Our Purpose and Mission Statement

Working to build God's dream. Help wanted!

We the people of Glen Rhodes United Church, are determined that our life together will be fully inclusive for people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, differing abilities, ethnic origins and economic circumstances. Therefore, we hope that God will work in us so that we will be a sensitive congregation, willing to share our faith and gifts in language and worship, in the life and work of our church and wherever God calls us to do justice in the wider community, with compassion, fun and laughter

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


“In The Family Way” – September 23
 
Sermon - Robin Wardlaw
 
Pentecost, Year B
Readings: (Proverbs 31:10–31); Psalm 1; James 3:13—4:3, 7–8a; Mark 9:30–37
 
Families are those collections of people we love, and the same people who drive us crazy. Families know all about us, and love us anyway. Thomas Jefferson said,  “The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.” It’s a nice quote. Lucky for him he lived before YouTube, Twitter and tabloid magazines. It turns out Jefferson had a lot of families besides the one up in the fancy house on the plantation. I wonder which family he was thinking of when he said that?
The Kevin McCallister character played by Macaulay Culkin in the movie “Home Alone” says, “This house is so full of people it makes me sick. When I grow up and get married, I’m going to live alone.” Judith Timson, the Canadian journalist provides some balance: “While there are not perfect families, there are perfect family moments.”
I have three brothers–I’m the second child, and Rita and I have two boys–and I have to agree with Timson. There is conflict, rivalry, poor communication and worse. And there are some perfect family moments.  Like the one in the picture on today’s bulletin. Laughing until we cry, spontaneous “I love you’s” and hugs, shared activities that seem so right they take our breath away, bring a lump to the throat. Love that has no equal–all-embracing, right down to the core. Family life is not all good, of course. Timson’s comment about perfect family moments is true for most of us, but we keep hearing that family life can be murder for some.
By coincidence, the Statistics Canada report on how families are changing in this country came out this past week, just as the lectionary gets to all kinds of reflecting about families and relating. Things are loosening up, it seems. More dads are taking on the parenting after marriages come apart, more same sex couples turned up in the census last year. The bible knows quite a bit about varieties of families. I think it was Virginia Ramey Mollenkott who counted up configurations of families in the bible and got dozens of different kinds.
The message today is Wisdom, Part 2. Last week we thought about wisdom as it plays out in world affairs and church life. This week, things are much more intimate. The author of James writes to the young churches, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom...the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
And your soul says, “Mm-hmm, sign me up. That’s the way I want to be. Where do I get that?” We can imagine very different relationships with those around us, if we didn’t have such doses of the other stuff James lists: bitter envy, selfish ambition in our hearts, boastfulness, falseness. I have more of that those than I really need or want. How can I get them out to the curb, and get rid of them? That’s what we’re doing here. Worship is a big workshop for the soul, a spa, a gym. That’s why you pray and read the bible and meditate on things like peace and love through the week. To get rid of some of the tendencies that are so hard on relationships, and get more of the ones that build up love, and family, and community.
And we don’t want that kind of wisdom just for dealing with our nearest and dearest. Did you hear about the bus driver in Winnipeg? A passenger reported him. Denise Campbell told the Winnipeg Free Press she was on a city bus last Tuesday. "He was basically at the corner of Portage and Main when he stopped. I was thinking, ‘Oh no, there’s a problem or maybe he’s waiting for someone who’s running to catch the bus.’ Then he stepped off. He says, ‘Hey buddy.’ He’s chatting with the fellow. They’re about the same age. I thought he knew him. All of a sudden, the driver takes his shoes off. He hands them to the man. He gets back on the bus. He has no shoes on. He’s just got his socks on." Turns out the driver’s name is Kris Doubledee. Someone asked him why he did it. He said, “I just saw him walking and thought, ‘Hey, I could do something.’ It looked like he needed the shoes more than I did. Anybody would do the same thing.”
