Power & Vulnerability

mark Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

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

mark Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

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.


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

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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

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Alive in Love

mark Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

Like wind … Like fire … , ©Mark Hewitt 2017

Here is a story where the stage is set for miscommunication.

Yet something amazing takes place in Jerusalem ….

Acts 2: 1-21 (CEV)

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting.

Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.

Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem. And when they heard this noise, a crowd gathered.

But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages.

They were excited and amazed, and said:

Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee?

Then why do we hear them speaking our very own languages? Some of us are from Parthia, Media, and Elam.

Others are from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya near Cyrene, Rome, 11 Crete, and Arabia. Some of us were born Jews,

and others of us have chosen to be Jews.

Yet we all hear them using our own languages

to tell the wonderful things God has done.

12 Everyone was excited and confused.

Some of them even kept asking each other,

“What does all this mean?”

13 Others made fun of the Lord’s followers and said,

“They are drunk.”

Peter Speaks to the Crowd

14 Peter stood with the eleven apostles

and spoke in a loud and clear voice to the crowd:

Friends and everyone else living in Jerusalem,

listen carefully to what I have to say!

15 You are wrong to think that these people are drunk.

After all, it is only nine o’clock in the morning.

16 But this is what God had the prophet Joel say,

17 “When the last days come,
I will give my Spirit
to everyone.
Your sons and daughters
will prophesy.
Your young men
will see visions,
and your old men
will have dreams.
18 In those days I will give
my Spirit to my servants,
both men and women,
and they will prophesy.

19 I will work miracles
in the sky above
and wonders
on the earth below.
There will be blood and fire
and clouds of smoke.

20 The sun will turn dark,
and the moon
will be as red as blood
before the great
and wonderful day
of the Lord appears.
21 Then the Lord
will save everyone
who asks for his help.”


Mark Hewitt, 20 May 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

This part of Scripture in Acts 2 is seen as the birth of the church but it is only the first part of the story.

The second part of the coming of the spirit we heard read in Church a couple of weeks back.  It’s not that the Spirit needed to come twice but that the nature of the gathered group was not yet as inclusive as the Spirit.

So when another group of followers gathered soon after, the Spirit came again to complete the inclusive nature of the Church.

This time at Caesarea, a port city, north central Israel, admination centre of Judea province of Roman empire.  Cornelius a centeruion of the Italian Cohort, had gathered family & friends to hear the apostle Peter.

Acts 10: 44-48 (CEV)

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit took control of everyone who was listening.  45 Some Jewish followers of the Lord had come with Peter, and they were surprised that the Holy Spirit had been given to Gentiles.  46 Now they were hearing Gentiles speaking unknown languages and praising God. Peter said,  47 “These Gentiles have been given the Holy Spirit, just as we have! I am certain that no one would dare stop us from baptizing them.” 48 Peter ordered them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, and they asked him to stay on for a few days.

The new church is now truly inclusive. We hear in the first account that the Spirit comes like wind, like fire.

What does the Spirit bring?

It brings;
Oneness with God.
Lines of communication
Nothing like a smart phone – it never goes out of range
Clarity & Wisdom

It brings;
Courage to our voice.
Love to our action
Love of us that enables us to Love others.
As Love is the loudest voice.

May the Holy Spirit blow you in new directions.
May the Holy Spirit inspire you to do new things.
May the winds of Pentecost move your heart
and the flames of Pentecost warm your hearts.
May you go this day renewed, refreshed, challenged,
and secure in the knowledge of God’s love for you. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Like wind … like fire … , Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Love Leads the Way

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Tender Hearted, ©Mark Hewitt 2015

The disciples find themselves at a crossroads.  At a point where decisions need to be made as the risen Jesus has ascended to be back one with God.  They spent plenty of time in prayer before they acted to replace one of the 12.  Which they again did with prayer.

So how did the gathered faith community of 120 chose?  (notice anything about the number – a division of 12)

They put it to prayer.  They try and discern God’s will & to seal it by casting lots.

Its not the only way.

Hebrew Scriptures & our Christian Scriptures both have multiple examples of trying to discern God will.  Different ways of decision making for different circumstances.  No One way.

What is important though, was the community’s approach.
Their decision making process values scripture (1:20)
They had a close relationship with Jesus (1:21-22)
And entered the process in prayerful petition (1:24-25)

Prayer is found in all scriptural approaches to decision making.  Guidance through prayer is a process we need to continual use as we have never arrived.  God is always calling us on.  God’s Love is always there before us.  We step into it.

Love leads the way: Prayer helps us see


Mark Hewitt, 13 May 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26 (NRSV)

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, ‘Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.’
So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’ So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

God of enduring promise,
you know our hearts and minds.
Fill us with your thoughts
and right action according to your design.
Help us to be loving and kind.
We know that you speak to us,
and we listen for your wisdom now
and in the days to come. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Psalm 1 They are like trees planted by streams, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Loving Friends

Diane Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

God of love,
you speak all of creation into being and call it good;
you come amongst us and call us friends;
you move your spirit so that we may know your love extends
beyond any boundaries we may define.
Help us to be friends of one another and this world.
Open our hearts and minds to ideas and hopes
that can transform our lives
and the lives of those who are in need.

