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.