Living Wisely

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Tender Hearted, © Mark Hewitt 2015

Last week we finished off with
"Imitate God, we are beloved children; and live in love, because Christ loves us – a beautiful fragrant love."

What does that mean for you? Or what could it mean?

Now that we have grasped we are to imitate God, we are loved a beautiful fragrant love.  We imitate that love to others.

So whats next?

 

Act like people with good sense – be wise
A counsel to be careful, which might be another way of saying pay attention to your words and actions.  Such attentiveness is the way of the wise and includes an awareness of the broader story of God and creation.

 

Evil times
May have been directed specifically to things happening in Ephesus yet as we now all times in many ways are evil times – that evil manifests itself in different ways in different decades.

 

Make every minute count
These times are not the be all and end all of life; with God, life transcends this age and that perspective is meant to evoke an attitude of humility and responsibility.

 

Don’t destroy yourself ...
You may be saying “well I’m ok , I don’t get Drunk – never have”.  Well getting drunk is only an example.  Any such behaviour that clouds judgment and takes us away from the way of the wise.

 

Be Spirit filled. – with the Spirit driving
Gratitude is the posture followers of Jesus are encouraged to assume; gratitude to God, the source of all life.

What else could we do being Spirit driven?


Rev Mark Hewitt, 19 August 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NRSV)

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God of wisdom, God of love,
guide us in your way of peace,
so we may find and nurture healing
in our broken world. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

I am the bread of heaven, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Anger to Love

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Stop lying and be honest, for we belong to one another.

Let go of anger and make peace instead.

Encourage those who would steal, for example, to work with honest labour, and share what they make with the poor.

Resist words that hurt and speak instead to encourage each other, so that words will help whoever might hear them grow stronger.

Let go of bitterness and rage, anger, slander, and hatred.

Instead, be kind and tender-hearted, and forgive one another, remembering that God in Christ has forgiven us.

Above all, imitate God, because we are God’s beloved children; and live in love, because Christ loves us – a beautiful, fragrant love.


Rev Rob Stoner, 12 August 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2 (NRSV)

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We put away falsehood, lies, deceitful words and actions.
We take up truth, honesty, openness in our words and actions.

We put away anger that leads us to cause harm with our words and actions.
We take up words and actions that help create peace.

We put away stealing, greed, grasping for all we can get for ourselves.
We take up honest work with our hands, to have something to share with those in need.

We put away evil talk, mean words, insults, slander, and judgment of others.
We take up speech that builds others up, encourages, comforts, and offers others hope.

We put away bitterness, revenge, the desire to cause others harm.
We take up kindness, tender-hearted attitudes, forgiving one another.

All that we put away we leave at the feet of Jesus, the crucified one.
All that we take up we do so in the hope which comes from Jesus, the resurrected one.

Hear us as we pray and live in us anew this day Jesus, Lord of our lives.

Amen.

Tender Hearted, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2015

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Building Up the Body

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One body - diversity, © Mark Hewitt 2015

Unity – together as one in Christ

The key message from Paul, the last sentence he uses a metaphor of a body.

This part of the letter to the Ephesians has three areas of emphasis.

  1. In the beginning, there is the image of the church as one body called by the one God (who embodies many in one – Creator, Redeemer, and Spirit), and the reassurance of hope that comes from this relationship with God.
  2. Then, there is the discussion of the grace and the gifts that each person is given, no one is excluded; but these are not gifts without purpose, they are given so that everyone will have a part to play in the building up of the church.
  3. Finally, there is the reminder that we are expected to mature in our faith, not continuing in child-like ways, and we are offered the description of the church as fully grown and fully functional in its Christ-likeness, linked and knitted together in love, as solidly as a body is knitted together by its ligaments.   (Seasons of the Spirit 2018)

What does oneness mean? That we think speak and do all the same? Is disagreement or difference of opinion restricted?

No!

We are to be mature, able to handle complexities, disagreements & differences of opinion.  We are to have a robust understanding of oneness and to embrace the multiplicity of one God who is above all and through all and in all.


Rev Mark Hewitt, 5 August 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Ephesians 4:1-16 (NRSV)

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling,one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.Therefore it is said,
‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.’
(When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Lord, make our hearts places of peace
and our minds harbours of tranquility.
Sow in our souls true love for you
and for one another;
and root deeply within us
friendship and unity,
and concord with reverence.
So may we give peace to each other sincerely
and receive it beautifully.

Seasons of the Spirit 2018

Prayerful colouring - One body Ephesians 4., Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2015

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Who Does God Say We Are?

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Like Wind, Like Fire, © Mark Hewitt 2017

Pre our digital age, letter writing was the primary form of communication.  Many of you will would be familiar with them.

Who still writes & sends letters?

I myself was never much of a letter writer but I did like sending post cards.  Restricted to a 150 characters (sound familiar today?) Is Twitter or Instagram the new postcard?

 

Back to letters

Has there been a significant letter received in your life or is there significant letter in history  you are aware of? Why is it significant?

 

We will focus on the letter to the Ephesians in coming weeks.

Who are we?

