So it’s the end of One Bright Week for another year. It really has been a week dedicated to letting the light of Jesus shine out across Telford, not hiding the lamp under a basket or under the bed, but putting it out in the community and letting it shine.
Of course it all started well before this week, with all the planning and things, but it really kicked off last week with the opening of the prayer room here. I came and prayed here nearly a fortnight ago on the Monday morning, and it was so good to have somewhere to come and pray specifically for the events of One Bright Week. It felt like a really good space to come and pray and to shine a spiritual light into the week. And then it was into the events themselves. We’ve had the Kaleidoscope project, with over 400 youngsters coming to visit our churches, including to this place, and to explore how they can bring out the God colours in the world. I was in Hadley at Telford Elim on Thursday, talking with the children about questions they might want to ask God, and it was so good to hear their imaginations at work, and their real engagement with the idea that there is a God who is interested in them and in their lives.
We’ve had Tom Elliott here for the week, going into secondary schools and encouraging out teenagers to look beyond the immediate and the drive for money and success and to explore the possibility that there might be a deeper purpose in their lives. Over 1,800 young people have heard Tom this week, and had some light shone into their lives.
There have been community events and street evangelism out and about in Telford Town Centre, and in various other locations, including here in Dawley. We’ve been blessed by the visit of the YWAM team and the way in which folk from different churches have banded together to go out and share the light of Jesus.
On the last two nights of the week we had evening events at All Saints in Wellington and at Abraham Darby Academy on Friday. High quality music, dance, comedy, illusion, Christian testimony and inspirational stories have brought the week to a conclusion on a high.
And what is the outcome of all this? Well, over this week we have had feedback from over 50 people who have decided that they want to follow Jesus.
God’s light really has been shining in Telford during One Bright Week. And the great thing is that that light continues to shine as we share the stories of what happened. This little summary I’ve just shared with you is, in itself, another lamp that we can put on the lampstand and that builds our faith and shows the glory of the light of God.
Yesterday I talked a bit with Helen who was here with you last week, and she was telling me that she had been so welcomed here and found folk so receptive to the message and ministry she brought, she had been really encouraged. She shared with me that she and the team had offered to pray for some of you. As we were talking we were wondering what had happened as a result of those prayers. So I want to give anybody who was here last week, and has noticed a difference as a result of being prayed for to come and share that now, to come and put that lamp on a stand so that we can all see the light and the glory of God. Also, if you have been to one of the events in the week and seen something you want to share, if you were part of the Kaliedoscope team, or went to pray in the prayer room, or whatever really, let’s put some more lamps on the lamp stand.
Thank you, that’s been great. Let’s keep doing that, let’s keep sharing these stories, these lamps with each other and with our friends, our family, our neighbours. As we put our lamps up, so we give light to the world and people are drawn to the God who loves everyone.
Because, of course, One Bright Week, isn’t the only week of the year that we are called to keep our lamps visible, fuelled and shining out, we are to do this all the time. Events like One Bright Week remind us of this, give us opportunities to practice, and encourage us with new stories that we can share.
Now, I do also want us to have a think this morning about the second parable that we heard read a few moments ago, the parable of the growing seed. It’s a bit of a change of metaphors, but I think it’s useful when we’re thinking about our witness over the long term, over the year, over a life time. You see a light is either on or off. It’s either on a stand, giving light, or in a bucket, slowly going out. The light is to do with our witness, our willingness to be seen. It is to do with what we do.
The parable of the growing seed is about what is going on in other people, and how an understanding of that can help us.
The first thing is that happens is that the farmer scatters the seed. Without that, nothing grows. Or at least, nothing helpful. Then what happens – the seeds grow. The farmer doesn’t know how, they just do. Nowadays with advances in science we have a fair idea, but the wind and the rain are still pretty much out of our control. A farmer can improve the chances of germination with the right soil preparation and timing the sowing correctly, but the germination is in God’s hands. Finally, once the harvest is ready, the farmer reaps the crop.
We know from Jesus’ explanation of other similar parables that the seed represents the word of God, the message of the good news of Jesus, and we are the farmers who sow it into people’s lives by our words and actions as we share life with them. We can make sure we are wise about the time that we do this, and we can prepare the soil, but in the end it is God who makes it grow or not. We are not responsible for that. There is great freedom in that realisation. We need to do our part, that is true, but we also need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts people, who warms their hearts, who brings freedom. But then the farmer comes in again for the harvest. We have another part to play, to bring in the harvest. It is our responsibility to see the work of God in people’s lives and to invite them to follow Jesus, to become Christians, to live under God’s rule and reign. It is true that some people are better, more gifted, at this than others, but we are all called to this work.
During this last week I am sure that all three things have been going on. Some people have been encountering God’s word and call on their lives for the first time. Seeds have been sown into their lives. We need to pray that they are not snatched away, choked by the cares of the world, or scorched by times of pain or difficulty. We need to pray that they come to bear fruit 30, 60, 100 fold.
I’m sure that some people have experienced One Bright Week as the sunshine that brings growth and ripening of seeds that have been sown before, they are coming to the point of harvest, of being ready to commit their lives to Jesus, but haven’t done so yet. Keep your eyes out for these folk, and be ready when they are. In fact, it may even be that there is someone here this morning who is in this position, who has been listening all week and has been feeling something ripening inside you that is ready to be expressed, and today is the day to say yes to Jesus, to be forgiven, and to join the family, then I encourage you to do that this morning. Say it to God, and then find a Christian friend so that they can pray with you and encourage you.
We’ve already heard that some have come to faith this week, the fruit has come to harvest. We have a responsibility to walk with them now, to encourage them in their young faith, and to equip them to start sowing for themselves.
So, as we go on from One Bright Week, we are joyful and hopeful because of what we have seen and heard, so we can carry our lights high. We can continue, in our lives and as a church, to sow, to watch for growth and to harvest. And so we will see the Kingdom of God continuing to break through in Dawley and across Telford.