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14 September 2019

Laments

Westchurch Laments - Written at a round-table service - 18 August 2019


Human violence

You are the God of love
We come to you in anguish

We see people mistreating the ones they should care for
Destroying each other in vicious cycles
We grieve for the children who witness such behaviour and are worried about what will become of them
We see violence coming from the misuse of drugs and alcohol – and people’s lives are torn apart

We know this is not what you want for your world
We believe you are the God of love and peace and healing

Help us to see each other as you see us
Give us loving and compassionate hearts
Break the cycles of violence and hate and isolation
Bring healing to families and communities that are torn apart
Make us instruments of your peace

We don’t know how you are going to do this – and we may not live to see the resolution of human violence
But we trust in your love and promise of salvation and renewal

God of mercy – Hear our prayer


Sanctity of Life

Dear God,

We thank you that you are the creator, sustainer and ender of life.

We've got a problem. We see people divided on issues of abortion, euthanasia, abuse, war, slavery etc. We know you value life, but we also understand that these issues aren't crystal-clear and people suffer because of our confusion. We grieve for those who suffer and have suffered.

We ask for your wisdom, compassion and discernment of the issues that threaten the sanctity of life. Help us to deal compassionately with other points of view and to find a path forward.

Thank you for hearing our concerns and for your love for each one of us.

We pray in Jesus' name,
Amen


Treaty and Bible 
  
Oh God – Creator of all peoples
We acknowledge the injustices of the past
We desire an end of injustice
We, the Church have failed to be vocal over historical land grabs
Greed drove the injustice

The Church has failed to protect the integrity of the Treaty of Waitangi 
Failed to hold to the truth of the Bible
Our education system has failed in teaching us our history

Lord, you set the times and living places for all people groups
Lord we cannot right all the wrongs of the past
Help us to acknowledge the past
Bring about restitution
Give Maori the ability to have autonomy and mana

Lord you will judge all injustice
You will put aright all things in the end

We pray this in the name of Jesus, our Saviour and King
Amen


Christchurch Mosque Shootings

God the creator, creator of our uniqueness, creator of each race and tribe.

God why is there so much hatred?
Why can one man cause so much pain?
How could this happen? And in our city?

Reveal how we could have done better. Forgive us our complacency.

Do not allow division and hatred among us. Draw us together.
Look into our hearts, cause us to consider our responses to others, cause us to live peacefully among our neighbours, may we take every opportunity to be inclusive and welcoming and grow relationships.
Give our leaders wisdom in their decisions and law making.

Praise you Lord that through this tragedy unity has been displayed to the world and many New Zealanders have stood against the evil actions of one.
Praise you for the compassion that has been ignited in our community, may you cause this to continue and grow.


People Displaced from their Homes

Father God, maker of heaven and earth.

We look out into the world, and we see so many people (63 million refugees) displaced by war, famine or government edict. 
We look at our own city, and we see people who lack so much that we take for granted, who need a place to call home. 
The world is filled with people who come from nowhere and need to find somewhere to be. 

God, we believe that you are in control and are working in these situations, even though we can't see it. 

We pray that you will be with each of the people who are in these situations.
We pray that you will help us see and address the needs around us. 
We pray that you will work to bring an end to war, famine, hatred and displacement. 

God, these are huge and difficult issues. We grieve them, and we know you grieve them. We know that you hear us, and we thank you that you are working in the world to set things right. Amen. 


Psalm 79: an attack on God

God, we are feeling completely dislocated,
  Attacked,
  Trampled down,
  Stomped all over
Because
We belong to you.

Why, why are you letting this happen
To us?
Stop punishing US for the wrongs THEY have done -
Can't you see that this is just 
NOT FAIR?

Why aren't you doing something to THEM,
Attacking them back - after all,
It's really YOU they are going after,
We are just the means they are using to get at you

Aren't you able - aren't you willing -
  to show your power?
Aren't you interested in upholding your reputation?

It's justice we are looking for - justice -
  For us, that is;
Where is it?

We really think you CAN do it -
So we are going to praise you - permanently -
....but only when we've actually seen you act.........


Canterbury Earthquakes

Oh Lord,

How long must people live with the enormous burden dealing with:
Injuries (mental and physical)
loss of neighbourhood and communities
loss of trust in systems set up to protect them
financial loss
loss of a sense of peace and confidence
a sense of isolation and frustration

All these are too big for people to deal with, albeit some parts of the communities have more to deal with than others.

Lord, we believe you will address all these needs in your time.

You are sovereign, a powerful and compassionate God.
Hear our prayer:
comfort for the distressed
justice for those treated unfairly
peace and well-being for those suffering

Give us eyes to see the needs and show us how we can respond.

So in time, we will praise you and give thanks for restoration of our communities.
In Jesus name, Amen.


Lament that the nation is turning away from God 

Our God

We mourn that our nation no longer looks to you. 

Sunday morning ‘worship’ now takes place at shopping malls. 

Churches built to honour you as a place of worship have been turned into cafes or converted for other secular uses. 

