There once was an ugly duckling
With feathers all stubby and brown
And the other birds said in so many words
Get out of town
Get out, get out, get out of town
This children’s song goes on to say that in everyplace they told that ugly duckling to go away, so he hid away all winter ashamed to show his face.
Now the song does have a happy ending, but I want to talk about a world full of ugly ducklings.
The streets around us are full of the rejected and ashamed. Full of those who have been told to go away. Living alongside us are the lonely, the poor, the destitute, the marginalised, the depressed, the suicidal, the hopeless and the desperate.
Our mission in this all is to be like Jesus:
‘The Pharisees asked him ‘What’s wrong with you? Why are you eating and drinking with tax collectors and other immoral people?
Jesus replied 31 Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. 32 I haven’t come for the pure and upstanding; I’ve come to call notorious sinners to rethink their lives and turn to God. In other words I’ve come For the ugly ducklings.
We have been called and sent to be salt, to be light, to make a difference. We have a mission, we are heaven sent, we are agents 00heaven!! I love the gospel. For the gospel that rescued the ugly duckling called Alison Lloyd is also powerful to bring others into the same freedom and grace.
So do we think now is the time to help the sick and the needy? Do we think the fields are ripe unto harvest?
- Over 59 thousand households were accepted as homeless.
- Poverty affected one in four children.
- Foodbank use showed record levels
- Suicide remained Uk’s biggest killer of men up to the age of 49. Antidepressants use rose from 31 million in 2006 up to 65 million.
- The Jo Cox commission on loneliness showed that almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely
This doesn’t even touch the needs in other countries in the world.
There is a lot of need around us but what can we do? In a very dramatic move Jesus stands up before the religious and boldly declares:
The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me. Why? Because the Eternal designated Me to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them. He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free, and to tell the blind that they can now see. He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.
Just as once I was an ugly duckling, I am now the anointed. We are the anointed ones to make a difference. We are the vessels of hope and change.
One of the fathers of the church, Bryn Jones, talked about being a restorer: to be the ‘Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58;12)’ But how do we do this? How do we transform and restore our communities? It starts with prayer: God let your kingdom come. Prayer for our nation, our land, our leaders and our neighbours. A cry that asks God to reveal his compassion for others to us, a cry to move by His Holy Spirit. This is a time to come together and pray passionately in a fresh way.
It is also time for courage and creativity. We are the church whether alone or together. Whether we are helping people in need amongst our neighbourhood, workplaces, colleges or whether it is going abroad into Kenya to educate people into providing for themselves, whether it is preaching the gospel through comedy or rap around the country, initiating or helping out in groups of people as a church body. We can approach our mission in a variety of ways as a body and as individuals. Let us not restrict our expression. Let us each of learn to support one another in our places of mission and to celebrate the fruit we see.
Here in the Jubilee Centre we are working alongside other charities, agencies, professional bodies and volunteers groups. It isn’t about setting up competition but working together. This includes working in increasing partnership with other churches.
As a body we are learning to love people well. Let us help bring health and wholeness to mind, body, soul and spirit. Let’s go after loneliness. We want to bring hope, to draw alongside, to make someone feel loved, to be inclusive and cause someone to feel they belong before they believe or behave.
You may be overwhelmed by the need but we can make a difference in our neighbourhoods, communities and also here at Jubilee Centre.
We have done and are doing:
- Teaching skills to vulnerable adults and parent to live well
- Befriending the isolated and elderly
- Providing shoes for a children without
- Volunteering in a party for children whose parents are dying of cancer
- Increasing emotional wellbeing
- Bringing release from addiction and debt
- Being a welcome home for the immigrant
and much, much more…
And in all this, through prayer and moving out in the power of the spirit, we are being responsive as the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray for salvation, healing and wholeness, seeing miracles both supernaturally and in changed lives, allowing the kindness of God to draw people to himself. And allowing space and time for the father to love people, meet them and bring a deep transformation. To reach all the ugly ducklings and see them transformed into beautiful swans.
This is our mission.