Faith/Worship units 3-6

Below are my assignments, published because they might help someone. If this is the reason for visiting this page please look and learn but don’t copy. Having said that I copied from other stuff I found.  On the right side there is a number, this is the percentage score from my tutor. Under each unit there is comments made by the tutor and my reflection.

Unit Three

Assignment: prepare an act of worship with a sermon using a passage from Mark’s Gospel, for a specific congregation

Preparatory Work: Service Fact Finding Sheet

  1. Name of Church:                              Killarney Methodist Church
  2. Location of Church:                         East Avenue, Killarney
  3. Style of church building:                                Multifunctional room within an old church building
  4. Date of Service:                                                TBA
  5. Time of Service:                                                Services are at 9 and 11am
  6. Name and tel no. of steward:     Stephan Brits
  7. Name and tel no. of pianist:        Marion nee Murphy
  8. When are hymns needed by:     Wednesday afternoon, 7pm at latest
  9. Number in congregation:             50-100
  10. Age range in congregation:          0-90
  11. How many children:                        10-ish 0-16
  12. Do kids leave or join adults:         children leave before sermon
  13. MWB:                                                   no
  14. People to read lessons:                 yes, contact Brin with passages
  15. People read prayers:                      yes, contact individually
  16. Any other information:                 no

Select an appropriate passage:                  Mark 7, 14-23

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” [16] [a]

17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Use grid to prepare service:

Preacher:

v  What echoes are there in this Bible passage for me? I think of all the times I have opened my mouth and spoken without thought, all the times I have repeated gossip and embellished on it

v  Are there any links with my own story? The gossip I endured in my previous job. Listening to gossip recently that affected my Church life until I remembered to bring God into it

v  Does the passage raise questions for me? How do I stop the gossip from entering my heart

v  Does the passage challenge, confront or confirm me? Challenge and confront

v  What are the key words and key ideas in this passage for me? Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. What goes in does not have come out

People:

v  For the congregation

  • Ring any bells? Gossip is not just in the ‘outside’ world
  • Echo the congregation’s story/ experience. Most people have experienced the harmful effects of gossip, been at the end of a tale telling
  • Raise questions or problems? How do we live in the secular world without picking up bad habits such as gossiping
  • Challenge, confront or confirm: Challenge and confront
  • What words or ideas will stand out for those who hear it? What comes out of our mouths defiles us
  • How might the world ‘outside’ the Church react to the passage? Scoff
  • What questions might be raised? What’s wrong with gossip
  • Does the passage offer a critique or confirmation to the contemporary world? Yes in our world of reality tv shows, fly on the wall documentaries, we want to see more and more ‘bad’ stuff to affirm we are better than them.

Worship:

v  Are there any echoes in the liturgical life of the Church? No

v  How has this Bible passage been understood in the history of the Church and in preaching? There is a lot of emphasis on the Levitical laws and whether Jesus was telling people to not follow them. There seems to be like the Pharisees an emphasis on this. Some people have used it to excuse the use of alcohol and drugs for recreational use.

v  Are the hymns, creeds or prayers which echo this passage? Proverbs 4:23 Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust. (The Message)

v  MP1100, MP69, MP972

v  How might this passage be handled in worship? In praise and thankfulness, in confession

Exegesis:

v  Why is this Bible passage where it is? What comes before it and after?

The place was in Jerusalem, the leaders of the opposition condemning the Lord’s disciples because they did not practice “the tradition of the elders,” (v3). The subjects of this pronouncement are those men, the scribes and Pharisees who came from Jerusalem to watch and judge. Jesus called them “hypocrites” and used the Word of God (Isaiah 29) to expose their attitude and agenda. They did not respect and uphold the divine statues of the law of Moses. They laid aside the commandments of God to write their own creed. When they saw the Lord’s disciples disregarding their creed (human religious legislation), they “found fault,” (v2). This is the scene and the subjects of the passage.

v  What might it have meant to the original listeners/ readers?  Jesus didn’t conform to man-made laws, nor demand that His men conform. Jesus said: What defiles is the sin that comes from my heart, not the food i put in my stomach or the way I wash my hands!

v  What reactions did it provoke then and why? The Pharisees were caught up in the Levitical laws and Jesus answered them. Jesus is not telling anybody that it doesn’t matter what you eat or drink. And He is not teaching against washing your hands. He is answering the external  legalism of the scribes and Pharisees, who wrote their own creed and used it to judge, condemn and exclude. Man-made rules may put you into fellowship with men – but not God. Man-made rules may protect you from the condemnation of “religious police,” but cannot protect you from the evils that come from the heart. Do not be intimidated by the doctrines and commandments of men. We must honour God with heart, lips and life.

v  What is the cultural background of this passage? (author? Type of literature? Audience? The author was Mark; it is possibly Peter’s recollections. It is narrative – a chronological timeline of Jesus’ teachings as He travelled from the beginning of His ministry to the crucifixion and resurrection. At every opportunity he taught crowds and His disciple. He used real life examples to share the Good News.

v  What themes/ theological ideas are touched on in this passage? Jesus moves from the physical notion of defiling to the spiritual. We are defiled not by what is said but by how we react and repeat those actions

v  What are the key words? What goes in does not have to come out in the form of an evil deed. Defile – to make unclean

Pray and Express

Dear Lord, I have studied Your word, I have reflected on this particular passage in the Gospel according to Mark and now I come to You to ask for Your help, as usual I feel like I am drowning, I can’t see the wood for the trees. Help me discern what I have studied so that I might garner together an unrambling to the point sermon that at a point in the very far distant future I might have the confidence to deliver. I ask this in your beautiful Name. Amen

Aim:

To consider Jesus’ teaching on the keeping of a clean heart in order to challenge the congregation in our own behaviour that is keeping us from having a clean heart

Structure:

Introduction: putting the passage in the context of our lives and that I will be focussing on gossip:

  1. The ‘outside’ world in general: media, reality tv,
  2. How do we deal with it? Run away and hide, only being in a Christian world, join in the secular world and dilute, or maintain yourself through fellowship but be in the secular world sharing the good news
  3. The Christian world. Is it so rosy in our world? Ideally yes, but we don’t live in an ideal world

Conclusion: We should strive keeping our hearts clean by refusing to gossip and when we hear gossip by not repeating it but take it to the Lord and ask Him to look out for the gossiped about and the gossiper.

The Service

Call to Worship

Good morning all, welcome to everyone, welcome to our visitors from …

Psalm 131

My heart is not proud, O Lord

My eyes are not haughty

I do not concern myself with great matters

Or things too wonderful for me

But I have stilled and quieted my soul

Like a weaned child with it’s mother

Like a weaned child is my soul within me

O Israel put your hope in the Lord

Both now and forevermore

We will be silent for a few moments to still our minds and ready us to worship

Let us pray

Lord in this place at this time we offer up to You all our troubles and worries so that we can put them aside and focus on You.

Collectively we still our minds and quieten ourselves before You so we can hear you Lord. Our hearts lay open for You to mould us as You will.

Amen

Praise Time and Opening hymn

MP1100 Open the eyes of my heart, Lord

MP957 We want to see Jesus lifted high

MP282 I live, I live because He is risen

MP69 Change my heart, o God.

Children’s’ Thing

(using 3 young peeps)

Would the children like to come to hear a story?

A long time ago there was once a judge. Look here he comes. What do you think of him? (replies if any)

Judge walks up the church and stands in front of lectern

And there was a great teacher, a learned wise man. What do you think of him? (replies if any)

Teacher walks up the church and stands in front of the lectern next to judge

Now these two great men were well regarded, and looked up to, and they were brothers. In public they acted like this

Judge and teacher shake hands and nod and whisper politely

But in private they didn’t talk – look at them now

Teacher and judge turn backs to each other, fold arms and scowl, nudging each other

What do you think? Are they best friends

Ah look here comes someone else, a little old woman, crooked with age and a hard life. A poor woman, but look at her face, do you see her happiness, her smile. Watch now and see what happens when she meets up with the brothers.

