Reign Of Christ Sunday
Hi friends! Thank you! For having us here today, sharing in worship with you today.
I bring Good News! Good News about how, by allowing Christ to Reign over your heart, mind and soul can transform you.
Good Gospel News about why, when you hear this Good News, you can, if you allow it, to be transformed so that you also want to take up the Cross and be a Bearer of that Good News!
I've lived and worked as a Music Therapist in this community for over twenty years. It's my vocation.
In 2001, I formed The MixedAbilities Choir with the vision that they and their friends would share their love of music with each other and their supporters in this community. The idea for this Choir grew out of a Music Therapy session that we had on Sunday night's at “Larson House”, a group home where I offered Music Therapy to some dear folks; we
shared songs, laughter, tears, stories and cookies and tea!
It's so good to be here with you again sharing in worship,sharing in song, and here's me, away today from my little Lynn Valley United Church to share my thoughts with you here at St. John's Anglican Church on what is known in the wider church calendar lectionary as "Reign of Christ" Sunday.
Today, worshiping with you here with the MixedAbilities Choir, I am enjoying a break from all the activities and work going on at our Lynn Valley United Church.
I knew that sharing in worship with you would be a good thing for all concerned, way back in June when I was elected as Board of Governance Chair at that church which has been undergoing a major transformation over the past 5 years.
Our little LVUC is having it's last formal worship in that building today, and, so... I ask that you hold them in your prayers today.
Hmm! Transformation...how do you like that word as we work and grow together as Christian family?
When we welcome Christ into our lives, and when we accept His transforming love, we are forever changed. When we accept Christ, an old life ends.
When I accepted the role elected BOG chair, and with God's help hoped that I could steer a steady course as the new business leader in that congregation.
One of the first things I did as new BOG chair was pray, and pray HARD, meditate and scribble lots of stuff in my journal...then I phoned Patrick, left a message for him, my good friend who has shepherded both me and the MixedAbilities Choir; then I took a walk in your lovely labyrinth. I asked for help, and the faith that I had in my friendship with you folks here was gracefully offered to me and to the Mixed Abilities Choir.
Do you remember that phrase "a burden shared is a burden halved?"
I was given help to share my thoughts and feelings that I was experiencing on this journey with your St. John's leadership, and by God! What do you know?
Help arrived in the form of a generous offering of rehearsal space in the form of community outreach for the MixedAbilities Choir, and loving hugs from Eleanor,and Patrick and others who know about our MixedAbilities Choir's persevering spirit to continue to offer loving musical interaction with those who enjoy our gift of music in and around our community.
That was the first step...getting a good, comfy place for this choir to have some sanctuary while everything around us is changing.
Transformation! Well, I too, have been transformed...
At first, I attempted to just do things the way that I'd always done them and trusting that my gift for pastoral care and loving attitude would carry us through this. And, yes! that attitude helped, and then, I found that I was breaking down old notions of what and who I was in order to grow into this new role of business leadership in our little Lynn Valley United Church.
When we accept Christ's transforming love a new way of viewing the world begins.
Take another look at our little MixedAbilities Choir. I've joked with them that their leader is just as challenged as they are...and do you know what? These folks joke right back with me and say to each other and me, in one way or another; “That's life Jill, we're used to being moved about...we love you, and, so...now what? Where and when are we going to sing next?”
Each morning offers a fresh opportunity to invite Christ once again to rule over our hearts throughout the day.
Here's a little plug for this group; we're kicking off what I've affectionately dubbed as our “Annual Magical Mystical MixedAbilities Mystery Christmas Tour” today! The Beatles have got nothing on us!!
Then next week, we'll have a festive dinner at the North Shore ConneXions Self Advocate And Family Christmas Dinner And Dance, where we'll sing after supper while those who serve us our dinner; servants and fellow believers, many of whom are Managers for an Association that supports some of the folks who sing in this Choir and other community partners who offer their financial support to make that "Self Advocate and Family Christmas" dinner happen over at the Tsleil-Waututh community center.
Later that weekend we'll be decorating a tree that I've purchased with some help from some of my friends on the MixedAbilities Choir's behalf for the Lynn Valley Community Association's Christmas tree event...it's always a bit of a “Charlie Brown” type tree, yet, my friends in this choir who lovingly made the crafts and cards that hang on that tree are comforted by the knowledge that their gift of a nice tree is supported by knowing that some of the funds to purchase the tree are going to provide some help for needy families in our community. I hope that over the holidays, if you get a chance, you can go look at this beautiful tree!
