Weekly Church Service – Fifth Sunday of Lent: 29 March 2020


‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord; ‘whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.’  John 11:25-26                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Life-giving God,

your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death:

breathe upon us with the power of your Spirit,

that we may be raised to new life in Christ,

and serve you in holiness and righteousness all our days;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

  • Ezekiel 37:1-14
  • Psalm 130
  • Romans 8:6-11
  • John 11:1-45

next week

  • Isaiah 50:4-9a
  • Psalm 31:9-18
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Matthew 26:14-27:66

Lent 5

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, tied hand and food with burial bands, and his face wrapped in a cloth.  “Untie him and let him go.”

As was the case in John’s account of the healing of the man born blind (last Sunday’s Gospel), the raising of Lazarus is more than just a sign of Jesus’ love and compassion.  Each of the seven miracles that John includes in his Gospel (“the Book of Signs,” as this section of John’s Gospel is titled) is dramatized by the evangelist to underscore some dimension of the redemptive nature of Jesus’ work.  Today’s Gospel, the climactic sign in John’s Gospel, is presented in five distinct, self-contained scenes: Jesus receiving the news of Lazarus’ death, the disciples’ protesting Jesus’ return to Judea, Martha’s pleading with Jesus, Jesus’ emotional arrival at the tomb, and the miraculous raising of Lazarus.

The raising of Lazarus is clearly intended by John to demonstrate Jesus’ power over life and death.  The raising of Lazarus plays like a rehearsal for the events next week’s liturgies will celebrate.

As Jesus called out to Lazarus to be untied from the wrappings of the dead and to be free to live once again, so we are called to be free from those things that keep us too busy from loving and being loved.

Resurrection is an attitude, a perspective that finds hope in the hardest times and uncovers life among the ruined, that reveals light in the darkest night.  To each one of us belongs Jesus’ work of resurrection at Lazarus’s tomb: to help others free themselves from their tombs of dark hopelessness and the fear and sadness that bind them.  

                                                                                © Connections/MediaWorks

  •     Lent 5

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Weekly Church Service – Fourth Sunday of Lent: 22 March 2020


‘I am the light of the world,’ says the Lord; ‘those who follow me will have the light of life.’ John 8:12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


Gracious God,

in order that we children of earth 

might discern good from evil 

you sent your Son to be the light of the world: 

as the light of Christ shines upon us,

may we learn what pleases you, 

and live in truth and goodness; 

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, 

who is alive and reigns with you and 

the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

  • 1 Samuel 16:1-13
  • Psalm 23
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41

next week

  • Ezekiel 37:1-14
  • Psalm 130
  • Romans 8:6-11
  • John 11:1-45

Lent 4

The healing of the man born blind: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him … “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do not see might become blind.”

In his accounts of Jesus’ “signs,” the writer of the Fourth Gospel displays great skills as a dramatist.  His story of the healing of the man born blind is really a play with six scenes: the blind beggar’s healing with the mud Jesus mixes on the Sabbath; the townsfolk’s reaction to his cure; the beggar’s testimony before the Pharisees; the testimony of the blind man’s parents; the beggar’s second appearance before the Pharisees (resulting in his expulsion); the beggar’s return to Jesus.

While his synoptic counterparts recount Jesus’ miracles as manifestations of his great love and compassion, John “stages” Jesus’ miracle to reveal the deeper meanings of Jesus’ mission of redemption as the Messiah.  The healing of the blind beggar heightens the tension between Jesus and the Pharisees.  The teaching of this itinerant Rabbi threatens the structured and exalted life of the scribes and Pharisees.  They seek to discredit Jesus – and this miracle gives them the opportunity.  In using spittle, kneading clay and rubbing it on the man’s eyes, Jesus breaks the strict rules prohibiting any kind of manual labour on the Sabbath.  The miracle itself becomes secondary; the issue becomes Jesus’ breaking of the Sabbath.  Jesus’ teachings and healings so threaten the comfortably ordered lives of the Jewish leaders that they seek some way to discredit what he has done, so they condemn Jesus’ mixing of the mud as a clear violation of the Jewish prohibition of any kind of work on the Sabbath.  

The inquisition of the blind man and his parents and his expulsion from the temple are important parts of Jesus’ story for the evangelist and his readers.  John and his community of Jewish-Christians are experiencing the same rejection: many of them have been expelled from their synagogues and the temple for their belief in Jesus as the Messiah 

Our faith, our embracing of the Spirit of God, demands that we see things not with the eyes of practicality, self-interest and profitability alone, but with the eyes of Christ’s selflessness and humility: to see beyond appearances and superficialities and look deeper to discover the timeless and profound truths of the human heart.  To see the world in the light of Christ empowers us to re-create our world, to shatter the darkness of injustice and hate with the light of justice and compassion.

