My burdens are light – Pent 5

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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 11:16-19, 25-30 NRSV

16 ‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.”
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’

25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

Prayer

God of love and kindness, we thank you for your model of courageous love. We pray that you will help us to make the stranger our friend each and every day of our lives, turning our lives outward in an ever-expanding sense of connection and love. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Sharing the Love of God – Plentiful harvest 3

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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 10:40-42  NRSV

‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’

Reflection

It takes courage to welcome, to be generous and inclusive. Often fear gets in the way of us being welcoming, generous and loving. Take courage, take your strength from the fact that it is with the authority of Jesus that you love. Take heart and be not afraid in the knowledge that God knows you so intimately that the number of hairs on your head are known. Go forth out into the harvest to share God’s love to those you meet, through welcome, generosity and justice.

Prayers of the people

God of courageous love,
we come today prepared to serve our neighbours.
Help us to keep a clear mind and a firm heart.
We pray to hear the promise and calm that lives at the heart of your being.
We pray to recognize how that same voice lives in us.
When we choose the braver path of love, let us know that we live in you.
We pray to turn away form worldly riches and toward inner joy.
You, O God, long for a world in which the last shall be first, in which the lowly are cared for.
We trust in your vision, and long to make it so.
Amen

 Seasons of the Spirit

Plentiful Harvest 2: Do not be Afraid

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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 10:24-31. Good News Translation

24 “No pupil is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master. 25 So a pupil should be satisfied to become like his teacher, and a slave like his master. If the head of the family is called Beelzebul, the members of the family will be called even worse names! 26 “So do not be afraid of people. Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. 27 What I am telling you in the dark you must repeat in broad daylight, and what you have heard in private you must announce from the housetops. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent. 30 As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!

Message

Jesus is sending the disciples out into the Harvest, doing so in his name. He goes on to tell them not to be afraid.

Do not be afraid. We are usually afraid of things that hurt us. What are you afraid of? …

Snakes are one of the first things that spring to my mind. Slithery, sneeky, hiding away. I am always thankful when cooler weather arrives because they go into hibernation.

But I don’t think Jesus was talking about snakes or spiders or anything like that. Jesus does make reference to our body being hurt but that is not something I have to worry about. Jesus does also mention being called names. That is something I have and do experience. Being called names, not taken seriously, dismissed, seen as irrelevant, deluded, foolish, all because I believe and follow Jesus. Jesus tells the disciples, tells us, to not be afraid of such things. To be afraid is to fear. Fear can imprison us, hold us back, stop us in our tracks. When fear overcomes, we cannot love others. To love others is to go out into the harvest. Do not be afraid of what others might say or think about you or to you. Speak boldly about your faith, take a stand for justice, be a voice for the voiceless, that is the harvest Jesus is talking about.

Prayer

Gracious God, you are with us in times of great joy and in our wilderness moments. Help us to stand fearlessly in solidarity with those who are marginalized, just as you have been present with us. Grant us the courage to seek justice in your name. Amen

Seasons of the Spirit

Plentiful Harvest – Pentecost 2

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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 9:35 – 10:8 NRSV

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

10 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

Message

Jesus mission and ministry was to share the Love of God. He recognized that he could not do it alone, that the disciples were needed to join in and do the same. If there was to be a fulfillment of Jesus’s mission. Jesus gave them, the disciples, the authority to go and do all in his name. Jesus though knew that they were at this point in time still small in numbers so he limited their mission field. Later on the mission field was expanded. We are the disciples, we have been authorized to share the Love of God, as Jesus himself shared the Love of God. Although, we need to recognize we are few in number. There is a lot we can do but we can’t do it all. There needs to be an acceptance of our limits and be strategic with the resources we have. We cannot harvest all the fields but we can harvest the field God has placed before us. That begs the questions,

What is the harvest field before us?

What is your task in the harvest?

How can you share the Love of God?

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

Trinity

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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

Preparation for Worship

You may wish to set the space before you for worship. There may be symbols you wish to use to prepare for Trinity. There is the postcard, like wind as of fire, living water. Coloured cloth, White is good for today & or a lit candle as a symbol of Christ with us.

I suggest you watch the family worship video first, even if you are home alone. It won’t be the same if you watch it after.

