The Way of Exclusion

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Excluded, © Mark Hewitt 2018

Reserved signs have been placed randomly on seats throughout the church.

What did you do when you saw a reserved sign on the seat?
Ignore it, sat somewhere else? Get angry or indignant? Feel Excluded?

It does not take much for a person to feel being excluded.  The healing of Bartimaeus; The miracle of this story is Jesus’ ability to transform exclusion and help Bartimaeus and the community to see.  Upon receiving new life, Bartimaeus leaves everything and follows Jesus.

What can we take from this ?

Our God in a God of inclusion.  God’s desire is for individual wholeness and wholeness of community.  We are not whole if we do not let others in.

Back to our experiences at the beginning of worship, it does not take much for a person to feel being excluded.  It might not mean that that is the intention but that is the result of our actions.  Not talking to someone new.

The flip side.  It does not take much to make a person feel included.  Saying hello, asking questions about them.


Rev Mark Hewitt, 18 October 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Mark 10:46-52 (NRSV)

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

God of community, sometimes,
we erect barriers that exclude.
Sometimes, we isolate and alienate one another.
But your understanding of community
is bigger than we could ever imagine!
Challenge our ways of exclusion.
Heal us from our arrogant attitudes.
Open our hearts so we might live in ways
that create better places of belonging for all. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit

Psalm 34, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2018

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Frontier Services: Grow, Nurture, Flourish

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Billabong, © Mark Hewitt 2012

Audio unavaiable. Check back later.

Moderator Rev Sue Ellis, 21 October 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Mark 10:35-45 (NRSV)

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

Extravagant God,
your generosity is revealed in the rich and
unique creation of Australia and her people.
Thank you for all who call this country home –
from the Kimberley to the South West Cape,
from the Southern Ocean to the Arafura Sea.
We pray for all who live beyond the cities.

Living Christ, who empowers, enlivens,
and enables forgiveness,
bless those who serve the needs of others –
in child and aged care,
Outback Links and work parties,
ministry and emergency response.
We pray for all who serve
in remote regions of this country.

Holy Spirit, guide and encourage the whole church
as we share in the work of Frontier Services
and other agencies working for
reconciliation, justice, equity and access.
We pray for all who dream of,
and work to renew hope and enrich life.

God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we bring to you our own prayers…

God of unexpected journeys
and surprising outcomes,
hear our prayers in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Frontier Services 2016

Sturt Peas, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2016

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Finding Our Way

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Eye of the Needle, © Mark Hewitt 2015

Today’s scripture I always find challenging.  Certainly at a literal level part of it is about things or stuff.  Looking below the literal level, what truth is there for us today?  This is not about dumping on those rich with money or romanticising those who are poor financially.  That itself raises questions about what it means to be rich & for that matter poor.

There are broader understandings to be had

Let go of anything that might be in between oneself & God.  It could be stuff or privileges, attitudes, values or beliefs that get in the way of your following Jesus’ way.

What comes to your mind?

And then, invest in those who have need.  There is plenty of need out there.  Our investment can also be in time, energy, love.

Again what comes to your mind.  How do you or how can you invest in those with need


Rev Mark Hewitt, 14 October 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Mark 10:17-31 (NRSV)

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another,‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’

Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’

God of life,
you call us to give of ourselves to you
and to work towards your realm on Earth.
Sometimes, we cannot imagine your possibilities. Sometimes, we value our possessions
more than we value your love and your promises. Sometimes, we do not want to give up anything. Please help us to find our way towards
living more faithfully as your followers.
Challenge us to be willing to risk ourselves.
Show us what we need to give up
to be closer to you. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit 2018

Needles, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Tough Questions Along the way

Rob Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

Still life in red, © Rob Stoner 2018

In fact, what I think Jesus is really saying to them is that your question is irrelevant. In terms of the loving, compassionate, inclusive community which I am trying to create, your question has no currency.

At this point in his ministry, with his encounter and death in Jerusalem staring him in the face, Jesus isn’t really interested in questions of marriage and divorce. He is interested in working hard at building up that community of faith and trust and hope which we have come to know as the kingdom of God.

My support for saying this comes from the little pericope with which our reading concludes this morning. It involves Jesus allowing little children into the centre of his group and referring to them as the key to the door of the kingdom of God.


Rev Rob Stoner, 7 October 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Mark 10:1-6 (NRSV)

He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.”

