Sermon 1 Proclaim the Good News 19th January 2014

Sermon for Epiphany 2, 19th January 2014

The First Mark of Mission - Proclaim the Good News

(Readings: 1 Corinthians 1: 1-9 and John 1: 29 -42)

Welcome to the start of a new venture!  A sermon series!  This week and four of the next five Sundays we shall be looking at the five Marks of Mission.

The five Marks of Mission came out of discussions in the Anglican Communion that tried to find a holistic common understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

The five themes on which they came to a common mind are these –and my guess is that most of the 70million members of the Anglican Communion will have heard a similar sermon to the one you are about to receive…

The first Mark of Mission is to ‘proclaim the Good News’.

As one of my former colleagues, now Bishop of Ely puts it,

it’s about Telling.

He has words beginning with T for all the five marks of mission

Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform and Treasure…..

But I am not going to rush too far ahead but confine myself to the first Mark of Mission which is to Proclaim the Good News

This is the church’s primary reason for existence and, as its members, it is our principal reason for being Christians.

Whatever else we are we must be good news people:

We have good news about the reality of God’s love for the world and all of our life and being should be inspired by a desire to share it.

  • We are now into the third generation of children who have never had any real contact with the church.
  • There are three generations now where the majority of people have no living experience of the church in their background
  • This is why they think they are missing nothing if they spend Sunday mornings at the Rugby Club or in Tesco.

What is holding us back?

Perhaps there is some level of fear?

  • Fear of looking foolish
  • Fear of seeming odd
  • Fear of rejection

But if we genuinely have good news none of these will apply. People welcome good news! John the Baptist was able to say

‘I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’

And we too need to be able to tell our own story of what Jesus means to us.

If you find it difficult to know where to begin, I wonder which part of the Christian year touches you most?

Is it Christmas?

Is it the amazing news that God has not left us to try and find out the truth about himself but has come to reveal that truth to us.

Christmas means

  • that he is with us
  • that he shares our lives
  • that he knows every aspect of what it is like to be human

Is it Good Friday?

Is it the fact that God doesn’t duck the awkward bits about being human?

Good Friday means

  • that God is with us all the way
  • that he has shared the experience of death we all face
  • that there is nowhere we can go that he cannot be with us

Good Friday is the ultimate demonstration of God’s total commitment to be with us.  His love for each one of us took him to the cross.

But that is not where the story ends. So is Easter the part of the Christian year that touches you most?

Is it the amazing news that death is not the end for Jesus but the beginning of a new life that he wants us all to share with him?

Easter means

  • that we have good news to share – there is life after death
  • that we can find forgiveness for the sins we share with those who crucified Jesus
  • that nothing can separate us from the love of God

Or is your favourite part of the Christian year Pentecost?

Is what give you most joy the knowledge that God has given us his Spirit?

Pentecost means

  • that we can know that God is with us
  • that we can ask God to pray with us and in us
  • that we can ask God to fill our lives with his spirit so that we become fulfilled and generous Good News people

If we are to proclaim the Good News, we need to be able to tell our own story of how Jesus is good news for us.

The Spirit is there to help us.  As Jesus said to his disciples in John’s Gospel:

‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; … he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine.’

Knowing why we think our faith is good news is the first step to being able to proclaim it. And the church in Corinth appears to have taken that step for St Paul could write to them:

‘I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind’

Being able to proclaim the Good News is half of the battle. The other half is having someone with whom we feel is appropriate to share our faith.

Our relationships are the most important channel for sharing the Gospel.

  • The people with whom we can share our doubts and questions will be the people with whom we can share our hopes and convictions.
  • The people who respect the things we do will be the people who respect the things we say.
  • The people who like being in our company are the people who will be most open to hearing what makes us tick and what we most hold dear.

This is why we will shortly be creating a new opportunity to get together on Saturdays which I hope will be a pilot for a much greater use of our building as a place the community can gather

This venture will be called ‘Closely Knit’…… the idea is to bring people together to share crafts and coffee and to form the relationships that will bring good news.

So the first mark of mission is to proclaim the Good News

To talk the talk because we have something worthwhile to say – and because we have close contacts to share good news with.

Next week we’ll consider what we do when people respond to us!

Amen