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  • Kari Skarvang

Foredrag ved årsmøte i Community of Aidan and Hilda UK

Foredrag på Voyager Retreat og årsmøte i Community of Aidan and Hilda UK, på Scargill House i Yorkshire januar 2025

By Graham Booth, former Guardian of the Community of Aidan and Hilda.

Wednesday evening talk at Voyager’s 2024

Penny spoke yesterday morning of the Call of the Wild Goose as outlined in these words from our First Voyages. What it means for us and for the Community. Just listen again to those words…

“God is calling you to leave behind all that stops you setting sail in the ocean of God’s love. You have heard the call of the Wild Goose, the untameable Spirit of God: be ready for the Spirit to lead you into wild, windy or well-worn places in the knowledge that God will make them places of wonder and welcome.

It’s easy to miss the immensity of these words, “God is calling you to leave behind… all that stops you setting sail in the OCEAN OF GOD’S LOVE. That’s an important perspective… the whole of life is in fact the ocean of God’s love. Holy Spirit, open our eyes to see that!

And let’s not focus too much on the beautiful Wild Goose (it can all get a bit too nice, a bit too safe, a bit too predictable, a bit fluffy if we are not careful)… this is a WILD Goose. We are being warned that this sailing adventure will be led, disturbed, risked, purposed, resourced and sustained by the UNTAMEABLE Spirit of God, at the same time as being in the ocean of God’s love.

Where did the untameable Spirit of God lead Jesus – just think for a moment – into:

• The wilderness… into the desert…

• Into the place of temptation, of refining, of encounter with Satan

• Into the place of hunger, aloneness and discomfort

• Into the place of total dependence on the Father and the Spirit

And that is just for starters! Also into:

• conflict with self-serving religious authorities

• Into pouring out boundary crossing grace and acceptance

• Into extreme levels of self-giving love and service

• Into rejection and being misunderstood

• Into being personally let down and betrayed

Do you get it? This is not always going to be a comfortable ride!

Remember the words of Jesus in our First Voyage…

“Unless a person dies to themselves, takes up their cross, and follows me they cannot be my disciple.”

This is the small-print in the contract of Christian Discipleship!

We not only have lived in some WILD and WINDY places (which I love), but we have experienced some wild and windy things in our church life, in our Christian journeys. Some times of serious illness, some times of criticism and disappointment… yes, they happen to all of us… oh, and some times of getting things wrong! That’s the only thing that’s guaranteed about leadership… that you will make mistakes… that you will misjudge some people and situations… that you will have to say sorry, to ask for forgiveness and learn from you mistakes.

But don’t you love it when you can sense the Spirit of God in a place or in a gathering? I just love it when you don’t know what’s going on, but you know that something is going on. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to step out when that happens?

Remember what Penny said yesterday about the WILD PLACES…

• Go carefully… listen… watch… pay attention. I would also say keep humble. Reverent awe is what is required of us if we are to be PIONEERS in the wild places. If we are to live in wild places of prayer and redemption, we have to become used to discomfort, to trusting God with the unknown, and to be willing to embrace wounded people and places.

• And what about the WINDY PLACES? Penny urged us to be PRESENT. To be willing to hold our sense of vulnerability and exposedness in the face of doubt, grief, anxiety and pain. Yes, we have to live with longing, with unanswered prayers, with what appears to be the absence of God. We have to live with paradox and mystery and to acknowledge that we don’t have the answers… that our hands are empty and to steadfastly refuse to slip into simplistic answers for the sake of having something to say! In the Windy places we have to ‘hang in there’… to let the anchor of God’s love hold us. And if we do, we might just find the wonder of the ‘not yet’ creeping into the ‘now’.

In the wild and windy places, we must not bury our heads in the sand about the state of the world, we must face it, however hard, however scary, however anxious making… we must not live in denial…

• our world is out-of-control in the midst of a terrible environmental crisis

• there is growing poverty, a shameful divide and growing unrest between those who have and those who do not have

• our world is heading inexorably towards rampant nationalism, fragmentation, anarchy and war

• our Western traditional churches are viewed by the majority to be increasingly irrelevant, and are in rapid decline

• and the growing threat of unrestrained Artificial Intelligence is already with us, not somewhere in the distant future

The roots of FEAR may run deep, and if what I see comes about, those fears will run considerably deeper yet… But the HOPE we embrace must run just as deep, ever deeper as the time draws near… we must not succumb to despair because we have within us the only realistic hope; our trust in God and in the return of Christ, the hope of glory.

In our worship this morning we were reminded of the final words of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s Gospel… “And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” And at eight o’clock, “Stand firm then brothers and sisters and hold on to the teachings we passed on to you…” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). God is with us NOW… so trust him.

Meanwhile the next paragraph of our Voyager vows is about what God is doing… this is the coming of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven – the Divine Redemption, the Misseo Dei. This is what our wonderful God longs for, and this is Good News with a capital G. This is what he invites us to share in, to pray for and to work for…

It is the vision…

1. of a spoiled creation being restored to harmony with its Creator,

2. of a fragmented world becoming whole,

3. of a weakened church being restored to its mission,

4. of lands being healed and lit up by the glorious Trinity

Yes, we will have to prayerfully discern what these things mean, what they look like, what they will mean where we live. That’s discipleship at the coal face.

Prepare the new wine skins and wait and watch for God’s new wine.

Be open to the Spirit, be flexible, be humble and teachable and work together with others in order to discern together.

Keep you heart right! What do I mean by that? Well, how are you and Jesus?

