Sunday, April 29, 2007

Morning prayer

We gather this morning as Your community. Our hearts are ready to receive your Word and accept the challenge that brings into our lives. We seek not to be proud or arrogant about our faith but we long for you to wash our feet and help us understand the principles of Your Kingdom. Your ways are not our ways. Your power is not our power. We come this morning to learn that this life of ours is not so much about us, but about You and Your purpose for us. We thank you today that You have been faithful to us and have not let us forget the joy of worshiping You. We raise our hearts today, despite us feeling weary or sad. We raise our hearts despite us feeling happy or filled with the joys of life. We dutifully pronounce that You are God of this creation. That Jesus is Lord and Saviour, and that the Spirit of God is at work in our hearts, this Church and the World. We are humbled by our sinfulness and our perpetual need of You. Our minds are distracted at every turn, and we often find it difficult to accept that You Love us with such a degree of forgiveness and mercy. We are at pains to find such forgiveness amongst ourselves. We thank you God for setting us free from the agony of our sin, its twisted lying self and its ability to steal life from under our very nose. We accept and receive Your Forgiveness even though we find it so hard to be forgiven. We accept Your voice of comfort even though we find such peace a foreign concept in our world.
You have shown us such mercy in the giving of Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. He died and rose again in victory, and to those who have believed You have forgiven us our sin and freed us to live lives that are a healing ointment to this world. Amen.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Simple pleasures

Evil is around me and within me. The casual denial of human evil and the evil that compounds when humans agree to evil is a terrible mistake. The exposure and light that Christ brings sets these things back to where they came from. Help me realize that these dark forces are perpetually at my door, waiting their return. Let me walk this life of mine with the freedom that Christ brings but always aware that the trap of evil is ever near. Christ wills and has brought me to freedom. The light of Christ is my stronghold. The simplest of things in life I treasure, the beauty of life that is so often numbed by selfishness. The smallest and innocent of pleasures made waste by sin, but in Christ the pure nature of things unfold. The crippled child is honoured, the fragile senior is upheld, the repentant murderer is released, the spouse is loved for who they are and the world rejoices and sings once more. In Christ we live - simply.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Crickets or Money?

This is an illustration taken from a sermon posted by Tim Zingale...

"Two men were walking along a crowded city sidewalk. Suddenly, one of the men remarked, "Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket," But the other man could not hear the sound. He asked his friend how he could hear the sound of a cricket amid the roar of the traffic and the sound of the people. The first man, who was a zoologist, had trained himself to hear the sounds of nature. He didn't explain to his friend in words how he could hear the sound of the cricket, but instead, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a half-dollar coin, dropped it onto the sidewalk, and watch intently as a dozen people began to look for the coin as they heard it clanking around amid the sounds of the traffic and the sounds of the crowded city living.

He turned to his friend and said, "We hear what we listen for."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Silent Voice

I cannot lie and say I hear God’s voice directly but I hear a voice in the world that sounds life giving. I hear a voice amongst the Christian’s that is liberating and comforting. The voice is amongst us and not ethereal. God calls me through the testimony of the Church and the Jewish nation. A voice written and shared from one to another. A testimony so thick it lies within my deepest conscience, being taught to me as early as I could comprehend. The voice of God in the voice of my mother as she nursed me to bed. The voices within my head are the voices of the community long dead, but live again in my genetics, my generation.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

His Master's Voice

Thank you for the response Linda. Linda is an old friend who writes a response to yesterdays blog. I asked her if I could share it...

"When I say that I hear God, its not that I hear an audible voice in my head, but rather in the workings of my life, in the fabric and tapestry of the people that surround me.

I get frustrated from time to time, especially in traffic when I inevitably get stuck behind a learner driver. At the peak of frustration, its as if there's a gentle tap on my shoulder as if to say, once upon a time, that was you. Equally, when coming upon an accident, I'm grateful for the driver who for some unknown reason, was driving slowly in front of me that particular day.

Throughout my life there have been moments when things could have gone very badly (a rapist had been terrorising the area we lived in when I was in my teens. His MO was to open the transam window and using some contraption hook the keys out the door. When we woke up in the morning the windows (which we'd closed the night before) were wide open and the keys were missing from the door, but we were unharmed. Other victims were not so lucky. The good news is that he was finally apprehended), but something has stepped inbetween. I see God and hear Him through my friends and see the effect He has on their lives.