Many voices compete in answer to that question.

Those close to us, Family, friends, collegues in the different groups to which belong. Facebook friends, Society

Then there is our own voice; often the most critical voice in our head. Who are we? What words come to mind? Are they kind words or critical?

 

This first part of the letter to the Ephesians gets us to ask such a question, Who are we? Of all the opinions of who we are, none really matter, when as we hear from Ephesians; In God’s eyes we are blessed, holy, and blameless.

Let that soak in,forget all other voices, cast them all aside.

You are blessed, holy, and blameless.

 

We are also “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit,” You have your flame received at the door. We have the art piece I painted for the season; Like fire like wind.

 

Spend a few moments in reflection

No recording available. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Ephesians 1:1-14 (NRSV)

THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE

Ephesians

Salutation

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

God of blessing, help us hear again, as if for the first time, that we are holy, blameless, blessed.
May we be the blessing you hope we will be,
witnesses to your joy and love. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Ephesians 1 Destined as God's children, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Brush Away the Dust

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Shake off the dust, © Mark Hewitt 2012

How do you think Jesus would have known he was not welcome?

This was a missed opportunity for those who made Jesus unwelcome.  Jesus too missed out on a really special time with his home town.  The spirit dwells and moves in ways that do not always conform to our own expectations and conventions.  The hometown people were not receptive to what Jesus had to offer.  They were the one’s to miss out on something special, as they were not open to God’s spirit.

What of Jesus’ words of instruction to the disciples, if they encounter unwelcome?  “shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them,”  Is there malice or anger in Jesus’ words, or are we being shown that there are circumstances when the need to move on is greater than the need to stay?

 


Rev Mark Hewitt, 8 July 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Mark 6: 1-13 (NRSV)

He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Maryand brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Lead us, O God, into relationships that give strength.
May we find in your presence
the discovery of our call
and empowerment for its practice.
Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Sandles, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Reconnection

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Chain Links, © Mark Hewitt

Have their been times when you have felt isolated & alone?

What of this woman?
The Woman shamed & Isolated – unclean all the time, cannot worship & therefore cannot be a full member of the community. This remains a Justice issue even today In the two thirds world Women/Young girls still isolated.

What are the wider issues of isolation?
Why is that so? 

Jesus healing stories are all about reconnection; Haemorrhaging woman enters back in community and Jairus daughter grows up to be a full member of community.


Rev Mark Hewitt, 1 July 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Mark 5: 21-43 (NRSV)

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it.But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

For the sake of others and the sake of ourselves:
we approach you, God.
Whether we come boldly or tentatively,
we are looking for your accepting grace.
We seek a touch that brings healing.
We seek the strength to do good.
We seek a meaningful life. We seek you. Hear us.
Touch us. Heal us. Be with us as we live. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Coats, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Power & Vulnerability

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Ripples, © Mark Hewitt 2018

David is only able to access God’s strength after he discards Saul’s armour and stands before Goliath as his authentic self.

Brené Brown argues that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy … and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path” (Daring Greatly, Penguin Books Ltd).

We face a paradox, to find strength we need to be vulnerable. That is counter intuitive. It puts us at risk. Lets’s face it we are usually risk averse.

Who is your authentic self?

Is that who you let others see?

There are many Goliaths in the world today. It is easy to feel overwhelmed & think how is me being authentic going to make a difference?

Take heart, have hope. David took a small smooth pebble, Threw it to great effect.

Your actions are like that small smooth pebble when thrown into water create ripples one after the other moving further & further out.


Mark Hewitt, 24 June 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

1 Samuel 17: 1-49 (NRSV)

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines.The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armoured with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.’ And the Philistine said, ‘Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.’ When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle; the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.David was the youngest; the three eldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

Jesse said to his son David, ‘Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them.’

Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. David rose early in the morning, left someone in charge of the sheep, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

All the Israelites, when they saw the man, fled from him and were very much afraid. The Israelites said, ‘Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. The king will greatly enrich the man who kills him, and will give him his daughter and make his family free in Israel.’ David said to the men who stood by him, ‘What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’ The people answered him in the same way, ‘So shall it be done for the man who kills him.’

His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, ‘Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.’ David said, ‘What have I done now? It was only a question.’ He turned away from him towards another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.

When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him. David said to Saul, ‘Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’Saul said to David, ‘You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.’ But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.’ David said, ‘The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.’ So Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the Lord be with you!’

Saul clothed David with his armour; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armour, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, ‘I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.’ So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.’ But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.’

When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly towards the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

Living God, when we find ourselves on the battlefield,
may Jesus’ words, “Peace! Be still!”
strike against the rim of our singing-bowl hearts.
May your love reverberate through us
allowing us to stand in your strength
and carry out your will. Amen

Seasons of the Spirit

Ripples, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2018

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God’s Role for me

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The Parable of the Mustard Seed, ©Mark Hewitt 1999

1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13 (NRSV)

Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Samuel Anoints David

The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.’ Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.’ And the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.’ Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’ Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.


In the parable of the Mustard seed, we are offered hope.  We see greatness coming out of small beginnings.  The mustard seed is so small, yet, the mature shrub can reach 3 metres.

