Last weekend Fitzroy celebrated 200 years of since its genesis and as we gave God thanks he hurled us into the future with like a full force gale, to quote the Van Morrison song sung at my installation into this history. There were four key note addresses over the weekend and I would love to recommend that you give all four of them a listen. They were challenging, inspiring and encouraging, all leaving us believing but aware of the correcting we all need to do!
I led off on Friday night and afterwards someone said it was the best they had ever heard me. I am not so sure but I certainly was challenged in my own soul as I looked at Jesus the Way. Yes, we reminded ourselves that Jesus life, death and resurrection is the way back to God, to salvation and ultimately heaven. There is much more though as that way is not something we wait for until we die. It begins now. In following Jesus. We took a little audit at what Jesus might say in our prayer meetings, BT addresses etc and how we connect with this generation and neighbourhood to guide them onto the way. What most challenged me was perhaps a too familiar verse, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I have been wondering how much energy we are all spending on all the things that will be added and how much we are spending on the seeking God first. More to come on that.
On Saturday evening took on Jesus - The Truth. David is a world renowned academic with a marvellous mind and gift at communicating Christian truth amidst the intellectual challenges of the real world. David took on the two worldviews that are trying their hardest to shape us; scientific arrogance and postmodern anything goes. With well read knowledge, brilliant illustrations and a command of the Biblical context where Jesus said he was the truth David brought out that truth of Jesus as intellectual, incarnation, ethical and beautiful.
On Sunday my predecessor Ken Newell opened up the idea of Jesus as the life. Ken is a wise spiritual sage who has in his own life prophetically lived out his faith on the streets of his city. He shared much of that journey, soon to be available in his Memoirs, and showed us what a life on fire is all about. It was a great challenge to live out the passion that God gives us. Northern Ireland has too many people with small ears and clenched jaws he said. How do we live Jesus peacemaking now. Again we were drawn back to two recurring Fitzroy themes these days - “word made flesh” and “life in all its fullness”.
Last, but far from least, Alain Emerson, pastor in Emmanuel Church in Lurgan and a leader in 24/7 Prayer. He is the new generation of young Church leaders, making Jesus as relevant today as he was down 200 Fitzroy years. Alain was my choice to take us out of celebration to the future, with particular reference to our youth. His Sunday night keynote was simply astounding. Alain came into a context he knew little about and set us on the next part of the journey with real Biblical insight and spiritual wisdom. How encouraging for the pastor when Monday morning’s Facebook was alive with quotes from the Sunday night’s talk. Alain took Numbers 13 and inspired us to be Moses, Caleb or Joshua, all generation running alongside each other as we build on the legacy of our past towards God’s desire for our future. “We can certainly do it!”