"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 Kingship of Christ
Collect

Eternal Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
Keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The First Reading - Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24
The Psalm - Psalm 100
The Second Reading - Ephesians 1: 15-23
The Gospel Reading - Matthew 25: 31-46
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Stir up, O Lord,
the wills of your faithful people;
that plenteously bearing the fruit of good works
they may by you be plenteously rewarded;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

That power is like the working of his mighty strength.’- Ephesians 1 v 19

I have decided that my eldest grandson might like a pair of binoculars for his birthday – which falls on New Year’s Eve. I did not purchase a top of the range model– he will only be eight- but I was surprised at how well everything was magnified by the pair I bought. How much more clearly could things be seen if I had purchased a pair with more powerful magnification?

In this letter Paul is saying to the Ephesians that they can know greater power in their faith. Their life at the moment shows that God has started working in them - Paul refers to their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for the saints- but he knows they can experience even more!

Sometimes, I must admit, I would love to be a fly on the wall beside God when it comes to listening to our prayers. In spite of all our good intentions to not be selfish and only pray for others I am sure the odd ‘selfie’ gets through! And even when we are diligently and faithfully praying for others what are the things we are most likely to pray for them? Health? Wealth? Happiness?

I was surprised to see what Paul prayed for the Ephesians. Not health. Not wealth. Nor happiness.

Paul prayed that they would be given ‘a spirit of wisdom and revelation’, so that they may know God better. In addition, that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened so that they may know the hope to which they have been called and the glorious inheritance in the saints which awaits them! And there is more! That they would know the incomparably great power for those who believe!

Why should Paul desire this power for believers? So that they may see, know, understand and acknowledge that Jesus is supreme. Jesus rules over all creation and calls us to share our lives with him.

You can almost ‘hear’ the yearning, excitement and passion in Paul’s words. What a prayer! Is that a prayer you might desire to be prayed for you? I know I would!

For Paul, the resurrection has to be one of the most powerful acts of God in creation – there is nothing to compare to it- and it is this power that is made available to those who believe. Not just in the future, but now, in daily life.

I think this is such a powerful statement that it calls for a pause to really think about in relation to our own Christian faith.

That power is like the working of his mighty strength.’

How can we see and recognise this power? We pray for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know him better. We may not see it ourselves, but the Spirit allows us to see with more clarity the power that is already there- which in turns brings us into a deeper awareness of the purposes and will of God.

Having that same resurrection power - how might that look for you, or for me? How might it look for the world? How might it look for the church?

Prayer. Lord we praise you that not only have you created all things, but you also made us. We praise you for all that you have done for us in Christ. We thank you that his resurrection power is available to all who put their trust in him and for the power of the Holy Spirit who fills the whole universe and transforms our lives and the life of your church. In spite of our weakness, our failure and the frailty of our faith, you still offer us hope, joy and the power that makes all things new.

We pray, fill us with your grace, that we may praise you here and in the coming days of this week. Amen

Canon Denise

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The Second Sunday before Advent
Collect

Heavenly Father,
whose blessed Son was revealed to destroy the works of the devil
and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life:
Grant that we, having this hope,
may purify ourselves even as he is pure;
that when he shall appear in power and great glory,
we may be made like him
in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The First Reading - Judges 4: 1-7
The Psalm - Psalm 123
The Second Reading - 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11
The Gospel Reading - Matthew 25: 14-30
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Gracious Lord,
in this holy sacrament you give substance to our hope.
Bring us at the last to that pure life for which we long,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

See, here is what belongs to you,” Matthew 25 v25.

When I come across this story I have to say I feel some sympathy for that third servant! Having a somewhat cautious nature myself, certainly not known for great risk taking, I can understand the ‘safely, safely’ approach! Yes, I look around and I would love to be one of life’s great risk takers - and succeed. I would love to bungee jump, fall out of an aeroplane with a parachute, walk across rope bridges with aplomb- but I cannot. Pure, naked fear gets in the way!

And the third servant in this story seems to have been inhibited by the paralysis of fear also. The three servants were given a certain amount of money by their master and he goes off and leaves them. We don’t read of any specific instruction that was given to them on receipt of this money other than they were entrusted with part of their master’s very own property.

Some people are born entrepreneurs! My own brother is one of them – from a very early age he was swapping and buying, out working, earning and making money, found it all fun, challenging and profitable – never afraid to take risks- and now has all the trappings that put him in the bracket ‘successful’. While on the other hand, other members of the family just plod along making a living!

And this variance is seen with our three servants. At the end of the allocated time two have doubled their master’s money, and the third , definitely taking a ‘safely safely’ approach – kept his amount somewhere safe- a biscuit box under the bed perhaps- and then gave it back in intact to his master- “See, here is what belongs to you.”This guy would definitely have been bawled out by Lord Alan Sugar!

And it is at this point of the story I feel sympathy for this servant and a bit of annoyance at the master’s attitude. Why was the master so frustrated with this servant- after all he got his money back? The servant could have lost it on him! The master was showing very little gratitude. Was the master’s disappointment merely about the money?

What is that old saying? ‘Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.’ Hmmm… this means taking a risk. I heard another saying recently – ‘Don’t regret the things you did do. Regret those things you didn’t do.’ Again – that sometimes means taking a risk- isn’t that sometimes why we don’t do certain things?

What might have happened if that third servant had taken a risk? Taken a risk in spite of his fears- because the risk he was taking wasn’t for himself – it would have been for his master? Would his master have said, ‘Well, at least you did it for me- you gave it your best shot!’? What seemed to annoy the master was that the third servant didn’t even take the safest, absolutely ‘no risk’ path, and put the money in the bank and at least get a bit of interest. HE DID NOTHING!

Does this story want us to look beyond the money making processes of the world? Is it asking us to think about the skills, characteristics, opportunities and material goods that God has given us and do something with them – in His service? Might God even be asking us take risks on His behalf in our service to Him? Is God saying that He is wants us to do Something rather than Nothing?

The Apostle Paul sums it up well in his first letter to the Corinthians 12 when he says ‘Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.’ ‘There are different kinds of gifts and different kinds of service – but they are to be used for the ‘common good’.

Dare we take the risk of listening to God?

Prayer. Living Lord, go with us into the world. Stand by us when we are weak and afraid, hold us and save us from falling, love us in spite of our sin. Fill our lives with the power of your resurrection that we may be channels of your light in the world’s darkness. Amen

Canon Denise

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The Third Sunday before Advent
Collect

Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the king of all:
Govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The First Reading - Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25
The Psalm - Psalm 78: 1-7
The Second Reading - 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18
The Gospel Reading - Matthew 25: 1-13
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
God of peace,
whose Son Jesus Christ proclaimed the kingdom
and restored the broken to wholeness of life:
Look with compassion on the anguish of the world,
and by your healing power
make whole both people and nations;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


Canon Denise is on leave.

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