Where there is hunger and desperate need in the lives of others –
Where there is oppression and violence in the lives of others –
where there is deep sorrow, emptiness and anxiety;
open our hearts and minds
to ideas and hopes of generosity and simplicity,
justice and peace, compassion and your words of good news.
Show us how to love one another,
that joy may abound amongst all whom you call friends. Amen


Diane Bury, 6 May 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

John 15: 9-17 (NRSV)

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Love Abides

mark Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

Seppeltsville Vine, ©Mark Hewitt 2010

Vineyards, vines, grapes & wine are very much part of South Australia’s culture, so we are in a good place to understand the imagery and the importance of the vine to those who Jesus first spoke to.

Agriculturally, vines & their fruit, the grape, were a part of every day life in biblical times.  And as is the case today, the fruit of the vines were primarily for wine and then fruit for food.  So Jesus makes use of this rich resource of imagery, referring to himself & his community, as being a vine.  With the vine grower/gardener being none other than God.

What is it that makes the vine different than the trees?  A vine is a vine!  Its hard to tell one branch from another.  Where, one branch stops, and another begins.  All branches run together out of the central vine.  Branches aren’t usually referred to as branches but as part of the vine.  The vine is made of the whole Church community is a vine.  The mark of this faithful community is how it loves, not who its members are.

The vine though is not left to grow wild.  The gardener prunes so that each branch that bears fruit can bear even more – love even more.


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John 15: 1-8 (NRSV)

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunesto make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

God, you are the vine grower. We are the branches.
Help us abide in your true vine, Jesus the Christ,
so that we may bear much fruit.
Grant that we may faithfully proclaim the good news
until all are welcomed into the new life
you so generously give. Amen

Seasons of the Spirit

I am the true vine, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Love in Truth and Action

mark Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

Good Shepherd; Shepherding is a serious business, ©Mark Hewitt 2012

Forget all those paintings you’ve seen where a tall, blond, Jesus carries a fluffy white lamb in his arms.  This is a serious business.  A flock of sheep without a shepherd will soon be gone.  A good Shepherd is Committed – intertwined with the sheep with no one was more present with sheep than a shepherd.  Having a closeness and attention to the needs and natural tendencies of the flock.  They did more than just watch the sheep.

A Good Shepherd was Love in action.


Mark Hewitt, 22 April 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

John 10: 11-18 (NRSV)

‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’

God, you are the great carer of the world.
On Earth and in your presence
we can live lives of love and truth
knowing that in Jesus you lived alongside us
and in the Spirit, you live in us.

Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Psalm 23 He makes me lie down in green pastures, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt

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Love Means Showing Up

Graham Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

Rosellas, ©Graham Vawser

Our Easter experience has two parts.  At one point we realise that by the love of God, Jesus shows up in all the daily situations of our life and shares all our experience. And this leads to a realisation that in the love of God we too must show up to others with our awareness of the blessings which Jesus can bring into all the circumstances of their lives. Like the earliest followers of Jesus we, too, are witnesses to the love of God which continues to show up in our world.


Graham Vawser, 15 April 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Luke 24: 36b-48 (NRSV)

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

You, Jesus, are the one who shows up when we need you.
When we look at this world and wonder how it got this way,
when we see the devastation of lands and waters of creation marred at our hands,
we find it hard to know that you remain in control,
that you are still with us.

Help us show up when anyone needs a friend.
Guide us to the streets, shelters and prisons;
show us refugees, runaways, and those with the deepest needs.
May they see your love in us, so that they might discover and experience
your abiding, generous, uncomplicated love.

And when we need a friend,
when we doubt,
be with us.
Grant us a sense of joy that overwhelms our worst fears;
grant us your peace;
and grant us full hearts
to know you when you show up,
and to show up ourselves
in those places where you want us to be signs of your love.

Amen

-adapted from Seasons of the Spirit

Prayerful Colouring

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Love is a Response to Grace

mark Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

Open Hands, ©Mark Hewitt 2012

Belief – Faith, is not something easily or lightly given.

Wendy M Wright in her book The Vigil,  copyright © 1992 Upper Room Books wrote this;
“To believe something (in a religious sense) is not simply to hold an opinion; it is to let that something sink down into the marrow of your bones and form the structure of your life.  To believe something is to let its affirmation become the inhalation and exhalation of your life’s breath. Belief does not exclude doubt or incredulity or intellectual curiosity, but belief is not exhausted in doubting or incredulity or curiosity. To believe something is to let it transform your life.”

 

I would add beief does not exclude being broken. This exchange between Thomas & Jesus gives us all comfort in that its okay to be critical, it’s okay to be questioning, it’s okay to doubt.  All the disciples displayed it.

Being critical, questioning, doubting is part of belief. We all come to belief in different ways.

Belief is more than intellectual agreement; a person who believes, gives one’s whole self to something. Just as Thomas did. The root of the Latin credo (I believe) is cor (heart.)  You are enclouraged in your faith journey to be led by your heart, to be critical, to question, to have doubts.  Let that process take place because of the bedrock of your belief  and let that process Inform and shape your faith.


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

John 20: 19-31 (NRSV)

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Jesus and Thomas

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

The Purpose of This Book

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Risen Christ, breathe upon us your spirit of new life.
Where we cannot see, help us to keep our minds open toward faith.
Strengthen us as we seek to know you, and help us to grow in love for you and for each other.
Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Behind Locked Doors, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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