Saturday, 6 September 2014

God in the midst of conflict

Matthew 18:15-20
Reproving Another Who Sins
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Where two or three are gathered, God is in the midst
God,in our midst, invites us to this table
A table where we are welcomed
With our conflict
With our differences
With all that makes us less than we might be
God invites us not because of our potential
But because we are loved and made welcome now

Jesus often dined with those whom others rejected.
He gathered up an odd assortment of friends.
And the night he was betrayed, he gathered those friends around him
and set up a memorial by which we would remember him.
He didn't ask them to settle their differences before they dined with him
He didn't ask them to swear undying loyalty, knowing that one would deny him
and one would betray him.
He encompassed them all - and us, when he took bread and shared, saying:
This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.
And as he shared the cup, saying,
This cup symbolises a new relationship made possible because of my death
Do this to remember me.
So now we come, knowing ourselves accepted by the one who died in love.
We do this to remember him.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Denial, betrayal, violence death.
All of these you met and conquered with the power of love.
God give us faith today that there are ways to resolve conflict
that do not involve violence but that demand sacrifice from us.
Make us willing to sacrifice pride on the altar of tolerance.
Make us willing to sacrifice wealth on the altar of sharing.
Make us willing to sacrifice security on the altar of inclusion
Make us willing to sacrifice supremacy on the altar of peace.
The road you call us to travel is not easy
But you have walked the way before us
And you join us on the journey.
We celebrate all those with whom you travelled
Andrew, Philip, James and John, Peter and Judas too.
As well as the saints who have graced this place with us and before us.
As we gather at your table now, may we be conscious
of all of these present with us, sharing in this great feast
that unites heaven and earth.
May we take our place at the table
knowing ourselves loved, forgiven and blest.
Risen, Lord Jesus, we dine with you now.
Send your spirit on these gifts of bread and wine
and upon us as we share.
May these gifts by which we remember you
fill us with the courage to make sacrifices
to bring about peace
the peace that only you can give
In the name of Christ, Prince of Peace.

The Lord Jesus gathered around the table friends, supporters and doubters
He broke bread and said: Take, eat.
Do this to remember me

He took the cup,offering it around to symbolise the possibility of a new beginning with God
made possible because of Christ's death, saying
Drink this all of you to remember me.

We, friends, supporters and doubters share these gifts to remember him.

Prayer after communion
Lord you have met us on the path where we are
and fed us with holy food
Now take us to where you want us to be
Law breakers, peace makers, world changers
For sake of your kingdom

Covenant God

Genesis 9:11-17
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Come to this table all who seek peace
Come to this table all who seek love
Come to this table all who seek relationship
The God of peace, love and relationship
waits to serve you here

God who created the world lives in relationship with creation
God created humankind to enjoy fellowship with God and with each other
All through history, God has found ways to demonstrate love 
In creation, through the prophets, and, by sending Jesus
Rituals and memorials help us to recall history and to celebrate love
The night before he died, Jesus gathered his friends around him 
to speak again of love and to set up this memorial in which we remember him
He took bread, symbol of everyday life and sustenance 
Symbol of Christ's body broken to sustain us in life and love.
He took wine, symbol of thirst quenching celebration
Symbol of Christ's blood poured out for us that we might enjoy life to the full
And so, continuing the covenant he makes with us, we take these symbols 
and consecrate them to use in this memorial.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
God you set your bow in the sky, a symbol of your never ending love
 You made a covenant with Noah, with Abraham, with Joseph, with Moses, with prophets,priests and kings.
And now you make a covenant with us, gathered here
You are our God and we are your people, swept up in the continuum of your everlasting love.
We praise you for every sign of your love we see around us
In the beauty of creation
In the clouds and the rainbows
In the people around us every day
And we remember in this place, all those who made your covenant known to us
Those who lived out your promises and showed us your love
Those who join us today as we share in this feast that is celebrated in Heaven and on earth
Living God, true to their memory, may we take every opportunity to hand on your love
In our homes, in our communities, in our nation and throughout the world.
Show us how to live in covenant with you by exploiting every opportunity 
with which you present us to demonstrate your love in action.
May we care for one another - when that is easy and when it is hard.
May we serve one another- when that comes naturally and when it takes effort
May we speak out against injustice and seek peace in all things, 
especially when speaking up or seeking peace costs us.
God, you held nothing back and never gave up.
So may we follow your example, persistently loving
never giving up hope until all the world knows your incredible love.
May that love unfreeze our cold hearts, loosen our clenched fists
and release our energy to serve you in love
beginning right here, right now.
God, send your Spirit upon these gifts of bread and wine and upon us.
As we share here may we be filled and energised to serve you in the world.
May this spiritual food sustain us to walk with you wherever you may lead.
In the name of Christ who walked the way of the cross for us.

