This is a sermon that was preached today to the community of St Mary’s Temple Balsall
On this Heritage Sunday morning I want to offer you my vision, my working vision, and to encourage you to think about the mission and ministry of this church.
I want to do that by way of a story and then offer you some reflections about our future together.
A salesman passed the corner reach day and each day he passed a little boy trying to sell his puppy…. unsuccessfully, rather sadly (Ahh). Feeling sorry for him he asked: young man, do you really want to sell this dog? The boy replied that he did.
Well, you’re not going to sell him until you learn to see it big. What I mean is this: take the dog home, clean him up, dress him up and raise your price. Then people will think they are getting something big, and you’’ sell him.
The next morning the salesman walked past and saw the boy again. This time the puppy was groomed, perfumes and beribboned. Alongside was this sign: Tremendous puppy for sale – £5,000.
The salesman gulped. He had forgotten to tell the boy that as well as SEE IT BIG he need to KEEP IT SIMPLE. So that evening he stopped to tell the boy the other half of the formula. The boy had gone! …in his place was the sign turned backwards with the word SOLD written on it.
The salesman couldn’t believe his eyes. His curiosity got the better of him and rang the boy’s door bell. The boy came to the door: you didn’t really sell that dog for £5,000 did you?
Yes sir, I did and want to thank you for all your help.
The salesman asked – how on earth did you manage to do it?
The boy replied – Oh, that was easy; I just took 2,500 cats in part exchange!
SEE IT BIG…KEEP IT SIMPLE! We think globally, act locally! Each needs the other.
SEE IT BIG…KEEP IT SIMPLE.
What does this mean for us?
First and foremost and fundamentally we have to work together to deepen and enlarge and develop the quality of our worship. Drawing people together into faithful, disciplined commitment to the sacramental moments when God can break through the ordinariness and boredom of our lives with a touch that affirms and envisions and inspires. Our worship needs to help us in often hidden ways get on with real life, encouraged refreshed and envisioned. I hope and pray that we glimpse the sheer wonder and glory of God – that this is a pace where God is experienced. It may be in the quiet of a moment in the farthest corner of the church; it may be through Communion; it may be through a brief haphazard conversation had with someone we’ve never really listened to over coffee.
There can be no doubt that we travelled far together. The challenge facing us is whether we are building on what is good from our past and growing further into holy, learning and missionary people who travel light. We need some excitement and some enthusiasm – we need to be a place where ideas are exchanged and where questions are asked and where those of us who think we have the answers occasionally scratch our heads and admit that we simply don’t know. An engaged people enjoying the life of the church is my passion and my hope.
But this has to earthed, earthed at this level and particularly for us through our engagement with older people and with children of the school.
So: remember SEE IT BIG, KEEP IT SIMPLE. What does that mean practically?
· Lots of small things make a difference.
· Let’s not assume that because we’ve always done it that way, then it should ever be so – let’s look at what we’re doing and think about whether it can be better, our ministry of welcome, the work of the P.C.C., our engagement with Baptism, wedding and Funeral families.
· Let’s try something new, however little – and be prepared to fail.
· Let’s identify people’s gifts and challenge them to respond.
· Let’s accept some of the challenges of today: Fair trade, the climate crisis, the faith split between Christianity and Islam.
All of this begins and ends with God. SEE IT BIG, KEEP IT SIMPLE. God’s big picture is that his kingdom will come. That if it is to come, he needs our help locally, and our individual and personal commitment.
So, this Sunday, I bless and thank you all for all that you’ve given and all that you’ve done. Let’s keep our eye on the horizon and pray for God’s blessing for the year ahead.
For further information about the life of this community see www.leveson.org.uk