Hello everyone! Rev. Ron Dale a former minister of our church, now a local supernumerary minister, led the service this morning. It had the theme of the mark of a Christian. What are the characteristics of a Christian he asked? He first used a text from Galatians where Paul talked of the marks of being a follower of Jesus, which unlike circumcision, the mark of a Jew, was shown in the marks he had born for his witness to Jesus, and the mark of ownership, which Jesus had put on him.
Ron brought the mark of a Christian up to date with three characteristics he considered important. The first was being thankful for all our blessings, despite difficulties which afflict us. He talked about a young man who had been a great sportsman, but had been struck down by illness and was now flat on his back. Dr Sangster visited him regularly and he kept saying, if only …. I could get better I would do this and that for our Lord! In the end Dr Sangster suggested that his if only ….. would not help him in his situation but maybe finding something to be thankful about might do. He took that on board and no longer prayed if only…. but instead he gave thanks for what he could and he did not recover physically but he changed in his attitude, and became a blessing to others for the rest of his life. His circumstances did not change but his attitude to them did. Ron said that being thankful even in difficult circumstances is such a help to him, but he acknowledges that it is not so for some people, such as his wife. I can understand that giving thanks could help and I find it helps me focus on all my blessings so other concerns take less of a priority.
The second mark of a Christian was for him acceptance of others as unique individuals, each of whom had the part only they could contribute to life in this world. He reminded us of Jesus’ words that it was not rules and regulations such as the washing rituals that the Jews which made a person unclean but what came out from inside. Jesus showed in his life his acceptance of people, who were regarded as unclean by the Jewish authorities. It is that love and acceptance which Jesus shows to us, which we are called to share with those around us. I find that is very important too.
The third mark of being a Christian was, he suggested, spending time in God’s presence; it was important to make time even or especially in the midst of our busy lives. That is a lesson I still find hard to learn to take time to rest, as I feel often I need to give myself permission to stop. I will try to spend more time resting with our Lord and try not to rush as much as my nature usually dictates; I know I benefit so much from taking time out to just be, instead of hurrying around doing one thing after another!!
So let us as Ron has suggested take time to give thanks for all our blessings, accept those we meet, even if we may not immediately like them and take time to rest and recuperate, allowing God and ourselves time to be in each other’s presence. Amen.