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

bible-society-logo-h

Posted in meeting | Tagged , ,

Perseverance and Patience

Sunday 20th October 2019
dan-burton-vuZi5zk5W-A-unsplash

As the story goes widows are submissive and needy and judges corrupt and powerful; but Jesus turns this upside down in his parable despite the efforts of the translators. This widow is rude and vengeful; the judge feels threatened by her violence. The Greek for justice is vengeance (ekdikeo) and where the translation says “wear out” the Greek uses a term from boxing which is more correctly understood as doing violence to the judge. Widows certainly don’t seem to have been that submissive in New Testament times if we read our Bibles and the problems they caused to the church. And what of the judge? He was prepared to serve out vengeance without a trial so as to avoid work.

I see Jesus preparing the followers for the times to come when they would need to be earnest in their prayer, a time when judges would turn against them to keep the peace.

Followers of Jesus need to be faithful to the message of salvation and persevere in the same measure the vengeful, disrespectful widow does. And surely, God is the source of our help. Our weapons is love and our commitment to each other is to, “…convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”

We may find ourselves having to wrestle “…with God and with humans” and may limp away from the fight but we will draw our confidence from the fact that we have seen God face to face in Jesus and he will not abandon us.

 

Genesis 32:22-31

… “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” … The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills– from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

… All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. … I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching

Luke 18:1-8

… “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'” …

This resource is an offering from The Vanderbilt Divinity Library at: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu. New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reproduced by permission.

As God leads, let us be constant in our prayer for

The Church;

·        Creation, humanity, those in authority;

·        The local community;

·        Those who suffer;

·        Our community.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash

Posted in meeting, Teaching | Leave a comment

Ever-flowing abundance

Sunday  7th July 2019

IMG_2196

What is the message we are being sent out with? It is the coming of the kingdom of God; it is the kingdom of God in our midst. It is the power to heal and deliver. It is the power that caused Satan to fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. This is the blessing that blesses us and is a blessing to the nations; the kingdom of God has come near, the true light which gives light to everyone. We are being called out of exile into the ever-flowing kingdom, freed from the tyranny of Sin.

God loves us, and he finds us. He loves us as he finds us. In believing, our eyes are opened to the depths of his love. We are transformed; translated from the kingdom of Sin and Death and see the Kingdom of God in our midst. More of God’s love pours into us as heaven and earth become one.

We are vessels of love, formed to be filled with love that spills out refreshing others. The meek inherit the Earth. God is gentle, and we are called to a spirit of gentleness. God loves as we are enabled to receive love. This is God’s grace that in opening our eyes to God’s love, Love forms us so that we experience more Love and we in our communities are gentle with one another.

Our circumstances are tough. What has formed us and entangles us is powerful. It is Sin that binds us and rules us and in our blindness we are exiled from God’s presence. We look to God to defeat the power of Sin, give us Peace and Abide in us. This is what the law and the prophets promise; salvation and hope.

All is beautiful: all is spiritual. Love flows endlessly even under the mess and suffering we see. This is the message of the Cross, an event that reveals the ever-flowing Love of God that is in all and for all and carries the message of the hope of salvation.

The Cross at once reveals to all the depths of the power of Sin and to those who believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, the depths of Love. The One on the cross is the One ascended to heaven, victorious, at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus, God in the form of sinful flesh, is slaughtered. The One who came proclaiming the Kingdom, suffers death. In resurrection, Christ defeats Sin and we are redeemed from the power of Sin. All our transgressions are washed away. In Christ the way, the truth and the life, the beauty of creation, is revealed.

Faith opens our eyes to this grace that has been overflowing from the beginning. God longs to forgive us. Death has no sting as our eyes are opened to the reality of the ever-flowing kingdom: truly in this moment we are new creations. A spiritual circumcision is done in our hearts and on our lips.

Everything is new, yet nothing has changed. We hear the call to live in abundant life yet all round sin and death reign. In our suffering this reality, we inaugurate the kingdom we now see.

