Weekly Church Service: Epiphany 6; 17 of February 2019 – includes sermon audio

 Includes Sermon Audio

Sentence:

Blessed are you when people hate you on account of the son of man. Rejoice and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.
Luke 6:23


Collect of the day

Righteous God,
you challenge the powers that rule this world and you show favour to the oppressed:
instil in us a true sense of justice,
that we may discern the signs of your kingdom
and strive for right to prevail;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.


Today’s readings

  • Jeremiah 17:5 – 10
  • Psalm 1
  • 1 Corinthians 15:12 – 20
  • Luke 6:17 – 26

next week:

  • Genesis 45:3 – 11, 15
  • Psalm 37:1 – 11, 40 – 41
  • 1 Corinthians 15:35 – 50
  • Luke 6:27 – 38

A thought to ponder upon

Epiphany 6 – Luke 6:17 – 26

In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of “Beatitudes” but in Luke’s sermon on the plain, Jesus drops a series of bombshells. He takes the accepted standards of the times and turns them upside down. To those who are considered to be the “haves” of society, Jesus warns “woe to you” – wealth and power are not the stuff of the kingdom of God, but to the “have nots” Jesus says, “happy and blessed are you” – love, humble selflessness, compassion and generosity are the treasures of God’s realm. Jesus promises his followers poverty, suffering, persecution and grief – but is there hope in God we will be rewarded with perfect and complete joy.

This will be a constant theme throughout Luke’s Gospel. Jesus teaches that wealth and power are not the stuff of the reign of God. But humility, selflessness and compassion are the treasures of God’s kingdom.

In the sermon on the plane, Jesus challenges us to put aside the “woe” of self-centredness and embrace the “blessedness” that can only be experienced by seeing ourselves not as the centre of the world but as a means for transforming the world for the “blessedness” of all.

Luke’s version of the Beatitudes challenges everything our consumer oriented society holds dear. While wealth, power and celebrity are the sought-after prizes of our world, the treasures of God reign are love, humble selflessness, compassion and generosity. In freeing ourselves from the pursuit of the things of this world, we liberate ourselves to seek the lasting things of God. © Connections/Media Works


Sermon Audio

Bishop Jeremy James preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓


Grow your faith in God, Mix with other Christians, Come to church

Weekly Church Service – Epiphany 4 – 3rd of February 2019 – includes sermon audio


 Includes Sermon Audio

Sentence:

Now we see in a mirror dimly; but then we will see face-to-face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:14


Collect of the day

Living God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.


Today’s readings

Today’s readings:
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30

Next week:
Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 138
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 5:1-11


A student’s prayer for a new school year

Lord Jesus, I ask for your help as I begin this new school year.
Allow me to experience your presence in the many blessings you put before me.
Open my eyes to the new challenges and exciting opportunities that this new school year brings.
Open my heart and mind to new friends and new teachers.
Give me a generous spirit to be enthusiastic with my studies, and courage to accept new opportunities.
Help me to be attentive to my teachers and let me experience your presence in my new friends.
Jesus, inspire me to do my best this year.
Amen.


A thought to ponder upon

Epiphany 4-Luke 4:21-30

There is a cost to being a prophet; to proclaim what is right, just and good can be a lonely, isolating experience.

Today’s gospel continues last Sundays account of Jesus teaching in the synagogue at Nazareth. After proclaiming the fulfilment of Isaiah’s vision of the Messiah (last Sundays gospel), Jesus sits down-the posture assumed by one who is about to teach-and begins by explaining in no uncertain terms that he cannot perform any healings or miracles there because of their lack of faith. He teaches that the Messiah does not come for Nazareth alone, but for every race, culture and nation of every place and age.

His explanation is met with indignation and anger. Many Jews of the time was so convinced that they were God’s own people that they despised everyone else. They could not accept Jesus idea that others-Gentiles!-were as loved by God as they were. Jesus is forced to leave his home town.

Standing up for what is right, speaking out for such things as ethics and justice, either call of the Prophet. To speak-and to listen-as prophets demands the courage and conviction to risk isolation, ridicule and persecution for the the sake of the justice and mercy of God.

God continues to raise up parents and teachers, preachers and ministers, friends and classmates to help us to realise our own call to be prophets of God’s word, to embrace God’s grace, enabling us to transform our own Nazareth into God’s dwelling place.

