I want to talk to you today about the year of Jubilee. Al Gordon who is one of the senior leadership team here, said that as he was praying he sensed the Lord saying to him that for HTB, 2016 is going to be the year of Jubilee. and then he looked up what that meant and he saw that, in the Jewish calendar 2016 is the year of Jubilee for them The first year of Jubilee was in the year 1367BC and the year of Jubilee happens every 50 years so it actually starts September 2015 and runs to September 2016 is the 70th year of Jubilee and a year of Jubilee is a very significant year, it’s the year when people are set free, debts forgiven, it’s a year of God’s mercy, God’s blessing, favour, celebration. And also in 2016, Pope Francis declared that for the Catholic Church, 2016 is going to be the year of Jubilee. So I don’t know whether I have the power to do this but if I do have the power to do this I want to declare that for HTB 2016 is going to be the year of Jubilee (the congregation cheers). Hallelujah! (Applause) So do you want to be part of the year of Jubilee? 1 Corinthians 12:27, St Paul says this, (Reads out first sentence) And the word that he uses there, the Greek word is ‘mélos’ and it means ‘member.’ So what Paul is saying is together we represent Jesus to the world and you are a member of the body of Christ. The word ‘member’ has been flattened out so now it just means, ‘Are you a member of HTB?’ ‘Oh yeah I belong to HTB.’ No, no no. What it means to be a member of HTB this, my ear, is a member of my body It’s part of my body It’s… The word ‘mélos’ means a limb or an organ. To be a member of HTB means to be an eye, or an ear, or a nose or a foot, a part of the body. You are a limb, an organ, you are vital. You are part of the body of Christ. You represent Jesus to the world, when people come into contact with you, they come into contact with Jesus. so what does it mean to be a member of HTB in the year of Jubilee? Here’s the first thing. You are included. Reads Verses 12-13 He’s saying everybody’s included, Jews and Greeks, Slave or Free That’s everybody, every ethnicity, every nation, every background. We are an inclusive church. Everybody is welcome here. Whatever your background, whatever your ethnicity anything – it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve come from, what you’re like, you are welcome here. We are totally inclusive. They did a study about health and happiness Harvard did this study. It’s the longest study that’s ever taken place on health and happiness. It’s taken 75 years. It started in 1938. They decided to study what leads people to have a happy life and a healthy life. If you ask millennials, 80% would say, they think it’s money another 50% said that they want to be famous but when they did this study, what they did was they took 724 men. Half of them were 1st year students at Harvard University – one of the greatest universities in the world – the other half were poor guys from inner city Boston under-privileged and what they did was they sent them a questionnaire, a massive questionnaire every single year. Some of them have become factory workers, some lawyers some bricklayers, doctors, one became President of the United States. And every two years, they got this massive survey asking questions about their lives. Many of the inner city Boston men asked, ‘Why do you want to keep studying my life? I’m not that interesting.’ The Harvard guys never asked that question. (laughter) The clearest message that came out of this 75 year study was this: Good relationships keep us healthier and happier. (Reads from study) ‘Social connections are really good for us, loneliness kills The quality of your close relationships matters. Living in the midst of conflict is really bad for your health, living in the midst of good warm relationships is protective. The people who are most satisfied in their relationships at 50, were the healthiest at the age of 80. Good relationships not only protect our bodies, they also protect our brains. The good life is built with good relationships.’ They spent 75 years to come to that conclusion If they’d read 1 Corinthians 12 (laughter), they could have saved a lot of money and a lot of time. That’s what Paul is saying here, it’s all about relationships. Close relationships. So close That it’s like a body. You are so close to one another, so interconnected. And that’s the way to find fulfilment, happiness, and actually, incidentally, health. Second point that Paul makes here is, you are invaluable. The Holy Spirit lives in you, we were all given the same spirit to drink. And everyone of you has a part. There’s nobody here, nobody down in the crypt, nobody down in the spring, nobody watching this wherever you’re watching this, who is not absolutely invaluable. (Reads 1 Corinthians 12, verses 14-20) And then in verses 27 – 31, he lists some of the different gifts that people have. Prophecy, teaching, administration, healing, speaking in tongues, interpretation. … eagerly desire these gifts. All of you have gifts and all of your gifts are invaluable. Where do you exercise these gifts? You exercise them – it’s hard to do it on a Sunday – You exercise them in a small group. And I would love to encourage every single one of you to get involved in a small group. If you’ve never done Alpha, come and join us on Alpha. That’s the small group that Pippa and I are involved in every single term. We are in a small group on Alpha. I don’t give the talks anymore, I don’t lead the course anymore but I would not miss being in a