The eyes of our heart have been opened to the ever-flowing life that is there for all and in all. We see loving kindness, beauty and compassion. Our eyes are open to the good that is in all, the light that is in everyone. In our suffering we have hope, seek the lost, clothe the naked and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom. The blind see, the weak are strengthened and each is delivered from guilt and shame, from the power of division and judgement. All is grace: all is peace. We take this message out and bless the nations. You are not saved by works but by faith; believing is enlightenment not a work for which you are rewarded, and it is an ever-flowing spiritual gift.

This is good news to share and to be so grounded in, that you can face rejection. In fact, you can wipe the dust of rejection from your feet and still proclaim the Kingdom. You do not need to carry the rejection or call down fire from heaven on those who reject the message.

But we do need to proclaim the message with all our hearts and with all our strength and see all freed from the power of Sin and Death now. With this proclaiming will come division and hate, so we need to listen to  God’s call, hear the message and plumb its depths while we can and in the times of calamity draw strength.

Isaiah 66:10-14

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her– that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom… you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the LORD is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.

Psalm 66:1-9

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; …Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.

..Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith… For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! …

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 

… Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ …He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

This resource is an offering from The Vanderbilt Divinity Library at: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu. New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reproduced by permission.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

As God leads, let us be constant in our prayer for

·       The Church;

·       Creation, human society, those in authority;

·       The local community;

·       Those who suffer;

·       Our community.

We meet at the chapel on a Wednesday evening at 8pm until 8-40pm for a period of prayer including 20 minutes silent prayer during school term time

Posted in meeting, Teaching | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Here but not here

forest-simon-1139462-unsplashIf we set aside all the worries about demons, animal cruelty and the welfare of the swineherd, what is the story of the healing of the demoniac of Gerasene teaching us? It speaks of the most outcast, the most impure, most afflicted person in a community becoming the messenger of hope for the whole community. He became the one who brought the message of the kingdom.

Jesus trusted the Spirit to work in him. When we realise that the feeding of the 4,000 took place in the region of the Gerasenes, in the region around the Decapolis, I wonder if his mission yielded more fruit than we could imagine. Maybe his message was the fish and loaves that fed so many.

Also, the fact that this was he region of the Decapolis, a region where the Romans held sway and brutally oppressed the people, indicates the trauma the local people must have experienced and were experiencing. This story is loaded with significance.

However, Jesus trusted the man with the good news. The one who was in the depths of affliction and rejection became a beacon of hope.

Jesus’ message heals and turns things upside down. Paul, says, ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’ Everything is reconciled. We have been entrusted with this message.

What do we think the ‘and’ in ‘male and female’ signifies? In Jesus there is no division. This is referencing Genesis, expressing the fundamental unity of being in Christ; a reality that predates the complementarity of Adam and Eve. The phrase, one step forward two steps back, comes to mind when we see the history of Christianity. Is now the time when we can finally take back that step and return to new testament Christianity?

Listen to this wise lady church leader who speaks of the church and knife crime:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-48731034

Maybe, through the work of the place of the church, the young people who seek sanctuary will bring a message of hope. Maybe a young person who encounters the healing presence of Christ in the Church may begin, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me” and go on to find healing, be clothed and take a place at the feet of Jesus with Mary the sister of Martha.

Sunday  23rd June 2019

Psalm 22:19-28

…All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.

For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.

Galatians 3:23-29

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. …As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus…

Luke 8:26-39

…The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

This resource is an offering from The Vanderbilt Divinity Library at: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu. New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reproduced by permission.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

As God leads, let us be constant in our prayer for

  • The Church;
  • Creation, human society, those in authority;
  • The local community;
  • Those who suffer;
  • Our community.

We meet at the chapel on a Wednesday evening at 8pm until 8-40pm for a period of prayer including 20 minutes silent prayer during school term time

Photo by Forest Simon on Unsplash

Posted in meeting, Teaching | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Get out!

Sunday 9th  June 2019                                    
DAY OF PENTECOST

michal-grabolus-540395-unsplash

So the church goes to the nations today. Still Jews, but from 17 nations and we know where that leads (153 fish!).

To us who act as if we, our institutions and traditions, are the centre of it all, the mystery of this chapter should shake us up. From there being 17 (17 times 3 times 3 is 153) nations to the two sets of 444 syllables in Luke’s summary of Peter’s outburst (https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/the-many-meanings-of-pentecost/) spelling Jesus in Greek!