Old woman “Hey boys, I looked after you from nappies to grown men. You played together, you learned together and you prayed together. What happened that you no longer speak”

Judge: “my secretary said that he said I was unfair. I am fair. I am a judge”

Teacher: “my assistant said that he said I was not wise. I am wise. I am a teacher”

Together they say “ I didn’t say that”

Old woman: “You have listened to gossip and changed because of it. Now make up and skat”

Brothers shake hands and run down the church with the old woman following

At school gossip is king. Your job is to ignore gossip because it keeps us from getting to know really nice girls and boys. And it gets between us and Jesus.

Let us pray

Dear Jesus, we want to listen to You, to learn from You and not to listen to gossip, amen

Collection

Lord everything we have comes from You. Accept this, a token from us to show our gratitude for all You do for us. Thank you. Amen

Dismissal of children

Let us pray

Lord, as we are gathered here we think of our leaders of our country, so caught up in the gossip that they can’t see clearly. Help them to govern us, let them see Your truth.

We think of the people around us so caught up in the drama they can’t see your truth

We think of the people hurt by the Church as an organisation and people hurt by us, who have gone away from the Church because of a thoughtless word.

We think of all Your people around the world who cannot come together as we are today, who cannot publicly acknowledge for fear of death. We think of those people who despite these threats continue sharing the Good News

We are sorry Lord for all the times we have listened to gossip, for all the times we have changed our path based on others, when we have moved away from Your way.

And Lord as we listen now to Your word today help us hear the truth in it, Your truth

Lord we ask this in Your name. Amen

Bible Readings

Mark 7, 14-23

James 3:1-12

Sermon

Hearts are my thing, I can tell you how blood is pumped into and out of the heart, about the arrhythmias that cause a heart to beat irregularly, about interventional surgeries that help clogged arteries either by stent or by-pass, I can also tell you how to prevent some of these things from happening. But I cannot clean your heart; I cannot make it pleasing for God. To me it is useless having a perfectly functioning heart without Jesus in it. However just as a stent allows the blood to flow through a blocked artery so God’s love and grace allows our hearts to become clear of evil. God doesn’t need an echo or an ecg to look into our hearts. God already knows our hearts. We are as a friend and mentor says, works in progress, I like that phrase because we work every day to become more like Jesus. In our lesson today Jesus says

“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 

And goes onto say

“What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

There is a lot in that passage but today I will talk about one aspect. One that we can all work toward and one that affects us all in some part. The word is gossip.

We live in the secular world or ‘outside’ world. We are bombarded on a daily basis with trivial details of other people’s lives. I have a friend, an avid television watcher, in particular reality shows, so as you can imagine he doesn’t get out much. He regales me with tales of derring-do from the jungle and dysfunctional families on the Jeremy Kyle show. He doesn’t get it when I say I am not interested and doesn’t comprehend my ignorance of the shows themselves. Why do people eat live insects for my entertainment. And this is just one aspect of the flurry of text, voices and images that dilute God’s truth. So is the answer to keep away from that world, to only have Christian friends and to only be in Christian places. Or go further become a hermit denouncing the secular world entirely and not be polluted by it? No, that’s is not what God wants, if we shut ourselves away or only move in Christian circles we cannot share the Good News. We cannot share it with people, people without faith, people with lost faith.

Christian circles are not averse to a bit of gossip either. We have all heard the little asides that one person says about another. But it is our reaction that is vital. We can hear gossip, but we choose not to pass it on, we can choose to forget it and the biggie we can choose to challenge the gossiper.

I was working in the secular world, sharing God’s truth and working for God through my work. I had some really cool conversations. There were one or two Christians around me and we built each other up. Also there were many women of different faiths and we talked about our faiths fostering understanding. Sounds rosy doesn’t it but whilst all these “good times” were happening insidious gossip was circulating around me, some direct but mostly indirect. I was ignored, made to feel an outsider, unwelcome and when I felt particularly vulnerable I ran away, and now I will never know if I could’ve got through to them. I failed. So I know how hard it is not to listen to gossip. How hard it is to listen to God when these shards of gossip are trying to find a way into our hearts, trying to make us bitter.

Proverbs 16:28 Gossip is no good! It causes hard feelings and comes between friends

Another time I was given information from one Christian friend about another. I listened to it and reacted, I was horrified, it went against my core beliefs. I became guilty of judging based on this gossip. It affected me for a long time. Because I didn’t go to the Lord. It is not for me or you to judge other people. God judges and He will judge all of us.

Matthew 12, 36-37  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We cannot fully protect ourselves from those things that could be considered “unclean”. The world is full of potentially defiling things

But we can aim to keep our tongues quiet and our hearts clean by not repeating these “unclean” or gossipy things

In James “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Let us pray

Lord help us as we walk Your path in the world. The devil is all around us, protect us Lord to keep ourselves clean to not give into temptation. To show the world how living our lives through You is the only way. Your way.

Amen

And as our Lord taught us to pray

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,  but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.

Amen.

 Closing Hymns

MP1076 Jesus be the centre

MP 972 Yours forever God of love

The Grace

Comments: derring-do is not a word used in every day language. No mark given

Reflection: this assignment was thrown at me across a table in front of the rest of the students. I felt stupid.

Unit Four78

For a passage from either Matthew or Luke’s Gospel use the method outlined in section D of Unit 4 and the grid from Unit 2 to:-

Complete in note form the four sections of the grid

Select an appropriate passage:                  Matthew 15: 21-28

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Use grid to prepare service:

Preacher:

v  What echoes are there in this Bible passage for me? I understand we are all unworthy but sometimes I have felt like this woman on the outside looking in, wanting what Christians had but I did not have the faith of this woman, I couldn’t have shouted down the road to get Jesus’ attention . I think she showed great courage.

v  Are there any links with my own story? I have never asked God to heal my children, not because I don’t believe they could be healed by Him, but because they have for the most part adapted well to their disabilities and for Ross especially to be healed would cause him to lose his role in life

v  Does the passage raise questions for me? Yes, do I have enough faith now to accept healing for myself? Is my faith surface lip service or true faith

v  Does the passage challenge, confront or confirm me? Challenges

v  What are the key words and key ideas in this passage for me? “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

People:

v  For the congregation

  • Ring any bells? Has there been a time when you have had to use all your reserves of faith to get over something
  • Echo the congregation’s story/ experience. Some of the congregation would have had times when they argued with God
  • Raise questions or problems? Jesus is potentially shown up by this woman, He says he has enough on his plate with the Jews, he doesn’t have time to deal with Gentiles too. This is challenging because we just don’t want to see Jesus in a potentially bad light
  • Challenge, confront or confirm: Challenge
  • What words or ideas will stand out for those who hear it? That God used this situation to show Jesus as human, as feeling he didn’t have enough time in the day to do all he had to do. That he has the potential like us to have an off day.
  • How might the world ‘outside’ the Church react to the passage? It could affirm to them that Jesus was not as inclusive as we say he is. He is not shown in a great light. But he does learn from the encounter
  • What questions might be raised? What a stupid preacher
  • Does the passage offer a critique or confirmation to the contemporary world? Yes, there are many people on the outside looking in, we should be on the lookout for these so we can share the Good News. When people ask us about our chapel no matter how busy we are we should take time to talk.

Worship:

v  Are there any echoes in the liturgical life of the Church? No, I don’t think so, if by liturgical it means the festivals of Easter and Christmas etc.

v  How has this Bible passage been understood in the history of the Church and in preaching? This passage is understood to be difficult because it sheds Jesus in a bad light. He cannot be bothered to listen to this woman. It is almost as though she is beneath Him, which goes against all the usual ideas of Jesus as being inclusive, of being a friend of the outsider

v  Are the hymns, creeds or prayers which echo this passage? Personal prayers, I don’t know any creeds and apart from the Lord’s prayer and The Grace I don’t know any other written down prayers MP924, MP128, MP133, MP1123

v  How might this passage be handled in worship? This passage is about the faith of an outcast, so outcast that even Jesus won’t deal with her at first. By using hymns that echo faith against the odds and inclusivity and the worship prayers following adoration, celebration and transformation according to Unit 2 Faith and Worship.

