In memory of Chris

Here’s the message I gave today at the funeral of my friend:

We gather here today to celebrate the life of our friend, Chris Piper. There will be tears today as there have been over the last few weeks as we each feel the pain because Chris has been ripped from our lives. His death was a shock to those of us who knew and loved him. The sadness is normal, for this world is a painful world and God doesn’t want us to pretend otherwise. For we know if shut down the pain right now, we also shut down the memories of our brother.

Chris PiperAnd those memories will help us. Because along with the tears, there will also be laughter as we remember the joy Chris brought to so many during his life. I remember the bear hugs that he gave me. I remember the smile on his face and the funny little rhymes he would make up on the fly when we were talking.

The tension of these emotions are OK – grief for the loss of Chris and smiles as we celebrate the years that God gave us with him. There is tension in this world – we all feel a very real pain and yet at the same time, God offers a very real hope.

Psalm 23 was one of Chris’ favorite passages in the bible – we’ll read the entire psalm at the crematorium. But notice with me the tension the writer, King David, feels as he writes this psalm – he’s going through dark times as he says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” – that’s pretty low.  And yet David knows that the shepherd is with him even during those times. So much so that he can say at the end of the psalm, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”  There was hope even in the midst of the dark days.

How does David move from the darkness to the light? He knew that the Lord was his shepherd. He looked forward to the coming redeemer.   Jesus calls himself the “Good Shepherd” in the 10th chapter of the gospel of John. He says that now only will he be the shepherd who walks with the sheep, he says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” And a short time later, Jesus did lay down his life – he laid it down on the cross.

We can take comfort because God does understand pain. But we should also be people with hope – for the resurrection, which Christians celebrated this weekend, points us to the fact that God is working to make all things new. God is working to wipe away every tear – to make all things right. David didn’t understand it all when he wrote the 23rd Psalm and neither can we.

But I do know that God knows our pain. And I know that Chris would want you to take comfort in the Good Shepherd – the shepherd who’s goodness and love will follow us all – all the days of our lives.

Donations in Chris’s memory can be made to The Sarcoidosis Charity who supported Chris throughout his illness.

 

Balloons which were released at the end of the day.

Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!

“Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!” I’ve heard this call and response greeting on Easter for as long as I can remember, usually begun by a pastor with the congregation responding, “He has risen indeed!” in joyous unison.

This greeting is common in all traditions of the Christian faith – Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. For those of us in London we might hear the following said in the coming weeks:

German – Christus ist auferstanden! Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!

Catalan – Crist ha ressuscitat! Veritablement ha ressuscitat!

French – Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!

Italian – Cristo è risorto! È veramente risorto!

Portuguese – Cristo ressuscitou! Em verdade ressuscitou!

Spanish – ¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado!

Polish – Chrystus zmartwychwstał! Prawdziwie zmartwychwstał!

Hindustani – येसु मसीह ज़िन्दा हो गया है! हाँ यक़ीनन, वोह ज़िन्दा हो गया है! Yesu Masih zinda ho gaya hai! Haan yaqeenan, woh zinda ho gaya hai!

Korean – 그리스도께서 부활하셨네! 참으로 부활하셨네! (Geuriseudokkeseo Buhwalhasheotne! Chameuro Buhwalhasheotne!)

Swahili – Kristo Amefufukka! Kweli Amefufukka!

Arabic (standard) – المسيح قام! حقا قام! (al-Masīḥ qām! Ḥaqqan qām!); المسيح قام! بالحقيقة قام! (al-Masīḥ qām! Belḥāqiqāti qām!)

Mandarin – 基督復活了 他確實復活了 (Jidu fuhuo-le! Ta queshi fuhuo-le!)

Christ has risen and he is calling all people, from every tribe and tongue, to worship him in Spirit and truth.

Now – if I could just learn how to pronounce each of these greetings!!

Wondering what to do next year?

Not sure what to do next year after school finishes or ready to consider full-time ministry? Maybe you should think about becoming an apprentice with New City IPC.  Each year we Apprentices with Joshost “MAP” apprentices and are eager to have new candidates next year (Sept 2014 to Aug 2015).

Our local MAP (Ministry Apprentice Program) apprentices in Shepherd’s Bush are part a larger apprentice program which exists to mentor and disciple the next generation of young people who will further the expansion of Jesus’ global kingdom. The MAP staff that will be leading you do not have all the answers, rather, they are needy for the Gospel and dependent on grace just as you. It is their vision to walk with you as yNCIPC_Color_Logoou encounter new cultures, expand your vision of the church, learn to share the Gospel to other cultures, and even as you encounter bumps (sometimes mountains!) of your own sin lying in the road.

A MAP apprenticeship offers:

  • Teaching: Curriculum includes: study of various cultures’ history and literature, evangelism, prayer, theology, missiology, discipling others, biblical masculinity and femininity in life and ministry, and personality and spiritual gifts assessment and exploration.
  • Experience: Engage in the life and ministry of on-going church planting efforts including assisting short term teams in evangelistic outreach, supporting the youth outreach/kids club of a local church, volunteering in a charity shop or other mercy ministry, and sharing the Gospel cross-culturally through various structured and unstructured relational evangelistic opportunities.
  • Discipleship: Someone walking with you, providing perspective on personally applying the gospel in your daily life and ministry.
  • Leadership: Several months of modeled team leadership followed by opportunities for first-hand experience leading a team.

You can check out more about MAP on their website and watch their video below.  If you are interested in discussing more about what it takes to be a MAP apprentice with New City in Shepherd’s Bush, please email me (Chris Hatch) at j.chris.hatch@gmail.com.

 

MAP London – Web from MAP London on Vimeo.

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