21 July 2013

This week it’s all about listening – to God’s word – and to living it out in compassion, integrity and justice – which requires listening to others. This can be harder than it sounds with all the noise that bombards us each day. That’s why the discipline of worship is so important. It gives us the time and the space to learn the practice of listening well.

May your listening abilities be enhanced by your worship this week.

READINGS:
Amos 8:1-12
: Amos sees a vision of a basket of ripe fruit, which God explains indicates that Israel is ripe for judgement. Amos then prophesies God’s judgement against the corruption of God’s people, and the famine of hearing God’s word that is to come.
OR Genesis 18:1-10a: Abraham entertains three mysterious visitors, who prophesy that within the next year Sarah will have a child.

Psalm 52: David speaks words of judgement against Doeg, proclaiming that he will be punished for his lies, while David will prosper under God’s care.
OR Psalm 15: Only those who live lives of truth and justice can worship in God’s sanctuary and enjoy God’s presence.

Colossians 1:15-28: Paul celebrates Christ as the visible image of God, the Creator and reconciler of all, and describes his ministry of proclaiming the Good News that leads us into relationship with God.

Luke 10:38-42: Jesus is welcomed into the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha serves, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet – and he refuses to chide Mary for this as Martha requests.

REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
Truth and lies; prophecies and the silencing of prophecy; sitting at Jesus’ feet or serving; Christ as the image of God, and the Gospel as the saving message that reconciles us with God. This week it’s all about God speaking, and the question of whether we will listen or not. As tempting as it might be, based on the Gospel reading, to create a dichotomy between listening and serving, hearing and doing, the other readings don’t allow us this. Listening to God’s word is inextricably connected to following God’s ways of justice, truth and compassion. Perhaps Jesus simply wanted Martha to listen before she acted, rather than assuming she knew what needed to be done? Whatever the case, the message of this week flows easily out of last week’s theme. Not only are ordinary things powerful in the work of God’s reign, it is as we listen to God’s message and implement God’s saving reconciling word through simple acts of justice, compassion and a commitment to truth and integrity, that we find ourselves living out the reality of God’s reign in our lives and our world.

CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
GLOBAL APPLICATION: Words, used as propaganda, mere rhetoric or to inspire, are a massive feature of today’s media-driven world. So many messages call us to label certain individuals or groups in certain ways. So many speakers claim to have the final word on certain situations or problems. So many speeches give little more than double-speak, finger-pointing or denial of responsibility. And, in all of the words, little actually changes. Lives are not saved. Injustice is not exposed and removed. Peace is not created, and solutions are not found to our big crises. One could be forgiven for thinking that we are living in the times Amos spoke about – a famine of God’s word. But, God’s word is not absent. It has not changed since Jesus lived it and preached it. The essential message of the Gospel – integrity, compassion and justice – has not changed or been silenced. All that is required is for those of us who follow the message of Christ to speak up, in words that are supported by accompanying actions, to challenge the empty words of our time, and call our leaders and our peers to account. But, we cannot do this unless we are prepared to be held to our own standards.

LOCAL APPLICATION: It is all too easy, in our personal lives and in our communities, to decide that we know what is needed, and what is to be done, without taking the time to listen. It is all too easy to speak, without taking the time to hear carefully and prayerfully, what God’s message for us really is, or what the stories of those we seek to serve really are. If we are to be a people who bring Christ’s grace and justice into our communities, we will need to listen carefully, and then act justly, compassionately and with integrity in response. We will need to avoid the temptation to assume we know what our communities need, and we will need to resist the urge to see ourselves as ‘saviours’ coming in to ‘fix’ things ‘for’ those who ‘need’ us. Rather we will need to adopt the humility of Mary, the hospitality of Abraham, the commitment of Paul, the integrity of Amos, and the faithfulness of David, as we come alongside the people within and ‘outside’ of our churches, and speak, in listening and word and action, the Gospel message of Christ.

RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
Prayers:
Listening
Word of God
Messengers

Hymn Suggestions:
And Can It Be
Where Cross The Crowded Ways Of Life
Master, Speak! Thy Servant Heareth
O Word Of God Incarnate
Lord, Speak To Me
All The Way My Saviour Leads Me (Link to YouTube video)
Thy Word (Link to YouTube video)
Living For Your Glory (Link to YouTube video)
Your Word

Liturgy:
A Liturgy for the Sacrament

Video Suggestions:
Listen: Alone
Listen: Failing
Always Listening
Jesus Holds It All Together

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