This is the script of my first preach at Albany Vineyard. Our format is focused on interaction and participation rather than talking at the church. We start with some worship then an introduction followed by a Table Talk Question, some teaching, A Question, more teaching Final Question and then open discussion.
Change is a normal part of living; some big changes some small changes. What happens when we know a change is coming how do we prepare.
Can you think of a big Change that you are aware of but that has not happened yet? For example birthday party, wedding, graduating, change at work…
What does waiting feel like and what are you doing about it?
10 Minutes Discussion
Section One: Waiting and Preparing
It is a strange and uncertain place, waiting for something that you know will happen but unsure of when or exactly what it will be like.
Tonight we will read from.
Acts 1:3-6 After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face–to–face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised:the promise you heard from me. John baptised in water; you will be baptised in the Holy Spirit. And soon
For our art experts.
For the group of 120 gathered at Pentecost, there had been certainty, betrayal, doubt, excitement and restoration. Now they are being told there is another story about to start.
Wait, stay patient: the Holy Spirit is being sent when I have gone.
So here we are a few days after our closest and most loved friend turned out to be God and he wasn’t literally dead like we thought, he ate fish with us and has now gone up into heaven. So what do we do?
All of them were praying, men and women together. Peter preached on the end of Judas and they had an election to replace him. Waiting, preparing for something, getting ready as best they could. Doing admin, catching up.
I remember the preparation for the birth of Kirsten. We knew absolutely nothing about raising a child.
Even less about the process of the birth.We were so terrified.
We knew that with no further input a child was going to arrive. That she would grow up and be amazing in everything she took on.
But as we waited we read books (pre internet days) we attended Natural Childbirth classes. I got to try the gas at the hospital.
We ate properly and visited doctors, midwifes and the hospital. We even got the VW camper serviced.
Looking back we only really thought about the birth. The biggest change in our lives.
Preparing, working, building, learning. And then in the Epsom Hospital, London everything changed for ever.
Back to Jerusalem
They waited obediently.
And then the fire fell; speaking new languages, healings, wisdom, and noise, lots of noise. The uproar attracted the mob. Peter preaches and 3000 more are added to the believers.
We often jump straight to the fire and the growth, the exiting things, the new things and miss the things that are going on as we wait.
There were 11 disciples plus maybe a few more when Jesus met them in the upper room, at Pentecost there were 120 waiting.
What were they doing while they waited?
Some background, Pentecost is the 50th day after Passover and to the people of Jerusalem was the culmination of a festival known as the Feast of Weeks where harvest, blessing and God’s bounty were all celebrated. This was a pilgrimage festival so all who could make it would have been in Jerusalem. The first time back since the upheaval of Passover and the Crucifixion.
The fellowship would have been meeting each other and attending the temple. They would have been taking part in a liturgy of growth and fullness and provision.
They would have been absolutely bursting with the knowledge that Jesus was alive and the Messianic prophecies had been fulfilled and they had proof because they had seen and touched. They knew that Jesus had forgiven them and still loved them even though they had repeatedly failed and had disappeared soon as it got tough.
Now they must wait for 10 days before they can do anything.
Jesus had promised something amazing and awesome which had to be waited for.
- What would you have felt
Waiting patiently/impatiently needing to share the news yet cooped up while everyone is celebrating the harvest.
- What do you think it would have felt like waiting in that space?
What would they have thought of the Harvest imagery and the celebrations in Jerusalem?
10 Minute Discussion
Section two: The Prequel
In the second greatest story ever told, Star Wars, we know that after much mayhem, Luke meets his father Anakin (Darth Vader) and there is a heart-rending reconciliation before the inevitable and final playing of the theme and…
This is the story of a loving man, seduced by power and tortured by loss. He discovered his humanity and his love for Luke with his last breath.
OK thats the end why the prequels?
This ending (soon to be supplemented by a Disney Postquel) spawned another three films set in its past, expanding and developing the story line of the narrative that we had all known and identified with.
Here we have the After: Darth Vader is Luke’s dad. (roll the credits)
The During: the development of relationship we followed through the three films.
And then much later we explore the Before: and our understanding of the changes which led up to what is currently the End.
Who could have imagined Jar Jar Binks as an essential character in this great narrative.
In the real greatest story ever told. John tells us the end of the story. He describes the return of Jesus and the resurrection of the Earth and Heaven. All evil is made good, no illness, death or dissatisfaction. Those who have died are raised in new bodies, the earth is restored and a new way of living with the rule of God is fully realized.
We will read from Revelation 21:1-5
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new
This is great news it will all be sorted nothing to do just wait. However we are living in the prequel. The final reel has been finished; we know what is in it. So why do we have to go through all the joys, tragedies and hopes of this world we are living in.
NT Wright asks “How does this resurrection stuff lead to us getting on with the work in the present”.
Paul argues throughout 1 Corinthians that “The point of resurrection is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. God will raise it to a new life. What you do with this life matters. What we do is part of building for God’s kingdom”. In the same way that the Life that Jesus lived mattered
not just the Resurrected Messiah.
The stuff you and I do also matters.
We are living in the Prequel known as The Real World. In the Vineyard we see this world as existing in the tension between the Now and the Not Yet. The Kingdom or the rule of God is near and accessible but still not complete.
In this Prequel we all have parts to play, there are things to be done to help bring the Kingdom closer to demonstrate that Kingdom to care for the poor and to share the good news that we are loved by our God.
I will finish with a short prayer, the official part of the evening is over but you are welcome to stay and continue the discussion.
Father we thank you that although you are complete and above everything yet still we have a role to play. We are your hands and feet, all working to bring your kingdom.
- What is my starring role in this Prequel?
- Obi Wan, visionary, patient, far from perfect
- Anakin, the great hope
- Jar Jar, strangely normal
- How do I move my part of the story on to the final scene?