We pray firstly this morning for the people of Sulawesi. None of us can quite comprehend what it is like to lose home, family members, community in in the surge of a wave.

We also remember people from other regions around the world devastated by earthquake, cyclone in the past few weeks.

We pray for those who have lost family members, may they find solace in their grief.

We pray for those who have lost home and all that makes sense of life, may they find comfort in their time of loss.

We pray for those who are attempting to deliver aid – shelter, food, clean water, medical support, may they be strengthened in their work.

We pray that in and through all these people, the Spirit of God may move bringing the comfort and hope that only God can provide.

 

Rob Stoner

Let the Little Children Come, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt

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Getting out of the way

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Love One Another, © Durga Yael Bernhard.

People are not always what they seem.  Good people do bad things  Bad people do good things

It’s rarely all or nothing – Black & White.  You may be onside with someone on one issue yet opposed to them on another issue.  All is far more complex. Than - “you are either for us or against us”.  Such a statement can be unhelpful in that it can set up harmful polarisation.  Who is in and who is out?

When we are part of a community, we are in community with other people.  There will be times when there are no issues, other times when there are issues.  It is worth putting in the time & effort to work through any issues and not to have an attitude of who are those with me or who are those against me.  Who is in or who is out?  As Community is important and vital to our lives as Christians.

Our Scripture today is a teaching text that can teach us something about community but that will require some exploration.  Not all scripture at first reading is easy to understand or its imagery is quite confronting – the 2000 years between its writing reading is noticeable.  They are difficult passages.  Its original Context is import to acknowledge so that we can learn its deeper truth for our living today.  This is one of those texts.  Reminding the disciples that “whoever is not against us is for us,”

This is a subtle but important change from “you are either for us or against us”, an attitude that divides to a more open attitude of possibilities.  Jesus encourages them, and us, to see the way God is at work in the community.

Getting past the disturbing imagery that as part of a Jesus community, as disciples, we are to do everything possible to enable others to path of becoming – of faith.  We are to be an open inclusive community.

Finally, using imagery of salt.  Salt’s importance today is different to the ancient world.  If used today, it is in moderation, to enhance flavour in food.  We have refrigeration, cryovac packaging and other ways of preserving food.  In the ancient world Salt was used generously, in their arid climate it replaced natural body salts that were lost through perspiration.  It was used to flavour food.  The use of Salt WAS how food was preserved.  It was also used medicinally & in their worship.

The disciples are left with an imperative to have salt in themselves and be at peace with one another. This could mean being rich in the flavour of faith. Be full of life in faith – have rich faith, flavour all that we do.


Rev Mark Hewitt, 30 September 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Mark 9:38-50 (NRSV)

Another Exorcist

John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

Temptations to Sin

‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

‘For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’

God of love,
sometimes we are too confident
that our ways are the only ways
and become too comfortable in our exclusive communities. Grant us grace, humility, and wisdom
so we might respect our differences,
and better receive your way of guidance for us all. Amen.

Seasons of the Spirit 2018

Salt is good ... Mk 9:38 -50, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Sky Sunday

Graham Sunday AM, Worship Leave a Comment

Sky, © Graham Vawser 2018

Today is a reminder that as the Sky covers all creation, so all human beings are called by God to care for all creation. For us, who acknowledge God in our lives, the Sky becomes a reminder that we should praise God always, looking for and finding the signs of overarching God’s presence in every part of our life.


Rev Graham Vawser, 16 September 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Psalm 19:1-6 (NRSV)

To the leader. A Psalm of David.
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.


In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hidden from its heat.


God of all creation,
everywhere we go we feel your presence.
As we look at the sky,
we are re­minded of the vastness of your love,
the blanket of grace with which you cover Earth.
Help us to re­member
that not all your wisdom comes through words.
Help us listen for the language of the moon and the sun.
Inspire in us a sense of awe at things which are large
that we may be moved to mercy for things which are small.\
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

-Adapted from Seasons of the Spirit 2018

Humanity Sunday

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Coogee Beach, © Mark Hewitt 2015

Humankind made in the likeness of God.  Generations upon generations of humanity born seems such a big epic event.  Yet the reality is somewhat more personal, as it is one birth at a time.  Your birth is part of the story.  As we heard last week and today, in the first chapter in the first book of the bible, Creation was described.

