ST JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH, AMESBURY, MASSACHUSETTS
Gathered in My Name
September 4, 2020
for the week of
September 6, 2020
What you need: a watch, clock, or timer; a quiet creative activity; a candle (if it's okay, or an intentional object like a cross); a Bible, if you'd like; paper; something to write with; a snack. Have your class with a sibling or other family members, or enjoy this time by yourself.
1) Begin with a transition time – Peace & Quiet: enjoy a creative activity for about 10 minutes (journaling, clay, Legos, drawing, etc. Not a focus on a finished product; just enjoyment).
2) Next, clear that space, or move to another space, and light a candle (or place your intentional object). Settle in, and say a prayer, like: Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105). Offer more prayers, silently, or out loud, if you want.
Our focus for this class = Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20 (Italics are my commentary)
Jesus said: ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.
The first thing I thought was, well, with the pandemic, this going and pointing would have to be Skype or something? How has COVID-19 affected the way you interact with people? Do you feel like you are having fewer, more, or the same number of interactions daily? And when you do meet up, in whatever way, are you focusing on correcting sins made against you? What does being sinned against do to a relationship, a community? Have you ever tried to "regain" somebody? Has somebody pointed out your faults to you? Then what happened?
But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.
PS Harsh stance on Gentiles and tax-collectors is overthrown later. All are welcome in God's kingdom. Just saying. BUT confess your sins, everybody! So if somebody refuses to listen to what is right. . . "even to the church". . . what happens then? What would you do? WWJD?
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.
What does it signify that Jesus feels called to say "Truly"? And to emphasize "Again, truly"?! What do you personally bind on earth (say YES to)? What do you loose on earth (say NO to)? What does it mean for things to be bound or loosed in heaven? What should a bunch of people agree about and ask for? What is the power of one, and of two - or more? How does it feel to have such a powerful Father?
AND FINALLY - I bet you've heard this before; where? -
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’
What does in mean to gather in Jesus' name? How is that different from just plain gathering? Does it feel different to gather if you're in agreement, or in disagreement, with the others? Have you felt Jesus' presence in any gathering? How would you know? Would you tell?
4) Think about what you read, chat about it if you have company, look it up online (if allowed) and see if there's commentary about it – do you agree? Do you feel called to do something?
5) Brainstorm & make a poster, your choice: Top 10 Things to Bind on Earth
and/or Top 10 Things To Loose. Take a pic; email me! (Thank you!)
6) Snack time! Prayers first: talk to God! "I'm grateful for, I'm worried about, I ask for, I bind, I loose" etc. And/or take 5 or more minutes for centering prayer: relaxing into peace & letting thoughts go. Breathe! Enjoy your snack.
7) Finally, clean up your space(s), and say a closing prayer, like: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. - Plato. Blow out the candle, or put away the intentional object (or leave it there if you'd like to create a little sacred area) and say out loud:
Go now in peace, to love and serve the Lord! Thanks be to God! ALLELUIA!