Saturday, 14 April 2012

Spring Harvest 2012 - We can not do church on our own

Spring Harvest Day 3 Evening Celebration

Listened to a really good talk at Spring Harvest last night

We can not do church on our own.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

We start with a very stark vision - a valley of dead bones.  Whoever they were they are long dead.  There is utter death and desolation.  This is a hideous and horrid scene.

Who would have a vision like this?

Where has it come from?

Why would a vision like this happen?

The vision is not the product of a disordered man but is from God.  The hand of God was upon him and set down in the valley full of bones.

This is a vision for Ezekiel from God.

This valley is the people of Israel.  Jerusalem including the temple has been destroyed and the people of God were in exile in a different land.  The people of God were saying this - we are like dry bones.

This is an invitation to face our worst fears.

Church attendance in now down to 5% with the average age increasing and men and families leaving.  Values are no longer recognized and we are now one faith amongst many.

What can we do?

We can go to the mountain top of denial - revival is just around the corner.

We can settle on the plateau of despondency where we look back to the past and think that things can only get worse resulting in dull apathy.

But God does not take the prophet to either of the places but into the valley of dry bones.

This is where we can face our worse fears for the church and shed our biggest fears and say our most earnest prayers.

What happens next?

In the valley of dry bones he hears this key question.  “Can these bones live?”  This is not our question but God’s question to Ezekiel.

“Can these bones live?”

We are a people in danger of losing hope, wallowing in despondency or nostalgia.

Behind this question lies other questions?
  • How strong is your faith
  • How deep is your understanding of scripture of the church
  • How committed are we to the body of Christ
  • Do we have a good grip on the hope to come
Ezekiel gets the answer to the question right - only you know God.  It is your concern, it is in your hands.  If it is to be filled with life it is God’s work.  It is God’s church and He alone has sovereign power.

So can we leave it all to God?

The vision and question are followed by an instruction.

What does he have to do?

“Prophesy to the dry bones ...”

It is time to speak God’s word to His people and His church.  We hear this from people and we are reminded that we are to be a missional community - existing for the very work of mission.  
There is an instruction and in these challenging days there are people out there speaking to the dry bones.  As different initiatives spread out we can hear the rattle of bones as we start to come back to life.

Is that enough?

To be resourced by the word of God gives the body the skin, tendons, muscles but doesn’t give life.  We need word and spirit to bring the vibrant liberty of Jesus.  We can be trapped into doing lots of stuff but lacking the love of Jesus.

At the first the valley of dry bones becomes the valley of dead bodies but what else is needed to bring true life.

Prophesy to the breath - breathe into the body.  Breath, Wind, Spirit - the very life of God in church.

This is a time to rediscover and claim the great truth of pentecost - the Spirit of Jesus is God’s gift to the church and He alone empowers us.  The Spirit of God can raise the deadest of church to new life.

We need to be rooted in our faith, resourced by the word of God and raised by the Spirit of God.

Do we need to rediscover the joy of being baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit of God.
We need to love the church.  Do we need a baptism of love for the church especially if we have been bruised by the church.  Jesus loves the church with all its faults and blemishes and we need to do also.

Joining the church is more than just joining a family but joining a mighty army who most be concerned with social justice and the love of Jesus.  We will never give up, never be defeated and will carry on until hate is vanquished by love when heaven and earth are a new creation.  

We can bring hope to the world. 

We follow Jesus fighting for God.

1 comment:

  1. It was a hard-hitting sermon and one I'll long remember. My church is holding a meeting this week to discuss how we'll respond to this challenge!