Be a Lighthouse (Vision and Mission part 1)

Today marks the start of a bit of a series that I’m going to preach on over the next few weeks. My reasoning for doing this is for a couple of parts. Firstly, I want us to hold a very clear picture in our heads as to who we are. We don’t have a building at the moment, and that’s ok, because the Church isn’t the building – but, at the same time, we’re all getting used to being slightly uncomfortable, and not knowing who we are – or more so, how we can be who we are. Secondly, I want to make sure that when we do get back into our building that we’re ready and raring to go, and that everything we start, everything we do, is coming out of our Vision and Mission.

Now we all know what our vision is, right? To be a lighthouse to the community, so that others can experience the life changing power and freedom found in Jesus. And our Mission is the four mission intentions of The Salvation Army: Transforming Lives, Caring for People, Making Disciples, and Reforming Society. Over the next six weeks (5 of my sermons, plus a Kidzone Sunday next week, because our Kids are a vital part of our church), we’ll look at our vision, and the four aspects of the mission, and the following week, you’ll have an opportunity to share some ideas with me as to how we are doing that, what we could be doing better, and maybe some new ideas that we can look into.

So today, we’re looking at our vision, and I’ve got a bit of a confession to make. When I first heard it, I wasn’t convinced about it. I mean, the message that was in there was great, I just wasn’t certain about the lighthouse part of it. I thought it was just a way to make it relevant to the community – because of the Bluff Lighthouse – with the main intent to be a light to the community. See to me, a Light is something portable, something that will head out into the community. A lighthouse was something static, that didn’t move. I wasn’t convinced. But, now that I think about it, now that I’ve explored it, I believe that there’s no truer representation of our church – and what I believe our church needs to be – than a lighthouse, and I’m going to explore that aspect of our vision today.

What is a lighthouse

So I guess the important thing to think about firstly is what is a lighthouse. As it’s the first thing that you hear in our vision, it’s the thing that people latch onto. If someone was to come up to you on the street and ask what The Salvation Army Devonport is all about, you might say “we’re trying to be a lighthouse to the community”. So we need to know what that really means to us.

It is a central point for people to look for

The first thing that I think about when I think about a lighthouse is that it’s a central point for people to look for. When a sailor is navigating on the water, the light of a lighthouse can help them to work out where they are. It can also help them to work out how far away from it they are as well.

It shows people the way

Did you know that there are different types of lighthouses as well? There’s the standard, single lighthouse, which often points out danger, but then there’s another lighthouse system which incorporates two lights, and that helps to show sailors the way to go. Line up those two lights, and you can know that by following those two lights, you’ll be safe.

Shows evil for what it is

The second thing that I think of about a lighthouse is that it shows evil for what it is. Think about it – You don’t put a lighthouse in the middle of deep, open waters to say “Look here, everything’s ok!” No, Lighthouses are generally used to show where the rocks are, the reefs, the islands where ships could find danger. A lighthouse alerts the passing ships that there’s danger about, and to be careful.

Shines light into the darkness

A lighthouse also shines light into the darkness. It doesn’t work during the daylight, but only during darkness, when people need it most.

Is a place of Safety near danger

phares dans la tempte: "La Jument"Finally, the last thing I think about is this image. Here we have a man, presumably one who works at the lighthouse, who is standing outside the door, while massive waves crash around him. Now, we don’t know the full situation there, but I reckon he felt quite safe there. See, while Lighthouses are quite often near danger, they are a place of safety near danger. They’re built strong to withstand the many dangers that they face – whether wind, waves or other things. If you’re inside that lighthouse, you know that it doesn’t matter how big those waves get, you’re going to be safe.

How can we as a church be a lighthouse

So if that’s what a lighthouse is, we then have to work out how that relates to us as a church, and similarly, I see us being a lighthouse in those same ways that I thought what a lighthouse is.

If we are to be a lighthouse, then we must be a central point for people to look for. We must be like what Jesus said in Matthew 5: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same lay, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.” We need to be open and visible to the community, so that people know who, what and where we are, and what we stand for. We won’t hide away, but let our light shine before all, so they may see our good works and give glory to God.

If we are to be a lighthouse, we must show people the way. In John 14, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Everything that we do must uphold Jesus as the way to God, and promote living in a way that follows Christ’s teachings as the way to a truly joyful life. We must uphold the scriptures of the old and new testaments as the divine rule of Christian faith and practice.