Hey, I could do something. That kind of sums it up. Although a lot of good parenting, a lot of things happened so that “Hey, I could do something,” was what he thought when he saw a scruffy guy with no shoes. It’s stories like the one in today’s gospel that help shape that kind of thinking, the idea that we are all one big, human family. This curious notion about greatness, that it lies in receiving or welcoming, embracing the person with no power. In Mark the gospel writer tells the story of Jesus and a child. With Princess Diana, it was a person with HIV/AIDS. She knew the power of that symbol: when people with the disease were still feared, she shook hands with those living with it, she shared her wellness with them and their illness with her.
Kris Doubledee, the bus driver, says anybody would do the same thing. I love that faith in human nature. Opportunities do abound. If we were writing the story about Jesus welcoming someone on the margins, who might that be these days? A Pacific islander whose whole country is slowly going under water? A former asbestos miner? A person with a university education working at a decent job? According to Gail Nyberg at Daily Bread, besides more new immigrants, there are also more people with higher incomes paying too much for housing.
Who is my brother or sister, my parents, my dear ones? Bible writers have this insight that wisdom is loving others in a family way. Receiving them home again no matter where they’ve been or how long they’ve been away. Anybody would do the same. Perhaps that’s true. In the right circumstances, anybody could be selfless. There’s a lot of encouragement to look after number one these days, a lot of anti-gospel thinking out there, encouraging people to keep their stuff and never reach out a hand. All very appealing until it stops working and I need a food bank, or a meal, or a place to stay. Then I discover the power of what my neighbours have been doing: embracing a different message, organizing themselves to look after people in dire straits.
Insights about family come from all over, even people without families. You may have been following the struggle by nuns in the United States to keep some theological independence. The Vatican is trying to reign them in. Too interested in the poor, too outspoken about the real ills of society, too much talk about the ordination of women and so on coming from about 57,000 American Women Religious, as they are known. Their former president, as she was finishing her term in August, talked about true family values. “The human family is not served by individualism, patriarchy or competition...Breaking through in their place are equality, communion, collaboration, expansiveness...intuitive knowing and love.” An archbishop has been assigned to help them see the error of their ways. Good luck with that.
Remember when Jesus’ family came to find him? Mark has this story early in his gospel. Jesus had gone home, to Nazareth, but he was being swarmed by a crowd eager to hear him, to be healed. His family came to rescue him, it looks like. “Your mother and brothers and sisters are calling for you.” Remember what he said? “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:33b-35) Is he blowing off his family, or expanding the definition?
Shirley Erena Murray has set that conversation to music, and gone on to explore the definition of family, and the inspiration to love that is Jesus Christ. Murray is a New Zealander, and prolific hymn writer and a grandmother. Her middle name, Erena, is Greek for peace. She writes hymns about the seasons of the Church year, human rights, care of creation, women's concerns and above all, peace.
Loving others because we are first loved is a tonic for many of the ills of the world. Having a broad definition of family helps resist the people preaching narrow self interest. Welcoming people, especially those with less power, puts me in touch with the Christ who walks on wounded feet and welcomes others with torn hands. As you sing, let your embrace grow and grow, and feel the embrace of all the other’s in God’s family.
‘Here’s the hymn.
Who is my mother?
 
