So, was speaking about Ezekiel chapter 37, which is the inspiration, would you believe it, for the children’s song- if you’re not convinced go and look at verses 1-14 alongside the words of the song… happy now?
Anyway, it was a family service, so we had 10 kids as the bones etc, one person as the voice of God, another as Ezekiel, everyone else was the sound of the rattling and the wind, and we alternated between them reading bits and me explaining/expanding on what was being said… so these notes probably make no sense, but they contain some of the gist.
If you’re wondering why no posts for the last few weeks- A.G.M. season. No, its not a sport that i follow fanatically, but as leader of 2 churches i’ve had 2 sets of accounts to look over, 2 sets of reports to collate, 2 meetings to chair etc… and now its a nice rest time. Holy Week with all the stuff of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter will be a breeze!
here’s the notes from last Sunday:
Scene-setting: this comes from the writings of Ezekiel, who spoke God’s word to the people of Israel while they were in exile in Babylon.
After Ezekiel’s first speech: This is one of many visions that Ezekiel had- its important as we hear it and try to understand it that we realise this is picture language- it means something else… a metaphor. Ezekiel had these visions because he was listening… he was expecting God to speak to him- he would have had that expectation because God had spoken to him previously. We don’t know whether Ezekiel had an ongoing inner conversation with God (like St Augustine, among others), or whether he had occasional but significant pictures, but he listened to God, and God spoke to him. Often when we come to pray, its tempting to just bring our list of requests, but its important that we listen to what God might want to say to us.
Prayer day stuff- some things that people wrote down during or after our prayer day- that there is a sense of lightness here, with no need to feel burdened, that the church is a source of light for those who come into the space- people feel Gods presence here. Another person wrote that we need to ‘let the light out’- like a beacon in our community, many who we know remark on the warmth, but was left wondering whether enough light is getting out to those who don’t cross the threshold. The passage from Romans 8- if God is for us, then who can be against us, for we are more than conquerors, but another person had a picture that the church is like a big block of activity balancing on a slim pinnacle of prayer- we need to broaden our prayer base.
These are just the sort of things that we, us, normal everyday Christians, have felt that God is saying in our church over the last few months… the thing is that we put time aside to listen to God, and so we heard from God.
After Ezekiel’s second speech: Do we sometimes feel as though we’re standing still, that we’re sort of alive but missing something- that we’ve lost momentum or direction?
After Ezekiel’s third speech: the breath of God brings life- it reminds me of the very beginning of Genesis… God’s Spirit breathing life into the universe… this picture describes something that cannot naturally happen… God’s holy Spirit brings life where there was none before. Remember it’s a vision… what did it mean to those who first heard it, and what does it mean for us? God’s Spirit turns plans into life… without it all we do is just a whirring of wheels… we’re not able to be who or what we’re meant to be. BALLOON!! The good news is that God’s Holy Spirit is within all Christians… are we full? Are we being refilled? We need to know its already within us, but also to receive this gift, this help.
After reading is finished… children to go over to Kim.
How can I be more fully alive? How can the church be more fully alive? How do we let the Spirit of God work in us?
In part its to do with knowing where we fit into things- I feel more alive when I am doing the things I’m meant for- when I’m in the right place or playing my part…
In part its to do with our expectations of God- what expectations do we have about how God is going to be at work in our lives or this community? If we look at Scripture we can see that God changes the lives of people again and again- in the Old Testament and the New.
In part its to do with aligning ourselves gradually, as individuals and as churches, with God’s values- of loving service, of seeking justice and opposing injustice, of mercy, of offering forgiveness and grace. We do this knowing that we’re still the same confused, selfish, grumpy ‘sin-full’ people that we’ve always been, but that God wants to bring healing and transformation to us, and into the world through us. As we do our best to try and allow God to be our Lord, so we’ll gradually hand over parts of our lives, and so allow God to guide us in His ways, because we recognise they’re better than our own plans.
And remembering the balloon- this is what it means for us to grow as Christians, do become more the shape we’re meant to be, so that we will be playing our part…
so go on, be a balloon, not a damp piece of rag (to quote Winnie the Pooh)- its what we’re meant to be…