The core of the gospel is the revelation that God became what we are so that we can better understand what God is and grasp what God is about: love, forgiveness, compassion, justice, peace. © Connections/media works.


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

Weekly Church Service – Epiphany 3 – 27th of January 2019 – includes sermon audio

 Includes Sermon Audio

Sentence:

Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah; “the spirit of the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives.”
Luke 4: 18


Collect of the day

life-giving God, who sent your son Jesus to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority; anoint us with your spirit, that we too may bring good news to the poor, bind up the broken-hearted, and proclaim liberty to the captive, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Today’s readings

Nehemiah 8:1 – 10
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 12:12 – 31
Luke 4:14 – 21

Next week:
Jeremiah 1:4 – 10
Psalm 71:1 – 8
1 Corinthians 13:1 – 13
Luke 4:21 – 30



A thought to ponder upon

Epiphany 3 – Luke 4:14 – 21

Luke, the author of this years cycle of gospel readings, is a “second-generation” Christian. Greek by birth and physician by profession, he was a traveling companion of Paul, through whom he met Mark and perhaps Peter himself. He writes his gospel mainly for gentiles like himself. For Luke, this Jesus fulfils not only Jewish dreams but every people’s hopes for wholeness and holiness.

Luke’s Gospel reflects the scientist precision in locating dates, places and people; but Luke’s Gospel also exhibits an interest in people rather than ideas. His account celebrates the compassion of Jesus for the outcast and “second-class citizens” of Jewish society, including and especially women.

Luke begins his gospel and the classic Greece historical style by personally (he is the only one of the four evangelists who ever refers to himself in the first person) assuring his readers (addressed in the singular “Theophilus” Greek for “friend of God”) of the historical accuracy and theological authenticity of the research he has gathered to assemble this story.

According to Luke’s account, Jesus begins his teaching ministry in Galilee. Galilee – a name which comes from the Hebrew word for circle – was a great agricultural region encircled by non-Jewish nations and cultures, thereby earning a reputation for being the most progressive and least conservative area of Palestine. A teacher with a “new” message such as the Rabbi Jesus would be expected to receive a favourable hearing in the openness of a Galilean society.

Jesus returns to his hometown, the Galilean city of Nazareth. Nazareth was a city of great importance in Israel’s history and economy, located on the major routes to Jerusalem, Alexandria and Damascus. In the Nazareth that synagogue (the place where local Jewish communities outside Jerusalem would gather for teaching and prayer) Jesus announces, using words of the prophet Isaiah, the fulfilment of God’s promise of the Messiah for Israel.

Today we hear in the opening words of Luke’s Gospel his reason for compiling his gospel. He writes for Theophilus “so that [you] may see how reliable the instruction you have received.” The story of Jesus who comes to “the crying glad tidings to the poor… To announce a year of favour from the Lord” should make a profound difference in the lives of all who hear it. In his humanity, Jesus reveals a God who is approachable and present to us in all that is good and right and loving around us.

While Israel longed for a Messiah who would lead them to victory in vindication, Jesus the Messiah comes with a much different message of humility, reconciliation compassion and forgiveness. The “good news” of the gospel calls to become rather than to shun, to lift out rather than condemn, to seek the humble way of servant hood rather than the satisfaction of self – righteousness.

In the father’s son, Isaiah’s vision of a world transformed and reconciled in God’s peace and justice is fulfilled, in God’s Christ, God recreates us and our world in the light of grace and the spirit of compassion. In baptism we take on the work of “fulfilling” Isaiah’s vision of healing, justice and reconciliation in our own “civilizations.”

We make Isaiah’s vision our reality in our own Nazareth’s in every act of hope we make happen, in every kindness prompted by God’s grace. As witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, as baptised disciples of his church, we inherit the spirit’s call to “bring glad tidings” and “proclaim the Lord’s favour” to the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, the oppressed, and the helpless. © Connections/Media Works


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

Weekly Church Service – 13 January, 2019: baptism of our Lord – includes sermon audio

 Includes Sermon Audio

Sentence:

The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “you are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22


Collect of the day

Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called to your service, strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and make us worthy of our calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Today’s readings

Isaiah 43:1 – 7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14 – 17
Luke 3:15 – 22

Next week:
Isaiah 62:1 – 5
Psalm 36:5 – 10
1 Corinthians 12:1 – 11
John 2: 1 – 11


A thought to ponder upon

Baptism of our Lord – Luke 3:15 – 22

Today’s gospel is the final event of the epiphany. Jesus’s baptism at the Jordan River by John. The Christmas season “officially” (liturgically) comes to an end today at the banks of the Jordan. Jesus is no longer the child in Bethlehem manger but the adult Redeemer making his way to Jerusalem. The good news spoken by the angels continues to unfold, the most wondrous part of the Christ stories yet be revealed.

