Acts 1: 1-8
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
Then they gathered round him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
This week we are launching ‘10,000 Hours’, our incredible opportunity during the month of July to play a practical part in rewriting the story of our community. This is done through acts of service such as painting schools, tidying streets, clearing waste, cutting grass, giving out sweets and repairing buildings.
Last year around 650 people participated in 10,000 Hours, saving the local council an estimated £70,000 in labour hours. However, the statistics tell only a part of the story. More significant are the encounters and experiences of those who are part of the project and those with whom it engages. Communities are impacted and lives are transformed.
Why do we organise 10,000 Hours? Is it just to be nice? No, it is because, as Christians, we are a ‘sent people’. We follow and serve a Saviour who was sent from the Father to save, redeem and restore us, and in turn Jesus sends us into every place and to all people, that they may encounter him for themselves. Sometimes this may even involve being sent to places we’d rather not go to do things we’d prefer to avoid. However, if Jesus is truly Lord of our hearts, the answer is always ‘yes’. While faith in Jesus is personal, it is never private. It is always made visible and demonstrated through selfless service, radical sacrifice and generous living.
In Acts 1 we see a community of Jesus’ followers who are gathered in an upper room, misunderstanding the implications of their Messiah’s mission. They see it as something political and localised. They are expecting a massive inbreaking of divine power which will overcome their Roman oppressors and liberate Israel. However, that’s simply not the way the Kingdom works. The stories Jesus told should have made that clear by now. Parables about mustard seeds and yeast conveying that the greatest breakthroughs are often initiated through small beginnings. God’s work in the world wouldn’t be through a single huge event but through people everyday, everywhere, carrying His Kingdom into every place.
In Acts 1, it seems that the disciples we’re happy to gather behind closed doors in safety or to return to the security of their hometowns. However, Jesus told them to remain in Jerusalem and await the promised power. This outpouring from Heaven would propel them out into the streets and then into the nations. The Spirit’s power wasn’t given for better gatherings but for boldness in going. Jesus mission was so much wider than simply restoring Israel – it was to restore the whole of creation to its original design. The disciples would move out and expand the boundaries and borders of Heaven’s activity into every space and place.
Serving our community through 10,000 Hours isn’t undertaken from a place of guilt nor is it to earn God’s approval. Jesus has removed our guilt through the cross and we are fully accepted and loved by the Father. We are not sent because we are forced, but because we are filled. Our serving and sacrifice is simply the overflow of the Spirit spilling out of us.
The dream is that one day Coleraine and the surrounding localities will embrace the vision of 10,000 Hours as its own and that serving one another will become part of our community culture.
This year there are over 50 different projects which you can become involved with during the month of July. You can register online at https://10000.causewaycoastvineyard.com and once you are signed up we will be in touch. However we would also encourage you to initiate personal projects, perhaps in your own street or sports club. This can be a great way of opening doors and opening hearts. Postcards are available to invite your friends and neighbours to come together and join you in improving your neighbourhood.
As sent people, take hold of this opportunity to go in the power of the Holy Spirit, to witness and work to the praise and glory of King Jesus.
You can watch the highlights of last year's 10,000 Hours here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsSE2DoTXF8&sns=em