If we are to be a lighthouse, then we must show evil for what it is. In John 3, which we looked at last week, it says “this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” Where we see evil in the world, in our community, we must expose it for what it is.

At the same time, if we are to be a lighthouse then we must shine a light into the darkness. In our reading today, we heard “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Martin Luther King Jr said something similar, that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” When we see evil, yes, we must expose it, but we do that by showing the light of Christ into the situation, and that light is love.

Did you know how far the light from a lighthouse goes? Of course, it varies depending on the lighthouse, but for the Mersey Bluff lighthouse, it’s about 30km. If you were to draw a line 30km North, South, East and West from our Corps, 30km from corpsthis is the area that our light would reach. It’s out to Penguin in the west, Down past Sheffield to the south, and out past Port Sorrell and even past Bakers Beach. The light of our love can shine out past just our little town of Devonport, but even as far as what’s shown here.

And finally, if we are to be a lighthouse, we must be a place of safety near danger. In Matthew 11, Jesus says, “the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Jesus was indeed a friend of sinners – he ate with Tax Collectors, he talked with prostitutes, he touched lepers. The people that society rejected found safety with Jesus. They found acceptance with Jesus. If we are to be a lighthouse, then we must also be a place where people can feel safe and accepted – whether they are accepted by society or not. If we are to live up to our vision, then we must live like Jesus – and not care or judge what people are, but love them all the same.

Do you wanna be a lighthouse?

But, we must also remember that the church isn’t just the building. Our corps isn’t located just at 166 William St. Bridget Willard said “Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.” If we, as a collective church, are going to fulfil our vision, I hate to say it, but you can’t leave it up to me. I can’t do it all. If we’re going to fulfil this vision, then we must all live this. We must all be lighthouses in the communities that we live in.

Outline of corps membersThis image here is where we live as a corps. All of us live somewhere within that green polygon. If I extend that out 30km from out northern, eastern, southern and western most addresses, this is the area that we cover. That’s out past George town, Lower Turners Marsh and Bangor in the east, Mole Creek, Mayberry and Caveside in the south, and Riana in the West. If we can all be lighthouses in the places where we live, how much more effective as a corps will we be?30km outer reaches

So, if you’re going to be a lighthouse, you must be a central point for people to look for. Now, I’m not talking about being so loud that everybody takes notice of you – though, if you are that naturally, then brilliant. What I’m talking about is living in such a way that people sit up and take notice, and ask the question, “Why is this person like that? What’s so different about them?”

If you’re going to be a lighthouse, you must show people the way. You need to be willing to share your story with people. If someone comes up to you and asks you, “Why are you like that?” You’ll be able to share with them how Jesus has changed your life, and that he can do the same for them too.

If you’re going to be a lighthouse, you must show evil for what it is. Stand up for those who are being bullied, stand up for those who have no voice. Don’t be afraid to speak out when you see something that’s wrong.

If you’re going to be a lighthouse, you must shine light into the darkness. The only way we’re going to reach as far as that last image showed is if we make love our default response. If we show love everywhere we go, then the love of God will extend from us and into our communities.

And finally, if you’re going to be a lighthouse, you must be a place of safety near danger. Be welcoming to all who you come into contact with, and show them that love that is shown to you by Jesus. Don’t judge, as judgement is left to God alone. Just love them, everyone that you come in contact with, whether they’re accepted by the community or not. Love them.

I truly believe that we, as a church, are called to be a lighthouse to our community, and that we do need to be a place for people to look to, that we need to show evil for what it is, show the way, which is Jesus, and shine light and love into their darkness, while being a place of safety near danger. But, as I said, we can’t do any of that unless we have many more lighthouses out in the community. Together, we can let others experience the life changing power and freedom found in Jesus.

A few months ago, I introduced a song at a kidzone meeting called “We are” – and the chorus says “We are the light of the world, we are the city on the hill.” The Second verse says “We are called to spread the news, Tell the world the simple truth, Jesus came to save, there’s freedom in His Name, So let it all break through.” If you believe that you’re called to spread the news, and to tell the world the simple truth, I would ask you to stand when we get to that verse, and commit to being a lighthouse in the community where you live.

Get out of the Birdcage

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Get out of the Birdcage, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 13 July, 2014. The Reading was John 3:14-21

How good are you at making a choice? Let’s play a little game. I’ll have two pictures on the screen, if you would choose the one on the right, put your hand up. If you choose the one on the left, leave your hand down.

