Sunday 15th August 2021
We turn our attention to Dwelling in God
God is Good.
Peace be with you.
I pray this day finds you well,
filled with peace and enjoying God’s company in the days of this season.
If you are sharing in this service of the dwelling place on a digital device, any of the underlined links will take you to additional content to enrich your time of worship.
Here is an offering for your self-guided worship for Sunday 15th August.
So come, let us turn our attention to dwelling in God.
We acknowledge that this land is sacred land. God’s land. For generations upon generations there were those who lived, walked upon, and cared for the land before we came into being. We offer thanksgiving for the sharing of this sacred earth, their care of this precious country. We pay our respects to all past, present, and emerging who teach us to honour and care for this land. Today we commit to becoming united as One people, and the continued care for the land upon which we too, now live and work and learn and play. Praise be to God.
Our dwelling place today is found in the Letter to the Ephesians, in the continuing verses from last week’s reading. We have been hearing a lot of late, about what it means to be spiritually nourished in and by Jesus. Our gospel this week is the continuation of this message. So, we draw our focus to the Epistle for the day. The Letter Paul wrote to the people of Ephesus to assist us in our understanding of the Jesus as the “living bread of life”.
Dwelling in God is the time for hearing God’s stories. Leaving room for God to speak to us in our reflections and preparing to meet God as we meet with one another.
AND SO, WE MAKE READY…
Wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life and the world around you, this is the moment for you and God. Using the symbols of our faith from your home around you, bring them to sit in front of you or to clasp in your hand. Engaging our touch in the moment of our connecting with God, reminds us that our faith is an embodied experience and helps us to remain present, here and now as you feel the object as it passes through your hands, or as it sits before you. Open your Bible to the passage for the day if you choose. Bring your candle to readiness within reach before you continue.
In the stillness of this moment the invitation is to lean into God. To refresh, renew and refill us. As we breathe in and out, may we feel the Spirit of God as it fills our very being.
Before moving on, close your eyes.
Feel God’s presence surrounding you.
Taking 5 slow, deep breaths, breathe in the Spirit of God.
As you breathe in, each time imagine the spirit flowing within you a little deeper, until your whole being from the tip of your toes to the top of your head is feeling the lightness that comes with the indwelling of the Spirit of God within us.
Now, as you are ready open your eyes and drink in this moment of being here, right now, present with God.
Light your candle and begin with the prayer below.
A PRAYER TO BEGIN…
God who is lover, beloved and the gift of love to us and for us,
Gather here with us this day.
As we seek you in the words of our heritage
Open our ears to hear you revealing to us
through the words of the Apostle Paul
that which our heart needs to know
and our mind needs to understand.
As we bathe in your Spirit
Bring us to readiness to reflect your love into the world.
Through the power of the beloved in dying and rising who redeems and saves. Amen
The Scripture for the day will be Ephesians 5: 15-20, our reading this week is taken from The Voice translation.
Additional scripture for your reflection this week is from the Gospel of John below.
As you read, on a piece of paper or in your Bible, use the method Marking for Meaning Making to note your reflections and feelings about the passage today using the linked guide. What we are doing in Dwelling in God through scripture, is taking a close reading of the passage to make meaning of what it says to us in this moment.
15 So be careful how you live; be mindful of your steps. Don’t run around like idiots as the rest of the world does. Instead, walk as the wise! 16 Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times. 17 So understand and be confident in God’s will, and don’t live thoughtlessly. 18 Don’t drink wine excessively. The drunken path is a reckless path. It leads nowhere. Instead, let God fill you with the Holy Spirit. 19 When you are filled with the Spirit, you are empowered to speak to each other in the soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs; to sing and make music with your hearts attuned to God; 20 and to give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed for all He has done.
In response to your reading of this scripture consider the following questions and write your reflections.
What do I know about the people Paul was writing to at the time of this letter?
What would motivate me to live out v15 & 16?
Why does Paul want me to make the most of every opportunity?
