Worship and Eurovision

Jn13:31-35, Acts 11:1-18, Rev21:1-6


I was recently taking a wedding when I felt a prompting in my heart to share a message of God’s love quite directly. “There is someone here today who needs to hear that God loves you and just like the new life that is being created here in our happy couple, He is saying to you that you can know new life in Him through placing your trust in Jesus Christ.”  Sometimes we just have to say it as it is. That’s love.

In our Gospel reading Jesus makes it abundantly clear that Love is not an optional extra. It’s not additional box that might be ticked as when purchasing a car insurance or the impulse buy at the checkout. Love is integral to trusting and following him. It’s a direct command. We are called to love others just as Jesus loves us. That’s BIG.

The Bible’s narrative is one of God’s love for us. His desire is that every one of us might live in relationship with Him, that there would be a unity of love.

Last night saw the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest from Turin. It was a wonderfully joyous affair. Sarah asked me why I enjoy watching this when I will happily turn off so many other programmes. I thought for a moment and then realised that it’s the joy and the fun of it. It’s so wonderful to see thousands of people happy and united together by a shared love of music. That’s a picture of what the Church is meant to be isn’t it? A place of joy and love and unity. United not by music but by a shared love of Jesus Christ.

The local church should be the hope of the world. We are meant to love the world and through that love change it for the better. That’s a great challenge and not one for the faint hearted because it goes against the grain. Some people can be difficult to love. I remember a former Vicar of mine telling me about a particularly difficult member of the community that he was having to deal with. “I’m called to love them Dave .. but I don’t have to like them!”  We all have people like that in our lives and you’re probably thinking of someone in yours right now.

Alice Cooper the American Rock musician once famously said: “Drinking beer is easy; trashing your Hotel room is easy but being a Christian … that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion!”

Following Jesus is to be in rebellion with the existing world order but rebelling using the most powerful weapon known to man; Love.                    Our world, our nation, our communities are in desperate need of the unconditional love of God through Jesus Christ and we are all called to be involved in sharing that. Peter’s experience as recounted in the book of Acts makes that clear. There is no one outside the realm of God’s love. The person you were thinking of a moment ago is in that category. How do we go about this? What can we do to change things? Let’s try being purposefully positive for Christ. And by saying that I am not encouraging some form of self-led cognitive therapy were we are in control. This is all about Recognising God, responding to God and receiving God. It’s about Hope and Life in Jesus Christ now and Hope and life in Jesus Christ beyond now.

Our reading from the book of Revelation speaks of a better future for every Christian where God will ‘wipe every tear from their eyes’ and ‘Death will be no more’.

This is why we’ve restructured our service pattern across the Benefice to create new opportunities for us as a church to reach out and share this love of God in new ways. This is costly for us all as we all have to give up a little to enable something new to begin but we’re all involved in it together. I believe that 2022 needs to be a year where we all rediscover our Ministry of Invitation. That we might invite someone whom God has placed on our heart to one of the services or events that you think would best suit them. That’s love.

Love draws us to worship. Love draws us to reach out. Love draws us to support one another in what we are doing for the church of Christ. I’m sure we would all like to see the church growing as a vibrant, loving and faithful community. For that to happen we need to pray and to realise that we are in this together.

Let’s be encouraged. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s be Church