Wilderness – Outback

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on the land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land.

Romans 8:18-27 CEV

I am sure that what we are suffering now cannot compare with the glory that will be shown to us. In fact, all creation is eagerly waiting for God to show who his children are. Meanwhile, creation is confused, but not because it wants to be confused. God made it this way in the hope that creation would be set free from decay and would share in the glorious freedom of his children. We know that all creation is still groaning and is in pain, like a woman about to give birth. The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children. This means that our bodies will also be set free. And this hope is what saves us. But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it. In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God’s people.

Mark 1:9-13 CEV

About that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As soon as Jesus came out of the water, he saw the sky open and the Holy Spirit coming down to him like a dove. A voice from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.” Right away God’s Spirit made Jesus go into the desert. He stayed there for forty days while Satan tested him. Jesus was with the wild animals, but angels took care of him.

Reflection

Wilderness is a place we all need to experience a few times in our lives. Places to get things straight & true. Places where we can be close to God without the usual distractions. Those big wilderness areas may be somewhere we can only reach on holidays. Flinders, Central Aust. WA etc.
Bound by the urban environment we could get to a nearby national park. Belair, Mt Lofty, Hallett Cove. Or a local park like the Wetlands on Oaklands Road.

Find somewhere experience renewal somewhere to sit and stop. To then gaze around for a while before beginning your conversation with God. Your conversation may be one of joy as God, like ourselves, does like good news stories. Or else, your conversation may be of confusion or of struggle. No matter the need, remember to make Wilderness time.

Prayers of the people

God of the wilderness,
we pray that we can better aim to protect, live with, and defend the wildness at the core of our beings and around the world.
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the restoration of full and flourishing life across the world,
in places that have seen destruction from humans and natural disasters.
Hear our prayer.

Help us to remember our connection with all elements of creation,
and to embrace that connection with exuberance, joy, and our full energy.
Hear our prayer.

For what else do we pray today?

(Invite the people to offer individual prayers, either silently or aloud.)

Hear our prayer.
Amen

Seasons of the Spirit

Land

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on the land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land.

Psalm 139:7-14 NRSV

7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night’,
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.

Land 13 Sept 2020

Reflection

The Psalm in a sentence. God knows me and is with me.

Let’s dig a little deeper, when we listen to the psalm with our minds on the land? What could we see.

Lets start with the first verse.“Where can I go from your presence?” A vision on our grounding in the land, Land is all around, our feet being firmly planted, Anchored in the Land, Land from where God as built all things.

Or Land like an ever present character in our story. A witness, friend, supporter, victim, protector, healer. Always there, never far away. Often with a different role to play BUT play it does.

In one of the last verses we hear it says of being knitted in a mother’s womb. We could recognize that Earth is a kind of womb, a place of birth - a place of nurture. This is an image of Land as Mother.

There is more to this. Last week we heard the second creation story from the bible, Genesis Chapter 2: 4 – 10, A human formed from the Soil in the garden of Eden. I was deliberate in not naming the creature Adam or man but as human. You may have noticed that. At the time I did not plan to travel that path of detail but I will now. Usually we have the Hebrew word translated to Adam rather than the correct Adham, which means human. The word Adham comes from the word Adamah, meaning Earth. The human comes from earth, from Land. This is an earth creature. Gender for the earth human did not arrive until the removal of the rib when male & female were created in one action.

This second creation story is understood to be an older story than the seven days of creation from chapter one. We are from the Land, the Land is understood as our mother. Now we arrive at an understanding of Land more akin to First peoples understanding of Land.

If we hold this understanding of Land as Mother rather than as a commodity it changes our relationship with the Land.

Prayer

God, our Creator, we celebrate your vibrant presence among us and our kin in creation,
especially in the soil, the fields and the land.
Help us to empathise with your creatures who are suffering.
Lift our spirits to rejoice with the land,
the flowers of the field and all the creatures of the countryside.
In the name of Christ,
who reconciles and renews all things in creation. Amen.

Forest

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that the site of this church is on the land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law.