Jesus says that the man he heals was born blind “so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”  In his blindness, the man’s healing becomes the manifestation of God’s goodness and grace for his family and neighbours.  Christ calls all of us to such an understanding of faith: that the moments of greatest hurt and difficulty in our lives — the crosses laid upon our shoulders — can become manifestations of God’s grace through understanding compassion, and patient forgiveness.    

© Connections/MediaWorks

  •     Lent 4

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Weekly Church Service – Third Sunday of Lent: 15 March 2020


‘The water that I will give,’ says the Lord, ‘will become in you a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’  John 4:14                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


O God, the fountain of life,

to a humanity parched with thirst

you offer the living water that springs 

from the Rock, our Saviour Jesus Christ:

stir up within your people the gift of your Spirit,

that we may profess our faith with freshness

and announce with joy the wonder of your love.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity 

of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

  • Exodus 17:1-7
  • Psalm 95
  • Romans 5:1-11
  • John 4:5-42

next week

  • 1 Samuel 16:1-13
  • Psalm 23
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41

Lent 3

Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well: “…whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst, a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have done.  Could he possibly be the Christ?”

Jesus’ meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well illustrates the principal role of Jesus as the Messiah: to reconcile all men and women to the Father.  As a Samaritan, the woman is considered an outcast by the Jews; as a known adulteress, she is scorned by her own village.  With kindness and dignity, Jesus reconciles her to God.

This Gospel has long had a special place in baptismal catechesis: In revealing himself as the Messiah to the Samaritan woman, Jesus speaks to her of the fountain of water he will give — the life-giving waters of baptism.  From Jacob’s well springs forth the living waters of the Messiah Christ.

The Samaritan woman is, for the evangelist John, a model of a disciple’s experience of faith:  In a personal encounter with Jesus, she confronts her own sinfulness and need for forgiveness; she then comes to realize the depth of God’s love for her; reconciled with God, her life is transformed; she is then sent forth to share with others her “faith story” of what she has seen and heard of this Jesus.

Water is the predominant symbol in today’s readings:  As water sustains life and cleans away the grime and filth that can diminish and destroy life, in the waters of baptism, the sins that alienate us from God are washed away and we are reborn in the Spirit of compassion and community.

All of us who have encountered Jesus are called to be reconcilers, not judges; we are called to lift people up, not drive them to their knees.  In so many ordinary ways we can help one another realize new life and hope in Christ if we are willing to tear down the walls that divide us, to reach over the distances between us, to build bridges over chasms of mistrust and prejudice.  

Easter transformation begins with a recognition of our sins and failings.  As Jesus confronts the woman at the well with the reality of her own sinfulness and brokenness, we must confront our own sinfulness and, in doing so, realize our need for God.  Sin is a reality in the lives of each one of us; but through Christ, forgiveness, reconciliation and rebirth, are just as real and possible.  © Connections/MediaWorks

  •     Lent 3

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Weekly Church Service – Second Sunday of Lent: 8 March 2020


God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. John 3:16                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


God of mercy, 

you are full of tenderness and compassion,

slow to anger, rich in mercy,

and always ready to forgive:

grant us grace to renounce all evil and to cling to Christ,

that in every way we may prove to be your loving children;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

  • Gen 12:1-4a
  • Psalm 121
  • Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
  • John 3:1-17

next week

  • Exodus 17:1-7
  • Psalm 95
  • Romans 5:1-11
  • John 4:5-42

Lent 2

Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus: “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The Pharisee and teacher Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the middle of the night (in John’s Gospel, night/darkness symbolizes the lack of faith/light).  A man of learning, Nicodemus is one of the Jewish elites who were favourably disposed toward Jesus but were struggling to grasp the full meaning of his teachings.  For the writer of the Fourth Gospel, Nicodemus represents exactly the kind of timid disciple the evangelist seeks to persuade to come forward and openly profess his/her faith in Jesus as the Christ.

In their exchange, Jesus explains that the kingdom of God he proclaims transcends time and place, that God’s reign is a state of being: to enter the realm of God demands an interior transformation in the Spirit.  Invocating the image of Moses’ staff of a bronze serpent raised to save the Israelites from the bite of poisonous snakes (Numbers 21:9), Jesus foretells his own crucifixion, when he will be “lifted up” for the glory of God and the salvation of humankind.  And, in one of the most famous verses in John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of a God who is motivated by love so great that the Father has given the world his own Son not to condemn but to save.

