Feb 28, 2020
Who is this podcaster and what is this thing called Lent? Things you've probably never asked, but here they are anyway! :-)
This podcast is about who I am (my history and character) and the season of Lent. Below you will find a pretty full transcript of it.
******************transcript below **************
“Leap into Lent” speech.
Glebe Road Uniting Church, 29th of February 2020.
“Some of you say, “We can do whatever we want to!” But I tell you that not everything may be good or helpful. We should think about others and not about ourselves. However, when you buy meat in the market, go ahead and eat it. Keep your conscience clear by not asking where the meat came from. The Scriptures say, “The earth and everything in it belong to the Lord.” If an unbeliever invites you to dinner, and you want to go, then go. Eat whatever you are served. Don’t cause a problem for someone’s conscience by asking where the food came from. But if you are told that it has been sacrificed to idols, don’t cause a problem by eating it. I don’t mean a problem for yourself, but for the one who told you. Why should my freedom be limited by someone else’s conscience? If I give thanks for what I eat, why should anyone accuse me of doing wrong? When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God.” (1 Corinthians 10:23–31, CEV)
In a moment I will introduce myself and my family a little more, but I was asked to do a little bit of a lent devotional as well as to introduce myself. I would love to say that everything I do, I do for the glory or the honour of God. The truth is that I am a sinner. I do stuff wrong. I quite often lose my temper. This is especially true in the morning when the children are being slow and difficult or even rude. I have to get on with my day and lunches are not packed, homework is not in the bag, swimming togs are missing, and I have been so delayed by these things that perhaps I have not had my coffee. It is difficult at such times for me to keep my temper or not to be a little bit selfish. Now every day I should deny myself. Every day I should put God and the neighbours God has given me before my own feelings, desires and needs. And every day when I fail I should come to God in confession and seek to turn back onto the right path. I should ask forgiveness of my children when I explode at them when I discover at 8:15 that they have only one sock on and cannot find their shoes. And almost always I do. When I do stop and ask for forgiveness of God and my neighbours, I am reminded that God loves me, and that I know this because of Jesus.
Jesus ate with sinners like me. He was born to a human mother like I was. He felt hunger as I do. As we will hear in church this week, he was tempted in every way as we are tempted. For me he taught on a mountain top in ancient Palestine that we should love and forgive not only our friends but our enemies. And on the way to death and glory in Jerusalem he taught that we should forgive others not just seven times but more times than we can keep a track of. He also taught that we should serve others, be the least, share what we have and store up treasure with God, rather than on earth. For me he went to the cross and died. He gave his whole life to God and to me, and to you and to the whole world, all of creation, so that we might be the friends of God, be reconciled to God, and with Jesus be able to come to God as a child might come to a loving parent. To come to God as he came to God, who he named Abba, which in Australian English would be Dad or Daddy. And this is a living thing, a now thing, and a future thing, not just something from the past, because Jesus was raised to new life and by the Spirit that life and love has been poured into my heart, the core of my being.
So when I sin, and come to my senses and ask for forgiveness, from God and from people, it is this great love that I remember and I am filled with gratitude. Lent which has never been a huge thing in churches like the Uniting Church is a time when we can especially remember this great love of God given in Jesus. It is the six weeks before Easter and at this time we are invited to stop and do things which will remind us of God’s great love. We remember Jesus giving of himself to us in life and death. We should do this every day but sometimes like on a birthday or an anniversary it is good to do special things to remember. And if it is a big celebration through the days, weeks or even the year before we will do special things to celebrate and remember that anniversary or life and all it means to us.
In my personal history I have a lot to remember and celebrate. I was born into a Christian family, the son of the Rev. Pete and Glenda Gillies who some of you may remember from the seven years we spent here in Ipswich as part of the North Ipswich Parish. Like me they were not perfect parents but I was truly blessed to be raised in both love and faith by them. As an older teenager I became involved in youth activities in the Coorparoo, Holland Park & Camp Hill areas. In Year 12 I became aware that the talent I had for public speaking could be used by God, and so I began a journey toward becoming a preacher and minister as over the years a sense of call grew up in me. I went to Uni and eventually became a History and English teacher, but the pull and call of God toward ministry had become so strong that I only taught for three years before being accepted to train as a minister.
In late 1997 I was ordained and I have had over 21 years of ministry in Tannum Sands, Clermont and Capella, St Stephen’s Toowoomba, Karana Downs and now Ipswich Central. I have particularly enjoyed, preaching, teaching, children’s ministry and the voluntary chaplaincy I have done in schools and at tertiary level. For nine of those years of ministry I was single but was incredibly blessed to meet Heather in 2006 and marry her in 2008. We have been blessed with three wonderful kids, Eli, Ivy and Parker. Like me they are not perfect, however I know I am biased, but I think that they are the most wonderful children and the most wonderful wife in the entire universe. Outside of official ministry I have involved myself in community service like Rotary and in Community Choirs. Through all these things God has blessed me, provided for me and sometimes carried when times got tough.
As great as all this is to remember and give thanks for, far greater still is the love which God has given me in Jesus. My favourite verses of the Bible are 1 John 4:10-11 and I learned them the Good News Bible. “In this is love, it is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and gave his Son as the means by which our sins might be forgiven. If God has loved us this much then we should love one another.” That is something worth remembering and celebrating. Having met a few of you now I am sorry to say like me I think you are all sinners. I suspect that you may have had cross words to say to your children, or mums, or dads, or friends, or brothers, or sisters or workmates. I suspect that like me you fall short of honouring God in all that you do. But I also know that in Jesus God loves you, forgives you and gives you new life, and that is worth remembering and celebrating.
That’s what Lent is for. In those six weeks before Easter you may choose to do things which will help you remember the great Love of God which has been given to us in Jesus. Whether you make a special time of Lent or not for those of us who know the love of God in Jesus, there is so much to remember and say, “Thank You!” for.