Matthew 28:16-20 NRSV

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Reflection

Wool is really, really, amazing stuff, Cut from animals – sheep – alpacas, what else ?????
Spun into strands although a single strand is stronger when woven with other strands – say three. A ball of wool is fun but there’s only so much you can do with it. 3 stranded wool (3 ply) really comes into it own when knitted, when bent and twisted, tied into knots. Then all sorts of things can be made. Imagine what? Jumpers, vests, cardigans!!!!

Why am I talking about wool? It’s the three strands woven into one stronger cable that I'm interested in. As a metaphor. Three into one. Where could I go with that? God is soooooo big. How do you get you’re your head around all there is to understand about God, without limiting God to what you do understand?

The Trinity is a unique way Christians understand God. You may have noticed that we are not overwhelmed with references to the Trinity in scripture. The strands are there but they are not woven together yet. We just heard from Matthew as his God talk has a threefold pattern. He names the three strands of people’s experiences of God in one phrase. Father, Son & Spirit. These strands of experience and understanding are right through the Bible. The faithful have gathered these three stands in prayer, thought, discussion & much thinking. These three strands have then been woven together to help in our understanding of God. A unique claim that God is one and yet there are three who are God.

God is so much more than any one part.
Creator/Father/Mother - bringing all to life – big picture
Jesus - making God accessible – God is in all ways Christlike – the details – how we relate to each other and God
Spirit – making the connections
Together with those 3 strands or parts everything is covered.
It does hint that there is so much more to God that what we can ever understand at any given time in history. Trinity is a way of understanding the nature of God. Yet God is not to be contained. God is way beyond any containment we can create. Yet God is not everything – As if God was everything – God becomes inaccessible and God is accessible – Jesus shows us that. Trinity holds that tension together. A very big God, not limited by us yet accessible to us.Back to our metaphor. Metaphors are used to help us understand quite often difficult ideas. With our metaphor of wool. We have Three strands woven together as one 3 ply. Not that God ‘IS’ 3 ply wool but like 3 ply wool God is three strands woven together as one. Creator, Christ & Spirit.

As we are now officially in winter it’s a good time, if you are so inclined, to get out some wool. To Knit, Crochet or weave Tapestry. When active in such a task, reflect on the nature of our God. One in Three – Trinity.

Rev Mark Hewitt

Prayer

Time of personal prayer for others
Use the following words to prompt those prayers

Creator - Author of life

Land
Ocean
Sky

Christ - Companion on the journey

Family
Friends
Humanity

Spirit - Guide on our way

Wisdom
Discernment
Peace

Pentecost Yr A 2020

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Like wind, as of fire, living water. Acts 2:2, John 7:38, Pastel & Acrylic, Mark Hewitt 2020

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

Preparation for Worship

You may wish to set the space before you for worship. There may be symbols you wish to use to prepare for Pentecost. There is the postcard, like wind as of fire, living water. Coloured cloth, Red is good for today & or a lit candle as a symbol of Christ with us. You may wish to make a hot chocolate to have with you this morning or get it ready to have afterwards.

I suggest you watch the family worship video first, even if you are home alone. It won’t be the same if you watch it after. It will show you what you can do with the things in your pack which can help to prepare for this worship video.

Acts 2:1-20 NRSV

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 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 under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.

John 7:37 NRSV

On the last day of the festival,  the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Reflection

We heard from two gospel writers today. Set at two different festivals. At Two of the three pilgrimage feasts of Jesus’ day. The first account takes place at feast of Pentecost and is told to us by Luke, yes it’s from Acts but Acts is Luke’s gospel, book 2. In the telling of the event the disciples are trying to describe something really dramatic that changed their life around. Putting into words something beyond words. They were trying to describe the power, drama and the emotion. They did not say the Spirit was wind or Fire but like wind, as of fire.
Wind - This was something they felt; as if they were cleansed by a strong breeze coming off the waters blowing over & around them;
Fire - As if they were warmed right through by standing close to a fire. Warming their whole person.
This is high drama and so they used very strong or powerful language. ‘like the rush of a violent wind’, ‘Divided tongues, as of fire’. What takes place here is about community, as the entire community is present. All are baptised into the Spirit, at the same time. This is not about individuals even though it’s a gathering of individuals.

