Lent 2016 Session 4

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lent2016session4

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Journeying out …

  • … is centred on our understanding of God

  • … is Christ-like, with the life of Jesus as our model and guide

  • … is Spirit-led, as we are enabled to follow in the way of Jesus, loving and serving as Jesus loved and served
How does your understanding of God influence the way you live your life in the context in which you are placed? If asked ‘What is the Gospel?’ how would you respond?

Look back over today, calling to mind the people you have encountered, and the places you have been. Where was God in those encounters and places?

Prayer

We bring to God someone we have met or remembered today and for whom we want to pray.

We bring to God someone we know who is hurting today.

We bring to God a troubled situation in our world today.

We bring to God our time together this evening.

We bring ourselves to God that, enabled by God’s Spirit, we might become more Christ-like as we seek to love as God loves.

 
  • Last week we were thinking about the people that we journey with, in our parish, Benefice, Deanery, and Diocese, as well as in the wider Church of England and Anglican Communion

  • This week we are thinking about how we reach out to those who are not part of the church community

  • The parish system of the church of England gives us responsibility to reach out to all those within our parish boundary, whether those people attend church or not

  • We are also part of the community of Moseley, and the City of Birmingham, as well as the UK – and we are connected with the rest of the world in many ways

  • rublevicon.jpgTake another look at Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity and notice the empty space at the table. If our understanding of God includes the concept of relationship or community within God, what are the characteristics of this community? Rublev’s Icon suggests an open community, where there is always space for others at the table

  • It may not be enough to wait for others to join us around the table; we need to journey out in order to draw others in to the circle of God’s love

  • We can of course invite people to attend church with us, particularly at festivals and other special times, and we can also pray for friends, neighbours and family, that they might be receptive to those invitations so that they might come to know the God who extends an invitation to all of us to come

  • But we do not spend most of our time in church – the call to be a disciple is a call to offer the whole of our lives, 24/7. As you journey out with God into your daily life, what resources or teaching might you need in order to further equip you for this?

  • Many people in our society are spiritually hungry; many are searching for meaning in life, or for community. So few people, however, know even the basics of what the Christian faith is about… how are they going to know unless someone will share with them in a way that is meaningful and relevant to life in today’s world? What an opportunity we have!
Do not retreat into your private world,
That place of safety, sheltered from the storm,
Where you may tend your garden, seek your soul,
And rest with loved ones where the fire burns warm.

To tend a garden is a precious thing,
But dearer still the one where all may roam,
The weeds of poison, poverty and war,
Demand your care, who call the earth your home.

To seek your soul it is a precious thing,
But you will never find it on your own,
Only among the clamour, threat and pain
Of other people's need will love be known.

To rest with loved ones is a precious thing,
But peace of mind exacts a higher cost,
Your children will not rest and play in quiet,
While they still hear the crying of the lost.

Do not retreat into your private world,
There are more ways than firesides to keep warm;
There is no shelter from the rage of life,
So meet its eye, and dance within the storm.

©Kathy Galloway, Iona Community, 1989

In pairs talk about your reaction to the Kathy Galloway’s words, (words that were written to be sung as a hymn).

We are going to look at a story from John’s Gospel which describes Jesus ‘journeying out’ in his encounter with a Samaritan woman.

In this encounter Jesus reached out across the divides of gender, culture, and social status.

John 4

Jesus and the woman of Samaria

4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2 —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3 he left Judea and started back to Galilee. 4 But he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.

For individual reflection:

  1. What struck you about this story?

In groups:

  1. Give each person in the group the opportunity to share something new that struck them about this story; listen to one another’s insights without discussing them – there are no right or wrong answers.

  2. What does this story suggest to us about God?

  3. What does this story tell us about people?

  4. What questions are raised for you by this story?

  5. What might the story suggest to us about reaching out?
 

TIME FOR FEEDBACK

 

INDIVIDUAL REFLECTION

You will not asked to share this with anyone. Make some notes if it would be helpful to you.

