I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of that phrase recently. It’s one that was used by the early church leaders to the different Christian communities and has continued to be used to address Christians around the world. How does our belief in a person who lived and walked the earth 2000 years ago makes us family?
You may remember my sharing an incident that had a profound effect on me. I was standing on the underground, late at night, when a young man began shouting about how the grace of our Lord Jesus had shone through the kindness of a woman who had taken him off the streets. As he spoke of God’s goodness two guards grabbed him and dragged him from the platform. As he passed me by I said ‘Well done.’ His response transformed him. His eyes light up and, still in a headlock, he beamed at me and called me ‘Brother.’
What is it that makes us family? A belief in Jesus as the Christ and Saviour? Sadly, no. We all know that professing a belief in Jesus doesn’t unite us. People use His name as an excuse to persecute others and spread hate.
For me, it is two things that make us family. The first, that we really know Jesus as the one whom God sent into the world to reveal the true nature of God. It is Jesus, by his teaching, his example, his miracles and ultimately by his betrayal, death and resurrection that reveal God as a God of love, mercy, tenderness and who wants all creation to live in peace and justice together.
The second is that we share the meal Jesus gave us. At the Passover the first Jewish people sacrificed a lamb and were saved and led into safety by Moses to become God’s people. At his final meal with his disciples before his death, Jesus celebrated the new Passover and became the new sacrifice that would allow us to become God’s people. A new family in and through Jesus. We say the words Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me.’ We celebrate the meal he gave us each week, but have you considered that he meant more than just celebrate the meal he gave us? By eating the bread and drinking from his cup, we too are asked to make the same sacrifice as him, a life reflecting the love of God, ministering to others and bearing witness to God’s presence in a broken world.
It is these two things, knowing Jesus as a living presence and friend and sharing the meal he gave us with one another, that makes us his brothers, sisters and siblings- children of the eternal God.
It is my first Christmas with you as your Pastor. The calling I experienced to stand as minister came as something of a surprise, and in faith I responded. As the saying goes-God truly does work in mysterious ways! I feel truly blessed to be with. Thank you for making both Kyle and I so welcome and a part of your family at Northern Lights.
A sincere thank you to all those who work so hard at arranging, preparing and leading our worship, and those who take part in the ministries of care, from welcome, preparing refreshment and the pastoral care of our family.
It is very easy to get into the mindset of giving and not taking and I know many come and give of themselves freely in the leading of services. It is equally important to be able to come and be fed by God’s word, by communion and by fellowship, and to just BE, as part of God’s family in Northern Lights. I hope that in the New Year you will come and BE part of the family and not always serve.
I feel one of the greatest strengths of Northern Lights MCC is the understanding and celebration of the Priesthood of all Believers. It is why I began our Year of Renewal. I hope that we, as God’s people, can take time to reflect on our spiritual gifts and really open ourselves to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and have more people prepare and be commissioned to lead and guide us. You may not feel able to lead from the front, but there are other ways too; by becoming a full member of Northern Lights, supporting us with your daily prayers or spreading the good news about us. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Saviour I ask you to pray for new ways in which we can embrace him ever more closely into our hearts and lives, that you reflect on how you can support our work and our growth as a family.
May I take this opportunity to wish you, your families and all those whom you love, the peace and the blessings of new born Christ child.
Pastor of Northern Lights MCC.