1 Who is my mother,
who is my brother?
All those who gather round Jesus Christ:
Spirit‑blown people
born from the gospel
sit at the table, round Jesus Christ.
 
 
2 Differently abled,
differently labeled,
widen the circle round Jesus Christ,
crutches and stigmas,
culture's enigmas,
all come together round Jesus Christ.
 
3 Love will relate us ‑‑
color or status
can't segregate us, round Jesus Christ:
family failings,
human derailings ‑‑
all are accepted, round Jesus Christ.
 
4 Bound by one vision,
met for one mission
we claim each other, round Jesus Christ:
here is my mother,
here is my brother,
kindred in Spirit, through Jesus Christ.
 
Words by Shirley Erena Murray
© 1992 Hope Publishing Company


 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Wisdom Cries Out - September 16
 
Sermon - Robin Wardlaw
 
Pentecost 16, Year B
Readings: Proverbs 1:20–33; Psalm 19; James 3:1–12; Mark 8:27–38
 
Here’s some thinking about wisdom. “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?” (Prov 1:22)
“The decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7)
Here is the book of James on the opposite of wisdom, how we get ourselves into trouble. “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell....no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:6, 8)
According to Confucius, wisdom can be learned by three methods: Reflection, imitation and experience. Reflection is the noblest, imitation is the easiest and experience is the bitterest.
According to an African proverb, when an old person dies a library burns down.
Here’s a quote from Isaac Asimov, the science fiction writer. “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”  Here’s another quote. This one’s from Dennis Miller , the comedian. “There’s nothing wrong with being shallow as long you’re insightful about it.”
To many older civilizations, wisdom was female. Greeks called wisdom Sophia. She was personified in the goddess Athena. ‘Love of wisdom’ in Greek is philo-sophia,  philosophy. In Rome, wisdom was the goddess Minerva, represented by an owl.
Wisdom. So appealing. What if I could always make wise choices about what to eat or drink, what to buy or sell, whom to trust? Not fall prey to impulse, or old habits, or my passions? Failing being wise myself, it would be good even to hang around wise people.
As inequality grows across the planet, and our energy habits are giving earth a fever, wouldn’t it be nice to have wise leaders, the kind Plato and the bible writers imagined, who ruled for the benefit of all? Wisdom may still be going around the streets crying out, but are we listening to her any better than they seemed to be back in the day?
Much of our faith life is occupied with more immediate concerns–care for neighbour, tending to the slings and arrows in one’s own life. But we also raise our gaze to the horizon and ask bigger questions, questions that will long outlast our own lifetimes. Our faith speaks to issues that confront our whole species, our whole, intricate world.
The United Church spoke out last month about the situation in the Occupied Territories. General Council didn’t tell us what to do, but it encouraged us to study the situation and avoid buying products made in illegal Israeli settlements. This sounds consistent with a long tradition in the United Church of standing up for justice even when it brings questions or outrage from others. Was it wise? If it sets back relations with Jewish Canadians, was it worth it? Palestinian Christians certainly think so. They have watched their land be taken, fields divided from farmers’ houses, livelihoods and villages wrecked by the creeping encroachment of illegal settlements. Occasionally the government of Israel comes to drag settlers away and dismantle buildings. But very little outside pressure is directed at Israel to respect Palestinian rights on their own land.
We wish success on Israel. If anybody knows about rights and livelihoods being taken away, violated, it’s Jews. We feel caught in a struggle between two vulnerable groups. It’s painful to have to choose sides. What is wisdom here? Perhaps we should study the matter, consult representatives of both sides, make up our own minds, take a stand even.
There are so many issues to study. Where do we begin? Luckily, on the ‘what to study question, there are no wrong answers. Anything that gets us in touch with the powerful justice witness of the bible is a good thing. Food, water, First Nations, poverty, housing, Israel-Palestine: they can all lead us out of our comfort zones into a deeper relationship with what is most real, most holy.
Your prayers are needed today, tomorrow and every day for tense situations such as Palestine and Israel. But moreso that usual, they are needed for the Council of this church. Council begins thinking on Wednesday about the way forward. We need to do even more thinking about our mission as a congregation, what we are being called to do together in our small corner of the globe. And then how to share news of that mission with the neighbours, invite them to come and be part of it. Not that Council is going to do those things by itself. It just needs to figure out a good way to involve the whole community in the discussion and come to some consensus in the next few months.
That’s right–wisdom about how to go forward is going to from all of us. And how will this happen? How will we find wisdom? We are going to have to go inside ourselves, get in touch with what moves us most deeply. We’re humans. We get used to the way things are now, and then that feels like the way they always should be. “Same old, same old” is our middle name. Going deep is different. It’s hard, and it’s exciting. It’s hard because we might have to let go of comfort, routine, familiar things. It’s exciting because it takes us to new places together, takes us closer to the capital “L” Love that brought us here in the first place and keeps us coming back.
We have only a little idea of what we’re capable of doing together. The possibilities for this place, this good-natured, warm-hearted community of faith are almost limitless. There’s a lot that’s going right around the neighbourhood, the city, the province, the world, but we know that not everything is going well, not for everyone. Things could be better. In some cases, much better. There are some trends, some people, some organizations that need to be resisted.

