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Friday, 20 December 2013 00:00

A sermon by Bp Sahu at Luaniua

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A Sermon delivered at St. Peter's Church, Luaniua, Ontong Java, Keava Region during the official visit of the Diocesan Bishop on 10 - 12 November 2013

I have three important questions to share with you this morning. First, what kind of Christians do you want to see in Luaniua Parish? Second, what kind of Church do you want to see in Luaniua Parish? And thirdly, what kind of Leaders do you want to see in Luaniua Parish? These three questions are closely related and are connected to each other.The kind of Christians we have depends on the kind of Church we have. The kind of Church we have depends on the kind of leaders we have.

What kind of Christians do we want to see?

First, what kind of Christians do we want to see in Luaniua Parish, in Keava Region and in the Diocese of Malaita? To help us answer this important question correctly, we need to go back to the Bible for an answer. As Anglicans, it is clear from our constitution and our canons that whatever we do – be it in our worship or in our doctrines and teaching - we must make sure we base everything on the Bible.

In Matt.16:16 we see how the apostle Peter made his public declaration at Caesarea Philippi. Peter answered Jesus and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. This is an important and serious public declaration by Peter. In his reply to Peter our Lord Jesus said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church”.  

Now what kind of Christians do we want to see in Luaniua Parish? We want to see committed Christians. We want to see Christians who with their lips and with their hearts (with their whole lives) are willing to declare publicly, like St Peter, thatJesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Friends, that step of public declaration and personal commitment to Jesus Christ must be reflected in our daily life and relationships within the community..........must be reflected in our marriage and family life.........must be reflected at the work place and in public life. If I say “I am a baptised member of the Church” or if I say “I believe in the Lord Jesus”, but my talking and my actions do not reflect the Way of Jesus, then I may NOT be a real Christian. In this Parish and in our Diocese we must make sure that we are producing REAL CHRISTIANS who truly love the Lord Jesus and who can back up their faith in God with good character, good relationships and good works.

What kind of Church do we want to see?

Second, what kind of Church do we want to see in Luaniua Parish? In the same passage (Matt. 16:16-18) we heard Jesus’ reply to Peter, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.” The Head of the Church is not the Bishop nor the Parish Priest. The real Head of the Church is theLord Jesus Christ, the One who says “I will build my Church”. So we all must listen to Jesus Christ to hear his voice; we must learn to discern his will and purpose for the Church; we must get his instructions on how he wants us to build his Church in the Diocese of Malaita.

How do we discern God’s will for his Church today? Well, we can discern God’s will through prayer.........through study of God’s word..........through important Church meetings like the Diocesan Synod and the Diocesan Council.

Now what kind of Church do we want to see in Luaniua Parish and in our Diocese today? Clearly, we want to see a more Balanced and Biblical Church – an Anglican Church which is truly Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic.

Catholic means we stand for God the Father, the Church and the Sacraments;

Evangelical means we stand for God the Son, the Gospel and the Bible;

Charismatic means we stand for God the Holy Spirit, for the fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit for mission and ministry.

Friends, if you and I are concerned about gospel truth, holiness, unity and mission; if you and I are concerned about climate change and the environment; if you and I are concerned about improved living standards within our communities, if you and I are concerned about improved financial  giving to support the mission of the church, then the way forward for this Parish and Diocese is to hold together in Christ the three main traditions of the Anglican Church: Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic. Friends, you will be surprise with what you see. You will see real transformation and development within your Community and Parish. This kind of transformation is already happening within a few Communities of our Diocese. 

There are many other things we can say about the Church. For now we are only saying that we need to pray and work for a more balanced and biblical church in the Diocese of Malaita.

We believe that the vision for a more balanced and biblical church is the mind of Christ for Melanesia, as discerned and approved by the General Synod held in Honiara in November 2011 and the Synod of the Diocese of Malaita, held at Gwou’ulu in June in 2011.

It is now up to the leaders (both ordained and lay leaders) to make sure that this Synod decision is properly implemented in the whole Diocese, including Luaniua Parish. If we leaders, especially clergy, cannot do our work properly to implement such Synod decisions then we should resign and look for another job. 

What kind of leaders do we want to see?

Let us close with the third question: What kind of leaders do we want to see in Luaniua Parish?

In the same passage (Matt.16:16-18) we see Peter becoming the leader of the apostolic team. The Gospels reveal that Peter was a leader who holds the best and worst of the apostles. Peter went from a “failed” leader to a faithful, committed and visionary leader. After the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles on Pentecost, Peter became a rock-like leader of the apostolic team within the early Church.

In the Book of Acts we are told that through their preaching and teaching, the apostles “turned the world upside down” – the right way up.

We, too, in our time and generation, by God’s grace, can turn the Diocese of Malaita the right way up. We can bring about real transformation and development to our communities and people. Yes, we can do it if we have good leaders (ordained and lay, men and women, young and old).  What makes a good leader?

A good leader is a person with vision. A visionary leader looks ahead and sees beyond the present difficult situation faced by his or her people. A visionary leader sees a better life and he or she is willing and ready to work hard, with the support of his people, for a better future. Many today are just “maintaining” church life, but they do not have any clear vision for a better future for their people.

As leaders we should learn to work with what I call a double vision. First, a vision of a heavenly city (teaching and preparing our people for heaven, the eternal city of God) and secondly, a vision of an earthly city – working to create a better future for Malaita Diocese.      

A good leader is a personwho is faithful. A faithful leader does his or her work with faith, hope and love; they do their work or ministry with humility, obedience, holiness, justice and honesty; they may struggle financially like the rest of us but they do not allow “love of money” to control their life and work.

A good leader is a personwho is committed and dedicated. That means the person is willing and ready to give his or her whole life to work for the transformation and development of his Parish, Region and Diocese........to work towards the fulfilment of DOM Vision 2020 with its six priority areas. 

Conclusion

Let me conclude. We have looked briefly at three questions: What kind of Christians do we want to see in Luaniua Parish? What kind of Church do we want to see in Luaniua Parish? What kind of Leaders do we want to see in Luaniua Parish?

Friends, it is my hope and prayer that these three key questions will help you in your thinking, your planning and your work to create and build a better future for Luaniua Parish, Keava Region, the Diocese of Malaita and the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

The Lord be with you. Amen.

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