Humanity came on the Sixth day.  We are important & are focussed on but we were not alone we had to share.  Today Humanity Sunday is an invitation to see ourselves as set in the centre of creation for purposes beyond those that fulfill human needs.  This is a day to see humanity as one small part of Creation.  So what can we do?

These are not new but ways we can approach our relationship with the environment and care of it.

Reduce Reuse Recycle Repurpose


Rev Mark Hewitt, 9 September 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Genisis 1:26-28 (NRSV)

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

Creator God,
we want to know more about
your design and dream for us
to provide for that which you have left in our care. Refine our definition of humility and dominion
so we may do what you have created us to do. Amen

Seasons of the Spirit 2018

Coptic Cross - Tree of Life, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Earth Sunday

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Day 4 Genesis Creation, © Mark Hewitt 2018

On the sixth day God gave us the gift of all the creatures that walk upon the earth:  the creatures that walk with two legs, like you and like me, and all the creatures that walk with many legs.  When God saw the creatures that walk with two legs and the creatures that walk with many legs  and all the gifts of the other days, God said, "It is very good," and that was the end of the sixth day.

 

Humanity

Male & Female are both made in God’s image, but if we are so important we should have our own day right?  But we don’t.  Humbling isn’t it, we have to share.  We are with all the other creatures on land.

This is important.  Humanity is A part of creation as a whole.  WE have been singled out in scripture as having a significant role but that role also has responsibilities. Responsibilities of care/nurture & stewardship over all creation. Often humanity is responsible for so many environmental ills –it doesn’t matter whether we are or not AS we ARE charged with creations care & correction regardless.


Rev Mark Hewitt and Nina Luscombe, 2 September 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Genisis 1:1-31 (CEV)

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

God, who sees far beyond our seeing,
who listens far beyond our hearing
and who speaks to us
in the longing hearts of all people and all creatures,
arouse in us a deep and powerful love
for all you have created.
Show us the places
where you find a need for your love,
that we may share with you
in making this earth a home for all,
a safe and healing place,
a peaceful and kindly place,
where justice reigns and flows
like a mighty river through the whole of life.
Even with our human blindness,
we can see some for whom your gift,
and our gift, of love is needed at this time.

Even as we pray to you, O God,
we know that we are called
to be your friends in this task.
Give to us all that we need in commitment,
in unselfishness and in faithfulness to you
to be part of your loving of the neighbour.
We ask this for Christ's sake, Amen.

-©Dorothy McRae-McMahon

Earth & Cosmos, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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Love is Our Defence

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Tender Hearted, © Mark Hewitt 2015

Over the past seven weeks we have been having parts of an Open letter read to us from the pauline community of Gospel workers.  Although adressed to the church at Ephesus, tt is for us too.

So what were they wanting to tell us?

In God’s eyes we are blessed, holy, and blameless.  Forget all other voices, cast them all aside.  Listen to God, You are blessed, holy, and blameless.  We are also “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit,”

We are one body.  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 grown ups, 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.  We are called to be one church that brings together many people with diverse gifts in the same way that a body is the knitting together of many ligaments, without a sense of hierarchy as to which is the better gift, for every gift is needed for the body to act.  We are called to hold the mind of God, rather than the mind of self or traditional social order.

With this in mind how are we to live?  By Imitating God.  Imitate God, we are beloved children; and live in love, because Christ loves us – a beautiful fragrant love.

 

Last week we heard to Live wisely .. to be Spirit filled, do all that is good and right and true. So lets hear the last section of the letter.  It is helpful to understand the original context in which the letter was written.

They lived in the era of Pax Romana, or “Roman peace.”  Hearers of the letter would have been used to seeing Roman soldiers and also being victims of their violence.  The writer of the letter to the Ephesians takes the language and imagery of the forces of the Roman world to demonstrate the countercultural way of God.  This part of the letter is very much a final “take care” to us.  So we are to clothe or surround ourselves in God’s protection.  Exercising spiritual exercises.  These will enable us to “stand firm”.

Their blessing to us is our prayer.


Rev Mark Hewitt, 26 August 2018
at The Corner Uniting Church, Warradale, South Australia.

Ephesians 6:23-24 (CEV)

23 I pray that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will give peace, love, and faith to every follower! 24 May God be kind to everyone who keeps on loving our Lord Jesus Christ.

Surrounded by God's protection, Prayerful Colouring, ©Mark Hewitt 2017

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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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