Exegesis:

v  Why is this Bible passage where it is? I think it is placed here because it is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Gentile country, the south-east side of Galilee, it shows His reluctance to include the Gentiles, but God chose this moment to put a very annoying persistent mother in His presence, perhaps to remind His son that God’s love is inclusive. After this passage Jesus talks in Gentile country to 4000, and feeds them, so maybe this encounter led onto this miracle.

  What comes before it and after? At the beginning of Matthew 15 Jesus is again being questioned on the law. He turned it back to the Pharisees and teachers of the law saying that their legality was contravening the command of God and their rules and regulations make religion empty and not pleasing to God. After the passage he fed a crowd of people again, but this time the audience was Gentile. I thought it interesting that after talking about the crumbs off a table, His disciples gather up 7 baskets of crumbs at the feeding of the 4000. So after repudiating the rabbinic legislation, he goes onto heal a Gentile girl from a distance, under duress and then because of the praising of God of Israel by a huge Gentile crowd, He performed a feeding miracle, indicating that the Gentiles too would share in Israel’s ultimate blessing. This is good news for us.

v  What might it have meant to the original listeners/ readers? It was written for a mainly Jewish audience but would have uplifted the Gentile audience and to the Jewish audience it would have challenged them to look past religious barriers. It would give them hope for this because if even Jesus as caught up short by this woman, then they could give it a try. The “good news” is open to everyone in the world.

v  What reactions did it provoke then and why? No doubt the Jews who were in favour of exclusivity of the Kingdom of God were not best pleased. It would have raised a cheer from Gentiles who might not completely believe they could have God’s love too.

v  What is the cultural background of this passage? (author? Type of literature? Audience? Matthew is known as a teacher, because his Gospel references church life. There are 5 collections of Jesus’ teachings which are concluded with “When Jesus had finished …” (ch5-7, 10, 13, 18 and 24-25). There is a unity of theme to them. It is factual and can appear dull (apparently) Matthew’s special interests were Jesus the Messiah, Israel and the church and Jesus the king. It is a narrative.

v  What themes/ theological ideas are touched on in this passage? In this passage defilement appears again but more practically. Matthew calls her a Canaanite woman, traditionally enemies of the Jews. He was very harsh with her, using language that a Gentile would expect from a Jew. There is a view that it was all said tongue in mouth by Jesus to test her faith, but as it is only written and not spoken to us we can’t tell.

v  What are the key words? Faith, persistence, inclusivity

Pray and Express

Dear Lord,

My first attempt did not go well, I was at peace with You and I felt Your peace around me but my support network had broken down a little, please help me fix it, it’s bound to be my fault. This narrative business, Lord, it is very daunting, how do I add background without adding something that is not in your scripture. Keep me from being heretical. Thank you for Your mercy Lord, I am yours for good, help me get through these assignments without sounding too ignorant, I am reading Your word and books about Your word as fast as I can trying to catch up. Thank you for finding those two books for me, they were a great help, now let my mind be still,  let my heart be open to You and let’s do this, please Lord, amen

Aim:

Using a personal narrative perspective illustrate the story of the Faith of the Canaanite woman

Structure:

v  The personal narrative of the Canaanite woman

Conclusion: Like the Canaanite woman there are times when we have to be persistent, when we have to show great faith because no matter how tough things get it would be a whole lot worse without it.

For a passage from either Matthew or Luke’s Gospel use the method outlined in section D of Unit 4 and the grid from Unit 2 to:-

1b           Prepare a 10-15 minute narrative sermon (1000words)

Sermon

Hi, my name is Syra, I am here today to tell you of a great and wonderful thing that happened to me last week, my life has changed so much and I want to rush in and tell you the good news but reluctantly I will tell you a bit about myself first and then the brilliant encounter I had. I live in Tyre, well not in Tyre itself, that’s an island and I get seasick and even though there is a causeway I couldn’t be that close to the sea, my sister, Ganni lives there with her husband Hisham. No, I live in the town of Ushu, on the outskirts in a one room house. Even though it is small it is difficult to keep warm in the night because of the wind coming off the coast. I have blocked my window but it still howls in. My daughter and I sleep together by the fire to keep warm. Up until last week she would have these horrific night tremors, the images she described, of fire breathing spiky eagles and lions with no skin would make my skin crawl. Ugh just thinking of it now Ugh. During the day she was changeable too, it was like there were four or five different people in her. I was frightened I can tell you. But I was more frightened of my neighbours, of what they would do to her if they knew she was so strange. There is a guy living in some ruins who howls at the moon and they beat him and throw stones at him. I kept her hidden, we only went into the market at the very earliest time and hurried back home again with provisions. We would go to the beach and use string lines to catch fish, surprisingly when we did this she was at her calmest, almost as if the waves lulled her to a quieter person.

Two weeks ago, my sister came across from Tyre to tell me of a man. My sister, worked the fish market with her husband, and they would often tell of the tales from fishermen, soldiers and even pirates sometimes. Anyway Ganni is the only other person in the world that know about my daughter, Felis, and so that is why she rushed to tell me. Literally she knocked me off my feet coming in the door so she had to kneel beside me.

“There is a man in that Galilee place, over the border, a Jew, he is doing miraculous things, healing the blind, those with leprosy” and here she paused for what felt like an hour “he heals the demon possessed.” I felt winded, would it be possible for this man to heal my angel.

“Tell me more,” I said,

“Some say he is a prophet or something, he is a Jewish teacher.” she replied.

Well he won’t come here I was about to say when instead out of the blue I said “Ganni stay here look after Felis I must find this man.” I still don’t know what made me say it, Jewish men spit on us from Canaan.

So I travelled alone, with only a few provisions, day after day I walked towards Galilee, after the border I had to contend with openly offensive men but I continued on my quest. As evening drew in I would listen at the inns to hear of any tales of this man they called The Rabbi and Jesus. On the fifth night I heard he was just in the next town so I walked until it was too dark and then at first light made my way to the town, it was busy, full of bustling people so I made my way to the well, I figured everyone needs to drink.

I had just settled into a shadow when I saw about a dozen men crowding round one other. I looked up and caught his eye. Oh my, you have no idea how magnetic those eyes were, it was like he could see right into the very heart of me. I knew of the Jewish God, and if this was not him My name isn’t Syra. I prayed silently and quickly, “please Lord hear me and help me” and then I got up and chased after the group of men.

“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” I cried, they all ignored me and carried on walking. He was talking in a low voice, probably teaching. I was sure he heard so I shouted again, still he walked on, again and again I called out to him. I heard some of the men say

“Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” So I moved closer until I was in front of him. I was daring him not to ignore me again, surely he would listen to me now.

He said  “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

I couldn’t believe it I had walked for five days, endured the spitting and chasing of the Jews and now he won’t even look at me and won’t help me. My mother once said I was Persistence personified so I tried again, kneeling before him, I gazed up into those pools of eyes and cried out “Lord, help me!”

“It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” He replied

A dog, a dog, he called me a dog, he is as bad as any Jew, why did I expect him to be different, oh he was making me so angry, hold yourself together, I told myself and suddenly from nowhere I uttered “Yes it is, Lord,” I said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

That’s it now, for sure, he is going to have me run out of town but looking up into his face, he began to smile and the blessed man said “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”

Oh happy day, although I had five days of walking back to my house, to my beautiful daughter, this man had healed her I just knew it. I felt lighter walking as though someone was helping me home and I made it in four days. Ganni and Felis rushed out to me and both said at once no more seizures, no more demons. My precious angel was restored to me thanks be to God and our family became believers of the man Jesus, but I know he is God. We will follow him always. Ganni came to visit again yesterday, she told me he had fed at least 4000 people, thought to be non Jews, with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fishes, the best bit, his students, disciples I think they are called, picked up the crumbs and filled seven baskets. That’s enough crumbs for all the dogs in the world. Well that’s my story, if you meet him, say hello to him from Syra. Oh and don’t forget to tell all your friends my story, spread the “good News” Bye.

