Under New Management

The Lord Jesus Christ left no great monument in His honour. He ascended into heaven without even writing a book. But before this He said to His disciples: “When the Father sends the Holy Spirit as my representative he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (Jn.14:26). Today we celebrate the birth of the whole church: the day when God did just that - poured out His Holy Spirit - the rush of violent wind and tongues of fire! William Blake wrote a poem about Pentecost. Part of the poem says: Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire, God willnot be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire, God will not be loved…
Everywhere the Spirit is at work, bringing life and growth, telling the wonders of God'ssalvation, making things happen, giving faith to people and blessing them. However, it strikes me that for all our talk about the gift of the Spirit and how He creates, upholds, and sustains the Church as a whole, we often miss the full significance of Pentecost. Hear those Gospel verses again: “I will not abandon you as orphans – I will come to you…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” (Jn.14:16-18).
For a start the Holy Spirit is not some mystical power, a floating fog or a ghostly apparition. The King James used the term Ghost – but He’s not a ghost; SHe’s a person - justas Jesus is a person, and He acts as a person:-
·      He speaks (Acts 8:29)
·      He teaches (Jn.14:26)
·     He inspires (Mk.12:36)
·      He convinces (Jn.16:8)
·     He leads (Rom.8:14)
·      He helps (2 Tim.1:14)

And we need to understand this in order to grow as a Christian and to experience the fullness of Christ.
Secondly, notice that the Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth” (v.17) whose ministry is to fully reveal Christ, to remind us of His presence and to supernaturally unite us with God the Father: “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, andI in you.” (v.20). That’s why sin is so out of place in the believer’s life. Yet even a casual glance at the NT reveals to us that the first Christians were far from perfect. None of us will be until after death and glorification - so the Church will always be composed of sinners - saved by grace, but still with feet of clay, still fatally flawed. 

Nevertheless, we’re part of the Church - it’s the institution that Jesus commissioned and through the Holy Spirit's power it’s here for the long haul. Yet we’ve got to learn, got to allow, the Spirit to flow in us and shape our ways to remain effective. 
The bank holiday just passed I decided to paint the garage door at the manse. If you’ve ever tried using white gloss paint in the bright light of the sun, when it’s gone in, orgoes behind a cloud, you see all the bits you missed! In the same way, the Holy Spirit can shine God’s light on any area of your life, or on our corporate life together, so we can clearly see the things we would otherwise have missed. Every now and then with churches, we spot these things and sometimes we have to take stock, access where we’re at andmake changes. We have shortcomings. We either move forward or backward. 
For most of the last century Switzerland dominated the world of watch making: Rolex, Omega, Cartier. The Swiss made the best watches in the world and were committed to constantrefinement of their expertise. By 1968, Switzerland made 65 percent of all watches sold in the world. By 1980, however, they had laid off thousands of watch-makers and their profits eroded. Why? They had refused to consider a new development—the digital watch. It was too radical for them to embrace. But other companies accepted it and became leaders in the watch industry.

The lesson here is profound. A past that was so secure, so profitable, so dominant was destroyed by an unwillingness to consider the future. It was more than not being able to make predictions—it was an inability to re-think how they did things. Past success had blinded them to the importance of seeing the implications of the changing world and to admit that past accomplishment was no guarantee of future success
Things often only last for a season within the plan of God and right now - perhaps the time is ripe for change. I’m not talking about Biblical principles – they’re timeless, forever fixed in the heavens and unchanging. I’m talking about methodology, the way we do things – to embrace, through prayer and discernment, a new vision.
A few weeks ago I preached about being a welcoming church and “practicing hospitality” suggesting that this sanctuary looks very tired and is in need of some TLC, modernising -with better heating and more comfortable seating. Those big oak doors at the front shut us off from the community rather than interacting with it. Installing plate glass doors,however, will give a completely different impression and look much more welcoming to folk. 
A vision of suggested improvements has been shared. Today I’m going to hand out this brochure that identifies four areas where improvements would help us. Important decisions are to be made. Please pray about this and please - do your very best to attend the Church Meeting on May 22nd. Who knows what the years ahead hold for this place? It could be opening a new chapter in our history that could encourage growth and friendship, as well as provide the stimulus for many years' ministry of the Word and sacraments.
Have any of you ever seen the Holy Spirit? Have any of you ever seen the wind?...No – but you have seen evidence of the wind, trees blowing, hats taking off, umbrellas turning inside out. Wind farms harvest its energy. Similarly by asking the Spirit to strengthen guide and help us to blow through the cobwebs of these dusty pews - we can see the role He plays in being the architect of the Church. Remember a cold church, and I mean a coldchurch because sometimes it’s freezing in here, is like cold butter – it doesn’t spread very well!
Also take prayer seriously. Like those first disciples who trusted this promise - and filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit saw the Church adapt and grow. We know the theory of Christian living but what we must do is to practice it. There’s a story told of a husband and wife both of who were doctors - one a doctor of theology and the other a doctor of medicine. When their doorbell was rung, the inquirer would often ask their children for "the doctor". Their interesting reply was: "Do you want the one who preaches or the one who practices?" More importantly the prayer life of those disciples didn’t diminish once the Church was established. They have left us the empowering Biblical principlethat nothing important and lasting happens without prayer. 
We live with the realisation that the Spirit has come in all His fullness, the Spirit oftruth, the “one called alongside to help”, our Advocate and Encourager who guides us into all of the Lord’s revealed will. Being under the Holy Spirit’s control is like a shop hanging a sign out on its front door: Under New Management. Things will be different from now on. There’s fresh hope!
And signalling a change in our lives the Spirit leads us out of that kingdom of lies, and helps us live as Jesus would have us live, and the more He controls our lives – “undernew management” - the more like Christ we become and our future is assured for we are no longer staring death in the face. He makes Heaven nearer and the Word of God clearer: S“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jn.14:27). 
That’s the comfort of the Spirit. Remember that He still fills the church with power today, just as He did on the day of Pentecost. Therefore, let’s ask Him to direct our thoughts and actions and allow Him to control our thinking, outlook, assumptions, and values.Only God can turn around a church. He has in the past, and He may well do in our church today.

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