"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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Saint Brigid
Collect

Father,
by the leadership of your blessed servant Brigid
you strengthened the Church in this land:
As we give you thanks for her life of devoted service,
inspire us with new life and light,
and give us perseverance to serve you all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Hosea 6: 1-4
The Psalm - Psalm 134
The Second Reading - 1 John 1: 1-4
The Gospel Reading - John 10: 7-16
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
God of truth,
whose Wisdom set her table and invited us to eat
the bread and drink the wine of the kingdom.
Help us to lay aside all foolishness
and to live and walk in the way of insight,
that in fellowship with all your saints
we may come to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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The Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Collect

Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles
the wonder of your saving presence:
Renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your mighty power;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Jonah 3: 1-5,10
The Psalm - Psalm 62: 5-12
The Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
The Gospel Reading - Mark 1: 14-20
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Almighty Father,
your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ is the light of the world.
May your people,
illumined by your word and sacraments,
shine with the radiance of his glory,
that he may be known, worshipped,
and obeyed to the ends of the earth;
for he is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Canon Denise is on leave this week.

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The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Collect

Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
Transform the poverty of our nature
by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - 1 Samuel 3: 1-10, 11-20
The Psalm - Psalm 139:1-5,12-18
The Second Reading - Revelation 5: 1-10
The Gospel Reading - John 1: 43-51
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
God of glory,
you nourish us with bread from heaven.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit
that through us the light of your glory
may shine in all the world.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Canon Denise is on leave this week.

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The First Sunday after the Epiphany
Collect

Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
Grant to us, who are born of water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Genesis 1: 1-5
The Psalm - Psalm 29
The Second Reading - Acts 19: 1-7
The Gospel Reading - Mark 1: 4-11
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Refreshed by these holy gifts, Lord God,
we seek your mercy:
that by listening faithfully to your only Son,
and being obedient to the prompting of the Spirit,
we may be your children in name and in truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

They were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19 v 5
At your baptism you were signed with the sign of the cross to show that you must not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and to fight under his banner against sin, the world and the devil and to continue Christ's faithful servant unto your life's end
Do you stand by this?

At the service of baptism parents are asked - Will you plan to include in your life, time for Bible reading, prayer and worship in church?
By your own prayers and example, by your teaching will you encourage the child in the life of the faith of the Christian community.
Will you help the child to take his/her place within the life and worship of Christ's church- which means being part of a faith community.
The congregation are asked- "Will you support them in this?"

Baptism is seen as an important step in the life of the individual and within the context of church community.
It is not something done for the sake of doing it.
It is not a magic wand that wards off bad luck
It is not a substitute for an individual's own personal faith in Christ.
It is the very first step in a journey which is intended to lead to personal faith in Christ.
It declares what God has done for us in Christ and we receive that gift through his Holy Spirit.
And it is a welcome into the visible church of God.

Before these promises are entered into parents are made aware that perseverance, commitment and courage is required on their part but strength, guidance and joy is given by God to keep them on track.

When this is explained to some parents they go away feeling it is asking too much
Others respond and say, "With God's help I will."

The L'Oreal advert says you should buy their products because you are worth it!
Through baptism God says to us -"You are worth it, and I claim you for my own."

At infant baptism parents and sponsors represent their children
It is these people who are taking on the responsibility for the spiritual welfare of that little baby. Later on at confirmation that young person takes on those promises for his or her self.
If they are not ready then confirmation can wait until they are.
The intervening between babyhood and adulthood can be spent preparing for that commitment.
The baptism of Jesus was a turning point in his life. For 30 years he had learned, he had watched, he had waited and now was the moment for Jesus to step out in faith.

For 30 years he had learned the Scriptures -God's word.
He had prayed to God his Father.
He had worshipped with the people.
He had watched circumstances In Israel develop.
He had waited.
The closed doors were opening and now was the moment for Jesus to step through in faith.

John the Baptist, his cousin, had, in a sense opened doors. John pointed to one who would be coming after him. He was preparing the people for the Messiah, God's anointed One,
the One who would represent God's people.
Jesus knew the time had come for him to step out of Nazareth.
But what was he leaving?
He was leaving all that was familiar, safe and secure.
Up to that point Jesus had had a purpose in life but now God has an even greater purpose for him. The time to answer God's summons had come.

God may not call us to leave home and job and family and go somewhere else but he calls each one of us to make the decision to love him with all our heart and soul and strength , and then, our neighbour as ourselves.

John called on people to repent, to turn away from the direction they had been going and turn back towards God. John calls them to get ready to welcome the Messiah. And the people were doing this and in this act of baptism Jesus is identifying himself with this movement towards God. As Messiah Jesus represents God's people and he is lining himself up with this movement. He is fully identifying himself with our humanity. He is committing himself completely to God's rule and kingdom.
And as Jesus submitted himself to baptism he knew for certain that this was in line with God's will for his life.
Jesus knew God saying to him, "You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased."

