10 April 2016

The Resurrection of Jesus is not just a historical event, or a source of praise and adoration. It is also the centre of God’s calling on each of us. We do not just receive God’s resurrection life, we live it. And we don’t just live Christ’s resurrection life, we also pass it on by embracing others with the love, grace, healing and compassion of Christ.

May God renew our sense of call as we worship, this week.

READINGS:
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20): Saul travels to Damascus with the intention of arresting any followers of Jesus, but on the road, he is confronted with a vision of Christ that changes him into a disciple.

Psalm 30: The Psalmist experiences a time of great suffering, but experiences God’s deliverance, and commits to a life of praise and thanksgiving.

Revelation 5:11-14: The Lamb is worshipped by the creatures and elders around God’s throne, because he was slain, was victorious, and is worthy.

John 21:1-19: Peter is restored by Jesus at the breakfast on the beach, and then called, once again, to leadership and to follow Christ – even to death.

REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
This week the lectionary takes us from last week’s simple, but profound, proclamation of worship, as reflected in Thomas’s encounter with the Risen Christ, to the challenge of Easter, as reflected in Peter’s restoration and calling. Calling is, perhaps, the word that most clearly reflects what the Scriptures seek to tell us this week – Saul’s conversion and call to be a follower (ultimately apostle) of Jesus, the psalmist’s rescue and commitment (calling) to live as a worshipper, the worship of the heavenly beings offered to the Lamb who faithfully fulfilled his calling to be slain and to conquer death and evil, and of course, Peter, forgiven for his denial, restored to leadership of the apostles, and called to follow Christ even to his death. In response to this, the Lectionary invites us to hear the call which comes to us and our communities in Christ’s name – the call to worship, the call to be transformed into true followers of Jesus, and the call to minister to others in Christ’s name even to death. The resurrection life of Jesus, then, is not just a gift we receive, but is a gift which shapes how we live, and it is a gift we share with others as we seek to proclaim the Reign of God to the world.

CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
Global Application:
A sense of calling can be a double-edged sword on the level of global politics. From the ancient “divine right of kings” to the current sense among some nations and leaders that they are appointed by God as God’s special agents, much injustice and harm is done in the name of a divine calling. However, when the calling of Christ – to sacrificial, other-centred living – is recognised, the result is a powerful contribution to the world, and the increase of justice. Often this calling leads us into conflict with the powers-that-be and their own sense of entitlement – think of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela – and this is where the sacrifice comes in. But, as more and more followers of Christ take up their place in challenging the wrong use of power, so the world is slowly transformed. Where can you identify abuse of power in your world, nation or community? What can you do to stand for the values of Christ and challenge this abuse? So, at its heart, our call is not to Christian exceptionalism or domination, but to being part of the immune system of the world in which, in our own small way, we stand against and challenge the diseases of our world, and we bring health and strength through living an alternative, Christ-centred life.

Local Application:
Two struggles that plague our world, and contribute to the pain and cruelty that we inflict on each other, are a sense of meaninglessness and a focus on self-interest. The first leaves us in despair and apathy, without motivation to reach for our best – God-created – selves. The second drives us into the endless tyranny of our own appetites and addictions, and leaves us unable to connect effectively with others and with our world. The results of both are anger, aggression, and a lack of compassion. The Gospel’s clear call to a different, higher, God- and other-loving life is an antidote to these plagues, and offers us both a personal sense of purpose, and a commitment to the well being of others and to the world in general. As we are impacted by the life of Christ, as we commit ourselves to follow Christ, we find ourselves in a similar position to that of Peter. Like him we have failed Jesus and ourselves. Like him, we may want to forget about trying again – to just go back to our ‘normal’ lives, and not risk failing so publicly again. Like him, we may see others who we feel are more faithful, more equipped, more ‘spiritual’ and wonder why God doesn’t call them. But, like Peter, God does not let us off the hook, and calls us anyway – so that God’s grace and glory may be seen in and through us, and so that God’s life may touch others through us. When we hear and answer God’s call, we find ourselves connected with the universal activity of God’s reign, but we live and work it out locally in our own neighbourhood. What specific calling has God given you and your church community? How can you re-affirm that calling today?

RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
Prayers:
Called
Damascus Road
Admitting My Gifts

Hymn Suggestions:
Amazing Grace
Jesus Calls Us O’er The Tumult
Dear Jesus In Whose Life I See
Take My Life And Let It Be
Let Me Shine
Made To Worship (Link to YouTube video)
Living For Your Glory (Link to YouTube video)
May The Words Of My Mouth (Link to YouTube video)

Liturgy:
A Liturgy for the Eucharist

Video Suggestions:
Saul’s Conversion
Ignorable Calling
I Am Called

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