Despite our own life’s experience, wealth and status, we are incomplete and lost until we are “reborn in water and the Spirit”: to be immersed in the Gospel principles of justice and reconciliation, to be transformed in God’s spirit of humility and compassion.

To be “born in the Spirit” is to see things with the eyes of God, to honour what God honours, to love as God loves us.  The kingdom of God that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel transcends boundaries and labels, stereotypes and traditions, the colour of flags and the colour of skin.  In God’s eyes, we are all his children; in God’s heart, we are all brothers and sisters to one another.

While we tend to see God as the great cosmic Ruler, a mysterious Being totally detached from us and removed from the human experience, Jesus reveals God as a loving Father who created us and our world out of love and seeks to restore his beloved creation through an even greater act of love: God’s becoming human himself in order that his beloved humanity might realize God’s dream of becoming holy and sacred.                                                                    © Connections/MediaWorks

Dear Heavenly Father, 

thank you for the opportunity to serve you and others who are in the most vulnerable positions. Despite the realities surrounding us being bitter, help us to continue working towards our eternal benefits. Continue to lead and guide us for the expansion of your kingdom. Help us to bring comfort and hope and show your everlasting love to those defeated in spirit. Thank you because we believe you hear us when we ask you. Amen. 

Enelesi Chipandwe, Reformed Open Community Schools, Zambia

  •     Lent 2

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Weekly Church Service – First Sunday of Lent: 1 March 2020


We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Almighty God, 

whose Son fasted forty days in the wilderness,

and was tempted as we are, yet did not sin:

give us grace to direct our lives in obedience to

your will, that, as you know our weakness,

so we may know your power to save;

through Jesus Christ our Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

  • Gen 2:15-17, 3:1-7
  • Psalm 32
  • Romans 5:12-21
  • Matthew 4:1-11

next week

  • Gen 12:1-4a
  • Psalm 121
  • Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
  • John 3:1-17

Lent 1

Jesus was led by the Spirit in the desert to be tempted by the devil.

In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ 40-day desert experience, Jesus is confronted with several choices.  All of the tempter’s offers would have Jesus sin against the great commandment of Deuteronomy: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  (Deuteronomy 6: 5). The tempter offers comfort, wealth and power, but Jesus chooses, instead, the course of humble and prayerful servanthood that the Father has chosen for him. All of Jesus’ responses to the devil’s challenges are found in Deuteronomy (8: 3, 6: 16, 6: 13).

The Spirit who called Jesus to the wilderness calls us, as well, to a forty-day “desert experience,” a time to peacefully and quietly renew and re-create our relationship with God, that God might become the centre of our lives in every season.

This First Sunday of Lent confronts us with choices: personal profit, comfort and glory or the life of God. The season of Lent calls us to embrace God’s Spirit of truth that we may make the choices demanded by our complicated and complex world with courage, insight and faith.

Lent is the season for meaningful fasting: fasting not just for the sake “of giving something up” but fasting from whatever derails or hampers our relationship with God and alienates us from others, fasting from everyday distractions in order to put our time and energy into the things of God.

© Connections/MediaWorks

God, show us how to plant the seeds that one day will grow.

To water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

To lay foundations that will need further development.

To provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and our work may be incomplete,

but it is a beginning, a step along the way,

An opportunity for Your grace to enter and do the rest.

Remind us that we are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Adapted, originally shared by Archbishop Romero of El Salvador

  •     Lent 1

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Weekly Church Service – Transfiguration of Christ: 23 February 2020


Suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!’ Matthew 17:5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


O God, 

in the transfiguration of your Son

you confirmed the mysteries of the faith

by the witness of Moses and Elijah,

and in the voice from the cloud

you foreshadowed our adoption as your children:

make us, with Christ, heirs of your glory,

and bring us to enjoy its fullness;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now

and for ever. Amen.

  • Exodus 24:12-18
  • Psalm 2
  • 2 Peter 1:16-21
  • Matthew 17:1-9

next week

  • Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
  • Psalm 32
  • Romans 5:12-21
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Transfiguration of Christ

Jesus was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

On this Sunday before the beginning of Lent, we hear Matthew’s account of the extraordinary transformation of Jesus that Peter, James and John witness on Mount Tabor.

Matthew’s account of the “transfiguration” (which takes place six days after his first prediction of his passion and his first instructions on the call to discipleship) is filled with images from the First Testament: the voice which repeats Isaiah’s “Servant” proclamation, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, the dazzling white garments of Jesus.  Matthew’s primary interest is the disciples’ reaction to the event: their awe at this spectacular vision will soon wither into fear at the deeper meaning of the transfiguration — a meaning that they do not yet grasp.  As the disciples will later understand, the transfiguration is a powerful sign that the events ahead of them in Jerusalem are indeed the Father’s will.

