So, last Sunday we were thinking about expectation… and waiting, and anticipation.
Ok, so far so good… but I’d been praying about this, and how to speak on expectation… I’d prepped some notes (not much) and was hoping to leave space for folks to respond, to have some time where we could prayerfully wait on God- you know, with expectation.
What I hadn’t banked on was God deciding to do some work in me, in front of everyone… I’d been praying that I would be able to grow in leading more out of my own character and less out of any sense of what a vicar/church leader is meant to be, which is fine, except that last Sunday that included tears from the front, sitting with others and crying during the service… and generally a fairly emotional time. I get home afterwards and am beginning the post-service feedback session with the bathroom mirror, and a comment from my wife comes into my mind “It’s harder to be real, to show emotions, to be vulnerable, than it is to pretend you don’t feel or to hide what you are feeling- it takes more strength to let things out than hold them in.” Now, maybe she’s just an amazing wife who knows the right things to say to her husband, but I think she made an important point.
This week has continued to be a difficult and heavy week, but in many ways I’ve felt better able to cope because I started off last Sunday by openly saying and showing where my heart is. People around me are journeying with me- all of us grieving and struggling together… But in the midst of it all there is also the deep joy that gives hope. Hope which sustains through all the tears, the waiting and the sadness.
Because ultimately, we anticipate, we await, we expect God to be faithful to his promises.
Anyway, speaking at times from Matthew 11, the bit where John’s disciples come to speak with Jesus, here is something of what I said… the audio is on the website here
Fruit. A tree produces fruit in keeping with itself- pears from pear trees etc. Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit- they show what the Spirit of God is like- the character of God shown in the people of God. John’s disciples are asking Jesus if he is the one that John spoke about, and his answer is ‘look around you- what fruit do you see?’
When John the Baptist started preaching in the wilderness area, people went to listen, and Jesus asked ‘What did you expect?’ Some would have gone out of curiosity, but others in hope- John was a prophet- he called the people back to God, telling them they needed to repent- to repent means turn around…
The kingdom of heaven… what is the kingdom… an easy yoke… led by love not governed by rules… Expectation of something is well founded, but not the specifics- we can be fairly sure that we’ll be given some gifts this Christmas, when you’re given a gift you can get some clues- size, weight etc… but you don’t know the exact contents until you’ve opened it- until you’ve received it, accepted it…
What is the fruit of God’s work in us here? How do we show each other and anyone else who encounters us as the church what God’s character is?
When we welcome someone to our Christmas fair, to Mini Music, Cake Club or our Sunday worship- we each present the image of God to the people we meet… when we answer an email or a phone call etc…
And those times when we’re not ‘on duty’… when we’re not ‘part of the church’… what is the fruit that is visible in us then?
Like I said, not much… but God seemed to work… when will I learn?