighbours get a brief taste of it at our annual ‘Carols on the Lawn’ presentation. They clearly see our church family working TOGETHER, selflessly serving to provide a precious gift.
We must go beyond a program or a singular event and support and encourage each other in the LIFESTYLE and VOCATION of incarnation; of expressing the kingdom of heaven on earth’ because it’s the only long term strategy that can unwrap the TRUE gift – and enable people to worship fully … ascribe worth to that which is worthy.
Embodiment of the gift is COSTLY but it changes things in a lasting and transformational way … embodiment is also BEST – ask anyone (I can listen to Toto music and I can watch them on You Tube BUT when the drummer from the band does that unique thing LIVE at the gig in Sydney in January I will be able to say I was there, in the room, a part of history)
“Compartmentalization of our lives is one of; if not THE greatest weapon the enemy has to throw at us. Our lives divided up into compartments that exist each in a segregated silo is the way that the evil one stops us experiencing the incarnation; the full embodiment of the gift.
While our family members, friends, work mates and neighbours continue to be deceived into believing that having a faith in God is just one compartment of our lives and not the thing which is the overarching, energizing, resourcing and empowering banner of our whole lives; we will never experience the wonder and life transforming power of the resurrection; of the incarnation; of the kingdom of heaven.
My life IS Christ and everything else benefits from that. When Paul said to live is Christ – to die is gain – he wasn’t saying he wanted to die, he was simply emphasising that to have more of Jesus is to have more of every good thing. More of Jesus enriches every part of our lives – our family life, our work life, our recreational pursuits. More of Jesus doesn’t lessen everything else; it exponentially empowers and produces the best in and for everything else. This is the outworking of my ‘true spiritual worship’ “
(GH – speaking at a YWAM ‘Discipleship Training School’ (DTS) in 2013)
The following are some of the responses that ordinary people made when they were confronted by the incarnation of Jesus
Mary, sacrificed control of her life and sang from her heart in the midst of potential family disgrace and accusation;
Joseph sacrificed his reputation and served no matter the cost to his life;
The shepherds gave up their reality to TELL the world that rejected them of a greater reality that accepts and exhorts ALL – even the rejected;
The Magi (kings from the east) gave up their wealth and position as a sign of allegiance to the King of kings; (a response Herod couldn’t sacrifice his prestige for) … and so on
Not one of these responses lessened the fullness of life experienced by these people.
HOW WILL WE RESPOND?
RECOGNISING THAT HOW YOU AND I RESPOND WILL HELP OTHERS KNOW HOW THEY SHOULD
Brennan Manning says “There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.” he goes on to say “If you want to know what a person believes, watch what they do”
More importantly for our purposes, Jesus is quoted in John 12:24 as saying
“24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
By all means, check the context of this teaching and I know you will discover it’s not just about His crucifixion; it’s about the strategy of the whole INCARNATION
God descends to reveal the gift & reascends so it can become exponential in its outworking (so the Holy Spirit can be poured out and help US continue the strategy)
So ….. A lot to ponder, pray about, reflect on and ACTION
Meanwhile … theologian N. T Wright says
“Jesus’ resurrection marks the beginning of God’s new project; not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.”
Next week …
My mentor and friend Brian Medway tells the story of the Moravian people over and over because there’s something here that has a DNA we need. Even hearing this inspiring story as many times as I have over the 15 years or so I have worked with Brian, the light didn’t go on until like John Wesley, I opened my heart to a ‘Moravian’ looking Jesus and discovered a gift so fine, it is worth giving up everything for.
Tune In soon … Love, Graeme
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