2. What are the most effective aspects of a narrative sermon from your perspective as a preacher?

The four gospels are narratives of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection and Jesus used narrative as His medium for telling the people and His disciples what they needed to hear about the Good News. Therefore when preaching the use of stories to illustrate a point from the  Bible makes sense to me. The congregation will often remember the story first before remembering the sermon. I remember one in particular that was used as the children’s talk as well as the sermon about the boy who brought food on the day Jesus fed the 5000. I remember vividly the preacher saying to the children, he made a difference and that means you too can make a difference and it made me think as a grown up if an eight year old boy can do that can’t we all. If I remember correctly during the actual sermon that was indeed drawn out. The parables in the Gospels are little stories that illustrated a point using real life scenarios. When he was in farming country he used seeds, plants and crops as the backdrop for his stories.

When the story used to illustrate a passage in the bible is effective I believe narrative sermons have their place. Maybe not for an entire sermon, the examples I have seen and heard either have the story at the beginning and then it is teased out or sections are explained as the preacher goes along. I was listening to UBM speeches (sermons) from last years’ conference and one pastor stood out, I could hear the  audience (congregation) laughing at the appropriate times and there was no shuffling. He used narrative followed by a teaching point, six times. The stories were relevant, anecdotal, believable and real. He was using the same passage I had used for Unit Three so I was particularly engaged to hear a professional’s version, and especially because he used narrative.

3. What aspect of a narrative sermon, from your own perspective as a preacher, do you feel is least effective?

I could not write here that I don’t like narrative sermons because I find them the most engaging to listen to. The example used in the appendix helped tremendously because of the extra information, the interpretation, used. However I do have reservations with the use of narrative sermons. Sometimes it feels the preacher is bolstering their own egos by using a story from their own experience that brings them out in a good light. The stories can occasionally not ring true.

I am reminded of the time I was chatting with some of the women and we were talking about the transfiguration and how did they know it was Elijah and Moses. Two of us said about him going up the mountain with dark hair and coming down with white hair. We were challenged and the Bibles were brought out and we had to admit our interpretation was based on Charlton Heston not on anything in the Bible.  I think this is my main problem in order to use personal narrative you have to add details, background information, that is not backed up by scripture and therefore is open to challenge if someone disagrees with your interpretation, just like whoever directed the film with Moses as a character

It is much more difficult to write an entire sermon based on narrative than to use little stories to illustrate points, I found that until I had settled to do this assignment I was still troubled by it. Because I don’t have a vast knowledge of the Bible and Christian life I feel i could take a heretical turn at any moment and am constantly checking back to scripture to make sure I am not and talking to God while I am writing.

My final problem was the use of a narrative based on a story to illustrate a passage, I can’t delve into my history to find a cute story regarding persistence and faith because there are none and I couldn’t plagiarise, or, regurgitate someone else’s story so I could only produce a personal narrative.

Comments: Question 3 – good points but you are describing illustrations not narrative. Exegesis – Jesus never had a bad day, he knew he was to spread the good news to Gentiles.

Reflection: I wrote two sermons because in the first it was half narrative and then teaching. I was told at study group I was wrong. Nothing new there, but not sure I will attend any more of these meetings. I spoke only once and was venomously attacked. Why is that? Then when I did meet the tutor, he told me Jesus didn’t have bad days etc. and I felt so stupid. But as I got that information from a book, I felt better knowing I wasn’t the only stupid one.

Unit Five79

Question 1

Outline your personal understanding of the nature of scripture and biblical authority. Indicating the strengths and weaknesses of your position

Nature of Scripture

The nature of scripture is it restores and refreshes the soul, makes us simple folk wiser, fills our hearts with overflowing joy, gives us enlightenment in the way we see things, remains pure, lasts forever and is righteous. (based on Psalm 19)

Psalm 19


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,
enduring forever.
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.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

Scripture is God’s rule of how we should live our lives in this world, his perfect law, the ultimate ‘living life to the fullest’ charter. Part of our side of the covenant is knowing that we will never attain that perfection, only Jesus was, is and will be perfect, but we strive for it. But this law of God’s is not just perfect as in flawless but it covers everything, it is all-sided comprehensive completeness, as in everything that can come up, that is new i.e. something not thought of when the Bible was written e.g. genetic engineering is covered by God’s perfect law. This law, this scripture, when we follow it refreshes our souls, transforming us into newly restored followers of Christ.

Romans 10:17 (The Message)

14-17But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.

The Bible, the scriptures are God’s own testimony, every book, chapter, verse, phrase and word we can find his revelation. Testimony is usually what we do whether in a structured setting or over coffee we share our personal experience of God in our lives. I believe that God reveals his testimony to us in his time. I can remember reading the Bible, searching scripture, trying to make sense of it all before I asked him into my life, and all I found was contradictions, I found reasons to not believe, I found stories so fanciful that to me then, they were unbelievable, so I didn’t. But since becoming a sister in Christ, I see a development of ideas depending on the situation, I see reasons to believe, I find stories so brilliantly structured, with economy of language, with a vastness of imagination that is sometimes fathomless and sometimes awe inspiring, but I have always found something. Scripture is not just multifaceted, it is multi-layered and each time we visit with scripture we learn something new. It being his own disclosure, his own wonderful, grand, large story that he reveals to us in his own time, it gives us understanding, it makes wise the simple. It teaches us discernment, and we need that desperately in the secular world we live.

Scripture is right, as in not wrong but also and vitally important right as in the right direction or path.

 

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The word of God sets us on this right path, it is a path of joy, walking this path your heart will leap, the ground no matter what below will be springy. Scripture shows us not only how to find this path but how to stay on the path, God continually guides us through the words of his scripture and on this path there is such exuberant joy, that throws us into celebration, praise, song, and thanksgiving. And this joy, it is not a superficial happiness based on circumstances e.g. passing an exam, winning at football or soccer. It is a deep seated, deeply rooted, profound, untouchable, unassailable joy that no matter what is going on around us, our relationship with God is sound. However it is not a prideful joy, we are not daring the world or Satan “to bring it on.”

Psalm 119:105

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.

Within God’s perfect law there are commands, so scripture is not a new-age ‘mind, body & soul’ suggestion, good thought or nice idea, there is a specific way we are to live and through living this way we are given light to our eyes. We are enlightened by the word of God in scripture so we see things differently, and by seeing things differently we act and think differently.

Joshua 1:7-9

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The nature of scripture is such that we must visit it regularly and revisit passages that we think we know. It is a written document that changes not because of what is written but because as we grow in our faith our perception changes. I remember the first time I felt able to vocalise an issue I had with someone else’s interpretation of God’s written word, we learn, we grow and our confidence in scripture grows with us.

Biblical Authority

The Bible is a book, an ancient book, an ancient narrative book and all authority, according to the Bible itself, is vested in God himself, Father, Son and Spirit. All authority is therefore God’s authority. God did not form a model of authority like computer modelling or systems theory modelling or even in any kind of human models. So to reduce the authority of the Bible, and therefore God’s authority to such limited human models is wrong, we have absolutely no concept of the vastness of God’s weltanschuung.

“…God’s authority (in scripture) is designed, to liberate human beings, to judge and condemn evil and sin in the world in order to set people free to be fully human.  That’s what God is in the business of doing.  That is what his authority is there for.”[1]

The Bible is not merely a book to be read and discarded as the latest paperbacks are. It is there to function through us, humans, through the church, through people whose lives are changed by this Spirit-led book and continue to evolve and grow, living by the Spirit; That we might then share the Good News in the Bible with the authority of scripture and therefore God’s authority behind us.

The Bible that we use is an interpretation of the original Hebrew and Greek documents. Some of the text is missing from these, and some are copies of the original so there are errors. Added to this, the original Hebrew had no vowels and so some words could be more than one word when vowels are added. In English, an example of this would be lv could be love or live.

