Sunday 24 May, 2020
To watch the videos for the service, click this link.
Activity for children and families for downloading here.
Nau mai! Welcome!
Mōrena, and welcome to Papanui@Home! We thank God that by his Spirit, we the body of Christ are being united to one another even now as we worship this morning in separate places.
Call to worship from Bruce and Gaynor: https://youtu.be/cXuQ6_q_GJU
Ascension of the Lord
Christine Beales-White, Associate Pastor at Karori Baptist, offers this reflection about the ascension.
There are many beautiful depictions of the Ascension. Of heaven opening up and glory and beauty filling the skies. And then there’s this one. It feels a bit weird in contrast to the pretty pictures. It’s not pleasant to look at like the others.
And yet this week, this has been the most real depiction of the Ascension. It’s the moment where humanity is dragged into heaven. All of humanity. The broken, the ugly, the painful, the unclean, rubbish, crap parts of humanity and our human experience are dragged up, to be present before the Father.
This is the moment. The moment that says we don’t need to leave our stuff at the door, but we bring our stuff in. Thank you, Jesus, for being the reigning King. The King that doesn’t turn us away, but embraces me.
Song: “What a Beautiful Name”
1 Minute with Charles Hewlett (National Leader of the NZ Baptist Union)
In light of what Charles is saying, we invite you to pause and reflect on these questions about the church—how would you answer them?
- What are the things we want to hold on to when we’re allowed to meet in larger groups?
- What are the things to let go of?
- What new things have come out of this time to incorporate?
I’d love to hear what you think! Please email me your thoughts – firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.
Papanui Baptist Church relies on the generosity of its people to meet our budget. To those who are able, we invite you to make your donations straight to our bank account, whether by online banking, phone banking, or making a personal deposit.
Account name: Papanui Baptist Church
Account number: 03-0854-0651093-00
Reference: Your name
Code: Envelope number (not essential)
Please join us in giving thanks to God for the offering.
Scripture reading: Acts 1:6-14
Readings by Kathryn and Jon.
“Jesus is Lord” (Phil 2:9-11)
Devotion by Elliot | Notes below
The Reverend Spanky Moore inspires me. He’s a chaplain at UC and a co-host of the podcast 21 Elephants. He has a heart for disenfranchised young adults, and a gift for opening up God-talk with students who wouldn’t normally give two hoots. His line-of-work makes for challenging conversations. Spanky often finds book-smart uni students taking him to task about his Christian faith. Once, at a wedding he was accosted by an atheist woman, Julie. She started going into all the problems with believing in a theistic God—the problem of suffering, the danger of a universal morality . . . Spanky nodded along politely as he ate his sausage rolls. After a while, Julie came to a lull in her argument, finding she couldn’t lure him into some heated debate. He started by replying, “I think that’s all very interesting, but I think you’ve missed the point around Christianity. Like, what do you make of Jesus?” “What do you mean?” she asked. “Well,” said Spanky, “Christians are interested in God and theism and all that sort of stuff. But the fundamental thing with our faith is we’re left with Jesus Christ . . . and we’re just trying to make sense of what he is!” Surprised, she replied, “Oh I don’t know . . . I hadn’t really thought about that.” Spanky inspires me because he ministers out of a gospel where Jesus is first, and everything makes sense only in relation to that fact. As Christians, everything begins with the belief that Jesus is Lord. Creation, morality, suffering—we can only make sense of these things in light of him.
The apostle Paul had this same intuition. In all his writings, he doesn’t just offer us a set of “Christian principles” for living. Rather, he directs our attention all the time to Jesus, and tries to make sense of church and living in light of his life, death, and resurrection. In Phil 2:5-11 we hear the gospel of Christ summed up from beginning to end. In other words, if you want to know what we Christians believe, this is it. **Read Phil 2:5-11.**
Jesus Christ is Lord! Everything rises or falls on that claim. And it’s radical because it means the one the Jews pray to in their daily Shema—“the Lord is our God, the Lord alone”—this same Lord is Jesus Christ. And the God who spoke through Isaiah, saying “Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear”—this same God is Jesus. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, who was and is and is to come. Everything in our faith rises or falls on our belief in him.
Another person who inspires me is Justin Duckworth. I first became aware of Justin through the intentional living movement. He and his wife Jenny are radicals. With a young family in tow, they moved into a dump of a house on Cuba Street, where they rubbed shoulders with the waifs and strays of Wellington—street workers and drug users, homeless people and drunk students. As followers of Jesus, the Duckworths became passionate activists for justice, advocating for the liberation of East Timor from Indonesia, publicly challenging the ethics of government spying, or creating space in their home and at their dinner table for addicts and dropouts to recover and rediscover themselves. Justin is a fringe guy—he wouldn’t fit in many run-of-the-mill churches.
It would be easy for Justin and Jenny to identify themselves as fringe people, and allow that to guide all their decisions. In the same way, we have things by which we identify ourselves. “I’m a family person,” say some of us, and so every decision we make is for the sake of family. “I’m a prayer-warrior,” say others, and so every opportunity for ministry is framed by our call to pray. “I’m a Christchurch person, so I make decisions to keep me in this city.” “I’m a behind-the-scenes person, so I’ll never take a place on stage.” Others live out their faith by acts of service; others by spiritual disciplines; and still others by pouring themselves into their work. And me? “I’m a books and theology person,” you’d probably hear me say, “So I serve through research and teaching.” None of these are bad things—they’re what make each of us gifts of God to his church! I wonder how you identify yourself?
But what I love about Justin is that even though he’s passionate about the fringe, he didn’t allow himself to be ruled by an ideology, by one type of identity. And so, when God called this fringe guy to become the Anglican Bishop of Wellington—about the most central, churchy, stuffy role you could imagine, he obeyed and said yes. I love it, because Justin is a servant of Jesus, and not of his own identity. Justin shows me what it means to live in a reality where Jesus Christ is Lord, and everything else comes second. As he says, “When Jesus is Lord, that takes a lot of choice out of our decisions.” We go where told! Wherever, whenever, whoever. And we do so because we love him; to be in his service is a joy deeper than any other master could offer.
The last couple of weeks we’ve been reminded of who we are—who God says we are. Sala invited us to “be still and know that I am God”—to rest in his presence, so that our doing flows out of our being with God. Colleen spoke about the “signposts” that define us and we use to define others. She reminded us that we’re personally knitted by God, known and loved, sons and daughters—children of the living God. We know who we are when we know whose we are. This is who we are, and we need reminding!
I’d like to add this: We are worshipers of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We’re subjects of the King. We’re his servants, and he is our Master. And if Jesus is our Master, then it follows that he and no other can direct our steps. And so, Jesus is first, and the good things he gives us come second. Yes, you might be a family person; but you’re a servant of Jesus first. Fantastic that you’re a prayer-warrior, or a behind-the-scenes person; but you’re a servant of Jesus first. It’s great that you love Christchurch; but you’re a servant of Jesus first. Awesome, you live out your faith by acts of service, by spiritual disciplines, by caring about your work; but you’re servants of Jesus first. And yes, I’m a books and theology person; but I’m a servant of Jesus first—he’s the Lord. And when we remember that Jesus is Lord, like Justin, we’re freed to say yes to his unexpected requests, and let him define who we are. Jesus is first, and everything makes sense only in relation to that fact. In our Christian faith, everything turns the belief that Jesus is Lord.
Song: “All to Jesus I Surrender”
Pass the peace!
As usual, we finish our gatherings by spending time with each other over a cuppa. We encourage you to take the time now to call one or two others and connect.