Last Sunday after our worship I sat in church contemplating what the building means to me, especially my times of prayer and worship there. It came to me that the church is a symbol of what I call Sabbath Time - that is, time set aside from all the normal routines and demands of life. For some who have to work on a Sunday another day for Sabbath is needed. We all need Sabbath Time, it is why the seventh day was created. Sitting there I wrote the following:
This day, the Sabbath Day
Is when all creative work is done,
Though no work is done at all.
Pen is put down
Lap-top stays shut,
Tools remain in their box,
Diary sits empty
Plans are placed to one side.
We might relax with a novel,
Take a stroll, or a run.
Worship in church, temple or mosque.
Some might sit in the garden,
Perhaps with a beer.
It’s a wasted day, unproductive,
Nothing to show for it,
But this is the day, this is the time,
That inspires all other days,
All other times.
The spark that lights the fire,
The yeast that leavens the dough,
The fountain that refreshes life,
When we surrender to grace
Allow it to flow.
Hope to see some more of you back in church this coming Sabbath. Brian is planning to be back with us to play the organ. We still may not yet be able to sing, but it will be lovely to hear the organ played again.
I attach readings and a reflection for those worshipping from home at present, and a reading and reflection can also be found on the website or YouTube.
Please remember that those over the age of 11 are now required to wear a mask, unless you have a medical reason for not doing so.
With love and prayers
Introduction, Collect, Readings, and Blessing for Trinity 9
In our Eucharist each week we meet together to give thanks to God for all the gifts he gives to us.
We meet together to offer worship to the Hand of Life
who calls and inspires us to become what we were created to be.
Who sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your church:
Open our hearts to the riches of your grace,
That we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love, in joy and in peace.
Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord
Who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
One God, now and forever. Amen.
A reading from 1 Kings Chapter 19
At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.
Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
He answered, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts;
for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars,
and killed your prophets with the sword.
I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away."
He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains
and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind;
and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Then there came a still small voice.
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew
Jesus sent the disciples on ahead to the other shore, while he dismissed the crowds.
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the disciples’ boat was being battered by
the waves, and was far from the land, for the wind was against them.
And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.
But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!"
And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.
But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink,
he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him,
saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
May God grant us the grace to live our lives in the spirit of love
That we may achieve love. That we may radiate love. That we may extend love.
And the blessing of God Almighty; Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Be with us, our community, and all for who we pray, this day and always. Amen.
Reflection for Trinity 9
In my reflection two weeks ago I spoke about the Jesus and the Kingdom of God;
how it was Jesus’ favourite subject, and his teaching that the kingdom of God is here and now.
For Jesus, the Kingdom of God was not a time in the future, not a place to look forward to,
but it was a reality here and now.
“The Kingdom of God is among us”, Jesus proclaimed “it is within us”.
The Kingdom of God is in this very moment, no matter what the moment may bring.
Live in this moment, fully, completely, willingly, and you live in God.
The problem is we have the tendency to spend much of our time
Looking for the next moment, or dwelling on past moments,
wishing this moment was different, instead of fully living what is happening right now.
What Jesus did, and all the great spiritual leaders throughout history,
was to enter each moment like it was the most important moment ever – because it is.
In last Sunday’s Gospel reading when Jesus went off to quiet place to pray,
he didn’t complain when the crowds caught up with him, he lived the moment as it was,
he taught them, fed them, and embraced what was.
Later when the crowds dispersed, Jesus sent his disciples on ahead,
and once again found a quiet spot to be alone and commune with God.
Later, today’s Gospel tells us, he followed on after his disciples who were caught up in a storm,
he walked across the water to get to them and be with them.
Much has been made of the fact that Jesus walked on water,
but the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, reminds us that the true miracle
was not that Jesus walked on the water, but that he walked in the present moment.
He walked and lived in the here and now.
One of Jesus greatest gifts was that he had time for whatever was happening.
He did not rush people who wanted to see him, he was not obsessed with schedules,
he was never looking to whatever he was supposed to be doing next,
or where he was supposed to be next; he lived each moment totally and fully.
As Thich Nhat Hanh said, we can be impressed that Jesus walked on water,
but the fact that he walked in the present moment was of far more importance.
Thich Nhat Hanh also says that we should never rush what we are doing in order to be doing something else. When you wash dishes, wash dishes, he tells us; when you drink tea, drink tea.
Don’t rush, don’t keep looking to the next thing he says, don’t think that what we are doing next is more important than what we are doing now - it isn’t. Nothing is more important than this moment.
To be constantly looking forwards or backwards is to miss the holy in the here and now.
Jesus focussed on this moment, this task, this person, this unfolding of time.
When he walked on the water, he simply focused on each step he was taking.
When the disciple Peter wanted to join him, Jesus beckoned him to come.
Peter stepped out of the boat and was doing fine until his focus shifted.
Instead of focussing on his next step towards Jesus, he was distracted by the wind, the waves,
his fears - on what might happen next. It was then he lost his nerve and began to sink.
We do that so often in life. Instead of just living what is happening now and focussing on the moment,
we begin to anticipate what may lay ahead, compare it to experiences in the past,
and like Peter, we take our eyes off Christ.
Jesus calls us to live this moment, to be absorbed in what we are doing,
because in this task, in this experience, in this very moment, is the kingdom and presence God.
God will also be in the next one when it arrives – but right now, God is in this one,
and it’s how we live this moment that will determine the next.