Children are no longer following the faith of their fathers and in a culture & atmosphere where we mustn’t offend people are not standing up for what they believe.

We confess that your church has failed. She has sought her own comfort and has become invisible.

Our God we cry out to you to bring this period of decline to an end. 

Stir up your people to respond. 

16 April 2015

Easter Saturday


Easter Saturday

Between the Cross and glory


It was on a cross only yesterday

That cruel man took his life away
They hated him and what he had to say
But We are left to live on Saturday

What are we to think with the master gone

We believed that he was the chosen one
We saw ourselves what he had been and done
On Saturday we live  with our hopes all gone

We never quite knew what to make of him

He said he was bringing God's kingdom in
He said he was the the long awaited king
But on Saturday he's dead before he could begin

We felt his love for the lost and poor

The deaf were healed and the blind they saw
He did so much we'd never seen before
On Saturday we don't know what he did it for

He said the way was not by sword and fight

He said that love will win and not military might
And now after what happened on Friday night
On Saturday it's clear he was wrong not right

On Saturday we have only doubt and gloom

On Saturday our master lies in a tomb
On Saturday we have no rabbi, no hope and no home
On Saturday we don't know whether to go or come

On Sunday it started to fall into place

On Sunday his tomb was an empty place
Dare we believe that we have seen his face
That Sunday not Saturday is not the real space

Just now 2000 years have passed

We live by faith from first to last
The risen Jesus - we have to hold him fast
For sometimes Saturday feels like it hasn't passed


[John George]


The Lost Son

The Lost Son


Jesus would almost certainly have told a more detailed version of the parable stories than are written in the gospels. Let’s do it ourselves:

Expanded paraphrase of Prodigal Son story

A wealthy farmer called Ezra
 Was the richest man in the town.          
He was generous, honourable and caring
A man of high renown
He had two sons to run the farm
As different as chalk from cheese                                           
Jeremiah, the elder was too mean to spend a cent                         
The younger a playboy, Joseph Never had a cent to spend
Jeremiah was a control freak who had to have his way
Joseph, not keen on work, gambled all the day.

When Joseph got the chance he asked Ezra
"Dad it's your lad. I know this sounds bad
But if I had my inheritance now
I would have enough to look after myself
And I would get out of Jeremiah's way.

 Said dad, "my lad I didn't know it was so bad.
 But it is a sizeable sum? Let me talk to your mum

Ezra was as kind hearted
And loving as you'd find
He gave Joseph his cash. it was quite a stash, 
To realize his dream
Of pleasures extreme
He left home for a town
That was renowned for every excess

Going out with friends
It was always his turn, to pay.
Like bees around the honeypot
These friends spent a lot
On excesses of pleasures and fun: to choose
Gambling, women, drugs, and booze
How could he lose?
This is the life he wanted.

But life has its way to make you pay
For selfish indulgences
Ignoring the twist to manage his risks,
He squandered the money away

Then disaster came on them
Dreadful famine engulfed them
Sweeping across the land
It struck Joseph severely,
He paid rather dearly
It took entirely his whole bounty.
With not a cent left in his hand

Joseph had lost the lot.
His friends wouldn't help him,
They shunned and disowned him
He had no digs, was left feeding pigs,
And himself on their fare

He was filled with despair

This isn't my dream
The joy is in tatters
The fun isn't fun,
The cash has all gone
These friends are not friends
The laughter is hollow
They left him to wallow
In pigs swill.

He was lost in a failed dream
Lost to his family,
Lost all his dignity
Lost his inheritance
Lost in poverty

Lost

What can he do?
There was a way through
Swallow his pride
He could go home,

home sweet home
Throw himself on dad’s mercy
"Make me a servant
Not as a son, that is too much to ask
But as a servant, I’ll do any task.

"Yes I'll do it" he said,
He rolled up his bed
Stole some new sandals
And started for home

Home was a long way
His stomach oft empty
His clothes became dirty,
worn, torn and smelly.
For all, he looked like a tramp

Sometimes when he doubted that
his father would accept him
 he was tempted to give it away.
Only remembering his father’s mercy
Kept him from going astray

Jo entered his home- town, looked rather down
At heel.
The rumour went round, Joe has been seen
In the street.

Ezra soon got to hear it,
He hardly could believe it
He said with tears in his eyes
I must rush to meet him
I really want to greet him.
My son, who was lost
Has been is found

so Ezra threw off his coat and
ran down the road
to welcome Joseph home
he threw his arms round him
praise God we have found him
my son was who was dead is alive

“father “Jo started “I'm not worthy to be counted..."
“hush” said his father, “I’ll not hear that talk”
“You're My SON, no matter where you walk”
“my son, you've come back, you've come home”

Let’s throw a party; Joe is here hale and hearty.
Give him the best clothes to wear
Get the best food prepared
The fattened calf of the herd
And the best wine that money can buy.

