Elephants & Tigers
Last Sunday at the 10.30 Gathering we had a prayer exercise called ‘chat and catch’. We began by praying about things we are thankful to God for. The chat bit of chat and catch. We then asked God to show us anything he wanted to say to our church family. This is the catch bit, listening for what God is saying.
Tim, who was leading, asked God to show each of us an animal, we then asked God what he was saying about that animal and us.
Why did Tim do that? It was to help us concentrate on hearing from God and is particularly useful for those who are younger and learning to hear from God.
But if you asked any group to think of an animal they would. Was this not just suggesting something to get a response? Tim did not ask us to think of an animal, in prayer he asked God to show us an animal. And then he asked people to go to the front to share what they had seen and what they thought God was saying.
Wayne and Wendy came to the front to share what they discerned God was saying. Their job was to listen to everyone and then to spot if there was a pattern or clear message emerging. They shared with us that the majority of people had seen one of two animals, either elephants or tigers, and that people had also used the same language in describing what they believed God was saying.
A theme emerged about being a family who care for one another and are also on a mission. Submitting our words to the leadership, seeing a powerful theme emerge and allowing leaders to discern ensures that we are seeking to honour God as we do the catch bit of chat and catch.
This follows a pattern set down by Paul in his letters to the churches in Ephesus and Corinth. To the Ephesians (Ch 5) he writes that we should seek to be filled with the Spirit and in being filled should then expect to speak to and sing to one another. The New Testament scholars Gary Tyra and Gordon Fee both state that Paul’s expectation is that being filled with the Spirit will lead to God speaking. Then in 1 Corinthians 14 Paul tells the church to expect God to speak but also to maintain good order in worship and to have a process for discerning what God is saying.
Another key feature on Sunday was how ‘in step’ the chat and catch part of the Gathering was with what followed. We heard from Claire about her involvement in the MOVE training. She spoke of the opportunity she had to share the gospel with a friend who she prays for regularly.
During sung worship words were shared with Wayne that were consistent with the message James was about to give on the unstoppable power of the gospel as it spreads. James spoke about how the leaders of the early church were confident preaching the gospel in the public square and that the rest of the church in Jerusalem were seen to be living the gospel in their everyday lives. And we are called to be a church where both happen.
We believe God spoke to us about where we are as a church on Sunday. He did it through one another, he did it in sung worship, he did it through the Bible and he spoke to us as we shared communion. So what happened on Sunday was what we should expect whenever the church comes together. We asked that God would fill us and that He would speak to us. What we heard was a call to live as the family he has made us to be. To love one another, care for one another and watch out for everyone. But it was also a call to go. To extend our territory as it were, to share the good news of Jesus and extend his invitation into his family to others.
As Mary did when God spoke to her, let's treasure this work in our hearts and pursue it in our lives.