Jesus, the night he was betrayed, gathered his friends around, took bread and said:
This is my body broken for you.
Do this to remember me.

He took a cup, passed it around with these words:
This cup is the NEW covenant, a new relationship with God, made possible because of my death
Drink this to remember me.

We eat this bread and drink this cup in a new covenant with God.

Prayer after communion
Lord Jesus, we have recalled the new covenant you made with us
We have recalled your life, your love and your death
We have been filled by your promise
So may we step out in faith, in hope and in love
to bring your peace into all the world
Beginning here, beginning now,
In the name of God who keeps covenant.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Ascended Lord

John 17:1-11
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
 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.

The risen, ascended Jesus who prays for you invites you to this table
The risen, ascended Jesus, who came to show us the father invites you to feast on the bread of life
The risen, ascended Jesus who sends the Holy Spirit, invites you to drink the cup of salvation.
So come, out of politeness, out of longing,
Out of plenty, out of need,
Out of sadness, out of celebration
To be nourished by this food and sustained by the prayers of the saints of the past, the present and the future.
Come - the risen, ascended Jesus, calls you to meet him here.

Before he died, Jesus spent lots of time teaching his disciples about his death and resurrection, about his ascension into glory and about the sending of the Holy Spirit.
He shared meals with them, told stories and prayed with them and for them.
On the night he was betrayed, he gathered around the table with them and gave them a memorial in bread and wine.
And so we share the story of this meal and we share a prayer of thanksgiving before we eat this bread and drink this wine in memory of him.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
God we thank you for your promise
that you will not leave us orphaned
We thank you for your promise
that you will send us the helper
The Holy Spirit
who gives us power
to be your body in the world.
We thank you for allowing us
to listen in to the prayer you prayed for us
That we might be one
That we might continue your work in the world.
May we be emboldened by the prayers of your people
May we take time, in prayer to discern your will
and to continue God's mission in the world.
As Jesus prayed for the world, so do we.
Where economies depend on war
may we find ways to finance peace.
Where greed and self promotion have the upper hand
may we model humble sharing.
Where your children are homeless and rejected
may we be inclusive and loving.
Lord, may the community that we model
illustrate the kingdom you desire for all your people.
A kingdom where all are welcome and all are fed.
And so, at this your table, may all find their place,
children of the risen, ascended Jesus.
Lord you know those whom we hold in our hearts and in our thoughts today
Those whose names we know and those we don't
All who need our prayer.
We bring them with us to this place and to your table.
Send your Spirit upon this bread and wine,
symbols of your body broken for us and your blood shed for us.
As we share with one another here may we hold space
for all your children to come and be nourished
by the one who prays for us.
And as we receive again your sacrament of grace
open our hearts to receive from you and from others
the gifts that you pray for us.
May we be one
in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Around the table, with his friends
Jesus took bread and said;
Take, eat, this is my body broken for you

He took the cup, saying
This is the new relationship with God
made possible because of my death
Drink it all of you

We do this to remember Jesus who prays for us

Prayer after communion
Lord we have been welcomed and nourished at your table.
We have been commissioned to take your love into all the world
So with all the saints, in heaven and on earth
who share in this feast
May we continue God's mission in the world
and pray for others as you pray for us.
May we be one as you and the Father are one
in the unity of the Spirit, here and everywhere
Now and forever.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Not seeing is believing

John 20:1-18
The Resurrection of Jesus
 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. ’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

On this resurrection morning, fresh from the garden,
Jesus bids us, Come dine with him.
On this resurrection morning, though we are still unsure of who he is,
Jesus bids us, Come dine with him.
On this resurrection morning, though we know how easily we falter in our faith
Jesus bids us, Come dine with him.
So gather round this table assured of a welcome by the Risen Lord Jesus
Make space for others as Christ makes space for us.