What steps have I taken personally in trying to understand God’s will for my life?
Who is in the driver’s seat of my life?
Why is it important to soak in God’s Word and how does it help you understand God’s Will?
What do you interpret the metaphor in V18 to be? Why do does Paul use it?
Why is Paul encouraging the Ephesian church and us to be filled?
How do we walk more in the fullness of the Spirit?
There are some clues in v19-20.
To Note: Understanding the community of the day Paul writes to helps us in understanding how we read this for the purposes of making meaning the letter into our own time and place.
If you answered no to the first question asking about your awareness of the people Paul was writing to, what is one action you can take this week to increase your awareness of the context for this letter.
John 6: 51-58 (New English Translation)
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 Then the Jews who were hostile to Jesus began to argue with one another, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who consumes me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread your ancestors ate, but then later died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”
In response to your reading of this scripture consider the following questions and write your reflections.
Why didn’t Jesus just speak more plainly to let them understand?
What kind of principles can we draw from the fact that Jesus’ body and blood is our food and drink?
What does this tell us about what kind of faith saving faith is?
What does this tell us about how we need to live our lives if we truly believe in Jesus?
In what way does Jesus’ blood give eternal life?
What is the connection we can draw between the Gospel reading for this week and the reading from Ephesians this week?
**An in-depth conversation about this passage from the Gospel of John can be heard here from this week’s episode of Tea With Two Revs from the Growing Faith Down Under Project.
A Prayer in response
Thank you that you are the food that nourishes us.
We hear the words of the Apostle Paul to the people of Ephesus
and hear the call to the same words for us this day, here and now.
God, enable us by your love to be faithful to that call,
to be the Living Body of Christ in this place.
I pray that we would sing your praises here, today, in the same way as in the Psalms.
That our love for you would radiate out from each of us
sending your healing strength deep into a hurting world.
Today we ask you to bless us with your Spirit,
so we may be strengthened to live your call.
Hear the words of the Psalmist this day.
By David. (Ps 111. The Message Translation)
I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got—
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
God’s works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Splendour and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial—
This God of Grace, this God of Love.
He gave food to those who fear him,
He remembered to keep his ancient promise.
He proved to his people that he could do what he said:
Hand them the nations on a platter—a gift!
He manufactures truth and justice;
All his products are guaranteed to last—
Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof.
All that he makes and does is honest and true:
He paid the ransom for his people,
He ordered his Covenant kept forever.
He’s so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.
The good life begins in the fear of God—
Do that and you’ll know the blessing of God.
His Hallelujah lasts forever!
Prayers of Us
We pray together with the Christian community across time and space.
Spend a few moments recalling to mind:
- people who you would like to put before God.
- Places or situations across the world you want to see God speak into.
- The work of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.
- The ongoing work of the presbytery and the ministry team therein.
- Our UCA Partner Church, The Methodist Church of Fiji
- Your brothers and sisters in Christ both near and far.
- Our community of faith here.
- The community within which we reside
- Your family and friends.
- Those whom you love, who are no longer here with us.
When you are ready, offer them to God finishing with the words of the eternal prayer:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Here these words of blessing for you as you close this moment in time.
God who is the Source of all
Jesus the redeeming grace
And the Spirit who comforts and soothes us,
be with you now and always. Amen.
A note from Rev Amanda
Spending time alone dwelling in God’s presence and in community developing and deepening our relationship with God is paramount. When we are not together in person please know that I am here with you in this moment. Praying with and for you in these days. If, after today’s dwelling place you would like to speak with me or have me pray with you, please reach out. I would be delighted to spend the time with you growing in God together.
Blessings for the days ahead.
Yours faithfully in Christ’s fellowship
Bible Readings, New English Translation & The Voice translation, from Bible Gateway
Today’s Psalm is 111, taken from The Message translation
Song: Open my Eyes Lord, Maranatha! Praise Music
All other material written by Rev Amanda Nicholas.