Sunday 29 March, 2020
You can view this morning’s service here, or read on below.
Though Scattered, Christ Gathers Us!
Kia ora whānau, and welcome to Papanui@Home! We thank God that by his Spirit, we the body of Christ are being united to one another even now as we worship this morning in separate places.
- Sarah recorded a short video inviting us to worship.
Thanks to the many households that sent in photos of your Sunday worship last week, it was so encouraging to see you engaging in the service in your separate places.
Poem by Kitty O’Meara
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
More about this poem here.
Song: “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” – Matt Redman video here
- Please take a moment now to thank God for the community of Papanui Baptist Church.
Song: “Before the Throne of God Above” (lyrics in video)
- At this point, you may like to pause and light a candle, as a symbol of Christ’s presence with you as the light that shines in the darkness.
May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when schools close
remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.
Update from Beth & Peter Hwang
If you’d asked me about our plans a month ago, I would have said we were looking to head to Cambodia in July. However, not only has getting our health clearance been put on hold, but so has support & friend-raising, and with Cambodia also struggling with covid-19, our dreams and plans are all up in the air. Yet at this time, we can still pray for protection for Cambodia and for all those serving there. For example, one Kiwi team member we know with three young children needs to decide whether he will use his medical skills to serve on the front line or not. God does not always make the path to fulfilling His calling easy or safe, but He is faithful and He walks with us as we abide in Him and seek to love our neighbour, both here and overseas.
Hashem imachem (May God be with you)
Beth & Peter Hwang
Papanui Baptist Church Community Facebook group
Last week we opened a new Facebook group, “Papanui Baptist Church Community.” If you’re on Facebook, click this link, request to join the group, and Elliot can approve your admission. We hope this will be a useful tool for our community, both during and after Covid-19.
Video Devotions with the Rices
Starting this week, every Tuesday and Thursday at 10am Sarah and Elliot will lead a video devotion on the Facebook group, using the Facebook Live video option. We’ll be working through Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne (he spoke at our church a few years ago), Johnathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. We’d love for you to join us if you are able!
We’ve now completed three of the four Grow Nights for March, looking at “The Life of Christ in the Gospels.” It’s been a lot of fun! I will host the final class this Tuesday evening via Zoom, asking the question, “Why did Jesus rise again?” We’ll meet online at the usual time of 7:15pm, ready to go by 7:30 (please check in at 7:15 so we can get technical issues sorted).
- If you’re interested in joining me for that, follow this link and you should be able to join the conversation.
Papanui Baptist Church relies on the generosity of its people to meet our budget. And now that we have no Sunday Gatherings at our church building or people to hire our facilities, we need your support now more than ever. To those who are able, we invite you to make your donations straight to our bank account, whether by online banking, phone banking, or making a personal deposit.
Account name: Papanui Baptist Church
Account number: 03-0854-0651093-00
Reference: Your name
Code: Envelop number (not essential)
Prayer for the Offering
We invite someone in your household to give thanks for the offering.
Today for your reading of the Scripture, let’s begin with the practice of lectio divina (i.e. Devotional Reading). Lectio divina is a sort of reading that aims more at growing a relationship with God than gathering information about God. We’re coming into God’s presence to listen to his particular, loving word to ourselves at this particular moment in time.
There are five movements to a lectio divina, as described by Adele Calhoun (NOTE: don’t do it yet, just read this so you know what you’re about to do):
- Silencio—quiet preparation of the heart. We come into God’s presence, slow down, relax, and intentionally release the chaos and noise in your mind to him.
- Lectio—read the word. We read a Scripture passage slowly and out loud, lingering over the words so that they resonate in your heart. When a word or phrase catches your attention, don’t keep reading. Stop and attend to what God’s saying to you. Be open to the word. Don’t analyse it or judge it. Listen and wait.