“The interpreter must go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology and other sciences accurately determine what modes of writing the authors of that period would be likely to use, and in fact did use.”[2]

From a Methodist point of view it is vital to go back to the beginning, to John Wesley’s hermeneutical model. This had four principles: Scripture as the primary part which is discerned through tradition, experience and reason.

“Wesley believed that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience and confirmed by reason”[3]

It is possible to continue to use the quadrilateral model. Each time we read scripture we look at what it meant to the original audience, what came before and after it, what it has meant to people through the ages and what it means to us in the context of our culture and society. In 1998, a study document was produced for the Methodist Church on the topic of “The nature and authority and the place of the Bible in the Methodist Church” entitled “A Lamp To My Feet And A Light To My Path” by a working party under the direction of the Faith and Order Committee. The background to the study seems to me to be the use of scripture to validate, justify or rationalise a different and diverse viewpoints on the contentious issue of human sexuality and where the Methodist Church was to stand on this issue.

Having said all this, the Methodist Church of Great Britain is not the first church, body or even individual that has tried to determine a definitive “one way is our way” approach to the authority of the Bible. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) argued against the Papist view of the authority of the Bible in “A Body of Divinity” and for the “rauch” view backed up by the following scriptures among others:

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

2 Peter 1:20-21

“No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Before indicating my own position on Biblical authority it is interesting to note that in the responses to “A Lamp to my Feet and a Light to my Path” published by the Faith and Order Committee in April 2001 that there was an extremely low number of respondents, that these respondents chose different models of Biblical authority, and that there was a concern that the Bible was not used regularly by British Methodists. In concluding the report, the committee chose to leave the seven models in situ acknowledging that different circuits were using different models. It must have been very disappointing to the authors of the original document that it was not widely reviewed in the church.

I would be concerned that people “cherry pick” i.e. when it is a difficult topic to use model x and for something more straightforward use model y. As part of my research for this essay I encountered the “liberal” ‘70’s view that certain ‘stories’ in the bible were not fact, with the nativity being the example first presented. This led me to remember my first Religious Education class at secondary school. After discussing the nativity our homework was to disprove that it actually took place as stated in scripture and further to prove that it didn’t occur at all.

Returning to the original document it then went further as more and more ‘stories’ were added to the list of non-fact until the crucifixion and resurrection were suggested. At this point I could not even read it any further (hence no citation), it went beyond galling. At present there is a series on BBC television trying to disprove aspects of the Bible “The Bible’s Buried Secrets.”

Having looked at various models both within the document “A Lamp…” and outside of this context, it is necessary to reiterate what the Bible is. The Bible is a collection of books spanning a great sweep of time that tell the story of creation, “the fall”, the redemption through Christ and the early Church. It’s ancient, so how can it be relevant today seems to be a frequently quoted question. It is a treasury of wisdom and inspiration that has guided generations, it contains profound insights into the human condition or the meaning of human life, it has been and still is the single most important source for our Western culture e.g. the expressions and words we use, it has the greatest influence on modern religious thought and it is the most complete history of the ancient past that we possess. It is all this but so much more. For millions of people around the world the Bible is above all God’s revelation. For Jews, Christians and to a lesser extent Muslims, all or part of the Bible contains a source and record of God’s self-communication to the world he created. Comparing the two psalms below shows how God’s personal experience is then experienced both in nature and by divine word.

Psalm 104:24

How your works are multiplied, O Lord;

You have fashioned them all in wisdom.

The earth is full of your creatures

Psalm 119 129-130

Wonderful are your decrees;

Therefore I guard them with all my life

The revealing of your word gives light,

Giving the simple understanding.

God, himself expresses his love for us in the creation, in the Old Testament covenants and through his word, the Bible, so that we 2000 years after Jesus ensured our salvation through grace and mercy can live and witness in Christ. The Bible is a vital ingredient in our growing in our faith but we must come to it prayerfully and meditatively, asking the Spirit to guide us, to lead us to a better understanding of what God wants us to learn. We must look at the scripture in context of what it meant then to the people who heard it first, what it has meant over the centuries and what it means today. Given that in my introduction, to put God’s authority in a human box is to deflect from his greatness, the human model I tend to follow would be

The Bible is the essential foundation on which Christian faith and life are built. However, its teachings were formed in particular historical and cultural contexts, and must therefore be read in that light. The way to apply biblical teaching in today’s very different context is not always obvious or straightforward. It is ‘God-breathed’ and its human authors were channels of the divine Word. The Christian’s task is to discern accurately what the Bible teaches and then to believe and obey it. Reason, experience and tradition should be judged in the light of the Bible, not the other way round.

This is an amalgamation on model 1 and 3. I understand John Wesley’s four point model for interpretation and I also believe that when the men that wrote down the oral tradition they did so in a prayerful meditative manner that allowed the Spirit to flow freely in their minds and imagination so that the Bible is “God breathed.” It gives exegesis an important place, we need to maturely reflect on the verses both in the context of then and now. My own idea of the Bible, or scripture looked at within the quadrilateral of experience, reason and tradition can be summed up with the following lyrics:

The love of Love’s Word

This lamp to my feet

This light to my path

Holy Spirit breathed

The love of Love’s Word

It’s tried and it’s clean

Reviving the soul

It’s the Word I need

The Word of God can not be imprisoned

The Word of God is active and living

Light to my path …..Lamp to my feet

When I read Love’s Word it reads me

The love of Love’s Word

A hammer a fire

It’s upright and true

And it’s God inspired

The love of Love’s Word

It’s sharp to the point

It cuts and it heals

Never comes back void

When I was struggling with the honour your parents commandment, one of my sisters in Christ dismissed it as unimportant, that there was a verse in the NT to cover me. In my mind this is “cherry-picking,” to ignore one of the commandments, that Jesus, himself placed as number two in pecking order. But there are, I know, Christians who only read the NT as it is more palatable.

The weaknesses of this model are that it does not take into consideration God’s weltanschuung, by putting a human model on the authority of the Bible as discussed at the outset of this essay, it does not give weight to the free and unpredictable nature of the Spirit, although by attending to our Bible reading prayerfully and inviting the Spirit to join us gives a balance.

Appendix One

Models of Biblical Authority from the discussion document[4]

7.9.1   The Bible is the Word of God and is therefore inerrant (free of all error and entirely trustworthy in everything which it records) and has complete authority in all matters of theology and behaviour. It is ‘God-breathed’ and its human authors were channels of the divine Word. The Christian’s task is to discern accurately what the Bible teaches and then to believe and obey it. Reason, experience and tradition should be judged in the light of the Bible, not the other way round.

7.9.2   The Bible’s teaching about God, salvation and Christian living is entirely trustworthy. It cannot be expected, however, to provide entirely accurate scientific or historical information since this is not its purpose. Nevertheless, it provides the supreme rule for faith and conduct, to which other ways of ‘knowing’, while important, should be subordinate.

7.9.3   The Bible is the essential foundation on which Christian faith and life are built. However, its teachings were formed in particular historical and cultural contexts, and must therefore be read in that light. The way to apply biblical teaching in today’s very different context is not always obvious or straightforward. Reason is an important (God-given) gift which must be used to the full in this process of interpretation.

7.9.4   The Bible’s teaching, while foundational and authoritative for Christians, needs to be interpreted by the Church. In practice it is the interpretation and guidance offered by Church leaders and preachers which provides authoritative teaching. Church tradition is therefore of high importance as a practical source of authority.

7.9.5   The Bible is one of the main ways in which God speaks to the believer. However, the  movement of God’s Spirit is free and unpredictable, and it is what the Spirit is doing today that is of the greatest importance. The Bible helps to interpret experience, but much stress is placed on spiritual experience itself, which conveys its own compelling authority.

7.9.6   The Bible witnesses to God’s revelation of himself through history and supremely through Jesus Christ. However, the Bible is not itself that revelation, but only the witness to it. Christians must therefore discern where and to what extent they perceive the true gospel witness in the various voices of the Bible. Reason, tradition and experience are as important as the biblical witnesses.

