Our community at worship

The gathering of our community in worship offers a central place to share our lives with one another and God. Each Sunday at 10am, we seek to place our lives in the context of a God-reality, so that we might learn and grow from one another and the sharing of the Scriptures.

We enjoy input from many people, including a gifted group of musicians. We draw our music from a range of sources, including the rich Celtic tradition of Iona and the contemporary music scene alongside traditional style music. We celebrate the creative arts in our worship and seek to be inclusive to people with a diversity of needs.

Mathew Series: Healing

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“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally,

impatient in everything to reach the end

without delay.

We should like to skip

the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being

on the way to something unknown,

something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress

that it is made by passing through

some stages of instability…

And that it may take a very long time…”

– T. de Chardin

Jesus once asked a man, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ (John 5. 6) It’s interesting to consider why such a question might even be asked. Isn’t it obvious, that anyone with an ailment or struggle might want to be healed?

Consider these possible variations on the question:

Do you want to be cured?

Do you want wholeness?

Do you want transformation in you life?

Today we tend to think of healing in terms of cure—and usually that means something that someone else does for us: surgery, medications, some therapy. But what is our role in our own healing? What part do we play in becoming whole? God wills that we should all grow into wholeness. This is not something achieved alone, or done for us.

Healing is God’s gift and calling, as we are becoming whole together.

Matthew Series: Food

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‘Love is like five loaves and two fish: it’s never enough until it is shared.’

‘When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.’

(Dom Helder Camara; Brazilian Archbishop)

Jesus said, ‘You give them something to eat.’  (Matthew 14. 16.)

Today we come to one of the stories that many of us will remember from Sunday School, the story of Jesus taking five small loaves of bread, and two fish, and with them somehow feeding a crowd of 5000 men plus women and children.

Now there are lots and lots of things we could say about this story, and we have only a short time, but I want to invite you to consider an approach to bible reading that many people find very helpful: and this is to imagine you are one of the people in this story, and then to think and feel your way into the story through that person.

And if we read this story today, we can see that it has meaning and challenge for us, here in this nation of ours:

First, it says to us: Don’t send them away. Don’t just pretend that it’s not our concern when people are hungry, distressed, homeless or helpless. Not everyone is hungry for food, but many are. And many others are hungry for someone to listen, someone to take them seriously, someone to have compassion.

Then we note that Jesus’ compassion calls forth a response from us. He says: ‘You give them something to eat.’

But that brings us to say that we, honestly, can’t manage. We can’t, and we shouldn’t pretend. For too long, the church has pretended that it had the resources, or the answers, for the world’s needs. Some big churches may continue this way, but we cannot. And we should not.

Honestly, Jesus, what have we got to offer? Well, the answer is: Not nothing. We do have something to offer.

We can pick up a few loaves and start handing them around. It means taking a risk: the risk of looking stupid, mostly in our own eyes.

What we have to offer is making ourselves available to whatever Jesus is going to do—and that we don’t entirely know or understand. So we have a choice, to stand back and do nothing, or get involved with however it is that Jesus is working, in our streets, in our city, in our community.

God wills that the hungry are fed.

God wills that those who are lost should be accompanied into friendship.

God wills that those hungry for dignity and someone to care are taken seriously.

God wills that the fruits of the earth, a piece of bread and small amount of wine should be offered to each and every member of the human family—the gift of fellowship and life together.

Okay, we can’t do it: not on our own. All we can do is reach out and offer it to someone. Someone, just someone, and after that it’s up to God …

 

 

Care for our world

Concern for our environment and the call to engagement in justice issues lies close to the heart of our community. We believe that the ‘good news’ is a call to ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humbly’, and that has practical implications. We are prepared to challenge on another in the way we use our world’s resources, and move as a community toward having more environmentally appropriate facilities. We have a ‘green group’ that meets to discuss environmental issues and educate others, including our young people. In doing this we see ourselves as part of a wider network of organisations that are calling for care of our world. We are prepared to question and explore issues of poverty and global injustice, and seek ways to personally engage in the issue where our conscience challenges us through letter writing, petition and protest. We seek to support local and overseas missions that educate and offer to empower people to independence.

Matthew Series: Word

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“How many times, God, have we been told

that you are no stranger,

remote from those who call upon you in prayer!

O let us see, and know in our lives,

that those words are true.

 

Your word is near, O Lord our God,

your grace is near.

Come to us, then, with mildness and power.

Do not let us be deaf to you,

but make us receptive and open,

to Jesus Christ you son,

who comes to look for us and save us,

today and every day.”

 

From Huub Oosterhuis, Your word is near

 

What about traditions?

bibleThis week Rev. Dr. Keith Clements joins us all the way from the UK to talk about traditions in church:

How do you feel about tradition in the Church? Is it something you object to? Or on the other hand something comforting? Are they boring, tired and irrelevant old customs? Or tried and tested guidelines for our journeying in faith?

Discipleship means following Jesus, and Jesus himself got into trouble because of his own attitude to accepted religious traditions. He didn’t reject them completely but he warned that sometimes they can get in the way of our obedience to God here and now. In a fast-changing world Jesus invites us to explore in faith how, what matters above all, is loving God and others – and to look at our traditions in that light. There could be surprises in store!

Stepping out of the Boat

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Stepping out of the boat (Matthew 14: 22-33)

When Peter ventured forth, even though the going was rough, even though he almost sank and perished, Jesus reached out his hand and he caught him, just at the right moment. He helped Peter back into the boat. He stilled the wind and the waves, and Peter was saved. But if Peter had not ventured forth, had not obeyed the call to walk on the water, then Peter would never have had this great opportunity for recognition of Jesus and rescue by Jesus.

Jesus is the one who extravagantly, recklessly, commands us to leave the safety of the boat, to step into the sea, to test the waters, and show our faith.

This ancient gospel story also shows us the power of faith. It shows us what Jesus always does for his people, when the wind is against them and they are in danger of being overwhelmed by the storms of life. To those with faith, Jesus is not a ghost from the past. He is the Son of God, who is present with us, and whose grace upholds us when things are too much for us.  Jesus is present to his people in the storm of living: ‘Take heart, do not be afraid.’

 

Treasures

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Parables of the way of God:

‘Both parables (the treasure and the yeast) state that since Jesus has come the field no longer stands empty, the dough is rising, even if the evidence is invisible or ambiguous. This statement must not be debased by being made to refer to the church that gradually wins over the majority or a Christianity silently transforming the world. Jesus is, on the one hand, exhorting his followers to preach and act unremittingly as he has taught, and on the other, apprising them that they will not appear to succeed, no matter how hard they work … until God takes a hand and consummates his Kingdom.’

Eduard Schweizer, The Good News According to Matthew, 307.