- Meditatio—mediate. Read the Scripture a second time out loud. Savour the words. Listen for any invitation that God is extending to you in this word. Reflect on the importance of the words that light up to you. Like Mary, who pondered the word in her heart, gently explore the ramifications of God’s invitation.
- Oratio—respond, pray. Read the Scripture a third time. Now is the moment to enter into a personal dialogue with God. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. The important thing is to respond truthfully and authentically. What feelings has the text aroused in you? Name where you are resistant or want to push back. Become aware of where you feel invited into a deeper way of being with God. Talk to God about these feelings.
- Contemplatio—contemplate, rest and wait in the presence of God. Allow some time for the word to sink deeply into your soul. Yield and surrender yourself to God. Before you leave, you might consider a reminder that can help you dwell on this word throughout the day.
So, let’s practice lectio divina with this passage.
- Silencio. Put yourself in the presence of God. Become quiet and offer yourself to God. Let’s do this for a minute.
- Lectio. Read Philippians 1:1-11 aloud for the first time. Listen and allow the words to resonate and settle in your heart. Notice the words or phrases that catch your attention and light up for you. Sit with the word or phrase and savour it as a word of God for you.
- Meditatio. Now read the passage again and listen to where the word connects with your life right now. Enter into the scene of your imagination. Imagination is a God-given gift. Envision the scene. What do you hear and experience as you watch and listen? Take a few minutes to do this.
- Oratio. Now read the passage one more time, listening attentively. Has God addressed you in this Word and invited you to respond? Allow the Scripture to lead you into a prayer response. Don’t block any thoughts or requests. Let them flow out spontaneously and freely before the Lord who loves you. Hold nothing back. Respond to God’s invitation to you. Let’s take a few minutes for this.
- Contemplatio. We’re going to finish with the fifth movement of lectio divina, contemplation, a bit later, when we come to take communion.
Devotion: “Thanksgiving and Prayer”
Video available here.
As pastors, our job is to live like shepherds: to be out among the sheep, caring for the sheep, smelling like sheep. But how do we pastor when we’re kept from our people? How can we care for our congregation when it’s unsafe—even illegal for us to be together?
As a Baptist church, our deepest conviction is that when two or more are gathered together, Christ is there among us to rule us. Everything centres on our gathering together for worship! But what happens when we can’t? How do we continue to be the church when we’re stuck in our homes?
The apostle Paul was a pastor who loved the church. He developed intimate relationships with groups of Christ followers, and served as their shepherd leader. But as his letters testify, Paul often experienced the pain of being separated from his people, whether that was because of his God-given mission to reach unreached peoples across the Roman Empire, or because he was confined to a prison cell for doing so. There’s a lot we can learn from pastor Paul at such a time as this.
Among his many letters, four of them are known as the Prison Letters. Paul wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, from within four confining walls, where he was isolated, physically distant, cut off. And by his correspondence, Paul continued to love, feed, and lead his people in Christ.
Because of the changes in our situation, we’re pushing pause on our Lord’s Supper series, and beginning a series of devotions looking at Paul’s letter to the Philippians. What can we learn from this pastor, who like us, was isolated from his friends, and who “longed for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus”?
The first thing I notice in the opening verses of the letter is that Paul gives thanks to God. Verses 3-6 record a prayer of gratitude, in which he’s thankful for his memory of them, and their partnership in the gospel. Paul’s eventful first visit to Philippi is recorded in Acts 16. Having been directly called by God to visit that Roman city, Paul and Silas became the victims of anti-Semitic violence: they were publicly beaten and humiliated, before being imprisoned in miserable conditions. Then, during the night when Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, a violent earthquake shook the prison foundations. “At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’” Amazed at these men of grace, the jailer gave his life to Jesus along with his whole household. “He was filled with joy”!