Have you ever seen the ads for certain carpet cleaners?
Use brand A on the carpet but it will only clean the surface.
But choose brand B and it will sucks up all the dirt and filth and dust that lies deep down in the fibres of the carpet!!

As we recall our own baptism and what it signifies it is truly awesome.
We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Water cleanses us from surface dirt but the Holy Spirit has the power to clean us deep within,
clean our soul our spirit, our heart.
Through faith in him we can know the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives
moving us forward, building up God's kingdom.
Our life is now in Christ and we are connected to Him.
May we keep turning continually to Christ's way of love, the challenging way of love,
as we seek to follow Him.

Prayer. Lord God we thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ. We praise you for the way he identified himself with us. He entered our pain, our rejection, our sorrow, our hopes an d, through his baptism, he even tasted the results of and effects of our sinfulness. We praise you for accepting his sacrifice on the cross as the price of the healing of our relationship with you. We give thanks for his resurrection and that through it he has guaranteed our place in his eternal kingdom. By your grace, enable and empower us to sing your praises for ever. Amen

Canon Denise

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The Second Sunday of Christmas
Collect

Almighty God,
in the birth of your Son
you have poured on us the new light of your incarnate Word,
and shown us the fullness of your love:
Help us to walk in this light and dwell in his love
that we may know the fullness of his joy;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The First Reading - Jeremiah 31: 7-14
The Psalm - Psalm 147: 12-20
The Second Reading - Ephesians 1: 3-14
The Gospel Reading - John 1: [1-9], 10-18
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Light eternal,
you have nourished us in the mystery
of the body and blood of your Son:
By your grace keep us ever faithful to your word,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1 v 17

At this time of year this particular passage of John can be read so many times that we don't even hear the words! But there is one phrase in it that always makes me pause - 'Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.' The Gospel of John constantly reminds us that to see and know Jesus is, quite literally, to see and know God.

I rarely seem to have the time, or patience, to sit and watch movies through from start to finish, BUT, over this Christmas period I have managed to watch, almost completely, 3 films! One of them depicted the story of a couple who loved each other at first sighting, but didn't give the other person any hint of it! But, after some time the gentleman declared his love! He came to realise that unless he took action, took his courage in his hands and declared his love, whether it was accepted or rejected, until he actually voiced those words to the person he loved, it was just a thought in his head! "Love is not love until it is given away." I won't tell you the ending!

God loved us by giving His Son away. In his humanity Jesus was one with us. He showed by his life the full extent of God's love towards us.

The Law that came through Moses set down rules and regulations, which are good in themselves! But the legalistic approach - 'you must do this, you must not do that', works, for a while. Under the threat of punishment most people will conform. But, does it change the heart and the will of a person?
The abolition of slavery came over 200 years ago. Slaves obeyed their master- you must do this, you must not do that- and while in captivity followed the rules. Once an opportunity came to escape they were off! And yet we read cases of where slaves were treated like one of the family- and even though the opportunity for freedom came they chose to stay. They had experienced love and willingly obeyed the rules.
To the world's shame slavery in different forms still exist today let us keep praying and working towards its extinction.

We can acknowledge God exists. We can see the evidence of a Creator in this world.
We can even subscribe to the theory that there should be rules and regulations which exist for the good of society- and use the threat of punishment to make the rebels toe the line!

Can people be forced to obey God ?
There are ways of doing this.
Can people be forced to love God?
Impossible!
Just as one cannot be forced to love another human being, so one cannot be forced to love God.

But- Jesus changes the hearts and wills of people so that they willingly love God and want to share that same love with others.

Love can be born when exposed to the love of another.
Love can be returned when love is offered.
Love can grow when nurtured and fostered.

God has exposed us to His love by sending us His Son. Jesus took on our humanity, understands exactly who and what we are, and loved us! And continues loving us! He doesn't demand that we follow Him, he invites us to, so that we can know even more the height, breadth and depth of God's love towards us.
When we come to love Jesus, we love God. When we follow God's 'rule' for our lives we do so, not under threat, but willingly, for love's sake, because grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

From the fullness of his grace we have received one blessing after another- John 1 v 16.

Prayer- Called to receive love; sent to share it.
Called to hear of love in Christ; sent to declare it.
Called to experience love that never lets us go; sent to walk in it.
Called to know that he will love us no matter what; sent to live it.
Called to know the power of God's love; sent to express it.
Called by the love of God,
held by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
filled with the Holy Spirit
and sent to love our neighbour as ourselves. Amen

Canon Denise

 

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