Conversations with God and community
Ever wondered how a sermon gets written? Remember those tv programmes showing bloopers and cuttings from the editors suite floor. Maybe it helps to think of this collection of words like that. During a week, the pull of the Sunday sermon is never far from the ministers mind. As the week progresses so does a conversation within the church. It's a free flow of ideas, pictures, feelings and thoughts amongst a group of people, a conversation amongst interested parties you might say. The minister is in there as is the parish and community around him, but so is the bible passage, God and a number of books culled from the manse bookshelves.The conversation flows and develops over the week. Check here to see how it's going each week and discover where you might find conversation partners to help you think things through each week.
HARVEST FESTIVAL on SUNDAY 3rd OCTOBER 2016
The day dawned bright with plenty of sunshine as the congregation, in great numbers, arrived at East Church bearing their harvest gifts. The sun shone into the church, which had been beautifully decorated by the Flower Ladies. Their imaginative arrangements were quite breathtaking.
In the opinion of the writer the church was truly in one of its best celebration modes and the enormous efforts of the Flower Team were immediately obvious. It also appeared that the flowers chosen were just right for the occasion and the mix of colours and textures quite divine. Every corner had a glorious display. A local harvest stook had proud of place at the front of the church and reminded me of past days when every column of my church was surrounded by corn and barley stooks.
It was also a first for the church by the presentation of a Woolly Harvest Festival Display, the results of yet many more parish labours by
The Kent cricket team from the 1970s started my thinking towards the sermon on Sunday. Maybe you remember some of the names; A P E Knott, Derek Underwood and Colin Cowdry were among them. Whether it was wielding the bat, bowling a ball or catching at full stretch, they were a joy to watch especially at the ground in Canterbury with that tree in the way just by the boundary. Only in cricket would a tree be replaced to ensure continuity if play if it were damaged like this one was during the war. What a decision that was to make. To replace it elsewhere might have made things a little easier. It's just not cricket is it? But decisions are needed in cricket if you are to influence the outcome of a game. How does this relate to Luke's gospel? Well through the range if decisions needed.
You see the bible reading this week was a hard one so no doubt my mind wandered elsewhere as I thought of what Jesus meant us to take from the parable of the shrewd (dishonest?) manager. Luke seems to have struggled with it too. He added his own pithy little summary to help us all out. You can't serve both God and money. But is that satisfactory here? One way of reading the story suggests we should reward dishonesty. For me this parable is like a game of cricket. You read it and you read it again. Each time you read it, you are living within different situations of life. Sometimes in cricket you reach for a catch other times your hitting the ball for six while next week you might be tripping over the boundary rope as you try fruitlessly to stop the ball rolling over. It's the same with this parable. Is the master always God or is he just a master-someone in control; a person holding power over another? Is this about a better life or eternal life? Are we to see exploitation here for financial gain or the excercise of sympathy to help out those in need? When you get down to it, the road map for life that the gospels offer is still full of decisions; of balancing requirements and wondering what it all means. That's one of the great things of being part of the church-even all these years after Jesus told his stories, even though we now have cricket to show us fair play, we still have to work out just how Jesus wants us to apply his stories to our lives in different situations,
There are many great theologians piling thought onto thought through Church history. but remember the Spirit that we celebrate the coming of at Pentecost moves as it will. What does that mean, well simply that you don't need to be famous or work in an ivory tower counting the number of angels on a pin head to have great theological insights. Take my dentist for example. It turns out she is a bit of a theologian. Not only does she have a good grasp of the Maximus mouse stories, but she gets the Holy Spirit and Pentecost How do I know? Well she was the one who gave me the key to the sermon this week.
Sitting in the dentist chair, my mouth occupied with things metal, and my gums occupied with things anaesthetic, I discovered my dentists view of just how the Holy Spirit works.' There's one word that sums up the Holy Spirit,' she said,' removing what felt like a ten foot metal spanner from my mouth. twisting a metal screw on the filling mould, she said one word.......
I'm a bit surprised this week. Why? Well all sermons have a starting point and this week mine was our kettle.
Now don't get me wrong I'm as .........
