Easter 3 – 1st May 2022
Do you remember during your primary school days when they taught you how to safely watch a solar eclipse? It was so fun wasn’t it? There you are at school doing something that didn’t seem like science at all. You were having fun cutting and preparing a safe way of watching the moon cross over the sun. Today, children can use very safe tinderboxes to watch the sun. But I also remember the warnings! Over and over again we were taught not to look directly into the sun.
Even a moment’s viewing can damage your eyes forever! Even a partial solar eclipse can cause severe eye damage, so stay safe and always use a projector like this one for eclipse watching or solar viewing. Looking at the sun is dangerous because your eye is a lens, just like a magnifying glass. Ever seen a magnifying glass used to focus sunlight and start a fire? That’s exactly what happens to your eye when you look at the sun — so don’t do it! (kiwico.com)
In today’s reading, Saul of Tarsus was struck down by directly light. So powerful was the light that he was immediately blinded. It was only by a miracle from God that his sight was recovered.
St Johns has been ploughed over by events beyond its control. The events not only produced fresh soil to plant a new future, but fresh air to breathe in a new world. And in this post-covid world, the church has new sunlight. My message today is Growing in Christ with Fresh Sun.
Saul was operating with a different light. He was in a world where Jesus was the enemy and Christ’s followers were a menace to a peaceful society. With his understanding, Saul imprisoned Christians – people who believe you and me.
There are 2 things I want you to see from our text this morning:
- We grow in Christ when exposed to different light. 3-6
- We grow in Christ when blinded by divine light. 7-9.
Fresh Sun Has Different Light
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
Here is one of the most intelligent persons on the planet in his day being led around and being told what to do. He thought he understood truth. He thought he had everything worked out. He viewed Christianity as dangerous and superstitious. But then he became a Christian! What changed? He received new light.
Knowledge, in truth, is the great sun in the firmament. Life and power are scattered with all its beams. Anonymous
We say someone is “enlightened” when they come to a new understanding. Light is synonymous with knowledge. Paul received new knowledge and the weight of its truth literally knocked him to the ground.
Our national church just came through its General Assembly. We were privileged to have one of our elders in attendance as a commissioner. Although we could not watch what was going on in the break-out groups and discussions, we were able to view the general debate. It is obvious the Church is wrestling with how to BE post-Covid and post-Colonial. One example is on the issue of money.
It was noted that the Church has accumulated assets over the years. It was further noted that some of these assets were from unethical means associated with the treatment of the first peoples of the land. How do we deal with those issues?
Back in 2018, the Church authorised an exploration on the Theology of Property and Money. A statement was circulated around the country. There is still a desire to somehow implement the precepts. Let me read them to you and think about us here at St Johns Papatoetoe. (click on link below)
Fresh Sun can blind us with its overwhelming reality. St Johns Papatoetoe, we have the opportunity to create a new vision for 2030 and rethink the missional use of our buildings, monies, and ministries. I am looking forward to working with a dream team under the direction of a national church coach who will help us discern together – young and old; teen and pensioner; Samoan and Cook Islander; European and Asian; leaders and members. You all have a right to be heard equally and have a say in how you feel God’s discerning.
Lastly, FRESH AIR helped them to breathe their:
The Fresh Sun of Divine Light
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Being blinded with fresh revelation, Saul could not even eat or drink. His conscience was pricked. He had been acting out of anger and didn’t even realise it. He had been transferring his inner struggles on others around him. Now, in the darkness from Fresh Sun, he had no where to escape. He had to deal with his emotions, thoughts, and decisions.
By the grace of God, Saul was converted and became the famous Paul the Apostle. Our Reformed Faith is based on Paul’s writings and their interpretation of the Gospels. We worship Jesus today under the influence of Paul. The Fresh Sun of Divine Light is powerful and long-lasting.
What will be the effect of Fresh Sun on St Johns Papatoetoe? Only time will tell – and I am excited about that future.
Prayer for Stewardship
You have taught us that the poor shall have you kingdom,
And that the gentle-minded shall inherit the earth.
Keep the church poor enough to preach to poor people,
And humble enough to walk with the despised.
Never weigh us down with property or accumulated funds.
Save your church from vain display or lavish comforts,
So that we may travel light
And move through the world
Showing your generous love
Made known in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Book of Common Worship, 1993 PC(USA) prayer #712