There is a hunger here for change. Part of you is thinking, Yes, yes. And part of you is thinking, No, no. Nothing strange about that. When we go to deepen our witness, our embrace of the love that liberates, we may discover mixed feelings, perhaps some reluctance to raise our voices–in the street, or anywhere else. What would Dennis Miller say? There’s nothing wrong with being conflicted as long you’re insightful about it.
I said to pray for Council. That’s a beginning. We need to pray for all of us. Our eagerness to make this community a sanctuary, a witness, a source of wisdom depends on all of us. We are all right there when the teacher asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Who is Christ for us? What is Christ doing in our streets? What is the compelling truth about the Christ event that makes us want to reach deeper, give more, love better?
You notice I’m not saying Jesus. Jesus was a man, a man in another time and place. Christ is not one person. Christ is not necessarily male, or Jewish, or from the first century. Christ is freed from such limitations, and lives in this time, in our streets, in us. Jesus had limitations. He never got to Greece, or Rome, or India or North America. But he transcended many of the limitations of other Jewish men of his time. Enough so that when he asked his disciples their thinking, one of them said out loud what many others were thinking: “You are the Christ.” The Christ. The anointed one. The one for whom the world is waiting.
Quite a claim. Jesus then tweaks the definition of the anointed one. His career arc is not going to be quite like people were expecting. His fame and following will not grow and grow until the whole world recognizes and accepts him as Christ, as Liberator. There will be opposition. “No, no,” says Peter, “we know the story. That’s not how it goes.” Let that myth go, Jesus tells them. Get that picture out of your heads. It will just wreck your experience of me. Instead of paying attention to what is actually happening when Christ is with a crowd, or with a hurting person, or challenging authorities, you will be running some kind of movie in your head with a fantastic ending. Get a grip. Don’t get ahead of yourselves.
We have something of the same challenge. It will be tempting to get ahead of ourselves, to imagine the way “success” will look and risk missing Christ right beside us doing mission slightly differently than we imagined. Or very differently.
We have resources here the disciples could only dream about: a long tradition of faithfulness here, a big building that’s paid for, money, learning, and wisdom, learned all three ways: the noble way, the easy way and the bitter way. What about our challenges? Much the same as the disciples and those who have laid down their lives for others have always faced: our tongues, for instance, blurting out things that hurt others or make them feel unwelcome; our love of being simple whenever wisdom feels like too much work.
And in the background is another challenge. Listen to this verse from Proverbs 31.“Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying...” Ok, that’s one. Then this: “Give me neither poverty nor riches;  feed me with the food that I need, or I shall be full, and deny you,  and say, ‘Who is God?’ or I shall be poor, and steal, and profane the name of my God.” This from hundreds of years before Jesus. Talk about wise. This is sort of the challenge we face, isn’t it? Some people are too full, and believe there is no need for a struggle for justice. Others are too poor, and have  given up the struggle. But we know there are some who yearn for a community such as this that will allow them to breathe in the air of freedom, that invites them to use their gifts and their energy in the service of this great liberating work.

