Falling Upward: Living through shattered dreams (Pentecost 23, Year C)

 

jengaYearly Rhythm

Sunday 27th October 2013

 This is the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (Ordinary Time) Year C

 “The church sets aside a holy season called Ordinary Time as sacred. The Ordinary is part of the religious tradition of being ordered in our daily lives so that we can always be in the presence of the holy.”

(Becca Stevens)

“Ordinary Time is the season of the Church year when (we) are encouraged to grow and mature in daily expression of (our) faith outside the great seasons of celebration of Christmas and Easter and the great periods of penance of Advent and Lent.

Ordinary Time is a time to deepen one’s prayer life, read the Scriptures, unite more deeply with the Lord in the Eucharist and become a more holy and whole person.

Ordinary Time is a period when average people like you and me strive to become the extraordinary messengers of the Gospel that we have been commissioned to be through our Baptism.

Ordinary Time is this day, this moment.  Now.” 

(source)

 

This week I spent three days on what we call a district ministers’ retreat.  Sammy Njenga was our facilitator.  One afternoon our activity was to share together in building a “Jenga Tower” (a team exercise game to see how high you can build before the tower falls over).  Judging by the exclamations and laughter the big moment of the game was when the tower came tumbling down.  When reflecting, Sammy made the point that the game was designed so that the tower would fall.  He said that the same is true of life.  The Lectionary readings address something of this.

 

 

Weekly Rhythm

Engaging with the weekly Lectionary Readings

(Comment and Questions – PDF Download)

 Joel 2:23-32.

The only reading from Joel in Year C. The previous verses describe with graphic detail the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. These verses speak of a restoration to come and later a time when God’s Spirit would be poured out on ALL flesh with simultaneous portents in heaven and earth — while the sky is dark and the moon blood red, people of all ages and stations will prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams.

Psalm 65.

A psalm of thanksgiving for fruitful times, especially for a successful harvest. To offer this psalm in response to Joel is to participate in the promise of abundance to come. Response: “Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 (4th week of 4).

“The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.”

Luke 18:9-14

A religious leader: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people … ” A tax collector: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

 (Readings and comments: thanks to gbod.org)

 

Questions for reflections and discussion

1)      Why do you think a Pharisee and a tax-collector have been used as the characters in this story?

2)      What are the differences between what the Pharisee and Tax collector say?

3)      What do their body actions express?

4)      In noting the Pharisees words, explore what drives our needs to compare ourselves favourably to others.  Is this related to our need to blame others?

5)      Richard Rohr uses the term “falling upward”.  How might the tax collector be “falling upward”?  How is this different to climbing up the ladder in our own righteousness?

6)      What kind of community would the Pharisee be moulding?  What kind of community would the tax-collector be part of?

7)      How might this story influence your life?

 

 

Weekly Rhythm

(Shaping Sunday Worship)

Praying the Lectionary Readings

 (Use these resources in your preparation to lead or attend worship)

 

Call to worship (Based on Psalm 65 NIV)

 Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders

Where morning dawns, where evening fades,

you call forth songs of joy.

We shout for joy and sing.

  

Praise, Confession and Thanksgiving

 

Joel 2:23-32

23 Be glad, people of Zion,

rejoice in the Lord your God,

for he has given you the autumn rains

because he is faithful.

He sends you abundant showers,

both autumn and spring rains, as before.

24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;

the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—

the great locust and the young locust,

the other locusts and the locust swarm[a]—

my great army that I sent among you.

26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,

and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,

who has worked wonders for you;

never again will my people be shamed.

27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,

that I am the Lord your God,

and that there is no other;

never again will my people be shamed.

 

The Day of the Lord

28 “And afterward,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your old men will dream dreams,

your young men will see visions.

29 Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

30 I will show wonders in the heavens

and on the earth,

blood and fire and billows of smoke.

31 The sun will be turned to darkness

and the moon to blood

before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

32 And everyone who calls

on the name of the Lord will be saved;

for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem

there will be deliverance,

as the Lord has said,

even among the survivors

whom the Lord calls.” (NIV)

 

Lord God we bow before you and worship.  You are the rock on which we build, the sure foundation for an optimistic future.  You, God of the ages, gather our past, act in the present and prepare our future.  Without you we are trapped in an endless cycle of repeating the past.  With you we can break free and journey into new, life-giving territory.

