Friday, 2 June 2017

Listening for other voices, sharing alternative truths

Acts 2:1-4
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
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.

Come all of you who are weary of what life lays on you
Come and receive the gifts of God's Spirit
Come all of you whose faith has been diminished
Come and receive the gifts of God's Spirit
Come all of you who need a shot of transforming love today
God's Spirit meets us here at Christ's table in gifts of bread and wine
And all are invited to feast on the life changing gifts of God.

Throughout his ministry, our Lord Jesus, lifted up the weary, healed the sick, bound up the broken hearted and brought new life to all.
As he shared a last meal with his disciples, he spoke to them again of the meaning of death and resurrection so that, in the days to come, they might make sense of all that was happening.
He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them, saying:
This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.
He also took the cup and said: This is the new realtionship with God, made possible because of my death. Drink it all of you in remembrance of me.
It was much later, long after the Spirit came, before the disciples understood Jesus' words of life.
And still, today, we struggle to understand all the gifts of God.
And yet, in obedience and faith, we do this to remember him.

Prayer of thanksgiving
O God, in a world so full of alternative facts, help us to discern your truth.
In a world so full of bluster and noise, help us make out the clarity of your call.
We thank you for your gifts - gifts that, beyond all hope, have remained - your faithfulness, your love, your newness of life, your empowering Spirit.
As world powers attempt to divide and diminish, may we remain strong in your love, assured of what is right and just and reminded that your will for all people is good.
May we trust in your power to overcome evil, your love to drive out fear and your goodness to restore all creation by a just and equal sharing of all the earth's resources. And, believing, may we be prompted to act by the power of your Spirit working in us.
May we know those tongues of fire descending on our hearts and lives, empowering us not just to speak but also to listen and understand the voices of others in whom your Spirit rests.
And, as we gather at this table, may we bring with us all our brothers and sisters, the living and departed, the prosperous and the downtrodden, the powerful and the powerless, the seen and the invisible, may we hold space for them as we take our place at this the table of our Risen Lord.
Send your Holy Spirit on us and on those for whom we hold this space and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that all may be transformed. And,  in sharing these everlasting gifts may we know afresh the outpouring of your Spirit causing mayhem in our carefully ordered lives, for the honour and glory of God, Parent, Christ and Holy Spirit.

(Taking bread)
This is the body of Christ, broken for you to transform your brokenness into wholeness and healing.
Do this to remember him.

(Taking the cup)
This is Christ's blood poured out for you that your sins might be forgiven and that you might be restored to oneness with the Triune God who holds all creation in love.
Do this to remember.

Prayer after communion
God you have shared your life with us, may we share our lives with others.
As you have poured your Spirit upon us, may we be renewed from the inside out, may your love bubble up through us until we can no longer remain quiet in the face of hatred and indifference.
In the power of your Spirit may we go from here to change the world, to restore your kingdom here on earth, for the Glory of God.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

God of second chances

Luke 13:1-9
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ 

God calls us to turn around and gather at this table
The God of second chances invites us to find a place here
So come to this table where God offers a fresh start
and where our God of infinite patience waits to turn our lives inside out.

Jesus shared so much with his disciples
Stories, friendship, teaching, food.
He constantly surprised them by confounding popular wisdom
He often turned things on their head
And, just when they thought they'd got it,
He would make them think again.
Sharing a traditional Passover meal with his disciples
the night before he died
He took bread, blessed it and said:
This is my body broken for you.
And then, after supper, he took a cup of wine, saying
This cup is the new relationship with God 
made possible because of my death
Do this to remember me.

And so we remember Jesus today by sharing these gifts.
Let us first give thanks

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Gathered here today, we give thanks to God for being a God of surprises
A God who constantly challenges us to think again
- to hold back from making harsh judgements.
A God who encourages us to see everything in a different light
A God who is always prepared to give us another chance to turn around and find our way back to love.
As we take our place at this table, we find ourselves cheek by jowl with that great company of saints, the living and the dead.
Those in whose company we are at peace and those whose company makes us uneasy 
Those we expect to find here and those whose presence surprises us
We come, bringing with us all those who are left out, excluded,  forgotten.
And we pray for all who suffer today.
Those fighting for survival in the midst of war
Those forced to flee their homes, their countries and their loved ones
We pray for those who fear strangers and are unable to welcome those who are different
We pray that we, as people of the world, along with our leaders can work together for peace and justice and an equal sharing of the earth's resources.
Give us the will to make space for one another, to always expect and hope that things and people can change and to know that we are always held in your love.
Send your Holy Spirit on us and on these gifts of bread and wine and, as we do this to remember you, feed our resolve to change the world with you.

(Taking bread)
Christ who calls us to turn around meets us here in bread, his body broken for the life of the world
(Taking the cup)
Christ who offers us a way back to God, meets us in this wine, symbol of a new relationship with God

We do this to remember him.

Prayer after communion
God you have welcomed us to this table.
You have offered us a way back and another chance
May our welcome here today make us more open to welcoming others
And may all that you have taught us here spill over into our everyday.
Knowing ourselves loved by you, may we love one another and be prepared to keep on turning around to follow the path you reveal until you are glorified here and everywhere, now and forever.