Quiet Space: 5th July 2020

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Quiet Space  5th July 2020

 

You might want to equip yourself with a candle (& lighter!), your preferred version of the Bible…

 

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40. 28-31)

 

You might wish, safely, to light the candle

 

A quiet space encourages listening; it enables voices from the written page, our scenery, our innermost, to resonate in our minds.   

 

Once an elephant came to a small town. People had heard of elephants but no one had ever seen one. Thus, a huge crowd gathered around the elephant. Five blind men also lived in that town, and were eager to find out about the elephant.

Then, someone suggested that they could go and feel the elephant with their hands, and get an idea of what an elephant looked like. The blind men went to touch the elephant.

Later on, they sat down and began to discuss their experiences. One man, who had touched the trunk of the elephant, said that the elephant must be like a thick tree branch. Another who touched the tail said the elephant probably looked like a snake or rope. The third man, who touched the leg, said the shape of the elephant must be like a pillar. The fourth man, who touched the ear, said that the elephant must be like a huge fan; while the fifth, who touched the side, said it must be like a wall.

They sat for hours and argued, each one sure that his view was correct. Obviously, they were all correct from their own point of view, but no one was willing to listen to the others. Finally, they went to the wise man of the village and ask him who was correct. The wise man said, “Each one of you is correct; and each one of you is wrong. Because each one of you had only touched a part of the elephant’s body you only have a partial view of the animal. If you put your partial views together, you will get an idea of what an elephant looks like.”

 

Read and reflect…

Let us listen for a word from God: Acts 15. 1-18

 

This is a record of a tumultuous time in the life of the early church. 

The first Christians had followed the teaching of the Jewish religion.  Now there is testimony that non-Jews have become Christian.  It is a foregone conclusion, for most, that they willneed to adopt the ways of practicing Jews in consequence. 

Now voices suggest that being a follower of Christ is sufficient.  This leads to fierce argument that a foundation of the early church is being undermined, and the (first ever) Church Councilis convened. 

Stories are shared, long debate ensues.  The former disciple Simon Peter (the rock!) argues that assumptions about what is ‘essential’ for a believerare mistaken.  Attendees fall silent as mission workers tell of how God has worked among non-Jews.  And James, the founding elder of the church, speaks up.  Citing the Jewish scriptures, the essence of the Jewish faith, he signals his support for the most radical change the church has ever confronted. 

Theology - the believers’ understanding ofGod and Christianity is evolving,as their perception of the world is changing.  The map isgrowing larger, new communities are being discovered, communication is reaching further, fresh mission fieldsare bringing unimagined opportunities.

 

Take time to listen for the Spirit’s voice

 

God, who sets us on a journey to discover, dream and grow,

lead us as you led your people in the desert long ago;

journey inward, journey outward, stir the spirit, stretch the mind:

love, for God and self and neighbour, marks the way that Christ defined.

 

Exploration brings new insights, changes, choices we must face:

give us wisdom in deciding, mindful always of your grace;

should we stumble, lose our bearings, find it hard to know what's right,

we regain our true direction focused on the Jesus light.

 

End our longing for the old days, grant the vision that we lack -

once we've started on this journey there can be no turning back:

let us travel light, discarding excess baggage from our past;

cherish only what's essential, choosing treasure that will last.

 

When we set up camp and settle to avoid love's risk and pain,

you disturb complacent comfort pull the tent-pegs up again;

keep us travelling in the knowledge you are always at our side;

give us courage for the journey, Christ our goal and Christ our Guide.


Words: Joy Dine (1937 – 2001) © Revd Mervyn Dine

 

And are we yet alive, and see each other's face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace!
Preserved by power divine to full salvation here,
again in Jesus' praise we join, and in his sight appear.
What troubles have we seen, what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without, and fears within, since we assembled last!
Yet out of all the Lord hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford, and hides our life above.
Then let us make our boast of his redeeming power,
which saves us to the uttermost, till we can sin no more.
Let us take up the cross till we the crown obtain,
and gladly reckon all things loss so we may Jesus gain.

 

A blessing

God of all ages, you have travelled with your people through the years.

You have shared moments of joy and times of despair.

Be with us now as we, like those faithful believers who have gone before us and those who will come after us, praise your name.  Amen

 


 

Image of candle/Holy Bible - attribution
Vishnu gs / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)