Dear Family of St John’s

How do you feel about receiving gifts? Are you the person who eagerly tears off the wrapping paper to see what is inside? Or, do you carefully unwrap, saving the paper, and reading the card first before you peak inside at what the gift is?

Do you immediately start using your gift? Or do you put it away and eventually start using it?  For example, I received a new stand mixer for my birthday last year. I do quite a bit of baking and this was an upgrade on what I had.  I loved it!  But, it was six months before I could bring myself to take it out of the box and start using it.  Am I weird?

I remember a similar situation when, as a child, I would often pack my Easter eggs away ‘for later’. There were a few times when I’d forget that I’d packed them away and discover them months later, and they were inedible.  If my memory is correct, I seem to think my mom found Easter Eggs at the top of my bedroom cupboard years after I’d left home! Now, this particular example might be due to the fact that I was protecting my chocolate eggs from my siblings, but I’m not 100% sure that was the only factor.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who does this.  Am I?

Well, we’ve been looking at spiritual gifts this week in our third session of the Acts Bible Study we’re doing.  The key verse we looked at is Acts 2:43, “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.”

Wonders and Signs.  Do you remember how Jesus trained the disciples when He sent them out two by two?  They had nothing with them and stayed in the houses of those they visited.  Some accepted the disciples and their teaching, some rejected them.  But they went everywhere, in their pairs, healing people and telling them about Jesus.  (Luke 9:1-6)

And then, do you remember how Jesus told the disciples that He would be leaving them, but that they would continue His work?  In fact, they would do even greater things than He had done! (John 14: 12-14) I can almost picture their faces as Jesus said this.  ‘Are you serious?!?’, they must have been thinking.

They did just that though.  They performed amazing miracles – wonders and signs, our text says.  And the people were in awe.  They did all this because of their faith in God and the Holy Spirit working through them. They each had gifts that they used, to glorify God.  

Do you know that God has given you gifts too?  I don’t just mean things like the gifts of our family, friends, and good health.  Although we are extremely grateful for the way in which God provides for us.

No, I’m talking about specific gifts that we each have, which we are supposed to be using to glorify God and build up His church.  

Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (vv. 4-7 NIV)

During our discussion at Bible Study this week it became clear that we need to spend time together discovering and exploring our gifting.  We need to teach a bit more about this and encourage each other to practice our gifts.  We all need to work together so that the Body of Christ can benefit, as God intends.

I think that some of us might feel a little uncertain about this topic of spiritual gifts.  We might think… Am I good enough? I don’t know what my gifts are. What am I supposed to do with that?  People will think I’ve lost the plot! I don’t have time to do more than I’m already doing… Do any of those words resonate with your thoughts?

I also think that many of us are sitting with God’s gifts tucked away ‘in a cupboard’, like my uneaten Easter eggs.  Out of sight, out of mind… and of no use to anyone.  Perhaps we should start digging in that cupboard a little, explore and see what we can find.  God is so generous and loves to give gifts.  But, He wants us to use them.  

We will be exploring this topic a little more later in the year.  So, ‘watch this space’ and consider joining us as we uncover the gifts God has given.

With love

Your friend and rector,