Glencairn Methodist Church
For some reason I have encountered the word "pioneer" several times in different contexts recently. First someone on the radio was talking about Davy Crockett and I remembered the "Ballad of Davy Crockett" with the line, "Davee, Davee Crockett, king of the wild frontier". I followed up with a Google search for the whole song and found several version. A particularly long one has 20 verses. Verse 18 refers to Crockett's time as a pioneer helping to open up the way to the west
By the way, Crockett was born in Tennessee of Scots-Irish stock. Besides being a pioneer frontiersman, he was also at various times a politician and a soldier, dying in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.
The second mention of "pioneer" was in my current Bible Reading Fellowship Guidelines, where Jill Duff was writing her "Reflections of a Pioneer". She gives readers an insight into twelve passages of Scripture which helped to sustain her over six years of Pioneer Ministry in the Diocese of Liverpool. She mentions Jesus himself as a Pioneer Minister, along with the 72 Jesus sent out (Luke 10), Peter, Paul and Mary the Mother of Jesus (and not the singing group!) Each of these people were pioneers for the Kingdom of God - called and sent by God to do a job, to step outside their comfort zone, to be "different" people and to engage with something new and exciting.
And today I was at a seminar given by Phil Potter who shared with us his experiences as Director of Pioneer Ministry, also in the Diocese of Liverpool.
With the Sundays in Advent upon us, I was putting together short Candle-Lighting-Liturgies to use at our Advent Candle ceremonies in St Andrew's. I decided to use those provided by David Graham in his book, The Word for all Seasons. In these liturgies, as we light the four candles week by week we are led to remember some of the pioneers of God's plan for the redemption of the world. First we have Abraham, the Great Granddaddy of the 12 men who were the founding fathers of the 12 Tribes of Israel. With his wife Sarah, he was called to leave his home country to to go to a new place and there God promised him, that because of his faithfulness, he would be the father of a great nation which would eventually bring salvation to all the peoples on Earth. We also remember Moses who really had to do uncomfortable stuff when God called him to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the promised land. And King David is also included in our remembrance, David who was reckoned to be Israel's greatest King, and from whose line the Messiah will come.
On Advent 2 we remember the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah through whom God spoke to challenge evil, injustice and unbelief. They also prophesied that the Messiah would come. Many of the prophets were persecuted and mocked for their message
Advent 3 and we consider John the Baptist, the messenger sent to prepare the way for the Lord, who said of Jesus, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." He took on the role of the old prophets, living an ascetic life in the desert, calling the people to repentance and to prepare!
Finally on Advent 4 we come to the one given a unique privilege, but one which may have turned people against her for her seeming brazenness. Mary was asked to be the virgin mother of Jesus.
But not quite finally; we light the fifth candle, the white one in the centre, to remember Jesus, the Light of the world. He is the greatest pioneer of all.
When I looked up "Pioneer" in my Oxford dictionary, it reminded me that a series of American space probes were called Pioneers and these have gone further out exploring our solar system than any other man-made devices. The dictionary also said, of people, that a pioneer is an initiator of a new enterprise.
Clearly all of those mentioned by Jill Duff and by David Graham are truly pioneers. But you know we too are called to be pioneers in mission and ministry. Our "wild frontier" is on our doorstep. For every Christian in your congregation, there are ten times as many people just outside the door who know little or nothing of Jesus, or of their need of salvation. Will you think about going out of the comfort of your church and into the great enterprise initiated by Jesus?
4th. December 2012
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm