November letter - What difference does the gospel make?
November is the final month of the church’s year. For the past 11 months we have been reading the gospel of Mark and then in December we will start reading Luke’s gospel. I always enjoy reading Mark’s gospel as he writes with such a sense of urgency. As we gaze on Jesus through Mark’s eyes, we become far more than passive observers. We hear the same call that Jesus made to each of his disciples reach out across the centuries and call each of us.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34
“What good is it for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?” Mark 8:36
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15
The Jesus we encounter in the scriptures isn’t a mere historical figure or character in a story. He is the living God who calls to us still and each of us must choose how to respond to him. And if we truly recognise him as the Lord of creation and the Lord of our lives, is that actually making an identifiable difference to the way we live?
Throughout November we will be reflecting on just one question; ‘What difference does the gospel make?’ To help us explore that question, each sermon that month will grapple with it in a slightly different way:
What difference does the gospel make…
… to the lives of ordinary people? (1st November – All Saints)
… in the face of death? (8th November – Remembrance Sunday)
… to our past? (15th November)
… to our attitudes towards money? (22nd November – Christ the King)
… to the way we live now? (29th November – Advent All Together Family Eucharist)
In order to help you in this, there will be an envelope available for everyone in church on the 1st November which will contain a booklet that includes various bible passages, points to reflect upon and prompts for prayer. It will also include a leaflet to accompany the fourth session on money that will talk about the current finances of the church. Finally it will include a jigsaw piece. Please hold on to this jigsaw piece as in the service on the 29th we’re asking everyone to bring back their piece to represent that our individual responses to the gospel are an important part of the process of building God’s Kingdom here and now. Every piece probably won’t be returned on the 29th and this will mean that there will be holes in the final image, but in a small way that also reflects the fact that until Christ returns, the Kingdom will always be imperfect.
To start off our thinking I offer the following questions, but they are directed as much to me as they are to you.
How different is my life to those around me?
Am I really different, or am I the same but a bit religious?
How much does my faith influence the choices I make?
Finally please do please be praying, both for me as I prepare these services, and for the whole church community that we would take these questions seriously.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16