Friday, June 28, 2013

Passing on what Mantle?

 Gate Pa – 30th July 2013


Hebrew Scripture:     2 Kings  2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm:                         Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Epistle:                        Gal 5:1, 13-25
Gospel:                        Luke 9:51-62      

What I want to say:

Who are we passing our mantle on to and what are we passing on?

What I want to happen:

People to reflect on the important people in their lives and how they helped shaped them today
How they seek to help shape and support younger people today
Reflect on what need to let go of pass on mantle of Christ

The Sermon

       1.      Introduction:

Last week Jo asked us to think about people inspired us
Take that bit further this week
at 9.30 service explore story just heard of Elijah and Elisha
spend time four groups
            praying story Elijah and Elisha
            responding to story in art
            telling stories those gone before us in this parish and how we inherited their mantle
            telling stories those inspired us and mantle inherited from them
in groups talk about – those gone before us in this parish
-          those inspired you
รจ what mantle inherited from them

          2. Succession Planning    

     Some of the ministries I have been part of - constant theme - what succession plan do I have in place
      another way saying
                  how am I intentionally passing on the mantle of my ministry
                  not something we think about too often
                  hope/assume/pray – someone will come along
think it is worth all us thinking about that
      how am I intentionally passing on the mantle of my ministry

         3.      What are we passing on

just finished listening to a book by Northern Irish writer – Peter Rollins
exploring idolatry God
how Christian church turned God into commodity we sell promise that God meet all our deepest longings and hopes,
will fill all our gaps
bring long lasting satisfaction and happiness
which suggests not what Christianity is about at all.
Finishes describing some events he ran with others in pub Belfast which explored doubt, uncertainty, unravelling as good things lead us true God
in one services finishes act everyone turning those around offering crumpled paper from theological text saying – “my beliefs broken for you”
what on earth were they on about?
As I listened to that light bulb went on in my head
think got what this really difficult gospel reading heard this morning is about.

        4.      The Gospel

What Jesus says hard
            you can’t go and bury your father
            you can’t go and say good bye family and loved ones
            you can’t do what we just did, look where come from so know who are and what to do in now
because all of that stops you truly seeing and hearing what I am about
think still true today
            but even more so Jesus time
everyone agreed law summarised in “Love your neighbour as yourself” (as heard in Pauls letter)
real limits to who was neighbour
group were actually love as yourself pretty small
looked a lot like you
            neighbour understood to be those from family and community
what is more,
            what you believed
            and how put that into practice
                        pretty much shaped by your family and community
                                    just as it is today most parts world
trouble with those beliefs, and understanding of how neighbour was
rendered large numbers people invisible
beyond your care
beyond God’s care
did not have to worry
Jesus was suggesting a much bigger understanding of who neighbour is
was suggesting we needed bigger understanding God and God’s work in world
knew that if people looked back to family and community,
compassion grow small again

         5.      Conclusion

while it is good to look back and see whose mantle we inherited and how we live that out
have to do that holding Jesus words in our hearts
“No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
important to ask
consider whose mantle picked up
      how we are passing on that mantle
What separates me from those around me?
What beliefs, attitudes, priorities blind me to my neighbour
What might I need to let go of so that I might see as Elisha saw

Spanky Moore - Back from Britain's fresh frontier

This is a really interesting article from Spanky. I have a lot of time for him. I attended the Kitchen several times and was really engaged with it's final incarnation. What I likes about it was that what happened on Sunday wasn't the point. What happened the rest of the week was the point, and what happened at the Kitchen helped people see that and live that out. I liked that.

What worries me about some of what he ways about Fresh Expression is that what happens on Sunday becomes the point. Mission becomes getting people to come to church. Don't get me wrong, I think what happens on Sunday, or whenever we gather as God's people, is important, but it is not the point. It should be a vehicle by which God shapes and moulds us to be a people of mission, to be a people who in Rowan Williams’ words, "find out what God is doing and join in."

I am also not as convinced as Spanky that the prayer book is redundant. But we do need to use it in more life giving ways.

Anyhow, this is worth a read.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What are we passing on, and to who?

