As I was preparing for our bible study I came across this poem (by Cheryl Lawrie) which seems to me, to encapsulate something of the mystery of the season of Advent when we are constantly preparing… for Christmas, to remember the birth of Christ… preparing a place for Christ within our hearts, preparing for his coming again … preparing and “waiting for what”
Perhaps our mistake is thinking
that love will always come
in the shape we have known it:
a happy ending
a new beginning
In this pregnant pause
while the earth holds its breath
waiting for what
it does not know,
let us have the faith
that even we,
with all our wise
would not imagine
the shape that love
and instead just
have the faith
that it will come.
I have had an exhausting but productive week in my week of intensive training in The Spiritual Direction Formation programme which I began at the beginning of this year.
I truly hope that the insights and understanding I gain through this training might enhance my ministry amongst you, and the wider community… Unfortunately, I have had little time to reflect on the readings but offer you these words from “Words for Worship”, which seem appropriate given our Harvest Festival/ Thanksgiving ” theme of last weeks Worship with Bishop Geoff.
“It is interesting to note that, in the Hebrew Scriptures, there is a recognition of a woman’s talents. Deborah is seen as a prophetess, one who could save the people from oppression. It would be good to ask ourselves how many people do not have their talents recognized for all sorts of reasons of injustice and discrimination. In Matthew we hear Jesus reminding us how important it is to use the talents that we have been given, even if we make mistakes in doing so. In our churches, we could create a climate of affirmation and invitation which might help us discover all manner of talents and gifts which are present among us. God’s life-giving power let loose in the world unleashes abundant possibilities for justice, love, and compassion. How do you imagine you and your church are being called to take part in God’s reign? How will you use God’s gifts to you in faithful and extravagant service to God and neighbour? It is not enough to “believe”, we must act in faith and hope and express who we are as part of God’s good creation.”
As a matter of Justice,Love and Compassion for the wider world, we will consider, in our worship today, the needs of the people of PNG and launch the Archbishops” November Appeal.
This is the last Sunday in the church’s year. Thoughout the year we have journeyed with Christ and the people of God, from expectation to birth, from life to death, from death to resurrection, and from resurrection to Ascension and Pentecost and today we gather to celebrate Christ in triumph… Christ the King!
It is a joyful occasion- reminding us that, however things may seem, in the world around us, Jesus Christ is Lord and ruler of all.
Yet there is another side to the Kingship of Christ and the gospel for today (Matthew 25:31-46) spells it out pretty clearly. Jesus was born, he died and rose again to bring all people (all of creation) into relationship with God. This is a joy and a wonder- but Jesus is also the judge of all.
I came across these words in my reading this week… they made me think…
“Do we really see the reign of Christ as expressed in love for the little and the least? How often do we recognize that the lean, rather than the fat sheep, are the loved of God who will be cared for by the Good Shepherd? There is no place for prosperity theology in any of this. When we explore how we understand the reign of anybody in this world, we normally expect to see dimensions of privilege and power. Do we really even elect to high office those who lead us towards caring for the vulnerable? Certainly not in our country, if we think of refugees, foreign aid commitments and other people who are struggling to survive. Yet, the reign of Christ will only be seen among us when we change all this.” (Words for Worship)
Not only is today an excellent culmination for the year- the gospel is also a wonderful “kick start to our preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ.
This Sunday we offer a warm welcome to the Rt Rev Geoff Smith, our Southern Region Bishop, who comes to lead our worship, and offer words of encouragement and wisdom as we celebrate the richness of God’s blessings in our individual and collective lives, and step into the future and ministry opportunities that await.
We pray that Geoff may know how welcome he is among us and truly enjoy the fellowship of the people of St Paul’s at Manly.
For the family of God who regularly gather for worship at St Paul’s, this is a special day. We are truly blessed to live in this part of God’s world… and we are blessed with the richness of diversity and giftedness of our members- young and not so young! We have much to celebrate.
Today also gives us the opportunity to consider what we are doing with our God given gifts and talents… to seek guidance for our Mission and recommit ourselves to the mission of the church.
In a little over two years (18th of April 2014) we will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone, of St Paul’s church, by the Most Rev P.N.W. Strong – Lord Archbishop of Brisbane.
As we begin to plan how best to celebrate the occasion it will be important, not only to give thanks for the faithful generosity and foresight of those who have gone before, but to consider how we might best build on the foundations they have laid… and ask of God and ourselves “What now?” … “What is the Mission to which our Lord is calling us now?”
These are days of promise and hope… I for one am glad to share them with you.
God’s Peace and Blessings