Sunday Worship 25 July 2021

This morning Josh, Heston and Lydia led us in our worship and Jan shared with us her thoughts on Jesus “going about his father’s business” and his need to “be in his father’s temple”.

Our apologies for the technical difficulties with the video, there are issues at the beginning but it does work properly after 16 minutes.

Here are some notes from Jan’s sermon:

Sermon July 25th

In today’s readings we have two incidents in the life of Jesus. In one Jesus cheerfully hands out the sandwiches at a picnic, full of compassion for  hungry people who hadn’t brought enough food, or hadn’t planned to stay as long as they did. This is a Jesus we can relate to, affirming children, teaching in the sunshine, but also teaching overtly and covertly about who he was, doing signs that pointed to his place in God’s Kingdom.

In the second story he appears scarily, walking on water, not quite recognisable until he speaks, then muzzles the storm, full of compassion for the frightened disciples.

In between he both escapes the crowd who wanted to set him up as their leader and heads for the hills  for a long time of solitary devotion to his Father.

There are so many things to say about this combination of events   but what has come to me about them  is that in both of them Jesus is –  as he said to Mary and Joseph aged twelve – about his Father’s business. He needs to be  ‘in his Fathers temple,  that is, in the world,  the very first created temple.  He is teaching, feeding, rescuing, pointing to the Kingdom of love and compassion and relationship with God and each other in this overarching temple of God. .

Jesus, whatever he  is doing, is in the Temple of God, the place where God’s love can work, where God is present, where compassion dwells. I recently read a free translation of John 1 which said ‘n the beginning was the Word and the tent, the shelter,  dwelt among us…. The Temple in Jerusalem, which Jesus respected hugely, was destroyed. But we live in the temple of the Kingdom as Jesus did

In lockdown, when we have been shut away from our physical building, I have been haunted by the idea of temples and how we are in God’s temple even when not in church. I have asked Dote to sing something which a few of us heard weekly, I think in Lent 2020? It’s from the Northumbria community, and is their call to worship. It starts ‘one thing I have asked of the Lord, one thing I desire…’

(play version 2 of Dote One thing I have asked of the Lord…)  

So how do we seek and meet and listen  to God in her temple when church is shut or indeed even when it’s open!

I have found 4 kinds of temple, none of which is more important than any other because all of creation including us are God’s temple.  

The first is buildings

We meet Jesus in the temple of All Hallows, our church community building. (1)

In many  churches one traditionally moves as you come in from west to east, up to the place of the morning and of resurrection. Sometimes, as well as the church alignment,  this is signalled by the objects in the church and it is at All Hallows. Although it’s not east, we look – sometimes!! – up towards the window which has resurrected Jesus with the four evangelists from revelation, in their symbolic energy guises – an ox, a man a lion and an eagle. The eagle is a bit bug eyed and Heston says he’s not convinced by  them but there you are, that’s 1970’s art. The point is that we have a representation of heaven in our temple, the heaven here of our community with Jesus. Our building is important to us. It’s where we can  meet God together in our worship, our teaching, in our communion with each other as people of God and as people of the worldwide followers of the way of Jesus. We share worship and we share love in the form of friendship and food and compassion and especially in the café,  (2  ) an integral part of our temple space.  We can find the beauty of the Lord here,  and we can be that beauty in  inclusion and  in friendship. (3)

The second temple where we live with God, work with God and love God  is the temple of the world around us. Some of us have been privileged to be outdoors for a lot of lockdown and I have just loved it. The sea, the hills, the trees (4 and 5 ) have been testament to the enduring love of God. They have no Covid. God is here, sustaining, working to support  and to hold things together.

God’s energy is in the city as well as the countryside, in the smaller places of growth, Sameer’s garden, (6) the church car park (7) which is the temple of the café in the coming weeks. The work of God through people and through the spirit is there too, as it is in the energy of people who go on working  in the toughest of times. (7 and 8)

Our third temple is the temple of other people. We are encouraged to see Jesus in others and to be Christ for them. Jesus did this all his life , never putting people down. The other is a temple of the Holy Spiirit, everyone we meet around us either by choice or by chance. (10, 11 12, 13,)  READ Andrew Carter p 68.

 And last but not least we ourselves are a temple of the Holy Spirit to be nourished, fed, and cared for. We are places where God lives and works and rejoices.

All this leaves questions of course. Why doesn’t Jesus always muzzle the storm? Why are we not always fed? I don’t think these are the point of these  for me at this moment. The point is that I live in God’s Temple, and need to hear her voice and respond in love and worship and listening  in the world, in church, with others and with myself.

We are always with God, as jesus was, never lost or abandoned but in the temple of the Kingdom which shelters us and is all around us.


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