Fruit and leaves

Sunday 26th May 2019

mark-lv-407149-unsplashRevelation 21 is an exciting commentary on the incident in Acts 16. Paul sees a man calling him to Macedonia responds immediately and God leads him to a wealthy woman by the river who has her whole household baptized. In how many ways have your cultural sensibilities been offended?

The rule of God as described in Revelation is now. A rich woman praying, as was the custom beside the river, listens eagerly, receives the message and has her whole household baptized: baptism is the start not the full-stop of coming to faith and leadership is female. Indeed, the Spirit blows as it will.

Of course, the reading points us to the fact that the good news is the defeat of the principalities and powers and from this victory flows the healing of the nations.

I sometimes wonder if the satan (the accuser) and the devil (the one who divides) rubs his hands together and sits back content as we do his work and try to build a temple to our own way of doing things and then argue about the details. We need to trust that God can work it out and that the tree of life is on both sides of the river and continually renewing itself.

We are sustained by a river not a building, renewed fruit and healing leaves, not a system.

The good news we can share is that the cross has defeated the principalities and powers and forgiveness and healing flow from the throne of the resurrected One seated with God. In Christ we receive peace and God comes and makes his home in us so that we no longer are bound by our attachments and failings. We are the new heavens as it were. We are free to be blessed and bless and the gates never close.

Today’s readings are scandalous.

Acts 16:9-15

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  …we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us… The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us…

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. ..Let all the ends of the earth revere him.

Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

…I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. …The nations will walk by its light… Its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there…nothing unclean will enter it…the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more.…

John 14:23-29

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. …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.

 

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

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Little Children

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Jesus calls us little children. A little child knows its parent and understands that despite all, it is loved and, whatever happens, it is forgiven. It will need to grow up to learn otherwise.

In the grown-up world all is control and tradition. But actually, God is in control of his church, forming it through the Holy Spirit; through Love. Through Jesus we learn we are forgiven and through the cross we learn the depth of his forgiveness. We must become like little children.

Life will bubble up and God is exalted beyond our regulation. The new heaven and the new earth is today!

Oh, for the day when things change because of a voice and a trance! Is this a scary and repugnant idea? Not if it calls us back to the path that leads to life; it is the Spirit that baptises, and we are known by our love!

It is God who prepares the bride and it is God who wipes away the tear. “…To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

Acts 11:1-18  
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”
Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, …God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”
When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

Psalm 148  
Praise the LORD! …
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike, old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven…

Revelation 21:1-6  
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,


“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”


And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” …To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.


John 13:31-35  
… Little children…. 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.”

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

 

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Let us Pray

https://memlynhumphries.me.uk/2019/04/12/let-us-pray/

Through our faith in the redeeming work of the cross; the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, do we have authority in creation, together with the Father, Son and Spirit? Is this the mystery of prayer: from the beginning, not only did we have dominion through technology and culture, we had dominion in the spiritual realm? Is our prayer of faith an exercise of the original authority given to us at creation? Is our prayer preparation for heavenly authority in the age to come? Is the outworking of God’s loving kindness that he only works through prayer? Are all prayers answered by God through the glorification of love and the defeat of principalities and powers through the way of love?

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Hen?

Sunday 17th March 2019                               

SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT

The past two weeks have seen us focusing on prayer and our experience of prayer.

The challenge was, what does it mean to pray without ceasing and to ask. There were beautiful testimonies to seasons of prayer, especially with children and how the innocence of their prayer is a memory that calls us back to a childlike heart.

Seeking the face of God, we find our hearts stirred to a vision, an expectation of the way we hope for things to be. Faith arises, and we pray out words; we ask. It is a relationship and our vision is that we are engaging with our heavenly father. We believe that we ask from where we are at, not where we reason we should be; it’s a conversation.

John Wesley taught that: God does nothing but in answer to prayer…

God’s purpose is that we through prayer are prepared as the bride of Christ, our lamps are filled and we have what we need. Through prayer we act as ambassadors and have authority in the heavenlies to resist evil and bring life.

In the Psalm we saw a rhythm of resting in God and allowing God to lift us up to see the bigger picture, secure in him.

John Wesley wrote:

God’s command to “pray without ceasing” is founded on the necessity we have of his grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air.

Whether we think of; or speak to, God, whether we act or suffer for him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than his love, and the desire of pleasing him.

All that a Christian does, even in eating and sleeping, is prayer, when it is done in simplicity, according to the order of God, without either adding to or diminishing from it by his own choice.

Prayer continues in the desire of the heart, though the understanding be employed on outward things.

In souls filled with love, the desire to please God is a continual prayer.

As the furious hate which the devil bears us is termed the roaring of a lion, so our vehement love may be termed crying after God.

God only requires of his adult children, that their hearts be truly purified, and that they offer him continually the wishes and vows that naturally spring from perfect love. For these desires, being the genuine fruits of love, are the most perfect prayers that can spring from it.

From A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, as believed and taught by the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, from the year 1725, to the year 1777.

Psalm 27 

…Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!

“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”

Your face, LORD, do I seek.

…I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the LORD!

Philippians 3:17-4:1  

…But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 13:31-35 

…Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you…

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

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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.

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Wicked and crooked?

Sunday 3rd March 2019

TRANSFIGURATION SUNDAY

So, we can see in the story of the transfiguration that it was the disciples who were transfigured and that it was part of Jesus’ revelation to them of his mission. They remained awake and received the revelation and heard the voice of God

( https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/the-transfiguration-in-luke/).

In 2 Corinthians we also learn how in Christ we are transfigured by the gospel of Jesus, moved from glory to glory. In Jesus we find the righteousness revealed in the psalm and are enabled to see its true meaning found in Christ.

This however was not the focus this morning. We were directed to how we reacted to the story of the healing of the demon afflicted boy. Where did we position ourselves in the story? For most of us we were afraid that we were the wicked and twisted generation who lacked faith. Many commentators would agree and berate their readers for their lack of faith.

But if we look at the earlier commentaries we find something different. They reflect on how rude the father was and how critical he was of the disciples, calling them out in front of the crowd. A closer reading reveals that Jesus appears to be addressing the father, the one who represented the wicked and perverse generation.

If you search the phrase in the scriptures you find that, as in Philippians 2:15, the wicked and perverse generation are those who grumble and argue! Soon you realise that the phrase is a trigger phrase that recalls the lack of gratitude of the people of Israel, including their apostasy at the base of the mountain. Yes, we may be in that group, but Jesus is not having a go at the disciples or us, he is calling out the father I think.

But even if we feel the rebuke sticks, Jesus will stick with us and bear with us. It has to be so that a grumbling and argumentative heart is poisonous. And note how it veils our minds to the truth of the good news in Christ.

Psalm 99  
… Holy is he!
Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity;
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob…

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2  
… But their minds were hardened… whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
…And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Luke 9:28-36, (37-43)  
..Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” …

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.

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