21 July 2024
Bible readings for today
E Pā, nā te mea nāu mātou whakairohia ki ō mātou ngākau kia kaua e wehi i ētahi atu nō te mea kei roto mātou i ōu ringa tē taea te kapo.
E īnoi ai mātou i roto i a te Karaiti tō mātou Ariki.
imprint upon our hearts that because we belong to you
no one can pluck us from your hand,
and because we fear you we need fear no other.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
National Bible Sunday
The Bible Society New Zealand have a great range of resources to help unpack the Bible, and the story of Bibles in New Zealand. This year they are celebrating 175 years of the Bible being in New Zealand.
Ngā Timatanga / Beginnings - the early story of the Bible in New Zealand
Jesus feeds the 5000 (Mark 6:30-34,53-56)
When word spread that Jesus was healing people, crowds followed him everywhere he went. In today's readings, Jesus seeks time out with his disciples and with God, and also responds to the needs of the crowds.
Have you ever felt like everyone needs you to do something for them all at the same time and there is no time left for yourself? (Pause for discussion.) Well, in today's story, Jesus and the apostles were having just that very dilemma! Can anyone remember what Jesus' solution was? (Pause) Well, Jesus said 'Let's go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.”!! You see, even Jesus needed time to recharge his batteries. If he didn't make time to look after himself, then he would have been too exhausted to help all those other people in the rest of the story.
What do you think we can learn from this story? (pause) Well, I think we can try and make time for us to recharge our own batteries. One of the things that work for me is to have Time out with God. I go to a quiet place like my bedroom and just sit quietly and try to listen to God. Sometimes I play some music in the background or I read from the bible. Do any of you do something similar? (pause)
A game for younger children
What you need: A blanket
What to do:
Helping children discover that prayer can be fun, creative, deep and personal, can transform the way they speak and listen to their heavenly father. When you talk to them about 'quiet times' or spending time with God alone, brainstorm and introduce them to some creative ways they can pray. Prayer can be:
Time With God Hangers
Print out these door hangers on A4 card and decorate with pens, crayons, stickers and your favourite craft bits. Encourage the children to have a quiet time with God this week, or to think about good times of the day when they can spend time with Him.
Download it here
House against house
All throughout history and literature, there is story after story about how people are put against one another.
House against house, person against person, party against party. Examples you could use include:
In our reading today, Paul talks about how Jews were up against the gentiles
These differences can be seen in history, in stories, and in the church. And not just in the church of the old. Perhaps its the friction between two Sunday worship services, the youth group and the adults service. For centuries, parts of the church have accused other parts of the church that they are "not Christian enough."
In recent times, the media has shown the tension between the generations, such as the 'Okay Boomer' narrative that has become popular over the last few years. A young woman posted a video of herself saying this comment to an older person, and the expression gained more momentum when a Green MP, Chloe Swarbrick, used the term in response to an older National MP in the debating chambers.
Overnight, the expression soared in popularity and seemed to express the frustrations that many younger generations were feeling. A 2019 New York Times article was entitled 'Okay boomer marks the end of the friendly generational relations', while an US magazine created two editions of the same magazine, entitled "It's all your fault Boomers", and another with "its all your fault millennials". And while we need to filter these debates through a contextual lens here in New Zealand, we need to acknowledge that these conversations dehumanise the "other". For more information, see Cory Seibel's book, Engaging all generations.
Don't take it for granted
It can be easy to forget our stories of faith, and take for granted the knowledge and experiences we have had walking a life with Jesus. Psalm 145: 4-7 reminds us of how one generations commends the work to another, and the needs of an intergenerational community of faith, as they learn and grow together.
Taking down walls.
And Jesus is in the business of taking down walls.
The church is good at putting up walls between our services, groups and activities. In some ways, when taken too far, we are like a Potato head toy separated out into the different parts, like a divided up Body of Christ. How can we bring the generations back together, for mutual learning, serving and worship?
We're in this together
Jesus came to give us a fresh start, to make a new covenant for Jews and Gentiles, so they would no longer be different.
Temples of God
Paul uses the illustration of a building to describe how Jesus takes down the walls that divide. As the Old Testament tells us, the Temple was the place where people had to go to be close to God. In this new covenant, a fresh start, God shows that we are now the temple of the living God - God is using people. We no longer have to be in the right place, or with the right person.
The Message version of Ephesians 2:19-22 is great for this description: "You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home."