God has a way of speaking to us each in a way that we can individually comprehend. Those that need an audible voice will hear Him, those that are able to read between the lines will see hear in their bible readings and see Him in the fabric of the lives as the pattern unfolds before them. It is for us to be patient, to open our hearts, minds and souls, before the message becomes clear."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

God said to us

How do I cope with people who tell me that "God said this and God said that to them?"
I talk to God as if God is listening to me but I am not that bold to claim that God spoke directly to me. It is a frightful thing to claim such high revelation, as if irrefutable. Somehow and somewhere in the reflections of my life I see the thread of the divine interlaced in the fabric of my doings. In the grandeur of those moments before lakes, trees, and high calling birds, there I sense the peace of something beyond. In my reading of what I deem inspired, I hear the movement of God between each page. The collect wisdom of many who pen their God given hopes to the archives of history, a distant voice that moves through the ages. The call to belong to the community that draws on something higher than itself. The realization that even if I am not the privileged one who hears God direct, that I will be satisfied with the testimony of the many. To rejoice amidst God’s faithful who share God’s voice collect. May I be content in my own holiness and my own dealings with God and this world. Let me not be discouraged if God has not "spoken" directly to me, let me rejoice rather that God has spoken to "us". Those of you reading this blog I challenge to leave a comment of how you hear the voice of God in your life. I may even use it in this weeks sermon (with your permission of course).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Prayer - Let me care

My prayer today is a prayer for my soul to find love in the avenues and byways of all my relationships. To find a heart that cares when people hurt and eyes that are prepared to cry when people leave me. A prayer that I may see in the eyes of each person I know the glimpses of something I can treasure and care for as if it were the most exciting part of my life. As much as I long for the freedom of open spaces, mountain vistas, and silent spaces, may I too long for the joy of sharing my life with the lives of others. May I find peace not only in my own quietness but peace when in the company of strangers and those I know so well. My prayer today is that you will help me to become less satisfied in my own desire and self achievement and better fulfilled in the service of others.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Break on through to the other side

The story in John 21:1-19, reminds me of a fishing adventure my brother-in-law went on off the coast of Cape Town. He was fishing for Yellowfin Tuna on the one side of the boat whilst another tourist was swimming behind the boat in the hope of becoming one with the sharks. Some people I will never understand. Similarly, the disciples are catching fish on the one side of the boat whilst Peter is going for a swim on the other. Not something one would ordinarily do. There is no walking on water, Peter just jumps into the “sea.” I also find it quite amusing. Peter puts his clothes on before he swims, usually we take our clothes off before we swim. What is also of interest is that these seasoned fishermen are prepared to listen to a strangers voice giving them instruction. I don’t think I would too readily listen to somebody I did not recognize hollowing instructions from the sideline. I remember fishing for bass in a small dam in the Drakensburg when a man walked by and started giving me endless instructions on how I should be fishing. My response was not to go and have breakfast with the guy. I wanted to rather hit him over the head with my fishing rod. These dispirited disciples are prepared to change course and direction with just the slightest whisper of a chance of catching fish. We can read our bibles and go over the same verses for years without the slightest hint of changing our course of direction. These disciples were prepared to change their long learned habits and try another approach. Maybe they had fished that side and had caught nothing? How many times do we hear the cliché, ‘but we have tried that before and it didn’t work.’ Maybe it was not the time to fish that side yet. They would do the other side only once they had fished this side for half an hour. How often are we so caught up in our routines of things that we miss out on life because it was not the time to do it. I was talking to my sister the other day and I was impressed to here her say, “when my teenage daughter’s want to talk to me, I drop everything I am doing and listen. At times it is very frustrating, they want to talk at the most inconvenient moments, but our relationship and their future is of utmost importance.” Routines are life-giving and life-destroying. They keep our life from falling apart, help us steadily work towards goals, but if not checked and made flexible, can rob us of opportunities that capture new forms life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Resurrection physics

Am I truly blessed because I have not seen Jesus risen, but yet believe it? It is much harder yes. A scientific paradigm cannot calculate mystery and wonder. No science textbook has ever wowed me into anything greater unless it has helped me ponder the indescribable and mysterious otherness of creation. Our secular brains are not meant to believe in such things as the resurrection. We are not trained to believe this way. You are blessed because you can observe life objectively. That is today’s blessing. To distance oneself from the event studied and find oneself lost in relative skepticism. I would rather be lost in mysterious wonder really. To believe that there is a greater being ushering in something more beautiful than quarks and other less appealing subatomic particles.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Gospel Gossip

Easter tomorrow and I am preaching on the God who seeks life rather than suffering. The woman at the tomb were instructed that Christ was not to be found among the dead but the living. The God-man Jesus spent most of his life "giving life" in all manner and means and not sitting with only a sympathetic ear. Another aspect of the scripture account came to me this morning. After realizing the risen Jesus, the woman rush back to tell everybody. This also includes Peter who goes back to tell. There is no ways you can contain the import of such an event within yourself. There are many things in life that are wiser kept closer to the breast, but the surprise of life offered to us by God should be imparted with enthusiasm. The response will no doubt be with cynical retort, but the heart alive in the risen Christ will blurt it out non-the-less. It is important that we move from Church on Sunday blurting forth the Good News. It is the one day I encourage folk to Gossip as much as they want. But, that is Gossip with a big “G.” Gospel gossip. I have asked worshipers leaving our Tenebrae and Good Friday services to leave in quietness and reverence, but will not do the same tomorrow. Christ is risen.