PAUSE in SILENCE and ask the Holy Spirit to show you…

A few weeks ago, I was struggling to get my spiritual head around the message of Christmas… not the stories about the birth of the baby Jesus, but the greater mysteries of John chapter 1. I didn’t just want to know what the earthly story was, but I wanted to know what the divine story was… What did God think was going on when his Son was born in that stable in Bethlehem. What was the inside story, the heavenly perspective?

Then God whispered to me ‘Philippians chapter 2’. So, please take your bibles and find that famous passage, because not only did Paul see the back story, the deeper reality, but he gave us a key for our times… a key for Godly living in these days.

Phil. 2; 6ff “Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped/held onto, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of human beings. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

1. Firstly, this passage begins by telling us that Christ Jesus was God. In the NIV it reads, “Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God…” The Greek word here is morphē and morphē refers to the deep, inner, essential, abiding nature of something. Jesus, Paul says, had always been in totality God. St. John makes it abundantly plain…

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”

Jesus speaking to the Jews in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I am”

In John 10.30 “I and the Father are one”.

In John 14:9-10 “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father… I am in the Father and the Father is in me…”

Or as it describes him in the book of Hebrews, “He is the radiance of God’s

2. Secondly, in verse 7 it says – “He emptied Himself.” This is where we discover the extraordinary truth of kenosis. This verb actually means “to pour out until it’s all gone, to completely empty something”. This is what Jesus chose to do, he voluntarily emptied himself… but what did He pour out? What did he empty himself of? He stripped Himself of any and all of the privileges of being divine.

He left the glory of heaven when He came down to this earth, it was a really inglorious arrival. He was laid in an animals feeding trough. He was the child of a humble teenage girl. His earthly father was a carpenter, an ordinary working man. He was born in obscurity, lived most of His life with no fixed abode, moving from place to place as an itinerant teacher and healer. He gave up the unimaginable glories of heaven for that.

Isaiah 53:3, referring to the Messiah says He gave up something of His beauty. In fact, He became so ugly, as it were, “that there was no beauty in Him that we should desire Him”.

2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “He became poor for our sakes, that we might become rich.” He stripped Himself of divine eternal riches and submitted Himself to the things of earth in order to lift us up to glory.

Matthew 27:46 shows the extent to which Jesus had given up His privileged relationship with God to the degree that on the cross he cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

John 5:19 records that Jesus had also given up his independence of will and action… “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself, he can do only what he sees his Father doing”.

3. Thirdly, having given up his sovereignty and emptied himself, Jesus chose to become a servant rather than be a king – he chose to serve his Father’s will, and to serve us; to serve fallen, sinful human beings.

Here’s that word morphē again. He didn’t just look like a servant, He really became one. At the moment He divested Himself of the robes of majesty, at the moment that He set down His crown and walked out of the throne room, He donned the apron of a slave.

Isaiah 52:13-14 describes this Messiah as the Suffering Servant. The one who took upon himself the morphē, the essential inner essence, the very being of a servant.

Luke 22:27 records Jesus saying, “I am in the midst of you as one who serves.”

In Matthew 20:28, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many”.

And in John 13, we read of the night when He washed the feet of the disciples – including the one who he knew was going to betray him.

4. Fourthly, having abandoned his sovereignty, having accepted a servant’s place, He earthed himself among a sinful people, on a sin-cursed planet, as a fully human being.

At the end of verse 7 we read, “Being made in human likeness.” Being made – genomenos, is a participle meaning becoming. Becoming speaks of a state which is changeable, which is not necessarily permanent. He became something He had never been before, and that was a man, a genuine man, a real human being. He became one of us, just like other human beings. Not only outwardly did he look like a man but his total being became fully human.

The problem in believing in the divinity of Jesus is that we can struggle to grasp his total humanity, to grasp the extraordinary mystery that God in Christ became fully human. Jesus did not walk the streets with some kind of glorious halo around his head, impervious to his own humanity or to that of all those around him.

The Gospels record that “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled and wept” after the death of Lazarus and sharing the grief of his sisters Mary and Martha (John 11:33-36). In many different situations he had compassion on the crowds (Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34). We read that he got angry when God’s house was misused (John 2:13-16), that he exposed hypocrisy and shallow religiosity (Matthew 23).

Hebrews 5:7-8 tells us, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…”

Hebrews 4:15 states, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.

5. Fifthly, when Jesus came as a man, He could have taken on any number of possible positions in life. But not only did he humble himself in life, becoming a servant, He humbled Himself all the way down to becoming obedient unto death. That was the Father’s will, that He come into the world to die in the place of sinners. He came down all the way to become shamed, to become cursed as it says in Galatians 3:13. He received the full ridicule, shame and rejection of the world and took upon himself God’s judgement of our sinfulness. He died, publicly humiliated, in agony nailed to the horrifyingly cruel instrument of Roman torture – a wooden cross.

So, the back story is that out of love, the Lord of Heaven abandoned his sovereign position. He emptied himself of all the privileges of being divine, he chose the place of a slave, and lived amongst and loved a sinful people, and then descended even as far as the death of a criminal on a cross.

These truths are why we worship and adore Him. That’s why we celebrate his incarnation, his beautiful life among us and his terrible death for us… it was all because of love, all for our salvation, all for the redemption and renewal of the whole of the Cosmos. Once a human baby – but now, thank the Father, risen, ascended, glorified… the Lord and King of all.

Today we give him thanks and offer him our worship… you’ve heard me briefly unpack the divine perspective, but please don’t forget the punchline with which Paul began these few verses…

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus!”

YES, Brothers and Sisters

“Our attitude should be exactly the same as that of Christ Jesus!”

Graham Booth, 24/01/24


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