Nearly thirtry years ago, I was a participating volunteer leader in an ad-hoc weekday mens' fellowship group who met at 6.30am in the 1980s in a ramshackle old shed in the main car park at Hope Valley Uniting Church in Adelaide's North-Eastern 'Burbs.
The church was a semi-charismatic run by an excellent teacher who didn't push any of the "vocal" gifts. They concentrated on youth and young adults
Two of us ran the group, Fergus was an import from Robinvale in western Victoria and we talked the same language; he taught mechanical science type stuff in the largish Christian school next door. After the first meeting, we realised we needed to sing as well, so that was my baby from week 2 onwards, unaccompanied, which always was my forte, having led Scout and Girl Guide campfires for years.
We picked 6.30am for half an hour every Wednesday as we were targeting WORKING guys who drove to work straight afterwards. You could come earlier if you wanted. Many did, after the first coupla weeks. Fergus and I kept it going for a long time.
One of the older men created a marvellous skit and he did it one Sunday during worship.
He dressed as a typical builder and had a wheelbarrow with a dozen filled black garbage bags in it. He had a long builder's plank which he walked in with on his shoulder, whistling. He used the plank to take the barrow from floor level to the top of the three-step platform at the front of the church
How I dislike the use of the word "stage" - church services are not "performances".
The whole skit was without sound... He ran up the plank with the barrow and up-ended it at the foot of the cross - symbolic of leaving all our personal junk there. He turned around and ran down it again, with the now empty barrow exiting through the back of the pews.
Perhaps one minute later, he came back in, furtively looking around and went back to the pile of bags,searched those he had dumped, selected two, still looking furtively around and hurriedly exited.
When we decide to hand all our stuff over to Christ, we often just take a little back when we do it in our own strength.
We need to enlist His help, surely, to effectively surrender to Him.
The guy acting the part got the message over, far better than an eight-hundred word essay, methinks.
Leaving this thought with you, I shall paste two small excerpts from a sermon preached by a man whose integrity cannot be "suss" because the context of them is historically supported by others. He happily gave his permission by text message this morning.
Second One First
In her book, “Reflections of God’s Glory”, Corrie Ten Boom shares this story about a African Christian man she met who came to a meeting with bandaged hands. She asked him how he had been injured. He replied, “My neighbour’s straw roof was on fire; I helped him put it out and that’s how my hands were burned.”
Later, Corrie heard the whole story. The neighbour hated him and had set his roof on fire while his wife and children were asleep in the hut. They were in great danger. Fortunately, he was able to put out the fire in his house on time. But sparks flew over to the roof of the man who had started the fire and his house started to burn.
There was no hate in the heart of the African Christian man. There was love for his enemy and he did everything he could to put out the fire in his neighbour’s house. This is how his own hands were burned.
May the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who has offered his body for us be our source of spiritual worship as we offer ourselves in service and sacrifice for others.
First One Second
Many years ago, a mother living in a block of flats quickly “ducked out” to shop on her street while her baby was sleeping. While she was in the store, a fire truck raced by. Her instant thought was, “Is that fire truck going to my home?”
She ran out from the store toward her home and to her horror she saw flames leaping out from her block of flats. The building was on fire and her baby was inside. Rushing to the fire chief, she cried out, “My baby is up there!”
He shouted back to her, “It would be suicide for anyone to go up there now; I’m sorry, it’s too late.”
A young fireman then came forward, “Chief, I have a little baby at home, and if my house were on fire, I’d want someone to go up to save my baby. I’ll go.”
The young fireman climbed the stairs through the thick smoke; he found the baby, and carried her to the window where down below, a rescue net was waiting. He let go of the baby who fell safely into the rescue net,
Then moments later, the building collapsed and he was burned to death. That’s sacrifice.
The scene is now twenty years later at a graveside. A twenty-year-old woman is sobbing softly. Before her, at the head of this grave, is the statue of a fireman.
A man nearby by asks her respectfully, “Was that your father?” She replies, “No.”
“Was that your brother?” “No,” she says.
“That’s the man who died for me.”
The author's name is Chris Gallasch
He delivered those messages on Good Friday 2017
While I haven't ever traveled in a bright red shiny new metro fire truck, I have served as a volunteer Bushfire Brigade firefighter in Western Australia, and in what used to be called the Emergency Fire Service in South Australia. It can be scary stuff, and I can relate to the speaker's message.
Now, I am conscious that some members here have been put off by the preaching of what the Bible calls"another gospel" and I ask you please to persevere.
Jesus is - as the Archdeacon in Oxford said to Chief Inspector Morse, "An historical person".
I came to the conclusion it was really dumb for me to reject Him just because other people rewrote His mission, His Gospel (Good News) and his relationship to us - just so they could exercise power and control over us.
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