Church, broken and beautiful

At the end of the sermon on Sunday last (5 May), I tried to express something of the beauty and purpose of local church. I’ve transcribed it below with one or two small edits. At times, it’s about our local church in Donabate, other times about local churches generally; sometimes both. You can listen to the whole Bible talk here:

Church, what do you say?

You’re so quaint.  I don’t mean you, I mean local churches. Maybe I do mean you.  You’ve been clinging on for ages. They kept saying it was the end for you; you’d be replaced by bricks and structures; you’d be vanquished by better things to do on a Sunday morning.  Like watching televisions, going out in your cars …. to large out of town shopping centres with coffee shops that open at 10am serving delicious white chocolate muffins.

But you’re here.

Church, you’re so timid.  You’ve got no election poster, no seat on the council.  You’re not on Twitter and even if you had Instagram you couldn’t find a picture worth posting.  

Local church, you’re so close.  You’re still in out of the way places, no-horse towns. You keep popping up in cities and villages that are just not that cool. Here’s just not that cool, is it?  It is beautiful though.

Don’t you know all the great enterprises have an office at Grand Canal Dock? 

Church, you’re a mess. You people are broken. You bicker with each. You worry. You do your own thing.

But you continue to be dogged.  You keep reading from your ancient book. Don’t you know there are new books available?  You continue to hope in despair. You continue to walk in faith. You never stop believing. You keep loving God. You keep trusting Jesus.  You go on praying.  You don’t stop confessing. You love ceaselessly. You find hope in despair.  You make meals.  You make calls.  You make friends with strangers.

I don’t know if you feel loved.  Hopefully you feel loved by each other.  By me as I do by you. 

But Church, you are so loved! The Bible says God the Father has prepared a bride for his Son.

The Bible dares to tell us, in at least three different places, that God is preparing this bride for the Son.  

It’s in 2 Corinthians, Ephesians 5 and Revelation 19.   

Church, God is preparing you as the one that Jesus loves, as his treasure, his special possession. When you come to faith in him, you are loved by him.  You are made perfect, you are made holy.  And you’ll be with him forever.  Whoever you are, no matter how you feel. That is an extraordinary offer of status and belonging.  Not because you are good or great but because Jesus sets his affection on you. You are the thrill of God’s heart.  Not only that, you are His vehicle for seeing the rest of the world reached. 

Trust God with that. Ask him how can I understand that love more?  How can I be filled in it?  How can I live in that identity?  How can I be used to help others receive this message and find their true identity?