Sunday 3rd February 2019

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Prayer is a call to be with God, to be in relationship with our Creator, to speak from the centre of our very being a heartfelt need to be rescued from the troubles of our own minds and the troubles of the day. We sin, and we are sinned against.

Jesus asks that we don’t pile up loads of words and reassures us that the Father knows our needs before they have reached our lips. Elsewhere he commends us to ask saying we don’t have because we don’t ask.

Maybe walking with God our companion is prayer that asks, maybe the walk is the prayer. Put simply prayer time is different, it is what comes before the conversation; the meditation, the seeking after the rule of God needs few words. There is a sitting, a standing and then a walking. It is in the walking we ask, having sat quietly with our maker.

Simeon was guided by the Spirit and Anna spent time fasting, worshipping and praying at the temple day and night. The baby Jesus was their reward; small and yet not insignificant.

I think in my busy world I know a lot and read a lot about prayer. I have all sorts of theories, but the reality is that in all, I am sadly seeking a practice rather than presence. The cry from the heart that says to the Father I need your help, come and rescue me is the simple call you need as one on their knees, maybe all the words needed, so that in the conversation with my Father that becomes my life, pools of water appear in the arid places, springs of refreshing, healing and sustenance.

In all the pomp and pride of our meetings, words and theories, we may not notice the birds nesting in the Holy of Holies. Not sure if I even want to be a doorkeeper, the sparrows seem to have found the best place and the swallow comes and goes as she pleases!

PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
Year C, Revised Common Lectionary

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! …

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

…O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Hebrews 2:14-18

… he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40

…Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; …There was also a prophet, Anna …She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day

 

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

Photo by Will Bolding on Unsplash

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Sunday 27th January 2019

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When we gaze on nature do we only see a mass of measurable matter in a vast space? I am not sure. To me I see the chaos and the regularity, but I also sense the spiritual, the numinous. Creation lives and breathes and has its being in our Creator God.

From the beginning God speaks and forms and fills. To the ground he says produce vegetation, to the earth he says produce animals and they do. God who is Spirit works with matter and all things are formed as by his  word. Life becomes alive through the breath of God.

And with this foundation of faith we are called to pray: we are being called by faith into God. Our words and the meditations of our hearts matter.

Faith, like gravity is known by its effects. Faith sometimes heals and supercharges nature to do the unexpected which we call miracles. Jesus says time and again that faith heals and delivers. He points to the Father and says he is the way the truth and the life. Jesus shows us what it is to be fully human and engage with the power of faith.

To be fully human is to be creative, to see the good and to invest our hearts and minds in it; sometimes we are silenced, sometimes we speak words and sometimes the words make sense. Our groans speak and ask and our faith forms and fills creation as we participate in the divine. This is beyond arguments about power and love; faith is power acting through love. Works of power happen, healing happens, but we are caught up in the fact that we are accepted by God; we belong. When we speak about love it is more than what we read in scripture but not less; love is patient and kind and does not insist on its own way.

We can trust that God is doing the most loving thing and the most loving thing might be that we are called to have faith for the miraculous. The mystery is that we are forgiven and redeemed and that we are faithful to the call to love. Perfection is in hearing and acting from where we are. God is who he is and will be who he will be; he is our provider and healer – God is love. God works and faith works, and our work is to believe in the Father and to listen and act on what we hear. Just as Jesus sees and does what he sees the Father do, we are called into this relationship to be the eyes and ears, the hands and feet and the voice of God in our times, to do what we see Jesus doing.

As God sets in our hearts the needs of others and our own needs, we ask;  we allow the meditation of your hearts and minds to build faith and pray.

Speak out the goodness; Father your will be done on the Earth as it is in your good and perfect presence in heaven.

Psalm 19

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork…

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

…Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.

Luke 4:14-21

Then Jesus, …unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.

Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!“
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

(From the hymn: Great is thy Faithfulness)


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


Photo by Martin Sattler on Unsplash

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Sunday 13th January 2019

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From a realisation that we are redeemed and known by name, formed and made to glorify God, we find strength. There is much to fear, from the randomness of events to the malice of the systems and  powers we find around us. If we focus on these and fail to lift our eyes to see the good and open our ears to hear the voice of God, we quickly sink.

Insecurity and shame dog our steps if we do not stop to contemplate that we are precious. From the God of blessing we receive reassurance and know love. We can see that the One Who Is, is the source of order and peace in the midst of the turmoil; the chaos causes us to be still and call out, “Glory!”

We are like grains of wheat on the threshing floor. At the right time, the thresher separates the wheat from its chaff. Both are thrown in the air. The wind blows away the chaff, the wheat falls to the floor. The chaff is gathered and burned leaving the wheat seed.

Each of us in this picture, is a grain of wheat; we are created precious. As we are made and formed, the chaff has protected us, but it is the seed that brings life. When the time of harvesting comes, at the right time, the seed is a source of nourishment, of new life.

God looks for this new life and through his grace and mercy, in the circumstances of our real life the thresher, the voice of Christ, separates the seed from its protective layer.

God calls out life and we find that all that is not there to nourish life, falls away. The breath of the Spirit blows it away, gathers it and burns. This is an experience of all enveloping breath and fire. This is not the judgement of separating people from people, as a grain of wheat is both seed and chaff. This is not the judgement of eternal fires of torment of some but of the fire of destruction of death; the chaff is not the living part of the grain of wheat. ( Was John the Baptist right about Jesus and judgement?).

The baptism of Jesus blows away all our pretensions and hypocrisy, all that protects us, and redeems the part that brings life.

BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Year C, Revised Common Lectionary

Isaiah 43:1-7 

…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine…

Psalm 29

…The voice of the LORD is over the waters…

Acts 8:14-17

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22  

…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

…”You are my Son, the Beloved;

with you I am well pleased.”

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

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Sunday 6th January 2019 (Epiphany)

gareth-harper-175342-unsplashJustice is at the heart of the message of Jesus; justice for all. This light shines in the message and is good news for all who believe. Faith in Jesus releaseS abundance in our lives, to seek justice, show mercy and serve the poor. Truly virtue grows as we act on our faith, bring hope and become founts of love.

Together, gathered under the rule of God, Jesus, the one who reveals the Father, all life is redeemed, all life is affirmed, and all are provided for. The principalities and powers can only fear and stand in awe at the power of the people of God. Their rule is brought to nothing.

We expect to see wisdom and rich variety as God works among us and the power of faith is released. Each day we are empowered to make the loving choice, see good done to all and wellbeing increase. To some is given the task to speak prophetically to power, to some to teach the way of truth and others to gather, care for and ensure all are provided for. Others will be gifted in reaching out and drawing people in to the community of faith. Together we act justly.

Surely there is overwhelming need around us. Our times are characterised by division, the poor wage war on the rich through terror and ideologies rage against each other. Our voices are lifted up to see justice done as we make it plain that we expect that our rulers will not only ensure all are provided for but act in the knowledge that all life is precious.

As we gather, it should be plain that we are the hands and feet of Christ, bringing the rule of God in our daily choices and using what material possessions we have, to ensure that the charge of oppression and violence is not laid at our door. Precious gifts to present to our king!

Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you…They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son…

For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

From oppression and violence he redeems their life;

and precious is their blood in his sight.

 

Ephesians 3:1-12

…. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring … the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places…

Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem…When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him…

 

Together we might investigate the work of:

www.lendwithcare.org

and

www.commonchange.uk

Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

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From the old year into the new.

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Moving from the season of darkness into the promise of the returning spring, the lengthening days, gives us a prod to consider the old and contemplate the new, enriching the present. In our small, chapel meeting we contemplated what we had been doing and what we might do.

via From the old year into the new.

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