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Making Disciples (Vision and Mission Part 4)

This is part four in my Vision and Mission sermons at The Salvation Army Devonport. View all of the sermons here. The reading for today was Luke 6:12-49.

We’re into part four of our series on our Vision and Mission, and today we’re talking about Disciples. Specifically, how we can make disciples, and how we can be disciples. So, I want to start with a bit of a question to get you thinking: What influential moments have you had in your journey of Christian Discipleship? By that I mean, what teaching, studies, reading, actions, retreats, mentors, personal relationships have been most influential in your journey to be a Christian Disciple? Let me share a couple with you.

When I was in year 11, I was still part of the Anglican Church. The Anglican Diocese in Perth was trialling a new idea that (it was hoped) would encourage young people to consider seriously entering into ministry in the church. So a group of us headed down to Rockingham in the Southern Suburbs of Perth, and had a retreat with the Bishop, and a few other priests, looking at ministry and life as a Christian. It was a big success – of the 5 people who went, 3 have moved onto different denominations, one is notionally attending, and one has entered ministry… in a different church. But the reality was that this time was a period that planted the seed of ministry service in my life.

The other influential time for my discipleship was through a retreat community called Chrysalis. This was a three day retreat that looked at various aspects of Christian life and discipleship. While the initial retreat was awesome, what was more influential for me was being involved in the community after that. Serving in various roles, from general support, to musician, to an assistant lay director, and speaking on various topics, helped focus my own Christian life and helped me work through some of the issues that I had in my life.

Both of these retreats had three common aspects that relate to our Christian Discipleship, and we see these aspects coming through in today’s readings. They are calling, Teaching and Doing.


For both of these retreats, I was invited to attend. My priest put my name forward for me to be invited to attend the ministry exploration retreat by the Bishop, and I was invited to attend Chrysalis by one of my good mates who had attended a retreat before me. We see similar things in Jesus’ calling of the twelve apostles. Traditionally, Disciples sought out a rabbi and asked to follow him and learn from him through question and observation. Jesus flipped this on its head, and sought out and asked Disciples to come and follow him.

We don’t hear about all of the Disciples calling, but earlier in Luke’s gospel, we hear about some of them. Simon was cleaning his nets after fishing on the lake of Gennesaret, when Jesus sat in his boat to start teaching. After catching nothing all night, Jesus told Simon to go out again, where he caught so many fish his nets were beginning to break. Jesus said, “from now on you will be catching people” and Simon left his boats and followed Jesus.

Levi was sitting at the tax booth, and Jesus walked up to him and said “Follow me” so he left everything and followed Jesus.

Both these guys (who would have their names changed – Simon to Peter, and Levi to Matthew), were called by Jesus to come and follow them, and they listened and had their lives changed.

Similarly, a lot of our discipleship has been part of a calling. Maybe you can remember who first invited you to come to church. Or maybe someone invited you to take part in a bible study that ended up changing your life. Or someone invited you to come along on this camp or retreat where you learned something new about God.


The next part of my discipleship experiences is teaching. All of my significant moments contain a bit of teaching. My ministry retreat contained teaching from the Bishop, as well as some other priests, as to what ministry can look like – both biblically and in today’s society. Chrysalis contains as the crux of it fourteen talks about different areas of Christian living – Faith, Means of Grace, Marriage and the Single life, and others. In every discipleship moment, there must be an element of teaching, because it is through the teaching that we grow to be more like Christ.

Let’s look at Jesus’ discipleship moment here. He came and stood on a level place, and the multitude from all over the place came to hear him. So he looked up and started speaking. First, in Luke’s version of the Beattitudes, Jesus highlighted the values that he revered, and the values that he didn’t. Blessed are the poor, woe to the rich. Blessed are the hungry, woe to the full.

