Reflection – 14 June 2020

Here’s my reflection for Sunday 14 June

The online worship session will start at 11.00. I will be leading worship this week. If you want to join in just email me – newarkcongregational@virginmedia.com – for details. We’d love to see you.

Mark Taylor

Sunday 14 June 2020 – A Reflection

As we are no longer able to meet for worship due to the virus situation we will offer a weekly reflection by email or delivered to the home of church members.

If you can’t join us by telephone or online perhaps you could sit each week and read this at the time we would normally meet for worship – in that way we would still in some way be together.

A Bible passage to begin from Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

Let us pray

Bless the creators, O God of creation,
who by their gifts make the world
a more joyful and beautiful realm.
Through their labours
they teach us to see more clearly
the truth around us.
In their inspiration
they call forth wonder and awe
in our own living.
In their hope and vision
they remind us
that life is holy.
Bless all who create in your image,
O God of creation.
Pour your Spirit upon them
that their hearts may sing
and their works be fulfilling.
Amen.

 And now let’s say The Lord’s Prayer.

I want us to carry on thinking this morning a little bit about our theme for May and June which is ‘God’s resources and toolkit.’

Last time I was talking about Scripture.

Scripture is undoubtedly one of the resources that God has given us to make use of, and if you remember we also talked about the need to use the tool god has given to all of us – the one we keep in our heads – when we read scripture and try and interpret what it means to us today.

Now scripture is one way of learning about God and, of course, it uses words.  Many, many words. There are over 700,000 words in English translations of the Bible.

But words aren’t everyone’s strong point you know. You’d think so wouldn’t you if you consider how many of the things we do rely on them so much, and it’s undoubtedly true that they are a great way of trying to tie ideas down. We use lots of words every Sunday when we meet together. There were 2351 words in my last service. We use words in prayers, words in hymns, words (sometimes far too many words) in sermons. On and on we drone us preachers – on and on and on. Preachers as a rule love words – almost as much as we love the sound of our own voices!

But words aren’t the only way to learn. People who like to learn with words have what’s called a verbal learning style – but other people prefer other ways of learning.

Some learn best by doing things – if you’re learning the piano it doesn’t matter how much people tell you about how to play or how many books you read about technique – you won’t be able to learn how to play unless you actually have a go.

And others learn best from pictures, diagrams and images. They prefer a visual learning style.

So here are some tools from God’s toolkit.

Paintbrushes. I use brushes like these when I’m trying to paint a watercolour. But in the hands of some people, real artists, brushes like this can make magic happen.

I want us to see if we can learn about God from pictures today.

But first we’ll stop for a hymn about using our sight to learn about God. It’s by John Rutter who is conducting a choir in singing it.

Look at the world

Here are the lyrics

Look at the world: Everything all around us

look at the world: and marvel everyday

look at the world: So many joys and wonders

So many miracles along our way

Chorus:

Praise to thee O lord for all creation

give us thankful hearts that we may see

all the gifts we share and every blessing

all things come of thee

Look at the earth: Bringing forth fruit and flower

look at the sky: The sunshine and the rain

Look at the hills, look at the trees and mountains,

Valley and flowing river field and plain.

Chorus

Think of the spring, Think of the warmth of summer

Bringing the harvest before the winters cold

Everything grows, everything has a season

Til’ it is gathered to the fathers fold

Chorus

Every good gift, all that we need and cherish

Comes from the lord in token of his love

We are his hands, stewards of all his bounty

His is the earth and his the heavens above

Praise to thee, O lord for all creation.

Give us thankful hearts that we may see

All the gifts we share, and every blessing,

All things come of thee

All things come of thee

Now they say a picture’s worth a thousand words so if I used more than 2000 words last week it looks like 2 pictures are called for.

Let’s have a look at this one first. Below is the Bible passage which the painting was based on.

Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This is a painting of the Sermon on the mount by Jan Breughel the Elder from 1598. He was Flemish. Today we’d call him Dutch.

I want you to think about a few things:

  1. Can you see Jesus? He’s quite small.
  2. What comments do you have about the crowd? What types of people can you see?
  3. What is the painting telling us about who the message is for?
  4. Is there anything in the reading we heard that reminds you of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ message we’ve been hearing a lot about?
  5. What else occurs to you as you look at the painting?

Here’s our second painting.

Mark 11: 15-19 Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
    But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his discipleswent out of the city.

This painting is by El Greco of Jesus cleansing the Temple. It was painted around the same time as the first one – around 1600.

A few things to think about in this painting:

  1. The figure of Jesus is in the centre separating two groups of people.
    1. Who are the figures on the left?
    1. Who are the figures on the right?
    1. Does this put you in mind of another Bible passage?
  2. What is Jesus’ mood?
  3. Can you feel love and anger at the same time?
  4. Can loving actions include an element of violence?
  5. What else occurs to you as you look at the painting?

Let’s pause now for a hymn.

Inspired by Love and Anger

You can watch it here

Here are the words

Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain,

informed of God’s own bias, we ask him once again:

‘How long must some folks suffer? How long can few folk mind?

How long dare vain self-interest turn prayer and pity blind?’

From those forever victims of heartless human greed,

their cruel plight composes a litany of need:

‘Where are the fruits of justice? Where are the signs of peace?

When is the day when prisoners and dreams find their release?’

To God, who though the prophets proclaimed a different age,

we offer earth’s indifference, its agony and rage:

‘When will the wronged be righted? When will the kingdom come?

When will the world be generous to all instead of some?’

From those forever shackled to what their wealth can buy,

the fear of lost advantage provokes the bitter cry,

‘Don’t query our position! Don’t criticise our wealth!

Don’t mention those exploited by politics and stealth!’

God asks, ‘Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach?

And who, when few will listen, will prophesy and preach?

And who, when few bid welcome, will offer all they know?

And who, when few dare follow, will walk the road I show?’.

Amused in someone’s kitchen, asleep in someone’s boat,

attuned to what the ancients exposed, proclaimed and wrote,

a saviour without safety, a tradesman without tools

has come to tip the balance with fishermen and fools.

Time for Prayer

Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain,

Informed of God’s own bias we ask him once again:

“How long must some folk suffer? How long can few folk mind?

How long dare vain self-interest turn prayer and pity blind?”

God asks, “Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach?

And who, when few will listen, will prophesy and preach?”

May we answer,

 “Here I am Lord, Is it I, Lord?

I have heard You calling in the night.

I will go Lord, if You lead me.

I will hold Your people in my heart.”

Amen

Finally we will close by saying the grace:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

and the love of God

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all

evermore.

Amen

If anyone has any questions or comments about the above, or would like to talk to me about it don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Mark Taylor

07954 172823

newarkcongregational@virginmedia.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.