my tenuous link to Leicester City

shocked
Photo by permission from http://www.sxc.hu/profile/bigevil600

So the impossible has happened. Leicester City won the Premier League this season after almost being relegated last season, and being most pundits’ favourite for relegation this time around. At the start of the season the bookmakers were giving odds of 5000-1 for them winning the Premier League. This is being proclaimed as the most astonishing sporting story of all time. They might be right.

I don’t support Leicester City, but as a supported of Ipswich Town I can relate to the surprise that they have been so successful. My only link to Leicester is that about 10 years ago a friend, who was a season-ticket holder at Leicester City, lent his tickets to me so I could take my son to watch a football match (my friend was unable to go). He did warn us that his ticket was in the rowdy section of the Leicester fans, but it was too generous an offer to turn down so we went.

Two things in particular come to mind when I remember that football match. The first was about the Leicester City tradition of a huntsman in full regalia playing a rallying cry on a hunting horn as the players ran onto the pitch. That still happens, and it still strikes me as somewhat incongruous. It is a rousing sound, but Leicester City’s nickname is ‘The Foxes’ so to have a huntsman playing a hunting horn seems to me to be more likely to rouse the opposition who are there to hunt the foxes.

The second thing was that although we were in the rowdy section of the crowd we were on the edge of it. Most of the chants and songs were generated (in the mystical way in which they happen at a football ground) from in the middle of the section and the rest of the ground joined in. But just in front of us was a young man who obviously fancied himself as a chant-generator. When it was a bit quiet he made us jump by standing up and shouting, “Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?”

Nobody joined in.

It was quite embarrassing.

But it didn’t deter him. A little later on he stood up again and sang a chant at the top of his voice (I can’t remember it) and kept repeating it in the hope that others would join in.

But nobody did.

It was cringe-worthy.

And yet through the whole match he kept on at it. He did not give up. Perhaps he thought that eventually he would wear down the resistance of the crowd and that they would join in with him. Or maybe he thought that if he was good enough he’d get invited into the middle of the rowdy section and be allowed to join in with them. Or it’s possible (and this is what I think is the truth) that he didn’t care whether anyone joined in with him – he just wanted to express his support for Leicester City at the top of his voice.

When I have heard football crowds chanting and singing I sometimes remember that young man.And I have stopped being embarrassed for him. Now I admire his persistence. I admire his loyalty. I admire his desire to express himself without worrying what other people are thinking. And I wish Christians would worship God more like that.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

from sermons to sofas

No, today’s bloggage is not recommending that we install sofas in our churches instead of pews or uncomfortable chairs. Although, come to think of it…

insert Minister here

Today is a day in which I plan to spend most of the day shut away in my study… preparing for Sunday services. The sun is shining outside, the birds are tweeting, the golf courses are calling me, but I will be in a small room with a small semi-opaque window reading, writing, praying and thinking.

I am actually looking forward to it. I find that the preparation is one of the most satisfying parts of being a Minister. You start off with a blank piece of paper, a blank mind (and a blank look on your face), and end up with something through which God may well speak to someone (or more than someone). The combination of reading, writing, praying and thinking distils into something that I can offer as an act of worship and , because God’s Spirit is involved in the process, others can find helps them engage in an act of worship too.

But that’s not a process that is limited to those who are preparing sermons and services for Sundays. Sometime this morning some nice people are coming around to repair one of our sofas. It’s out of warranty (only 2 years old) and has a structural fault (spring come through the bottom) but they are coming because a nice man on the other end of the phone said that he would arrange it as a ‘gesture of goodwill’. Thank you Harveys.

But these people who are coming to repair the sofa, if followers of Jesus, can do it as an act of worship to God. The way that they do it, the way that they are with customers, the pleasure they take in their craftsmanship are all things that can be done as acts of worship that will enable others to rejoice too (especially when we sit down).

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17, NIV)

To me this is one of the most fantastic passages in the Bible. It sets out a way of living that is Jesus-centred and from it flows out blessing, joy and peace. There’s SO much in it that I could spend all day writing bloggerel about it. But I don’t have time, I have to prepare some services. So I will suggest to you that the summary in verse 17 is something that we should have before us at all times. “Whatever you do…” is all-encompassing. “Do it… in the name of the Lord Jesus,” could be another way of saying ‘do it as a free sample of Jesus’. “giving thanks to God the Father…” suggests that we do it all as an act of worship to God, motivated by an attitude of gratitude.

That includes sermon preparation, sofa repairs, changing nappies, talking with patients, listening to complaints… [insert your day here]…

Be blessed, be a blessing.

A preacher’s little boy inquired, “Dad, I notice every Sunday morning when you first come out to preach, you sit up on the platform and bow your head. What are you doing?”

The father explained, “I’m asking the Lord to give me a good sermon.”

The little boy said, “Why doesn’t he?”