God’s realm can be experienced in the most unspectacular, commonplace or “shrub like” events. This is God’s world located in the ordinary.  It may start small but will end up disproportionally large.

The Mustard Scrub though requires time, patience along with good soil, preparation & feeding to grow from a small seed to that large shrub.

Connecting back to our first reading, David was a very young boy.  Anointed, yes.  But it was a long time yet before he himself becomes king.  There a a few other chapters yet to be lived through.  David had to grow into being King as the mustard seed must wait its time to grow into a bush.  Callings on one’s life or a community can take time to come into being.  Each of us is chosen by God to do particular things, the nature of which will change over time.  There are always opportunities to do new things, be called to new tasks.


Rev Mark Hewitt, 17 June 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Mark 4: 26-34 (NRSV)

The Parable of the Growing Seed

He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’

The Use of Parables

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Dear God, we confess that
instead of putting our trust in you,
we often want to know the outcome
before we say yes to the invitation.
Grant us the courage to answer your call,
and help us to remember
you have chosen us for something special.

Amen

Seasons of the Spirit

Mustard seed, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

Click to download and colour in as you listen to the message.

Who will lead us? How shall they lead us?

Rob Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

As Samuel become an old man, the fledgling nation of Israel is thrown into turmoil. Who will lead us now? And how will they lead us? Despite the warning given by Samuel, the people are determined to have a king “like other nations”. In doing so, they reject God as their ultimate ruler.

Eventually God decides to re-enter the fray and make a new and decisive claim to the kingship, in the coming of Jesus the Christ, who announces and enacts the coming of the kingdom of God. Although this is a political statement showing that the kingdom of God stands in opposition to the kingdoms of this world, Jesus ordains a new style of kingship, a new understanding of the sort of leadership which the kingdom of God engenders.

One researcher says that people believe in leaders who exercise three qualities; courage, compassion, and connection – and these are certainly present in the heart of Jesus’ leadership.

Those of us living today who have a faith in Jesus Christ are members of the kingdom of God and participants in its work and the kingdom of God requires of each and every one of us that we demonstrate the leadership that is needed to enable the kingdom of God to become more established in this world. We must be the ones who show leadership with courage, compassion, and connection so the kingdom of God can make continuing inroads into the injustice, pain and apathy of this world.


Rob Stoner, 10 June 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

1 Samuel 8: 4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15) (NRSV)

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

Israel’s Request for a King Granted

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’

Samuel said to the people, ‘Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.’ So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the Lord, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.

Our prayer is best summed up in the words of a song from Nicaragua and the World Council of Churches translated by Jorge Maldonodo.

Sent by the Lord am I; my hands are ready now
to make the earth place in which the kingdom comes.
The angels cannot change a world of hurt and pain
into a world of love, of justice and of peace.
The task is mine to do, to set it really free.
O help me to obey, help me to do your will.

Let that be our prayer today and always, “Help me to do your will.” Amen.

 

Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

Click to download and colour in as you listen to the message.

Listening: ear, eye, heart

mark Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

To Listen – To hear
Are they the same thing?

I might not hear but I can still listen. How can I do that?

Chinese character portrays the characteristics well.  To listen well requires ear, eye & heart.  Be concious throughout the service that to listen requires all three – ear, eye & heart

God speaks (communicates) to us to encourage, comfort & guide.  Often to call us deeper on a journey together.  That usually entails change.

From that simple story of Samuel’s, there is a lot at stake.  Israel was in a mess at this time.  They were not a nation but a collection of tribes and they were fighting each other - no clear leadership.  This was Eli & Samuel’s world.  At first they both fail to grasp whats going on - to be fair the hearing God was rare & visions not all that common.

Eli the priest, years of experience & wisdom ‘Cottons on.’  Eli encourages Samuel to speak, even though he realises the end of his family dynasty of preistly leadership.  His boys don’t take his mantle.  Samuel does.

Eli’s mentoring & God’s guidance takes Samuel on the path of Leadership.  His life is changed forever as is Israel’s as under his leadership they move from a loose group of tribes into a nation.  All from Eli listening to God.

Listening though is only the first step.  As Samuel once he had listened to God, speaks for God, and acts for God.  Once we have listened to God, we need to have the courage to speak and to Act.

What is it that we are to have the courage to speak of Love, to act for Love. God’s Love of us & all!

Love is the Loudest voice.


Rev Mark Hewitt, 17 June 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (NRSV)

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” ’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’

Our lives are full of noise;
yet we fail to listen, fail to hear.
Sometimes we use the noise as an excuse.
We say we are too busy to listen to God,
too busy to listen to each other,
too busy even to listen to ourselves.
Sometimes we hear,
but we choose to ignore.
God does speak.
Like Samuel, we may not understand immediately; sometimes we need time and help to hear.
But God still speaks, encouraging and restoring,
challenging and confronting.
As we listen and respond,
we partner with God for good.

Amen

 

Seasons of the Spirit

Chinese character for listen, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2018

Click to download and colour in as you listen to the message.