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I pray that this finds you well.
I would like to take this opportunity to bring you news of three things that are happening within our church community.
Firstly, we will be returning to in-person worship on Sunday 23rd May and services will be held weekly as normal. As with the previous times we have met together there are restrictions in place and these include:
Secondly, with the return to in-person worship the Sunday morning Zoom service finished on Sunday 16th May. Instead we will be launching an evening zoom service on the first and third Sunday of the month, starting at 6:45pm. The content of this service will be different to the morning service or worship booklet. We will trial these services over the summer and review them in September.
Lastly, I am organising monthly bible studies which will look at a different topic each month. This means the each study is stand alone and people are free to pop in and out over the months as they wish. The first study will be on Wednesday 26th May at 10:30am or Thursday 27th May at 2pm and we will be looking at Prayer and whether our prayers are sometimes unanswered. Studies will be held on zoom at least until August when we will review the possibililty of meeting in person.
We will also continue with our Coffee, Chat and Craft morning which meets on the second Tuesday of the month on Zoom starting at 10:30am.
I am hoping to start visiting members of the congregation as restrictions continue to ease and I will be in touch in due course. As always my contact details are
If you require any zoom information simply contact us and we will reply as soon as possible with the relevant information.
Take care, stay safe and God bless.
Reading :Ephesians 3:14 – 21
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
The letter to the Ephesians has two distinct sections. The first three chapters describe what God as done by gathering all things in Christ (1:10), breaking down the dividing walls of hostility, and creating in Christ one new humanity (2:14-15). The next three chapters provide instructions to the reader about what they are to do in response to what God has done – that is live a life worthy of the calling to which they have been called (4:1). Our reading today, acts a bridge between these two sections.
Having just explained what God has done, the author takes time to pray for those reading the letter. Although this is a prayer that was originally written for the Ephesians almost 2000 years ago when we look at the content, we will see that it is still relevant today and maybe this is a prayer that we, as individuals and as a community, should be praying on a regular basis.
The prayer begins with an address to God, contains two petitions and ends with a doxology.
In this opening address to God the first thing we note is that the author talks about being on their knees. Although kneeling in prayer is one of several postures described in the Bible, it was more traditional for people to offer prayers while standing. To kneel in prayer demonstrated a deep reverence and the readiness to obey. Kneeling in prayer was serious stuff, and this was a prayer that was significant enough for the author to humble themselves before God.
The qualifying statement used to describe God ‘from whom every family in heaven and earth is named’ has been much debated among biblical scholars. The more common expression would be “the God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” so what was the author trying to say using phrases that speak of “every family” and “in heaven and earth”. The emphasis in this letter is on a God at work in the whole universe, through Christ whose death was for the whole universe. The author is reminding us of this as they start their prayer. The God whom we know as Father, is the same God that the rest of the universe knows as Father. We come from the same origins, and we belong to each other.
Verses 16-18 (the first petition)
At the core of this petition is a request for the believers to be strengthened in their inner being. Here the author is focusing on that part of us where we experience God, that part of us that holds and expresses our faith, that spiritual place that lies deep within our very selves.
This strengthening is a gift from God which we receive through the Holy Spirit. How does the Spirit achieve this? We are strengthened in our inner being when we have Christ dwelling in our hearts. At the time this letter was written the heart was a person’s control centre, the place where choices were made, the place of reason and comprehension. If we have Christ dwelling in the place where we think about life and make our decisions then Christ is going to influence our thinking and our decision-making.
This is how we are strengthened, this is the power that dwells within us as Christians. Christ is not a passive person in our lives but a presence that influences and guides, a presence that changes and encourages. We no longer face decisions and choices on our own. We no longer look at the world through our own eyes but through Christ’s. As we let Christ influence our lives on a daily basis we have the strength we need when times are hard and choices become difficult.
Christ’s presence in our lives helps us to be rooted and grounded in love. Roots speak of nourishment and stability while grounded speaks of stability and a foundation on which other things are built. If love, that come through Christ, is our starting point, then the way we view the world and the way we interact with other people is done though that love. Our decisions and our way of being will be different comparted to if our starting point was one of hatred or indifference.
However, the Christian life is not something imposed on us by God. Instead, it is relational, and it requires us to invest time and effort to building up our relationship with the God, through the Spirit and Christ. The roots of a tree are not strong and deep overnight, it takes time for a tree to become a tall, sturdy plant. So, it is with our faith. We have to work at developing the roots that anchor to Christ, through prayer, through bible study, through worship, through learning more about God. Christ dwelling on our hearts is only one side of the relationship and we have to be an active participant in the work Christ does in our lives.