He then went on to describe a new way of living. This is such a long reading, and each section could quite rightly have a sermon in itself, so I’m not going to get into each section, but through all of this teaching, Jesus shows the crowd a new way of living, that will usher in the Kingdom of God. This kingdom is one of equality, and one of non-violence, where Love is the central theme, not power.

You might like to start thinking about some of your discipleship moments where you’ve experienced some great teaching – and it’s ok, it doesn’t have to be one of my sermons – but while you do that, realise that it doesn’t have to be a single event. While the time’s I’ve illustrated were retreats – that’s what was significant for me. I’ve also enjoyed sharing time over the past few weeks sharing with people who have spent significant time just reading their bibles, and the teaching that they have learnt from that one book alone could well be more than could be gained at a single retreat.

Discipleship isn’t just a one time event. We must be continually learning, accessing the teaching of Jesus, maybe even looking further afield at some of the writings of other great Christian teachers, to get an understanding of what God is telling us, and how he is shaping us into being more of him.


The final aspect of our discipleship trifecta is the aspect of doing. Now, we don’t earn our faith because of the good works that we do. God loves us, all of us, no matter whether we do great works or not. However, the teaching of Jesus is so rooted in things that we can do, that the only real response to accepting the teaching of Jesus is to say, “Yes Lord, I will do that” – I will live in that way, I will love my enemy, I will turn the other cheek.

I’ve been reading a book recently called Jim and Caspar go to Church. Jim is a former pastor turned author, who employed an Athiest, Caspar, to go with him to various churches and critique their worship services. It’s a fascinating read. Reading through it, I noticed one of Caspar’s common critiques was that the service focussed too much on the inward, and didn’t result in a demonstratable action that could be done. Once the sermon was over, there was no call to action, no “Come do this” or “Go do that”.

Caspar, I feel, hit the nail on the head. Yes, a lot of our faith is an internal, private affair, and that’s how it is. But the result of the love of God that we experience should propel us into action.

James wrote about this in his letter, saying “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  This isn’t to put an emphasis on works above faith, or faith above works. They come out of each other – because we have faith, we do works.

My discipleship moments all had strong elements of doing. My ministry retreat sought to encourage me to go out and explore ministry, to go and experience it and see where God was leading me. Chrysalis had a strong action call at the end of the retreat, to apply Christ’s teachings to your life and to step up into ministry.

When we get out there and apply Christ’s teachings to our lives, we also have the opportunity to learn from what it does to our lives. We grow as disciples through our works.


The wonderful thing about all of this is that we can do it no matter where we are on our journey of discipleship. If you’ve been here for 80 years, God’s still calling you, still teaching you, and still encouraging you to action. If this is your first time here, something or someone has called you to be here, and you have the opportunity to learn from Jesus’ teachings and go apply it to your life. Whether it’s your first day or your 800th, Christ is giving you the opportunity to progress along your journey of discipleship.

And the wonderful thing is that we as a church can support you in that. As individuals, we can invite people to come along, to give them that calling so that they may start the next part of their journey. As a church, we have bible studies, we have classes, we have opportunities to apply that faith into works, so that we can all share in our discipleship journey together. But of course, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and maybe God has put on your heart something that he would like you to do. Maybe Christ is calling you to get back into your bible reading. Maybe the Holy Spirit is leading you towards a retreat, or a bible study, or to share what you’ve experienced with someone else.

Hear God’s call on your life. Learn from the word of God. Go out and do it in community.

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Caring for People (Vision and Mission Part 3)

This is part three in my Vision and Mission sermons at The Salvation Army Devonport. View all of the sermons here. The reading for today was Luke 10:25-37.

For some strange reason, people seem to be on an unending quest to live forever. Some scientists believe that the first person to live to 150 years of age has already been born –they obviously never read about Methuselah. Some also believe that within the next two decades the first person to reach 1000 years of age will be born. From miracle pills to

The Holy Grail from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Holy Grail from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

miracle cups, people are on a never ending quest to be able to live forever.

