A few days ago I was preaching at a service of union between Falkirk Erskine Church and Falkirk Old and St Modan’s. The new congregation will be known as Falkirk Trinity. Its never easy when congregations that have a long distinguished history find themselves faced wit the economic reality of Union. Creating a new worshipping identity can and must be an opportunity to allow God to do something new and exciting. It is surely an opportunity for new life to breakout not only in the centre of Falkirk but I hope in the Presbytery.
In my sermon I suggested that this was a wonderful opportunity to be part of the vanguard of people who are looking and waiting for God to bring about renewal and blessing in the Church in Scotland but also within the Church of Scotland.
There are two passages of scripture that I shared with the congregation. I believe they are relevant to all of us in Scotland at this time. They are relevant because they speak a word of Judgement and a word of Hope.
In Revelation 3.2 the risen Christ speaks a word of Judgement to the Church at Sardis “ Wake up and strengthen the things that remain and are about to die” If your like me no doubt there are aspects of this text in Revelation that you would like to believe wasn’t true. None of us like to hear bad news especially if its close to home.
Part of the crisis that faces the church in the West is tied up with our culture of wealth and prosperity. We believe everything is going to carry on getting better and we are accountable to no one but ourselves. In reality we are sleep walking ignoring the signs of the times. Remember Jesus told a parable about the rich man building barns while the reality of his death was nearer than he thought. In other words it is a warning to waken up from lethargy and sleep.
We live in a finite world with finite resources all around us. Yet we live as though nothing will ever run out. The truth is our present political and economic world systems are not working. We need to see transformational societies emerging. Surely we the Church must become the agents of change in our wary and worn - out world of politics, and economics.
The second passage is a reminder of God’s covenant and blessing. In Malachi 3.10 the Prophet invites the people to give back to God the things that are rightfully God’s. He accuses the people of robbing God then invites them to return to God. To bring back to God the things that are his and experience the blessing. Not just any blessing it’s about the extravagant forgiveness and generosity of God.
I think we need to hold these two ideas together Judgement and Hope and begin to believe that we are called to be a Resurrection people. We need to look around the church and become aware of the people and places where extra support is required in order that the life of the Spirit will flourish. We need to strengthen the things the people and the vision that still remains in the church. Its time to start looking for resurrection.