Today, the same spirit that “anoints” the Messiah for his mission is to be about the work of Christmas in the new year, to seek out and find the lost, to heal the hurting, to feed the hungry, to free the in prison, to rebuild nations, to bring peace to all peoples everywhere.

Luke presents Jesus as the last person to be baptised by John, bringing John’s ministry to completion. Luke describes the scene with many images from the 1st testament.

  • The sky opens (“oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down” – Isaiah 63:19)
  • the spirit “descended upon him like a dove” (many rabbis likened the wind above the water at the dawn of Genesis to a dove hovering above its newborn. In employing this image Luke suggests that, in this Jesus, a new Genesis is about to take place)
  • the “voice from heaven” identifies and confirms Jesus (“ Here is my servant… My chosen one with whom I am well pleased” – Isaiah 42:1, today’s first reading, “the Lord said to me, “you are my son, this day I have begotten you” – Psalm 2:7)

Jesus’s baptism at the Jordan comes the moment of God’s “anointing” of his Messiah (the word Messiah means “anointed”) for the work he is about to do.

Baptism is more than just our “naming” ceremony but an ongoing process of becoming the people of faith that God calls us to be. New life in baptism, we claim the name of “Christian” and embrace all that holy name means, to live for others rather than for ourselves, in imitation of Christ.

Our baptism is made each one of us the “servant” of today’s readings, to bring forth in our world for justice, reconciliation and enlightenment of Christ, the “beloved son” and “favour” of God.

In baptism, the same spirit of compassion justice and peace that “descends” upon Jesus that at his baptism by John descends and rests upon us, compelling us to take the work of the gospel.

© Communications/MediaWorks


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

Weekly Church Service; Christmas 1, December 30th 2018 – Includes Sermon Audio

 Includes Sermon Audio

Christmas 1, December 30th 2018


Sentence:

I bring to you good news of great joy for all people: to you is born this day in the city of David a saviour, Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:10 – 11


Collect of the day

Gracious God, Creator and mother of the universe, be born in us again, as you were born long ago. Be born in us as you continue to be born again and again in the words and deeds of faithful people. Be born in us, as is light, as in Joy, as in Peace, as in Justice. Be born in us so that we may be the body of Christ in this time and this place. Amen.


Today’s readings

Isaiah 62:6 – 12
Psalm 97
Titus 3:4 – 6 a
Luke 2:1 – 20


A thought to ponder upon

Top Christmas traditions and their origins

by Jeremy Dixon and Stacey Conradt

The Christmas tree

Before Christianity was even conceived of, people in Europe used evergreen boughs to decorate their homes during the winter. The greenery reminded them that plants would return in abundance soon. As Christianity became more popular in Europe, and Germany in particular, the tradition was absorbed into it.

Advent calendars

Technically, Advent, a religious event that has been celebrated since the 4th century, the four-week period that starts on the Sunday closest to the November 30 feast day of St Andrew the apostle. Traditionally, it marked the period to prepare for Christmas as well as His 2nd coming. These days, it is mostly used as a countdown to Christmas for the religious and the nonreligious of life.

Mince pies

Early mince pies were made of meat, fruit and spice and inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine brought back by the Crusaders. They commonly had 13 ingredients representing Christ and the apostles and reform into a large oval shaped to represent the manger. Meat disappeared from the recipe by Victorian times.

Stockings

Leaving stockings at Christmas goes back to the legend of St Nicholas. Known as the gift giver, there were is an old tradition of leaving out cheese with hay inside them on December 5, the eve of St Nicholas’s feast day. Lucky children would discover that the hay they left had been replaced with treats or coins when they woke up the next morning. The Dutch later referred to St Nicholas as Sinterklaas and eventually, by English speakers as Santa Claus.

Christmas crackers

London sweet maker Tom Smith invented Christmas crackers the late 1840s. Inspired by traditional, paper wrapped French bonbons. Even though he included mottos or riddles inside each, it was not until he found a way to make them “crack” when pulled apart they took off. His sons Tom, Walter and Henry later added hats and novelty gifts.

