"Consider this ...." by Canon Denise

 

Canon Denise Acheson

Years ago I came across a poem which basically said – the more you learn makes you realise how little you know! Becoming a Christian is the first step of an eternal learning journey.

With the Holy Spirit’s guidance along the way one learns new things about oneself, about God and about others. We may outgrow some of the things we learned in the past as we grow closer to God through faith in Christ.

Faith is not static – and there are many things which we are called to think upon as we journey. 1 John 4 v1 says to test the spirits in order to recognise the Spirit of God.

So as we journey together let’s make time and space to consider this …….

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The Day of Pentecost (Whit Sunday)

Collect.
Almighty God, who on the day of Pentecost sent your Holy Spirit to the apostles with the wind from heaven and in tongues of flame, filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel:
By the power of the same Spirit strengthen us to witness to your truth and to draw everyone to the fire of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Acts 2: 1-21 or Ezekiel 37: 1-14
The Psalm - Psalm 104: 26-36, 37b
The Second Reading - Romans 8: 22-27 or Acts 2: 1-21
The Gospel Reading - John 15: 26-27, 16:4b-15
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Faithful God, who fulfilled the promises of Easter by sending us your Holy Spirit and opening to every race and nation the way of life eternal: Open our lips by your Spirit,
that every tongue may tell of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amazed and perplexed they asked one another, "What does this mean?" Acts 2 v 12
Over these last months we have had some good celebrations here at the Cathedral, dare I call them High Days! Weddings, baptisms- events marking new phase in the life of the people involved. Now on these high days there might not be fireworks, literally,
but there is fun, and fizz and laughter, excitement, and yes there has been tears........of joy!
After the stress and planning and excitement of the wedding day the real work of married life begins- the long haul of living together in love continues. After the christening party the work of cherishing and nurturing that child in the long haul of the journey of faith continues. The measure of success of those special occasions, perhaps, is the degree to which they inspire those involved to keep on going on day to day in the ordinary routine of life....
when there are no fireworks,
when the clouds are grey,
when the long haul seems impossible.

Within a faith community the long haul of building up the people of God has to be continued. How? The Day of Pentecost points us toward the answer. What happened on the day of Pentecost is going to equip and sustain the church for the long haul of ministry.

We all love success stories and the rags to riches, from the gutter to the palace, from the penniless to the millionaire! Sometimes as we listen to those fantastic, colourful, real, life changing stories we may think, "Why can't it have happened to me? Why does my life have to be so predictable, conventional, monotone, so dull?" Or our reaction may be, "It could never happen to me. I am too ordinary. I don't have enough of that X factor. I'm too scared to take risks etc. etc." and our self esteem drops a little. Or we may swing the opposite direction and try to justify our own lack of colour compared to the gaudy peacocks and we begrudge them their success and pretend that type of thing doesn't interest us at all! Ah, we are strange beings aren't we?

Many of those disciples and people gathered on the Day of Pentecost were ordinary.
Some of them did not have much of an X factor! Peter blundered in and often messed things up. Others had squabbled among themselves for top positions. And certainly there didn't seem to be that many heroes! Days after Jesus' death we read that they hide in a locked room terrified of the authorities. But those frailties, weaknesses, may have been the very qualifications needed for God to work through them

So often when CV's are drawn up everything positive and strong and great is written down. When one seeks a reference one really only wants good points revealed, and, hey presto, the profile of Wonderman or Wonderwoman! There is nothing that he/she cannot do!

Praise be, that Jesus can work very well with people who know there are things they cannot do, people who know that what He is calling them to do is beyond their capabilities,
people who know that on their own there is the potential to mess up! Their fear and cowardice manifests itself in a very physical way as they become aware of the enormity of the task to which He is calling them. They look around and see others much talented, much more confident, much more articulate, much better in every way, and they ask God to choose someone else, someone who doesn't need the support and help and encouragement and guidance that they would need.

Beware! A plea of for help, a plea for support, a plea for guidance, a plea for dependency
doesn't deter Jesus from encouraging you to be His follower.

Jesus never worked as a lone ranger. He never went solo. Jesus always reminded his followers that he was dependent on His Father. They worked in a close and interdependent relationship. He desires that same quality in his disciples , and when it is there, that admission of weakness, sheer inadequacy, vulnerability, and even struggle, the "hands up I surrender" attitude, then something just as powerful as that event at Pentecost takes place within the life of the believer.

There may not be tongues of fire, there may not be rushing wind, probably a 99.9% chance of those things definitely not that happening! But for ordinary folk it may be that still small voice of the assurance and conviction of Jesus' promise that He and the Father will be there, abiding in their heart and soul, walking with them day to day, holding them in the ordinary, routine of normal living. It is this source of power that equips the disciple to do the work God calls them to do.

On the day of Pentecost it all happened. That day the Holy Spirit stood alongside the disciples to give weight to their witness, and courage to their trembling hearts. He came to the disciples as one they knew already, because they knew Jesus.