Bible reading: Genesis 2:4 – 10 NRSV adapted

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7then the Lord God formed a human from the dust of the ground, and breathed into its nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living being. 8And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there God put the human whom he had formed. 9Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, …

Reflection

In this creation story found in the second chapter of Genesis we hear that creation began in a garden but I don’t think it would be like any ordered manicured herbaceous border but somewhat chaotic and wild, more like a forest.  A special forest, God’s first garden where trees grew throughout and shaded other trees. Trees that were both pleasing to the eyes and good for food. Two trees stood apart from the others in this forest; the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is where humans learn of beauty, of greed, of thirst for knowledge, and limits. We have been learning from forests and trees ever since and are still learning. We are finding new species of plant and animal living in forests, New medicines are regularly being discovered from forests and new aspects of beauty.  But there are many pressures that trees and forests face today, changing climate, deforestation, and pollution. We have a responsibility to act, to take care of them, because of our special relationship. The forests, the communities of trees, plants, and fungi sustain our breath and make our lives livable. Our faith brings an even richer, deeper relationship, Genesis reminds us that Eden was, in a sense, our first forest home. The forests are how we can find God through the earth and we are reminded many times to think of the mysterious, unknown voice of God residing in the forest.

Prayers for the people

God of winds and leaves, of the spirit that moves through the primeval forests,
we are here to listen to the mysteries you speak.
We pray that you will lead us to your voice
in the tallest trees and smallest seedlings, in the forest floor,
in all that crawls and flies and makes a home in your first gardens.

Hear our prayer.

Bless us with wonder and gratitude every day.
Please help us to use our gratitude for good
and to protect the forests, our teachers.

Hear our prayer.

Teach us to learn and to remember
the beauty of your messengers
the plants,
who give us our breath.
Through your grace.

Hear our prayer.

For what else do we pray today?
You are invited to pause the video to add your own prayers

Amen.

Seasons of the spirit

Curiosity

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains.We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land

Exodus 3:1-15 NRSV

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’

But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:
This is my name for ever,
and this my title for all generations.

Reflection

I encourage you to be curious and ask questions even though you may have had past experiences of resistance to your curiosity, or that you yourself were resistant to the questioning or curiosity of others.
Having the freedom to be curious and ask questions is important part of a faith life.
A process of that also involves a lot of listening. Listening for the voice of God that is often small and still. That too will not be when or where expected.
Curiosity leads to asking questions.
Raising questions can lead to some new awareness or been drawn closer to the experience of the holy.

For the sorrowing

We hold to our hearts
The ones who have lost so much
The person
Their smile and laughter
Their wisdom and insight
Their knowing and understanding
of family and friends
Their shoulder to cry on
And their hand of welcome.
Their unconditional love
And their shared history
Where nothing needs explaining
When gathering together.

We hold to our hearts
The lost one
We offer thanks for all who they were
All that they gave
Their light of life
Snuffed and no longer bright;
Their laughter and delight
Their wisdom and understanding
Their kindness and their care.
Their sadness at leaving
their family and friends
And their loss of the stories,
shared experiences
And lovingly enjoyed time when gathering

We remember
Their isolation
from the beginning of
their lonely journey
to the end.

We hold to our hearts
The medical teams
Who are professionals and new friends
all at the same time,
Representing themselves and society
Carrying both facets of care
for the person ‘before me’
and ‘loving your neighbour’
A gift and a burden
Giving out
And holding close
The one whom they,
In their daily work,
Hold close to their heart.

We remember the sorrowing....

Rev Anne Hewitt

Courageous compassion

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains.We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land

Exodus 1:8-2:10 NRSV

8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16‘When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.’ 17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?’ 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ 20So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.’

2Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. 3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ 8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’

Reflection

In the story we have met several strong, influential women. Driven by compassion for those in their care. The role of these bold women, from very different backgrounds is striking. We see the courage and creativity of midwives Shiphrah and Puah when they disobey the Pharaoh’s orders and let the babies live;we see the courage of Miriam who watches over her brother, regardless of the danger; we see the courage of the pharaoh’s daughter when she acts against her father; and we see the courage of Moses’ mother to do what is best for her son, even if it means giving him away twice – when she sets him in the river and after she weans him and he is adopted by the pharaoh’s daughter.

In this story we hear of a baby being protected, A Baby in basket – an image of God protecting the vulnerable. Scripture tells us truths universal. The truth of this passage of scripture is of God’s intent & desire that the vulnerable are protected.

At this time when a pandemic sweeps our world the vulnerable have never been more at risk. The vulnerable are protected by courageous compassionate people like the women in our story. Take courage from their example Courage to face the everyday. Courage as we too at some time may be called upon to do something brave!