Last week Jo Keogan talked to us about LT4Youth, the Diocesan leadership training programme for young people, and our role walking with those young people as mentors and supporters. This week we explore this in terms of our mantle and we are asked: who are we passing our mantle on to and what are we passing on?
In the reading from 2 Kings we hear the story of Elijah passing his mantle on the Elisha. A mantle was originally a cape worn simply to ward off the cold. For Elijah it became a symbol of his prophetic call. As Elijah tours the sacred sites of the Northern Kingdom, Elisha tags along denying what is happening. At the end he watches his mentor being taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot and is rewarded with Elijah’s mantle. This symbolises that Elijah has passed on all he needs and that God will be with him as he had been with Elijah. Who are we preparing to pick up our mantles?
The other three readings help us explore the nature of our mantle, or what we are passing on. The Psalmist reminds us that this involves retelling both the grand stories of God, and the stories of this parish, the people who have been part of this parish whose ministries shape us today. In what ways do we pick up their mantle?
The message of Paul and Luke is simply learning to love as we are loved, and letting go of everything that stops us truly loving our neighbour as ourselves.  The passage from Luke seems harsh. Surely we should be able to bury our parents, to say goodbye, to honour those who love us. Maybe? But Luke like Paul was more concerned with what prevents us seeing others at all. Family and community defined people, defined what they believed, who they saw as worthy of attention, care and love. Family and community defined neighbour as people in that family and that community. Paul and Luke invited  those early followers to leave all that behind, to see people with fresh eyes as more than in and out. To embrace even the most despised as neighbour. So what beliefs stop us loving our neighbour as ourselves? What relationships blind us to those different from us? What do we pass on that blinds others? What do we need to let go of so that out mantle will be a mantle of love?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Justin Duckworth | Leading The Religious Charge |

There are things that Bishop Justin thinks and says I struggle with. I really don't think he gets liturgy, or its place in shaping us as people of God. But at times he inspires me with how he has lived his life, and he helps me call into question what I seek out of life, and out of my life in God. Do I really give my best for the least? Most of the time no, sadly. Do I strive for a world where all can contribute and all can benefit? I talk about it, but strive is a heavy word. 
So well done Bishop Justin. I pray we give you the space to be who God calls you to be, and find ways of making normal boring bishop stuff happen around that.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Theme for the week

At the heart of this weeks gospel is evil. We meet a man, tormented by oppressive evil spirits, a great problem for his community who seek to protect themselves by binding him in chains in the cemetery. Nothing works and they are at their wits ends. Then along comes Jesus, fresh from calming wild storms on lakes. And in a flash all is changed. Evil is outsmarted. The man is liberated. Pigs die. And the people are filled with….awe, wonder? Fear! They are afeared to their core and ask him to leave.
For many of us it is a story that makes us feel uncomfortable. We are not so sure what to believe about or what to do with these evil spirits. But at its core this is about evil, and the man is a victim of the work of evil.
One possible interesting word play in this story is the name “legion”. The Roman Legions were the power on which Roman peace was based. Wo betide any who fell fowl of that legion. For those who did Legion was evil personified. Merciless, unjust, ruthless. They could make this man’s plight seem easy. Evil can be understood in many ways in this story.
So however we understand “evil”, whether individual spirits possessing people, or the evil inherent in some social structures and powers; Jesus comes to bring liberation from evil and free the man.
Some questions:
What is our reaction when meeting wild behaving “possessed” people?
What and where is evil for us?
Where is God’s liberation?
When do we ask God to leave us alone in the comfort of our current lives?

Friday, June 07, 2013

Theme for the day

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke comes at the end of a section that began with Jesus reading the scroll in his home synagogue in Nazareth. The stories that follow show Jesus doing exactly what he proclaimed, bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour. Today marks the climax of those stories.

The scene is a common one. The average life expectancy then is around 35. Funerals are common. When we read stories like this our focus is usually on the miracle of the young man being raised from the dead. But the focus of the story is really the woman, a widow and a mother. As a widow she is in a very precarious position. Her only hope of economic survival is her son, who is now dead. She is facing destitution and maybe her own death. As the two crowds collide at the gate to Nain, Jesus sees what is going on and is filled with compassion for her. In an extravagant gesture he raises her son, and follows that by freeing him from all obligations to him as the one who raised him. Jesus then restores him to her. In doing so Jesus brings good news to this very poor woman. He sees her real human need and he acts with compassion. She did not need to come to him; he brought the good news of God to her. We who follow in Jesus footsteps are invited to live the same way, to see the real human need around us, and to act with compassion to meet that need, proclaiming  good news to the poor in the way we live.

Today we are offering an opportunity for us all to prayerfully reflect on our level of giving to this parish. Being a member of God’s church is more than being part of an ordinary club. We do not pay subs, we do not attend weekly meetings. Together we seek to join with the Risen Christ bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour. As we regularly meet together and commit ourselves to each other and to Christ’s on-going work we become the body of Christ. Part of that commitment is our financial giving.