Can you feel the call? Can you feel yourself getting ready to respond? We are going to do this together. With our eyes open. There’s a proverb about our project, wouldn’t you know. Proverbs chapter 24 this time, verse 27: “Prepare your work outside, get everything ready for you in the field; and after that build your house.” That’s the plan. If Council approves it and the rest of us accept that this is what we are being called to do here and now, then there is getting ready to do, some field work before anybody lifts a hammer or a saw to build. We’ll try to be patient as we make the good preparations.
This is an exciting time, for sure. Any time we are asked to say who Christ is for us is an exciting time. Any time we get ready to draw up plans for a house that is even more hopeful, more healing, more committed to wholeness and better at bearing witness to hope, healing and wholeness is a time to honour the Christ within us all. Many beautiful days behind us. Many beautiful days ahead.

 

 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Crumbs - September 9, 2012


Sermon - Robin Wardlaw

Pentecost 15, Year B
Readings: Proverbs 22:1–2, 8–9, 22–23; Psalm 125; (James 2:1–10, 11–13, 14–17); Mark 7:24–30

Crumbs. The nuisance kind seem to spread all over the counter or the table when one is cutting crusty bread, or end up jabbing one in bed no matter how great the care not to let them fall. To be avoided. The appealing kind of crumbs are from brownies or fudge or something, where it seems worthwhile to gather up every one.
Crumbs are what a desperate mother is hoping to get from the rabbi, the healer, as he passes through. Any crumbs. Her daughter is unwell. The bible calls it demon possession. We might call it something different today. What would a parent not do to help a child? Go find the rabbi and somehow get to see him even though he had booked some alone time? Ignore a vicious put down of her and her people? Easy, compared to what she would have done.
Crumbs are all I need. Crumbs of love. Crumbs of healing power. For my daughter. For our dreams for her. Doesn’t your holy book say, “Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor?” For God’s sake, let her be accepted by the community. Let her be well. Let her be whole.
She converts him. He is focused on his mission. His people need direction, clarity, a return to desert thinking, when they were all poor and dependent on each other and providence. No distractions. But she opens his eyes to something wider. Who doesn’t need love, healing, acceptance, dignity, wholeness? Did he really believe there was a limited supply of such things, that they had to be hoarded, or dispensed only to one people?
And what happened back in her community, how did she explain her daughter’s new health? And what did happen to make her daughter better, anyway? What was in those crumbs?
The Jesus community tells this story in which Jesus comes off badly. It catches us by surprise. Lets us feel for all the characters in the story with their different needs–daughter, mother, traveling wonder worker. It certainly calls on the Christian community to reach out to non-Jews. “Look, Jesus heard the cries of foreigners, ministered to them.”
We don’t get much to eat or drink in a communion service. Not much more than a sip, a crumb. It’s potent stuff, though. It makes us think of our smallness, and our greatness. It reminds us of those with little, and gives us a taste for a world somewhat different than the one we have concocted so far. It connects us with generations who have been breaking bread together over centuries and millennia, and people doing so even now in very, very different settings all over the planet.
And what do you tell people about it when you get home? You have the same challenge as the woman in the story. You could say, “It inspires us, joins us together, fills us up, leaves us hungry for change. It’s miracle bread.” It’s hard to tell others about communion, though–what happens here and why. Maybe it’s a case of, “You had to be there.”
The world is waiting for people who know the power, the tender power, of a not-so-simple meal shared with others. People like you. The world is waiting for rituals of togetherness, ceremonies of wholeness, recipes for healing. This is ours. Miracle bread. Come and get it.




Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Love of God - Sunday Sep. 2 2012


Homily - Malcolm Spencer -  September 2 2012

Readings:  
Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Psalm 45
Mark 7:1-8, 134-15, 21-23

Love of God

Love story in the Song of Songs
Many years ago during a silent retreat, my retreat director actually gave me this passage from the Song of Solomon that we read from today. My role was to pray with this passage – to ask of it what I would be in this passage. I saw myself behind the lattice, the window protecting me from this lover bounding over mountains and leaping over hills. I felt that I had protected myself from God’s love by creating barriers of the ego and barriers of distraction.  This is a beautiful love poem that is dripping in the natural beauty of spring. Couples have used it at their wedding but I think this is a startling story of the divine seeking us- having waited for us now comes to find us and give us our spring.

