18 February 2018
Unity is Strength
Remember God did not give us a Spirit of timidity but a Spirit of power and love and self control. [2 Timothy 1:7]
One author has said the greatest threat to the church is smallness of vision or no vision. Our readings this month challenge us as people and as a church to a bigger vision.
In John 6 we have the story of feeding the five thousand plus hungry people in the wilderness.
Jesus puts a question to Philip: "Where can we buy bread to feed all these extra guests?" He wants to see how far he could stretch Philip?s thinking. Philip replies, "Even if there was a bakery out here, you?d need to take out a mortgage to pay for a slice each!" Simon Peter?s brother Andrew, speaks up: "There is a lad over here with five bread rolls and a couple of fish. It?s a drop in the ocean for this mob, though." © Nettleton
Jesus challenged the disciples to look beyond what they didn?t have, to see what they did have and to dare offer that to be blessed and given away.
The writer of Ephesians is saying a similar thing in 3: 14-21: There is One who is at work within us who can accomplish far more than we can ever imagine, beyond our wildest dreaming .
Why can?t we imagine all that God can do through us? Why would we never think to ask for such power? Maybe because we focus on holding on to what we already have, not letting go to allow change because we fear we might lose everything. We make problems of the past when God calls us into the present. And we are underwhelmed by God?s strength to see us through, and are afraid to use the gifts God has already given us.
Ephesians has a song of praise to the God who strengthens and empowers us. It is a power that can bring change into our lives and relationships and change into our community and nation. Its the power to look at the big vision of where we are asked to serve our community in Christ and know it is possible.
Even the little we have is plenty when we are strengthened by the grace and love of God. All congregations have weaknesses and threats to their existence. There is also the strength we have which we can overlook. A rope has greater strength than the combined individual strength of the strands that make it up. Why? The answer is quite simple. Individual strands have weak spots along them where they easily break. But in a rope, the weak spots are randomly distributed along the length of the rope and the twist in the rope allows the strands to cancel out the weak spots of the individual fibres.
It?s the same with people. We all have strengths and weaknesses. On our own, our weaknesses can break us, but bound together in Christ we work to achieve strength for all. Our unity as a parish is a strength which is ours to claim.
It is time to start dreaming what has previously been unthinkable and unimaginable ? realising that these are the very visions for which Christ will strengthen us. If we have not experienced that strength, maybe it?s because we have forgotten to seek those visions!
Let us dare to look towards Flatbush and ask what we need to do now so there is a future . Let us work together in new ways in the coming months and see what God will do among us in Papatoetoe. If we do not try we will never know.
May God bless you as we work in hope.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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