Christmas pudding

Also known as plum or figgy pudding, this Christmas staple possibly has its roots as far back as the Middle Ages in which base portage known as frumently. By the mid-17th century, it was thicker and had developed into a desert with the addition of eggs, dried fruit and alcohol. In Victorian times plum pudding was a Christmas favourite. It is traditionally made a week before Advent on what is known as “mixup Sunday”.

Mistletoe

Hanging mistletoe in the homes is an ancient pagan practice adopted by early Christians. The word itself is Anglo-Saxon and the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe originated in England. Each kiss required a berry to be plucked until none remained.

Christmas carols

Carols were songs and dances of grace and joy. In time the practice of Carol singing carried over into the Christian era. Carols have been written through the centuries but the most familiar date from Victorian times. Today popular songs such as Bing Crosby’s white Christmas and Mariah Carey’s all the want for Christmas just as much part of Christmas as carols.

Christmas cards

Having helped set up the public records office in London (now the post office) Sir Henry Cole and artist John Horsley created the first Christmas cards in 1843 as a way of encouraging people to use its services. The cardboard greeting showed a happy group of people participating in a toast, along with the printed sentiment, “a Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you.” A thousand of them were printed that first year, and because it cost just a penny to mail a holiday hello to friends and family (the card itself was a shilling, or 12 times as much), the cards sold like hot cakes and a new custom was born.


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

Weekly Church Service; Advent three – 16 December 2018 – Includes sermon audio

 Includes Sermon Audio

Epiphany – 6th January 2019


Sentence:

Do not fear, the Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory, he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love. Zephaniah 3:16 – 17


Today’s readings

Zephaniah 3: 14 – 20
Song of Isaiah
Philippians 4: 4 – 7
Luke 3: 7 – 18


Collect of the day

Almighty God, you sent your son into the world where the wheat must be winnowed from chaff and evil clings even to what is good, let the fire of your spirit purge us of all corruption, so that, purified, we may wait eagerly for him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near, your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the holy spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen


A thought to ponder upon

Some thoughts on Luke 3:7 – 18

Today’s gospel is unique to Luke’s Gospel: a summary of the themes of John’s preaching.

The baptiser is approached by 2 groups whose professions were scorned by the Pharisees: tax collectors, who usually made handsome profits by gouging their fellow Jews, and Jewish soldiers who belong to the Roman peacekeeping force. John requires of them not a change of professions but a change of heart and attitude, that they perform their duties with honesty and integrity. John calls for selfless concern for one’s disadvantaged brothers and sisters.

John assures his Jewish listeners that he is not the Messiah; in fact, John considers himself lower than the lowest slave (only a non-Jewish slave could be required to loosen his Masters sandal strap and John does not presume to do even that).

In proclaiming the Messiah a “baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire,” John employs the image of “a winnowing – fan.” a winnowing fan was a flat, wooden, shovel like tool, used to toss grain into the air. The heavier grain fell to the ground and the chaff will blow away. In the same way, John says that, the Messiah will come to gather the “remnant” of Israel and destroyed the godless.

Like John’s proclamation at the river Jordan, we are called to be witnesses of God’s love by the love we extend to others; precursors of his justice by our unfailing commitment to what is right and good, lamps reflecting the light of Christ in our forgiveness, mercy and compassion, harvesters of souls through our humble and dedicated servant-hood.

Every act of compassion, justice and reconciliation is a sign of the “expectation” that “fills” every human heart for the coming of God’s kingdom in our time as well is in the time to come.© Connections/Media Works


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

Weekly Church Service; Advent one – 2 December 2018 – Includes Sermon Audio

 Includes Sermon Audio

Epiphany – 6th January 2019


Sentence:

Stand up and raise your hands, your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28


Today’s readings


Daniel 7: 9 – 10, 13 – 14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1: 4b–8


Collect of the day

Eternal God, you have taught us that the night is far spent, and the day is at hand. Keep us awake and alert, watching for your kingdom, and make us strong in faith, so that when Christ comes in glory to judge the earth, we may go out joyfully to greet him, and with yours saints, may worship you forever: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, now and forever. Amen.


A thought to ponder upon

Bethlehem and Bedlam: Weren’t they intimately related at the first Christmas when Jesus was born? Sometimes we forget that. Remember that Bedlam in Bethlehem that night? Just think of it – a crowded inn, a stable, a census, political intrigue, soldiers marching in the street, a busy city, people pushing and shoving, people scrambling for shelter. In that Bedlam in Bethlehem so many centuries ago, Christmas happened. Christmas broke through in that busy hectic uproar, it happened here and those with the eyes, ears, and hearts of faith saw it, heard it, and felt it.