  • Coke or Pepsi
  • Chocolate or Chips
  • James Bond or Indiana Jones
  • Star Wars or The Notebook
  • 7 course degustation  or Steak and 3 Veg
  • “Chucking a sickie” or full day of work
  • Blowing your own trumpet or giving a compliment to someone else

Continue reading

Discerning the upside down

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Discerning the upside down, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 29 June, 2014. The Reading was Jeremiah 28:1-9

Have you ever had an argument with someone, where the only possibility to determine who is right is to wait and see how things play out? Liesl and I have these almost every week. Not big arguments, mind you, but I’ll tip the Bulldogs, and tell her that she’s silly for tipping Melbourne. The only way that we’ll know for sure is to wait and see how the game plays out.

Or maybe I’ll tell her that she’ll really enjoy Star Wars Episode VII, and she’ll say that she can’t stand Star Wars. The only way we’ll ever find out is if she sits down and watches it with me when it comes out. Continue reading

Called to be Holy

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Called to be Holy, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 15 June, 2014. The Reading was Matthew 28:16-20

Have you ever felt that you were too small to really make a difference? Thinking, “this town is too big for me to make a difference” or “how can I make a difference in this world that is so large” or “why would anyone listen to me?”

One of my best friends is absolutely incredible. She’s lived an incredible life – which is another talk in itself – and has been through all sorts of things in that time as well. In 2009, Daena committed to completing one random act of kindness each day, until her 25th birthday. She opened it up so that others could submit their acts of kindness as well, in the hope of getting 1000 acts of kindness by her birthday. Since then, she’s committed to completing a random act of kindness every day, and has done so – apart from a recent 3 month hiatus due to significant family issues – up until this date. On her blog, she says that she is “just an ordinary person looking to make a difference to the world, one small act of kindness at a time.”

I’m reminded of a story from the bible, where 5000 men, with women and children on top of that, were gathered, listening to Jesus teaching. With the crowd being hungry, Jesus poses the question to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” Philip answered saying that “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” Then Andrew pipes up, “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves, and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Continue reading

The Best Gift of all time

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Called to be Holy, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 8 June, 2014, Pentecost Sunday. The Reading was Acts 2:1-21

What was the best gift that you’ve ever been given? Think back over all your birthdays, Christmas, random gifts just for being gorgeous, what was the best gift that you’ve ever received?

907470Wikipedia_SNES_PALWhen I think back, there’s three gifts that really stand out for me. I’ve brought two of them here today, so I’ll talk first about the one I don’t have. Back when I was about 10, for my birthday I was given a SNES by my parents. This was my first gaming console, and started me on a wonderful journey of gaming that progressed through the Gameboy, N64 and eventually onto PC gaming. I don’t really want to admit how much money I’ve spent on gaming products, but that first system, that SNES, that holds a special place because it was, for me, my first introduction to the world of gaming.

The picture of how I had my room painted.

The picture of how I had my room painted.

The second gift was this painting, which is currently normally hangs in our lounge room. This was my 21st birthday present from my parents. I was repainting my room, and I wanted it to reflect my love of the violin. So we colourmatched my violin, and I painted two black F-holes on the wall, and we chose this painting to hang between them. I look at this painting, and I remember back to my 21st, I think of my parents, and the support they’ve given me over the years.

Finally, we come to this, my violin. The label says that it is a 1796 Josef Klotz, however it’s actually a copy, made around 1900 by an unknown German luthier. When I started to take the violin seriously, I needed a better quality violin than the one that I had, which was a 1995 Chinese copy of a Stradivarius. My dad knew of this woman, who had lent him this violin when I first started. She offered to lend me the violin while I was taking my exams.

My violin

My violin

All through high school, and then into University, I played this instrument. I learnt it, and through playing its tone which had sat dormant for many years, developed and became my tone. But while it was my tone, I knew that it wasn’t my instrument, and that one day I would need to give it back. My thought was that once I finished my university degree, that I would need to give it back. I played my graduation recital, and invited the owner of the violin to come to dinner afterwards. At dinner, she announced that the violin was now mine, that it was her gift to me. So while those other two gifts were incredible, if push came to shove, I would have to say that this was the best gift I ever received. Continue reading

The Budget, Two Parables and some Teaching from Jesus

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, The Budget, Two Parables and some Teaching from Jesus, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 18 May, 2014. The Reading was Luke 18:1-30

On Tuesday night, I sat myself down at my computer, loaded up the live stream of ABC24 and watched Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget speech. Due to the numerous leaks and strategic misinformation that was around, I was prepared for a lot of what would be presented. But that still didn’t make it any easier. In a word, ouch.

