Monday, March 31, 2014

8am Sunday at St Lukes Belmont 'The Man born Blind'

"Open Our Eyes" Jan Richardson []

   I was at St Luke's UCA Belmont for their 8am and 9.45am worship services yesterday at the end of a long and tiring week or so... including the 'wrestle' with the story and themes for this 4th Sunday of LENT. I haven't had much sleep this week but I'd also been to Merriwa and back on Friday and the Workshop 1/2 day at Rutherford Saturday and out for family dinner Saturday night!!


LITURGY Good News for Celebration adapted from “Be Our Freedom Lord” Terry Falla
We gather today, the 4th Sunday of LENT,
To worship God
We look to see where God has been active
in our world and our lives

The work of the Creator is visible
Let us respond with praise
The example of Jesus is apparent
Let us respond with obedience
The wind of the Spirit is blowing
Let us respond with joy
The word of God is calling
Let us worship in Spirit and truth

OPENING PRAYER adapted Jonny Baker from CMS and Grace, London
God of justice, peace and righteousness
You are with us always

Breathe your breath,
your Spirit of prophecy,
your energy,
your enlivening,
your imagination on us.

Wake us up, open our eyes, Unplug our ears
That we might hear
That we might see
That we might grieve
That we might dream
That we might follow the ways of your extraordinary kingdom.... +  a bit

We own up to saying and doing the wrong thing
We own up to staying silent or not doing what we know is right
God hear our prayers of ‘owning up’ in a moment of silent prayer…
God hear our prayers,

God promises when we own up, we are forgiven,
Our challenge is to live as free people, without guilt holding us back…

HYMN “Sing Praise and Thanksgiving” TiS 107 AHB 25
Welcome to worship, an opportunity to reflect on God’s calling to us
And to celebrate God’s seeking to recreate & reconcile the whole creation
It’s good to be with you… + a few random comments...

1 Samuel 16: 1-13     John 9: 1- 34 Local volunteer
HYMN “You Servants of God” TiS 215 AHB 144
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE local volunteer 
HYMN “Your Hand O God has Guided” TiS 456 AHB 389

Stay standing for the SENDING OUT/BLESSING from I forget where sorry, probably re: worship
May the God of this world
Be in your seeing
May Christ who looks on us with love
Enable us to share compassion and grace
May the Spirit who perceives what is
And what may yet be
Bless you and sharpen your vision
SUNG BENEDICTION “May the Feet of God Go With You” TiS 779

As I reflect on this leadership experience I note:
- Curating this style of worship was different to elsewhere when I'm a deliberate 'change agent' in a similar service
- One genuine positive was that here a group singing with energy is so different to a group struggling to give voice
- Other than that I was struck by the way in which in this style you get almost no feedback other than silent or sung participation plus facial expressions right through until the end of the time... that's not a new experience, I was just tuned in to it because it was a new surrounding
- Then come the 'unreliable' feedback interactions shaking hands at the door [all positive comments, some with context and reference to particular aspects, much appreciation and some discussion on the central idea explored]

   This is worship [giving God worth, responding and seeking to be fuelled for your following Jesus], it is always a humble privilege and big responsibility to lead, and I always include stuff to stretch or challenge the group even when it's not my brief to do so... BUT it's very hard to participate in

Here's a 'version' of what I REFLECTED

From John 9: 1-34
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he [JESUS] had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
1. LET ME ASK YOU, what are the key themes of John’s gospel?
- That Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is God
- John tells stories and uses different imagery to explore this
- There’s an invitation to believe in Jesus Christ
- And that invitation promises abundant life, which John writes about c.f. K of G

- Much is also made of John’s use of light and darkness
4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

IN the last few weeks we’ve been invited into the story of:
Nicodemus, the Jewish teacher
who senses something in the signs and visits Jesus at night
Jesus meets the un-named woman from Samaria at the well,
in the light of the midday sun
These things are CRUCIAL to the story AND part of the FABRIC OF THE GOSPEL

2. Those stories,
and this one involving mud and spit, are SUBVERSIVE STORIES
- A story that’s power sneaks up on you
- A story turning expected ideas and wisdom upside down
- a story that comes from ‘the wrong people’
- In this case it’s also reinforced,
he is not blind because of anything he or his parents have done…

3. THE NEIGHBOURS aren’t sure…
8 The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.”    He kept saying, “I am the man.”  10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”

They take him to the Pharisee, the religious teacher,
HE is immediately unimpressed that whoever this man is,
Whoever Jesus is, he is not OF GOD, he doesn’t even observe the Sabbath
[making mud from your spit was a provocative piece of activism]

“Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered,
 “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

4. An opportunity for a response of faith…
17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

He is brought back a second time and both he and his parents
“state the obvious”… he was blind, now he can see…

- This is the Kingdom of God, breaking out from the edges
- From those who are not supposed to know
- With a message of LIFE for those who would hear it

5. I WONDER what God is trying to say to us today…
- Where is God’s activity in the world that we might join, or pray for?
- How is Jesus, the living revelation of God, alive in our communities and stories?
- How do we make space as the people of God, for those beyond ourselves?
- John’s writing would have reassured some listeners, those who also felt shunned from the synagogue community…
- God’s love, Jesus healing and abundant life in God’s Spirit won’t be contained
- For us as communities of faith, theologian BILL LOADER reminds us,
we need to know… “when it comes to conflicts, wherever rules matter most
and people come second, we live in darkness”

And as a community relating to others, TO BE IT…

In it’s own way this connects with the story in Samuel,
Of the unexpected DAVID being anointed as Saul’s successor
He had to be sent for… to be considered… God continues to offer up surprises…

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