Sunday 13th September Reflections
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, may this time of worship be a time of ‘moving on’ with purpose and confidence.
‘Be still and know that I am God’: The risen Christ present with us by the Spirit is our ‘temple’, our true and lasting place of worship.
Our readings are examples of the people of God being asked to ‘move on’. The Israelites through the Red Sea, Peter and us to be more forgiving, and Paul challenges church not to be judgemental, and always conscious of what awaits us the end of the journey.
Exodus 14: 15-16, 19-22: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
Matthew 18:21: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Romans 14:7-12 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the LORD; and if we die, we die for the LORD. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the LORD. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the LORD of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the LORD, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'" So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
Moving swiftly on!
You can almost hear the exasperation in the LORD’s voice, as he urges Moses to get on with telling the people to get moving. Yet we can sympathise with them. They were between the ‘devil and the deep blue sea’. Talk of feeling under pressure. Yet they moved on, and it was in the moving on, that the sea dried up, just as the Jordan would do. Just imagine walking through that channel! it must have been a bit scary, needing courage to overcome fears that the waves would come crashing down.
And Jesus is telling Peter to move on from what Peter must have thought was him being a good disciple: forgiving someone 7 times. Before he is given the time to feel chuffed, Jesus suggests 77 is more like it. ‘Peter’, Jesus says, if you are going to be a fellow worker with me, you need to strengthen the forgiveness muscle. And Jesus reminds us, in the last verse of our reading that our forgiveness of others is in a vital relationship with our forgiveness from God. Now that is sobering.
And Paul, who received such consistent pushback from the Jews, and others as he moved on (and/or as God moved him on in his life), invites us to sit and get into that place in our head and hearts where ‘being right’ is not as important as being Christ- like in our relationships with others, particularly fellow believers who think differently from us: instead of entrenching ourselves, we move on over the top, and occupy the rather bare and open ground of reconciliation. Paul, who knew when the foot must go down, also knew when the hands should remain open. So moving on steadily and if need be swiftly is the lesson for this week. And may God grant us the grace to see where and when and how we can move on – in these times and at this moment.
God of all times, and Lord of our time, we come to you in prayer. We are creatures of the moment, yet we love the familiar and often find it hard to move on: even when our head and hearts tells us that we can’t stay where we are. So help us to pause today in these moments and think where and when and how we can move on.
May you Lord, help the systems of public life to move on in these times. In education, health, finance, in local and national government. In the wheels of business and commerce, in the cogs and gears of industry, in agriculture and fishing, in shop floor and office, may there be a good moving on as we approach the end of the year, and some ‘safety nets’ are withdrawn and the effects of the pandemic become apparent.
Lord Jesus, King and Head of the church, help the church to move on in this season of back to normal but not really. Grant wisdom and courage for us here to move on and up as we worship together, and to know what to do. This we pray for ourselves, and for the fellowships in our area, and throughout Scotland and beyond.
Lord of power and purpose, we thank you for the gospel we proclaim: of forgiveness beyond measure: of abundant mercy and new start-ups: may your church be heralds to the nations of seeing and doing new things and being light and reconciliation: promoting justice and equality.
And for those who would love to move on in their lives, yet find it difficult, give them the energy of mind, body and resolution to move on. Those who have and are suffering loss, those feeling lonely, those who find it difficult just to keep going. Lord of all comfort, send your healing touch to such and all those who are on our hearts today
Together with our own prayers, for our loved ones near and far, and for ourselves, at the start of this new week, some spoken much unspoken, with thanks that you hear everything and are the answerer of prayer…in the name of Jesus: Amen
God the Lord, you have opened a door for us into life eternal and full of glory.
Father, grant us your care,
Lord Jesus, be with us as we move on through,
Spirit, indwell us as we go,
And may the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us all: Amen
Reflections for the week
Sometimes we feel called to keep going, even when we don’t know what lies ahead, and we can’t see…
but, as we go forward…
We can step into something very different
Consider what ‘moving on’ may mean for you in these times. Do you feel that God is asking you to go forward with some plan that has been in your mind for a while?
Or the mist may rise as we stay still and wait, and that is moving on too. Jesus said ‘unless you become like little children’……. What if moving on for us means unlearning old behaviours and mind habits? The readings for this week are a mixture of areas in which we could step forward into the future: going forward where God wants us to go, the command to go forward in forgiveness, and the invitation to be less self-concerned: to be less judgmental, in the light of us all having to give account. Give yourself space to ponder these things. Ask the Lord to speak to you, and then step forward.
Move on steadily
Many a ship has sailed from port to port
With no interference from Me,
Because Strong Will has been at the wheel.
Multitudes of pleasure cruises, go merrily on their ways,
untouched by the power of My hand.
But you have put your life into My keeping
And because you are depending on Me
For guidance and direction, I shall give it.
Move on steadily, and know that the waters that carry you
Are the waters of My love and My kindness, and I will keep you on the right course.
Frances J. Roberts (courtesy of the Northumbria Community)
A new mind-game: ‘crossing the Dreel’
Think of somethings in your life that you consider as stumbling blocks. Then try seeing them in a new perspective: See stepping stones where you previously just saw stumbling blocks.
Then see yourself crossing over. Repeat as necessary
Some people grow through failure, while others never recover from it. What is the difference? See your mistakes as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.
From God’s little book of peace: Richard Daly
Ps 130: 4
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.