He invited everyone,
they danced, ate, and had fun
'til the day was done

All except Jeremiah

When he got home he said
"what's the noise I hear?"
"my brother?? What’s He doing here? “ 
“He Spent all the money
 you gave him, outrageously
 have you no sense of decency
He put us in the mire” said Jeremiah
“And now you give him a party?” 
“You never gave my friends a feast”
Said Ezra “My son it’s all yours, yours to do as you like
You can have a party any time you wish
but you are too mean and grumpy

Come in if you want to
Stay outside if you must
But I am going to celebrate
 my son who was lost

The morning after the party, Joe came to confess to Ezra:
You loved me through everything, but I rejected your hand
You treated me as your son but I not you as my father.
You treated me kindly in return I ridiculed you,
You trusted me and I betrayed you,
You taught me good living and I disgraced you
You were honourable in all our dealings but I dishonoured you.
When I came home you welcomed me with abundant joy and I did not deserve it.
You gave me a party before I said sorry
  
Ezra said to Joe,"Joe I know it is so.
But you have learned by experience

What it is to know hardship
what it is like to be poor,
What it's like to be hungry
What is like to be betrayed and rejected?
What it is like to be humbled
What it to be treated as you didn't deserve
How futile a life of indulgence is?

Later,
Jeremiah took Ezra aside.
He said “don’t be soft.
Remember the hurt he has cost
He nearly broke us getting his share
Then squandered it without a care
Dragging your name through the mud
I will tell him his fortune when I get hold of him.
He'll want taken back into the family home
mark my words he will weasel in.
He should bear The consequences of what he has done

"Can a leopard change his spots"
More grief for you is what he's got 
Follow your head and not your heart,
Say "No! No! No!" from the very start
It will save you hurt upon hurt said Jeremiah
Ezra replied Jeremiah -
You have traded on my good name for many years
You have not practiced what gave me my honour
generosity or
kindness
Caring
honesty
Fair dealing

you have been
miserly, harsh,
Bad tempered and domineering
And lived by the letter or the law..

In this you have dishonoured why name as much as Joe.
You are lost in self-righteous, lost in your miserliness
Lost in a world of legalism and consequences.

I intend to open new operations
Where love and generosity rule
Where offences are forgiven
Where the measure is overflowing

Joe is the ideal person to manage this venture
His experience is just what I need.

[John George]


Lost in dark places


Lost in dark places

10 silver coins, 10 day’s wages,
Two weeks of her husband’s toil
All she has for food and shelter.

One has gone, dropped and rolled.
Rolled and settled in a corner
It is lost
through no fault of its own:
It is lost
Content to be lost or found

For the woman it is treasure, lost treasure
What will her husband say.
She wants all ten
she needs all ten,                                        
nine will not do

So she goes to search
with  light and broom
Lighting up dark places
Probing even where the light can’t reach.

Dark places that host secrets
Dark places that must be exposed
Dark places where the coin is hidden
Before it can be found;

She searches every nook and cranny
She doesn't stop until its found.

The dark places have given up their secrets.
Dark places in every human life

Let’s have a party.

The lost is found.



[John George]

29 March 2015

Lost by straying away

The following is an interpretations of parable of Jesus about the lost sheep.
 
Jesus almost certainly told the parables in greater colour and detail than the recorded versions in the Gospels. So shall I.
 
We do not hold these out as the "correct" interpretation. They are my reaction to the story written in the Scriptures.
 

Lost by straying away
 

"Baa-aaah. A frightened cry unheard.
One of a hundred has
Strayed away.
The grass is greener over here it thought
This way, that way, a dozen wrong turns
Not deliberate rejection and rebellion
Just strayed away
Seduced by short-term gain
 
Now the sheep has lost the Shepherd
Now it doesn't know the way home
Now the flock had gone.
Alone, afraid, helpless
Strayed into the Darkness of Death's Valley?
Ruled by wolves, exposed as prey for the lion  
As good as dead.
If only it could find the shepherd
 
Lost
Helpless
Afraid
Dead
 
Where could that silly sheep be,
The Good Shepherd counts again,
"Fluffy", "spotty", "nimble", ...
ninety eight, ninety nine,
"Black-ears" was not there.
I can't leave Blacks-ears exposed to the wolves.
 
Every sheep is precious
He knows them all by name
 
He leaves behind the 99
He takes his crook, coat and light
Out into the night
Risking, his life for a wandering sheep
 
He searches diligently
"I must find Black-ears before the wolves do.
 
Listen!!
The sound of a frightened sheep.
 
Found
His precious sheep,
 
He takes it on his shoulders
Safe from the wolves
Alive
No longer lost, No longer dead
 
They all celebrate the one lost sheep
that was lost and is found
Every sheep is precious
 
Lost by neglect
Lost by ignorance
Lost by straying
Lost by losing touch with the Shepherd
Lost and don't know the way home
 
Prey of the wolves
The wolves of evil, oppression, greed, self-indulgence
That devour the soul.
 
How we have strayed,
A little here, a little there
Then one day we find ourselves,
Lost, Afraid, helpless, alone
Not knowing the way home
 
Waiting for the day when our messed-up lives
Are lost and devoured by the wolves
Or found by Shepherd and taken home
 
[John George]