I do enjoy the Olympics. The first one I remember was 1968 in Mexico when I would get up in the morning to find out what had been happening through the night. I kept a scrap book full of stories, but was also fascinated by the stories from previous events and learned much of the history. We would then go out and run our own events, turning our street into our own athletics track and cycle course. In the days when cars were at a minimum of course and you could play in the street! I wanted to be Kip Kieno, the little guy outrunning everyone in the 1500m. It was the event I would eventually run at school athletics meetings when before my growth spurt I was always smaller than everyone else. I was quite good, but never ran as well as Kip Keino!
I love the stories that emerge, the people who shock themselves and everyone else, like the Cyclist Anna Kiesenhofer getting ahead in the women’s Road Race and all the favourites forgetting she was there. The amazement of what a human body is capable of- in the gymnastics, how can anyone twist, turn, somersault and leap like that? Or the people who have overcome injury, set backs and disappointments to emerge as the best they can be. It’s not always about the winners, it’s about the resilience and determination of the human spirit and this year every athlete has had to overcome Covid in one way or another and then deal with a strange situation where there’s no audience and still create wonderful competition. My resilience comes with deciding whether to stay up late at night or get up in the morning. It’s a hard life, rooted in an understanding of ourselves as being made in the image of God – whether we can run at amazing speeds, deal with adversity by turning towards another new day or bear one another with humility, gentleness and patience.
Otherwise, we continue to prepare for our own future adventure and our house is beginning to be a collection of boxes. You are invited to a leaving and a welcome; my last service at Ansty Road is on Sunday 15th August, I’ve heard a a rumour of cake, it would be lovely to see people there. My induction in Loughborough is on Saturday 18th September at 3:00pm and there is a general invitation to you all, but they need to know numbers. If you would like to go would you please let Isabel McIntyre or Tony Pedley know by Sunday, or sign the list in the Welcome Area. They also need to know who would need some transport in order to get there.
Worship for 1st August 2021
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
O God You know each of us well, love us deeply
and are able to sustain us in an enormous variety of ways.
We are humbled by our awareness of Your profound concern
and involvement in our petty concerns and worries,
and your keen interest in our welfare.
Given so many gifts in our daily lives to enrich us
and opportunities for love and companionship,
we come anticipating a deeper appreciation of
and wider perspective of Your grace and power.
We know your mercy for the penitent, O loving God.
Let us experience it once again
as we place the record of our past week before You.
We recall our lack of respect and care for others
and those set in authority over us.
We acknowledge our abuse and neglect of our particular talents and gifts.
We have lived as if the world and its wonders were under our control,
and needed no reference to You.
We have failed to measure up to the standard expected of Your disciples,
and our example has not influenced the world for good.
In certain ways we have lived as if this earth and life upon it
was the limit of our horizons
and have disregarded Your encouragement to strive forward
and live as mature human beings made in Your likeness.
Hear us, O God, as in silence we now confess our individual sin before You.
Listen to the word of promise :
If we confess our sin,
God is faithful and just and will forgive our sin,
so, I declare unto You, our sin is forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
Generous provider of every good gift,
Prod us awake to the opportunities and invitations You lay before us.
Give us magnanimity in defeat and denial,
so that we may trust You rather than our own wisdom and wit.
Give to those who lead,
the loyalty and support they deserve,
and to those who follow,
willing spirits and a sense of purpose of their part in Your plan for this world,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Bible Ephesians 4.1-16
Touch the earth lightly,
use the earth gently,
nourish the life of the world in our care:
gift of great wonder,
ours to surrender,
trust for the children tomorrow will bear.
Shirley Erena Murray
© 1992 Hope Publishing Company,
Calling, Character, Community
We pick up this letter at its midway point. Paul has used the first part of this letter to remind his gentile readers of who they have been and the way in which coming to know Christ has changed their identity to those who follow Christ. Now, they are immersed in God’s grace through Christ’s death and so are citizens and members of God’s household. They have become one with Christ, in whom God is uniting the entire cosmos. And they are now members of the Church which is the Body with Christ as its head. Now Paul turns to spelling out what this means for them, “I therefore, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
We are called as individuals to follow the way of Jesus. For some there will be a strong sense of when that first happened for us, and the ways in which that has had an impact on our lives. For others it may have sneaked up on us – and yet to be part of this community of Christ we have made decisions along the way, that bring us into this particular community at this particular time.
Paul reminds us that however we arrived in this community we are “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called” and then pulls out a list of qualities he expects such a calling to produce. Perhaps this is the preacher, preaching to self. Leadership requires a certain arrogance to be able to assume that you have something interesting to say or that your decisions are worthy of being followed by others – so Paul reminded us (and perhaps himself) that there needs to be a humility, gentleness and patience in the way we encourage people to follow Christ, a humility to accept that the whole community has something to contribute, a gentleness in the way we treat one another – sometimes we can be too robust in the way we make our point or try to ensure that we are heard, a patience with one another, some people may not be ready to make changes as quickly as others, and that can be frustrating for some and a cause of anxiety for others. The suggestion here is that the mark of a Christ centred community is one in which all people are valued and in which we maintain unity and the bonds of peace.
This sense of everyone being valued develops through into another list, “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” We have reached a point in the life of the church where we are having to re-think how we function and what roles we expect from people. There was a time when we were very good at sharing these roles around a number of different people, of expecting different people in the life of the church to take on these roles. Yet, at some point we came to an expectation that the person called to be the Minister of Word and Sacrament would be the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher and so when we reach a point where we are saying to churches that we can not afford to provide a Minister to every church, then for some churches that sounds like a crisis for there is no one to fulfil these roles. In 2004, the URC received a report to general Assembly in which the focus was to change to the final role on Paul’s list “equipping the saints.” It was an acknowledgement that we could not carry on in the way ministry had developed, that the responsibility for effective ministry had to be shared across many different people and that any Minister of Word and Sacrament who is available to a particular church would bring there own specific gifts rather than be expected to be able to do everything on their own.
I believe you have the ability to work together to continue growing this church and fulfilling your calling to be God’s people in this community. Often when we think about church growth we imagine it only refers to the number of people who join the church but one commentator suggests that “church growth involves how the one Church and its multiple members are equipped by Christ to reflect the qualities of its unity and growth in love (note how “love” bookends the focus on growth in verse 15-16). So the more we grow in love for one another the more that we reflect Christ and the more fruitful we become.
Put peace into each other’s hands
And like a treasure hold it
Protect it like a candle-flame
With tenderness enfold it
Fred Kaan © Words: Stainer & Bell Ltd
CCLI Licence No. 1280770