The Second account of the Spirit is set at the feast of Tabernacles and is told to us by John. Still quite a visual description of the Spirit but different, no like wind or as of fire.
Water - Jesus tells the disciples the Spirit will flow like rivers of living water from believer’s hearts. A pouring out, an action, fluid, moving.

So we have two quite different accounts of the actions of the Spirit of God, these aren’t the only ones in scripture. What can we make of them? The Spirit’s arrival or actions are not to be upheld as one off’s, what we have in these narratives are wondrous actions that symbolise God’s ongoing presence among those who follow after Jesus the Christ. Yes, these two accounts use quite dramatic descriptors of the Spirit but in my experience the Spirit’s presence has not been overly dramatic but gentle. Rather than a violent wind, more like a breeze or a breath. Ruffling my hair if anything. Rather than divided tongues as of fire, yes fire, although more so, the warmth that comes from standing by a campfire on a cold night or the warmth flowing from my hands when holding a mug of hot chocolate. Warmth filling my soul. Then living water, rather than fast flowing rivers, more so, like water of the shallows gently lapping the shore line. The Spirit of God in my experience is the Spirit of Gentleness. A Spirit of Gentleness that is forever flowing over and around our lives. Every moment of everyday.

We are about to enter the longest season in our Church liturgical year. The season after Pentecost, one that stretches out for almost half a year. Right up to Advent in December. So, we have plenty of time to explore more about the coming of the Spirit in our lives. This time is also a season where we have to live with the threat of the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic lockdown may be easing but the virus is still active.

What does it mean to continue the ministry of Jesus in such a world?
What does it mean to move about in such a world knowing we do so with the Spirit of Gentleness flowing from our hearts like rivers of living water?

Rev Mark Hewitt

Prayer - Warming Presence

Warming Presence in a morning cuppa

Slowing in the midst of busyness,
I take this time, O God,
to focus on the warming cuppa
and share in this moment with you.

I give thanks for the time with you,
O timeless One.
It is I who pack so much into my days
that I miss you, and long for you.
You are never far away.

I give thanks for the warmth of the cup,
O Warming Presence.
As I hold it,
I am reminded that you hold me always.
It is I who step apart from our space together.

I give thanks for the sweet smell, rising in the steam,
O Breath of Life.
I too often forget the simple joy
of finding new life and sweet goodness,
in the simple act of breathing in freshness,
and breathing out all that has passed.

I give thanks for sipping the comforting fluid,
O Refreshing One.
Too often, I miss the precious life-giving nourishment
In my quest for better or best.
This is the best, as it is now, here, present,
in the sipping and savouring of the drink.

I give thanks for the life-giving energy,
O Vital One.
As simply as drinking from this cup,
You offer energizing vitality when I most need it,
And it is there, to sip and savour every ‘mouthful’
At any moment in my day.

So, as I take time in this moment,
feeling warmth,
"breathing in sweetness of life,
breathing out, letting go of all that weighs me down,
I cherish the refreshing nourishment you offer,
And savour the renewing vitality,
in this moment, in this cup,
with thanks, O gentle, humble Giver of Life,
ever present, ever there. Amen

Rev Anne Hewitt

Pentecost, wind, fire, water. Prayerful Colouring, Mark Hewitt 2020

Easter 7 Ascension

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Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

John 17:1-11 NRSV

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Luke 24: 50-53 NRSV

Then Jesus led them out of the city as far as Bethany, where he raised his hands and blessed them. As he was blessing them, he departed from them and was taken up into heaven.  They worshiped him and went back into Jerusalem, filled with great joy, and spent all their time in the Temple giving thanks to God.

Message

What we heard in Jesus’s farewell discourse in John, was a prayer. An intimate prayer offered publicly. I am careful in my use of gender specific language to describe God. As all humanity, male and female are made in God’s image. I do not wish to limit God to any one gender. Here though, in Jesus prayer, Father is a term of intimacy rather than maleness. In John’s gospel this prayer comes immediately before Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. This prayer focuses on unity, on holding up the church, and for the disciples to be blessed in their work. For John, who was writing for the early believers, the point now is “how do we move forward?” At the core of the prayer is Jesus’ request that God will protect the disciples (the church) and keep them (it) unified. While we cannot know what will happen to the early believers at this point in John’s gospel, the impassioned hope and prayerful expectation is that they may not be divided in vision or purpose.

