My Next Chapter – James Fenn

Throughout the Easter Season, we are hearing some of the stories of people in the Kippax community about how they are living their “next chapter”,  following on from the unfinished resurrection story in Mark 16.    This is James Fenn’s “chapter”

How am I living out a post-Easter life?
How am I being an Easter person?

I think that being an Easter person involves walking on unfamiliar paths.

  • It is being OK with uncertainty.
  • It is saying yes and making commitments when not knowing how things will turn out.

Like this talk.

  • I’m not used to speaking in front of a large group of people
  • And I feel intimidated because I perceive that you all have much more biblical knowledge and much stronger faith
  • I’m wondering how can I contribute to you
  • I know that short of a miracle I’ll stumble and mix up words
  • But I had to say yes.
  • Not from a place of “should” but because I know it is the next little step on my faith journey

Some recent examples of saying yes to God and making commitments include

  1. being part of a triplet group
  2. saying yes coordinating the garage sale
  3. and committing to daily prayer

When you make commitments and public declarations you become open to all sorts of possibilities / opportunities / blessings. When you start living bigger than before, some existing concerns now seem trivial.

When invited to be part of a triplet group last year.

  • I did not know what this would be like but I recognised I needed to be in conversation about my faith
  • I felt a little apprehensive – maybe being only 3 people I thought there would be nowhere to hide
  • but I said yes anyway and asked 2 men to join me – both of whom I perceive as having stronger faith – yes, there is a pattern
  • the triplet group has been really good for me
    • I am now more relaxed about talking about my faith.
    • I am benefiting from the other guys’ insights

And then I said yes to coordinating the Garage Sale

  • the was something way bigger than anything I’ve ever done before
    • I felt nervous because of its previous success, and because I did not have the strong connection with Kippax Uniting that the previous coordinators had
    • but I did say yes because I could see the need and I knew I had skills to contribute
  • Before the sale sometimes when I was about to ask people to help out I experienced doubts
    • thinking people are not interested in helping
    • feeling I’m being a burden / annoying
    • But when I actually asked people these concerns disappeared. People responded generously and in the end I found myself inspired by the amazing generosity of our community.
  • Sometimes when challenges arose I could not see a good way out
    • my usual approach of simply working harder was not getting the result I needed.
    • I felt reluctant to tell others of the challenge but found that when I did they were full of good ideas and eager to assist
  • Throughout the whole garage sale process I felt excited to be up for something bigger than normal, something bigger than my own personal contribution
    • I felt particularly satisfied helping some Uniting Care clients buy things on the Friday, knowing they were getting some great bargains that would make their lives easier
    • Another outcome I was proud of was seeing 3 new garage sale helpers find roles they were comfortable with and where they could use their talents to contribute

Being an Easter person also involves identifying as a follower of Jesus.

  • this has both personal and public aspects
  • ranges from
    • not denying being a follower
    • to seeing opportunities to declare
    • to actively seeking opportunities
  • I have often struggled with this – my hesitancy stems from
    • my doubts – I’m a person that likes to have things figured out before saying anything
    • fearing what people think – I avoid conflict and don’t like to ruffle feathers
  • but over the last 5 years or so I
    • committed to regular worship at Kippax and being an active part of our supporting community
    • baptised our children – committing to bringing them up in the love and knowledge of God
    • told people I would pray for them
    • asked various people to pray for me
    • joined in spoken prayer

Being an Easter person means looking for ways to incorporate your faith into your whole life, including

  • showing up in your values –
    • some of the Christ-like values I seek to adopt include:
      • love, generosity, compassion, acceptance
      • peacefulness, hope
      • humility, honesty
      • service, involvement in other people’s lives
    • I find being in the Kippax Uniting community there are many ways to express these
  • showing up in your language and conversations
    • for me this would include talking about God in my home and praying with my children
    • and at work too
  • during planning for the garage sale I deliberately thought about how I wanted us to be as well as the things that needed to be done.
  • incorporating faith into you whole live means making it a factor in important decisions, in fact starting with faith (whether that is by praying, or reflecting or discussing with someone of faith)
  • when thinking of whole of life the parable of the talents came to mind
    • what talents, gifts, skills, blessings have we been given?
    • where can you use them to contribute to others?
    • as some of you know 4 weeks ago today I ran my first marathon
      • it was a big commitment – a lot of effort (I’ve run about 500k since Christmas) and some pain
      • I also decided to raise money for beyondblue – and this was in some ways more difficult than the actual running
        • I wasn’t sure at first – am I just grandstanding? why would other people want to sponsor me?
        • the simple step of deciding and letting it be known generated much excitement. I felt proud of myself and moved by the generosity of my friends and family
        • and ended up raising $1000

incorporating faith into my whole live has also mean trying to make space for the Holy Spirit to impact me

  • Being an Easter person is different for each one of us and changes over time
  • Sometimes we feel close to God
  • Sometimes we are struggling
  • Sometimes we are exploring new paths
  • Sometimes we are busy with other concerns and not even aware of the path
  • Sometimes we keep to familiar paths and say no.

Recently when one of my friends died a friend suggested I read Romans 8:38

  • “For I am certain that nothing can separate use from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below – there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord”
  • I find this comforting when I think that neither my ideas about God, nor my feeble faith, nor my fears will separate me from the love of God
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