How much money is enough? The bible speaks of God providing a land flowing with milk and honey, suggesting something more than subsistence survival; but what is an appropriate standard of living? To uncover some of the emotions we all have tied up with money we played a short game. How did it feel to take money from another, or to ask for money and then agree or refuse?
We spoke about the need to balance the ‘right’ to hold money with the ‘responsibility’ to care for others and of the Christian’s duty to act as a steward or trustee of ‘their’ money. Ephesians admonishes a thief to stop stealing so they will have something to give to those in need, perhaps a surprising reason to not steal and a reminder of the need to care for others with our money.
As part of our Lent series on “Enough” we reflected on refugees. We shared experiences of travelling, by choice, the desire for somewhere new or dissatisfaction with a present situation, or by compulsion, and we shared how we felt about leaving. We had to decide what to take with us, which could be difficult with limited capacity and not knowing where you were going to finish up, and we compared with the first (?) recorded mass migration, the Exodus. We looked at how we hoped to be received by the people in the place we would arrive.
We looked at the journeys being undertaken now into Europe and at the stories of migrants. We looked at the pressures facing the receiving countries of Europe, and the responses. We knew that we couldn’t solve the issues right now, but we could look at whether we were doing enough. And we could pray! How do we respond when prayer is not enough?
We were looking at the way we perceive our faith this week, do we rely more on reason or revelation? After defining the terms: reason being our thoughts and understanding and revelation being something unexpected revealed by the divine, we individually marked on this line where we thought we fitted, I was towards the middle but a bit more towards revelation.
Lectio Divina gave a way to allow God to reveal something to us through the story of the angel telling Mary she was to have a baby (Luke 1: 26 -38) - some members of the group automatically started bringing reason in by asking 'how is this possible' type questions but we focused in on the word 'favoured' which appears twice in the passage and though about how we felt that God favoured someone.
For reason we looked at part of the prophecy of Isaiah (11: 1-9) - speaking of a vision of a future kingdom where a lion shall lie down with a lamb; again some people automatically responded emotionally to the passage by saying how it made them feel. Our reasoning skills allowed us to consider what prophecy is and the context in which the passage was written - for a nation facing national annihilation a vision of a peaceful future would be very meaningful.
How can prayer be understood by reasoning and how does revelation expand our understanding of what prayer is and how to pray? Reason might mean thinking about how to pray for a situation whilst revelation could be sitting still and quiet in the presence of God.
We finished with a time of communion, reason reminds me of the first last supper while revelation means I can become aware of God's presence with me during this time.
If you have found a piece of paper fruit on your table in Nexus Art Cafe this afternoon, please accept it as a small gift from us to you. This morning at Sanctus 1 we had an all age sensory service during which we thought about the good things we have been given. Deutoronomy 26, 1-11 asks us to celebrate the good things we have given with others too. The service was connected to harvest. But we also considered our own talents we can share and the gifts we have received such as education, health and human rights.
For our gatherings this week people were invited to share a piece of music, of any genre, that conveys to them a message of hope. During the service we listened to the music, with those who chose it being encouraged to say a few words about the piece, why it is important to them and why it gives them hope. Listening to the music, sharing what the songs mean to us, provided an opportunity to reflect on where we find hope and how music can be used as a way to give us hope, in different ways, whether that be by helping centre us spiritually, or it giving us hope for a better future, or a hope that God will use us & extend grace and truth and love through us.
How do we as a church relate to the culture that surrounds us; this was the theme of our service on 12th August.
One option is to see the church as a bunker, a protection against the ‘evil’ things outside it; at the opposite end of the spectrum, there may be no difference between the two. We explored these ideas using lego to build a safe haven, then steam which disappears into the air around it, with a hazy boundary between what is ‘church’ and what is ‘culture’ (big questions in themselves!).
As a group we weren’t comfortable with either of these positions, so, using play dough and tea bags by way of illustration, we looked at other possibilities – how church can be changed by incorporating good parts of culture or how can church venture out into the surrounding culture seeking to influence and change it. Two different colour lumps of play dough can either be combined to create a new colour or can be set alongside each other. Whilst adding hot water to a tea bag meant that although the tea leaves remained in the bag they were altered by adding water to them as the water was changed by having the tea bag in it. This encouraged us to consider how church and culture were interrelated and interactive, and reflect on how they can be infused in the most refreshing and healthy way.
The service was in part inspired by the book ‘Christ and Culture’ by Helmut Richard Niebuhr.
This blog post written by Shelia