You can view this morning’s service here: https://mailchi.mp/eee3886046c9/sunday-worship-service_29mar20?e=[UNIQID]
It amazes me that in Paul’s memories of Philippi with beatings, public shaming, and earthquakes, it’s this feeling of joy that’s most obvious. “I always pray with joy,” he says. This, from a man now imprisoned for his faith and expecting death by execution . . . And this to a church who face that same threat for themselves. What’s clear for Paul is that deeper than any concern for himself is his concern for the gospel: the idea of distancing himself from the gospel to save his skin apparently never entered his head.
And that’s because the gospel was Paul’s deepest source of joy—better by far than any other happiness the world had to offer. In fact, the letter to the Philippians is commonly referred to as the epistle of joy! Think of 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” So, says Doug Campbell, the gospel “is, in and of itself, the most important and special thing in existence. And it is enjoyable. It is something fun, with humour and laughter—a great, healthy, overwhelming party. I suggest we learn to party as well as or better than the pagans.” What do we learn from pastor Paul for being the church in isolation? Lead with thanksgiving; remember the joy of the gospel.
The second thing I notice, from verses 9-11, is that Paul prayed with a view to Christ’s coming. He prayed that they would grow and mature in love, so that at the day of Christ they would be pure and blameless, living lives that testify to the fulfilment of God’s gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ. Twice in this passage Paul’s refers to “the day of Christ”—the day when he will come again for judgement and for the renewal of all things. That’ll be the day when all that is unholy, all that is unclean, all that is unkind, all that is not of God will be removed, and when the new creation will be revealed. Paul prays with a view to the day when our faith will be sight, and our joy will be complete in the presence of our God.
That’s to say: even though Paul’s confined in these limiting conditions, he prays with an eternal perspective. He doesn’t pray that his or their troubles will go away, that the persecution will stop, that this tough situation will end; no, he prays that your love will abound more and more, and that you’ll be able to discern what is best, so that in the righteousness of Christ you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, to the glory and praise of God. So, what do we learn from pastor Paul for being the church in isolation? Don’t live for day 28 of lockdown; live for the day of Christ Jesus. And don’t let kindness be a temporary measure to cope with these troubles; let love abound more and more, as the good news that causes great joy fills your bubble to overflowing!
Like Paul, as pastors we have you in our hearts, and God can testify how we long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. Thank God, then, that Christ Jesus longs for you with his own affection, and in his longing he makes himself present to you, even now, by his Holy Spirit. He is the Good Shepherd out among his sheep, caring for his sheep, smelling like sheep. He’s the good news that causes great joy. He’s the Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
Paul begins his letter to the church at Philippi with thanksgiving and prayer. There are two sections:
- “I thank my God every time I remember you. . .”
- “And this is my prayer: . . .”
- Take some time to write or draw your own note of thanksgiving and prayer for the church at Papanui.
- We invite you to share your prayer with us! You can either:
- send your prayer to me and I can include it in an email to the church,
- or you could post it to our Facebook group “Papanui Baptist Church Community.”
May our love abound more and more to the glory and praise of God!
Tea & coffee available . . . in your kitchen!
Normally we finish our gatherings by spending time with each other over a cuppa. Seeing as we can’t do that with people outside our household physically, why not take the time now to call one or two others and connect. Please let us know if you need a church directory.
Invitation to receive prayer
Are you missing fellowship and feeling the need for some prayer? The great thing is that Jesus has sent His Holy Spirit to all of us, so even the prayers of a young child carry great weight! Do reach out to those around you – your family, your small group leader, or someone else you trust, and ask if they’ll pray with you. And for issues that can be put in an email, the prayer chain is still operating. Just contact Kay in the normal ways (see last week’s Papanui Paper Plane, for example).
If you would rather talk one-to-one with one of the prayer ministry team, the following people have said they are willing to take a call from you. Use the church contact list for their details, and please check first about a suitable time. Remember this will not be for counselling or advice. We’re simply there to accompany you to Jesus, and ask Him to bless and minister to your need.
Prayer ministers available are:
- Kay McKenzie
- Neil McKenzie
- Viv Fraser
- Carol Guise
- Rosemary Mahon
- Athol Ferguson