There’s a lot of pain in that budget, and in some ways the only upside that I can see is that we will be getting a lot more people through our doors, just that they’ll all be for our Doorways service. But as I thought about how this budget would affect our nation, I turned to the teachings of Jesus. And I wrote a whole sermon out, and then last night I threw it away and started again. When I returned to the passage, and widened my view, I saw that Jesus’ teaching throughout this chapter, and even the passage following, Jesus’ parables and teaching is just as relevant for us today as it was to those he was with back then. Continue reading

Why the $7 co-payment is a bad idea

In last night’s budget, the Government announced a $7 co-payment for GP’s, as well as pathology, and a $5 co-contribution for medicines on the PBS. Now, $7 doesn’t seem like a lot, but the issue is, it’s not ever going to be $7.

Sometimes, a GP can’t get everything they need just by looking at you. They need to send you off to get some blood work done. So, what was a $7 visit, now becomes a $21 visit ($7 for the initial visit, $7 for the pathology, $7 for the results). If there is then medicine needed, that increases to a $26 visit. Continue reading

What U2 can teach Worship Leaders

I’ve just finished watching U2’s 360 Tour DVD, recorded at the Rose Bowl in California. It’s an incredible show, well worth watching. I love U2, and think that they might possibly be the world’s largest Christian band that isn’t a Christian band. Many of their songs draw from Christian spirituality, but do so in a way that it doesn’t sound cheap or fluffy. As I was watching it, I started thinking about what Worship Leaders could learn from U2. There’s a lot that could be learnt, but I’ve decided to narrow it down to four things that I think Worship Leaders and musicians need to hear.

Know your equipment

Part of the reason that I wanted to get this DVD was to watch The Edge at work. I’m wanting to improve in my guitar playing, and the best way of improving is by observing, listening to and working out what they do that makes them so great. Now, The Edge is legendary for his set up. I’m sure that he alone has more gear than many great bands have for their whole band. In the concert, he plays a different guitar for pretty much every song, and his pedal board is custom made to utilise every setting and effect that he has in his box. He knows every piece of equipment intimately, and knows how to use it.

Now, I’m not saying that every person needs as much gear as The Edge – none of us have the money for that. What I am saying is that you need to know what you have, know how to use it, and know how to use it to create the sound that is in your head. Guitarists are notorious for getting GAS – Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. We want to get the next guitar, the next effect, the next amp, that will help define our tone and make us sound better. Instead of looking for the next thing, utilise what you have, make sure you know what it can do. Try different things, don’t just set it and leave it. Singers – why not try singing while crouching, with arms open – opening up your chest – head up, head down, mic pressed to your lips, or far away in your hands. Work out what your equipment can do.

Tell a story through your songs

One of the things that impressed me most about the concert was how the band was able to take you through a story, to portray a message, with barely any talking between songs. The reason that U2 is able to do that is because their songs are so full of meaning. They are able to send a message. If you need to explain to the congregation why you chose this song, chances are either the lyrics aren’t strong enough, or you’re using the song in a way that it wasn’t intended.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t use a song in a different context. One of the goosebumps moments for me was when they were showing images of the Syrian conflict, before launching into their classic song, Sunday Bloody Sunday, which is about the conflict in Ireland. It worked a treat, getting me to rethink a classic song in that it’s not just about a single conflict, but it’s about conflict wherever it happens. Utilising a song in a different context can work wonders, but you need to make sure that the connection works without any explanation.

Utilise multimedia

I think you would be hard pressed to find a church that doesn’t have projection software of some kind. Churches are finding that this is a far better solution as people aren’t as distracted by finding a song in the song book, getting lost, and having to hold things. It also opens churches up to using a wider range of music – so long as you’ve got permission to show the words, you can use the song, no matter where it comes from. However, a projector isn’t just a super expensive song book. You can utilise videos and images to help bring people into a state of worship.

Now, you may not have the same production budget as U2, and be able to make custom graphics for every concert, and record dignitaries such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but there are multiple websites out there that have videos available for purchase (please purchase them, don’t use keepvid or other youtube downloaders). I love Worship House Media, as well as Sermon Spice, but there are many others. Take the time to find items that will enhance your worship.

