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Minister Prayers Sermon

13 June 2021: Welcoming like Martha

Dear Friends

Well I managed to get sunburnt in Scotland last week, which is a rare occurrence! It was good to get away for a few days. I also managed to see my parents for the first time in 15 months, albeit through a window and talking on phones. They seem well and it felt a little like us returning to a world that we recognised from before Covid. However, it was difficult to bring them up to date with family news as there is so much changing and after sharing so many of our life-changes with them it was strange to accept that they can no longer be part of that. Life moves on, we may accept that reality, but we can also grieve a little for what has gone.

Wednesday was going to be the first service back in Chapel of Unity since last December. But somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication and when we arrived the doors were still locked. But undaunted, we gathered around the new benches along St. Michaels Drive, switched on a couple of phones so that those at home could join us and worshipped God in the open air. The theme was Pentecost moving to Ordinary Time and it seemed appropriate to be outside, amongst people heading for work, workmen rebuilding the City Centre, the birds and squirrels. The Cathedral were very apologetic when they realised what had happened but I think those of us that were there were quite glad it had – God takes us to interesting places!

Meanwhile, we begin the journey into returning to life in our own building. Coffee Morning has restarted. We are confident about numbers on a Sunday morning now so no need to tell us beforehand that you are coming, we can manage. On 20th June we are going to try an experiment – I’m due to lead worship for West Orchard and Warwick Road, but we have no one available to lead at Ansty Road. So we are going to live stream from West Orchard and I will appear on the screen at Ansty Road, as well as via zoom. I know there might be a temptation to stay at home and just watch on zoom, but I would encourage you to be in church, enjoy fellowship there and be available for those who can’t watch on zoom. 

I would still like to encourage you to return your Skills Audits and Mission Priorities. It will really help the Elders to plan their way into the future. We are also aware there may be people who would like to join us on a Sunday morning but have no transport. If that is you or if you think you can offer a lift, please let Isabel know. 

Hymn

Great God, your love has called us here

as we, by love, for love were made. 

Your living likeness still we bear, 

though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed. 

We come, with all our heart and mind 

your call to hear, your love to find. 

Brian Wren (1936-  ) © Hope  Publishing

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayer

O God who creates each new morning

who is at the heart of life

who dances with the rising sun

We call to you on this new day

We come before you,

open to all this moment brings

to catch the dance of your word

to match the beat of your heart

to be in step with the rhythm of life.

O God who hears our voice,

who is attentive to the people’s cries,

where we call from the depths,

from the pit of despair

hear our cries, match our lament

bring us into your place of harmony.

O God who knows each heart

our souls wait upon you

on your word we hope 

as others wait upon the morning

we wait upon you O God

Where we have failed to love

we wait upon you

Where we have caused despair

we wait upon you

Where we have failed to hope

we wait upon you

Where we have fallen out of step

we wait upon you

and seek your mercy

Come, hope in God!

For with God there is steadfast love,

and in God is great power to redeem

It is God who will redeem you

from all of your sin.

Bible: John 11:17-43, 12:1

Reflection:

I’m going to stray away from the lectionary for the services I have left with you over the next 10 weeks and concentrate on the six bible characters that we identified as forming our mission background. They are all people who teach us something about what it is to respond to Jesus and follow the way of Jesus. Around whose stories we wove some principles that would guide the way we went about being Ansty Road church.

The first person we will consider is Martha. In Luke’s gospel we know her as the housekeeper rushing around trying to provide hospitality for their guests whilst her sister Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. But here we see Martha as grieving sister and as a theologian, disciple and witness discussing with Jesus what it means for him to be Messiah. So here she is, a practical woman who together with Mary creates a culture of welcome and worship. In our mission priorities we state that “we will be committed to creating welcome, hospitality and friendship where people are inspired to worship and witness.” 

Duties of Elders – spiritual, pastoral, practical – 

– housekeepers and theologians 

Chapt 12 – presiding at Communion?

creating a culture of welcome – a place where tired, hungry, emotional travellers can rest and be refreshed, so that they can set out on the  next part of the journey can be 

These things don’t always come easily, to get them right they require hard work, organisation and an attitude that is truly welcoming. 

Every church I know claims that it is welcoming, but the proof is in the pudding, and I do like a good pudding! 