This is the good news of Christmas; God meets us where we are. God breaks into our uproar, our busyness, our hectic pace, our darkness, and our confusion through the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem – Jesus, who we know as the King of Kings, the light of the world, and the gracious, forgiving one who understands.

In Jesus, God gives us a new understanding of what God is like, a new experience of God’s compassion and tenderness, a new relationship with God, not built on fear but built on love. Every now and then, in the mists of Bedlam, we find Bethlehem. We are reminded that God loves us, and that’s the thing that keeps us going. James W Moore


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

Weekly Church Service Christ the King – 25 November 2018 – Includes Sermon Audio

Includes Sermon Audio

Christ the King 25 November 2018


Sentence:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing.              Revelation 5:12


Today’s readings

Daniel 7: 9 – 10, 13 – 14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1: 4b–8


Collect of the day

Everlasting God, whose will is to restore all things in your well beloved son, our Lord and King; Grant that the people of earth, now divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his gentle and loving rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


A thought to ponder upon – John 18:33 – 37

We celebrate the kingship of Jesus with John’s Gospel account of what is perhaps Jesus’s most humiliating moment: his appearance before Pilate. It is a strange exchange: Pilate had been blackmailed by the Jewish establishment into executing Jesus for their ends: it is the accused who dominates the meeting and takes on the role of the inquisitor: Pilate has no idea what Jesus is talking about what he speaks about “the truth.”

Pilate, a man of no great talent or exceptional competence, was under a great deal of political pressure. He had needlessly alienated the Jews of Palestine by his cruelty, his insensitivity to their religious customs and his clumsy appropriation of funds from the temple treasury for public projects. Reports of his undistinguished performance had reached his superiors in Rome. Jesus proclaimed himself the ruler of the kingdom built on passion, humility, our love and truth – power that Pilate cannot comprehend in his small, narrow view of the world.

The kingdom of Jesus is not found in the world’s centres of power but within human hearts; it is built not by the deals among the power elites but by compassionate hands: Christ reigns neither by influence the wealth but by selfless charity and justice.

Are we a people who radiate thankfulness and appreciation?


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

Weekly Church Service 18th November 2018 – Includes Sermon Audio

Includes Sermon Audio

26th Sunday after Pentecost


Sentence:

The Lord will judge the ends of the earth, he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed. 1 Sam 2:10


Today’s readings

Ruth 3:1 – 5, 4:13 – 17

Song of Hannah
Hebrews 9: 23 – 28
Mark 13: 01 – 13


Collect of the day

O God, welcoming refuge for the outcast, and upholder of justice for the oppressed, maintain the hope of the poor, so that the time may soon come when no one need want for food and shelter, and all will learn to share freely following the example of your son, who gave his very self, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


A thought to ponder upon – Mark 13: 1 – 13

Most probably still on the second full day of the Passion Week, as Jesus was leaving the Temple, the disciples drew Jesus’s attention to the massive stones of the temple. Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, confirms that they had reason to be impressed. Herod Antipas was still finishing the Temple his father, Herod the great, had begun. It was famous as one of the architectural wonders of the Roman world. Even today visitors to the Temple Mount can see the remains of some of these massive stones. But Jesus was not impressed. He predicted that the stones would be thrown down in judgement. The scene now moves to the Mount of Olives, from which there is a good view of the city and the Temple. The two pairs of brothers – Peter and Andrew, James and John – came to Jesus privately and asked him to elaborate on his comment. They were interested in when the destruction would take place and what signs they should be looking out for. Responding to their questions, Jesus launched into a great discourse about events that would happen, both the near and distant future. He starts by describing the beginning signs,. Which fall into three categories: imposters or deceivers purporting to represent Jesus, calamities of human origin such as wars and rumours of wars, and natural calamities such as earthquakes… and famines. Jesus told the disciples not to be alarmed by these events, for they are just the beginning of birth pains. Although these signs began in the first century, those living in the 21st century are no strangers to any of them. Imposters claiming to represent Christ are everywhere, deceiving the gullible. Alarming as these catastrophes are, children of the kingdom are enjoined “not to be alarmed” because these events do not signal the end of the age.


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

WordPress.com.

Up ↑