(And don’t be afraid to use humour. Many churches shy away from humour, however, utilised effectively humour can break through a barrier which can then help the message break through. Take a look at some of the Skit Guys videos to see how well they utilise humour to make the message hit home).

Utilise dynamics and instrumentation

There’s no doubt that a band as large as U2 can produce a massive sound. But, for a sound to be massive, you need to contrast it with softer sounds as well. This can be done effectively through two methods, dynamics, and instrumentation.

The first, dynamics, relates to the song itself, and you’ll find it generally follows the pattern – softer in the verses, (building in the pre-chorus if there is one), louder in the chorus. But feel free to change it up. Using dynamics, you can highlight certain passages of songs without having to explain it with a mini sermon beforehand.

The second item is instrumentation. Sure, you can have a 4 piece rock band, with a brass section, strings section, and a 200 voice choir, but sometimes reducing it to just an acoustic guitar and a voice can cut through more powerfully than all of that other stuff. Bono and The Edge did “Stuck in a moment…” with just the Acoustic and the voice, and it cut through like nothing else. Sure, they could’ve done it with the whole band, and it would’ve been great, but by breaking it down to it’s simplicity, it brought so much more power.

So there you go, four things that I learned from watching U2. What have you learned from watching other bands?

Jesus is alive! … so now what?

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Jesus is alive!… so now what?, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 27 April, 2014. The Reading was John 21:1-25.

In the church, today is traditionally known as low Sunday. After the hype and busyness (for the ministers at least) of the Easter Weekend, we feel a bit low. My dad’s a minister, and is looking after an Anglican church at the moment in WA. He reckoned he did about 16 hours of service over the four days. Another one of my Anglican Priest friends did 13 services in 8 days, and that included getting arrested for praying in the offices of a member of federal parliament. For the church, Easter is a busy occasion, so when it’s all said and done, we feel a bit low following it, and the stats generally go the same way. I’ve been following the stats here quite rigorously, and I can tell you that last year, you actually increased your attendance on low Sunday as compared to Easter Sunday, but the year before you followed the pattern correctly, and dropped off quite significantly. And that’s ok. We are all feeling down, and low, and the energy is gone. Add ANZAC day in, and I am certainly empathetic with those of you who are feeling low in energy today.

Going backwards

I wonder if how we’re feeling is a bit how the disciples were feeling. They had certainly been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions over the weekend. They start with the great disappointment of Jesus dying, followed by the excitement of him rising. But then they don’t really know what to do. They’re trying to take it all in, and process it all. So Peter, being the man of action that he is, hops up and says “Well, we can’t just sit around here all day. I’m going fishing.” And those that were with him head out and do the same.

Now, Simon – as he was known then, remember that Jesus changed his name to Peter – was a fisherman before Jesus came along. So for him – and for those that were with him – they were returning back to what they knew. They were going backwards.

So they go out fishing, and they don’t catch anything all night. They’re thinking, maybe we’ve lost our touch – it had been three years after all. So they head back to shore, and someone yells out, “Haven’t you got any fish?” It’s almost like he’s mocking them from the shore – fisherman, going out and not bringing anything back. Then, he yells out, “Why don’t you try the other side!”

Peter’s probably thinking “Yea right, try the other side.” That would be like me going to Des over at the shop, asking “Haven’t you had any sales” and then telling him to put the open sign on the other door, or to turn his A-Frame sign around. But they decide to do it anyway, and low and behold, they catch a large haul of fish – 153! Now, some people try to look for significance in the number, but there isn’t really any significance, apart from to signify that it was a true account, and that it really happened.

Then someone clicks – it’s the Lord. It’s Jesus! Simon Peter swims to the shore and greets him, and they share a meal together.

Reinstating

Now Peter must have been feeling a bit sheepish. But not as much as he would be with what happens next. Remember, when Jesus had been taken by the chief priests, Peter says three times that he did not know Jesus. Now, after breakfast, Jesus tackles Peter on this.

He says, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Now there’s a few things to point out just in that question alone. First, note that Jesus has returned to Peter’s original name – Simon. That must have hurt, but that’s what Peter did. He returned to his old self by going back fishing. Second, there’s no indication as to what Jesus is indicating by “these” – he could be pointing to the fish, he could be pointing to the other disciples, we don’t actually know. But either way, Peter responds and says “Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.”

