Christian Aid Sunday: Bringing the Kingdom Near – Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – Revelation 7:9-17, 21:1-6

“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Revelation 21:3-4)

In both the words of Revelation 7 and 21, we read about God’s plan for the future. This plan concerns a new heaven and new earth, a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven and God’s dwelling place being among the people. Believers will never again hunger or thirst, as God wipes away ever tear and the old order of things passes away. These words offer comfort and hope for the future but especially for those who Christian Aid seeks to serve, where the brokenness and frustration of this world is so closely felt. But this kingdom is not just His plan for the future, it is God’s plan for today. The new heaven and new earth have not come yet, but in the arrival of Jesus, the coming kingdom has been announced. Jesus said Himself in Luke 4:18a, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” In Matthew 10:1, Jesus gave His disciples authority to drive out impure spirits and heal every disease. In Luke 10:9, Jesus sent out the 72 to heal and perform miracles saying, “tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” And in John 14:12, Jesus says, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things.” We are to be vessels through which God’s kingdom comes today, so how can we join this kingdom activity? Three things: pray, participate and perceive what God is calling and dreaming you to do for the building of His kingdom on earth as in heaven.

Resurrection Faith – Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – Luke 24:36-53

“He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’” (Luke 24:38-39)

Concluding our series on the Gospel of Luke, we read in Luke 24 about the appearance of Jesus to His disciples before ascension. There are two important questions raised by this passage. First, do we believe in the resurrection? Despite His prophetic teaching in Luke 9:22 and 18:31-33 disciples doubted the resurrection of Jesus. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 pleads that believers hold resurrection faith. Why? Because this faith is in accordance with the scriptures and because the death and resurrection of Jesus is of first importance. If we believe in Jesus, His death and resurrection, then we will share in that death and resurrection ourselves. Second, what does the resurrection body look like? Jesus was different after resurrection. The disciples mistook Him for a ghost. Followers on the Emmaus Road did not recognise Him and yet He had flesh and bones and ate broiled fish. Paul, again in 1 Corinthians 15, writes that believers will be resurrected and in this resurrection will rise to a new body – sown perishable, raised imperishable; sown in dishonour, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural body and raised a spiritual body. One Bible commentator writes, God will make a body that is fit to live eternally with Him. Until then, Jesus advises, in Luke 24, that we must use our earthly bodies to live in holiness, to live lives of worship and to live as His witnesses that others will repent and inherit the Kingdom of God.

Dead to Sin, Alive to Christ – Tom Fisk – Romans 6:1-14

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4)

It’s always wonderful to have a baptism, but this passage tells us the fullness of that. Having faith, being baptised, means dying to the sin which has dominated us before that call on the name of Jesus. Death is the punishment for sin, the only just judgement for that. But by sharing in Christ’s death through faith, through baptism, we can also share in His resurrection, life at it’s fullest and eternal glory. So:

1. Are you dead to sin? Just because Grace means sin is forgiven, that does not make sin any less unforgivable.

2. Are you free from sin? Grace not only forgives our sin, but it delivers us from it.

3. Should you be baptised to signify your union with Christ in both his death and resurrection?

4. Is it time that you became a resurrected people and gained a new life in the almighty?

If the answer to any or all of those questions is yes then come and speak with us, we’d love to journey with you!

Easter Sunday – Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – Luke 24:13-35

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him”

(Luke 24:30-31)

Our Lenten journey came to a climax as we read the story of two Jesus followers in Luke’s Gospel. They were walking on the road to Emmaus discussing all that had taken place with Jesus of Nazareth. There are at least three things to note from this story. The first is that the followers of Jesus were downcast. To be downcast is to physically look downwards. To feel sad, disappointed or discouraged. We’ve all felt these emotions but the followers were downcast due to their hopeful Redeemer having been crucified and His body disappeared. The second is that Jesus drew near to them. Despite their disappointment, Jesus drew near to them and chatted to them. This example tells us that it’s ok to talk to God about our sadness. That He cares for us and walks with us, that He wants to discuss what’s on our heart. And then third, without recognizing Him, the followers invited Jesus to share a meal in the village. This prompted His very familiar breaking of bread and the final revelation of resurrected identity. The truth is that we can all get a little bit downcast. We get sad and discouraged about things, even with people. Perhaps we get disappointed with Jesus and fail to believe He is the risen Saviour. But remember, God is near and cares for us. He wants to walk and talk with us in our disappointment. When we invite Him into our homes and hearts, He will reveal Himself to us.