Sunday, August 24, 2008

What time is it? Time for the Olympics. What time is it? Harvest time.

What time is it? Time for the Olympics on television. Time for Usain Bolt to smash another world record and then to perform the " gully creeper" and the "nuh linga." - two of the latest moves in the dancehall scene in the island. Time for the Jamaican women sprinters to sweep the 100 m race. Time for a relatively unknown young lady from a tough inner city community to cause pandemonium to break out, not only in her neighbourhood, but across the length and breath of an entire country. Time for her mother to send a strong message to all Jamaica, and especially the gunmen, that with hard work , everybody's child can achieve what her daughter did. Time for this simple but very wise mother to give thanks to God Almighty for Kerry-Ann's success. What time is it? Time for VC ( Veronica Campbell - the princess of athletics in Jamaica) to retain her 200m title and to send a message to the entire world, that her God comes first. Did you notice that her first act after winning the historic race was to stoop and clasp her hands in prayer. Time for Asafa Powell, one of the favourites to win the 100m final, but who failed again to medal, to win a well deserved gold medal in the relays. Time for Melaine Walker, another young lady from a tough inner city, to bring glory to herself, her country and her community by winning the 400m hurdles in an Olympic record. Time for her people to celebrate wildly. Time even for a moment of disappointment when arguably, the four faster women in the world, failed too carry the baton around the track in the women's sprint relay. Time for Half-Way-Tree, with the help of a big screen TV, to become the country's " Beijing", where masses of people gathered everyday to witness the success of the Jamaican stars and to share in the vibes.

What time is it? Time for the news about crime and violence to take a backseat to the events in Beijing. Hopefully time for the gunmen to take a permanent break from their wickedness and give Jamaica a chance to really achieve its full potential both on and off the sporting arenas of the world. What time is it? All too soon, time for the athletes to return home to what will no doubt be a tremendous reception, as a grateful nation, pours out its love and appreciation for the exploits of these men and women. Time to savor the sweetness of the Track and Field section of the Olympics being dominated by the Jamaican stars - third behind the USA and the Russian federation. Time to give thanks to the coaches and the administrators. Time for the Government and the private sector to" step up to the plate" and harness this momentum of an outpouring of national pride and unity, for the long term benefit of nation desperate for good news.

What time is it? It's celebration time here on the "rock".

But during the course of the week, as we celebrated with wild abandon the victories in Beijing, jumping up and down like mad people, donning the national colours, festooning even our vehicles with the national flag, the Lord reminded us that there is another imperative, another time that we must not lose sight of - Harvest time. As for Christian people, for the Redeemed people of this world, our role is to spread the good news, as we were reminded in church this morning, that in the Eternal Kingdom, unlike in the Olympics, there are no winners and losers, no stars, but we are all rescued from sin and death, by the mercy of God, in and through Christ Jesus. What time is it then? Time to tell the story of Jesus' death on the Cross of Calvary, of the wonderful love of God, poured out in the Blood of the Lamb, for Adam's helpless race. Time to reassure all peoples, that just as how Jesus was raised from the dead, with power ( of the Holy Spirit) so all who have sinned, all who are under God's righteous judgement, can, in Baptism, rise to a new life in Christ Jesus. What time is it? Time to remind people that the time to accept Christ is now, as " no man knoweth when the Son of Man shall come". That Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ shall come again. And that nearer and nearer draws the time when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as waters cover the sea. Time to share the good news with Bolt and Phelps, with the Chinese and with the Russians, with the top class coaches, the high performing media personalities at TVJ, CMC, NBC, CVM, the ill informed President of the IOC Jack Rogge and even with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, who is speaking to the nation even as I write this message from the Lord.

Where did I get this message about Harvest time?


" Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest" John 4:35

IN WORD The contrast between Jesus and His disciples in this passage is stark. Jesus is busy telling a sinful woman of eternal truths. The disciples are focused on their physical needs. Jesus sets off a spark and sees a whole town ablaze with spiritual hunger. The disciples are obsessed about their daily bread. Jesus was ready to minister to people. The disciples were ready for lunchtime.

Don't we see a similar contrast in our own lives? Sometimes we can be outward focused, seeing other people's needs and trying to meet them. More often we are just trying to to get through the day, feeding ourselves and our families, and trying to earn enough to pay the bills. We get caught up in our own agenda and neglect the more urgent need of a hurting world -- perhaps not in principle, but certainly in practice.

Jesus urges His disciples to look beyond themselves. He tells them to thrive on a different kind of food -- the will of God and His passion for people who need the gospel. They are to be outward focused, filled with vision. Their ambition should be to see the gathering of the Kingdom of God, not just to get through the daily grind.

IN DEED We tend to neglect the eternal purposes of God and hone in on the peripherals of life. But life isn't about going into town to shop ( John 4:8) or about lunchtime ( vs 31). Those are the necessities of sustaining life, not its substance. The substance of life is eternal, and we can invest it in either the kingdom or in the world. Jesus points us to His kingdom.

Are your eyes filled with visions of harvest? Do you understand why we are here? Do not be distracted by the daily routine or by the needs of the hour. learn to recognise moments for reaping. Jesus has given us a mission and told us to have a vision for what's going on around us. Focus outward, not inward. Lift up your eyes and look at the fields. It's harvest time.


Some of special moments for me, as a Christian, at the Olympics were Veronica Campbell's public act of thanksgiving; Bolt and the many others, including the Brazilian 50 m swimming champion, consistently making the sign of the Cross and thus giving God the glory; the eight finalists in the 100m men race gathering for prayer before the race; Bolt's donation of US 50,000 to the victims of he earthquake in China - what effect this might have on millions of Chinese and others in the far east, who have never heard the gospel, only God knows. But no doubt these were special moments for "sowing the seed".

Looking back I can understand how and why, as a nation, we have elevated these men to super star status. And celebrate we should and must. But as the Redeemed people of God, we should always be celebrating and giving thanks, every day, every hour, to the One who set us free from slavery to sin and rescued us unto Everlasting Life. This is what must excite us to worship and to tell the good news, in season and out of season. When there is excitement and celebration in the nation and when there is pain and sorrow and grief. Let us then be obedient to our calling, and follow the example of Christ. Let us not be overly concerned about our nation's achievement, the successes of Bolt and VC, but rather use very moment as an opportunity to witness for Christ. This is what the final message from the Lord through His servant Martin Luther is all about.


Zechariah 12:10

When a Christian begins to know Christ as his Lord and Saviour, through whom he is redeemed from death and brought into his kingdom and inheritance, his heart is aglow with a flaming love of God and he would gladly help everyone to the same experience. For he knows no greater joy than that he possesses this treasure, that he knows Christ. Therefore he goes out and teaches and exhorts other people, praising and testifying to it before all men, praying and yearning that they too might attain to such grace. That is a restless spirit enjoying the highest rest in the grace and peace of God, for it cannot be silent or idle, but is always striving with all its power to spread the honor and glory of God among the people, that others too may receive this spirit of grace and may then help with the work of prayer. For where the Spirit of grace is, he quickens our hearts, so that we can, and may, and must begin to pray.