Shema Community Today.

Here’s a recap of today’s Shema gathering. We had a great time of being together.
Opening Prayer:
All: I should like a great lake of finest ale, for the King of Kings
I should like a table of the choicest food, for the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith, and the food be forgiving love.
I should welcome the poor to my feast, for they are God’s children.
I should welcome the sick to my feast, for they are God’s joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place, and the sick dance with the angels
God bless the poor, God bless the sick, and bless our human race.
God bless our food, God bless our drink, all homes, O God, embrace.
—Brigit the fifth-century Irish saint
Song: Surrender (Marc James – Vineyard Songs UK)
I’m giving You my heart
and all that is within
I lay it all down
for the sake of You, my King
I’m giving You my dreams
I’m laying down my rights
I’m giving up my pride
for the promise of new life
And I surrender all to You, all to You
And I surrender all to You, all to You
I’m singing You this song
I’m waiting at the cross
And all the world holds dear
I count it all as loss
For the sake of knowing You
the glory of Your name
To know the lasting joy
even sharing in Your pain
And I surrender all to You, all to You
And I surrender all to You, all to You
Observation: Don’t you find it difficult (at times) to sing a song like this? Do you realize what it is you are singing? Do you realize following Jesus means giving your dreams and rights to Him? Giving up your rights? Sing it once more…
Question: do you miss the thread of God’s compassion for the poor?
Christianity Today magazine reported in 2005 on Rick Warren’s experience of poverty in Africa: “Around this time”, Warren says, he was driven to re-examine scripture with “new eyes”. What he found humbled him. “I found those 2,000 verses on the poor. How did I miss that? I went to Bible college, two seminaries, and I got a doctorate. How did I miss God’s compassion for the poor?
Read Passage:
Psalm 14.2-3, 6-7: God sticks his head out of heaven. He looks around. He’s looking for someone not stupid— one man, even, God-expectant, just one God-ready woman. He comes up empty. A string of zeros. Useless, unshepherded Sheep, taking turns pretending to be Shepherd. The ninety and nine follow their fellow. […] Do you think you can mess with the dreams of the poor? You can’t, for God makes their dreams come true. [in TNIV: You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.].
Is there anyone around to save Israel? Yes. God is around; God turns life around. Turned-around Jacob skips rope, turned-around Israel sings laughter.
Answer: Most of not all miss it!
Question: Was Sodom destroyed because of sexual immorality?
Passage: Ezekiel 16:49-52: The sin of your sister Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury—proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives. And you know what happened: I did away with them. And Samaria. Samaria didn’t sin half as much as you. You’ve committed far more obscenities than she ever did. Why, you make your two sisters look good in comparison with what you’ve done! Face it, your sisters look mighty good compared with you. Because you’ve outsinned them so completely, you’ve actually made them look righteous. Aren’t you ashamed? But you’re going to have to live with it. What a reputation to carry into history: outsinning your two sisters!
Answer: No. Sodom was destroyed because it “was arrogant, overfed and unconcerned (a strangely correct description of the western world); they did not help the poor and needy! (Ezekiel 16.49, NIV)
Passage: Mark 10: 17-31: “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.” He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!” Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.” The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go. Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.” That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked. Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.”
Peter tried another angle: “We left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”
Theme: God’s concern for the poor
1. What do you think about when you think of poverty (think local, national and global)
2. Who do you know that suffers these kinds of poverty (write down all people by name)
3. What can you/we do to engage with people who live in poverty?
If we do not know them by name and know how they live we will have no idea how to have compassion. Take this week to work on these questions. If we do not engage, we will not know; if we do not know, we will not care; if we do not care, we do not fully live. Following Jesus is surrendering everything. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” – Jim Elliot
Prayer:
Open Prayer for selves (familial)
Ending each prayer with: Teach us Christ to love ourselves as you love us.
Open Prayer for others, systems, and creation (local)
Ending each prayer with: Teach us Christ to act justly, to live kindly, and to love all as you love them.
Open Prayer for others, systems and creation (global)
Ending each prayer with: Teach us Christ to love, serve, and protect your creation as your stewards in this age.
Announcements and Blessing
Prayer for the poor – Body Prayer (Doug Pagitt and Kathryn Prill)
I ask that you bless those who are needy
With roofs when it rains,
With food and drink when wants arise,
With care when it cannot be bought.
I ask for our friends who have less than the world’s standards
To know that they are loved,
To rest in knowing that they are not alone in figuring out life,
To be surrounded by your tireless, guarding love.
See you all next week same place, same time!
PS: if you find yourself struggling to care…
Read “under the overpass: a journey of faith on the streets of America” by Mike Yankoski.