Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

June 2014: Fire

fire 2014 flyer


Many candles in centre, mostly large - only one central one is lit before the start

No lights on in the church at the start - it was still daylight. Candles are only source of light.

Images on main screen

1. Welcome:

[steve] mention history of this service, mark pierson / mike riddell at parallel universe in auckland mid 90s, then cafe church in sydney late 90s, then grace in june 2000. Always the ending of the service gets lost.

2. intro:

[steve] let us recognise the lives that we are in, the weeks that we have had, the moment all around us. let us seek stillness, in each others' presence, and in the company of god...

few moments of silence

3. The Fire of God's Presence

video of burning car on main screen
here on youtube
or for original

[reader 1] Exodus 3 v 1-5

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a car. Moses saw that though the car was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the car does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the car, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

[steve] "take off your shoes... we stand before the fire of god's presence"

congregation take off their shoes

we light all the candles from the central one, using long matches

we all say together [words on screen]:

The word of the Lord is a fire in my heart and a hammer in my bones. May the fire embrace us. May the fire deliver us. May the fire purify us. May the fire enliven us. May the fire roar. May the fire spread. Fire of God, we welcome you.

4. The Fire of God's Acceptance

congregation put shoes back on
we go outside
stand around the lit brazier

[reader 2] Isaiah 6 v 1-7

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

A burning coal is carried around the group using tongs. People light long matches from the hot coal as it passes around with the words "the fire of god's acceptance". Original intent was to use sparklers but they couldn't be obtained in time.

5. The Fire of Revealing

[printed out as 'title card' since we were outside]

still outside
[reader 3] 1 Corinthians 3/11-15

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

[steve] some thoughts by Brian Heflin [blogger c. 2000]:

I see it as God's mercy that He does not speak as clearly as He is able. I think it has something to do with the dynamic of Accountability. Think of Accountability as your Flammability Factor. The closer you approach the heat of the Consuming Fire the more refined you must be. The clearer you see and hear, the more you are responsible for that knowledge. If you are loaded down with flammable baggage, it is dangerous for you to snuggle up close to the bonfire.

If this metaphor holds up, it suggests to me that what we name God's "wrath" is nothing more than the times God does draw close, and as a result, Impurity goes up in flames. Those who get roasted are just too entwined with the Rubbish. When the garbage man comes for the trash, those clinging tight to the trash will have a very unpleasant encounter. The Scriptures recount many times that God's glory would manifest; without exception, things would start to heat up something fierce and toasty. Perfect Love is absolutely incompatible with Unloving, yet, is there anyone that is so distant that they are completely cut off from any glimmer of warmth and light from that Blaze?

Ritual of burning:

Set out a wide range of newspapers and magazines. Introduction talks about how fire destroys, changes and transforms those things it touches. Invited people to spend time looking through the papers to find articles and photographs of things and events we would like to see changed, purified or removed. Then return and gather around the flames.

One voice says:

As the flames of a fire consume paper – may the fire of your Spirit cauterise those things which separate us from you.

As the flames of a fire purify gold – may the fire of your Spirit help us to transform our world into your heaven.

As the flames of a fire turn paper to ash and water to steam – may the fire of your spirit inspire us to know that another way is possible.

As the flames of a fire warm our bodies – may the fire of your spirit set our hearts and minds on fire that the ordinary may be made glorious.

Invite people to put the articles and newspapers on the flame.

Say together the following prayer:

Flame of purity – cleanse us
Flame of beauty – inspire us
Flame of wisdom - guide us
Flame of truth - lead us
Flame of love - encourage us

go back indoors

6. The Fire of Suffering

[reader 4] 1 Peter 1/3-9

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The responses
O God, make speed to save them
O Lord, make haste to help them

were sung - Catherine taught the congregation before we prayed.

Let us pray

We remember before God

her people called to be peacemakers among those who lust for war
her people called to be educated among those who fear knowledge

O God, make speed to save them
O Lord, make haste to help them

We remember before God

his people called to demonstrate restraint in cultures of excess
his people called to full humanity among those who impose rigid stereotypes

O God, make speed to save them
O Lord, make haste to help them

We remember before God

her people called to compassion among those who demand cruelty
her people called to openness in places of concealment

O God, make speed to save them
O Lord, make haste to help them

We remember before God

his people called to honesty among the corrupt
his people called to seek justice among vested interests

O God, make speed to save them
O Lord, make haste to help them

We remember before God

her people called to speak where no mention of Christ is permitted
her people called to loyalty where Christianity is seen as betrayal

O God, make speed to save them
O Lord, make haste to help them

Lead your people to freedom, O God.
And banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

God who is the source of all holy desires, all wise words, and all just actions; give to your servants the peace which the world cannot give; so that our hearts are ready to obey your commandments, and so that we may live in rest and quietness without fear of enemies; through the merits of Jesus Christ or saviour; amen.

7. The Fire of Witness

[reader 6] Acts 2

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’

all say together [words on screen]:

we are the bush that burns
we are the holy ground
we are the place from which god says

may god who is charcoal burn us like incense
may god who is match tinder us like driftwood

may god who is lightning strike us like trees
may god who is strobe pierce us like smoke

may god who is headlight sight us like night
may god who is coal warm us like room

may god who is torch search us like cellar
may god who is star guide us like ship

may god who is spark ignite us like petrol
may god who is blowtorch weld us like steel

may god who is taper touch us like candle
may god who is furnace refine us like gold

may god who is iron smooth us like silk
may god who is fire melt us like ice

may god send us out in the power of the spirit
as firestarters in the world

ablaze and yet alive
consumed and not destroyed

to be signs, dangers and comforts
in the name of christ


8. outro:

Firestarter by the Prodigy [instrumental version from Maxi single] over final slide


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