Discovering Your Personal Mission
Several years ago a book appeared on the shelves (this is before Kindle!) with the title, “I’d say yes God if I knew what you wanted”. And of course we would. But the problem it seems is that we find it very hard to know what God wants.
Last week in the Contemporary and Classic services, and this week in Café, I took the text we know well of the voice of Jesus calling four fishermen to follow him. It’s a text which has always intrigued me, mainly because of the immediate and whole hearted response to Jesus by the four, Peter and Andrew, James and John. What was it in the invitation to follow that impelled them to leave their boats? There could be lots of reasons, but one I think is that the invitation of Jesus, the word of Jesus, was a creative word. Jesus’ voice brought into being that which was said. We may not literally hear the voice of Jesus, but when Jesus summons us to follow, his is a voice which creates possibilities of discipleship.
We may not ‘hear’ the summons of Jesus in the way we normally
understand the word ‘hear’, but we can, nonetheless, hear Jesus invitation for us to follow. Each and every one of us is called to follow Jesus in some way. The word I would use is vocation. We all have a vocation. Mostly ‘vocation’ is used as
synonymous with career or job.
However, in the spiritual context it is used differently. There vocation is the way God wants to use your life to make a difference in the world. How, then, do we go about discovering our vocation, that unique life to which God has called us?
We do not invent our vocation. The seeds of who God calls us to be are p0lanted within us and our task is to create the environment in which those seeds can grow and flourish.
In a positive way our vocation reveals itself by asking the right questions.
What seem to be my gifts?
What kinds of things do I do well?
What kinds of activities give me real sense of contentment?
What kinds of things do I find most challenging and fulfilling to do?
In what kinds of activities do I feel most myself?
What kind of people do you most admire? (The people we admire reveal something of ourselves.)
Do you feel an inner nudge that seems to point you in a particular direction? What kinds of things do you think you and God can do with your life that will make a difference for good in the world?
“Somewhere under the stars God has a job for you to do and nobody else can do it.”
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9 NIV)
The secret is out – God loves us! We know this because God sent Jesus to live with us. This is what we are celebrating all through the season of Advent and at Christmas. And the celebrations of God’s love continue through the year because God’s love is eternal – it never stops.
Did you know that we need to keep this secret? What would happen if everyone truly knew that God loved them enough to send Jesus into the world? Imagine if every single person you met every single day, was filled with the assurance of God’s great love for them? Perhaps people would smile more? Perhaps people would be more generous, because they would know that the God who created the world and all that is in it loves them and cares for their every need. Perhaps there would be no fear, because people would know the love and protection of God and they would know that every other person in the world was also filled with that love from God. There is no fear in love. But God’s perfect love drives out fear. Perhaps your imagination can take this thought and continue to dream of what our world would be like if everyone truly knew that God loved them?
This is not a secret! We can tell it to the world. Let that little spark of faith that burns inside your heart continue to grow to the point that you can share it with others without the fear of it being snuffed out by a rebuke or critical question that you cannot answer off the cuff. Imagine the newborn baby Jesus, so fragile and vulnerable in the manger – God put everything on the line by sending him into the world and hoping that he would survive to manhood to be the Saviour of us all. God is faithfully protecting that little spark of faith in you too.
The challenge of last week was to think of and to invite someone to one of our Christmas Services so that they too can hear the good news that Jesus Christ has come into the world to bring us joy.
How did you go? Have you invited someone? Did they say yes?
In the Gospel according to Luke we are given an example to follow.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:8-18 NIV)
The Good News of the birth of Jesus is still cause for great joy for all people and all who hear this good news will be amazed. Before you invite anyone else to come and share this great joy, I ask you to stop and think – am I taking this good news for granted in my own life? Do I really understand that this good news has turned my life upside-down? Do I believe that Jesus still has the power to
miraculously change lives today?
The shepherds heard the Good News, they experienced it for themselves and then they spread the word. We are compelled to do the same.
Get yourself up on a high mountain,
O Zion, bearer of good news,
lift up your voice mightily,
O Jerusalem, bearer of good news,
lift it up, do not fear.
Say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9 NRSV)
These are the words of the Prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel some 700 years before the birth of Jesus the Christ. I wonder how we can respond to these words today.
At our school ministry this week, as we have been telling the story of the first Christmas, one little girl asked, “Why is it called Christmas?” My answer to her was that the first part “Christ” is the name for Jesus who came to the world to save us and that the second part “mas” is the word for worship and so Christmas is about showing our love for Jesus who came to save us.
I pray that in this Christmas season you will also find ways to say to the world, “Here is your God!”
In recent months, through the generosity of an individual donor, we have given away over 200 Bibles in the foyer of our church. More than 50 of these have been children’s Bibles. Each gift has ensured that the message “Here is your God!” has been received. I have heard stories of grandchildren reading their Bibles and asking wonderful questions of their grandparents as they read. These precious moments are the moments when these children are discovering their God.
We have special Christmas services here at church in the coming weeks to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Saviour. This Sunday at the 10.30am Classic Service we are celebrating the truth of God with us in the Lessons and Carols. Next Sunday, December 17th the
Junior Church will lead us at 9am to celebrate the joy of God with us in dramatic form as the children dress up and act out the story of the first Christmas.
On Sunday December 24th our worship will focus on celebrating the coming of our
Saviour as we worship together at times that are a bit different than our usual Sunday practice.
Classic will be at 10.30am,
Contemporary will be at 5pm and Café will be at 11.30pm.
That’s right – Café Worship at 11.30pm!
Then on Christmas Day we will worship together at 9.30am.
Each of these times of worship will be an opportunity to get yourself up on a high
mountain and say “Here is your God!”
This information is available on our Christmas postcards that have been delivered to 5,000 homes in the Burnside area and are at the reception desk for you to take home.
Here is a challenge for you. Think of someone you can invite to one of our Christmas
services so that they too can hear the good news that Jesus the Christ has come to us to bring us joy.