Origin stories have become a popular genre in entertainment in recent years, and no I don’t mean the stories of how QLD was always beating NSW in rugby league until they finally turned it around this year (although that is an amazing story). Origin stories take popular characters (generally in the sci-fi or fantasy genre) and provide the audience with an understanding of how they became who they were. I recently heard that the makers of the popular TV series Game of Thrones, which is currently filming it’s final season, was planning an origin story style follow up series which will no doubt continue to not only appease fanatical fans but continue the incredible financial success.
Last year around this time, as we were celebrating our 20th birthday as a church, we were telling a lot of origin stories of how we came to be where we are located as a church and some of the brave and faithful people who listened attentively to God’s calling and leading. This year as we are approaching our 21st birthday (which we will celebrate this Sunday, so make sure you come along if you can), I thought it might be opportune to tell the origin story behind our vision.
When I was exploring the idea of moving to the Gold Coast to lead this church, the one thing that people kept saying, including the parish nominators, was what an amazing location the church was in and when I saw it for myself it was true.
But when I moved up to start living here I found Gold Coast residents ask you 2 questions to get to know you: where do you come from and what do you do? I would answer: I’m from Newcastle and I’m the new minister at the Anglican church in Robina. Every single person replied: “where’s that?”… For a church with such a great location we had a significant problem – nobody seemed to know where we were.
As a church family we began to explore why this was the case; Parish Council spent a significant amount of time exploring the reality that as a church it would not matter how good our location was unless people started to get to know who we believed in, what we stood for, and how that impacts the way we live. Where we are does not matter as much as who we are. And so from this realisation was born the vision to build an identity around our relationships with God, with each other and with the wider community.
Last Sunday we began to dig into our vision by looking at our relationships with God and it did strike me that within our church are hundreds of individual origin stories. In my sermon last week I was encouraging us all to go deeper in our relationship with God, to not take it for granted that we know all we need to know about God, not just to consider who we are but whose we are. Part of the process of going deeper with God is asking the question of how God has been part of the person I have become and perhaps this could involve the realisation that God has not been as central as God should have been. I know I regularly reflect and realise that I need more of God, in fact I don’t believe there is such a thing as too much God focus in your life. Which leads us to question, how much are we willing to let God shape who we are becoming?
This week as we begin to explore our relationship together as a church – which is a perfect topic to talk about in our birthday week – take the time to explore your origin story. Who is God for you, really? Are you prepared to allow God to shape who you are becoming? The disciples were asked by Jesus who do people say that I am, Peter replied “you are the Messiah, the son of God”. Have we made that declaration and do we continue to make that declaration? Because a church full of people who know and love God and are letting God shape who they are becoming, who boldly declare Jesus as Messiah, Lord and Saviour, is a church that others will want to know and that is the type of church God has called me to lead. I pray that as a church we will give more and more people an opportunity to know, understand and grow into a relationship with our amazing God who is gracious and compassionate and abounding in love.