On Sunday August 4th at Wesley Chapel our minister Trevor Dixon led our communion service. Worship opened with our singing ‘Jesus calls us here to meet him.’ After the opening prayers we sang ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart.’ The Old Testament reading was Hosea 11 v 1-11 and the first reading from the New Testament was Colossians 3v1-11. We then sang ‘When the Church of Jesus’ before we heard the gospel reading from Luke 12v13-21 and Trevor preached the sermon.
Trevor admitted that he spent a lot of time on his computer, not just for preparing services or receiving emails on our church’s future but also to receive on average 20 letters via email a day. Some of his friends are going through retirement and had a list of books they wished to get rid off. When one of his friends included a Bible in his list, he was challenged but said that it was only one of many and he did not need so many in his retirement. Trevor had also been challenged to downsize when he moved 5 years ago into retirement, but he still has a number of boxes which still need to be sorted through; really we only need a certain amount for a good life, so should pass on the rest to others who need it. The parable Jesus told described the rich fool who built larger barns to store his excess so he could lead the good life for years, but God told him that he would enjoy none of that as he required his soul that very night. He should not just think of himself. Philosophers, poets and religious people argue whether much or little is needed to lead the good life.
Hosea was a broken hearted and wounded man who was not leading the good life. It a sadly moving story of broken relationship with the wife he loved, when Gomer left him to return to prostitution in the temple. Yet his inner compulsion was not to abandon her; his longing for her dominated his message. Now he realised that God feels the same towards his wayward people Israel. He realised that God’s love was being tested daily and God too could have given up on his people, who constantly let him down by turning to Baal. He now saw God as a loving parent who wants to have his child back. Even when the people of Israel were seeking alliances with Egypt or Assyria, God could not totally give them up. How could he let his anger rule him, as God, he was not a mortal or destroyer, but he wrestled with the insoluble problem of his relationship with Israel. God could not be untrue to his character of integrity and love. Hosea was beginning to discover that the secret of life was not to live in isolation, building private fortunes but to build relationships of joy and forgiveness in the context of family.
Paul was ministering to the Colossians who were newly converted Christians who were in the process of changing from their former lifestyle to the lifestyle of Jesus. Trevor reminded us that we too have a long way to go, as we seek things above and put to death our earthly desires. Paul was telling us to get on with living in a different way, learning a new way of building relationships with courage. There are no divisions in Christ. Our relationship with Christ cannot be taken for granted but must be worked at by all of us. Even Paul had to continue to work hard not to return to his old ways, but continue in the new way of life. We need the community of faith to help us on our journey as we encourage each other and together seek the fruit of the spirit, faith, hope and love; and learn as Hosea learnt that love is indestructible.
In the gospel reading a family could not agree about their inheritance and asked Jesus to be a referee. Jesus then told this parable about the rich man who having had a particularly good harvest decided to build larger barns ready for his long and comfortable retirement, but died before he retired! Trevor met a man who was buying books to read in his retirement. I know my grandpa kept loads of history books to read in his retirement, but he went blind so in his long retirement he was unable to read his collection! Jesus was saying to the man that it was more important to spend his life restoring worthwhile relationships and worshipping the God who made them, rather than arguing over money. The rich fool was an atheist who imagined it would be better to live his life without reference to his creator. Psalm 107 showed the better way of worshipping God who satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Trevor presented us with the challenge to us to make a difference in our world and our lives so we can move forward in the name of Christ.
Trevor led us in the communion service with the creed and prayers of intercession and the preparation for us to receive. We sang ‘Father I place into your hands’ before we received the bread and wine. After the thanksgiving we sang ‘Sent by the Lord am I’ and the service concluded with the blessing. It was a worshipful and challenging service.