Christianity is a funny religion, because it has a number of ‘rough edges’ in it that can’t be smoothed away without ruining the whole thing. These tend to get brought up at our major festivals, Christmas and Easter, where we are confronted with ideas like the virgin birth, the Cross, and the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It would be a lot easier to sell the Christian faith as a sensible philosophy of life without these things, but then without them there wouldn’t be much to sell except telling people to ‘be nicer to each other’. So, if we are serious about exploring what Jesus taught and who he was we need to grapple with these rough edges. We are coming up to Easter in two weeks, and thinking about what it means for Jesus to die on the Cross. This is a huge topic that can be approached many ways. We are thinking particularly at St. Mark’s about the personal significance of the Cross for those who were closest to Jesus at the time – his mother Mary and his friends John and Peter, as well as what it meant for Jesus himself. The Cross actually holds great depths to help us understand the experience of God in our lives and what it means to follow Jesus and his Way. So I invite you to join us on this Easter journey.
This week at St. Mark’s we are finishing our journey through the book of Leviticus. What we’ve seen is that, just like us, the Israelite of those times were people who struggled with how to live well. They knew that they were called to be God’s people, to be a special community in the world, but there were so many things that pulled them away from their calling. The laws of Leviticus might have been a bit strange in places, but they were the laws of a people trying to be faithful to God. Our sermon series finishes with a look at what was in the ‘Holy of Holies’, the centre of the Tabernacle. This was the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ with the tablets of the law, the ten commandments. God promised his people that if they lived his way, they would have a life that was blessed, but if they didn’t, things would not go well. As Christians, this challenge is still one that exists for us, to find our ‘pattern of life’, which will put God at the centre of everything we do. But our context is different today. In some ways it is harder for us, as our world is not the simple place that we read about in ancient Israel. We have so many things to do and competing ways to live shown by the world around us. On the other hand, we live in the age of the ‘New Covenant’, when through Jesus God has put his Holy Spirit into the hearts of his people with the grace and power to be truly transformed. As we approach Easter let’s take encouragement from what Jesus has done and the life he has lived for us.
Our theme this week in our series at St. Mark’s on Leviticus is what it says about our relationship to creation. This is an issue that all of us are aware about more and more these days, and the effect that we have on the environment around us. Many people here in the Hills are looking for healthy and harmonious relationships with nature and trying intentionally to live that way. Leviticus places this issue in the context of our relationship with God, reminding his people that all life belongs to God and that humans are only ever caretakers of the life of the world around us. It provides us with a challenging look at our attitudes to the things we eat and other things we consume, and how this might flow from our faith in Jesus. This is an area where many of us may have practical ideas and experience to share with others in our church. How do you approach this question in your own life?
At St. Mark’s this Term we are looking at the book of Leviticus, the third book in the Old Testament. One of the big themes of Leviticus is that God’s people are called to be people of integrity. ‘Integrity’ is when the different parts of our life are all in harmony, working together and headed the same direction. In the case of Leviticus, this means that our relationship with God affects how we treat ourselves, how we treat other people, and the kind of lifestyle that we pursue in the world God has made. One of the problems we have in modern society is that the different parts of our life tend to get separated from each other – our relationship with God is seen as ‘private’, and not affecting the rest of our lives. In this season, therefore, we are challenging this separation and asking what it means to follow Christ in a more integrated way. We hope that this leads to great conversations in our community in the months to come about how we can be a transforming influence in our families and in the community around us. – Andrew
Maintaining daily offices can encourage our prayer life greatly. Learning by heart some set prayers such as
The Lord’s Prayer can build our faith and grow our relationship with God.
Jesus taught His disciples this prayer, as a model of how to pray, and it continues to be just as impactful and relevant today. Over the weeks to come, let’s all take some time to dwell on the words and sentiments of Jesus’ prayer and enact them in our daily lives.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
Forever and ever.
This week, as we continue to delve into Leviticus, and ‘The Heart of Life’, let’s encourage each other to
prioritise time in our day to reconnect with our God.
You can also pick up a paper copy in the foyer, return to the office or pass to a staff member.
Between now and Easter, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 8:30 – 9am I will be opening up the church and spending the time in a service of Bible reading and prayer.
Anyone is welcome to join me if you are able. But I would encourage you to pray personally in your
time with God and in your small groups as well. – Andrew