Welcome

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives
May you never give up praying.
When you pray, may you keep alert and be thankful.
Pray that together we may make the message of the mystery of Christ as clear as possible.
Amen
(Based on Colossians 3 and 4)

Readings for Sunday: Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Reflections for the week: Lyfe Devotionals

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Lectio 365 Daily Prayer

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What’s so new about that?

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34‭-‬35 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/jhn.13.34-35.NRSV

So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”
Acts 11:2‭-‬3 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/act.11.2-3.NRSV

To be a community, there will be a rule. The rule will define the people who follow it and be what outsiders will expect to see. Any rule Christians may devise will have regard for the whole of the Bible while not being scripture. The creeds are an example of this and maybe our members handbook. There is nothing wrong with this.

As Christians, our truth will start with the teachings of Jesus as much as we are able to discern them. The truth is that Jesus’ teaches that, by the spirit we will know the truth and be set free. Could silence before God be the source of wisdom, not wrestling with words?

But what if the rule book defines who you are? What if the 600 odd regulations of the Law of Moses is your identity, keeping the Sabbath being the central one? What if the food laws were what you would die for?

This is where the Jewish Christians found themselves. But this wasn’t just any rule, it was a law mediated by angels. By what authority had Peter to change things? A trance, a vision, a voice!

When the spirit descended on Gentiles, Christians had to rewrite the rule book. The community had to be more inclusive. Jesus in his teachings had prepared them for this rupture with the past.

Jesus taught that the rule that would distinguish his followers would be their love for one another. This is why it was a new command as the old one was one of law. His blunt statement means that whatever our rule, whatever our creed or history, only one thing defines us; our love for one another.

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Heart and soul

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs.
Acts 9:36‭-‬37 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/act.9.36-37.NRSV

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
Psalms 23:4 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/psa.23.4.NRSV

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:27‭-‬28 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/jhn.10.27-28.NRSV

The voice of God in the Hebrew Bible is synonymous with the Holy Spirit. And so we have confidence that in listening, speaking, serving, dreaming and reading, each of us hears God just as the heroes of faith did in the ancient stories. The same voice that spoke then speaks now in our hearts.

Being together this morning we had plenty of opportunities to test what we were hearing and seeing. The times are troubling and being together to.seek God’s wisdom is very precious.

Hearing God in these times is essential and being God for one another a privelege; a nod, a smile, all express our togetherness as humanity in the midst of confusion but listening to one another opens the way to peace as we grapple with death, fear and false hope.

The following is the testimony of the faith of journalists that might help us understand the times. I found the bits about Aberfan illuminating.

Search for stories of Kenneth Hayes the baptist minister who lost his son Dyfrig in the disaster for inspiration.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct4235

Brad Jersak here teaches about listening.

Listening to the voice.

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Lads, caught no fish?

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” John 21:4‭-‬5 NRSV https://bible.com/bible/2016/jhn.21.4-5.NRSV

Children! These were young lads. And what happens next is they listen to Jesus who remains on the shore, and catch 153 fish.

Then the resurrected Jesus eats with them. If we put ourselves in the picture, this dawn encounter may have a sense of holiday, after all they knew Jesus was with them, they were amongst the blessed. One thing remained, the comissioning of Peter.

Peter had denied Jesus three times and Jesus draws him into forgiveness, with a warning that his life would see him killed standing up for Jesus. Again we put ourselves into the picture and this is what we see.

He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
John 21:17 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/jhn.21.17.NRSV

The holiday atmosphere turns into what appears to me to be a sulk. The young lad Peter is growing up.

Being a maths teacher 153 is a wonderful number. It’s the cube of all its digits summed. It is a triangular number as are each of its digits and more. I think though, the meaning of the precise number may be because the lads counted the fish. Wouldn’t you?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/153_(number)
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This is life

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Acts 5:32 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/act.5.32.NRSV

It makes a difference. Coming to believe in Jesus brings about a transformation; it’s not head knowledge but a new heart. The promise is that hearts of stone become hearts of flesh. And from this encounter a life is built, a life of hope.

The divine is named in this reading as the person of God, Holy Spirit. Other readings imply an agency of God; an action producing a certain outcome, power to obey.

The consequence is that what is received by the believer is the reassurance of Jesus resurrection, their lives built on receiving the witness of the spirit to the truth.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
John 20:29 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/jhn.20.29.NRSV

This was addressed by Jesus to Thomas who refused to believe in the resurrection because he had not seen his body for himself.

Jesus adds a post resurrection blessing for his followers, the power to believe, a foundation for faith.

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Followers of the Way.

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Acts 10:34‭-‬35 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/act.10.34-35.NRSV

An Easter cake graced our time this morning

So why not come and meet with us. You are so welcome.

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