So when we read this question from the lawyer, we can kind of understand. We want to find this everlasting life, this eternal life. And I can relate to him. He asks Jesus, “what must I do”. He wants to have something that he can go, right, that’s done, I’m good. Do this, and you’ll get this. Nice and simple. Complete this task, once it’s done, you’ll get eternal life.

But Jesus is never simple like that. And he does what Jesus does best – answers a question with a question. He turns the question around and says to the lawyer – what do you see in the scriptures. When you read God’s word, what does that tell you that you need to do.

And then the Lawyer says something incredibly interesting. He quotes the same two passages that we hear Jesus quote in the books of Matthew and Mark as the two great commandments. Here, Luke has turned it around, and has this Lawyer saying that this is what he’s got out of the torah – these are the two things that can be read. To Love God with everything you’ve got, and to love your neighbour as yourself.

Jesus responds positively, answering the initial question: do this, and you will live.

Who is my neighbour?

But the man thinks, this can’t be it. It’s not a task with a finite finish date. I can’t go and know when I’ve finished it. So he asks another question. “Who is my neighbour?” And Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The problem is that we’ve lost a lot of what Jesus was trying to get through with this parable. So, if you’ll permit me, let me put a modern spin on this story.

A Roman road from Jericho to Jerusalem
A Roman road from Jericho to Jerusalem

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of gang members, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  Now, by chance, a member of the IDF was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side, thinking that it may be an ambush. So likewise a Rabbi, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

A Palestinian man
A Palestinian man

But a Palestinian while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having cleansed them. Then he put him in his car, and took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out a day’s pay and gave it to the innkeeper and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”

See, the Samaritans were the most hated group of people by the Israelites. They did not interact with each other, and they certainly didn’t touch each other – even moreso when one of them was hurt and bleeding. Travelling Jews would even take longer routes to avoid going into Samaritan land. So when Jesus described the actions of the Samaritan as the one to be held up as ideal, he really shocked a number of people.

Maybe your Samaritan is something different. Maybe it’s the Good Centrelink Employee. Maybe it’s the Good Boat Person. Maybe it’s the Good Politician. Maybe it’s the Good Christian. Whoever that person is, the actions that flow from that is what counts.

Go and do likewise

In Jesus’ day, it was thought that the priests and the Levites were the people that were good. They knew the law and they followed it. They knew that to touch someone who was bleeding would make themselves unclean. But for Jesus, these two commandments override everything else. So sure, remain clean, but not at the expense of loving your neighbour. Jesus poses a question to the lawyer and asks who was a neighbour? The lawyer can’t even bring himself to say Samaritan, so he says “The one who showed him mercy”, but he is the one that Jesus says to emulate in their behaviour.

So what are we to do? We must make sure that through our programs we are caring for every person that comes through our door. The way that care looks might look a bit different for each person , but we need to meet them where they are, meet their immediate needs, and minister to them in that way.

William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, once said, “What is the use of preaching the Gospel to men whose whole attention is concentrated upon a mad, desperate struggle to keep themselves alive?” I guess that’s the whole idea behind the traditional Salvo saying of “Soup, Soap and Salvation” – you won’t save a man if he’s hungry and not clean. Indeed, there’s a theory in the Social Services called

Maslow's Heirarcy of Needs
Maslow’s Heirarcy of Needs

Mazlow’s Heirarchy of needs, which defines different levels of needs for a person to function in society. The basic theory goes that if one of the lower level needs aren’t met, a person can’t begin to process any of the higher level needs. So if someone’s worried about where their next meal is going to come from, there’s no point trying to convert them to Christianity. Instead, meet their immediate needs – get them some food.

Like the Samaritan in our parable, he didn’t try to convert him, or to seek out revenge against the bandits. His first action was to get the man to a safe place, then look after his wounds, and when he could stay no longer, he made provisions for his continued healing.

