Gospel Imperatives

Sharing the Good News (AKA the Gospel) Romans 10:5-15; John 3:1-18

A sermon delivered in all the parishes in the benefice over the Summer of 2022

Apart from gathering to worship, what is the purpose of the gathered community? “The meeting place is the training place for the market place.”

Jesus meets with his disciples and he trains them for service in his name. He still does today.

Rom 10:14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?

Jesus spent time in the company of the tax collectors, sinners, the prostitutes, the well-off. He was accused by the religious suits of being a glutton and a drunkard. He fed people, he clothed people, he healed people. He went to where the homeless and disabled people gathered. Both his own disciples and we, his disciples today, have a variable track record of doing all those things.

But where we are woefully inadequate in nearly all established churches is that Jesus, when he visited all these places and met all these different people, whether the rich or poor, priest or prostitute, he ultimately challenged them with one thing: “come, follow me”. He tells them he is the way and the truth and the life, and no-one comes to God except through him. He has the words of eternal life beyond this one, and he says that those who believe all that will be saved, and become God’s own children, echoed here by St Paul in our reading from Romans.

We do some of the first things: invite people to meals, to pubs, to collect for food-banks, to sponsor a flower arrangement, a bulb-planting, give to the homeless. But we generally don’t follow Jesus’ final command to us, his disciples, to go and make more disciples. To change to another of Jesus’ metaphors, we cast the net with varying degrees of success, but we fail to draw it in and take the catch. Or again, we sow the seed, but fail to gather in the harvest.

Sharing the detail of the Good news is not an option, it’s an imperative. And if some turn round and say it doesn’t work, if you’re really honest, you haven’t actually tried.

So here’s how we address that…

  1. Different people communicate the gospel in different ways and you can only be yourself. Don’t try to be different! Don’t try to be a Billy Graham, Luis Palau or Reinhard Bonnke! Some people are good get-along-siders, some are good speakers, some are good at charity events, and so on. Stay where you are good and comfortable in the places where you meet people who are not yet worshippers or not yet disciples of Jesus – that is your marketplace: your workplace, your club, your gym, walking group etc.
  • Make and deepen relationships you will make in these places. You will be naturally drawn to some and not to others, so don’t force it!

During time with your friends and acquaintances at your marketplace you will need to be ready to pick up on bits of conversation. There are so many times the following come up these days: if it’s environment, mention it’s God’s world; if it’s a religious topic, then pick up on that. If it’s current affairs, then recall how relevant the bible is because of how Jesus picked up on the same. Whatever it is, there will be something to pick up on when the time is right.

  • At some point in your relationship, someone will pick you up on one of these, especially if you are preparing the ground through praying for them. Then, be prepared to ‘give an account of the hope that is within you’: how you were before you met Jesus, how and why you came to faith in Jesus for yourself, and how it’s working for you now. This is your ‘testimony’.

Once you are in this level of conversation, pick your time to explain – (how will they believe if they have never heard?) – A simple way to explain the Good News when you talk about your faith is to use the illustration of the Cross as a bridge between us and God. There are lots of ways – we call them technically ‘models of atonement’: that is, descriptions of how it is God has done what he has to give us an eternal future with him when we die, and a great relationship with him here and now. You can even dream up your own models once you get experience in this that best meet the mind-set or culture of the people in your marketplace.

By nature we go our own way and not God’s way. This puts a huge separation between us and God that no-one can cross: not by good works, trying to reach God through other means, through other people’s faith, through historic connections etc. It’s an impossible situation that will lead to eternal death.

God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit had a plan to resolve this. Because of his love for us Jesus came to die and be raised again to a resurrection body to do away with the divide. It’s as though the arms of the cross now make a bridge to span the chasm of sin and death and bring us safely to relationship with God.

All we need to do is to ‘believe and receive’: believe that Jesus is God’s Son who made all this possible, and to receive him, confessing our selfishness and choosing to go his way, and not our own.

Coming to know God in this way is described in the Bible as becoming ‘God’s children’, ‘members of the Body of Christ’, ‘believers’, ‘disciples’ and in many other words and phrases. Outsiders came to call such disciples ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26) – the only valid and worthwhile meaning of the word. (Even then it appears only 3 times in the whole Bible.)

If you want to read more about becoming a disciple of Jesus, then please feel free to take a copy of the white booklet* ‘Making the Connection’ for yourself or a friend. They will be found at the back of our church buildings.

Ask your friend where they think they are on the diagram, at which stage. If they are ready, then you can offer to help them to pray the believers’ prayer. It doesn’t matter if they are complete outsiders, fringe acquaintances who come to your church events or services occasionally, or even if they are regular attenders, but never seem to engage in this sort of discussion.

The prayer printed in the booklets* above (p. 37) goes like this…

Thank you, God, for loving me before I ever loved you.

Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross for me.

Thank you that I can get connected to you now because you are alive today.

I admit that I have lived my life without you and have messed up.

I ask for your total forgiveness and I commit myself to you.

Help me to submit my life to your teaching and direction from now on.

I receive you into my life and ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit.

Amen.

And as we ourselves engage with this process, we are confronted with the gospel, too. We need to ask ourselves, if we have ever prayed that prayer or something like it, if we know we have a personal relationship with Jesus in our minds and see it working out in our lives, in our prayers, in our engagement with the scriptures day by day. Then faith becomes real, not just a show of religiosity. Then our faith becomes contagious. Then, the church grows with new believers, and we work out our faith with them, often, as St Paul puts it, with fear and trembling.

                             David.

*J.John – Making the Connection. Philo Trust – ISBN:978-0-9933757-0-5

Sunday 6th June 2021

Welcome to our services this Sunday.