7.9.7   The Bible comprises a diverse and often contradictory collection of documents which represent the experiences of various people in various times and places. The Christian’s task is to follow, in some way, the example of Christ. And to the extent that the Bible records evidence of  his character and teaching it offers a useful resource. However, in the late 20th century it is simply not possible to obey all its teachings since these stem from very human authors and often represent the ideology of particular groups or classes in an ancient and foreign culture. Reason and experience provide much more important tools for faith and practice.

Reading List

The Bible

Metzger, BM (ed), Illustrated School Edition The New Testament 1962 Oxpress

DA Carson et al, New Bible Commentary, 1994, IVP

Knight, GW, The Illustrated Bible Handbook, 2008, Barbour

Maddox, RL, Rethinking Wesley’s Theology for Contemporary Methodism , 1998, Kingswood

Wilson, A, God*Stories, 2009, Cook

Music

The Love of Love’s Word, GodFrey Birtill and Jack Grobleowski, 2007, Thankyou Music

Question 2

Specify a Reading from Scripture. Choose a hymn or song to precede the reading in an act of worship. Explain the reasons for your choice of hymn or song (500 words)

The chosen scripture is Luke 7 36-50. The chosen hymn is Mission Praise 1020.

The reading is the story of Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman, and I believe this hymn fits with the message of the story. The lyrics are a song of thanksgiving and hope. There are other songs or hymns that would fit as well, MP321 “I’m accepted, I’m forgiven,” MP382 “Jesus, take me as I am,” MP1068 “I will change your name” among others from new worship songs. There are older hymns that would fit well too, H&P697 “Just as I am,” H&P702 “O happy day that fixed my choice,” H&P729 “God of my salvation.”

“An act of true worship of God is authentic. In order to worship God in spirit and truth, we must come to Him in with honesty about ourselves and our sinful state, and recognise His holiness and majesty. And when we do, God lifts us and restores us.”

The message of the reading is that love follows forgiveness, and the more a person is forgiven the more they love. In this story a woman, a sinful woman came to a house where Jesus was having dinner, she came as she was, a sinner who wanted to change. Jesus, himself, had radical teachings on love and forgiveness that was shaking up all levels of society and this night was no exception.

The woman through her actions asked for and accepted the forgiveness given to her. She is thankful and full of hope, her many sins have been forgiven, she is a new person and can move forward from this moment no longer chained to her life of sin that she had been living but free, her faith brought her salvation. The grace and mercy that Jesus showed her, he shows us. Our hearts are healed through the forgiveness we have received. The Lord sets us free from sin and death and in this the song is perfect.

The second verse of the song brings in the concept that God has known us even from before we were born (Psalm 139 13-16). In this way Jesus knew who this woman was before she entered the room. He knew her and he knows us, if she was not sincere in her desire to change from her sinful ways he would’ve known, just as he knows when we do not come to him with our hearts open sincerely.

Finally there is the message of hope, Jesus dismisses the woman with “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”(Luke 7:50). This woman leaves the party a newly created, transformed woman with a heart full to overflowing with the love, grace and mercy of God, I can’t begin to imagine how many lives she went on to change through the way she lived her life. All we have to do is ask and we too are rescued from our lives of sin, our lives transformed in righteousness, our lives made whole, a new creation in His image.

In conclusion, the reading and song marry very well, but the song could equally be placed in the Praise Time of our church as it would resonate with our congregation; we have all been saved, some recently and some years ago. It touches on the topics of thankfulness, grace, love, redemption, forgiveness, freedom and also goes right back to Genesis with the imagery of ‘created in your image’. So we have this song sweeping from chapter one of Genesis through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, a truly reflective meditative song that could be married with many scripture passages  from Heb 10:10, Psalm 119, Psalm 19, Psalm 40, Acts 9:1-18, Matt 7:7 among many others.

MP1020

You rescued me, and picked me up,

a living hope of grace revealed,

a life transformed in righteousness,

O Lord, You have rescued me.

Forgiving me, You healed my heart,

and set me free from sin and death.

You brought me life, You made me whole,

O Lord, you have rescued me.

And You loved me before I knew You,

and You knew me for all time.

I’ve been created in Your image, O Lord.

And you bought me and You sought me,

Your blood poured out for me;

a new creation in Your image, O Lord.

You rescued me, You rescued me


[1] How Can the Bible be Authoritative NT Wright

[2] Divino Afflante Spiritu Pope Pius XII

[3] The 1996 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church

[4] A Lamp to my Feet and a Light to my Path, the nature of authority and the place of the Bible in the Methodist Church

Comments: Poor on weaknesses – little consideration given to these. Overall a well researched, thoughtful answer, well done.

Question one – Thorough, honest and very refreshing. The bible we use id a translation not an interpretation. All the texts we have are copies. Ruach spelt wrong. Excellent well researched and thoughtful introduction on authority but very long compared to very short analysis of strengths and weaknesses. Clear statemnt of your own position though. Question two- excellent

Reflection: Oh on more steady ground, researching – loved it. I wrote at the time: The foundation of my biblical knowledge has increased (very small base) and my ability to hold my own in theological discussion has increased. This unit has allowed me to think on such things as allegory, parable, history, poem, law and wisdom as part of the Bible. It is very freeing. Most helpful was delving into scripture. I decided to handwrite the passages and it really allowed me a time of reflection and meditation on God’s word. I could do this everyday for great chunks of time, switching from the Bible to my journal to commentaries to life examples. Wow it’s great. Most difficult – the wishy washy nature of committee. Although I am not advocating one man dictating to the whole world, it is apparent to me, when the committees of the Methodist Church disagree in the text of the units and the documents and that makes it difficult for me as learner to discern, also that, as with the committee that wrote the report – disappointment they got so few replies.

Unit Six90

Question One

Complete in note form the four section of the grid outlined in unit 2 p28-30

Preacher:

What echoes are there in this Bible passage for me?

I am struggling, I am always struggling but having to do this homework is making me uncomfortable. When I grow close to God through prayer and stuff I feel called to do something, and unlike Isaiah I am not jumping up and down with my hand in the air saying “Pick me”, I get scared, so although every day is for God’s glory, I am not fulfilling my end of the bargain, I put barriers in the way. So yep a feeling of uncomfortableness.

Are there any links with my own story?

Isaiah’s sins were forgiven using the Old Testament burning coals of atonement. My sins were forgiven and I acknowledged the forgiving of those sins and this set me free, free to become God’s servant, free to allow me  give my life to Him. The mercy and grace extended to Isaiah were also extended to me through the Cross and he and I like all Christians benefit from that forgiveness, our burdens are lifted and we feel able to lift our heads and listen to the word of the Lord.

Does the passage raise questions for me?

I find it difficult to distinguish between all the different heavenly creatures, I find the concept of angels to be overused and abused in the secular world, “You’re such an angel”, the use of angel idols, the humanising of angels – by television, the mixing up of concept of actual angels with human myths like Santa – watch any made for tv Christmas movie, Santa is given powers like how a tv executive might envision God’s powers and his helpers are given the same kind of angelic powers – none of it biblical, none of it real and yet people more readily buy into that than believe in God.

Does the passage challenge, confront or confirm me?

The passage challenges me to stand up and be counted.

What are the key words and key ideas in this passage for me?

 Confession and forgiveness are key to me as is call to serve.

 

People:

For the congregation

Ring any bells?

Isaiah was prophesying to a nation that heard but didn’t listen. He was on his own. Our congregation stand alone in their work lives, and sometimes in their home lives. With people waiting for them to slip, with people waiting to say “If your God’s so good why did …….. happen?” In our country we are not in danger in a physical sense because of our belief. We are free to worship, to come together in fellowship and yet because of the secular world we live in, our spiritual life is in constant danger, we have to be vigilant, this passage brings great comfort to those members of our congregation who are called to serve, who have stood waving their arms shouting , “Here I am, send me!”