Similarly, while we are called as a church to go and do likewise, you in your life are called to go and do likewise as well. Jesus said that the love of neighbour was one of the two great commandments, and to be neighbourly, we need to show love and mercy to all that we meet, caring for their lives – both physically and emotionally, and living out the Gospel of Christ in our lives.

So go. Be like the Samaritan, and show mercy and compassion to all that you meet. Go and live life with your neighbours, whoever they may be. Get in along side them.

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Transforming Lives (Vision and Mission Part 2)

This is part two in my Vision and Mission sermons at The Salvation Army Devonport. View all of the sermons here. The reading for today was Luke 19:1-10.

A news story caught my eye recently. A group of kids at a school was a cat stuck up a tree. They saw a cop, and begged him to rescue the cat: “You gotta get the cat! You gotta get the cat!” So the cop dutifully started to climb up the tree to rescue the cat. Except the cat didn’t really want to be rescued, so it jumped a bit higher, and the officer dutifully climbed a bit higher… until he realised that he was stuck. The cop had to call the New York Fire Department to bring a tower ladder and bucket in order to rescue him and the black and white cat. It’s probably a good thing that Zacchaeus didn’t get stuck when Jesus invited himself over for dinner.

When have you been left out?

We continue our series on our vision and mission today, and we’re looking at the first mission intention: Transforming Lives. And I want to ask you whether you remember ever being left out for something. Who was ever the last picked on the sports team? Have you ever been the next person in line when the “Sold Out” sign was put up? Have you ever been dropped from a team?

On the other hand, have you ever been given an opportunity to skip the queue? For example, you’re lining up in the supermarket for the only lane that’s open, and there’s five or six people in front of you. Then an assistant comes and asks if you’d like to move to their lane – how awesome is that! An opportunity to skip the queue.

Zacchaeus – the doubly disadvantaged

It’s really tough to be left out of something, or to be the last one picked. For Zacchaeus, although he was rather influential, he was marginalized both socially and religiously. Firstly, he was short, and society, like today’s society, wants to admire the tall, not the short. You need to be big and strong, not short and weak. But on top of that, Zacchaeus was the Chief Tax Collector. Now, tax collectors – as a whole – were hated amongst the Jews, and seen as being traitors by them, and despised by the Romans they worked for as being Jews. But Zacchaeus wasn’t just a tax collector, he was the chief tax collector. He had a number of tax collectors who worked under him, who would siphon the money back to him, who would then siphon the money up to the Romans, with each one taking their own cut. He was hated by everyone.

So when he wants to go and see this teacher guy who has a habit of loving the unloveable, he knows that no-one in the crowd is going to get out of his way so that he can see. So he decides that the best thing to do is to climb up a tree – which is the sort of activity that a child would do, not some important official (even if no-one respected the important official).

Zacchaeus jumps over every disadvantage that he has, in order to hear or see this teacher guy.

Zacchaeus jumps the queue

This extravagant gesture by Zacchaeus is matched by Jesus, who also acts to overcome Zacchaeus’ double disadvantage. He invites himself over for dinner. He just walks up to the tree, and says “Zacchaeus, what are you doing up there? I’m gonna stay at your place today, so hurry up and get down here.” Now Zacchaeus was over the moon – this incredible teacher, who people wouldn’t even get out of the way to let him see, singled him out and was going to stay at his place.

Now, of course, this got a few people grumpy. I mean, no-one likes being looked over,  and there were all these other people there who thought that they should be look at before this “sinner”. Luke doesn’t name this group. It’s just “They.” “All who saw it” were grumbling. “They” – this unnamed group – probably represents the crowd that Jesus is actually trying to teach. Zacchaeus isn’t who Jesus’ teaching was intended for, it was this group.

So what are they offended at? They’re angry that Zacchaeus was included. They’re angry that he jumped the queue. They’re angry that he got the preferential treatment.

It’s so easy to get like that isn’t it? How do you feel if you’re 4th in line, and the teller comes and grabs everyone behind you to go and join a new lane? Or if you’ve been waiting for something, and someone else gets it before you do?