From my current perspective, as I live into the beautiful text heard from Psalm 100, The MixedAbilities Choir and I are out there in the community singing our little hearts out and offering our unique “joyful noise” in a clear celebration of God's steadfast love for our endeavours together.
I wrote a lot of what I'm sharing with you today in my Jeep; otherwise known as my traveling office over the last two months of September and October.
I prayed and listened to my conscience about this, and what I heard was amazing! That little still small voice within that said: “just be yourself you know that you can do this! and offer a good story, tell a true gospel story for those who are hungry for a message of reassurance.
Sometimes, as a servant of Christ, I cry out: “There's so much that want to do for you, if I only had your energy!”, or, “There's so much I want to do for those who need our Christian and tender loving care, if I only knew who to ask for help!”
What we heard in Ephesians 1:15-23 points to this as well, as... perhaps a student of Paul writes encouraging words to early Christians about what it means to let Christ reign over your heart and be a BELIEVER.
Well, Duh! Maybe, lean into Christ and ask Him, or, maybe, fellow Believers?
So, What exactly does it look like when you engage in following Christ's teachings?
That means having some DISCIPLINE.
The scripture passage we've heard from Matthew 25:31-46 describes Jesus' teaching to his early disciples, those early Christian converts that Matthew refers to who had a long history of religious practice of observing and reporting about God's shepherding steadfast love.
The rich imagery in Ezekiel offers some clues about Jesus...”the good shepherd" that Ezekiel was prophesying about; that steadfast behaviour; and, thinking about sheep and goats...sheep are nice and wooly, goats.. not so much...shepherds in Ezekiel's time would have allowed the goats to walk with the sheep.
Jesus, our Hero offers teaching and leads by example by reassuring his early followers that “they'll find their way” on the Christian path and those early followers were so accustomed to having rules about how to behave.
This passage is a parable, a story that speaks to and about the early hearers and recipients of the Jesus' gospel message and distinguishes between those who embrace it “the righteous” and those who reject it.
The preceding passages Matthew 25:1-30 are also parables that draw our attention to professing disciples who are true or false.
The passage we look at today points to the final judgement and reminds us of Jesus' salvific love and helps us to understand that the significance of Christ's Reign, is that, we must, not only be HEARERS of the Gospel, but also be BEARERS of the Gospel! In other words, like your sign out front reads:
“Do God's Love”.
A hearer of the Gospel cannot help but to hear and recognize Jesus' compassion for the materially impoverished and the physically or mentally challenged among us.
The folks in this MixedAbilities Choir are hearers and bearers of the Gospel, doing God's love singing their love to shut in folks, hospitalized,seniors, and just generally being themselves, letting their light shine for all to see.
Yet, Jesus was principally concerned about his hearer's relationship with God, and His mission was to REDEEM his people, and he allowed nothing to deter Him from his mission. Like a Shepherd who watches over his sheep, tending to their needs, yet also herding them, guiding them into new territory if needed.
Now, take a look at the families and care providers for the folks in The MixedAbilities Choir; they know that Jesus Loves them, and they cheerfully offer their support and comfort to the folks who want so badly to offer themselves in good Christian service in this community.
I think of the famous tune “They'll know we are Christians by our love, Yes! They'll know we are Christians by our love”
Christ's self giving love asks his disciples to look to, and have compassion for those who are in need of service...as they are just as precious in Christ's sight as the hearers and bearers of the Gospel, family.
Now, take a look at the family and care givers and yourselves who know on a visceral level that Jesus loves you!
Evangelism and social justice going hand in hand, a vision of a holistic and inclusive comprehensive vision of the deepest yearnings of God for the world and the Church, my church, your church...we're family.
Today, let us rejoice in the new life that is ours through Christ and let us follow step by step the path the Christ first walked and, as a student of Christ, we can continue to grow as we ask ourselves;
"How as a servant of Christ, do I offer leadership?”
Sing: And they'll know that we're Christians by our love... Amen!
By Guest Preacher Jill Parsons, Director of The Mixed Abilities Choir