Matthews Gospel – Saving the Lost
In this service Gereldine gives a small insight into the reason for the liturgical/church year and a then an equally brief insight into what happens in Matthew’s gospel. This is followed by a reflection in which people are invited to contribute. You will need a jug of water and a bowl or some other way of bringing people into contact with the idea of cool water.
You have been left to choose your own hymns.
In all of the gospels the thing that Jesus talks about most is the kingdom of God. This is the year of Matthew and from now until November the set readings from the Lectionary explore the story of Jesus through the eyes of a very small, very ancient community of people – amongst the first Christians.
Matthew’s gospel stresses two things:the importance of Jesus in the establishment and fulfilment of that kingdom; and the importance of Jesus’ teaching as a guide to kingdom life. The key message of the gospel is that “The son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” (Matthew 18:11) Sometimes images and the ordinary everyday definition of words can help us understand what is going on in the readings from the Bible that we share. They help widen and deepen our understanding. Gereldine uses the ongoing ferocious bushfires we are (have been) experiencing to help us grasp the idea of Jesus who has come to save that which was, or is, or has been lost.
Reflecting around the manger
This service can be used at any time in December, up to and including Christmas Day. Gereldine has chosen, as part of the proclamation to use some older, hymns/carols. You may have to practice these in a couple of services before you use them. If they raise any difficulties for you or if yours is a multicultural congregation where these carols might not suit, find something in the same tone.
Around the manger all that is sacred, all that is divine is presented in the smallest, most helpless of humans lying in the most makeshift of beds, in a stable the most humble of homes, and we are gathered round, on our knees, or seated or leaning in, to catch something. What is it that you look for? What is it that comes to you kneel, as you sit by the manger, as you lean in…….
Accepting Blame and Accepting Forgiveness
Owning our mistakes, our faults, our bad decisions, is one of the most difficult things we will ever do. Owning our shortcomings, waking up to the deeply hidden agendas that drive our behaviour and acknowledging them… all very difficult things to do.To say, “I did it, it was wrong, I am sorry,” and then to try to put right whatever we have done, to make amends in some way, is at the heart of Christian faith.
The same thing can be said about forgiveness. We find it very hard to forgive when we are hurt and yet this too is at the heart of Christian faith and practice. Forgiveness is central to our understanding of God. God is ready and willing to forgive, to restore relationship.
Forgiveness as a spiritual discipline allows us to practice forgiveness even when forgiveness is not a reality in our lives. It helps forgiveness grow and, like almost everything in life, we need to practice well before the need arises.
Fear and Love and Gut Feelings
We only have one word for fear… in Hebrew, in the language of the Old testament there are 19 words, each one a little different from the others…all translated as the one English word “fear”.
When we are referring to God though, the word most used is one that has tones of awe and reverence and wonder. But, even then… it is not quite as simple as it sounds. I feel for translators because they have been faced with a word, or a phrase in one language that is very hard to translate from another. Literally a “flow in the gut” a movement down here in the gut or the bowels even. In Hebrew words are born out of feelings…and where we would say things happen in the heart, for Hebrew people it’s the gut.So too, with love; in the New Testament, the fear of the Lord is overwhelmed by the love of God. The New Testament most consistently uses the word Agape to describe God… the nature of God and what flows out from God. Laws and rules cannot create love. It is a gift that flows out from God. It is God’s movement of the guts.
A renewed vision
The words renewed vision have been chosen quite deliberately… because those of you who have lived for a while will know there is really is nothing new under the sun…we just shift our focus, bring something that has been in the shadows into the light of day, once again.
None of this is not without pain – Nothing worthwhile ever is. But it is life-giving.
There is a movement from a faith based on belief (from what we believe about God) to a focus on relationship, our relationship with God and what we do because of that relationship.
At its heart is a renewed sense of community; of being a community and incorporating people into that community, not because they believe what we believe, not because they agree to a “set of beliefs”, but because knowing God we want to be as God is, to do what God does. This community that gathers around Jesus has an inward and an outward dimension.
Focusing on the environment
These services are part of a small series around the human response to the current environmental crisis.
The services allow leadership by a number of people, so hand out in advance and ask people to lead that part of the service and to organise what may be needed within their part.
There is a video clip from Charlie Pickering’s “The Weekly” that can be used in either or both of the services. Click here to download
The Environment – Even small steps matter
Click here to see a video for making butterflies. You can cut out a circle and a square and stick then together or you can simply draw an overlapping square and circle for an even simpler butterfly construction and photocopy.