 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.(Mt 26:26-30)
Jesus, knowing that he was about to be betrayed and handed over to the authorities, shared a meal with his disciples. And, before they headed into the approaching storm, before they all scattered and deserted him, he gave them this memorial which would bring them back together and speak to them of forgiveness and union with God and with each other.
These symbols before us today speak to us of forgiveness and communion with God and with each other and, on this Easter Day, they speak to us too of the wonder of Resurrection.
Let us give thanks:

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Risen Lord Jesus
that night in the upper room with your disciples
as you looked around the table
You knew who would betray you
You knew who would desert you
You knew who would be too weary to watch for you
Yet you looked at each of your friends with love
and gave them, and us, this sacrament
that speaks of your love for us
just as we are - 
In our weakness
In our failings
In our weariness
Still we are loved
Still you hold out for us
food that unites us with you and with each other
food that restores our souls and nourishes our spirit.
As we share this feast today
may we know the depth of healing
the depth of loving
the depth of restoration
that is possible in the new life you offer.
May we know your healing on us and on the world we serve.
May we know your love flooding our souls with warmth
and overflowing into the communities we serve.
And may we know our faith restored
in the potential of your resurrection
to make a difference in our lives
and in the lives of all your children throughout the world,
those who live in fear,
those who live without hope
those who live without love.
As we feel your resurrection stir our souls
in this place today, surrounded by your Spirit 
and the spirits of all those saints 
who have gone before us
may we be renewed in purpose
taking the power and the energy
of your love into all the world
knowing that, still your love changes everything.
God breathe your resurrection Spirit
into this bread and this wine
that as we share in this place
we may know your risen power
infusing all that we do and share together,
enabling us to go and breathe new life into the world.

Jesus, looking into the eyes
of those he knew would fail him
took bread.
He broke it and said:
This is my body, broken for you
Do this to remember me.

He took the cup, already tainted by betrayal
and spoke of forgiveness 
and of drinking the cup in the new kingdom
and said: Drink from it all of you.

In this bread and wine our risen Lord offers us new life today.
We do this to remember him.

See the risen Lord striding toward you today
holding out life in all it's fulness.

Prayer after communion
Lord Jesus we have feasted on the bread of life.
We have quenched our thirst with the wine of your new kingdom.
In your risen power you have united us with all our loved ones
in heaven and on earth.
May that sense of communion strengthen and renew us,
bring us hope and even joy
so that in all our hurts and sorrows in days to come
we may remember that you risen Lord overcame death
and have prepared for us,
your everlasting kingdom.
To you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God
be glory here and everywhere, now and forever.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Choose life

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

The living God journeys with us
through all the twists and turns of life
offering us food for the journey
Here at this table we are invited to choose life
So come and be nourished
Come and rediscover love
Come and find the path God wants you to take
The God of life meets us here

Jesus journeyed with his disciples
leading them on paths they would never have imagined
He taught them as they travelled
about love and relationships and hospitality.
And he set up a memorial meal with them
taking bread and breaking it
taking wine and sharing it
symbols of how far he would go
to offer life in all its fullness.
And so we take bread and wine today
and as we share them
we remember that the way Christ offered life to us
was by giving his life for the world.
Let us pray

