I am looking forward to Sunday and the Family Church Anniversary service (which means young children remain in the service - always a challenge!) at Leamington Road Baptist Church, Blackburn, Lancs. I began ministry at this church (41 years ago - what?)) and have only rarely returned to preach over the intervening years. However,this occasion may prove to be the last anniversary in the current buildings, as they have deteriorated and the congregation has to sell the site. As you can imagine this brings immense sadness as well as challenge.
I have prayed and worked on an appropriate message for this particular context. Of course, all my recent reading (as mentioned in my last posting) also filters my thinking. How vital it will be for this dear people, now much smaller in number, without a pastor and facing momentous changes to hear again that we belong to God's mission which is kingdom-sized where each of us is given his power to live and love together.
I am working on what I call the Church's Birth Charter - Luke 24: 46-49 and Acts 2:1-4. The Lukan passage has some parallels with John 20: 19-23, with a trinitarian emphasis as Jesus promises to send the disciples what the Father has promised - the power of the Holy Spirit. One image has grabbed me as I pondered this text and considered what happens next in Acts 2:1-4. It's the waiting room. The essential mysterious need for the disciples to WAIT. It's all too human to organize and manage the church and its mission. Ever since we confess sometimes specializing in church-centric micro-managment. But Christ's command to stay in the city followed by fifty days of waiting on God in praising and prayer stresses the vital truth that when it comes to kingdom matters we must learn that we are not in control but God is. Spectacularly, in sound like the wind, what looks like tongues of fire, and myriad languages to foreigners gathered in Jerusalem, God shows us how differently he works. He is the one who gives vision, empowers conviction, stirs the nations as waiting disciples open themselves to his control. Ever since, this is the vital truth about his world mission. It's all his idea. He has the timing, sets the seasons, and empowers breakthroughs.
As I go on preparing I see an especial relevance for this dear Blackburn church, but maybe this resonates with you too?