This emphasis on unity does not mean that all Christians are expected to agree but rather the hope is that we will recognize that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.

Luke then gives us a short account of Jesus departure. Luke then goes on to fill another book. The book of Acts, with an unfolding narrative about how the early believers come together as church and become the body of Christ continuing Jesus’ mission and ministry.

What does it mean for us? Put simply, we together are the Body of Christ and need to see Christ in each other. We have been living with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. One of the joys evolving in this difficult time, is how much we, as God’s people, are being church, rather than going to church. We are the people of God and the Body of Christ. As these restrictions are now lessening, we find ourselves on a threshold. How will we continue to express the Way of Christ in this new era? How will the difference that we have lived in, develop the difference in how we will become? Great questions, needing prayerful consideration.

Prayer

Go from here, full of the tenderness of Jesus’ care for each and every one of us. Go from here, carrying with you the abundance of God’s grace and love, and letting it overflow as blessings to all. Go; for Christ is out in the world, still calling us to life and love. Amen

Easter 6 The Advocate is coming

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John 14:15-19 NRSV (adapted)

‘If you love me, you will follow my teachings. And I will ask God our Creator, and you will be gifted another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees it nor knows it. You know it, because it abides with you, and it will be in you.

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.

Even when alone its easy to feel you are not alone when the Autumn Sun breaks through, You observe the last autumnal leaves on the crepe myrtle, the fiddle wood is in flower as are the salvia and daisy. It’s more difficult to realise that when alone you are not alone when it’s all dark and grey. Yet even then when alone, we are not alone.

John 14:15 – 19  This is a very small part of a conversation Jesus had with his disciples. Talking about how the relationship is lived out between Jesus and those who love him.

You may have noticed one of the variations I made when reading our passage of Scripture, I read “if you Love me you will follow my teachings” Rather than “if you Love me you will keep my commandments”. This is the tricky thing with translations. For our Christian scriptures are translated from the ancient Greek into modern English. Both ways of saying the phrase is accurate to its meaning but there is more. Jesus in using the term that we translate as 'commandments' Is not some authoritarian person commanding or demanding that something be done on orders. In this instance with Jesus’s use of the word. Jesus is refereeing to the totality of his revealings of God. Whether through his teachings or actions. This continues Jesus’s earlier teachings about faithfulness to his Word. That is Word with a capital W. Word with the capital W is another term used the cover in part everything Jesus has revealed about God through his teachings or actions. Put simply to love Jesus is to live a life of love grounded in Jesus’s own love.

Fear not as the Advocate will be there with us as we live a life of love grounded in Jesus’s love.
Advocate is a translation of the Greek word Paraclete: A word that in Greek means many things
- the one who is called alongside us
- the one who exhorts (to strongly encourage or urge)
- the one who comforts
- the one helps
- the one who make appeal’s on one’s behalf.
The Advocate/Paraclete is all those things and more. It is the Spirit of Truth. As Jesus is the Truth, The Spirit of Truth shares the work of Jesus.
The Advocate – Paraclete – Spirit of Truth, we simply call the Spirit or Holy Spirit.  They are all one and the same.

Jesus promises the disciples they will not be left alone the Spirit is coming. To be with them as they live a life of love grounded in Jesus’s love. They will not be orphaned from their Lord. This was a promise and hope from Jesus to strengthen the disciples in the coming dark days. This is a promise, hope and reality for us today.

The Darkest of days may be behind us but there are still dark days ahead. We may be on the way out of our lock-down. But it’s not over yet. The way out ahead of us is longer than up to this point in the pandemic. We may be filled with hope as our government has shown us a future. That hope may fade. Rest assured. At all times past and into our future we remain in Jesus’s promise The Advocate – The Spirit of God is with us. Is with you!

Prayer

God of all, we have gathered here to praise and worship you because we have known your power and movement in our lives. We have felt your love surrounding and upholding us. Your Holy Spirit, the Advocate, has walked beside us through celebration and grief; a gentle, constant reminder of your presence.

God of mercy, we commit ourselves to be your church together because we know that you will not abandon us or leave us orphaned, but will be our sustainer forever. We commit ourselves to be a community that shows forth your abiding love to those who have felt abandoned by this world.

