Engaged at the Margins

Last Sunday Rev. Chris Bell concluded our series on mission & preached his final sermon with us before his retirement, and it was another challenging one. Entitled ‘Engaged on the Margins’, it included references to his conversion through the book “The Cross & The Switchblade“, a verse which has run as a theme through his years in ministry (“I have the strength to face all things by the power that Christ gives me” Philippians 4:13) and a challenge for us to join Jesus in the margins.

During the sermon he used the following quotes from contemporary authors, Vincent Donovan (Catholic missionary) & John Drane (Theologian):

  • do not try to call them back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, beautiful as that place may seem to you; you must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have been before” – Vincent Donovan
  • mission begins with God and our calling is to discern where God is already at work and then collaborate intentionally with God’s activity” – John Drane

The sermon concluded with a few personal reflections on retirement, and the fact that we never retire from our work as disciples:

  • It’s time to review our usefulness to the Lord & His Church
  • we cannot stop the ageing process, but we can seek to be renewed inwardly every day
  • retirement is not a matter of being lost in the margins… it is a strange, new opportunity to engage in mission
  • I have experienced sufficient of the Lord’s hand in my life to know that His promises are true, and that He will never abandon me or you

He concluded with a reminder of a passage from Exodus 21, where the Jewish law states that at the time of jubilee a servant is to be set free from his master. However, if the servant declares that he loves his master so much that he doesn’t want to be set free, then the master must take the servant to the gatepost and there pierce the ear of the servant with an awl, and the servant then becomes the master’s for life. Chris’ moving closing remarks:

  • in a similar manner, I do not intend to let the Lord go, but to hold onto Him with heart & mind & soul, I intend to be his & he intends to be mine

Below are a few of the key quotes – download the one which speaks to you most & share it via Facebook/Twitter to spread the message & challenge others.



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