The use of the Greek word “transfiguration” indicates that what the disciples saw in Jesus on Mount Tabor was a divinity that shone from within him.  This coming Lenten season (which begins on Wednesday) is a time for each of us to experience such a “transfiguration” within ourselves – that the life of God within us may shine forth in lives dedicated to compassion, justice and reconciliation.

Peter’s reaction to the Christ of the Transfiguration contrasts sharply with his reaction to the Christ of Good Friday:  While totally taken with the transfigured Christ in today’s Gospel, Peter is afraid to even acknowledge knowing the condemned Christ.  Lent calls us to descend Mount Tabor with Jesus and journey with him to Jerusalem and take up our cross with him, so that the divinity we see in the transfigured Jesus may become in us the Easter life of the Risen Christ.                      © Connections/MediaWorks

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Transfiguration

Weekly Church Service – Sixth Sunday of Epiphany: 16 February 2020


Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Psalm 119:1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Almighty God, 

you gave the law to guide our lives:

grant that we may never shrink from your commandments,

but, as we are taught by your Spirit,

may fulfil your law in perfect love;

through Christ our Lord and Master,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God now and for ever. Amen.

  • Deut 10:12-22
  • Psalm 119:1-8
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
  • Matthew 5:21-37

next week

  • Exodus 24:12-18
  • Psalm 2
  • 2 Peter 1:16-21
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Epiphany 6

“… if you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Today’s Gospel is the first indication of trouble between Jesus and the leaders of the Jews.  The role of the scribes evolved from that of recorders and codifiers of the Torah into that of interpreters of the specific rules and regulations of the Torah.  The Pharisees, the “separated brethren,” removed themselves from everyday activity in order to keep the Law assiduously, thereby serving as a model to the Jewish people who held them in great esteem.

   
While the scribes and Pharisees were extreme legalists in their interpretation of the Law, Jesus is the ultimate supra-legalist.  He takes their legalities a step further: The Spirit of God, which gives life and meaning to the Law, transcends the letter of the Law.  Jesus preaches that we cannot be satisfied with merely avoiding the act of murder but must also curb the insults and anger that lead to murder; we cannot be satisfied with justifying separation and estrangement but must actively seek reconciliation and forgiveness; we cannot be satisfied with just fulfilling contracts in order to avoid being sued but must seek to become honest and trustworthy persons in all our dealings.  Jesus comes to teach an approach to life that is motivated neither by edict nor fear but by the recognition and celebration of the humanity we share with all men and women.

   
For Jesus, the human heart is decisive.  It is the “new” Law’s emphasis on the attitude of the heart that perfects and fulfils the principles and rituals of the “old.”

By our compassion and caring for others, by our ethical and moral convictions, by our sense of awareness and gratitude for all that God has done for us, we do the great work of passing on the Gospel of reconciliation and justice – and God is with us as we struggle to figure out and explain the complexities and struggles of life for the benefit of ourselves and our children and those who overwhelmed by it all who come to us for help.

      
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of “fulfilling” the Law — not abolishing it.  Jesus seeks to restore the spirit of mercy, justice and reconciliation that gives meaning and direction to every just legal code, challenging us to look beyond legalisms and social and cultural yardsticks — and our own narrow interests — to recognize people in need and our responsibility as followers of Jesus to seek them out, to advocate for them, to welcome them.   

Faith begins in the heart, Jesus says.  What we say, what we do, what we decide, are all responses to the God who speaks to us in the depths of our hearts, the God in whose image and likeness we have been created.   Christ speaks not of rules and regulations but the much deeper and profound values of the human heart.  

The truth is not contained in laws, oaths, statistics or rituals but in the Spirit of God that prompts us to make the decisions we make, the wisdom that leads us to the enactment of just laws and the celebrations of rituals that meaningfully remember and celebrate God’s great love for us.  

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asks us to consider the weight and meaning of what we say – and to realize the chasm that often exists between our words and our actions.      © Connections/MediaWorks

  •     Epiphany 6

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Weekly Church Service – Fifth Sunday of Epiphany: 9 February 2020


Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Faithful God, 

you have appointed us your witnesses,

to be a light that shines in the world:

let us not hide the bright hope you have given us,

but tell everyone your love,

revealed in Jesus Christ the Lord,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,

for ever and ever. Amen.

