Wednesday 8 December 2021

 Luke 15

 This chapter contains three parables told by Jesus, and in each parable there is a story of something lost, but then found.  There is a relevant message for the Church ministry to follow in the three examples.

 First, there is the shepherd who loses one of his sheep, so  he leaves the other ninety nine whilst he searches for the lost one.  He finds, and is so delighted he carries the sheep with joy, back to his friends and neighbours, and has a celebration in finding the one who went astray.

 Secondly, there is the woman who loses one of ten coins from her head-dress, so sweeps the home until she finds the coin, and after finding the lost, calls in her friends to rejoice with her.

 Thirdly, there is the well-known story of the prodigal son, who went to his father and asked to claim the inheritance that would be his on the father’s death, which by Jewish law he was not entitled until his father died.  His father pleads with him not to leave, but the son is determined to go and live in the big city with all its attractions. Forsaking his father and brother.

 Life started well for him, he gained many friends, living the high life until he money ran out, and then his friends ran out just as quickly. Left bereft, he found a job feeding pigs, an animal which was an affront to a Jew, and was forced to eat their food.  Eventually he gave up and decided to return to his father and beg forgiveness.

 The father had never given up hope of his son returning, and each day would look up the road leading to his home, constantly hoping to see his son walking back. Then when the day came, he rushed out to greet the boy with loving arms and compassion, and he dismissed all the son’s apologies.  He created a lavish feast, which upset the faithful son who had not been treated with such attention as his wayward brother.  The father assures that son of the love he had for him who had always been appreciated.

 The message we should see in this passage, are that God is like the forgiving father in the story, who rejoices when a person falls away from Church is found and welcomed back.  The Bible tells that all heaven rejoices when one lost sinner repents and returns.  God is always ready to welcome and forgive.

 Jesus came down to earth to give His life on a Cross, to pay the price for forgiveness for all who return to Him.  He did so to be the ‘good shepherd’. Always searching for the lost. Jesus always showed concern, He never just wrote a person off.

 But what are the Lord’s representatives on earth doing to search for the lost?  How many Ministers when they notice a person missing from the Church seek to find out why?  I would think not many, they just accept the loss.  How many members do anything to seek lost friends from the fellowship?  Jesus sent His Apostles to seek and heal, as He did Himself.

 I know  a Vicar who retired from full-time ministry, and helped out at his local parish Church by taking services when a vacancy occurred. He never took any fee or expenses as he was entitled to do, and when the pandemic came and he was forced by law not to attend, he  did not return again, as a new Vicar was appointed. He has never been visited or even called by phone, to enquire his state of health at any time. I do know Churches where they have a telephone check on people are noticed missing.

 But apparently it is not only in the United Kingdom such happens. I was a follower of a leading American evangelical preacher, famous across the United States, whose preaching was recognized by full Church attendance, in a Church of great beauty, which he created.  I had an account there, and followed his strong Biblical teaching. For some reason my password to the account was one day not accepted, and there is no provision whatsoever on the website of the Church to create a new one.

 I still follow the streaming of services on the internet, and have sent three emails to the Church seeking assistance in creating a new account, one to the new pastor, and one to the CEO of the Church Ministries, all without any acknowledgement or response. Sadly the man I admired died.  The irony is they claim to be evangelical and fervent in the pursuit of spreading the gospel,, yet quite dismissive or practicing it.  I feel certain the former Pastor would have acted differently.

 I have been told that the clergy do not have time to do much visiting, having to visit the ill and attend meetings.  No one visited me when I was in hospital, and all the meetings are largely,  waste of time as little results from them. A meeting need only be called when something important has to be discussed, not as an alternative to doing something relative to parish duty.

 I would be quite pleased if someone sought my help, and feel thrilled I was able to help, as when two American Christians wrote to me seeking an explanation of Scripture.  I was always under the impression it was an essential part of Christian ministry to search and seek the lost.

 I do not have a Church of my own now, so I am essentially an itinerant preacher. This has taken me to a lot of Churches of different denominations. I return to most of them and find the congregation noticeably smaller than previously.  Age and illness obviously are a reason, but people also fall away out of boredom, frustration or just disappointment, and even disgust.  There is a sense of spiritual hunger, for the Bible has become for too many in the Church as just a handy accessory. The sermon is seen as a tedious necessity to fill in a few minutes.  I have actually been told that by a Vicar, when it should be the centrepiece.

When certain Archbishops and bishops are seen on television making remarks which cause so much concern, they have to apologize, that does not help, nor when calls are made for the Bible teaching on morality be abandoned because some minority faction might be upset at the teaching, which comes from God.  I know members of the Methodist Church were shocked to find their Church was allowing same sex partners to be allowed to have services of marriage, and have left for another Church.

The words of Jesus were clear,  'I will build my Church, and he gates of hell willnot prevail against it.'   One may be confused, as there are those within the Church who seem to be doing there best to destroy.

No comments:

Post a Comment