On Sunday May 1st Rev. Arnold Clay a supernumerary minister led our communion service. We sang as the opening hymn ‘Jesus calls us here to meet him’ before Arnold led the opening prayers beginning by the declaration, ‘Alleluia! Christ is risen!’ and we responded, ‘He is risen indeed! Alleluia! We joined in the prayer of praise, the prayer of confession and the Gloria. We then heard the reading from Acts 16.6-15 about Paul’s vision of a man from Macedonia calling him to come, so they sailed from Troas to Philippi. We sang, ‘We have a gospel to proclaim’, before we heard part of John 14.
Arnold asked us to imagine Samantha, a regular churchgoer who got involved in the church activities and gave regularly to charity, but felt something was missing in her life. She didn’t feel any different from her friends who did not go to church.
Paul set on his second missionary journey full of conviction and faith. He knew where he was going. He planned to visit the churches he had helped set up, but the Holy Spirit prevented him from going to Asia. He was in the port of Troas wondering where the Holy Spirit was guiding him, when he had a vision of a Macedonian man begging him to come over to Macedonia to help them. Paul did not hesitate but followed the new direction the Holy Spirit was leading them in. The first missionary journey was to Cyprus and Syria. Going to Macedonia was the first missionary journey on European soil.
There is a marked difference between the early followers, who were alive with the Holy Spirit and clear about what they have been called to do, and some followers today, who lack clarity of purpose. Arnold assured us that we can seek to reclaim a passionate faith, but we need to act on God’s guidance by praying regularly in silent holiness seeking affirmation from God. Are we bold enough to act or are we afraid of breaking our comfortable routine.
Paul went to where the people were outside Philippi at a place of prayer, as there was no synagogue there. We too must reach out to outside our church to the needs of the community, where there are hurting people in need of redemption and help. That is our spiritual responsibility as Christians. We live in a spiritual society which is increasingly irreligious and we need to go out there and rekindle the fire of our faith. Paul was called in his vision by a Macedonian man to go to Europe, but he found Lydia, a worshipper of God and God opened her heart to the Lord so she listened eagerly. We must not define the people we preach to but risk sharing the gospel message with an unexpected person.
Jesus is alive today and on Thursday we remember Ascension Day when Jesus ascended to heaven and in two weeks we have the Day of Pentecost. Who can we share our faith with? Many like Samantha come to us seeking God and we have given them church instead! We have lists of church activities not lists for spiritual growth. We need to proclaim the faith of Jesus. We are Easter people; we have the greatest message that Christ is alive and active in our church. We are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ by discerning and acting as God wills. Arnold suggested we go outside our walls to share the message of Jesus with an unexpected person so we can fire up the enthusiasm of people like Samantha.
Following the sermon we sang a lovely hymn I had not sung before, ‘Spirit of God, unseen as the wind’, sung to the Scottish folksong tune, the Skye boat song. Arnold then led the prayers of intercession and the Lord’s Prayer before we sang ‘Alleluia, sing to Jesus’. Arnold then led the communion celebration and worship concluded when we sang, ‘Thine be the glory’, a favourite hymn of mine.