Look to your left and to your right.
Look all around,
What do you see?
Do you see friends?
Do you see people who care about you
and care for you?
It’s cool to look, to really look and see...
Even for someone who is blind or visually impaired, there is a power in what the mind’s eye can see and imagine.
What we see is how we experience life.
What did you see on your way to the church this morning?
What did you see in your home before you left?
What do we see happening in the world?
What do we see when we see when a person asks us for help...maybe for money?
What about when someone has a physical or mental handicap what do we see?
What do we see?
This summer, at the wonderful suggestion of Harry Eberts, who's in his sixth month being pastor of First Pres, and becoming a fast friend and great colleague, we're going to be looking at the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts.
Both churches are looking at the early church.
What was the church like back then?
How does that inform how God may be calling us to be church 2000 years later.
There is so much stuff, so many ideas about what we think church is supposed to be.
What we think church people look and talk like.
What we think church buildings are...
Well, what did folks who were followers of Jesus do back when the church was NOT a building?
What did they understand the way of Jesus was back when the church was NOT a building?
Nice title to the series huh? Bruce Webster. Nice work fluff.
Back when the church was not a building, were their membership roles and stewardship campaigns?
Back when the church was not a building, was there a Book of Order,
Did sessions have to decide what we can and cannot do?
Sure, we evolve and find that there are helpful and necessary structures, but maybe sometimes systems - no matter how well developed, can distract us in our own task of a deep spiritual and personal relationship with God and life in community.
When thinking about this early christian community, the worship planning group got to thinking about how we might engage scripture in a new way.
A seminary degree wasn't required to preach a sermon.
Acts tells us that the "preachers" were ordinary and uneducated.
We also know that back when the church was not a building the sacred stories that were emerging about who Jesus was and what this movement was all about, weren't found in a tightly bound bible approved by a government appointed council.
There was no such thing as a new testament.
Instead, uneducated and ordinary people told the stories over and over and over again, and from that retelling the good news of the gospel was shared.
So rather than me preaching a sermon; you're going to give this morning's message from God...:)
One characteristic about this community that came out of our awesome leadership retreat yesterday was an appreciation for the often unpredictableness of what we experience on any given Sunday morning here.
So we’re going to live up to that appreciation through this next portion of the service.
I'm going to lead us through something Harry introduced to us just a few short weeks ago.
It's a way of engaging the story similar to that of lectio divina.
It's called the Ignatian Method and it was taught by Ignatius of Loyola who lived in Spain in the 16th century. Founder of the Jesuits.
Think: engaging the scripture - virtually.
We put ourselves into the story....
We've already heard the story once.
Now we're going to hear it three more times, each time taking a step deeper into the scripture.
At the end of each reading there will be brief silence,
I’ll ring the bell, and then we’ll engage together.
Ready to use your imaginations.
Ready to enter the virtual world of 2000 years ago, before there were cars, computers, or electricity, or doritos locos tacos.
Hopefully you'll find this is pretty cool. I did.
Close your eyes for a moment.
Take a few deep breaths.
(the following method is adapted from this upperroom website)
First, you're a fly on the wall. You're just observing what's going on...but you're there.
• What do I see and hear? What do I smell, taste, or touch?
• Who are the characters and what's going on with them?
Feel free to write down any observations as they come to you.
READ IT: - silence, bell
Could you see the beggar?
Could you see the Temple
Did you put your hand on the beautiful gate? Could you hear the crowd?
It's three in the afternoon.
What's the weather like?
Who else is there?
Are you eating a snack...a fly on the wall kind of snack?
Now remember all those things you experienced...and place yourself in the story again, but this time choose someone in the story and imagine you're that person.
Maybe you’re in the crowd.
Maybe you're Peter or John or another apostle standing nearby.
Maybe you're a leader in the temple.
Maybe you're the beggar hoping for a miracle.
Maybe you're one of his friends.
Let's read it again and picture yourself as one of the characters.
READ IT - silence, bell
Share with someone nearby, maybe in groups of two or three, how you’re experiencing the story.
Let's read it one more time.
Now we're us, You are you.
But you’re in the story again.
You’re there with all the excitement and activity.
you’re in the temple, or outside the temple?
You’re praying, walking around, or just hanging out?
You’re in the story, hearing, tasting, smelling, seeing, and feeling all that is going on.
Maybe you have a conversation with someone.
As I read, seek to discover what God is sharing with you as you participate in the action.
You're you...and you're there.
What do you think this story says to you?
In what ways does it stir you, confuse you, challenge you?
Share in your groups what you've discovered.
Are there two or three people who would like to share what they have experienced?
I asked Bob Marshall to share.
What happens when we look up, instead of look down.
What happens when we reach out with a helping hand?
What happens when we refuse to let the negative destructive parts of the world get the best of us,
but instead claim the healing power and resurrection hope that is found in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
God desires that the world be healed, and this healing happens through you and me when we see with love, and reach out in compassion, and heal in the name of the Healer.
In the name of Jesus of Nazereth...get up. Walk. Be free. Be free.
Easier said than done right...
that’s why we pray. Remember that MC Hammer song?
Let’s have a time of prayer together.
A time of healing prayer;
Bob and Jan Chesnut are going to lead us
There's a lot of hurt and pain.
There's a lot of us who identify with that crippled-beggar, who was down and out,
We’re just waiting to be healed.
Waiting for a sunny day.
Maybe you want prayer for yourself.
Maybe you want to be a friend for someone who's stuck and want prayer for them.
Maybe you want to be able to see people like Peter and John did, and help to heal them.
At the appropriate time, the music to the hymn will begin playing and we'll sing the hymn together as people seek prayer.