This week we offer:

9.30am – Drayton Parslow: Morning Prayer
9.30am – Mursley: Morning Prayer
10.00am – Zoom: All Age Worship – this is our last Zoom service!

For those still worshipping privately, the collect and readings can be downloaded here.

Diocesan on-line services have now ceased.

Also at 11.00am, at Swanbourne, Outdoor Coffee will be served

Blessings,
David, Associate Minister

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering and wearing face coverings still remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.

Sunday 30th May 2021

Welcome to our services for Sunday 30th May.

This week we offer:

9.30am – Drayton Parslow: Holy Communion
9.30am – Mursley: Morning Prayer
10.00am – Zoom: Morning Prayer
11.00am – Swanbourne: Morning Prayer

For those still worshipping privately or joining the Zoom service, the collect and readings can be downloaded below.


Our next (and last) Zoom Coffee Morning will be on Wednesday 2nd June, 10:30am.

Blessings,
Simon, Rector

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering and wearing face coverings remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.

Please click the link for details of Diocesan services here

Sunday 23rd May 2021

Welcome to our services for Sunday 23rd May.

This week we offer:

9.30am – Drayton Parslow: Morning Prayer
11.00am – Mursley: Family Service
11.00am – Newton Longville: Holy Communion
11.00am – Swanbourne: Morning Prayer

For those still worshipping privately, the collect and readings can be downloaded below.

Our next (and last) Zoom Coffee Morning will be on Wednesday 2nd June, 10:30am.

Blessings,
Simon, Rector

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering and wearing face coverings remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.

Please click the link for details of Diocesan services here

Sunday 16th May 2021

Welcome to our services for Sunday 16th May.

This week we offer:

9.30am – Drayton Parslow: Holy Communion
9.30am – Mursley: Holy Communion
10.00am – Zoom: Communion Service
11.00am – Swanbourne: Family Service

For those still worshipping privately or joining the Zoom service, the collect and readings can be downloaded below.

There will be a midweek Communion Service at St Faith’s, Newton Longville, on Wednesday 19th June at 11am.
Our next (and last) Zoom Coffee Morning will be on Wednesday 2nd June, 10:30am.

Blessings,
Simon, Rector

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering and wearing face coverings remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.

Please click the link for details of Diocesan services here

Sunday 9th May 2021

Welcome to our services for Sunday 9th May.

This week we offer:

9.30am – Drayton Parslow: Morning Prayer
11.00am – Mursley: Family Service
11.00am – Newton Longville: Holy Communion
11.00am – Swanbourne: Holy Communion

For those still worshipping privately, the collect and readings can be downloaded below.

 

Our next Zoom Coffee Morning will be Wednesday 19th May, 10:30am.

Blessings,
Simon, Rector

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering and wearing face coverings remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.

Please click the link for details of Diocesan services here

Easter 5, 2nd May 2021

Welcome to our services for the fifth Sunday of Easter.

This week we offer:

09.30 a.m. – Drayton Parslow: Holy Communion
09.30 a.m. – Mursley: Holy Communion

10.00 a.m. Zoom: All Age Worship
11.00 a.m. – Swanbourne: Morning Prayer

(Zoom services are now on odd-numbered Sundays throughout May and June)

For details of Diocesan services please click here

There will also be a Zoom coffee morning midweek on Wednesday, 5th May at 10.30.

Login details for all our Zoom gatherings are the usual ones and will be sent out in the benefice email.

Blessings,

David, Associate Minister

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering. and wearing face coverings remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.

Sunday 25th April 2021

Welcome to our services for Sunday.

This week we offer:

9.30am – Drayton Parslow: Morning Prayer
11.00am – Mursley: Family Service
11.00am – Newton Longville: Holy Communion
11.00am – Swanbourne: Morning Prayer

For those still worshipping privately, the collect and readings can be downloaded. 

Our next Zoom Coffee Morning will be Wednesday 5th May, 10:30am.

Blessings,
Simon, Rector

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering and wearing face coverings remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.

Please click the link for details of Diocesan services here

Sunday 18th April 2021

Welcome to our services for Sunday.

This week we offer:

9.30am – Drayton Parslow: Morning Prayer
9.30am – Mursley: Holy Communion
10.00am – Zoom: Communion Service
11.00am – Swanbourne: Family Service

For those still worshipping privately or joining the Zoom service, the collect and readings can be downloaded. 

You can download the Order of Service for Morning Prayer here if you do not have a copy.

Our next Zoom Coffee Morning will be Wednesday 21st April, 10:30am.

Blessings,
Simon, Rector

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering and wearing face coverings remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.

Please click the link for details of Diocesan services here

Easter 2, 11th April 2021

Welcome to our services for the second Sunday of Easter.

This week we offer:

09.30 a.m. – Drayton Parslow: Morning Prayer
11.00 a.m. – Newton Longville: Holy Communion
11.00 a.m. – Swanbourne: Morning Prayer
11.00 a.m. – Mursley: Family Service

There is no Zoom service – these are now every other week, 1st and 3rd Sundays.

For details of Diocesan services please click here

HRH Duke of Edinburgh

A book of condolences will be found here. Unfortunately no local, physical books are allowed under present restrictions. This link will lead you to a page that is currently, not surprisingly, very busy, so do persevere.

We will keep you posted of news regarding other arrangements.

Blessings,

David, Associate Minister

Covid instructions

The rules for Public Worship on distancing, scanning-in or registering. and wearing face coverings remain unchanged, whether or not you have been vaccinated.