  1. Reaching out to others may take us out of our comfort zones. Are there individuals or particular groups of people that you find difficult to love or reach out to? Or perhaps there are individuals or particular groups of people with whom you might like to connect, but feel that somehow you don’t know where to begin, or don’t have the opportunities?

  2. Real encounter with those who are different from us may mean a willingness for us to change our perceptions or adjust the way we do things; how willing or able are you to do this? What might prevent you from doing this?

GROUP WORK

The Anglican Communion’s five marks of mission were adopted by the Church of England in 1990 and still form our basic understanding of mission in the CofE. The five marks of mission tell us that we are to:

  1. Preach the Good News of the Kingdom

  2. Teach, baptise and nurture new believers

  3. Respond to human need by loving service

  4. Seek to transform the unjust structures of society

  5. Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life on earth

Think about the ways in which we already journey out in mission in our Benefice:

  • The winter night shelter
  • Christmas Day together
  • Coffee and company
  • Inter-faith
  • Links with schools in our parishes
  • Living as Christians at work, at home, and out and about in the community
  • Ministry to the care homes in our parishes
  • The churchyard project
  • Hospitality
  • Concerts and special events
  • Open church
  • Support for relief and aid agencies local, national and international levels through our Charitable giving, and informed prayer support
  • Those who we reach out to through Baptisms, weddings and funerals

 

  1. Discuss our outreach in relation to the Anglican Communion’s 5 marks of mission. Which of the 5 do we do well already? Where could we do more? In his sermon yesterday morning, Duncan asked: ‘Where is our horizon? What are we being led to dream about?’ Think about our horizon: where might our ‘big dream’ for outreach take us?

  2. Jesus’ ministry demonstrated a ‘bias to the poor’; he went out of his way to reach out to the marginalised and those who were socially unacceptable. Who are ‘the poor’ and the marginalised that we need to reach out to today? It might not simply be the materially poor – how might we reach out to those who are ‘time poor’, or ‘relationship poor’ or ‘spiritually poor’, or ??? Is there anything that might prevent us from doing this?

TIME FOR FEEDBACK

 

LISTENING AND REFLECTING

Discuss in your small groups your responses to the questions ‘where have we come from?’ and ‘Who are we?’ in relation to our outreach. Think about all our connections with the community of Moseley, the City of Birmingham, and wider afield, nationally and internationally.

  1. Where have we come from?

  2. Who are we?
    • It might be helpful to consider how people outside the church perceive us.
      What words or phrases might they use to describe us?
 

INTO PLENARY

We feedback our responses to questions 11-12

 

CLOSING WORSHIP

As we listen to a piece of music, you are invited to look back over our four week Lenten journey of listening and reflecting together.

Journeying up:

Who do you say that God is? Who do you say that God isn’t? How does our worship give expression to our understanding of God?

Journeying in:

How do you characterise spiritual growth? What things have helped you to grow spiritually in the past? What will help you now?

Journeying with:

What helps us to belong together as a Christian community in Moseley? Who are those with whom you have shared your story?

Journeying out:

How does the life of Jesus inspire us to reach out to others? What might need to change in us to enable us to be more Christ-like as we seek to love and to serve?

Living the Eucharist

The Eucharist is a vital part of our Christian journey; all our Sunday morning services are currently Eucharistic, each service giving us the opportunity to journey in all four directions:

UP as we worship God and receive from God
IN as we listen to God through scripture and the sermon and make connections with our own lives
WITH as we share bread and wine, and Christ’s peace, together
OUT as we pray for others and are sent out into the world

This Lent has offered the opportunity for you to reassess your commitment to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. How are you going to consciously take the Eucharist with you, and dedicate yourself to God, as you seek to live out this commitment in the coming months 7 days a week?

A prayer

Look at your hands,
see the touch and the tenderness –
God’s own for the world.

Look at your feet,
see the path and the direction –
God’s own for the world.

Look at your heart,
see the fire and the love –
God’s own for the world.

Look at the cross,
see God’s Son and our Saviour –
God’s own for the world.

This is God’s world
and we will serve God in it.