Session 1 – Zoom for Worship – The Basics –
Sat 17 October 2020 10-11am (NZDT)
The first session is for those who are new to using Zoom. We’ll cover the basics of hosting a Zoom session, how to use Zoom and some of the best practices for using Zoom in worship settings.
Session 2 – Zoom for Worship – Creative Ideas –
Sat 7 November 2020 10-11am (NZT)
The second session is for those who are used to using Zoom, or participated in our first session and want to use some of the creative features of Zoom in a way that supports interactive worship experiences.
Both sessions are offered free but a koha (donation) would be very much appreciated. Payment details will be provided in an email prior to our first session. Prior to each session you will have opportunity to suggest questions you’d like answered or topics you’d like covered.
Anyone interested could sign up by sending me an email email@example.com or by registering for the individual session at https://green-churches.org.nz/event-calendar/#!event-list
The organisers are hoping for a small group of about 10-12 max so everyone can get a chance to ask their questions and get answers.
He/she is simply an ordinary person; someone who has received God’s love and knows that Jesus Christ is Lord, and is now one of His people seeking to obey Him- in other words, a Christian. The Greek word here means “one being made holy”.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
All Saints Day
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
In some ways it is a pity that the Church quite early adopted the term “saint” as a kind of Victoria Cross to honour those of outstanding piety, or who had endured great suffering or accomplished great works for Christ and the Church. There is nothing wrong with such acknowledgement, but it has dulled the true meaning of the word in the New Testament. We have come to think of “saints” as some kind of super hero whom we can admire but never really be expected to emulate.
But the New Testament “saint” is quite different – or rather, NOT different. He/she is simply an ordinary person; someone who has received God’s love and knows that Jesus Christ is Lord, and is now one of His people seeking to obey Him- in other words, a Christian. The Greek word here means “one being made holy” (remember last week? A “work in progress”?) A saint is not perfect; Paul occasionally addresses a letter to the “saints” then promptly castigates them for very un-saintly behaviour! But in Christ we are still God’s people, and He has not given up on us.
I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew;
They lived not only in ages past,
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will;
you can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea:
for the saints of God began just like me,
and I mean to be one too.
-- Lesbia Scott 1898 - alt.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind … and your neighbour as yourself,”
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind … and your neighbour as yourself,” said Jesus when asked about the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-40). This summary is found eight times in the NT, suggesting its importance. James calls it “the Royal Law.” Unfortunately we have mostly taken it to mean that we must take our natural self-centredness and somehow twist it around to focus on our “neighbour”, in the process crushing and trampling ourselves into the dirt. But while true love will always be self-giving, there is a legitimate God-given self-love, without which we can never hope to keep the Great Commandment as we are called to do.
Danielle Bernock is an American speaker and writer on spiritual well-being who has listed some pointers on truly loving your neighbour as yourself:
- You must first receive God’s love for yourself: at the very beginning of time He conceived you in love in His mind’s eye, and at the appropriate time began to form you after the unique pattern He has just for you. You may not be very satisfied with yourself yet; you know you are not perfect as you think you should be, because you are a work in progress and there is much yet to be done. But God is wonderfully patient – and wonderfully stubborn! He is not going to let go until He has finished His purpose in us. How can we not love ourselves whom He loves so much as He moulds after His own unique pattern?
- We now therefore are free to love our neighbour who also is being formed in love by God – and who knows, it may even be that He will seek our assistance in some small way in that work of formation.
- We are now free to share grace; the free and unconditional acceptance of others as God has freely and unconditionally accepted us.
- We can share grace in many ways: acting with compassion; looking out for our neighbour’s well being, serving them, speaking kindly, making allowance for their humanity, sharing their joys and sorrows, forgiving as we hope to be forgiven.
Only when we are secure in the certainty of God’s love for us in Christ can we be secure in sharing that love with others.
When he comes back from that little excursion (the banquet still sitting waiting on the table!?) he sends out servants (I would think, more likely soldiers) to press-gang anyone, good and bad alike, they can lay hands on and shanghai them in to the feast!
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Oops! The passage below is actually based on Matthew 22:1-14, last weeks readings (in NZ in any case). Have a bonus Pentecost 19 reflection!
Wedding customs in the time of Jesus were very different from our own, but still we are puzzled by apparent inconsistencies in today’s Gospel reading: the Parable of the Wedding Feast. We wonder if Matthew has somehow combined elements from two different stories, or if Jesus Himself was using the common rabbinic technique of colourful hyperbole to emphasise important points. Perhaps we can gain some understanding by comparing it with what is probably a simpler version of the same story in Luke 14:15-24.
In Luke, the host is not a king but an ordinary though affluent citizen, and there is no mention in the actual text of a wedding. The crimes of the invitees are self-centred preoccupation with their own concerns, and appalling manners; they couldn’t be bothered bothered even to send an apology. The host naturally is very incensed and declares that he will offer his goodies to those who really will appreciate them – the poor, blind, lame or otherwise disabled who could never expect such an invitation in a month of Sabbaths. But Matthew presents a very different scenario: a royal wedding no less, meaning that politics are involved and people would come out of sheer self-interested hope of advancement. But this king must really have been on the nose with his neighbours because not do they make lame excuses but some actually attack and kill the messengers who brought the invitation. So the king does what any red-blooded would do: he goes to war and wipes those who have offended him off the map!
Then when he comes back from that little excursion (the banquet still sitting waiting on the table!?) he sends out servants (I would think, more likely soldiers) to press-gang anyone, good and bad alike, they can lay hands on and shanghai them in to the feast! Then finally, when a guest is found not wearing the correct wedding garment, he is promptly given the old heave-ho without apparently any consideration that under the circumstances he may not have had any time to acquire the right garb!
