Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Confessions of an Exiled Preacher at the Banner Ministers' Conference 2013: Book II

Now suppose I say "forgetfulness" and once again recognise what I mean
by the word, how do I recognise the thing itself unless I remembered it?
(Confessions Book X:16)
I must, Lord continue with my confession of your goodness at the Banner Conference while what was said and done is fresh in my mind. My notes disappeared like chaff before the wind when my Android Tablet crashed and would not be awakened from its sleep. I will speak of your servant Michael Reeves and testify of what you said to me through his ministry. 

In his first address Reeves spoke on God's Glorious Missionary Heart from John 20:19-23. I saw with fresh clarity that you, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a great missionary God. Father, you sent your Son to rescue our world from sin. Son, you breathed forth your Spirit upon the church that we might speak of you to the world. Beloved Trinity, you are so very great, an overflowing ocean of love, light and life. By your overflowing goodness you made the world. By that same goodness you sustain it. But who would have though that your love could reach out from within your being and from among your persons to a rebel world like ours? May we worship you, the giving God of all grace and so may we become like you in overflowing love, light and fruitfulness. Send us forth on your mission; to proclaim the saving Son by the power of your Spirit that others too may taste and see that you are good and glorify the holy name into which we are baptised; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Then Michael Reeves told us of Augusine of Hippo: A Life of Commending the Gospel. I had read the Confessions of the great church father, but Reeves so spoke as to magnify your grace in him afresh. It was you who saved him from sin and error and made him a preacher of the good news of Jesus. Fired by your grace he fought against the unforgiving Donatists and the grace-denying Pelagians. May our lives also commend the gospel of our Saviour. But late did I love you too, wasting too many years in sin and unbelief before you found me, 
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. (Confessions Book X:27)
But, Lord while a fire kindles in my heart at the memory of Michael Reeves' words, the words themselves are fading from my forgetful mind. As Augustine said, 'forgetfulness, when we remember it, is not present to the memory in itself, but by its image, because if it were present in itself, it would cause us, not to remember, but to forget? Who can possibly answer this or understand how it comes about?' (Confessions Book X:16). I do not have sufficient recollection to make a report, but I confess your goodness in that you did me good by letting me hear these things, 'Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all his benefits' (Psalm 103:2). 

Oh, and I remember that our side won Tuesday's football match 5-4, thanks to my valiant efforts in defence. 

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