  • Isaiah 58:1-9a
  • Psalm 112
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-13
  • Matthew 5:13-20

next week

  • Deut 10:12-22
  • Psalm 119:1-8
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
  • Matthew 5:21-37

Epiphany 5

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
“You are the light of the world.  Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Unsalted popcorn and an electrical power outage are all that we need to appreciate Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel reading (the continuation of the Sermon on the Mount). Through the images of salt and light, Jesus impresses upon his listeners the vocation of Christians: As I am salt and light to the world, so you, as my disciples, must reflect me to the world.

Salt and sun, of themselves, are not good for very much and can even be harmful.  Their value is realized only when they mix or interact with other things.  Their addition brings out the fullness of whatever they come in contact with.

A handful of salt brings out the natural flavour in every kind of food, from filet to popcorn.  The four ounces of salt in our bodies enable our muscles to contract, our blood to circulate, our hearts to beat.  Salt purifies and softens, cleans and preserves.  Salt is an important element in making glass, building roads, manufacturing soap and shampoo, bleaching paper and cooling nuclear reactors.  Salt is used both in freezing and in de-icing.  There are over 14,000 uses of salt – but of and by itself, salt is useless.  Eating a handful of salt does not taste particularly good – it might even make you sick to your stomach. 

Light’s true beauty is realized only when we look away from its source and toward what it illuminates.  Light transforms the cold terror of night into the warm assurance of day.  Light enables us to discover, to study, to discern, to behold the beauty of our world and the wonders of God’s creation.  Light warms, nurtures, sustains, reveals, cheers.

Salt is perhaps the humblest of all chemicals; light is among the most generous of all physical properties.

To be “salt for the earth” is to bring Christ’s compassion and hope into our homes, workplaces, schools and communities; our simplest acts of charity can be a “light” for our world and unmistakable evidence of the presence of God among us.  

Jesus’ call to his followers to be “salt” and “light” for the world is a challenge to live the Gospel we have heard and profess to believe.  Until our hopes for justice become our work for justice, until our prayers for peace and unity in the world are first lived in our own home and community, until our professed belief in God as Father of all affects every one of our relationships, we are as good as flavourless salt, we are as useful as light hidden away under a basket.                © Connections/MediaWorks

  •     Epiphany 5

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Weekly Church Service – Fourth Sunday of Epiphany: 2 February 2020


What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Righteous God, 

you confound the world’s wisdom by giving 

your blessing to the lowly and pure in heart:

give us such a hunger and thirst for justice

and perseverance in striving for peace,

that in our words and deeds

the world may see the promise of your kingdom,

which has been revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord, 

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the 

Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  

  • Micah 6:1-8
  • Psalm 15
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
  • Matthew 5:1-12

next week

  • Isaiah 58:1-9a
  • Psalm 112
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-13
  • Matthew 5:13-20

Epiphany 4

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven …

Today’s Gospel is the beautiful “Beatitudes” reading from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew’s compilation of the sayings and teachings of Jesus. The word “blessed,” as used by Jesus in the eight maxims, was written in Greek as makarios, a word which indicates a joy that is God-like in its serenity and totality.

Specific Greek words used throughout the text indicate several important meanings:
The poor in spirit:’ those who are detached from material things, who put their trust in God.

The sorrowing:” this Beatitude speaks of the value of caring and compassion — the hallmarks of Jesus’ teaching.

The lowly:” the Greek word used here is praotes — true humility that banishes all pride; the “blessed” who accept the necessity to learn and grow and realize their need to be forgiven.

They who show mercy:” the Greek word chesedh used here indicates the ability to get “inside a person’s a skin” until we can see things from his/her perspective, consider things from his/her experience mind and feel his/her joys and sorrows.

The peacemakers:” peace is not merely the absence of trouble or discord but peace is a positive condition: it is everything that provides and makes for humanity’s highest good; note, too, that the “blessed” are described as peace-makers and not simply peace-lovers.

The Beatitudes call us to a very different set of values than those of our dog-eat-dog-success-is-everything-get-them- before-they-get-you-bottom-line-based world.  We are called, as Zephaniah (Reading 1) preaches, “to seek the Lord in all things.”

As a people of faith we are called to focus our lives on the “blessedness” of the Sermon on the Mount: to seek our joy and fulfilment in God above all things. Our “blessedness” cannot be measured by our portfolios, celebrity or intellect, but in our ability to grasp that we exist not in and of ourselves but by and in the love of God.

The “blessed” of the Gospel have embraced a spirit of humble gratitude before the God who gives, nurtures and sustains our lives.  The “blessed” seek to respond to such unfathomable love the only way they can: by returning that love to others, God’s children, as a way of returning it to God. © Connections/MediaWorks
       

  •     Epiphany 4

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Epiphany-4-A-2020

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