Isaiah saw the glory of God, and was afraid, I think we also would be afraid at first to be singled out like Isaiah, and given a mission that set him aside from the rest of his countrymen.

Echo the congregation’s story/ experience?

Some of our congregation have had that startling awesome rebirth in Christ when they have been aware of God’s presence, for them this would be a validation passage of their own story. For others in the congregation, who are walking in the wilderness it could inspire them to come close to the Lord again.

Raise questions or problems?

Depends on where the congregation are. At the moment there are people who feel called to preach but need to concentrate on other areas of their lives, this might for them help them to rethink their decision. A reminder that when God asks “Whom shall I send?” and they hear that question it usually means them.

Challenge, confront or confirm:

It will confirm those members of congregation that are walking the walk, it will confront those who are only talking the talk but whose lives outside of church are not in the walk and it will challenge those members who have felt that question in their lives but have not acted on it yet.

What words or ideas will stand out for those who hear it?

The vastness of God’s glory, His sovereignty, and how we are an integral part in His plan. That when we hear the call we should jump up and down shouting “pick me!”

How might the world ‘outside’ the Church react to the passage?

That the encounter that Isaiah has with God is farfetched and fanciful

What questions might be raised?

Why didn’t the temple collapse, why didn’t other people see it, did Isaiah’s lips get seriously burned, and did they have tongs in those days, what do seraphim look like,

Does the passage offer a critique or confirmation to the contemporary world?

The passage in its context offers a critique of modern earth. We have idols littering our paths, our Government and media tell us lies, and then rewrite history, we wait patiently, but are we doing our bit, are we proclaiming the good news at every opportunity, are we hearing the call. And those who hear the good news and still turn away hardening their hearts to the Lord’s voice.

Worship:

Are there any echoes in the liturgical life of the Church?

Trinity Sunday – holy holy holy in the passage relate to the Triune, Easter- the burning coals are now replaced by The Cross,

How has this Bible passage been understood in the history of the Church and in preaching? This passage has been understood as a call to service, a willing call to service, confession and forgiveness, the sovereignty of God,

 

 

Are the hymns, creeds or prayers which echo this passage?

I stand amazed in the presence, Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, We want to see Jesus lifted high, Are you ready, ready, ready?, Salvation belongs to our God, Beautiful Lord, wonderful Saviour, Over all the earth You reign on high, We bow down and confess, Lord I Come before Your throne of grace, Holy, holy, holy (any version old or new), Colours of day dawn into the mind, Above all powers, above all kings, We have sung our songs of victory, and I the Lord of sea and sky.

O God, we praise you, we acknowledge you to be Lord. The whole earth is full of your glory.

(Pause)

O God, we praise you that in Jesus we have found light and love and light.

(Pause)

O God, we praise you, for your Spirit is guiding us and guarding us and leading us towards the truth.

(Pause)

Most holy God, who was and is and is to come, we worship you for your goodness and love. When we have strayed, you have brought us back. When we have forgotten you, you have stirred our memories. When we have grown weary, you have revived our flagging spirits. When we have become bored or complacent, you have pricked us into life.

As we worship you this day, open our lives to the prompting of your Spirit, that as we have worshipped so may we live; and what we have said with our lips we may believe in our hearts; and what we believe in our hearts we may give evidence of in our lives, Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

 

How might this passage be handled in worship?

This passage could be used as a “Call to Worship”, the themes of the passage can be used for the transitions between worship songs/ hymns – the sovereignty and holiness of God, confession of sin in a corporate sense and forgiveness and call to service/call to spread the Good News, to evangelise, to live our lives set aside living for God’s glory in the secular world so that people might see in us – something different, something desirable.

 

Exegesis:

Why is this Bible passage where it is? What comes before it and after?

In chapters 1-5 Isaiah lays out a scenario of a crisis. He compares the sins of idolatry in the nation of Judah to the evils committed by the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Judah must repent and turn back to God or suffer the Lord’s punishment. In the future he envisions Jerusalen as the city of God and a safe haven for all the peoples of the earth, before that will happen however He will judge His people severely because of their pride, rebellion and evil deeds. He goes on to compare the nation of Judah to a vineyard that God has preserved and cultivated, the people though have produced nothing but bitter, useless grapes. He told Judah an enemy nation will capture His people as the Lord’s punishment.

In chapters 7-24 Isaiah gives messages to many nations, of the judgement that will befall them. The entire earth will be shaken by His judgement.

On one level chapter six is an anomaly in the middle of all this judgement, it is the call of Isaiah to prophesy in a dramatic encounter with the awe inspiring Lord in the temple. He describes the Lord in verse 1 as ‘seated on a throne’ (identifying the Lord as the sovereign King, the ruler of the universe), high and exalted’ (referring to His place of supreme honour and infinite superiority) and with ‘the train of His robe filled the temple’ (Size and length of the robe signifying the vastness of His regal nature. He saw seraphim, heard seraphim proclaim the glory of the Lord, v3. At the sound of the seraphim the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple filled with smoke.

It is possible however to see Isaiah using his own call to prophecy to show Judah and Israel what they must do to be free of guilt and sins forgiven. Using his personal experience, showing himself as a sinner with an awareness of his sin – who calls himself ‘unclean’ receiving redemption and then becoming a willing captive for God, a messenger with difficult messages to convey.

 

What might it have meant to the original listeners/ readers?

The people Isaiah told of his encounter with God did not seem to be particularly listening. The people would’ve grasped the concept of the shaking of the doorposts and thresholds but probably would not have believed such a thing could happen unless they witnessed it themselves. The people had enjoyed peace for fifty years and as happened throughout the Bible and in the intervening years, people get complacent about God when their lives are going well.

What reactions did it provoke then and why?

Isaiah preached that the people needed to come back to the Lord but this just hardened their hearts more. They were used to idols and a way of doing things, to change was too hard for them.

What is the cultural background of this passage? (author? Type of literature? Audience?

The last seventeen books of the Old Testament are classified as books of prophecy. The Major Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel. The term major does not necessarily mean more important than the other twelve, the four male named books are longer than the others and Lamentations owes it’s place to being authored by Jeremiah. The prophet means ‘to speak for’. The Old Testament prophets received God’s message for His people by direct revelation and passed it on in written or spoken form. They literally spoke for God and prevailed upon His people to keep obedient and loyal to Him alone.

The book of Isaiah emphasises the theme of salvation and the coming Messiah. It is sometimes referred to as the fifth Gospel because it foretells and anticipates the coming of Jesus Christ and His message of redemption. Isaiah was called to prophetic ministry in the year that King Uzziah died, in a dramatic vision of the Lord in the temple. He went on to preach God’s message of judgement and hope to the people of the Southern Kingdom for the next forty years.

Other prophets that were speaking for God to His people around the time of Isaiah (in the same half century) were Amos, Hosea and Micah. Also during this time the downfall and disappearance of the greater part of Israel – the ten tribes of the northern kingdom. When King Uzziah died the relative peace that both Israel and Judah had enjoyed for fifty years ended. Four Assyrian kings dominated the next fifty or so years, having ambitions for empire, uprooting populations, punishing reprisals and plundering losing cities.

Commentaries and guides to Isaiah generally come firmly down on the side of one Isaiah[1], or two Isaiahs[2] or many Isaiahs[3]. It is too early in my studying to agree with any one side bar to say wouldn’t it show a wonderfully innovative God to use this willing prophet in more than one way, conversely wouldn’t it be lovely to think of Isaiah having such a profound effect on some people around him that they too became prophets, with messages from God for His people. Some guides[4] don’t tackle the issue, seeing the message as the vital thread. This I can live with for now, when and if I need a definitive answer about this I will pray on it and study some more.

According to Jewish tradition Isaiah was a man of wealth, rank and learning. He is supposed to be the one referred to in Hebrews 11:37 as having been ‘sawn asunder’. Although he started prophesying in the year of King Uzziah’s death, it is unclear if it was before or after his death.

