St John’s College Communion service, 8/2/2011. Preacher : Dr Ruth Etchells. Scripture: Col 1:15-22 & Luke 13:10-17, and a myriad of worship songs of different types, the main focus of which seemed to be how Christ, the creator of the heavens and earth, has saved us from our sins, restored us to our true nature and identity, and calls us to live attentive to the Kingdom of God. I had various ideas for images but the point at which the image really began to take shape was part way into the sermon. I loved the image of the old woman chucking her walking stick away and dancing with joy and praising God for releasing her from 18 years of captivity to a crippling condition. I remember seeing this sort of miracle in 1991 when I took part in a mission: The Walk of 1000 men. Our team was in Ripon and there was a local man with the same crippling condition but on the last day before of team moved off to the next community, this man was utterly healed and stood tall and straight. He also praised God!
Our preacher went on to talk of the supremacy of Christ in his power to heal and restore and the poverty and powerlessness of religiosity, where the focus is on the rules of how to conduct worship and miss the point completely. Those who are ‘religious’ tend to want worship ‘their way’ and seem to forget the importance of the Kingdom of God – the healing and restoration of lives and communities through the power of Christ and obedience to the life-giving purposes of God. The image shows two people, One – the old woman, healed and restored, dances in praise and joy. The other is the religious type who points away from Christ and is still in the shadows, although the light of God in the Cross of Christ still shines upon them. They stand on the edge of salvation.
The service is available online on the CODEC website.