john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    On being born again

    Good Shepherd 6/02/2005 (Communion Service)

    Genesis 12:1-4a, John 3:1-17

    A conversation rather than a sermon....

    Consider the following statement from the Dalai Lama; what can you relate to in it....

    The Paradox of our Age
    His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama [1]

    We have bigger houses but smaller families;
    more conveniences, but less time;
    We have more degrees, but less sense;
    more knowledge, but less judgement;
    more experts, but more problems;
    more medicines, but less healthiness;
    We've been all the way to the moon and back,
    but have trouble crossing the street to meet
    the new neighbour.
    We built more computers to hold more
    information to produce more copies than ever,
    but have less communication;
    We have become long on quantity,
    but short on quality.
    These are times of fast foods
    but slow digestion;
    Tall man but short character;
    Steep profits but shallow relationships.
    It's a time when there is much in the window,
    but nothing in the room.

    - what, in this statement, do we agree with?

    - how can we change?

    And now hear this statement from church planting expert Stuart Murray...

    The Paradox of the Church
    Stuart Murray [2]

    Churches spoon-feed their members rather than providing space for spiritual development;

    Churches focus on the minister or the programmes rather than on God;

    Churches offer institutional forms of belonging and insipid forms of fellowship, rather than authentic community and friendship;

    Churches are inward-looking rather than engaging creatively and sensitively with contemporary culture and social and ethical issues;

    Churches are inward-looking rather than equipping their members for the world of work;

    Churches donıt treat adults as adults;

    Churches only allow room for monologue rather than for dialogue as well;

    Churches only allow joyful certainty rather than doubts, anger and lament as well;

    Churches are unrealistic about the rhythms and pressures of modern life.

    - what, in this statement, do we agree with?

    - how can we change?

    When Jesus met Nicodemus he told him how we could change.

    What did he say?

    [We must be born again]

    What does that mean - being born again?

    How does it happen?

    [ŒVery truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.ı]

    What difference does it make?

    [ŒFor God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

    ŒIndeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.]

    Does this mean that the church (as described by Stuart Murray) and the world (as described by the Dalai Lama) can be Œborn againı?

    I suggest it can....

    [Kate Compston poem to end]

    I Dream of a Church
    Kate Compston [3]

    I dream of a church that joins in with God's laughing
    as she rocks in her rapture, enjoying her art:
    she's glad of her world, in its risking and growing:
    'tis the child she has borne and holds close to her heart.

    I dream of a church that joins in with God's weeping
    as she crouches, weighed down by the sorrow she sees:
    she cries for the hostile, the cold and no-hoping,
    for she bears in herself our despair and dis-ease.

    I dream of a church that joins in with God's dancing
    as she moves like the wind and the wave and the fire:
    a church that can pick up its skirts, pirouetting,
    with-the steps that can signal God's deepest desire.

    I dream of a church that joins in with God's loving
    as she bends to embrace the unlovely and lost,
    a church that can free, by its sharing and daring,
    the imprisoned and poor, and then shoulder the cost.

    God, make us a church that joins in with your living,
    as you cherish and challenge, rein in and release,
    a church that is winsome, impassioned, inspiring;
    lioness of your justice and lamb of your peace.

    [1] I found this in Resurgence 229, March/April 2005, but you can get it online in various places
    [2] Adapted from blog by Richard White
    [3] Kate Compston from Geoffrey Duncan, ed, Dare to Dream