Last Sunday of the Church Year, A - Ephesians 1:15-23

 

Ephesians 1:15–23 (NIV)

 

 

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

 

 

 

            We have much to say thank you for.

 

    • Breakfast, this morning.

    • Clean clothes to wear.

    • A car, to get about in.

    • A building, to worship our God in. 

    • And the list just gets longer and longer and longer.

 

 

            We thank God that He has chosen us to be His people here on earth and, at the right time, in heaven too. Through our Baptism we are Christians.

 

 

God has called and claimed us as His own. As His people, each Sunday, (and hopefully every day) we pray that we will receive God’s Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation.

 

 

            As yet, we don’t know all there is to know about our God – we may not really know all that much about Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.

 

 

We do know He was born, worked as a missionary of God’s good news of universal love, suffered and died for us, rose from death and ascended into heaven.

 

 

That was easy – we can summarise our teaching in simple words and phrases or use the Apostle’s creed and tools like Luther’s Small Catechism for a deeper understanding of what the Creed means.

 

 

            So, what does God want us to do now that we know Him personally? By virtue of God creating us He first knew and then chose us to be His disciples and missionaries.

 

 

What does God want us to do with the knowledge and truth about creation, sin, Jesus, salvation and how it affects our lives and the lives of those around us?

 

 

            We all need God’s Holy Spirit for wisdom and revelation – to teach us what to do with the knowledge of salvation and how to grow in it. God, through His Holy Spirit teaches us to apply the Gospel to our own life so that we have a heart change from self to service of God.

 

 

            That’s why God has given us the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, pastors and teachers so that we can hear and learn to live in community together in preparation for the heavenly community.

 

 

            God is helping us bring about a heart change from worldly success to unity and support full of love for family and community. How then does this heart change affect our congregation’s community?

 

 

            With the heart change brought about by the Holy Spirit a small struggling congregation, unsure of its mission, a congregation, our congregation, can be sure of the tasks to which God has called us.

 

 

            We can study the Word of God together to more effectively equip us as we grow together in Christ so that we are able to present the message of hope to those who haven’t heard about Jesus and His love.

 

 

            With this message the Holy Spirit can convict people of their sin, offer forgiveness and restore people to fellowship with God in this life for the next.

 

 

            For this mission we don’t just need knowledge about God but relationships which the Holy Spirit nurtures so that we understand how things are in the Kingdom of God. What is fitting and right for us and what is appropriate and worthwhile in living what we are in Christ as God’s people.

 

 

            We have a loving Saviour! We have the hope of eternal life! But we also have the hope of a better world now! This better world will come as we serve Jesus as His body in the world. To know how to share more effectively we must be growing together in God’s Word.

 

 

            Do you remember the first verse of the children’s hymn “Jesus bids us shine” in which the song’s author, Susan Warner (1819-1885), reminds us what we are? We are to be lights in a world of darkness.

 

 

1.         Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light,

 

            Like a little candle burning in the night;

 

            In this world of darkness, so we must shine,

 

            You in your small corner, and I in mine.

 

 

            Then in the second verse Susan calls us to live what we are. To worship, to devote ourselves to the study of God’s Word – to be accountable to God:  

 

 

2.         Jesus bids us shine first of all for Him;

 

            Well He sees and knows it, if our light grows dim;

 

            He looks down from heaven to see us shine,

 

            You in your small corner, and I in mine.

 

 

            Then in the third verse Susan reminds us that the riches of God’s glorious inheritance have to be shared with others because it’s not just about you, or me or any one individual.

 

 

3.         Jesus bids us shine then for all around;

 

            Many kinds of darkness in the world abound:

 

            Sin and want and sorrow; so we must shine,

 

            You in your small corner, and I in mine.

 

 

            We can and do shine! One small candle can dimly light a room. With the one small candle a vague image of reality may be seen. 30 small candles can brightly light a room so we see the full colour and splendour of the rooms decorations and each other.

 

 

            Let Jesus shine through each one of us and the world is a brighter and happier place.  With St Paul I pray that we may believe the truth about Jesus – that He not only died and rose for us but also that He ascended to heaven to rule over everything for His Church.

 

 

            One of the most amazing aspects of this prayer of St Paul is that Jesus rules through us – the church – His body. Jesus uses us to change the world of darkness, ignorance and open rebellion against God into a world of light, knowledge and love - practical love.

 

 

            If Jesus walked this earth today in bodily form as He did some 2000 years ago, He would not be able to do the work that has to be done in the world. It would not be humanly possible for one person to meet every individuals need for the Gospel.

 

 

            But as the ascended Lord of the Church – through us as individuals in the church - Jesus can meet the needs both physical and spiritual of so many more people.

 

 

            Jesus power over sin and death, His authority over darkness is given to each of us to use in sharing His love so all people can encounter Jesus through His body, the church, in the world, You and me and people like us who have been Baptised and believe!

 

 

            We are attached to Christ who is the head. Our impulse for life and action come from Christ. We Christians exist individually and collectively in solidarity with Christ and each other for a purpose.

 

 

            Here as part of St Matthew we have summarised our purpose in as our mission statement which says: What we’re about: To celebrate Christ’s gift to us, serving and witnessing to the people in our community.

 

 

            To quote the Rev Dr John Strelan, “…the church is an extension of Christ’s incarnation. It shares the Lord’s life, suffering, death, resurrection and also the exultation of Christ.”    

 

 

            We as church do God’s work in the world. We Christians are Jesus’ agents in history to bring all things under the Lordship of Christ.

 

 

            Jesus leadership expresses the fullness of God in terms we can experience now and join in celebrating on the last day.

 

 

            As Jesus gives us the complete expression of God’s own nature – that of justice and love - He also bears the fullness of God which is given to the church in Word and Sacrament. Through this fullness Jesus intends His followers to reach out to the whole of creation with faith, hope and love.

 

 

            We can well ask ourselves, “Is Jesus reaching out through me?” If not, “Why not and what needs to change in my life so I can “shine with a clear pure light?”

 

 

            Amen.