So then, what are we to take from these two versions that we can be of use to us in our own lives in Christ? First of all, Jesus comes to offer us a new life which in terms of richness, joy, fulfilment, triumph is a veritable “banquet” compared with any we find in this world. He offered it first to His own people the Jews, set up by God expressly to channel the new life into the world. But His own people rejected Him – proud, self-righteous Pharisees who thought they already knew it all; materialistic Sadducees who were only interested in making money; politician priests who didn’t want their power and influence taken from them. Consequently after the Resurrection the Word of Life went more and more into the non-Jewish world, ironically largely through the impetus of that Pharisee of Pharisees, Saul of Tarsus.
Sadly those same attitudes of self-righteousness, materialism and desire for power are still with us trying to stifle the growth of New Life in Christ. But He Who throws the banquet will always find those who will appreciate and respond to the invitation, so we can take heart that New Life will always be there as Christ is always there. The only thing that will keep us out will be the failure to acknowledge that we are there only by the generosity of God’s love, not because we are worthy; that’s the “wedding garment” referred to – in those times often a gift from the host sent with the invitation, not to wear which would be seen as an act of gross discourtesy.
trusting God is all very well except that God has a habit of not being where we thought He was when we went to trust Him.
Year A, Pentecost 19
Paul once wrote, “We walk by faith not by sight”, but that is one thing we Christians and our spiritual ancestors the Israelites find very hard to do. We like things to be where we can see them, where we can control them; trusting God is all very well except that God has a habit of not being where we thought He was when we went to trust Him. The ancient Israelites would have found it particularly hard as theirs was the only religion in the known world without some kind of statue or idol to which they could point and say, “There is our God.” In fact this mysterious riddle of a God had expressly forbidden them to make any such representation, because His true Name as He revealed it to His chosen leaders is IWILLBEWHOIWILLBE. He will always be the Unexpected One, the Wholly Other Who stands beyond our concept but Who loves and cares for us.
The Israelites have seen some great demonstrations of His power: He brought them out of Egypt under the very noses of their erstwhile oppressors, He helped them cross the Red Sea, He sustained them with food and water in the desert; they had experienced His power as no other nation ever had – yet here we find them stuck in the desert, their leader apparently gone AWOL, and beginning to think that they had better do something about it for themselves. So they front up to 2IC Aaron: “Give us some gods who will actually do something and get us somewhere!” So Aaron rounds up all the gold in the place and constructs a gold calf, or rather, a young bull, a very common symbol of strength and virility – just what you need in a god. Now, there may not have been any intention here of forsaking Jahweh; they simply wanted some visible symbol of His presence. But then they started worshipping this symbol – in the way other nations worshipped their symbols of virility! v6 of today’s OT Reading tells us, “the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.” Cecil B. de Mille got this one right: a brief scene from his epic movie shows men and women dancing frantically in various suggestive positions, and getting thoroughly tanked up on the fruit of the vine at the same time; in other words, worship became an orgy, dishonouring to God and demeaning of His people. No wonder Moses hit the roof when he came back and caught them at it!
The account of Moses’ dealing with the situation is detailed in the chapter beyond the portion set for today (32:19-35). Read it for yourselves, but for now let us conclude by looking at the latter part of the set reading (vv.7-14). A quick reading would seem to suggest that it is God Who has lost patience with the Israelites and wants to put an end to them, but desists from His intention only after earnest pleading from Moses. But I think we should know God better than that by now. The example and teaching of Jesus must surely show that God’s love never falters; He will stay with us to the bitter end, but it is also true that much of His work of redemption is accomplished through the channels of intercessory prayer. Anyone may come to God at any time, but each generation has had its prayer warriors, men and women to whom is given a special gift of intercession used by God in the accomplishment of His great purposes of salvation, redemption and renewal of the fallen world. Such a one was Moses, seen here as the channel of God’s redeeming of His Chosen People when they were in danger of losing their way altogether, so that His eternal purpose for all the world might be carried through.
The culprits were summonsed, and stood white-faced and trembling as Peter, never noted at the best of times for his gentle sweetness, thundered at them:
Year A, Pentecost 18
The Russian Tzar Peter the Great was once approached by an old woman who complained that she had been cheated out of her late husband’s estate by two rascally local bureaucrats. The Tzar looked into the matter and found that it was indeed as she had said and that the theft had been perpetrated by means of a forged document. The culprits were summonsed, and stood white-faced and trembling as Peter, never noted at the best of times for his gentle sweetness, thundered at them: “Look at this paper! See what it says, ‘in the king’s name!’ My name to such a travesty? I will have examples made of you!”
I wonder if God ever feels like Peter the Great when He sees how often the Ten Commandments, His prescription for happy, healthy and productive living, has been turned into an instrument of slavery and death. This is what Jesus was talking of when He castigated the Pharisees for “binding heavy burdens on people’s backs but themselves not lifting a finger to help carry them” (Matthew 23:4), or who nit-pickingly complained about the disciples plucking a few heads of corn on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-8) while overlooking real issues of justice and mercy (Luke 11:42).
The Church too has been far from guiltless in this matter. We are appalled by accounts of, for example, the Spanish Inquisition and other brutal persecutions of Christians by brother Christians, but even today we find it far too easy to look down on others who happen not to share our particular view of this or that aspect of faith and life – the validity of the Scriptures, attitude to homosexuality, the extent of our involvement in issues of social justice, treatment of refugees, etc. Whatever the rights or wrongs of these issues, when we try to take the high moral ground and claim some kind of divine right to condemn others in Christ’s name because they do not see it our way, we are in danger of His condemnation for using His Name wrongly – to further our own ends rather than proclaim His grace and saving love to all. “My Name to such a travesty?” It is just as well God has more gentle sweetness than Peter the Great!