Sunday, 24 August 2014

Can't make it to church - August 24

Our Gospel reading deals with a situation which many of those in Church are probably familiar with, the 'wannabe leader'. The problem is that as much as we want people to be keen to become leaders, many of those who want to be up the front are keen to be lauded and recognised and regarded as important. I have met many who want to be in the spotlight but are not willing, or perhaps able, to recognise that Church leadership is about the person we follow and not us!

Jesus finds the same thing in our Gospel story and puts them straight by telling them that leadership demands servant hearts and a willingness to consider ourselves less than those we serve. Jesus points out that He has come as a servant and this is the way all of us should live - and to put the cherry on the cake He finishes by talking about standing with Him in His trials. Not a popular idea the having trials and problems, is it? Many will look to getting blessing, prosperity, money, power (the special significant other) and more besides - but it doesn't quite sit well, does it? (Shame I hear some cry!)

The Old Testament talks about being witnesses to the who, what and how of God and the Psalm brings into our thinking those who speak of God's majesty, power and kindness - for this is part of our role too - something these who lead do in abundance: Point to God not look in the mirror or direct the spotlight onto them.

We also seek unity and this means building people up and showing generosity and kindness. When this is a reality then we see things happen - people are added to the Church, miracles are seen and unity is everywhere. The collect for today sums it up wonderfully for us:

Lord God, the source of truth and love, keep us faithful to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, united in prayer and the breaking of bread, and one in joy and simplicity of heart, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father, we thank you for giving us gifts to bless others and build the Church,
Help us to be the hands that heal and teach us to live the lives that accept,
make us aware of the blessing that we are to others and make us whole
By the blood of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Luke 22.24-30
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Isaiah 43.8-13
Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears! Let all the nations gather together, and let the peoples assemble.
Who among them declared this, and foretold to us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to justify them, and let them hear and say, ‘It is true.’

You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no saviour. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses, says the Lord.

I am God, and also henceforth I am He; there is no one who can deliver from my hand; I work and who can hinder it?

Psalm 145.1-7
I will exalt you, O God my King, and bless your name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless you and praise your name for ever and ever.

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; his greatness is beyond all searching out. One generation shall praise your works to another and declare your mighty acts.
They shall speak of the majesty of your glory, and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts, and I will also tell of your greatness.
They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Acts 5.12-16
Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.

I wanna be the leader 
I wanna be the leader 
Can I be the leader? 
Can I? I can? 
Promise? Promise? 
Yippee I'm the leader, I'm the leader 

OK what shall we do?
Roger McGough

Post Communion Prayer
Almighty God,
who on the day of Pentecost sent your Holy Spirit to the apostles with the wind from heaven and in tongues of flame, filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel: by the power of the same Spirit strengthen us to witness to your truth and to draw everyone to the fire of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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