We do see wonders in the heavens and the earth. Lord, give us insight to see where the portents, the signs that surround us, are pointing.  The sun, heralding each new day, the moon calling us to look up by night, buds unfurling in spring, crops bearing grain, rains watering and reviving.  We hear the cries of life, “It’s a girl,” “It’s a boy!”  We celebrate stories of victory won, the triumph of good over evil.

Then we see an empty tomb,

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”  (Acts 2:24 NIV)

You are with us in our places of despair, in our graveyards, in our broken dreams, in our stress, in our lost and rebellious wanderings. But today we interpret the signs, it is happening.  Lord we turn to You, the life giver. Your Spirit is pouring out, bringing new life to young and old, slave and free, man and woman. Yes, to us.

You are hope, healing, revival. You bring that future to us in this present moment. Abundant showers, vats overflowing with goodness, all calling on the Lord’s name and knowing salvation.

And so Lord, evening fades and morning dawns and calls forth songs of joy.

In Jesus name

Amen

 

Intercessions and healing

Introduction to the Intercessions

The prophet Joel writes to the exiles as their past lies in ruins and they wonder what their future holds.  Will they always live in a diminished way? Today’s prayer is for those who relate to this sense of lost years and the need for restoration.  We must grieve the changes in our lives, but the journey of grief brings healing.

 

Prayer:

Let us be still.

In the quietness bring to mind those devastating moments that have left your life ruined in some way.  How have you struggled?  What feelings have made you cry out?  What feelings hang like a dark cloud over your life? How has this robbed you of life?  What years has the locust eaten?  Now hear the prophet Joel as he speaks God’s restoration into your life:

 

Be glad for your God brings deliverance.  Like the rains that fall during Spring bring provision, the Lord will restore your loss with interest.  He says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—and you will praise the name of the Lord your God who has worked wonders for you;   never again will you be shamed.  Then you will know that I am …the Lord your God.”   I will pour out my Spirit on you.  Your inner child will wake up to God’s word, your tired heart will dream again, your oppressed self will be set free to live again.  You will see wonders and signs of salvation all around you.  All you need to do is call on the name of the Lord for this outpouring of life renewing rain. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

(Based on Joel 2:23-32 NIV)

 

Sending out: (Luke 18:9-14)

Go now,

not to be the judge of others.

not to compare and find others lacking.

But go,

               As one who comforts the broken

As one who lifts up the fallen

 

 

 

Daily Rhythm

21 – 27 October

A resource for the Daily Rhythm of Worship

(Download the PDF here.)

 

Devotional  Diary   21 – 27 October 2013

 

Readings for the week (Thanks to gbod.org)

Joel 2:23-32.  (After the aftermath)  The previous verses describe with graphic detail the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. These verses speak of a restoration to come and later a time when God’s Spirit would be poured out on ALL flesh with simultaneous portents in heaven and earth — while the sky is dark and the moon blood red, people of all ages and stations will prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams.

Psalm 65.  A psalm of thanksgiving for fruitful times, especially for a successful harvest. To offer this psalm in response to Joel is to participate in the promise of abundance to come. Response: “Now thank we allour God with hearts and hands and voices.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18.”The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.”

Luke 18:9-14.  A religious leader: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people.  A tax collector: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  For comments and reflection on these readings see Rhythm of Worship (jamesnicolson.co.za)

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 150:1 Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: self-righteousness.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area. Today: Our home town.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 150:2 Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: false dignity.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: South Africa.

Personal Prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: feeling of being hard-done by.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: Africa

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 149:1 Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: Unforgiveness

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: Middle East.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 149:3 Let them (us!) praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: hard heart.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: Our world.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord.  How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: boredom.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: God’s mission in this world.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 147:7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.

Confession: Today we don’t focus on a barrier, just spend some time praising God and continuing to give us the barriers that you have focused on during the week.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: The Churches that are all around us.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

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