As I sat down to write this morning, I was quite convinced that I would offer in this space today something meaningful and important around the practice of silence in centering our lives around the wellspring of God’s Spirit.
Instead, Rory – my very adorable, very neurotic border collie-kelpie cross -rushed up the stairs to find me and ask what we were doing next. She was delighted to discover that I was about to settle down to work and promptly rushed off to find something of her own to occupy herself with ….
… a much loved half-chewed green squeaky toy that has lost its head but not, miraculously unfortunately, its ability to squeak.
As she threw it into the air and pounced upon it as it landed, I noted the irritation rising within me at each “squeak, squeak. SQUEAK SQUEAK!” I was trying to start my day off right. I was trying to have a quiet moment. I was trying to draw near to God.
As her toy flew in yet another wild arch across the bedroom, I heard deep within me the words “But I’m already here” and felt a sense of wonder and relief suffuse my spirit.
In trying to orchestrate a meaningful encounter with God, I was missing out on a special moment of companionship and unconditional love, of spontaneity and simple laughter.
As she lies quietly at my feet right now, I take a moment to appreciate how the light streams in through the bay windows. To listen to the birds singing just outside in the branches of a jacaranda tree. To smile at the mother walking past with two little ones on bicycles. And to see the presence of God in them all.
There is nothing that I need to do to make God draw near for God is here. This is what resurrection means.
So … the invitation today, the discipline for us to cultivate as we seek to live the resurrection life: be attentive. God is with you. Open your senses to what is happening in the world around you in this very moment and let that be the basis of your prayer – with or without words.
God, we weep – we weep for we have no words to adequately express the worry that sits so heavily within our hearts: worry for infants that live but a few days, worry for the elderly who will not see out their lifetime, worry for those whose current health issues or socio-economic circumstances place them at great risk ….
Hear our cry of distress and help us to hear again Your promise: “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
Offer us this day, a moment of joy, a minute of delight, that we may look ahead with hope and longing to the forever-song that we will sing with gladness as we feast at Your table.
To all looking for Joy in the midst of the world’s troubles …
One of my all-time favourite movies is an animated film titled “Inside Out” which is set almost entirely inside the head of an 11-year old girl named Riley. Inside there, five main characters – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust – work (somewhat together) to help her navigate her way through her world.
It’s well worth watching – on your own or with the grandkids – as the manic pixie-like character named Joy struggles to keep Riley happy after a stressful cross-country move and a difficult period at work for Riley’s father by dismissing the voices of all the other characters.
In the end, Joy discovers that her significance is much more than making Riley feel upbeat and positive all the time and that the experience of life as meaningful and worthwhile requires that Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust live and work alongside her too.
As we light the third candle in our advent wreath, we open ourselves up to Joy of the shepherds who were the first to receive the glorious news of the birth of Christ, the promised Messiah. The purpose behind the angel’s tidings was to bring good news that would cause great joy for all the people: people living under the oppressive force of Roman power, religious legalism, and poverty.
As the pronouncement sent the shepherds on a journey from their fields to seek the truth for themselves, may we bear glad witness to God-with-us on the highest mountains and in the shadows of the deepest valleys.
Invite the guests to mark the day that the rising sun will come our way.
Light the candles, set the table; let everyone bring what they are able.
Cut the cake and pour the tea and pass the peace – like family
for Christ the King is present here as we celebrate 5 grace-filled years.
The Pilgrim worshipping community celebrated Christ the King Sunday and the end of this liturgical year with great joy on Sunday – our 5th Anniversary – as we set up tables in the sanctuary (decorated by precious china cups, and teapots, and centrepieces brought in by different people as an act of hospitality and self-offering); shared high fives, low fives, and baby fives; recognised the contribution of each person in building our community from the oldest to the youngest to the lay preachers who lead up front to the behind-the-scenes volunteers who do a lot of work without recognition to the very welcome visitors – both first-timers and regulars; and enjoyed a fabulous “high tea” together including a macaron tower and cheese-cake complete with the topper from our opening service 5 years ago.
Zechariah’s song from Luke 1:68-79 formed the basis of our reflecting as we took a moment to consider:
what might our life’s purpose be as the Pilgrim Uniting Church?
how will we point people to the rising sun – to Christ the King – who will come again from heaven to heal and reconcile and renew God’s good creation?
how will we be present to those living in darkness and in the shadow death that they may know hope and comfort?
how will we open up a path for peace – particularly in the ways in which we talk to or about one another and make space at our table for those who are radically different to us (and maybe even just plain radical)?
There’s a new day coming! And our 5 year celebration marks a shift much like that found in human development: from getting the basics right to a focus on developing our minds and our mission.
Thank you to each and every person present for your contribution to a wonderful time of fellowship! And to those who had other commitments on, we missed your company but you are very much in our hearts and our prayers.