Saturday, 10 January 2009

Tomorrow I am at Harlow Hill Methodist church - one of the 'united services' between Methodists and Anglicans that have been going on for some years. Just part of the variety of things I find myself doing in this extraordinary situation of 'emergence' at SMC.
I am focussing on the baptism of Jesus in Mark 1 and part of what I say will be regarding the calling for our baptism to be 'manifested' or 'shown'. Something that makes a difference. Robert Crampton, the columnist writing in the Saturday Times once said that Christians "have a purpose but not a product" - ouch! Matthew 28 suggests that Jesus thought our product should be disciples baptised and taught to obey him. Jesus clearly set a high value on baptism and expected that as a result of his work and commission there would be a product.

As I have continued reflecting about all this (maybe helped by the depth to which temperatures have been plummeting to this week!) I remembered something someone else taught me...

We aren’t supposed to be thermometers - measuring the temperature, we are supposed to be thermostats - changing the temperature.
Mission-shaped community is thermostatic.
My thermostat for central heating needs to be set to the right level for the right effect. I don't want a temperature that is too hot or too cold.
It also takes time and experience to get the right temperature - our last house was a warm one, our present one is older and draughtier and getting the hang of the heating has been quite a challenge.
Getting the hang of how to live as a community of communities will take time and experience and of course getting the temperature of our communities right will be a challenge.
It is reassuring that Jesus concluded his command to 'Go and make disciple's' with the words "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." We do all this knowing Jesus is with us and therefore however fragile it looks (just picture how few Jesus gave his commission to in the first place) we can 'go' with reassurance.

I am praying that the Lord will bless and prosper those gathering in different places tomorrow as the communities of our community - 3 groupings in people's homes and one in a pub. May they be thermostats and not thermometers.

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