Verses 18-19 (the second petition)
The second petition of the prayer appears to contain an oxymoron – the author is praying that we may know love that is beyond knowing – what does this all mean?
All that God gives us is only possible because of what Christ did for us.
We live in a world that is defined by limits and it is difficult for us to understand fully something that has no limits. God, in God’s whole being is beyond any limit, God cannot be fully defined, or understood or experienced. But that does not mean that we don’t try, to understand or experience God more.
This prayer asks for us to have the power to comprehend the love of God that we experience through Christ. The power of our mind is an amazing thing but when it comes to our understanding of God, and our experience of Christ, we probably vastly underuse its power. From the minute we are born we begin to grow and develop and the way we interact with the world and people changes as we grow. We learn to adapt as we grow up and how we experience life now, how we make our decisions, and how we interact with people we meet is different from last year, ten years ago, thirty years ago. We have changed and our life view changes too.
Often this is not the case when it comes to our faith and our experience of God. Often our beliefs and thoughts on God go unchallenged, by ourselves, by others. We are happy and content with what we know, what we experience and we don’t seek out different opinions, viewpoints or experiences
This second petition is a prayer that we do the exact opposite. Just because something is beyond our full knowledge doesn’t mean we cannot have a deeper understanding than we have already, it doesn’t mean that it is not worth trying to know more, it doesn’t mean that we cannot learn more about God or experience God in a different way.
The prayer is not that we go away and do this on our own but it is a prayer that we do this ‘with all the saints’, we are to do this with other Christians. Having the opportunity to read, think, discuss and pray about issues of faith, about God, about what the bible says or doesn’t about certain things with other Christians can be a great experience. It helps us to listen to other view points and understand different perspectives and this helps us to comprehend more about God, grow in our faith and understand the work God has called us to do in this world.
Within the secular world we would be shocked if our doctor did not keep up to date with the latest medical research, if our builders were not aware of the changes to health and safety regulations or if our butcher was not aware of change in hygiene legislation. When it comes to matters of faith are we as shocked when Christians are content not to learn more about God?
This prayer for the power to comprehend a love that is beyond knowledge is not just a prayer because the author thought it was important that Christians were not idle in their faith. No this is a prayer for the power to comprehend so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God, it is so that we can experience God in a deeper and fuller way and this can only be a good thing.
Verses 20-21 (The Doxology)
The prayer ends with a final doxology in praise of God. Just as the love of Christ is beyond our full understanding in the second petition here the activity of God is beyond our expectation or thought. God does not fit the limitations of our expectations. God’s ways and thoughts are exceedingly beyond our ways and thoughts. That doesn’t mean God is not already at work in us. I believe that God is working in and through our lives. God has called us, God has empowered us and what God can and will do through us will be amazing, and through all that we do we will bring glory to God’s name.
At the end of this first section of the letter of the Ephesians this prayer sets the scene for what our response is to be to what God has done for us. The goal of this prayer is not that we know more about God but that we experience God more fully and that through the power of the Spirit we may be transformed.
How did the Ephesians feel when they heard what the author had prayed for them? How do you feel knowing that this prayer is relevant to you, today? Here are some questions for you to consider:
I hope that this is a prayer that you are willing to pray. The Spirit is at work in our lives, and we are called to be active participants with the Spirit. Accept the gift of life offered by God, and let Christ transform us so that we may know God’s love in all its fullness. Amen.
Take time to think about the questions raised and the end of the reflection and consider how you would answer them.
Bring before God any questions or concern that the prayer in the text raises.
Pray for those who help us to know God more deeply.
Red, yellow, tan, copper, light green, beige, Different trees, different colours, Some branches bare, some still laden with leaves, Lord, the changes in the trees remind me of the changes in me, I am not the same now as I was this time last year, I am not the same in the morning as I am in the evening, At times I want nothing more than to come into your presence and worship you, At other times I go on my way without a thought for you.
Lord, as the trees become bare and the leaves flutter to the ground I know that this is temporary and new life will follow after a period of rest, Lord, this reminds me that there are parts of my life that need to die so you can become a greater part of me.
Lord, the evergreen trees remind me of your faithfulness Faithfulness through the different seasons of my life Lord, I thank you that you are evergreen.
Lord I thank you for Autumn and the lessons that it teaches. Lord I thank you for the colour change and the promise of new life that it brings But I thank you most of all for the evergreen……