Monthly Archives: July 2019

‘On earth as in heaven’

Reading
Luke 11.1–13

The hinge of the prayer is ‘as in heaven so on earth’ or, if you prefer the usual translation ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. That centrally key phrase insists on mutuality and reciprocity, on an interaction between the heavenly ‘Your’ of God’s name, kingdom, and will and the earthly ‘Our’ of bread, debt, and temptation. — John Dominic Crossan, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer

The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friends, is what it really means to be a Christian. — Brendan Manning, The Furious Longing of God

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Luke tells us,

[Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’

What is prayer? I remember being told ‘Prayer is talking to God’. Yes it is, but it’s so much more. It’s listening, too. It’s an openness to life. It’s an awareness of injustice. It’s a longing for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven. 

In the film Shadowlands, the fictional CS Lewis says:

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me. 

I’m convinced we pray more often than we realise. Let me tell you a story. 

I used to have an atheist friend. We’d have coffee together regularly. My intention was to show him friendship; his stated intention was to hone up his skills for arguing his atheist case. But we had a mutual respect. He had to go into hospital for surgery, and before he did he asked me for this favour: he asked me not to pray for him. 

I was a bit taken aback, but I agreed. I agreed because I wanted to respect my friend’s wishes, and I believed God would care for him without my prayers. 

I learned something about prayer in those days, a bit like ‘CS Lewis’ (actually Anthony Hopkins) saying ‘I pray because I can’t help myself’. 

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Christ in you, the hope of glory

Reading
Colossians 1.15–28

 

…sacraments are not things we possess; rather, they are relational events and personal encounters among people and God. These encounters are always embodied. It is the human body in its physical, social, and contextual specificity that is the ground for sacramental encounter. — Andrea Bieber and Luise Schottroff, The Eucharist: Bodies, Bread, and Resurrection 

The Uniting Church acknowledges that the continuing presence of Christ with his people is signified and sealed by Christ in the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Communion, constantly repeated in the life of the Church. In this sacrament of his broken body and outpoured blood the risen Lord feeds his baptised people on their way to the final inheritance of the Kingdom. — Basis of Union, Uniting Church in Australia, 1992 

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I was a very shy kid. So, on the first day of each new year at primary school, I used to sidle anxiously into the new class to face the new teacher. Almost invariably, we’d be asked to write an essay on ‘What I did on my holidays’. 

So, what did the Waltons do on our holidays? 

We went to the Northern Territory. We saw lots of interesting things. (At primary school, I’d be losing a bit of writing steam by now…) 

One thing we saw was Kata Tjuta. Here’s a dawn photo of Kata Tjuta that I took from Uluru:  

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In the language of the Anangu peoples of Central Australia, Kata means ’head’ and Tjuta means ‘many’. Kata Tjuta: ‘Many Heads’. Can you see the ‘heads’? So far, so good. 

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Filed under Eucharist, RCL, sermon