From Gillian –
This morning, I want to offer you some objects to illustrate the reading from the letter to the Hebrews that we’ve just heard, with a view to understanding the message.
Some years ago, James and I took part in the Village Open Gardens. He sat out on the terrace with a gin and tonic and welcomed everyone saying ‘ Welcome! Come into our garden, sit yourself down, what would you like to drink? A G&T? I tried to point out that the idea was for people to visit all the open gardens round the village, not spend the afternoon going through our drinks cupboard, but I was wasting my breath!
Actually of course, James was doing exactly what God tells us in the reading. ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it’
I think that’s two messages at least – always make people welcome – wherever you are, at home, in the office, the village hall, Church of course and WHOEVER they are, don’t make judgements or choose who you welcome – make everyone you meet feel valued and loved.
So, I offer you a Gin and Tonic glass.
For my next object, I need a volunteer to hold up these bars. Now they may look like an oven shelf to you, but they are prison bars. ‘Remember those in prison as if you were with them’. I think this means people who are really imprisoned, this could be because they had commited a crime or are being persecuted, and it could mean people who are imprisoned by disablement or by fears or unhappiness – they all need our prayers and friendship
So I offer you some bars
(Hold up first aid box) What does this remind you of? People who are ill or in pain ‘Remember….those as if you yourselves were suffering..’ We need to look after people who are sick in mind and body and pray for their recovery
So, I give you a first aid box
Please will all married couples stand? Lets celebrate the joy of you being together! (clap) ‘Marriage should be honoured by all..’ it says in the reading and God wants us to be faithful in our relationships with our loved ones, families, friends, even when it gets difficult
Here is a knot to represent the tie of relationships
Working on those relationships , God wants them all to be honest and pure, so we need never be ashamed or have anything to hide from other people
This white flower is for purity
The reading also says ‘keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…’. Now money is very useful, we need it to keep a roof over our heads and to buy food for a start. And we need to buy each other presents and have holidays and outings, nice things like that. There’s nothing wrong with earning and spending our money. But what God was referring to is the LOVE of money, being greedy and becoming mean and resentful – you can love money if you are very rich or very hard-up, so we need to learn to be satisfied with what we have, share it and not want what we can’t have.
So here’s my purse, complete with bells to stop it being nicked as the last one was from my basket in Tesco’s
My last object is a stone. God said ‘never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ and the stone is firm and strong just like God in his love for us.
So we have a gin and tonic glass, a set of bars, a first aid kit, a knot, a flower, my purse and a stone.
Can you think of a link between these objects?
I don’t think there is one! Just that they have illustrated the points of our reading, which is a good, practical guideline of how we should live God’s way as individuals and as a community. We are all bound together in God’s love and should love and care for one another in the same way God loves and cares for each one of us.
Here is the reading…
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.’
So we say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?’
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.