Great ideas for Sunday worship spring up from unlikely places. Be ready for God to stretch you at anytime is a message from the gospels. But then again sometimes it's ordinary things like books that contain the ideas you need. The picture above is a case for me. A lovely sculpture. A symmetrical structure. What do you see? A square of love? but look between the letters. What's there? Yes, air. Air, God's world surrounded and enclosed by love. Maybe like me the first thing you saw in the sculpture was just a great big expressive OOOO which maybe immediately requires an answering AAAAhhh.
Love surrounds us. Love in the middle of a very modern city centre claims the space for us and forces us to react. OOOO ---AAAAh. Look at me. I'm a sculpture showing love to everyone as they past.
Yes it's great when ideas for worship especially as this one did right after worship last week. That looks a lot like the reading for Sunday I thought as I peered through the oooo and discovered the four loves.
Sunday was about that new commandment God gave us through Jesus. Love one another as I have loved you. In particular the reason why we should do this. Simply because it is by this that everyone will know that you are my disciples.
No pressure there, then. God's disciples., us you might say.
Listen again to last weeks sermon
'A bit of a day out for me this Sunday so I can't really comment on worship at Banchory Ternan East. I wasn't there. I'd travelled all the way from Banchory to Portethen. Not a holiday, you understand, but time spent with a congregation preparing to look for a new minister. Not a holiday, but tacked onto a week away for me looking into my roots in border country. So the question was how to prepare for Sunday in a hotel room without my usual supply of books and commentaries and only a rather feeble WiFi to rely on.
Help came from an unusual source. The film Paddington Bear. Not a true life adventure documentary, but the video antics of a bear who loves marmalade. I've always had a feeling of kin ship with Paddington. He likes marmalade. No breakfast is complete for me without marmalade. What more proof is needed that he would be there to support me when needed.
John reminds us that Jesus' sheep listen to him. Jesus reminds us that He is one with the Father. We remind ourselves that we are Jesus' sheep so we listen. It seems a good soundbite, but what does it mean? Listening to Jesus is the same as listening to God. Yes, but how does that work? It contains ideas of stretching yourself to dig from John's gospel. Working in your comfort zone is alright as long as you are listening to God who, by the way, often wants to stretch you. Who said there's little humour in the Bible. Listen and stretch, ah yes a satisfactory message for Sunday is emerging even if it does sound a little like a keep fit DVD. The church is vacant, going through the process of looking for a new minister so it seems as though listening to God while at the same time preparing to be stretched may be the right way. But how to explain it in less Goddy terms. Enter Paddington the movie, go on, forget about ideas of making butterflies of hope, ask the congregation to enter into the story. The bear who comes full of hope to UK, but finds only one family 'The Browns' willing to take him in. Grudgingly all members agree and before you know it Paddington is surfing down the stairs in a bath. He didn't mean to, it just happened and he had to go with the flow (ha ha). Well more than that he had to control it somehow. Even though the process wasn't always smooth the Browns gave Paddington a home. What better way to act on what you hear from God. A vacant church full of listening people, a talkative God and suddenly a vision appears of what it means to find a new ministry. A group of people sharing a sense of belonging in the presence of God listening to him, to each other and the community around them. Now there's church in action.
Short Reference list this week:
Paddington Bear -the movie
Peter invites the disciples to return to their fishing, They cannot catch anything.
The risen Jesus tells them where to find fish, and invites them for a meal.
Jesus then renews his invitation to Peter to ‘follow me’.
They do and the church as we know it starts. It's our turn to follow Jesus. On Sunday we reminded ourselves of this by working out where we would be on a particular date and writing that place on a paper 'foot' shape. These we laid on the floor making a passage to the door. Then we reminded ourselves using the prayer of St Theresa of Avila that we are the only hands and feet Jesus has on Earth to help him these days. Check out how the East church serves the community and helps out in the world on our website: Banchoryeastchurch.com
.Sometimes working as the church in the world is not straight forward it's as if the dove of peace hovers over barbed wire sometimes. Check out on this site how you could get involved further in all that the East church does to serve the community and help out in the world.