I’m sitting on the verandah as the mist rolls in, having my first go at a blog! What an awesome tool to keep in touch not just with happenings, but thoughts and ideas too. I am quite an ideas person as you will have realized, so this blog is likely to be thin on news and fatter on thoughts!
I have just finished the first draft of a sermon for Easter Sunday, part of our series on Encountering Jesus (how did this series get to be called “Close Encounters” for heavens sake? You have to know that not everything that happens in Hillside comes from my desk!) Anyway I am increasingly gripped with our commitment to place the gospel at the centre of all we do, as we have tried to do in this series. But the only way we can in integrity be gospel-centred is if, as we have claimed, the gospel is the answer to every human need. (If there is a human need that is not addressed by the gospel, then we had better preach something else!) That key statement is so easy to say and such hard work to apply. In fact I think it is the greatest theological challenge to every preacher to explain just how Jesus is the answer to the needs of the hearer. In the face of hugely diverse relational, emotional, economic stresses we constrain ourselves not to give 10 tips on how to do it better, or a motivational pep talk, but a good solid reason why the work of Jesus on the cross makes all the difference, indeed is our salvation. (Especially since many hearers would probably prefer a pep talk, or some tips!) The gospel is good news, not good advice. A HUGE challenge, but what a privilege to engage in it.