Prayer for the people

Healing Spirit,
Fill our hearts with love for those who are unloved, forgotten, disposed, alone.
Let your flame of fiery presence melt the hearts chilled with fear and distrust.
Sprout new seeds of hope in the desert places of dusty souls.
Cool the fierce hate that scars thoughts of the powerful.
Fill empty vessels of self-worth with purpose to serve victims and vulnerable.
Voice the silent cries of those who are spent, and can no longer manage alone.

 Silence prayer for your local community migrants and refugees, their needs and support

 Healing Spirit, hear our prayers.
Healing Spirit, we lift them up to you.

]Silence prayer for the state-wide communities of migrants and refugees, to be alert and responsive to the critical care and need, for the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical  wellbeing of those who come with such practical  need and who are often emotionally spent.

Healing Spirit, hear our prayers.
Healing Spirit, we lift them up to you.

Silence prayer for the national bodies assisting migrants and refugees, Government programs and decisions that are life changing for people who have already suffered much

Healing Spirit, hear our prayers.
Healing Spirit, we lift them up to you.

Silence prayer for our country’s public voice and action for migrants and refugees across the world.

Healing Spirit, hear our prayers.
Healing Spirit, we lift them up to you.

Inflame our hearts with your unconditional love, That our active presence makes a difference in changing values, Approach, decisions and the living reality for these, our sisters and brothers. Amen

Rev Anne Hewitt

Where the Heart is …

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains.We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land

Matthew 15:10 - 20, 21 - 28 NRSV

Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’ He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

Reflection

The mother is unwelcomed, a Gentile, has a child with a serious illness, which has likely brought shame to the family. She faces a group of men and a revered charismatic preacher alone, during the day, putting herself at risk of being seen as a woman of ill repute. She humbles herself before Jesus. Yet, her actions make her intentions clear. She knows Jesus can, and will, heal her daughter. She will take the risk of danger, rebuke, shaming, humiliation, potential rejection and even accept the condemnatory ‘mantle’ of a dog. Her faith is so strong and her love for her daughter unwavering. She will risk all, for even a ‘crumb’ of assistance, because she believes.

Jesus explains that our intention, from out of the heart, is even greater than our religious practices, as they truly reveal who we really are. We express them through our attitude, with what we say and how we act. ‘Living faith’ is revealed through our being and doing.

Rev Anne Hewitt

Prayer of Intercession

Healing Spirit,
Fill our hearts with love for those who are unloved.
Let your flame of fiery presence melt the hearts chilled with fear and distrust.
Sprout new seeds of hope in the desert places of dusty souls.
Cool the fierce hate that scars thoughts of the powerful.
Fill empty vessels of self-worth with purpose to serve victims and vulnerable.
Voice the silent cries of those who are spent, and can no longer manage alone.
Silence prayer for others…

Healing Spirit, hear our prayers.
Healing Spirit, we lift them up to you.

Rev Anne Hewitt

Take heart when surrounded by Chaos

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains.We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land

Matthew 14:22-33 NRSV

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

28 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ 29He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Reflection

Faith is daring to believe that God is with us in the boat as it makes its way through the storm, battered by the waves and winds in the dark. God was never apart from the disciples. God was with them as they were sent and remained with them. The disciples could not see this, as they were overwhelmed with the Chaos that surrounded and engulfed them. Our world is in a time of Chaos. A Pandemic engulfs the whole globe. Yet we are in a bit of a bubble. Even so, the virus keeps trying and breaks into our little bubble and we deal with it. So far we are keeping it at bay. Odds are we can’t keep this up for a year or two. Our bubble may burst. Hopefully not. It is easy to have the Chaos of this time overwhelm us as the disciples were overwhelmed. It is easy to overlook that God is with us in our boat, in our bubble while we are surrounded by Chaos. “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Is Jesus’s reassurance to us. Have faith. Our faith is daring to believe that God is with us made real in the community of faith, as we live surrounded with our current Chaos.

Where do you see God, what gives you heart? Lessens your fear?

Prayer of Confession

Jesus, we call to you,
In honesty and humility.

A silence is kept…

We are struggling, and often feel overwhelmed.
At times, when we are hurting most,
we do not have the words or courage to call on you.
When frightened, we often lose our way,
and feel that we are being subsumed
by all the worries we are carrying.
Please call to us today,
for we are afraid, and find it hard to look to you.
In our painful times,
we do not have the courage
to look away from the difficulties,
"to the promises of your love.
Call to us, O gracious friend.

