It’s nothing but smoke

* contemplating in community Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 and James 1:2-11* You will need: a central altar or table, a black table cloth, a large candle (with three wicks is helpful to invoke visually the image of a Triune God), smaller tea lights (sufficient for the group), a lighter or matches, copies of the service, one per participant. Ritual actions indicated in…

Costly choices

A reflection based on “beyond the lectionary” readings: Job 1:6-22 2 Corinthians 8:1-6 John 8:31-38 The decision to follow Jesus is one often made in response to a moving, tangible experience of God’s grace – without too much thought or concern about what may follow; but, if taken seriously, it is a choice that has serious and abiding implications, and…

Job 1:6-22 – a prayer journey with children

The book of Job seldom features in our conversations with children – or adults for that matter – because its subject matter is so difficult to make sense of. Job 1:22 is a verse which makes us question our understanding of God’s goodness and our (carefully-nursed) illusion that the Christian life is a comfortable one. Naked I came from my…

With what do we measure?

A reflection based on readings from “Beyond the lectionary:” 1 Kings 3:16-28 1 Corinthians 14:6-12 John 7:19-24 With what do we measure? An easier question to answer might be “with what don’t we measure?” for, from an early age, we begin to learn the language of comparison. Our parents applaud enthusiastically when we manage to place the triangle, the circle,…

A Gathering Prayer

Following on from the gathering in – with string idea that I recently shared is a prayer based loosely on Psalm 119:49-56 which connects us with the countless generations of men, women, and children who have experienced the faithfulness of God in the triumphs and the struggles of their lives. The naming of these saints in Scripture deliberately includes people of different…

Choosing well

A children’s lesson based on 1 Kings 3:16-28 – Solomon displays godly wisdom. Preparation  2 identically-sized, solid bowls filled to the same level – one with sweets; the other with cereal or rice grains covered in a layer of sweets so that they appear the same. 2 boxes – one containing biscuits and the other lasagne sheets or similar. Prior…

Gathering in

A simple call to worship for a multicultural, multigenerational gathering which involves participants wrapping a ball of string around their wrist or waist before passing on to the next person until the entire community is literally joined together. The “gathering” words below can be prayed repetitively until the binding is complete or once followed by a chorus such as “Bind…

Deserted?

One of my favourite places on earth is the Namib desert. Over 50 million years old and covering over 80 000 square kilometres, this vast place seems, at first glance, to be completely inhospitable and sterile. But to those with the wisdom to fix their gaze beneath the seductive purple hues of the horizon to the shimmering, shifting sands under…

In the deserted place: Proper 13

A communion liturgy for the 8th Sunday after Trinity Sunday, based on the lectionary readings: Psalm 17:1-7, 16 Genesis 32:22-32 Matthew 14:13-21 Romans 9:1-5 Eugene Peterson, in his book, Under the Unpredictable Plant, writes of the necessary practice of askesis: a deliberate “exercise” or “discipline” of breaking with the ordinary routines of life in order to experience powerful growth in our personhood and…

Called is at our core

For as many years as I have been involved in ministry within the Church, I have wondered: What is the essential difference between those who call themselves Christians and those who affiliate themselves with a different religion or belief system? It is a question which goes to the heart of who we are and what on earth we’re here for.…