Saturday, June 7, 2008

On the road with Bishop John

Come follow Bishop John as he confirms believers, ordains priests, and visits church institutions around the Diocese of the Rift Valley.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your blessings on the Diocese of the Rift Valley, on Bishop John and on his family. Strengthen and anoint the new clergy. Bless and guide the new converts as they grow in faith. May they be sensible and clear-headed, so they can pray. Above all, may they continue to love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. May they show hospitality to one another without complaining. As good servant managers of God's grace in its various forms, may they serve one another with the gift each has received. May the priests speak God's words. May the servers serve with the strength that God supplies, so that in every way God may be glorified through Jesus, the Messiah. Glory and power belong to him forever and ever! It is in his powerful name that we pray. Amen.

(Prayer based on 1 Peter 4:7-10)

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Bishop John's sermon from 16 December, 2007

Text: John 3:22-36

May I speak in the name of the father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit. Amen.

In the reading from the Gospel of John today, we heard the story of John the Baptist and his disciples. The disciples, offended with the increasing popularity of Jesus' ministry, came to John the Baptist saying that they have heard about Jesus baptising people and that a lot of people are going to him.

Everyone will be interested to hear John the Baptist's response to this question. In his answers we learn four important points:

1. John the Baptist had no jealousy with the increasing popularity of Jesus' ministry. But his disciples were jealous because Jesus was becoming more popular than their master. It is a shame to see this same spirit of jealousy in our churches today. You may see some church members in Africa who want all what are the best to be theirs but not to be for others. They want the best to be in their particular churches but not to be in other churches or denominations. They want to be more successful than others. That spirit of selfishness and jealousy, which was in John the Baptist's disciples, is clearly present in the churches of Africa today! It might be present in other churches everywhere in the world-even here in the Diocese of the Rift Valley. Let us open wide our eyes to have that bigger heart and mind that John the Baptist had, to want the best for all.

2. John the Baptist is portrayed here as a very humble man with humble words. When they said that Christ's popularity was increasing, he answered that 'a man can receive only what is given him from heaven'. Then he reminded them of what he said in the past that 'he [John] is not the Christ'. He then emphatically said that Christ must and will become greater and greater and that he himself will become less and less important until he has completely disappeared. A frame of mind like this is the highest degree of grace we can possess. The greatest saints in history, such as Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Daniel, Paul and John the Baptist were all humble men. Let us walk in their footsteps and long for humility. The way to true honour is to be humble leaders of our families, communities or churches.

3. John the Baptist declares that Jesus deserves the honour and dignity. He teaches his disciple once more the true greatness of the person whose growing popularity offended them. Once more he proclaims him as one worthy of all honour and praise. He speaks of him as 'the bridegroom' of the Church, as 'the one who comes from above', as 'the one who God has sent', as 'the one to whom the spirit is given without limit', as 'the one who the Father loves' and 'the Father has placed everything in his hands'. Let us make an effort in life and death to hold the same view of the Lord Jesus, to which John the Baptist here gives expression. He is worthy of all the honour that we can give him. He will be all in heaven. Let us see to it, that he is all in our hearts on earth.

4. There will always be those around us who have the potential to become leaders. We might have a jealous view because they don't come from the same tribe as we do, or the same denomination or religion, they may be younger or a woman. There are many human prejudices that stop us doing the right thing. May we learn from John the Baptist this day and have the wisdom and grace to see the good in others and do all we can to be encouragers. Amen

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