small group on Alpha and hearing the stories. Last Wednesday, it was so moving. To hear a women, I don’t know, in her late twenties saying until January 3rd, she had never been in a church in her whole life. Her parents are atheist, she was an atheist and for the last four weeks she’s been coming to church and she doesn’t know about Jesus, she’d not heard of the cross but already Jesus is changing her life. It’s amazing to have the privilege of that When we first started here, we ran what is now called a ‘Connect Group’ If you’re not in a connect group, I would so encourage you to get into a connect group. I think of that connect group we ran. We ran it for 6 years, in our home and I think of the people who came to that connect group. Charlie Mackesy was in that connect group. Charlie Mackesy gave his first talk in that connect group. Now he’s speaking here on Sundays and gives the first talk on Alpha. I think of Mark and Jo Glen. Jo Glen became the Church Warden here for ten years. I think of Angus and Emma Winter. Angus, while he was in that connect group, I remember him telling me he’d had this vision from God. He was working in the city and he sensed God saying it’s like, he was in a rugby scrum and he was a forward and his job was to get the ball out of the scrum and pass it to the backs, pass it to the people who would preach the good news of Jesus to the world and he was to supply the money, the resources and he gave out of what he was earning then which was not very much but the more he gave, the more God blessed him, the more he got promoted, the more he made more money, and he gave more and more and more and more. He’s now the treasurer of this church, a great, great friend. Or I think of Ric Thorpe. Ric Thorpe joined our connect group and we didn’t have a worship leader so he said, ‘well, I’m musical, so I’ll try and learn the guitar.’ And he started with two chords And for several years he played with two chords (laughter) Actually quite quickly he became the worship leader here. He became our main worship leader at HTB. He went on to get ordained and just recently he’s been made the Bishop of Islington. These are our great friends. I could go through the list of all the people in that connect group, I could tell you probably 30 people who are still really good friends of ours. We made such relationships in that group that it sustained us in our lives and God-willing in their lives as well. And then, you’re indispensible. So you’re included, you’re invaluable, thirdly, you’re indispensable. (Reads 1 Corinthians 12, Verses 21-25) Ok, you say, well I don’t think I could do what Charlie Mackesy does, he’s a great speaker. I don’t think I could do what Ric Thorpe did leading worship… those are the bits that you can see but Paul says, ‘don’t think those are the most important bits, the most important bits are, the bits you don’t see.’ In a body, you don’t say ‘oh it’s only the bits you see that are important’. Oh, what about your heart? You can’t see that. That’s quite an important organ as well, member of the body. So I can do without the heart because you can’t see that… no, no, no, you can’t do without your heart, even I know that, I’m not a doctor but I can tell you your heart matters. And so do all the other organs of your body that you can’t see. And actually, Paul says, it’s the bits behind the scenes that are even more important than the ones you see up on the stage. You see, this is every member ministry. Where does the ministry come from in the church? Yes, some of it comes from here but the vast majority of it should be there (points outwards to the congregation). You are the ministers and each of you has a role to play. And the ones that seem to be, maybe you think, ‘oh that, that’s not a terribly important one,’ – actually no, that’s a really important one because nobody can see it. I think of the people, you can’t see the people now who are looking after your children in CHTB. One of them I happen to know who looks after children at the 4.30 service at Onslow Square is the head of a school, a very thriving school. He works extremely hard but at 4.30 he’ll be looking after a group of 6-11 year olds. April, who runs the cafe here, she actually runs a jewellery business as well but she comes and serves at the 9.30 and the 11.30 service here. I think of one of the people who helps with the Marriage (course) couples and also the concerts. He was senior partner of one of the leading law firms in the world, serving behind the scenes. And Paul says, those roles are indispensable and it’s so satisfying. I’ve a friend who I played squash with for years. He’s had real problems sleeping for many, many years. He came to see me the other day. He said, I went to help in the homeless shelter and when I got home that night, I slept like a log. I said, I think you should go on helping in the homeless shelter (laughter). And he has and the more he’s gone on helping, the more he sleeps. because he’s doing what we’re supposed to do. We’re not supposed to be inactive members of the body of Christ, we’re supposed to playing a part, playing our part because we’re a member, we have a role to play in the body and the role of the eye, the ear, the foot, the hand, it’s all indispensable. You are indispensable. The people who pray here. I’d love to encourage you – 7am Tuesday morning, people come and pray here. This church would not be what it is without your prayers. 