27/01/2019: Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
Call to Worship: Psalm 19:1-4,7-10,14[i]
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19 has a number of sections to it and each section offers us a picture of how God reveals himself to us (for example – by using the stars and planets; the Scriptures; prayer and meditation…). God uses many ways to make himself known to us – he can even use the ordinary events of each day to speak to us.
- Can you remember ways that God has shown himself to you in the past?
OT Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-3,8-10
1 all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.
2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The people of Israel have returned to their homeland. They were taken away into exile and while there were not able to worship in the Temple; now that they are ‘home” they come together to worship. Their worship reconnects them with each other and with God. The verse to focus on this week is vs.10.
- What does Nehemiah mean when he says – “the joy of the Lord is your strength”?
- Do you use worship as a means to reconnect with God and with other people? If so, how does it help you?
NT READING: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Unity and Diversity in the Body
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Love Is Indispensable. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
This reading promotes the importance of diversity; we are not created to be all exactly the same. Paul uses the image of a physical body as a metaphor for the church. The human body needs the different parts to work together to ensure a healthy organism. Similarly, diversity in the church is very important to the spiritual health of the church; yet each part of the church (the body) must remain connected to, and work with, the other parts. Reflect on the following quotes:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously described ubuntu as meaning ‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours'”[ii]
Martin Luther King, Jr.: “In a real sense all life is interrelated. All men [and women] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be . . . This is the interrelated structure of reality.”[iii]
The focus for us this week is “Interconnectedness”. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us to connect us with each other, to empower us, and to work through us, so we can be the Gift of God at work in the world around us and for us to be connected to others.
Luke 4:14-21: 14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit …on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
- Why do you think Jesus read this passage?
- Are you connected to God in your worship at St. Thomas?
- Do you allow God to work in you in order for you be connected to others, especially those people that are not like you?
- What does – “Mission is the Gospel in action” – mean?
- What does 1 Cor.12:26 mean to you?
God bless for the week ahead. Rev.Tim
[i] All Bible readings: New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
[ii] Desmond Tutu: A Personal Overview of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission No Future Without Forgiveness, © 2000
[iii]King, M. L., & Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. (1968). “Letter from a Birmingham jail.”. Atlanta, Ga.:Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.