For me I see the story as being the fulfilment of the story of the return of the glory to the temple. The temple is now found in the church, Children of God who are lead by the Spirit of God. The fact that we are looking at a day that celebrated the first fruits and the giving of the law, completes the significance for me. And yes, there is Joel’s prophecy and the new creation breath of the Spirit that heals the dividing of the languages at the tower of Babel.

So much to meditate on.

We had visitors today. One who walked in off the street responding to the invitation of the sign outside and two who were flying through from Rwanda.

From Rwanda we learned that the Churches there are thriving. The government imposed a rule that church buildings had to be safe places to be and have appropriate sanitation. As a result, 6000 closed. What to do? Our visitors spoke of Discipleship for Development in  Rwanda (http://www.disciplingfordevelopment.org/) where the moto is to know Christ and make him known. Discipleship for Development answered the question: what do you do to form the church if, in your nation, any gathering might be considered seditious and there are many needs? This is where the Bible gives a blueprint; you find the people of peace amongst the local leaders and you form discipleship groups around community goals for peace and wellbeing to bless the whole community.

Basically, you take seriously the message that in Christ we are to be a blessing and trust that all who call out shall be saved. The wisdom is to seek God’s Kingdom, trusting all we ask will be given to us to fulfil the mission.

In our mission we need to be faithful in our call and trust God who comes to fulfil his promise and form the church with a breath of fire. The church needs the skills and blessings of our communities, but she is not formed by these and we should be careful she does not come to depend on them or worse still become ruled by them. The splendour of the church is the fire of the Spirit not the Health and Safety policy.

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation … each one heard them speaking in the native language of each…All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Peter lifted up his voice… ‘I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.…When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. …Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!

Romans 8:14-17

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God…

John  14:8-17, (25-27)

…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

This resource is an offering from The Vanderbilt Divinity Library at: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu. New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reproduced by permission.

As God leads, let us be constant in our prayer for

·       The Church;

·       Creation, human society, those in authority;

·       The local community;

·       Those who suffer;

·       Our community.

We meet at the chapel on a Wednesday evening at 8pm until 8-40pm for a period of prayer including 20 minutes silent prayer during school term time.

Photo by Michał Grabolus on Unsplash

Posted in meeting | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Freedom

Sunday 2nd June 2019

ruben-bagues-135824-unsplash

We are saved from slavery to sin; Jesus has dealt with sin and calls us into a way of freedom. We are freed from the power of oppression, given the power to fight against it and enabled to stand in the time of temptation. We stand knowing we are forgiven and, in turning to Jesus, we are made pure. Each step we take towards God perfects us so that we become holy as he is holy.

Jesus teaches us to pray that his kingdom come and that his will is done on Earth as it is in heaven, and that the way he leads us does not lead us into temptation. He knows that we fall but he has set forgiveness at our hearts so that as we forgive we can know the depths of his forgiveness. His love casts out the fear of punishment and the oppression of guilt, so that we can ask in confidence that we might be saved from ourselves.

All the readings today hammer this home. If we reflect on the story from Acts we are confronted with Paul’s strengths and weaknesses. The events are a challenge to our Christian, scientific and secular assumptions. And church history has changed the simplicity of accepting Jesus as Lord.

We are truly blessed in our times. In the UK we are privileged to live in a time of peace and yet there is much suffering and marginalisation. However, there is the understanding of a better way and hope. Amongst our leaders, there are voices of love. We can make this part of our prayer: imagine the good that is for all and ask God to release blessing. Our prayer is, Come, Lord Jesus. Come! In the habit of praying continually that God’s will is done now as it is in heaven, we are made secure in the revelation that we are one in Christ, as Christ is One in the Father.

Acts 16:16-34

One day, as we were going to the place of prayer… he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

Psalm 97

The LORD is king! …

The heavens proclaim his righteousness;

and all the peoples behold his glory.

… you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above all gods.

The LORD loves those who hate evil;

he guards the lives of his faithful;

he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.

Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

Revelation 22:12-21

“See, I am coming soon… “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

John 17:20-26

“… The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one … I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”.

We meet at the chapel on a Wednesday evening at 8pm until 8-40pm for a period of prayer including 20 minutes silent prayer during school term time

Photo by Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash

Posted in meeting, Teaching | Tagged , , | Leave a comment