Sunday Service: Who is Jesus?

Opening Music: Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Let this familiar song be an opening prayer for this online service:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
00:00 / 03:01

"Jesus of the People" by Janet McKenzie

Introduction to the mornign retreat
Reflection: Who is Jesus?

Chant: Cloud above fire within

The following chant is very informally recorded, but it is a beautiful expression of the morning's theme. Please feel free to sing along with it once you get the hang of the tune. 

Cloud Above Fire WithinChant
00:00 / 02:36

Lyrics:

You are the cloud above,

You are the fire within;

You are the cloud above,

You are the fire within.

Overshadowing the mind,

Living flame of love within; 

Overshadowing the mind,

Living flame of love within.

Questions for reflection:

  1. The pillars of cloud and fire are beautiful images of God's presence with us, ephemeral, ungraspable, yet faithful and present. Imagine the pillar of cloud or fire as an inner symbol of God's presence, guiding you from within. What do these images evoke for you? Allow yourself to receive whatever the Spirit is saying to you through this.

  2. The image at the top of this webpage is a painting titled "Jesus of the People" by the artist Janet McKenzie. Take some time to look at this image - what does it evoke in you? Do you feel comfortable with this image, or fascinated by it, or does it feel strange, or fill you with dis-ease? Sit with your response for a while, then allow it to become a prayerful response.

 

 

Song: I don't know how to love him

This Sinead O'Connor version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's song is a moving example of living in the question:

I Don't Know How To Love HimSinead O'Connor
00:00 / 04:13

Lyrics:

I don't know how to love him
What to do, how to move him
I've been changed, yes really changed.
In these past few days, when I've seen myself
I seem like someone else.

I don't know how to take this,
I don't see why he moves me,
He's a man. He's just a man.
And I've had so many men before
In very many ways,
He's just one more.

Should I bring him down?
Should I scream and shout?
Should I speak of love
Let my feelings out?
I never thought I'd come to this
What's it all about?

Don't you think it's rather funny
I should be in this position
I'm the one who's always been
So calm, so cool, no lover's fool
Running every show
He scares me so

I never thought I'd come to this
What's it all about?


Yet, if he said he loved me,
I'd be lost. I'd be frightened.
I couldn't cope, just couldn't cope.

I'd turn my head, I'd back away
I wouldn't want to know
He scares me so
I want him so

I love him so.

For further reflection:

Below are some of the readings from the talk, and a few additional readings for you to reflect on.

Basil Pennington, from his book Living in the Question:

it is good to live in the question. A pat answer is closed, it is finished; that’s it. It goes no-where and leaves little room for hope. A question, the mystery, opens the space for us. It is full of possibility. It gives hope of life and ever more abundant life. Our faith, solid as it might be, is full of questions. And therefore full of life and hope.

Luke 12:49

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!"

Jean Yves Leloup:

This fire is in us, smoldering beneath the ashes of our mediocrity, a hidden glow that awaits the Ruah, the divine Breath, to burst into flame.

Leonard Cohen:

I am very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says, "Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek" has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity and insight and madness... a man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an unhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion. I'm not trying to alter the Jewish view of Jesus Christ. But to me, in spite of what I know about the history of legal Christianity, the figure of the man has touched me.

Luke 24:31-32

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Reflective writing from my journal about this Luke text:

This is your way, Beloved - an opening of the mind, and a burning of the heart, as we recognise the immediacy and intimacy of your presence, then you vanish, like smoke rising from our burning hearts. Yet from these ashes of absence rises a phoenix of renewed hope. The stillness and vastness of our inner beings is laid bare, and strangely this barren landscape feels more like home than any of the cosy cottages of self and you that our minds have constructed. In this boundaryless wilderness we sense the wind of your Spirit blowing freely across this open expanse, ungraspable, unpredictable, but inviting us to be scattered freely by this wind.

 

Hebrews 12:26-29

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

When you read the gospels, I invite you to read them with an open heart and mind, letting go of old beliefs about who Jesus is, and allowing yourself to be surprised by what you read. Allow the Spirit to ignite a fresh flame in you that burns away old familiar safe concepts, and that kindles a new awakeness to life, to God and to the preciousness of the lives of those you encounter.

If you would like to learn about some helpful tools for reading scripture in a fresh way, you can follow this link

Ending song: The Nazarene

The NazareneMichael Card
00:00 / 02:43

Lyrics:

The Nazarene had come
To live the life of every man
And He felt the fascination of the stars
And as He wandered through this weary world
He wondered and He wept
For there were so few who listened to his call.

He came, He saw, He surrendered all
So that we might be born again
And the fact of His humanity
Was there for all to see,
For He was unlike any other man
And yet so much like me.

The Nazarene could hunger
And the Nazarene could cry,
And He could laugh
With all the fullness of his heart.
And those who hardly knew Him
And those who knew Him well
Could feel the contradiction from the start.

He came, He saw, He surrendered all

So that we might be born again

And the fact of His humanity

Was there for all to see,

For He was unlike any other man

And yet so much like me.

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