What themes/ theological ideas are touched on in this passage?

themes – holiness, awareness of sin (personal and corporate), forgiveness and call to service

What are the key words?

revelation of God’s glory- v1-4, great commission – v8, vision of God’s holiness- v1-4, confession and salvation – v5-6.


[1] Ironside, H.A. Ironside Commentaries: Isaiah p18

[2] Heard at bible study KMC 2011

[3] Carson, D.A. et al New Bible Commentary p630

[4] Knight, George W. The illustrated Bible Handbook and Packer, J.I. Beholding God’s Majesty


Question Two

In the light of (1) prepare the opening 10-15 minutes of worship to include adoration, confession and the assurance of forgiveness.

powerpoint

Good morning church

We will begin our worship in a moment, with a Psalm, so let us prepare to worship our God. Let us pray.

Lord, long ago there were masses of rules on how to prepare to come into Your presence. Now in our time we sometimes miss the preparation, Today Lord help us still our minds, calm our thoughts, prepare our hearts, our minds and all of our senses, ready us to be in Your presence. Amen

We will say together this beautiful Psalm, Psalm 97 and as we speak the words, let us reflect on those words on the majesty of our God, high and exalted, our God – all powerful, more powerful than any other force at work in the world, our God – creator of all, in this beautiful county of Kerry it is evident that our God knows beauty, our God who created our earth and the vast universe beyond, who created all the creatures on this earth including us. Our God who is timeless, our God who was before anything else, who is, now, here in this place with us, and who will be. Our God who knows everything we speak now the words of this Psalm in adoration to our God. Please stand.

Psalm 97

1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
4 His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all peoples see his glory.

7 All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols—
worship him, all you gods!

8 Zion hears and rejoices
and the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments, LORD.
9 For you, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light shines[a] on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.

Amen.

(music introducing first hymn starts at the Amen)

MP 1005 Our God is an Awesome God

Yes Lord you are awesome, the Great Creator, totally perfect, ruler of all and just, You are all these things Lord and more. As well as all this you are our Parent, our Guide, our Friend, the love You have for all of us is boundless, unconditional and perfect. We marvel at Your wonders and we become awestruck that You want a relationship with us, that You are living in us, open our hearts to the power of your love. (introduction to next hymn begins)  Lord here and now help us to open our hearts to You Lord, Holy one, to open the eyes of our hearts Lord.

MP1100 Open the Eyes of my Heart, Lord

Lord we want to share Your glory with the whole world, we want to see You as being the most important thing in everyone’s lives, as You are in ours. Lord you have abundant patience with us, we are sinners, we often fall short, we have been foolish, thoughtless, full of pride, selfish, careless and many other things. Each of us, for none of us is perfect has sinned, as a nation we have sinned, as part of humankind we have sinned. Lord we bow before You now sorry for these sins we have committed. We seek forgiveness, even though we are unworthy. Thank you for the good news that through Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection our sins are forgiven. That through this forgiveness we are made new, we are cleansed of our sin, washed clean by the blood of Christ. Thank you, thank you ( music begins for next hymn) Thank you, Lord, thank you Lord, You are Lord, Jesus is Lord, thank you for the cross.

MP 1109 Thank you for the cross, Lord

Yes Lord thank you, and as we stand before You eternally grateful for Your grace and mercy, we think of those who cannot come together in worship, in fellowship, who are persecuted for their faith, we think of those people imprisoned for their faith, beaten for carrying Your word. Lord we live in an unfair world, there is injustice and pain, You are just, You bring healing, You are fair, thank you Lord.

In this country there are people whose hearts are hardened towards You. Lord like the prophets and disciples of old help us to reach these men, these women these children, help us to share the good news, help us be a channel for You to soften their hearts, to hear Your truth, to see Your light. Lord like Isaiah thousands of years ago we say (music intro for next hymn) “Here we are, send us!” Let Your light be seen in us that people turn to You, instead of moving away. Let the flame burn brightly, let Your Love be seen (music intro for next hymn)

MP1039 Colours of Day Dawn Into the Mind

Amen. Please be seated. A reading from Isaiah 6:1-8

Question Three

From your reading of this unit, write a meditation on God which could be used in an act of worship (helpful images and simple language should be used)

We will have some quiet time with the Lord, there will be voices, music and images on the screen during this time, you may feel comfortable with your eyes closed, seated, standing or kneeling. However you feel comfortable, begin by being still.

(pause for 1 minute)

Run the video, speak the narration.     video

The narration is a mix of the following words. I have tried to have a definitive list that would be spoken but everytime it was attempted different words were chosen. The meditation is split into three broad sections. God as creator, God as light and God as salvation. In an all-age environment the words used would be using simple language – You made all the animals, You gave us light, You saved us. In a more mature Christian environment the use of the Hebrew names would most likely be used, Elohim, El Shaddai, Adonnai, Jehovah Shammah, Jehovah Rapha for example mixed in with the English names of God. Some of these- but not all of them, scarcity of language.

God

Alpha & Omega

Beginning and End

Creator of all the earth

Creator of all the universe

Creator of humankind

All powerful

All Mighty

Elohim

Lord God Almighty

Lord of Hosts

Jehovah-Sabboath

Lord of Glory

Lord of Lords

Lord of all

Adonai

Lord of Righteousness

Jehovah-tsidkenu

The Almighty One

Ancient of Days

Author of Life

Blessed &Holy Ruler

Commander

Desired of all Nations

Eternal God

Everlasting Father

Faithful & True

Our Parent

Our Father

Great High Priest

Holy One

God Who Sees Us

God Who hears Us

God Who is living in Us

The Great I am

Lawgiver

Leader

King of all

King of the ages

King of Kings

King Eternal

Judge

Master

Merciful God

Mighty God

Mighty One

Potter

Purifier

Refiner’s Fire

Ruler of God’s Creation & Ruler over the Kings of the Earth

Christ the Lord

Christ of God

Chosen One

Chief Shepherd

Christ Son of the Living God

Cornerstone

Counselor

Deliverer

Door

Faithful Witness

Friend

Foundation

Friend of tax collectors & sinners

Great Shepherd

Guide

Head of the Body

Head of the Church

Our Hope

Giver of Grace

Redeemer

Immanuel

Jesus

Horn of Salvation

Giver of Life

Life

Light of the World

Like an Eagle

Lamb of God

Jesus Christ our Lord

Living Stone

Lion of Judah

Mediator

The Nazarene

Our Passover Lamb

Prince of Peace

Rabboni

Messiah

Resurrection

Saviour

Servant

Shield

Giver of Love

Unconditional perfect love

Our Rock

Our Source

Teacher

True Light

True Witness

The Way

The Truth

The Light

The Vine

The Word

Bright Morning Star

Comforter

Consoler

Consuming Fire

Gentle Whisper

Giver

Holy Spirit

Living Water

Our Peace

Bread of Life

Author of Our Faith

Faithful One

Anointed One

Abba

Amen

El Olam

Amen

Comments: Excellent

Question One – should you describe these creatures in Isaiah use God’s servants. Sunday? In practice do exegesis first. (about the diff. Isaiahs) You’re right don’t worry about it. Excellent.

Question Two – excellent, do it some Sunday?

Question Three – Very good, but picture transitions too fast. How did you fit all these words in?

Reflection: Summary – analysing worship is really hard because you are worshiping and if you stop to watch rather than participate you are missing out on the opportunity to worship. Most helpful- spending time reflecting on my picture of God in the light of the classical, modern and icons etc. Discerning if any of these views impacted or changed my own views, naïve as they are. Most difficult – 1 John 4 It seems to go round in circles, giving the bottom line of God is love in different ways but then when I took more time to go over it and prayed about it, it made sense that it had to be said in all these different ways cos otherwise peeps would, as they (I) do – add codecils.

2 thoughts on “Faith/Worship units 3-6

  1. Thank you for being brave enough to share your work. I found it so helpful to see and get an idea of what is expected. I have been struggling with unit 2 and have had no time with my tutor, I have just been getting on on my own. I promise I won’t copy anything you have done.

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