Fools rush in, Lord.
I do. - Barging, bumblefooted and blind, into a delicate moment.
She stood on tiptoe to look into the rose,
deep into its very center.
I don't know what secrets she saw there
or what worlds of wonder.
But it was no time to call her in to make her bed.
Nor was it a time to rush out and deliver an
informative lecture on botany.
It was a moment for not interfering.
I usually do,
for bumblefootedness and blindness are among my "little sins".
I get so preoccupied with the things I think they ought to be doing
that I forget to leave them alone with the wonders of the universe.
There are times when observing the progress of a snail
is of more profound significance than the dust on the piano.
And there are times when aloneness is good for the soul,
when solitude - so hard to come by for a child -
is a redeeming thing and should not be intruded upon.
I remember such moments, Lord, from my own child-time.
Give me a creative restraint.
Hold me back from intruding,
so that the children around me will find their own delight
in these little moments of discovery and wonder.
Where they might even come into contact with their creator God,
through the speed of the snail and the pollen of the rose.
And slow me down too, Lord,
so I too will rise to tip toe to look into their beauty
and follow the snail into a journey of delight.
For many years
we have had the mistaken notion
that all the problems of the world
can be solved with a few dollar bills.
In Jesus' time
the Pharisees came to ask him if they should
and Jesus, looking at a silver coin,
asked whose face and name were engraved on it.
"The Emperor's," they said.
"Well then, pay to the Emperor what is his" Jesus replied.
Has God's face
ever been on a coin?
We are the coin
that bears the living likeness of God.
Giving of ourselves
with whatever that may include,
is the only legal currency
of the kingdom of heaven.
I would like to have brought a hundred chrysalises, but I couldn't. Instead I have brought beans - with their life encased within a shell. I want us to use these beans to help is in our prayers and I wonder if the children would help by taking the beans and seeing that everyone has one.
Hold the bean in your hand. Look at its colours, how many colours? Is it shiny or dull? Feel the bean case. Is it smooth? Are there bumps? Is there any roughness?
Think of the life inside that shell. In your mind's eye think of the pulpy mass of life that is slowly forming the tip of life that will be the first shoot out of the shell. Think of the pressure that is coming onto the shell from the life forming inside. Think of the movement of life within that shell.
Then think of yourself as that bean.
Picture again the hard shell with its colours, and its texture, and then list within yourself the things that make your shell, the things that bind you, the things from which you want to break free. Tell them to God. Think of the life inside your shell. The parts of you that are alive, that are creative, that are good, that are full of love. The things that make up the soft living green mass that is alive in you.
Think or picture or feel the life force of God entering the centre of your bean. Feel its movement. Feel its strength ready to crack open the shell that binds you. Stay open to that life force of God, praying: "God, become real within me - bringing me freedom".
Say thank you.
When you are ready come back to an awareness of the bean in your hand.
An awareness of the hardness of the seat on which you are sitting.
An awareness of the people beside you.
Of the church that you are in.
And open your eyes.
Someone asked me once to mark out my life on a line.
Lord, how loath I was to plan my life.
What would I record out of so much?
What would I choose for my coming days?
I drew a time line...you know, a line across a page, marked with special events.
It started on the left with the year of my birth
and when I started school, and when I left
and my marriage and the birth years of my children
and the sad days of grief when my grandparents and then my parents died,
and then I came to today...what should I put from now on?
Well, the end of the line is my death.
Must I put in a date there, too, Lord? (I don't want to. It's hard.)
To make it graphic, I must enter a year for my death. Between Now and Then is all I have. (I don't want to plan it. That's harder still.)
But if I don't plan it, I may just float through it, and my life may signify nothing.
It was not for floating that you gave me the years of my life.
Plans can be changed.
I can be open to opportunities that I haven't even dreamed of.
So even my hesitantly made plans for today will of necessity be incomplete,
but plans I must make, otherwise my present is indecisive
and my future is vague.
So, Lord, here in your presence, I make a time line,
entering those milestones of my past...and today...
and the milestones I can anticipate, where I will accomplish specific things,
and grow in specific ways and where I will even change history
through the lives I touch and the life I lead.
But wherever you lead me, Lord, make me always aware
And ready to declare that "my times are in your hands".
A Reflection/Mediation by Gloria Zanders
(Give to each person present a cut-out paper/cardboard leaf)
You have a symbolic leaf that you were handed as you came into church. I ask you to hold that in your hand - it symbolises hope - creation -recreation the continuation of life - the dynamics of our being. God - you - me.
I offer you a time of reflection that seeks a response.
Jesus would often find the opportunity to be quiet, be still, reflect on God's purpose for his life.
Let's settle into stillness. Imagine you are sitting at home in your garden or looking out onto a garden. It's spring, the sun is beginning to promise the warmth of summer. There's a large deciduous tree in your garden seemingly bare from the dormancy of winter. You sit quietly sharing the scene with Jesus and focusing in the tree. It looks dead - lifeless.
Someone presses the fast forward button, and as you watch, brown nodules burst, soft fresh green leaves unfurl, enlarge, open like clenched fists unfolding to welcome and receive. There's a breeze - there's a rustling.
You hold a leaf in your hand, green, fresh, full of life and promise - able to manufacture food and enable growth.
The fast forward button continues to speed things past your eyes. The leaves are changing, taking on the rich colours of autumn, they're decaying, they fall. And in falling they give nourishment and richness to the soil for new growth. The leaf has changed but still it offers life. Each leaf lets go one form and takes on another. Power houses of new life and growth prepared to risk change. You're still beside Jesus.
The flashing picture continues - seedlings, nourished by the offering of the decaying leaves have erupted and developed into stronger plants - the cycle continues.
Jesus stands and places a small label at the base of the tree - it reads: "My Church of Hope" - he moves away leaving you holding your leaf.
We are part of the cycle, the growth, exploding into new life - unfurling to receive love - maturing and changing through offering ourselves. Even prepared to let go of the tree so that others may be nourished by us - to allow new life.
Reflect on the tree of our church - you are part of its life cycle, your leaf that you hold symbolises its life force. What hope do you have for the tree? What nourishment can you offer? What can you do to promote new life? Do you need to give more of yourself and change, or even to let go so you can help others on the tree further God's mission in this place?
Take some time... You may choose to write down your response to one or more of these questions on your leaf. Or you may prefer to take your leaf home and share your thoughts with another person later. you would like your leaf (marked or unmarked) acknowledged as an offering of your hopes, dreams, and commitment, place it in the basket during the offering time and it will be dedicated with the bread and wine.
What are your hopes for the tree, our church here, over the next year? What can you offer to that hope? What can you do to promote new life? Do you need to give more of yourself and make some personal changes or let go, So God's mission in this place can be enhanced with new life and energy? Is it time to deepen your relationship with the God of life and love and hope?
Take some time.... (Allow about three minutes)
We sing Hymn 520 - "Take my life and let it be..." (With One Voice)
During the singing of this we offer ourselves, our leaves and our monetary gifts.