From Gavin’s desk 27/09/2020

Readings: Exodus 17: 1-16, Psalms 78: 1-16

Have you ever wondered what the sole of your shoes see and what difficulties they endure throughout the time they spend protecting your feet? How often have they protected you from thorns, hot surfaces, icy surfaces, moist grass and rough paths? How often have you walked through urine, saliva and pesticides without knowing that the soles of your shoes had faced the danger for you and protected you from something that would make your stomach turn had they not been there? I think it is only when we walk through things like bubble gum and prestick on a hot day or through the parcels dogs leave behind on any day that we are actually made aware that we have been saved from a fate we would rather not embrace. It is unfortunate, however, that we are normally only aware that we have been saved from that fate after we have dragged the mess into the house with us and are needing to clean the floor and our shoes even if we don’t have to clean our feet.

Diabetics know all too well the importance of having a good pair of shoes that will protect them from sharp objects and from hot surfaces and from anything that will hurt their feet. For a person whose extremities are incredibly vulnerable to infections, a good pair of shoes are without doubt a firm favourite and a decent soul on those shoes are a life-line to a life that can be spent outdoors. How much more do they appreciate good shoes than someone who is able to be a little more careless with their feet?

When the Israelites had entered the wilderness and were getting to know God and God’s ways, I wonder how often they were unaware of how much God protected them and how often they knew what it was He protected them from? I wonder how often they took God’s presence and protection for granted and failed to see the incredible testimony that lay in that which they assumed was their right. God has made His presence known to them in visible and tangible ways and they still fail to appreciate everything that is taking place. God uses the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud and He uses the staff of Moses as a sign of His presence. He uses victory over their enemies as a sign of His protection. He uses the manna and quail and water as a sign of His provision. God is everywhere and at work in every area of their life, yet they fail to see the full extent of what they have endured in their travels because the LORD their God has done everything for them that they were unable to do for themselves.

How often do we fail to appreciate God’s goodness, God’s provision, God’s wisdom as we walk through the ups and downs of our life? How often do we assume God’s protection and provision as our right even when we make community harder for everyone rather than holding it together? I think we will never be fully aware of how often God carries us through situations because they are beyond our capacity to manage and I think that if we were a little bit more aware of God at work in our lives, we would bear incredible testimony to the one who gave us life, to the one who saved our life, to the one who teaches us daily how best to live our life. Open our eyes Lord, so that we would see those moments in which you are at work, those moments where we are not aware of your presence, of your protection and of your provision.

Gavin

From Gavin’s desk 20/09/2020

Readings: Exodus 15:22 – 16:36, Psalm 105: 1-6, 37-45

If someone were to give you a gift of a chocolate bar, you would be able to eat it straight away and then it would be finished, or if you had incredible amounts of will power (for those with a sweet tooth), you could save some for another day and eat it then. Whenever it is eaten, it would no longer exist in its current form. If, however, they gave you the gift of their presence, then they would be giving you a gift that you cannot save for another day. That is something you have to enjoy in the moment and dwell in for as long as you can.

It turns out that the manna that God gave to the Israelites is more like the gift of presence than the gift of chocolate. It was a symbol of God’s presence that also sustained them physically. It was just like the pillar of cloud in the day and the pillar of fire at night. In the manna, we see the presence of God and it is not something we can save for later; it is something that we dwell in now for as long as we can.

The way in which the manna worked, is an incredible example of how grace works. God told each person to take enough every day and whether they gathered a lot or a little; it still turned out to be an omar (2½ litres). Regardless of what they gathered, it was always just right and exactly what they needed. You cannot have too much or too little of God’s grace; you will always have exactly what you need because God gives you exactly what you need. God is doing the work; He is giving and you are receiving. It is also exactly what you need in the moment. Tomorrow you will have exactly what you need for tomorrow. You can’t keep any grace until then because you cannot store God’s grace. Manna and grace are not a ‘something’, they are the gift of God’s presence in the moment and in God’s presence; there is nothing we do not have that we need.

God poured His gift of life out over the Israelites every day as He continued to invite them into communion with Himself. When God gives Moses His name and reminds him to tell His people who He is; He says that His Name is YHWH (I am who I am, I will be there, howsoever, I will be there, I am present, whatever is going on, I am present). God’s presence is the greatest gift we could ever receive and it is a gift that has no end, it is a gift that can never be used up, it is a gift we cannot save for later. God’s presence is an ongoing expression of God’s love and God is eternal. In His presence we are called simply to dwell, we are called to enjoy it in the moment, every moment. Why do we think we will wait for a better time to enjoy the gift of fellowship with God?

Gavin

From Gavin’s desk 06/09/2020

Readings: Exodus 4: 18-31, 12: 1-14 (12:1 – 13:16), Psalm 149, John 19: 16b-41

Which moments in your life have been particularly significant for you? Which moments have affected the way you understand the world and your place in it? Which moments have helped you understand the significance of things you thought you understood before?

With regards to my understanding of God and my understanding of family as we come together with the family that we are born into through the Spirit of God, I think that every time I take Communion, every time I accept Christ’s invitation to come to the table He has prepared for me; I have one of these moments. Even the litany that is pretty common amongst most denominations just blows my mind as it helps me remember the origin of Communion.

We praise you, Lord God, King of the universe, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: “Take this and eat it. This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me”. In the same way, after supper, He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: “Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me”.

The night in which Christ was betrayed was the night before the Passover meal would have been celebrated normally, but as the Lamb of God, Christ had to die before evening, before Sabbath, before the Passover. Jesus may have celebrated the Passover meal a day early with His disciples or He may have just used certain parts of the liturgy for the meal, knowing that they would understand what He was saying. The breaking of the unleavened bread represented the lamb that was slain as well as the anticipation of the Messiah that was to come. The wine represented the blood that was shed in order for the freedom of the Jews to be realised. It was the blood shed by the slaughtered lamb that became a stark reminder of the cost of sin and the reality of death. When the Holy Spirit filled the disciples and they started to put into words their experience of this moment, they started to understand the full implication of the meal they had celebrated their whole lives and the way in which that meal found its fulfilment in Christ. The meal was a celebration and a prophecy. It celebrated their freedom from slavery from Egypt by the hand of God and it prophesied how God would again save them from slavery, but this time He would save them from slavery to sin and death and the only lamb that would be good enough to do that was God Himself.

What a mind blowing, life altering revelation it is knowing that the fellowship we share at the rail today has been in place in one form or another since the time of Moses and even as it reminds us of what has gone, it continues to tell us what is to come. We look forward to that day when we will share in the meal and not in the foretaste, that day when we will be fully united with Christ. This has been a story that was written even before time came into existence and how incredible to know that we are a very real part of it.

Gavin