But can we be a place that welcomes and a community that can engage with theology. what does it mean for us when we hear that Jesus claims to be the resurrection and the life. I want us to be a people who can meet with people who are grieving, angry, confused, uncertain and help them to rebuild their lives. 

I want us to be a community where we can welcome those who have been treated differently, those who have felt excluded elsewhere, those who have been led to believe that Jesus would never grief for them them the way he grieves for Lazarus. 

I want us to be a community whose understanding of the bible, whose communion with God leads us into acts of social justice, that understands our role caring for the environment, 

In order to that we sometimes need to work through our theological thinking, I’m glad that we have done that with regards to same-sex relationships, it has allowed us to welcome some couples into the church to be married who would not have been able do so otherwise. 

It is helping us to this about what it means be an Eco-Church – what are the things we do that create resurrection and life for eco-systems – from local – a bug hotel and perhaps some deliberate wildflower gardening 

It is helping us think through how we can generate activities that focus on physical and mental well being, but we also need to support peoples spiritual well-being for then we will hear Jesus declare “unbind them, let them go.”

This is the work of the Martha’s – just as comfortable in the kitchen baking cakes as standing on the street discussing life, the universe and everything. 

Just as comfortable standing at the door welcoming people as ploughing through a host of health and safety material trying to figure out how to mitigate the risk of Covid and trip hazards, 

Just as comfortable preparing financial spreadsheets and preparing a time of prayer.

Our Elders are to take the role of Martha’s in this congregation, but the role of all of us is to help and support them, fill in the gaps in their gifts and skills help them  to lead you in being a whole community that welcomes like Martha. 

Welcoming like Martha, Luke 10, John 11 & 12

Martha; housekeeper, theologian, disciple, witness – who together with Mary creates a culture of welcome and worship. We will be committed to creating welcome, hospitality and friendship where people are inspired to worship and witness.

Hymn

Put peace into each other’s hands

And like a treasure hold it

Protect it like a candle-flame

With tenderness enfold it

 

Put peace into each other’s hands

With loving expectation

Be gentle in your words and ways

In touch with God’s creation

Fred Kaan © Words: Stainer & Bell Ltd

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayers

Plant, grow and flourish

God of the rich and the poor, of the powerful and the vulnerable, 

we pray for the leaders of the G7 nations meeting in Cornwall, 

for the people they govern, 

for the people of other nations they can support,

and for the world they can protect through their decisions.

May wisdom be planted, generosity grow, and co-operation flourish.

We pray for a growth in resilience, awareness and togetherness

across all the nations of the world 

as they continue to tackle the covid pandemic, 

as they confront environmental issues.

and as they reach out to communities crippled by need, war and natural disasters.

May integrity be planted, urgency grow and healing flourish.

We pray for the church in this place and around the world 

as we seek to serve those around us, 

to reach out to those in trouble,

and to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

May faith be planted, compassion grow and hope flourish.

We pray for those in the charity sector 

who seek to support those in crisis, 

to feed the hungry, 

to embrace those displaced by war, 

to protect wildlife and the environment, and planet that we all call home.

May trust be planted, resources grow and lives flourish.

We pray for those in sport, 

for those they inspire, 

for the enjoyment they bring, 

especially all the nations taking part in the Football Euros, 

for those preparing for and hoping that the Olympic Games will take place,

for all those at grass roots level struggling to keep their clubs going.

May respect be planted, opportunities grow and talent flourish.

And we pray for those whose faces we have seen on our screens

and in our papers this week.

for the family of Sarah Everard, 

for little Artin and his family, 

and all those who have died crossing dangerous waters,

for Jimi Olubunmi-Adewole and his family 

and all who have died trying to save others,

for all who have enriched our world and for all who are at the mercy of others.

May justice be planted, goodness grow and peace flourish –
in Jesus name. Amen.

©  rootsontheweb

Hymn As a fire is meant for burning with a bright and warming flame 

So the Church is meant for mission, giving glory to God’s name. 

Not to preach our creeds or customs, but to build a bridge of care, 

We join hands across the nations, finding neighbours everywhere. 

Ruth Duck (b. 1947) © 1992 GIA Publications,.

One Licence A-632955

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