First off, let me offer warm greetings to everyone in the Waverley Pastoral Charge, and those of you who keep in touch with us via the digital church. If you haven’t guessed it yet, I’ve been blessed by recently receiving a call to minister in both Wellington United Church and St. John’s United Church…and my first day was as recent as this past Wednesday Aug 1st)!
Since arriving, all I can say is thank you to all of you who have opened your hearts and minds to the unlimited possibilities before our church both today, and in the years to come. My wife, Lorna and I have been graciously welcomed into your midst, including a surprise visit as soon as we moved to HRM that came complete with delicious soup, homemade bread, and lots of laughter. We’ve both been reflecting that while we were students, we moved just about every year. Let’s just say that after settling in this time around, we both say a lot has changed since then (not only our age, but we also seem to have more stuff). Our new rule of thumb is as old as Jesus’ teaching in the gospel – if ya ain’t gonna move it…loose it!
The hope is to use this space as food for thought, grist for the mill, or just a place to give voice to concerns or the common joys we’re experiencing in our attempt to walk with Jesus. Week by week, I hope to offer a small preview of the sermon for Sunday – a way for us to chew a little on the Word of God before we get to the main course. Hopefully it doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth – if so – please blame the cook and not the Creator.
On August 12th, we’ll be considering the second part of a reading in the letter to the church in Ephesus, 4:17-5:2. The reading follows hot on the heels of last week. My first thought was if they really abandoned themselves to licentiousness…First United Church of Ephesus would have been an interesting spot to be on Sunday morning!
The writer seems very concerned with a common human truth we share – we learn to be human by observing the behavior of others. We are profoundly affected by the culture and experience of the world that is always unfolding around us. It shapes who we are, what we think and believe, and what we will or will not do. Obviously, folks in Ephesus are imitating behaviors that are breaking down the body of Christ rather than build one another, and their world, up.
If you’ve ever met a parent whose shocked by the vocabulary their young children have picked up, you know this truth: What we imitate, we duplicate. The really hard question is, are we conscious and concerned about who or what we imitate in our life of faith? Obviously, we strive to imitate Jesus, a tall order, and thanks be to God we are not alone in that journey and are sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The challenge for us as a baptized and baptizing church is this:
Every decision. Every Word. Every action.
Do we imitate Jesus – and multiply justice?
Do we imitate forgiveness – and duplicate reconciliation?
Do we imitate God’s Love – and build up one another?
Do we imitate the gospel – and extend that kingdom of God to every human being that craves a relationship with the holy and sacred?
Think of the decisions our pastoral charge has made in its lifetime.
Think of the decisions you and I make every day.
Now consider the gospel truth – What you imitate, you will duplicate.
Here’s to duplicating a church and community free of discrimination, audacious in love, courageous in justice, and downright determined to live the gospel in 2012 and beyond for the sake of all God’s people.
Your brother in Christ,
Rev. Matthew Fillier
Feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me
on Twitter @RevMatthaios