This jumping the queue – that’s what grace is like. And it’s so annoying, isn’t it? We feel like we’ve been putting in the hard yards, and then someone comes along and gets just the same as us. It’s offensive to our sense of entitlement.

But Jesus doesn’t care about that. In one way he’s saying “The Age of Entitlement is over” – but in another, he’s saying “The Age of Entitlement is Here… for everyone.” Jesus acts in radical acceptance of Zacchaeus, and shows him grace. This grace goes before any change that can happen in him. It is only through this grace – that isn’t just available for Zacchaeus, but is available for everyone – that transformation can happen within Zacchaeus.

So what does Zacchaeus do with this gift? See, the gift of grace – while it’s there for all of us to take – is actually an invitation. Once we receive it, we must do something with it. For Zacchaeus, he reconnects with his community. He puts the wrongs he has done right, he gives away half his possessions, and pays back anyone he’s defrauded. So Jesus declares that salvation has come to this house – because of the actions in response to that grace, Zacchaeus is transformed, and is saved. By grace, anyone can be saved – even a rich man who society hates.

We can help others jump the queue

One of our mission priorities is transforming lives. This is described as “Working for personal renewal through Jesus Christ, that touches and integrates the whole person.” For us to do that, we need to show grace to everyone who comes through our door. When we show the radical acceptance that Jesus showed to Zacchaeus, we open the door to allowing radical transformation within people’s lives.

Through every program that we run, we must be inclusive of everyone, no matter what state they come in. Now, sure, we’ve got some women’s groups, and some Men’s groups, but we must be inclusive of all that come along to those groups. Now, I think we do a pretty good job at that, however, we must always be careful to make sure that we measure up to our ideal. I’m sure that the people surrounding Zacchaeus who were grumbling thought that they were pretty good – indeed they thought that Jesus should come to them before going to Zacchaeus. So who are the people that are rejected by society today, and how would we react if they came through our doors one Sunday? How would we react if they wanted to join one of our programs?

Andrew Marr wrote that “The challenge of this story… is not limited to the possible conversion of one person, but it extends to the possible conversion of the whole community.” When we show grace to one person, yes, it opens up the possibility of conversion there. But when we show grace to one person, it opens up the possibility of conversion to the whole community of people that that person influences as well.

Each week, I meet with some of the local pastors around the place. This week just gone, we met at Gateway church, where that church was having a conference with some guest pastors. They had had a rally the night before, and they were sharing stories of people who were healed, people who were converted and so on. And the lead pastor there really stressed that as their church were following what they were called to do, and every other church did what God was calling them to do, that through all of that, we can witness the transformation of our whole community, all across the North West. Each person that is transformed is a witness to that transformation, and in turn has the opportunity to transform others.

We can jump the queue ourselves

The beauty of it is that it all starts with us. The grace of God, which goes before us, which is there before we even start seeking for it, is always there, waiting for us to take it and be transformed.

Grace doesn’t care where you’ve come from. Grace doesn’t care where you’ve been. Grace doesn’t care whether you’ve been here 80 years or you’ve been here 8 minutes. Grace doesn’t care.

But, Grace will be with you wherever you go. Grace will help shape your every actions. And grace can stay with you for the rest of your life. Grace has the ability to transform your life.

If we’re going to transform our community, and transform others lives, we have to be open to allowing grace to transform our own life. I’m going to play a video, and it very basically tells peoples stories that have been transformed by grace. Their lives have been transformed by grace, and yours can as well. And as we are transformed, we can then go out to transform others.

While you listen to that, you might want to ask Jesus to transform your life. Maybe you’re willing to accept that grace that is being offered to you. Maybe, you’ve been guilty of being the others, the crowd that judged and excluded Zacchaeus. Maybe you’re willing to stand today, and say I am going to show the radical, inclusive love that Jesus showed me, and I’m going to live that out in my life.

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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.