Seventh Sunday of Easter 12.5.13 John 17.20-end

1 05 2013

Sharing Unity

The words of Jesus invite us to explore the depths of unity and to become reconciling people.

John 17.20-end

Jesus said,  ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

25 ‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. Who are ‘these’ in verse 1?
  2. How do you explain the idea of ‘unity’ expressed here in plain English?
  3. To what extent does the word ‘unity’ do justice to the mutual indwelling described here?

Heart Questions

  1. Do you find the idea of unity liberating or constricting?
  2. In verse 24 Jesus expresses his desire in prayer. Do you?
  3. What does it feel like to be at one with others?

Hand Questions

  1. To whom can you take the word of the Gospel?
  2. What practical action of yours might facilitate Christian unity?
  3. What are the qualities of a reconciling person?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.





1st Sunday of Advent 2.12.12 Luke 21.25-36

24 11 2012

Be Alert At All Times

This passage takes us back a fortnight. Then we were looking at the first eight verses of Mark 13. Now it is an equally worrying passage from Luke.

Welcome to Luke’s gospel, by the way. We are with Luke for a year now. (It’s not all like this.)

Luke 21.25-36

Jesus said,‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

29 Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

34 ‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection I am going to suggest three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels. You might prefer to stay in one area. But beware of staying in your comfort zone. That’s rarely where profound preaching comes from.

‘Head Questions’

  1. Who is the ‘Son of Man’?
  2. Why does Jesus not invite his hearers to consider a tree in the autumn?
  3. What do you make of Jesus’ prediction that, ‘this generation will not pass away’?

‘Heart Questions’

  1. How do you feel when caught in a storm?
  2. Do you ever get ‘weighed down with dissipation and drunkeneness’ – or is ‘worry’ more your thing?
  3. How do you feel about standing before the Son of Man?

‘Hand Questions’?

  1. Can you tell the signs of the times?
  2. How much of your life are you investing in that which will not pass away?
  3. Can you ‘be altert at all times’ over the next four weeks? ( If not, how much alertness can you expect of yourself?)

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up – working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.





3rd Sunday before Lent 5.2.12. Mark 1.29-39 Prayer, Vocation and Mission

22 01 2012

Prayer, Vocation and Mission

Last week’s passage was about teaching and authority. This week’s is about healing and prayer.  But the questions of power and authority are never far from the surface.

 Mark 1.29-39

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ 38He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Reflections and Questions

‘as soon as’ v 29. The pace remains crisp. There are no pauses.  Synagogue – home – sickness – healing – service: breathless. It seems odd to us that the poor woman sets about serving as soon as she is well. ‘Normality is resumed’ seems to be the message.  To what extent do you see Jesus as the restorer of the normal – or its questioner?

‘the whole city’ v 33 Once again we have a crowd scene.  But this time the demons do not speak (see Mark 1. 24).  Jesus has complete power over them.  The plot is beginning to develop.  What do you understand by spiritual power?

‘In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed’. v 35  Well, what else is there to do after a day’s healing and coping with demons?  Might it be that the pace and dynamism of Jesus’ ministry both requires and enables such withdrawal?  How do you imagine his ‘deserted place’?  What are yours?

‘Let us go on on to the neighbouring towns’  v 28 The energy level is back. The missionary passion is there. But notice that before, or at least alongside, mission comes vocation: ‘that is what I came out to do’.  Maybe that was what the prayer was about: reconnecting with vocation which is both ‘call’ and ‘send’.  What is your call? How does it connect to your ‘send’?