Prayer of Thanksgiving
God you know how fickle your people are
You know that we quickly forget all that you have done for us
how easily we grumble and become discouraged.
Yet still you gave your Son to show us that your promise is true
that you love the world and all that you created.
So even when we forget you, you wait patiently so that we can easily find you again.
When we turn away you lovingly turn us back to the light of your love.
As we journey through life you dog our steps, sometimes gently nudging,
sometimes prodding and sometimes dragging us forward.
You know the best ways, the ways that lead to life.
And, when our spirits flag, you carry us through until we find our feet again.
As we journey to your table today, may we meet you here
holding out food for our pilgrimage
food that sustains and strengthens
and brings us life.
God we remember all who have journeyed with us.
Those who have trodden a path for us.
Those who have shown us how to travel.
And we pray that we may take our place in that line of pilgrims
leading others on a journey to fulfilment in you.
May we light another's path,sharing the light we receive from you.
Help us too, to scoop up those we find by the wayside.
The lost and the lonely, the weary and downtrodden,the proud and the anguished
who see no way back and no way forward.
May we offer a helping hand, a cup of water,a feast of love
so that all may find the strength to choose life
and follow the way that you map out.
The way that leads to the kingdom of peace and promise and justice for all your people.
As we feast on your body and blood this day may we know ourselves strengthened
With the food of love - with more than enough to share
For the sake of your kingdom

This is the body of Christ broken for you
Feast on him and find strength for the journey

This is the blood of Christ shed for you
Be drenched in love as you drink it.

Christ's gifts to us, sustenance for life.

Prayer after communion
God as you ask us to love you, to walk in your ways
and to keep your commands, we thank you that you nourish and sustain us
and keep on showing us a new way for a new day.
And so may this feast of your love this day lead us on
revealing the way that you want us to travel
equipping and assuring us that you walk right beside us.
So may we be fuelled to take risks, to try new things, knowing your safety net of love
waits to catch us and sets us straight once more to join you on the journey.
God of life, we choose you.

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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Technicolour Feast

Matthew 17:1-9
The Transfiguration
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

It is good for us to be here.
Not to build tents.
Not to capture the moment.
But to meet Christ who transforms us by his brightness
So draw near to this table
You are welcomed by a dazzling God
who makes room for all to feast.

On the mountain top and on the plain
Jesus feasted with the people who gathered round
At kitchen tables or in front rooms
He made every meal a feast
And the night before he was betrayed
He gathered his disciples round
and as he ate and drank
He set up this meal by which we remember him
So, gathered round this table,
let us make room for others
to share with all the saints,,past and present
To do as Jesus did
And let us give thanks

Prayer of Thanksgiving
God who transforms a simple meal into a feast for saints
we gather round, shuffling along, making room for others,
conscious that we are part of something much bigger.
As we take our place at your table
we give you thanks that you take common things, bread and wine
and transform them into the body and blood of Jesus
whom you sent to show us your love.
At this table, Lord, we are conscious of spaces where folk are missing.
Those who are ill, those who cannot leave their homes or loved,ones, those who have lost their way here and those who have gone from our sight and who now dine with you.
May we know a bond with all your people in heaven and on earth.
As we taste the riches of your blessed sacrifice and know the power of your transforming love
may we make room in the sanctuary of our hearts for all those at whose tables Jesus sat and those whose lives he transformed.
The poor, the outcasts, the homeless, the judged and rejected, those who lived on the edge, those who did not conform, the bereaved, the lonely, the depressed, the anxious and those whose social status brought isolation.
Transforming God, as we share in communion here, may we be dazzled by your brightness and by the power of your love to make a difference, even when we have lost hope.
So feed us and nourish us with love and joy and hope so that the light of your love transforms the darkest corners of our hearts and lives and the world in which we live.
May your Spirit descend upon this bread and wine, transforming it, transforming us.
In the name of God whose love and transforming power knows no bounds.

Christ, transfigured on the mountain top
descends to share everyday food
Take, eat, this is Christ's body broken for you.

This cup is the promise of a new relationship with God
Drink this to remember Christ died for you.

Transforming gifts from a transforming God

Prayer after communion
God, here we have handled holy things.
So change us from within.
May we bask in your glowing appearance and be moved
to go and transform our world, our church and our community
with the power of your love that makes every encounter special
and full of potential.
And God, help us never to settle for the ordinary but to expect to see
all of life in dazzling technicolour
For the joy of the kingdom

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