Sunday 22nd August 2021
We turn our attention to Dwelling in God
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and find gladness within it.
Greetings Friends and families of East Geelong UC and beyond.
Peace be with you.
I pray this day finds you well,
enfolded by the Spirit’s comfort and resting in the blessings of God in this moment.
This service of dwelling contains enhanced media. If you are enjoying this service, within any of the underlined blue links you will find additional content to further enrich your worship.
This offering for self-guided worship is focused on the RCL readings for Sunday 22nd August.
Our dwelling place today is found in the words of John’s Gospel and the connections with Paul’s message to the Ephesians in continuation from the last weeks.
Dwelling in God is the time for hearing God’s stories. Leaving room for God to speak to us in our reflections and preparing to meet God as we meet with one another.
And so we make ready…
Using the symbols of faith found within your home, bring them to sit in front of you or clasp them between your hands. Engaging our touch in the moment of our connection with God, reminds us that our faith is an embodied experience and helping us remain present, here, and now. Open your Bible, turn to the passage for the day or read it below if you choose. Prepare your candle within reach before continuing. Today our song is a meditation on the words of Psalm 84. Written and sung by Jason Silver. The composer writes the reflection on the psalm below. The words for Psalm 84 are in the final blessing of this gathering.
This Psalm is used often in different religious traditions for the dedication of a temple, cathedral, or church. It makes sense: the author sings about the loveliness of God’s house, and how he’d rather be there than anywhere else!
As I considered this, it got me to thinking: wouldn’t it be different for Christians, since Jesus came to dwell in our bodies, making us living temples of his Holy Spirit?
Well, for one thing– we don’t need to go to a special building to meet with God. He lives within us, and we can find him in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ!
That’s great news for me, because there’s something supernatural about standing alone in the woods, with running water nearby maybe; the tall pines and oak trees like pillars in a temple of the forest. Everywhere you look, new life springs up, finding protection in the cracks of rocks, surviving on the life-giving water in such plentiful supply.
I still love worshipping with others at church, of course! However, there’s something very meaningful to me in getting away from the hubbub, technology everywhere, and to acquaint myself with what it means to be a creature in creation.
Light your candle and begin with the prayer below.
A Prayer to begin…
Grace Giver, Pain Bearer, Love Maker,
Come to us through your word today
the joy of salvation offered to us As we respond as the disciples first did,
“Lord, to whom would we go?
You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know
that you are the Holy One of God!”
When the noise of the world gets too loud
recall to us once again those words.
Be with us God, in confidence we pray.
The Scripture for the day will comes to us from John’s gospel and is the concluding reading from chapter 6.
Additional readings for your reflection this week from the revised common lectionary can be found here.
As you read, on a piece of paper, a notebook or your Bible, use the Marking for Meaning Making to assist as you note your reflections and feelings about the passage today. When we dwell in God’s word, we are taking a very close reading of the passage, with the intent to make meaning (discern) of what it is saying to us in this moment in time.
John 6: 56-69
56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who consumes me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread your ancestors ate, but then later died. The one who eatsthis bread will live forever.”
Many Followers Depart
59 Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 Then many of his disciples, when they heard these things, said, “This is a difficult saying! Who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining about this, he said to them, “Does this cause you to be offended? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before? 63 The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had already known from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 So Jesus added, “Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come.”
Peter’s Confession66 After this many of his disciples quit following him and did not accompany him any longer. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!”
In response to your reading of the scripture consider the following questions and write some reflections.
Have you ever had someone offend you with their words?
Why is it that words can hurt so much?
Have you ever walked away from something or someone because it just seemed too hard?
John 20: 30-31, states very clearly the purpose of John’s gospel. Chapter 6 brings this purpose to the surface from the very beginning implicitly with the feeding of the 5,000 to the explicit statement in the final verses of the disciples’ confession. (66-69). This is a hard road, and Jesus speaks tough and offensive words. Words that Jar us to reality and yet at the closing of this chapter the disciples that have stayed close by him declare that even if they wanted to go somewhere else, there is no where they could go as Jesus has the words of eternal life. They have come to believe and know that Jesus is the Holy One of God.
How has this close reading of John 6 over the last 5 weeks informed, formed and transformed your relationship with Jesus?
Are you ready to sit in the face of all the hard, offensive things Jesus says about living the new life in Christ as opposed to living a life focused in humanity and still declare as the disciples have done in that moment?
**An in-depth conversation about this passage from the Gospel of John can be heard here from this week’s episode of Tea With Two Revs
A prayer in response
Thank you, God, that you feed us with your word.
Thank you for the promise of eternal life.
As we read in your word this morning,
equip us we pray with your armour and prepare us
for the work of proclaiming your good news.
Enable us to see ourselves as Paul does,
for we are your ambassadors here in this place.
Christ we pray, in and through your name.
Prayers of Us
We pray together with the Christians gathered across the global community of faith, coming to God as one with the prayers that are on our hearts. What are the things you would like to share with God? In these moments recall to mind all that you would have God hear from the depths of your heart. You may wish to include:
- people known to you who you would like to put before God.
- The nation of Afghanistan.
- The work of all those seeking to stem the current COVID outbreaks across the nation.
- Those in our communities who work tirelessly to discover new vaccines.
- Our UCA Partner Church, The Methodist Church of Zimbabwe
- Your brothers and sisters in Christ both near and far.
- Our community of faith here.
- The communities within which we live, work, learn and play.
- Those in the world feeling lost, broken and alone.
When you are ready, ask God to bless them especially, finishing with the words given to us by our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Knowing that as your share in these now, across the world in many countries and tongues, followers of Jesus echo the same words.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Hear the words of the Psalmist this day…May it be a blessing for you, as you head into the world this day.
Psalm 84 The Joy of Worship in the Temple
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.
5 Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.
10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favour and honour.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.
Note: *Selah: Although appearing 74 times in scripture, its occurrences are limited to only in the book of Psalms and Habakkuk.
selah: to lift up, exalt
Original Word: סֶלָה (in Hebrew)
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (seh’-law)
Definition: to lift up, exalt
Here these words of blessing for you as you close this moment in time.
God who is the Source of all
Jesus the redeeming grace
And the Spirit who comforts and soothes us,
be with you now and always. Amen.
A note from Rev Amanda
Spending time alone and in community developing and deepening our relationship with God is paramount. Although we are not in person please know that I am here with you in this moment. Praying with and for you in these days. If, after today’s dwelling place you would like speak or have me pray with you please reach out. I would be delighted to spend the time with you growing in God together.
Blessings for the days ahead.
Yours faithfully in Christ’s fellowship
Bible Readings, New English Translation, from Bible Gateway
Today Psalm 84, taken from New English translation
Song: Better is One Day in Your Courts, Jason Silver
All other material written & produced by Rev Amanda Nicholas.