And so we pray this day:

for those who are grieving, and seeking a new way forward;

for those who are experiencing housing insecurity, hunger, or food insecurity;

for those with health concerns, mental or physical, that keep them isolated or unable to live into the fullness of who they could be;

for those who have been rejected by their families or communities;

for those who have been blamed or shamed by those who were supposed to give support or accountability;

for those who are living with violence and trauma as part of their daily lives.

Holy God, we know that the hurts of this world are not what you want for us. We know that you are with us, our comfort and consolation, even in hard times. Help us to come alongside each other, as well. Help us to be the tangible presence of your Holy Spirit, the hands and feet of your love in this world. Help us, O God of grace, to love each other as you have loved us. Amen

Seasons of the Spirit

Easter 5 – Mothers Day

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Prayers and Reflections for Sunday 10 May 2020

Happy Mothers’ Day
to all the mothers
and those who have mothered us.

If today is a sad day for you,
we pray God’s comfort and blessings upon you.

Here is the worship material for this Sunday.  It consists of some prayers and a written reflection.  Please find a quiet comfortable place and allow yourself some time for silent reading. Or if you are a couple or family, you might like to read it out to each other. As you work your way through the document, you will find some places to pause and answer questions.  If you want to come back to them later, that would be all right too.

We pray that God will bless you richly as you spend this time in prayer and contemplation.

Grace and peace,

Richard and Rosalie Upton

Easter 4

mark Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

John 10:1-10 - Jesus the Good Shepherd

‘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. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

There is a danger of thinking that Easter is a day, or at best, a weekend.
But in reality, Easter is not a moment in time!
It's an experience. It’s is something that happens to us, just like it happened to a group of companions long ago,
and has happened to people throughout history. The resurrection experiences are not simply exclusive gifts for people who are specially blessed – those who walked with Jesus, and shared his ministry. The same gift is offered to us. In different ways, at different times in our lives, to experience the presence of God in Christ in ever new ways.

In the Gospel reading set for today (John 10:1-10) are three main images:
that of the shepherd
that of the gatekeeper
that of the known voice.
And all three are significantly helpful for us as we think about the implications of the Easter event for us, and for our world.
The image of the shepherd is one of commitment and provision.
The concept of the gatekeeper brings with it thoughts about security, and protection, and boundaries, and within those boundaries, freedom.The awareness of the beloved voice brings comfort, closeness and confidence.

These three images have connections into the resurrection stories we know well …

  • There is a reminder of Jesus after the resurrection feeding the disciples on the shore, and of his conversation with Peter – “Do you love me? …Feed my sheep”
  • There is a reminder of the what happened to the disciples and to Thomas when the doors were closed, and the disciples were locked away. Jesus comes into the room that is locked, opens the doors that have confined them, and sets them free to discover the One who is “My Lord and my God”.
  • There is a reminder of Mary’s experience in the garden where she’s lost in her grief, and can see nothing clearly, and understand none of the events she’s experienced, until Jesus calls her by name, and love is restored, life is resumed.

And these resurrection experiences are not lost on us.
Jesus the shepherd still provides and cares for us.
Jesus the gatekeeper still opens up for us new ways of living.
Jesus still speaks to us, comforts us, guides us and calls us to new experiences and opportunities.

And so Easter truly becomes an ongoing blessing not simply a weekend wonder, nor even a Sunday surprise.
The reality of Jesus’ presence – the outcome of his sacrifice for us and of God’s act in raising him from death –
is a gift from each of us, every day.

 

Prayer

Help us to hear your voice, Loving Jesus,
as you call us into new life.
Make us ready to respond to every need,
let us see every person as one of your friends,
show us your life continually present in our world.
Help us to acknowledge the boundaries you set, Loving Jesus,
as you shelter us and protect us.
Within those boundaries, set us free to be people of faith and service.
When you open doors for us, may we be eager to come in and go out,
to share with everyone the love and the life you give.
Help us to follow in your way, Loving Jesus,
as you lead us into the experiences of this day and this week.
May we be quick to take note of the blessings
you bestow on us and on all people,
and let our gratitude be seen in the ways we care for our neighbours and our world.
For your love’s sake, we ask it. Amen