May 17, 2020


Adoption. Bronze Doors Panel Grace Cathedral San Francisco, CA

Our searching of the scriptures this morning was wide ranging.

We contemplated the gift of joy and peace that we can carry in to the future. Psalm 66 speaks of a crying out in prayer in the time of trouble and the offering back of the time as a gift to God. This speaks of this time and of how we seek to make the best in our lives of sometimes desperate situations. The gift we long for and are desperate for is peace in our troubles and to be saved out of the place we find ourselves.

This article about death by Ron Rolheiser LEAVING PEACE BEHIND AS OUR FAREWELL GIFT adds

 …what constitutes peace? When Jesus promises peace as his farewell gift, he identifies it with the Holy Spirit; and, as we know, that is the spirit of charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, long-suffering, fidelity, mildness, and chastity. How do we leave these behind when we leave?

There was a profound discussion about adoption and the court practices in the UK that involves a celebration.

We talked about the longings of the heart that are almost nostalgic for what seems lost and cause every-person to seek or, as it says in the translation, grope for the truth. In many ways our birth is cursed by the collateral of necessity in creation, but Jesus breaths peace into this and brings us to a place of adoption that realises that longing of our hearts for the original blessing of our birth. The gateway to this Jesus by grace and we are able to mediate this for one another through the Spirit. This came out strongly, that resting in our blessing we are able to bless others. In Jesus we are released from the curse of the past and start a new story.

Acts 17:22-31
…From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him–though indeed he is not far from each one of us.
For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said…
While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Psalm 66:8-20
… I will pay you my vows, those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
…Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.
…Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

1 Peter 3:13-22
…Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. …
And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you–not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

John 14:15-21
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.
You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. …
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Picture by Wally Gobetz  Some rights reserved
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The good shepherd

 Sunday  3rd May 2020

Jesus & the children

This morning as we considered the implications for our lives of Jesus’ teaching about the wide and narrow gate; it struck me as an invitation.

The wide gate is the one most people find but it is the one that thieves use to steal and destroy from us. Due to the effects of people around us we carry scars and insecurities which lead us into violent reactions and responses or behaviours which hurt and exclude others even in very small ways.

The narrow gate (which can be found by listening out for the shepherds voice) is one which leads to life in all its abundance and if we find it and are living abundantly without these reactions all who come into contact with us benefit from that abundant life too.

Therefore the whole community around us is affected.

This morning another reading was from Acts describing the community of believers. I perceive the link between these two scriptures to be that Jesus’ teaching is offering us the invitation to abundant life and the believers in Acts are a demonstration of what that looks like in practice.

Acts 2:42-47

…Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people…

Psalm 23

..You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; …

1 Peter 2:19-25

…When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly…

John 10:1-10

Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. … Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

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The road to Emmaus.26th April 2020


Most commentators notice the chiastic structure of the story (a pattern of inverted parallelism), Joel Green’s  version is the one above.(in his NICNT commentary)

The above was taken for Ian Paul’s site where you can also find the link to Malcolm Guite’s beautiful sonnets for today  which we used for our inspiration this morning.

We reflected on how it seems so unfair that in our deepest need we have so little to grasp on to and,

Psalm 23:4 The Message (MSG)

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

doesn’t ring true.

Each of us spoke of how the glimmer, even the desire and anger, showed we cared. For some of us the passion with which we cried out in anger when God wasn’t there was inspiring. For some nature in its glory helped in times of bewilderment.

It was encouraging how often this brought us back to the story of the Emmaus Road .

This was the art offered to us

Ax_ThirdSundayofEaster (1)

We were all encouraged that it was the burning in their hearts and Jesus showing himself that brought joy to the disciples.

Isaiah 42:3 New International Version (NIV)

A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

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Thomas: Sunday 19th April 2020

Sunday’s ‘virtual’ meeting this week was focussed around the story of the time when the disciples were together after the resurrection and Jesus appeared to them.

We spent time in the conversation considering what that might have actually been like. Some people expressed empathy and understanding for Thomas (remembered as “doubting Thomas”) and we discussed what tone of voice Jesus might have used in inviting Thomas to come and touch his wounds.

Many of us agreed that Jesus‘ motivation for appearing would most likely have been to reassure and affirm his friends rather than to reprimand or shame them for doubting. It is likely that he understood the trauma and anguish they had gone through by watching him die and how unbelievable it would have been to them that he was in fact resurrected back to life.

This led to us considering the impact this might have had on the disciples for their futures. They had witnessed a gruesome, traumatic and devastating event as their friend was killed on the cross but here a week or so later they see he is alive and well. Imagine the safety and security this would bring in knowing that even if the worst possible thing happens- it turns out all right in the end.

Maybe this was the key to their strength in facing the ordeals that they each did as they were martyred at the end of their lives?

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Lock-down meeting

We continue to meet each Sunday remotely, using google meet. Our format is first to be the community and share a coffee, swap stories and report on the week. We then continue to use the excellent resources provided by Vanderbilt Divinity Library and read in turn from the readings for the day. In addition, we follow through by watching together the presentation, put together by the Library, of art round the world to represent the words in the readings.

And then we discuss how each of us has been spoken to through the readings.

This is fruitful and it sets us up in our prayer, which includes the Lord’s Prayer, and for the blessing of the week to come.

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