Back in Victorian times there was a poet in England, Francis Thompson who moved to London after study in medicine but never did practice – he stayed on the street sold papers and became a heroin addict. He managed to write poetry and was recognized by some as a great poet. He was plagued by illness often living on the street and died of tuberculosis in 1907 at only 48. One of poems was called the hound of heaven. He pictured being chased by God fleeing down nights and through years down all the labyrinth of his mind. He understood being chased by God as he hides and finds other ways of love but he cannot shake him off.

Spiritual teachers have long used this passage to demonstrate the powerful desire of heaven to embrace earth and each of us and yet we hide away and create even religious ideas and structures that may in fact not allow us to focus our attention on the love affair God has with us. We can probably remember things that happened that drew us back to a spiritual time when we felt something holy. Jesus was living in that presence and told his disciples the kingdom is at hand is close at hand but our preoccupation with other matters it impossible to apprehend it.

This is the stalker God that makes us uncomfortable and we are weary of talk of love, often of any kind because we are hurt or because we are afraid. As the Russian staretses often say it is a terrible thing to fall into the loving arms of God. Terrible because we may discover who we really are but often in our most intimate relations we have similar moments. We need not fear this onset of the love of God. After all we expect the presence of the holy one in our hour of worship or do we. Perhaps if we really do we might be more attentive to where our God is among us. The Song of Solomon choses to compare Gods love with a human love relationship, a sensual relationship even an erotic relationship. Solomon is supposedly this love story’s author and he had many, many wives so he may have been inspired to make this comparison, this metaphor to talk of the ultimate love.

We need to start in our faith with how much we are loved by God and finally we are beginning to recognize God’s love of creation.

Love of creation
In this poem of Solomon today we read of the beauty of the spring, the flowers appear, birds begin to sing, the green figs will ripen on the tree and vines give forth their fragrance. We live on a continent that was fragrant many miles away from the shore noticed by early European explorers and yet we had been occupied for almost 9000 years with a civilization which left this land with its beauty which regarded nature as part of the family, part of our heritage. Next week the united church has a season dedicated to creation and the new addition to our crest will carry the Mohawk words for all my relations. We are showing respect for creation here in our city by simple acts recycling and composting – and young people are gaining an interest in the environment – genuine attempts at organic living and so on need to be available to all rich and poor. It was sad for me to note that many farms in western Canada that were organic have ceased to be so now that the premium is not paid for the produce and the American market is down.

Yet as we persist and stay awake and learn to love Mother Nature in all her splendors we will become the people we were meant to be and grow in a mature faith.

Love of others
As our congregation has found, it is to love our community and those within its bounds and beyond that is our work for the the God who loves us. We know that as the beloved we see with the heart and eyes of the beloved. Something Sister Prejean has been trying to convert Americans to for many years serving those on death row.
Jesus explained to the Pharisees that it is what comes out of a person that often creates havoc and pain in the world not what goes in. If we open ourselves to the forgiveness, hope, renewal and justice that God’s love sweeps into us then we have ways to make inner life one of fairness, kindness and joy, of a listening ear, a caring heart and above all as genuine neighbour and we will truly be transformed and unafraid and will be really in touch with our true self.

Where can we find this life and how can we share it! This is way our congregation can find new life and energy in the loving presence of God in our midst and our freedom to accept it and work out our lives with it- so

Rise up darlings and fairest, let us all come away for this journey with our beloved.