The Environment – Water
The danger of Hubris (Early May 2019)
Hubris isn’t a word we use every day. The dictionary definition is “Hubris – arrogance, an excess of ambition…pride…ultimately causing ruin…”
Would we recognise hubris if we saw it? We might not use the word, we might not even recognise the word, but I wonder if we would know hubris when we see it.
I think it was Howard Wallace, the who said that the Old testament had two basic themes
- hubris and its consequences
And how to deal with it.
- hubris and its consequences
And how to deal with it.
From Adam and Eve, every man and every woman, to Herod and beyond, the Biblical story is about hubris and its consequences.. and how to deal with it.
To recognise hubris and its consequences and to know how to deal with it is singularly important for us. It is pretty hard to hold a community together…. for people to be safe, if boundaries of behaviour are not respected… if we do not respect an authority outside of ourselves. With all the lessons of recent history before us, who would ever have thought that we would arrive at this day?
Here is the service for Good Friday. The crosses at the beginning and end of the service are the work of Rev Jennie Gordon. Other pieces are from the traditional liturgies of the church and some is my own work. There are some things you will have to do. For example, I have suggested hymns which fit the mood of the service. You may not know them. Since there is time, I want to encourage you to learn them or to have someone in your congregation learn them and use them as solos. If you can’t then you will have to choose other music and substitute that in the ppt.
In the script I have included the captions from the Meditation, If you can manage, it sounds better without reading the captions. They are included to help you keep pace with the ppt.
If you don’t have a good sized cross you can carry into the church. Again you have time to get someone to make one, or simply leave out that part of the liturgy. Some other instructions are scattered through the service. For some reason this was a bit complicated, so if you wouldn’t mind, please check the script against the ppt.
A blessed Good Friday to you all, Gereldine.
2019 February- Thank you for scones (The hospitality of God). – Gereldine Leonard
We could just give thanks for scones today…and that would be fine, but this service invites us to think more broadly about the hospitality that scones represent. Hospitality is built into us..it is part of who we are. For Christians there is something extra as our sense of the need to be hospitable grows out of the hospitality we see God extending to us. Brendan Byrne, in his commentary says the writer of Luke sees the whole life and ministry of Jesus as a visitation from God. “The question is: how will this visitor be received.”
2019 January- The Gate of the Year. – Gereldine Leonard
Here is a service for the New Year, but you will need to do something in preparation, to give you time to put things together. There are some very beautiful gates and then there are some that have a more “useful” design. In preparation for a New year service ask people to find or take photographs of gates. Ask two or three to bring photographs of gates that have some meaning for them and to be prepared to talk about what those gates mean or evoke for them. I have always been fascinated by gates and doors, For example, this photograph was taken by my daughter, Kerin, while travelling. It is an image which leads me on, draws me in, to the stairs. I want to look in, to see what may lay beyond – who knows where they lead. All I know is that this gate is inviting. – Gereldine
2018 December – Third Sunday of Advent- Joy, celebrating Mary’s response to God. – Gereldine Leonard (click to download)
Hopefully there are people in your congregation from different countries. Ask them to prepare and present a short memory of Christmas in the country they came from.
If there is no-one from another country – ask people to prepare and share a short memory of the Christmas tradition from their childhood or family.
You might let each person choose a carol to be sung following their presentation.
In all you will need 5-6 people.
2018 November – Finding ourselves in the story – Zaccheaus transformed – Gereldine Leonard (click to download)
“Featuring the familiar character of Zaccheaus, this is a service that leads us to the loving Christ and speaks about his power to transform. Listen to the story and then thinking about yourself, choose a place for yourself in the story.”
While written for use in mid to late November, this service is not attached to the lectionary, so can be used at any time.
Come to Me – Gereldine Leonard (click to download)
“The point being made in Matthew’s gospel is that in Jesus we see that God is gentle and humble. The point being made is that nothing about us, nothing we have done, cuts us off from God… Jesus point is that our joy in God need be no less than God’s joy in us.”
2018 September 9th – Erring on the side of Compassion – Gereldine Leonard (click to download)
“If I am going to err in this life, I am going to err on the side of compassion, trusting that in God’s scheme of things the one who shows mercy will receive mercy…that in God’s scheme of things mercy triumphs over judgement.”
Yellow Box – Gereldine Leonard (click to download)
- Does Yellow Box grow where you live? If so, this could be a useful service for your congregation. People often have memories of Yellow Box growing and being used. They might even have objects made from Yellow Box.
“There is a strength about the solitary Yellow Box as it stands alone in the landscape.
It reminds us of you O God, it reminds us of where we find strength sometimes just to live.
So we pray for strength, for ourselves and for others, those nearby and those far away,
In this time of prayer we let our minds wander to people and to places
In need of the strength that it sometimes takes, just to live.”