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Minister Prayers Sermon

Discipling like Mary of Bethany

Dear Friends

It is Wednesday as I write this. Chris has gone off for her last day at school and I am on the last two days of the course that I have been engaged in this year. We are talking about how we make good endings and I’m trying to pay attention! 

When Chris started at work forty odd years ago, she didn’t expect to be working with children. Her love of numbers had led her initially to work as an audit clerk and then switching to being a Finance Clerk. I interrupted that work, but in Bolton she quickly got similar work in the Rates Office before finishing to raise our children. It was when she looked to return to work that she began working with other children, initially childminding as it fitted well with caring for Graham and Hannah whilst I worked shifts and then went to College. She took her NVQ’s, yet despite discovering she was good at working with children, when we moved to Rochdale she tried to return to finance related work – but it had all moved on to computer and Chris hadn’t. Now her experience and skills made getting work with children easier than working in finance and so she moved into a family Centre Playgroup setting, and then into being a Teaching Assistant and has discovered a love of seeing the way children grow and thrive, and has done so herself. Sometimes the path we set out on isn’t the one we end up on.  Yet, life takes us where it takes us and hopefully we can all grow and learn along the way. Now that work is coming to an end and she has ideas for retirement – but who knows whether it will map out the way we plan and what opportunities that lie ahead. Only time will tell.

Worship for 25 July 2021

Hymn

Light of the minds that know Him

May Christ be light to mine

My sun in risen splendour

My light of truth divine

My guide in doubt and darkness

My true and living way

My clear light ever shining

My dawn of heaven’s day

 

May it be ours to know Him

That we may truly love

And loving fully serve Him

As serve the saints above

Till in that home of glory

With fadeless splendour bright

We serve in perfect freedom

Our Strength our Life our Light

Timothy Dudley-Smith

  • © 1976, 1984 Dudley-Smith, Timothy (Admin. by Oxford University Press)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayer

God of peace

In our hearts

in our lives

in our flesh

in our souls

May peace break out within us and around us,

May peace break through dividing walls

May peace break into dwelling-places

May peace break the chains that bind.

God who reconciles

heaven and earth

life and death

near and far

us and them

 

May your cross create one humanity

May your cross put to death hostility

May your cross proclaim love

May your cross make peace.

God of friendship

among strangers

among citizens

within households

in your holy places

May the household of God embrace humanity

May the household of God embrace creation

May the household of God embrace peace

May the household of God embrace hope.

 

God who forgives

we bring brokenness

we bring hatred

we bring misdeeds

we bring divisions

May your mercy flow within us

May your mercy shine in our hearts

May your mercy blow into relationships

May your mercy grow peace.

So then we are no longer strangers and aliens, 

We are citizens with the saints 

members of the household of God, 

built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, 

with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone. 

The whole structure is joined together 

Growing into a holy temple 

in whom we are spiritually built together 

into a dwelling place for God.

 

God of grace

we praise you

we thank you

we follow you

we dwell within you.

Amen

Ephesians 2:11-22

Bible Luke 10: 38 – 42  John 12:1-7

Song: https://youtu.be/p_k771zhwfs

Come all you vagabonds,

Come all you don’t belongs,

Winners and losers

Come people like me.

Come all you travellers,

Tired from the journey,

Come wait a while, stay a while

Welcomed you’ll be.

Mark Edwards | Phil Baggaley | Stuart Townend

  • © 2011 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Integrity Music Ltd)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Discipling like Mary of Bethany

Making time for Jesus

Mary could have spent the time rushing around with her sister getting the house ready, cooking for at least 15 and whoever else turns up – as Jesus has a habit of gathering a crowd. But we find her making time to ensure she is in the best place to listen to whatever Jesus is going to say this day. Sometimes the easy option is to keep busy, to fill our time with activity and make our excuses when we don’t have time to listen. We each have different ways of doing that – in my case it comes with the pressure of finding something to say each week. The theory is that I speak in the name of Jesus, but I know that sometimes there are so many deadlines to keep that I don’t make time to listen and I simply rely on something I’ve heard or what I think needs to be said. Each of you will know the ways in which you do not have time for Jesus and claim “Busy, too busy!” 