Now, we actually lose something here in the translation – and I try to avoid heading into the Greek because it can get boring and stuffy, but we need to understand that there are a few different words for love in the Greek language. There’s eros (ερος), which is the erotic love, and we don’t get a lot of that word in the gospels. Then there’s phileos (φιλεος), which is the love of a friend, and then there’s agapao (αγαπαο), which is brotherly or sacrificial love. So when Jesus poses the question, he uses the word agapao. But Peter responds with phileos.

Jesus asks again, using agapao, and again Peter responds with phileos. Finally, Jesus asks a third time, this time using the word phileos. At that point, Peter realises what he was missing.

So often through the Gospels, Jesus spoke to his disciples on a heavenly plane, that they just didn’t get, and would eventually break it down for them in terms they would understand. Here we get the same thing – Jesus is aiming for Peter to think higher, to think heavenly, but when it’s apparent that he can’t – not at that moment, Jesus comes to him, and meets Peter where he’s at.

Jesus still does that today. We’re tired. We’re exhausted. But Jesus gets that. We’re hurt. We’re sore. But Jesus gets that. We’re unsure about our faith. We’re not sure what to do with what we’ve heard over the weekend. But Jesus gets that. Jesus comes, and meets us, where we are, and says “Follow me.”

Going forwards

So Peter follows Jesus, and sees “the disciple whom Jesus loves” – thought to be John – following, and asks “what about him?” And Jesus turns to him and says “what is it to you what I do with him. You, follow me.” Jesus says, quite clearly, that we are not to concern ourselves with what Jesus is calling others to do, or to concern ourselves with how others are living. Instead, we are to focus in on what we need to do in order to follow Jesus.

Don’t concern yourselves with what others are doing, because their path is different to your own. You’re all individuals! Everyone comes from a different place, with different experiences, but Jesus’ call to everyone is the same – Follow me! From wherever you are, I will meet you there, and follow me! Don’t get distracted by what other people may or may not have to deal with, but instead, focus on what you have to deal with. The path may not always be easy – indeed, Jesus highlighted how Peter was to die because of following Jesus – but still we are called to follow him.

So today, are you going to allow Jesus to meet you where you are, and follow him? As we sing, you’re invited to come and to spend time in prayer, to meet Jesus where you are, and to seek out where he is leading you. Perhaps you’ve never met Jesus, but today you want him to come and to meet you where you are, and to invite him into your life and to say that you want to follow him. Someone will come and pray with you, and will support you through that. Or if there’s someone that you want to bring forward to pray with you feel free to do that as well, or even just to pray in your seats, but let’s sing, and meet Jesus where we are, and say “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you, and that I will follow you”

The Stations of the Cross

A number of years ago now, when I was 21, I was housesitting over Easter. I watched The Passion of Christ on Good Friday. Through watching it, and thinking about music (as I was want to do at the time, studying Classical Music), I realised that there weren’t many compositions that explored this idea of the Stations of the Cross. While there are many examples of pieces relating to Easter, such as Bach’s St Matthew Passion or St John Passion, I couldn’t think of any that actually combine the stories as is found in the Stations of the Cross. Part of the reason is probably because many versions of the Stations of the Cross include extra-biblical material – that is, parts that have been accepted into the stations through tradition, and weren’t actually biblical. So I decided that I would start writing a piece based upon the Stations of the Cross.

First, I found a version of The Stations of the Cross to follow, which was the one that Pope John Paul II followed in 1991, which I chose because the 14 stations were based on passages from the bible narratives. Of the 14 passages, there’s 3 from Matthew, 3 from Mark, 5 from Luke, and 3 from John. I decided to write for String Quartet and Narration, mainly because I knew how to write for strings, and would be able to utilise the colours and effects effectively to evoke the text. In terms of overall arrangement, I decided that it would work best in 4 movements – the first covering the first 6 stations, then the second with stations 7 to 9, the third with stations 10 to 12, and the final movement with stations 13 and 14.

I originally wanted to base this work from a relatively popular translation of the text, however the number of verses was more than their fair use policy allowed, and upon seeking out permission to use it, I was going to be charged a large amount to use the text, for a licence that would only last 3 years. (As it’s been 7 years since I started this, I’m glad I didn’t shell out the money). As such, the text comes from the Open English Bible, an “open source” Bible released into the public domain. The Narration is notated, but is only intended as a guide as to where it starts, and roughly where it finishes. The narration is intended to sound as natural as possible, but lining up with the elements in the music.

I started by writing prose notes to describe my thoughts as to how each of the four movements would come together. The notes that follow are largely based off those notes, along with what it actually ended up as. Continue reading