Words of Assurance 

When we are feeling overwhelmed,
Jesus says gently
‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
We are blessed, supported and loved.
Let us not be afraid to draw on this strength,
For it is Jesus who calls to us, to do so.

Rev Anne Hewitt

Welcome to the Banquet

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains.We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land

Matthew 14:13-21 (NRSV)

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ 16Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ 17They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ 18And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Reflection

This is a story demonstrating Jesus’s compassion where he began healing then feeding the hungry people. They went away filled.

The story as a whole has God’s act in Christ meeting human need. Jesus though, did not do this alone, Jesus’s miraculous power involves the disciples. Jesus charged them with “You give them something to eat”

The source of the feeding is God, the resources human.The work of the disciples, the ‘bread of human effort, is honoured, used and magnified by Jesus. We provide the bread, The work we/you do is honoured, Used And magnified by Jesus.

Thanks be to God.

Prayer

When we are calling, you are there, O listening Friend.
When we are fatigued and drawn,
you are seeing, O seeing Friend.
you are caring, O loving Friend.
When we are sleeping and resting,
you are watching, O compassionate Friend.

Our loving God,
we come as we are.
We call to you, in honesty,
tired from the week, fatigued by demands,
and longing for rest that will bring refreshment.
Come alongside, and let us know your presence,
O Comforter and Friend.
Amen, Amen, Amen

Rev Anne Hewitt

Lots of Kingdom Parables

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 NRSV

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’

The Parable of the Yeast

33 He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

Three Parables

44 ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Treasures New and Old

51 ‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ 52And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’

Reflection

So from all these parables what have we learnt about the kingdom of God?

  • Not obvious
  • Of miraculous extravagance
  • highly desirable, as its of the greatest value
  • we will be accountable

Often the kingdom is seen as the Church, and that these parables and Jesus teaching about the kingdom, guarantees the success of the Church. That would be a mistake.

The kingdom of God is not the church, there are no guarantees. As the Church we are to be active in the kingdom as it is with us but not obvious. Yet we are to be vigilant as the Kingdom is not here yet.

So what does that mean, living in two states of being. All we can do is live faithfully, be loving, show compassion and seek justice in our dealing with others. To be open to the kingdom around you and be confident that the kingdom will come.

Prayer

Loving God,
we praise you for the opportunity to gather in worship.
Open our hearts as we bring ourselves before you in humble desire to follow your ways and know your wisdom.
Open our eyes and help us see how our lives impact others and this created world.
Open our ears and help us to hear the voices of those who have been silenced for too long.
Open our minds and help us to understand our impact on the world and our more rightful place in it.
Show us your glory, and guide our thoughts and reflections as we worship, we pray. Amen.

Wheat & Weeds

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are on land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 NRSV

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

24 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” 28He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” 29But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’

Jesus Explains the Parable of the Weeds

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

Reflection

This is the first of Matthews parables that begin with “The kingdom of heaven is like …” Jesus is teaching against the building of boundaries and efforts to have and create a pure, exclusive communities. It is also a parable of the coming judgement and about not passing judgement. That Judgement is Gods business and will be settled in the end. Judgement is not for us to spend our time and energy on. The parable is realistic about the world we find ourselves in. It does not paint a rosy picture of the world as both good & evil present. It is one or the other, no sliding scale, it is Good and Evil, no in between, that reflects how Matthew saw things. There is an acceptance of this reality with no attempts to banish evil. That the bad is something that we have to learn to live with. This world with the good and the bad is the field in which we find ourselves. This does not mean we just give in. This is not a call to be passive in the face of evil. To ignore injustice in the world, violence in society or wrong in the church. Rather it’s a realistic reminder that we alone cannot get rid of all the weeds. We and other good people are to remain strong in love, compassion and justice. But it is with God that ultimately the weeds will be destroyed. Remember that evil is temporary only good endures. The parable ends with ‘the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom’. What a beautiful image. Just like winter sunshine breaking through heavy clouds. The parable ends with a place of joy & hope.

Prayer

Almighty God,
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
Kindle, we pray you,
in the hearts of all people the true love of peace;
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth;
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth be filled with knowledge of your love:
In the power of your Spirit.
Amen