To be a disciple is to be one who makes time to listen to the one we follow. To do so expands our horizons, lifts us out of our own self-contained world and allows us to see the world from the perspective of the one we follow. The first step in that process is to make sure that we have time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. 

Making space to learn

Mary could have taken the option of staying on the edge of the crowd, listening from a distance, perhaps whilst still doing a bit of the housework that Martha was demanding. It would be the hospitable thing to do, ensuring that their guests had the best seats in the house. But instead she creates her own space to learn. We will each have different ways to do that, those that like to be at the front of the class under teacher’s nose, those at the back who don’t seem to be paying attention. Those who like their papers and pens all set out very neatly with the right colours to make appropriate notes and those who manage with whatever scrap of paper and pencil  they pull from their pocket. At Greenbelt there is an older man who always ensures that he sits at the foot of the stage. sometimes he leans back on it, sometimes he lies on the floor. He usually has his eyes closed and when I  first spotted him a number of years ago,  I wondered what he was doing there or whether he was capable of following the talks. But sometimes, in the Question and Answer sessions he will ask to speak and when he does he is articulate and learned with a keen sense of social justice. He clearly follows the many talks he is present at with a keen interest having ensured that he is in a space where he can make himself comfortable to do so. 

To be a disciple is to make space to learn. It is being aware of our own learning styles and ensuring that we have the opportunities to make best use of them. If is being aware that we are always learners and there is always something new to discover when we are the disciples of Jesus.

Creating beautiful moments

In Luke’s gospel, Mary seems to be a very passive soul, who doesn’t even get a speaking part in her own story as Jesus and Martha talk over her. It’s the sort of belittling behaviour that can happen to a child, or a wheelchair user or someone who we don’t believe can talk for themselves. In Johns account we get a different view of her – active, brave, creative – shocking those who don’t expect such behaviour from sweet little Mary. In doing so she creates a powerful image of commitment. That smell must have lingered for weeks and weeks as it clung to clothing and memory. 

To be a disciple is to throw our lot in with Jesus, it is to respond to extravagant love with extravagant energy and to create memories that people will talk about for as long as the memory lasts. I remember the people who have shown me how discipleship brings moments of great joy – sometimes in the midst of great difficulties. I think of the stories I’ve had the privilege of telling, the people whose lives have been full of grace and wonder. It is these moments that carry me forward, even amongst those who are always complaining about the cost or the embarrassment. May those who create beautiful moments always be a blessing for us.

Hymn

A prophet woman broke a jar

By love’s divine appointing.

With rare perfume she filled the room

Presiding and anointing.

 

The Spirit knows, the Spirit calls

By love’s divine ordaining,

The friends we need to serve and lead

Their powers and gifts unchaining.

The Spirit knows, the Spirit calls

From women, men and children,

The friends we need to serve and lead

Rejoice and make them welcome

Brian Arthur Wren

© 1993 Stainer & Bell Ltd

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Intercessions

God our Shepherd

May all who hunger for nourishment

find green pastures.

 

May all who thirst for peace & justice

find still waters.

May all uncertain about the next steps

be led along the right path

 

We remember those walking deep valleys

– may we fear no evil

– may you walk with us

– supporting and comforting.

– may we find healing, 

– may we stand proud amongst your flock

 

We remember those who meet with enemies

May peace come to our world 

where nations and communities are at war, 

sit behind walls and fences, 

May you anoint them with grace

 

We remember those who sit down to eat 

with those who abuse them, 

assault them,  

exploit them.

May they find refuge and sanctuary

May abusers know justice

 

We seek the goodness and mercy you promise

The gift of your indwelling

The promise of home our whole life long.  

 

Hymn

God is love: let heaven adore Him;

God is love: let earth rejoice;

Let creation sing before him,

And exalt him with one voice.

He who laid the earth’s foundation

He who spread the heavens above,

He who breathes through all creation,

He is love, eternal love

 

God’s eternal loving-kindness

holds us fast and guides us still.

Sin and death and hell shall never

O’er us final triumph gain;

God is love, so Love for ever

o’er the universe must reign.

Timothy Rees Public Domain

 

Blessing

May the God of peace,bring peace to this house.

May the Son of peace, bring peace to this house.

May the Spirit of peace, bring peace to this house, this day and all days.

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