Sermon: Time

Sermon 16 Nov St Mary’s Whitby

Rev Felicity O’Brien

Christian stewardship is about our managing of those things God entrusts to us – how we take care of resources so that they will be put to good use, and not wasted. It involves giving back to God a proportion of our income, time and talents, and how we do this reflects his place in our lives.In the first address on the stewardship of wealth, Tim pointed us to the Biblical principal of tithing – ie giving to God a tenth of our income ; a principle God laid down as the proper stewardship for his people in the Old Testament. Or you could put it the other way – tithing involves keeping 90% of our money, talents and time!Last week Ralph addressed the stewardship of gifts and talents.He pointed out how everyone has their own God-given talent, for example painting, music, mercy, hospitality and the like. Add to that the spiritual gifts that we have as Christians, which Paul tells us are for the proper functioning of the Church.Ralph concluded his address with an appeal for us to consider where each of us are presently – or could be – using our gifts and talents to serve God in this parish.

Time is the third resource that we are considering in this series about stewardship of God’s gifts to us. It’s not like money or talent, where the amount we have differs widely from one person to another. We each have the same number of hours in the day. 24 hours, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. How many years we have, well, that’s where it is limited, at least here on earth. Our time in heaven is infinite, so we really have a lot of time! Continue reading

Many roles

When I first started this Blog, I was expecting to be ordained priest a year after being ordained deacon. The plan was to re-name it ‘Speaking as a deacon and a priest.’ My path has gone in a different direction, but I’m still not sure that the calling to priesthood has gone away.

After the very busy time we have had as a family, I could call it ‘Speaking as a deacon and a mother’. My son Josiah has been in hospital recently for appendicitis, which he is now recovering from. I find the mothering role quite demanding, because there is no plan to it. Yes, he had his operation, came out of hospital with three small wounds, but it took a week for him to recover from the anaesthetic, and he still has pain in his tummy which has restricted him from joining in the Kapa Haka festival and other physical pursuits.He gets really grouchy too! As a mum, I cannot plan when I may have to give him a ride, persuade him to take pain relief, and many other things.

Added to that, our daughter is struggling with life at the moment, especially with the transition from childhood to adolescence. I won’t go into details, but please pray for her!

We all have many roles, and my deacon role is not compromised by my mother one. No, rather it is enhanced. Our congregation cares for all our family, and in sharing some of our troubles and triumphs, I can become fully embedded into the church family. I think it’s important for deacons to do that – maybe the priests need to be a little more aloof, but incarnational ministry for a deacon must surely mean going deep with our church, being real, letting ourselves be known, warts and all. Only then can we fully appreciate each other.

The parish where I work is going through a time of change – our wonderful priest-in-charge has just announced that she is to leave us in a few months to focus on God’s call for her to concentrate on Missions in Polynesia. What will this mean for me? I will be journeying as part of the congregation during the change, during the self-searching as they/we look at themselves to discover how they feel they need to be led gong forward. I love working at this parish, with these people. There are different opinions among them over many things, but surely my role as deacon is to encourage everyone, to nudge them a little step forward on their discipleship journey, whether I agree with them or not.  I don’t believe it is my task to impose my ideas on them, but rather to enter into dialogue and encourage creative discussion. I love doing this!

May God bless you all as you find your way forward in the journey God has for you this week.

Felicity

Wind in the branches

It’s Advent! Our family always has a real tree, so yesterday we headed up to our local school where we had permission to take a wilding pine. We found our perfect tree, and between four kids and myself, we cut it down, plus a couple of smaller ones for the kids’ bedrooms – yes I know it’ll make a mess but the smell is glorious!

When my son and I were carrying our tree home, we heard a strange noise, like wind rushing through the trees, but it was coming, not from the distant treetops, but from the tree over our shoulders! It was really weird hearing the wind in the branches we were carrying!

I got to thinking – the Holy Spirit is like that, isn’t it? We can notice the Holy Spirit’s movements and actions when they are a bit distant from us, we can rejoice at healings and answered prayers, but how easy it is to miss the very work of the Spirit in our own lives! So often we don’t recognise what the Spirit is doing for us, because we’re so busy and distracted, and sometimes we’re just not looking for it.

Be surprised this Advent! Notice the wind in your Christmas tree – notice God’s Holy Spirit near you, in your living room, spicing up your life!

Is it stealing?

Today I was communicating with someone about a reading for Sunday’s service. This person was at work, and replied to me twice from there.

I wonder, is it stealing when you attend to non-work emails while at work? Or is it ok in your lunch-hour? Maybe a lenten challenge for all of us is using our time ethically. If we are paid for our time we should use all of that time for the purpose it was ‘bought’ for. When I was a singing teacher, my pupils had half an hour of my time, and if I had to waste some of it chasing my kids away, I felt that I needed to either charge them less, or continue on past the time allotted. How many people who work for large corporations think about their employers’ time? It would be great if all the contact email addresses that people give to church (and bowls, and patchwork club, and all the other non-work activities) were private, otherwise there is a temptaiton to “just” attend to emails before working.

Do you steal? Let’s challenge ourselves to be honest with our time.