The story goes that one day two people were talking about food and diet etc. and one of them said," I can remember some of the fantastic meals that I have eaten on special occasions but, if those fantastic dinners were the only food I consumed over my 50 years then I would be dead! No, what has kept me going in between those highs was the ordinary everyday food of breakfast, dinner and tea."

In our walk with God we may have a high spot along the way, a Pentecostal experience,
but we can't live forever on that one experience. As disciples we need the daily renewing and in filling of the Holy Spirit to enable us to keep on keeping on the ordinary path of everyday Christian living. We need the Holy Spirit filling our lives daily with Jesus' risen presence and power.

Prayer. Lord Jesus we thank you for your Spirit that breathes life into our tired witness, energy into our weary souls, power into our feeble efforts to serve. Lord, by your Spirit, keep coming to us, keep coming to your Church, so that we may know your risen power day by day and abide in your presence until we see you face to face. Amen

Canon Denise

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The Seventh Sunday of Easter

Collect
O God the King of Glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
Mercifully give us faith to know
that, as he promised,
he abides with us on earth to the end of time;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The First Reading - Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 or Exodus 28:1-4, 9-10
The Psalm - Psalm 1
The Second Reading - 1 John 5:9-13
The Gospel Reading - John 17: 6-19
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Eternal Giver of love and power,
your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world
to preach the gospel of his kingdom.
Confirm us in this mission,
and help us to live the good news we proclaim;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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The Sixth Sunday of Easter

Collect
God our redeemer,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
Grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,
so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The First Reading - Acts 10: 44-48 or Isaiah 45: 11-13, 18-19
The Psalm - Psalm 98
The Second Reading - 1 John 5: 1-6
The Gospel Reading - John 15: 9-17
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
God our Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life:
May we also thirst for you,
the spring of life and source of goodness,
through him who is alive and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

"You did not choose me but I chose you." John 15: 16
I have made the point in the past that many of our relationships are based on give and take, and at times we take more than we sometimes give! When the giving and receiving becomes severely unbalanced, when one only ever takes and gives nothing and the other feels they are always doing the giving and never receiving - then trouble looms ahead. The search for faithful, committed and fulfilling love continues throughout our lives.

However, there is a source of love directed specifically towards us that sometimes we either don't realise, ignore or take for granted. Through Christ, God has chosen to love us!
That statement alone needs to be reflected on deeply. Before we have earned any merit, before we have flashed our credentials, before we boast of our worthiness, God has chosen to love us!

A few years ago I met a lovely Indian couple whose marriage had been arranged by their parents. They have two beautiful children and have grown to love each other deeply. They said they had trusted their parents to find them someone who would be a good match. In this case their trust was rewarded.

God is a loving Father and asks us to trust His love for us. In Jesus we see the full extent of God's love for us. "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends," said Jesus to his disciples - his friends.

He made this very important distinction when he called his followers "friends". Yes, he uses words like "keep my commandments" but not in the sense of using it as an order to be carried out by a servant or employee. A servant or employee often has no choice - they are paid to do a job without questioning and if they don't comply they can be sacked! Jesus has called his disciples "friends" because Jesus had treated them as his equal. He had modelled what it was to keep his Father's commandments - and he had modelled a relationship of trusting love. Jesus had shared his deepest thoughts with his disciples, his hopes and fears, his teachings- he loved them and now would show them the full extent of his love. He now asks his disciples to show in their own lives what it will be like to fully trust and abide in God's love.
He has chosen to love them - and will always love them. Their remit is to love one another with that same powerful and self-sacrificial love.

Could we ever contemplate a situation where we might be called to do this?

A quote from Ken Taylor's book , " Sunday by Sunday"
"On Good Friday, 1945, Elizabeth Pilenko, that wonderful Russian nun, took the place of a hysterical girl in the line and walked into the gas-chambers at Ravensbrueck. On holiday in 1968 Roger went to help his daughter who was struggling in the sea; she was saved he was not. So many, known and unknown, remembered and forgotten, in a moment of crisis have deliberately given themselves.

And what of those who give their lives in selfless, sacrificial care of an aged parent, a disadvantaged child or friend?

Thank God for all of these.
There is no greater love.

He who laid down his life for us calls us to the way of love, whatever it may cost."

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the world, your world, that you made to bring you glory, to reflect your creative love and to be a place where everyone could find fulfilment in you. But we have changed your law of love for the law of first come first served- the law of the jungle- a world where might is right and where mercy, gentleness and compassion are in short supply. Help us to discover or rediscover mercy and compassion, to learn or relearn the giving and receiving of love, to abide in you and honestly love one another. Amen

Canon Denise

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The Fifth Sunday of Easter

Collect
Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
Grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.

The First Reading - Acts 8: 26-40 or Deuteronomy 4: 32-40
The Psalm - Psalm 22: 25-31
The Second Reading - 1 John 4: 7-21
The Gospel Reading - John 15: 1-8
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Eternal God,
in word and sacrament
we proclaim your truth in Jesus Christ and share his life.
In his strength may we ever walk in his way,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

There is no reflection this week.

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