2016 will go down in history as a year of geopolitical shocks. First Brexit, then The Bachelor, and now a triumphant Trump. It’s a good time to take comfort from the fact that we don’t put our ultimate trust in earthly kings and their fleeting reigns. As I watched this week’s election with a mixture of fascination and disbelief, I couldn’t help but wonder if Donald Trump hadn’t stacked the deck all along, by filling American cities with huge glimmering monuments to his power and success in the form of the Trump Towers. Like King Nebuchadnezzar before him, they are powerful visual advertisements for a man who postures to rule the world.
But aside from all this, one thing that’s always impressed me deeply about American elections is the incredible number of people who passionately engage in the political process and volunteer their time and energy to the causes they believe in. Something was birthed into the American spirit that still lingers there—a belief in service, commitment and sacrifice—essentially Christian virtues.
It reminds me of the “beating heart” of our church too, which is those of you who work so hard to keep this church going in and out of season. The Spirit gives breath to the body of Christ, the church, but it’s our volunteers who keep that body moving. I’m filled with admiration and relief every Sunday morning, especially during the depths of winter, when I walk into a freezing church to see a group of volunteers already preparing for the long day ahead. What motivates these people to give their time so early in the morning within a building that’s impersonating a fridge-freezer? It’s just one of countless examples I could give from throughout the week.
On Friday night we celebrated and thanked our volunteer leaders at a private St Paul’s showing of Hacksaw Ridge, a film that put faith, conviction and sacrifice in shockingly clear perspective. Last Sunday you responded generously to Esther’s invitation to financially support our church family. As a church funded by its own people, we live and breathe through your gifts of time and money, and we are truly blessed by the generous spirit that exists at St Paul’s.
In biblical times it was only the priests who worked on the Sabbath. By facilitating the worship life of God’s people, they helped to renew God’s creation and especially His image-bearers—us! As I see it, our volunteers are like those Sabbath-working priests. They work so that the whole body of Christ can be built up for the mission that Jesus has prepared for us.
So, brothers and sisters, please be upstanding and charge your glasses. I propose a toast to our tireless volunteer leaders—our beating heart; our Sabbath-working priests; and most importantly of all, our image-bearing reflections of Jesus himself. Be sure to thank them in person when you see them.
Rev Jonny Grant
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