Our wonderful friend Jack Heaslip (possibly the coolest man alive) gave the church my family attends, Little Church by the Sea in Laguna Beach, Calif., the most marvelous of gifts last weekend: His presence.
Jack, who hails from just north of Dublin in Howth, County Fingal (by way of County Mayo), Ireland, was our guest at the weekend at on Sunday, blessed us by delivering two poleaxingly beautiful sermons at the morning services. An ordained Anglican clergyman, for the last 15 years of so, Jack has been the chaplain for the band U2, traveling all over the world with Bono, the Edge, Larry and Adam, ministering to the band and their small city of 500 crew members who build the sets, hang the lights, move girders, construct the huge Claw for the 360 tour and help put the show on for untold thousands of fans.
Jack had a few days of leisure in Los Angeles before U2’s shows at Angels Stadium in Annaheim this coming weekend, so graciously agreed to join Little Church for worship and teach us a thing or two about this God of Grace of ours.
Unfortunately (the devil was, apparently, in the details) the audio recording from the church sound board went wonky and didn’t record Jack’s sermons for the usual MP3 posting on the church Web site. So (with apologies to Joe O’Herlihy) the only audio we have is from my iPhone from the 8:30 a.m. (read: early) service. I’ve tinkered with it a bit and the sound quality is passable, but you’ll have to excuse hearing every breath, snort and chortle of mine as the phone picked all of them up from its perch on the pew next to me.
Here is what Jack, with his inimitable good humor and wisdom, shared with us. May his words bless you as much as the did those of us lucky enough to have heard him in person.
(The passage Jack preached from, Ephesians 3, is reprinted below the audio link.)
Jack, thank you for … you. And for your generosity of time, spirit and friendship. Laguna misses you already. You have a home here, spiritual and otherwise, anytime you want it.
JACK HEASLIP AT LITTLE CHURCH BY THE SEA, Jack Heaslip Teaching 6/12/11, SUNDAY JUNE 12, 2011>>
from The Message (MSG) Para-translation by Eugene Peterson
The Secret Plan of God
1-3This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.
4-6As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.
7-8This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
8-10And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
11-13All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!
14-19My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!