Prayer
Loving God of lovers you have given us a sign of great love, help us to open our hearts to you and keep us ever in your love as we return our love to you.
In Jesus Name we Pray Amen

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Put on the Armour of God - Sunday Aug. 26/12


Homily:  Malcolm Spencer, August 26 2012

Put on the Armour of God

Military images abound in the scriptures and that was not strange because their time especially the time of Paul were the days of the greatest expansion of the Roman Empire, soldiers would be seen often in the streets. Paul as you know used his Roman Citizenship appeal for Justice from the Emperor. So we read in Ephesians this reference to the armour of God. The source of this is from Isaiah 59:16-18 where God puts on the armour of integrity and vengeance to struggle against evil in the world.
Paul goes through the Roman soldiers outfit to illustrate that Christians also should be clad with spiritual clothes - the belt of truth, honesty always challenges those who would deny the truth and often distort it for their own ends. We are asked to always look to the truth we find in faith. His coat of mail was integrity closely related to honesty it means being whole, living life as true to yourself as you can be. Your shoes the gospel of peace – walking in peace, living in peace finding resolution of conflict not stirring the pot for more conflict  and he talked about the shield of faith.

These are spiritual gifts for us to face living in military times or peaceful times – it is to give us strength to know who we are, to move beyond simple understandings of life and naivety to a strong faith in Christ that prepares us for what comes next and difficulties and joys we find.

This is our new nature that we accept and life into and we are strengthened and prepared more through prayer. As was Paul when he was arrested and living in Rome yet maintaining his prayerful hope as he faced the mobs around Nero who finally took his life.
 He firmly believed that the issues we face often are cosmic ones, behind them great power – we in our time know the power of the press, the internet and corporate which is greater than we can sometimes understand and we know ideology can enslave a people and create great suffering in the world yet we have the ability to see through this and know that we have a loving God who came in Jesus to assure us that all these powers do not have the last word. The first word of creation is love and that is the last word.

But Christian life can be difficult in the many distractions of our busy city and so we need a bit of courage and an ability to hang in there and seeking the things we need today to follow Jesus. Even Roman soldiers had to learn the art of their uniform as do the high suits of soldiers today - it takes persistence and a willingness to as a community be a witness in our community of our hope. We see beyond our food bank to a community where more equal sharing is a right of everyone, we see beyond our Community dinner to the hope that all people can afford to entertain and enjoy a life in community. We see beyond our often small numbers to the heart of our community we pray and we are inclusive and we are very much with our community as we struggle with issues of environment, employment and health.



We choose to stay with Jesus
Again we have a gospel lesson that gets to the heart of our relationship with Jesus and again Jesus suggests this amazing intimacy with him and as such the possibility for an intimacy with God. This is what someone called the nutshell of the incarnation. Jesus was one with God and we are one with Jesus. Some of the disciples were shocked and often so are we because we were raised to think that God was there and we are here and those who think there are in a cozy relationship with God probably needed a counselor or therapist. They found talking about eating the flesh of Christ and drinking his blood just too much. This was the language of the mystery cults which drank the blood of the sacred bull to partake in the power it bestowed. It partakes of this mysterious idea of closeness with holy power. Christians from the beginning sat with Christ and hear Jesus speak of this. It was his way of talking about this intimacy.

In most of our intimate relationships we eat together we often share things together often borrowing from each other, we get bound up with one another. Jesus saw this in his relationship with God.

Simone Weil, French Jew and convert to Christianity, philosopher, and cultural critic and resistance fighter dies in the United States in 1943. She believed that contemplation, silent communion with the holy was the greatest joy any one of us could have. She had many things happen to her life but it changed when she visited Assisi and experienced the place when Francis had had his life changed and his spirituality broadened and widened.
She left France soon after the country fell to the Nazis and came to New York. Her mystical and philosophical thoughts were largely published after she died. She understood this relationship Jesus talked about.

The Church seems to remember it is a mystical union with Christ at times and then turns around and acts like human institution. But there are those that call it back to a life graphed in Christ and soon we know that we  like Peter need to say Lord to whom shall we go? Your words are words of eternal life.

To God we are all like Prince Harry bare before God but he like us need to suit up spirituality and find ourselves this loving relationship with our saviour that will make us whole and ready to serve him.


Let us pray
Loving God you have given us signs of a great love, help us to open our hearts to you and keep us ever in your love as we return our love to you. In Jesus Name we Pray Amen