The spirituality of the Maps App

I spent Friday up in Sydney at a gathering of people from across the UCA

I didn’t get to the harbour to look at the many ships, sadly.
Because it was starting at 9am, in Chatswood, I went up the night before.
My sister lives in Telopea, so I stayed there.
But then in the morning I had to get from Telopea to Chatwsood.

It’s not a difficult drive by any means,
but long gone are the days when I could get into the car in Sydney
do a bit of a think about where I wanted to end up, and then just drive
The high likelihood is that if I tried, I may still be driving around Sydney

So I got out my iPad, and opened up the Maps app
typed in where I was and where I wanted to go – and voila – things were all mapped out.

In the Uniting Church’s Basis of Union, there is the following, wonderful passage:

The Church lives between the time of Christ’s death and resurrection
and the final consummation of all things which Christ will bring;
the Church is a pilgrim people, always on the way towards a promised goal;
here the Church does not have a continuing city but seeks one to come.
On the way Christ feeds the Church with Word and Sacraments,
and it has the gift of the Spirit in order that it may not lose the way

The simple reality is that the church is not where it ought to be.
We are in Telopea, when we need to be in Chatswood.
Or maybe the journey is a bit longer than that.
We have not reached it.  We have not got there.   Believe it or not, we aren’t perfect.

But fortunately – or more accurately, because of the grace of God,
“we have the gift of the Spirit in order that we may not lose the way.”

Just think of the Spirit of God as the “Maps” app.

Today we are commissioning our Church Council.
And specifically our new members and leaders in the Church Council.
The Council has a really important role.
We are acknowledging today their role of leadership, by the gift of the Spirit.

The Council, in its prayer, in its conversation,
in its leadership, in its listening to the spirit
is the group of people who work out that we need to be at Chatswood.
That’s their role.

But it is certainly not the case that the Council has to get us to Chatswood
while we all chill out and relax
The Uniting Church affirms that every member of the Church
is engaged to confess the faith of Christ crucified and to be his faithful servant.
It acknowledges with thanksgiving that the one Spirit
has endowed the members of Christ’s Church with a diversity of gifts,
and that there is no gift without its corresponding service:
all ministries have a part in the ministry of Christ.

Everyone is gifted.   And everyone is to live out that giftedness.
That’s why thinking of us as a group of volunteers never really quite works.
The one spirit has endowed the members of Christ’s Church with a diversity of gifts
and there is no gift without its corresponding service.
We are all gifted.  And we all have a service that flows from that.

When Lyndelle and I were in Western Australia earlier this year
we were driving to Mandurah, on our way to Busselton and then Margaret River.
Not being locals, we put in our destination into the Maps app and followed what it said.
But the Maps app on my iPad doesn’t always speak with great wisdom,
and we soon found ourself nowhere near where we wanted to be.
We knew where we wanted to be, but the app was faulty.

And so here at Kippax, we again rely on the wisdom of people –
specifically those in the UCK Board and those on the Congregational Strategy Team –
whose role it is to ensure that the steps to get from Telopea to Chatswood, are accurate.
If you get to the M2 from Telopea, and head west, you are not going to get to Chatswood.

But if you know that you want to be in Chatswood and then you have it planned
to get onto West Pennant Hills Road, and the M2, and Delhi Road and Lady Game Drive,
but there is no steering wheel in the car, or the brakes are not working,
then you still wont get to Chatswood.
The one spirit has endowed the members of Christ’s Church with a diversity of gifts
and there is no gift without its corresponding service.

And so Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets,
the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

It is the role of those in leadership –
such as the Council whom we are commissioning today –
to make sure that the body of Christ here
is heading as a pilgrim people towards the promised goal.
It is the role of those in leadership – including the Council, but also others in leadership –
to make sure that all of the gifts we have here in the body of Christ known as Kippax
are developed and are working together.   Equipped and built up for the sake of ministry.

A few years back one of the people here was sick.
Quite sick.  Not death threatening sick, but sick.
When they had recovered, they mentioned that they were saddened
by the fact that the church hadn’t visited them.

A little more digging around into the situation
helped me find out that in the 7 or 8 days they were sick
3 or 4 people from the congregation had visited them,
and that on most days they were visited twice.
They were indeed cared for by the church.

When I remind people that Hannah, or I, or the Council, or others in leadership positions
cant be the ones who are doing all or most of the activities of ministry,
it is not a matter of good time management, or the realities of hours in a day.
(Though that is also true)

Rather it is holding on to the truth of who we are.
We, together, are the body of Christ.
We each have gifts, and it is our responsibility – our God given duty – to use those gifts.

We know that.  And we live that out.   This is an amazing community of people.
But sometimes we forget a little.

Sometimes we forget to see how it is that we can live out the giftedness that we have
And sometimes we forget to see how it is that we can invite others into sharing their giftedness.

The one spirit has endowed the members of Christ’s Church with a diversity of gifts
and there is no gift without its corresponding service.

You’ll be pleased to know that on Friday morning,
I got from Telopea to Chatswood safely.
The destination was chosen
The directions were accurate (and followed)
All of the parts of the car worked, just like they should.

Let us again today, commit ourselves in this place, in this community
into journeying, as a pilgrim people, towards the promised goal

For we have the gift of the spirit that we may not lose the way

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