3000 people praying in the prayer room, the 24/7 prayer room this term. That’s what makes this church. It’s like the fire underneath the volcano. And it’s little things can make a difference, you can make a difference, every day what you do, you are the body of Christ. My daughter and son-in-law decided in Advent, they were fed up with the materialism of Christmas. So they decided at Advent, every day to give something away. And they’d make chocolate brownies and give them away. Somebody admired Bec’s sweater so she gave it away. My son-in-law Myles, Myles the rapper, he decided that he would offer to wash people’s car screens but actually what he found was not surprising when you know what he looks like, they didn’t actually want their cars, even for free (laughter) they’d rather not have their cars washed by Myles (more laughter). One friend of Becs’ called Maggie, saw a woman in Reading with a buggy and she went up and explained what she was doing, she said, ‘you must be tired with a small child, here’s £5 so that you can buy yourself a coffee. Happy Christmas. And then she rang my daughter Becs and told her what she’d done and Becs said, ‘why don’t you put that on Facebook what you’ve done’ so she did. The woman who’d been given the £5 also put it on Facebook and it so happened that there was a mutual friend and the two got in touch and this is what the woman wrote: (Reads Facebook message) You are indispensable. And then, you are interconnected. (Reads 1 Corinthians 12, Verses 25-26) This is what Paul is saying, ‘look, look at your body, if one part suffers, every part suffers with it. Ten days ago, Pippa and I were in the kitchen and as usual I was helping in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher, (laughter) putting things away, as I do all the time and I was taking stuff out of the dishwasher and Pips was clearing up I’d open the drawers to put all the cutlery in Pips noticed that the drawers were open and just at the moment, neither of us were really paying attention, just at the moment I was putting a spoon into the cutlery thing, she decided that was the moment to shut the door and she was feeling in a jolly moment and she decided that was the moment to shut it very hard (laughter) and it came down on my finger like that and I went ‘OUCH!’ and then I started to make a huge fuss about this little injury (lots of laughter). I said, ‘look, I’m going to lose my NAIL!’ And she said, ‘no, you won’t lose your nail, it’ll probably go black.’ Actually, it hasn’t even gone black but (laughter) but it was SO PAINFUL! I didn’t say, ‘oh, well that’s just my fingernail, I couldn’t care tuppence about my fingernail, that doesn’t count. I’m worried about me, the big parts of me, not just my finger.’ No, one part suffers, the whole body suffers. And that’s what Paul’s saying. That’s the community, we rally round each other. That’s why we pray for you here at the front. If you’re going through a hard time, come to the front at the end of the service and we’ll pray for you because if you’re suffering, we’re suffering. We suffer with you. You can come up and we’d love to pray of you. That’s what we do in a connect group. It means you’re not alone. When you’re going through a tough time, we pray for you. This is the body of Christ. I saw in The Sunday Times the other day, on the 2nd October 2006, Charlie Roberts carrying a gun, walked into a classroom of the Amish, you know the Amish community, these very devout, wonderful Christian people who live a very simple lifestyle and this guy walked into a school near his home in Pennsylvania with a gun and he opened fire on a class of girls aged between 6-13 and he killed five of them, seriously injured two of them and the other three recovered. But… it was the most horrific incident and it was all over the world news. And this guy had given no signs at all, no criminal record, married with a young child and when his mother heard what her son had done, she was absolutely, totally distraught. And she became, the mother, Terri, became an object of hatred, as you can imagine, in the neighbourhood. Her husband, the murderer’s father was a retired police officer And every time they went out shopping, they could see people looking at her, pointing at her, blaming her. And what they dreaded more than ever was this murderer’s funeral because they as the family were going to be this object of hatred and because it had been a global event. the world’s media were there with their long lenses appearing at the funeral service and the family braced themselves for the media barrage, a hoard of news crews and spectators. And as they walked through the churchyard, Terri recalls, she could see these telescopic lenses trained on her and the other members of the family. And she said, ‘we felt so vulnerable, we knew everyone was looking at us.’ And then they saw this, from behind a shed 30 members of the Amish community emerged, in their… they were wearing… men in tall hats, women in white bonnets and this group of 30 people, included the parents of some of those girls who had been murdered. And these 30 people emerged from behind the shed, they fanned out into a line, between the grave and the road, to protect the family from the glare of publicity of the press. They formed a solid wall of black around the family, shielding them from the onlookers and protecting them from the media. They not only forgave, they said, ‘look, if you’re suffering, we’re here to suffer with you.’ If one part suffers, we all suffer together. And Paul says, the other side of this coin is that if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Isn’t this amazing? So when you look at that Lookback DVD for 2015 you don’t sit there and say, ‘oh that looks wonderful.’ No, no, no, that’s your body, that’s you. Those are all the things you did. ‘Oh I didn’t do that.’ Yes, you did because we’re all part of the same body and if one part is honoured, if Paul Cowley gets honoured by the Queen for his work in social transformation, you’re honoured because you’re part of it. Some of you are helping yourselves at the homeless shelter, or Caring for Ex-Offenders and one part is honoured, we’re all honoured because we’re all in this together, we’re all the body of Christ. If you prayed, you gave, if you gave anything, if you’ve given any money, you’re part of it. It wouldn’t of happened without your giving. If you’ve prayed, if you’ve come to the prayer meeting, or you’re one of the people in the prayer room or you’ve prayed on your own you’re a part of it. If you’ve served in some way, in the cafe… some way on a team you’re part of this. And when they’re honoured, you’re honoured. So 2016 is going to be, we believe, the year of Jubilee. It’s going to be a year of great honour, amazing things are going to happen, we believe, this year. I’m so excited about 2016, there’s a sense of rising momentum. I was with some of the church plants on Thursday and Friday, Pippa and I went with some of the people who have planted churches from here and are now planting themselves. I think of Brighton planted 6 years ago now have 1000 people there on Sunday. A church that was about to be closed They themselves have planted into one of the poorest estates, they’ve planted into Hastings, they’ve been asked to plant into a different diocese and that will happen next September. And then there’s a church plant in Norwich which is now the largest church in the area. There’s another one planted into Lincoln, there’s another one… …these cities… have happened over the last six years and now it’s multiplying so this year, 2016, we could well do six, sorry… five city centre church plants from here that will be resource churches that will then plant all the way around how will that be possible? Because St Mellitus in Courtfield Gardens is training up now 210 ordinands who will be trained to lead churches that will then spread around this nation because that’s the vision, to see the evangelisation of the nation, the revitalisation of the church and the transformation of our society and it’s accelerating and this is the year of Jubilee. This is the year when we’re going to see this happening in an amazing way right across the country. And all the other things that are happening, the Leadership College… …just to take one tiny little thing that we do, the Bible in One Year, now over a million downloads, there’s an acceleration with all of this and what’s it all about? It’s all about giving people the opportunity to meet Jesus We are the body of Jesus to the world, we want people to meet Jesus. Pippa and I had a few days off with some friends and one of our friends told us this about a guy who’s going to come and speak here in a few months time called Giles Stevens. Giles Stevens was at Oxford. He read History at Oxford, he played rugby for Oxford but he was a wild guy and this friend of ours Trucker described his life. He said that he was on drugs, he drank far too much, he was into the occult, he led a very promiscuous life, he even tried to hire St Aldate’s Church, one of the big churches in Oxford for a fetish party and was very surprised the Vicar didn’t seem to think that was a great idea for the use of the church! (laughter) So this guy led a really wild life. He was very successful in business, he went to Hong Kong working for a leading Merchant Bank And he was leading this life Wild life And there were two young women came to stay with him And he was trying to have his way with them But they weren’t having any of it And it turned out they were Christians And one of them, instead of allowing him to do what he wanted to do, gave him a copy ofJohn’s Gospel (laughter) And he read it And he encountered Jesus And his life was totally transformed. And he’s now a minister of a… well… he’s having a huge impact, his ministry is a global ministry having a massive impact, he’s going to come and speak here later in the year. But when Giles came back to England, he went to see my friend’s brother who he had known… he had known was a Christian for a long time and had been a friend of his for some time and he went round to see him. And Giles, this great big rugby player, well, ex-rugby player, ex-wild life, now encountered Jesus, he went round to see the friend and this friend was expecting to say, ‘oh how thrilled…’ No. He was angry with his friend. Literally he picked him up by the lapels, he put him against the wall and he shook him, and he said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about Jesus!’. He said, ‘You saw me taking drugs, leading this promiscuous life, ‘Why didn’t you tell me the good news about Jesus!’ And I thought how many people could pick me up by the…(laughter) and do that to me! ‘Why didn’t you tell me about Jesus!’ Because there’s such a hunger out there, people are living their life because they don’t know better. That’s why we do what we’re doing. That’s why we run Alpha because there are so many people who don’t know about Jesus. And that’s why we’re doing the Alpha Film Series, we’ve loads of churches who run Alpha but we want to give them better resources and we’ve invested a lot of time recently in doing a new series which I think is going to be extraordinary.