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.

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