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Hymn: Bright as fire in darkness

Let us gather round
what is holy
a table of grace
and a word of love
ready to be spoken
then fractured
enough for the light to run through
this is our meeting place tonight
with all the ancients
and all those who are still yet to be
heaven is thin
and this is her touching place

Hymn: Bright as fire in darkness


Holy Messy Stories

It began from the beginning...

Adam and Eve

The chaos of creation
beyond the seven days
where the cosmos slowly came under control
but the garden
full of fruit
and that pomegranate
glistening with truth
and revelation
and when the first bite was taken
and the revelation occurred
the whole plan went into disarray
and gardens were lost
and brothers vied
and the whole long process began
to redeem the bedlam
and in all the chaos
holiness was found
in the grace that was set free
in the mess of the world

Jacob and the angel

The younger twin
who lied and deceived his way
into the blessing
who became the unexpected patriarch
and found in the night
a dark angel
who wrestled him to the ground

But Jacob was not one to give up
and wrestled back
the whole chaos of salvation
on his shoulders
the turn of events
that was not meant to happen
finally being given a new name
the name Israel
that describes the nation
"always restless”
and defines holiness
as debate and challenge
holiness, part of the mess of the world


Peter the rock

The rock
on which he perished
was by the fireside
and the question
“Are you not one of them?”

It pulled solid ground from under him
It began to swell
It began to roll.
He couldn’t grasp the right answer
and hid behind the lie,
the confusion that
“I do not know the man” brought.

And even here
in such a depth of darkness
the mess of salvation
finds a way
in the chaos of the world
and grace brings once more
a spark
a flash
a possibility of light



After the chaotic crowds of Palm Sunday
and the scourge of the table
a temple still left reeling from table turning
and interrupted religion

After the crowds and the stories
and the rumours of arrest
the dark journeys of conspirators
to undercover meetings with pharisees

After the prophecies of destruction
and three day rebuilding
of arguments with leaders
and Pilates impatience

After the code words and secret settings
of upper rooms and locked doors
foot washing saviours
and confused disciples

this meal
the one of heaven
rising out of the mess of a week
that will only get messier

here we find one of our holiest moments
in bread and wine
in the heart of the chaos

holy holy holy

(take bread)
in the scattered mess of supper
Jesus finds in the crumbs
a sign of the future
and taking the bread
snaps it in two

My body
for you
eat of it all of you
and remember me

and the bread is shared
with hesitation
and unsure faith
disciples not daring to understand what he means

(take cup)

and in the scattered remnants of the meal
the cup is found
half finished already
but there is enough

(Indeed a drop of wine would be enough
to hold all of heaven)

and Jesus takes the cup
and lifts it
and speaks holy words:

the cup
the new promise
shed and sealed in my blood
drink of it all of you
and remember

and then
the only thing that was not chaotic happened
silence fell
yet even there
private questions were rehearsed
personal confusion grew wild
broken only by one
who left the table
and befriended the night

before the saviour himself stood
and made his way
to the knotted and gnarled chaos of branches
that was Gethsemane’s olive grove
and the longest wait in eternity

Through this mess of heaven
we share the same meal
recognising all that is holy
is revealed in the chaos of our living

the gifts of God
for the people of God


Messy Holiness

                          Genesis, Luke & John


Let me tell you a story about holiness…

I haven’t yet heard a story
where holiness was planned
thought over
beautiful in design
or perfect in proportion

I haven’t yet heard a story
where holiness was a formula
where the blanks were filled in
a creed: where everything was defined
a hymn: where everything made sense

Holiness is rather the blanks
the unknown
the not yet defined
the not yet decided
the not yet caught

is the mess
the wildness
the rough drawings
the trial and the error

because holiness is creative
never tied down
it is the imagination at work
the gap between the words
the left unsaid
the poem that does not yet scan

for holiness is alive
the painting with the final strokes still to be make
the image is close
but never complete

Holiness disrupts what is perfect
like a loaf of bread
beautifully formed
but then broken

Have you ever noticed
you can’t have a tidy communion

you can’t break bread without crumbs
you can’t pour wine without splashes
you can’t say words without mystery
you can’t pass trays without leaving fingerprints

you can’t have a tidy communion
because holiness is messy




In the thinness that is this place, O God
and the love which holds it together
and in the word that shapes mysteries
beyond what we understand
may we unfold the messiness of our lives
and trust it is all held
in a greater love

May we have eyes that can see
where the sacred lies
in the stoor of the world,
the invitation to new living
in the fruit from the eden tree,
the renaming of who we are
in wrestling with angels,
revealed grace
in the breaking of bread,
the stories of Emmaus encounters
in the noisy crumbs of bread,
the promise of milk and honey
in the wildness years,
the universal, borderless love
proclaimed from the belly of a whale,
such messy holiness
may we have eyes to see it

and see it here
at table
among these people
in this story
of saviour and friends
deniers and betrayers
hesitants and doubters
that we find ourselves among them
no different
except our names
and hear your word for us
a messy word
called love
called grace
called Jesus

In the thinness of this place
we gather in a love
that calls us
and shows itself
in the chaos of salvation
and the scattering of crumbs

So be it


Final Story

We spoke this morning
of the denial of Peter
the messy divorce
of a disciple from all he wished he was

but that isn’t the whole story

because not long afterwards
when the nets were empty
with the dawn breaking
and the whole mess of last week
let alone the last three years
seemed unable to shift from their shoulders
the disciples saw a man
on the shoreline lighting a fire
who signalled that the net
belonged to the other side of the boat
the wrong side
the side they never fish from

and as they had nothing to lose
for everything had already been lost
in that mess of faith and hope and rumour
the net went down

and was hardly able to come up again
so full of every variety of fish it was

and then it clicked
the whole thing clicked
Peter recognised the man
the man saw Peter
the disciples shouted
the promise fulfilled
the light sparkled
and Peter recognised the look
the same look
as that fireside glance
as they led him away a week ago
not anger and disappointment
but grace, compassion and forgiveness
and everything came together
and they rushed to meet each other
with the others carrying fish
and they cried
and spoke
and ate and laughed
and then came the question

“Do you love me?”

and from all the mess
that had troubled Peter since the denial
came a hope

“Do you love me?”

and from the darkness of the shadows
came a shard of light

“Do you love me?”

and from the chaos of salvation
came the holy question

and Peter
gasping for words
and prising the hope
and reaching for life again
“Yes, you know I do”

and the messy holiness parted
for but a moment
and he saw who he was
and knew Jesus was right
there was the vision
the hope
the rock of faith he stood upon

The chaos would return
the mess would rise again
but for now
there was a path
a promise
a person
and he would walk
on solid ground
and build that church
in which we meet today

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