Saturday, 31 August 2013

Space saving communion

A communion liturgy based on the gospel: Luke 14:1,7-14
where Jesus rearranges the table.
Come, honoured guest
Jesus invites you to this table
For each and all
Jesus saves a space
Meet Christ here
And prepare to be challenged, rebuked or cajoled
Prepare to be comforted, embraced and held high
The Christ who makes room for you
Knows your story
And makes room for you in love
( communion hymn For everyone born)
We gather around this table today
as Jesus did with his disciples in the Upper room
the night before he died.
Sharing fellowship with them,
knowing their stories,
He took bread, broke it and passed it among them saying:
This is my body broken for you
Do this to remember me.
He took the cup and shared it with them, saying:
A new relationship with God is possible because of my death
Drink this all of you to remember me.
And so we take bread and a cup today to remember him and to celebrate the new relationship that we have with God and with one another.
We share this sacrament in a place filled with stories, some shared, some held tight within.
Stories of our lives and of those who have shared in this space in years gone by.
This sacrament unites us all, past, present and future, in the one who holds all our stories and invites us all to places of honour at the table.
So let us give thanks for the feast.
Let us pray
God we thank you for inviting us to your table today
making space for each of us
treating us as honoured guests.
We thank you that you hold each of our stories gently
beaming at our joys
frowning at our concerns
full of compassion
and overflowing with love.
May we know your comfort stealing into the hurts that we carry
May we know your healing, soothing those pains that catch us unawares
And may we know your smile, lingering to light up all our dark corners.
Held so gently by you may we hold gently all whom you welcome to your table today.
God the way you make room for all is so at odds with the world in which we live.
Where we make distinctions-
Worthy or unworthy
Mighty or lowly
Valued or worthless
Prominent or invisible.
Forgive us for the distinctions we make and for the restrictions we place on your love and on your hospitality.
Help us to re- set the table, time and again until there truly is space for all.
We pray for our world in turmoil.
For Syria.
For all your children there whose sufferings become platforms from which Politicians can posture.
God of peace, when will we ever learn that violence will not bring resolution but only more suffering and death?
We pray too for all those places that have dropped out of the media spotlight because the circus has moved on.
For Egypt, for Iran and Iraq, for Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, for Haiti and Japan - and countless other places where your children continue to be affected by poverty, by war, by the ravages of nature, where loss is simply a fact of life in a world desensitised to suffering on such a scale.
God grant us perspective.
To know that we never have to compete for your love and acceptance.
And so we can afford to share your infinite love with those in our daily lives and with those we may never meet, all part of your family and so part of us too.
Renew our sense of connectedness and increase our resolve to widen our horizons globally and locally until all are truly welcome, until all are raised up and fed and until you are known in our sharing of bread.
Space making God may we make space for others.
Table setting God may we always be prepared to revise our table plans
Feast loving God may we feast with you and with all your saints in heaven and on earth.
For the sake of your Kingdom
So may we know your Spirit here transforming this bread and wine and transforming us this day.
Among friends, gathered round a table,
Jesus took bread, he broke it and shared it saying:
This is my body broken for you
Eat this bread to remember me
He took the cup, saying:
This is my blood shed for you
Drink this cup to remember me.
We remember Christ as honoured guests invited to a feast.
Gods gifts for all.
God as we have shared table fellowship with you and with each other, may we be careful of the honour you give us, not in a way that holds it close but in a way that opens up your gifts and spreads your love throughout the world.
As we have feasted in joy with your saints in heaven may we dine in sorrow with your children on earth until we come to share in your kingdom of peace and justice and love.
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Friday, 23 August 2013

Stooping God

A reflection on this week's gospel about the woman who couldn't stand up straight. (Luke 13:10-17)

Shuffling along always looking down
unable to stand up straight
Noticing all the traffic on the street:
Feet striding past
shod in boots and shoes and sandals
stepping out briskly or dragging along
skipping or tripping
disturbing the litter strewn on the ground
lifted and laid by the breeze
avoiding the cracks in the stone slabs
and the gum ground in by other feet
Observing the cigarette ends -
those with lipstick
those smoked down to the very last gasp
and those tossed down still reeking
their rancid fumes.
Looking down
but catching, in all the greyness
the vibrancy and colour
that rushes past
The reflections in the shiny surfaces
the clouds and rainbows in the puddles.
Flashes of glory in eyes cast down.
Glimpses of God in the detritus of the street.
Healing becomes possible when God stoops down
and looks into the eyes
of a woman weighed down by life.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Risky Gospel

Delegates at the National Youth Assembly this morning had the opportunity to meet with the Moderator of the Church of Scotland who helped them explore the theme of the Assembly - Identity.
The past few days have contained lots of discussion and not a little input from the institution about what constitutes the identity of the Kirk at present.
But the nature, or at least a huge concern of an institution is self perpetuation.
It was refreshing this morning to step away from the rules and roles imposed by the institution of the kirk to imagine what might be if, following the example of Jesus, we allowed that inherent divine spark within each of us to have more of an influence on our identity.
We were reminded that Jesus antagonised the religious institutions of his day, not for the sake of it but because he could do no other.
Following Jesus is not safe, cannot be prescribed by dogma, but is bound up in love and risk and listening to and acting on that still small voice at the core of our being.
Who am I?
A risk taking, rule breaking, beloved child of God. Woohoo!

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Saturday, 17 August 2013

Light dancing

"Small paper lanterns lighting the way" - A line from worship this morning that has accompanied me throughout the day.
The National Youth Assembly programme has involved exploration of the church past, present and future - all accompanied by liturgical actions every time John Knox, the Bible, Baptism and Moderator was mentioned - just to keep folk awake!
We've also explored Ecumenical Relations and, in particular, how young folk in other denominations are involved in decision making processes within their different settings.
It is encouraging to witness the enthusiasm and passion of young people to commit to the future of the Kirk particularly when they have a deep awareness of its flaws.
Small paper lanterns indeed, fuelled by Gods spirit providing bright intervals in the midst of all the predicted gloom.

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The theme of this year's Youth Assembly is Identity. Each delegate was asked to bring along an object that said something about them. I shared some bubbles, explaining that I love to use bubbles in worship and, especially in prayer.
One of the young people enlightened me that, in Dundee, where this year's NYA is meeting, Bubbles is the name of a recreational drug.
A timely reminded that language evolves and we cannot assume that what we think we are saying is what our listeners will hear or understand.
I look forward to learning lots more from the amazing young people gathered here this weekend.

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Saturday, 10 August 2013

Transforming the darkness

We've had a great week at our Summer Holiday Club exploring Superheroes. Aside from allowing us to dress up in masks and capes, we've also been dredging some old, old Bible stories, discovering how God called ordinary people to extraordinary things.
A wonderful trip down memory lane for some, recalling vaguely remembered stories from Sunday School days - like Gideon and the fleece test (Judges 6), or Samson, caught out by pillow talk (Judges 13-16), or Esther, who braved the wrath of her King (Esther 4).
But also a unique opportunity to share these ancient stories of leadership and strength and courage with a new generation.
What super power are you being called to exercise for good today?

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