Weekly Church Service – Advent 1: 27 November 2022


Sentence

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.                                                                                           Isaiah 2:3a                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


Collect  

                                                                                                                                                                                        

Faithful God,

whose promises stand unshaken through all

generations: renew us in hope,

that we may be awake and alert

watching for the glorious return of Jesus Christ,

our Judge and Saviour,

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

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

   

  

Readings

  • Isaiah 2:1-5
  • Psalm 122
  • Romans 13:9-14
  • Matthew 24:36-44

Next week:

  • Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-21
  • Romans 15: 4-13
  • Matthew 3: 1-12


A Thought to Ponder

Advent 1 – Luke 21:25-38

What is Advent?

Advent is the season of the year leading up to Christmas. The word advent itself means “arrival” or “an appearing or coming into place.” Christians often speak of Christ’s “first advent” and “second advent”; that is, His first and second comings to earth. His first advent would be the Incarnation—Christmastime.
The Advent season lasts for four Sundays. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, or the nearest Sunday to November 30. Advent ends on Christmas Eve and thus is not considered part of the Christmas season. The Advent celebration is both a commemoration of Christ’s first coming and an anticipation of His second coming. As Israel longed for their Messiah to come, so Christians long for their Saviour to come again.
Advent is seen as a time to prepare one’s heart for Christmas and for the eventual return of Christ (and the judgment He will bring to the world).
Churches that observe Advent usually decorate their sanctuaries in the liturgical colour of Advent, royal blue or purple. Some churches change the colour to rose on the third Sunday of Advent to signify a greater emphasis on the joy of the season.

One of the most common Advent traditions involves the use of evergreen wreaths, branches, and trees. On the first Sunday of Advent, churches and homes are decorated with green to symbolise the eternal life that Jesus brings. An Advent wreath—an evergreen circle with four coloured candles surrounding a white one in the middle—is placed in a prominent spot. The candles are then lit one at a time, on successive Sundays. The first candle is the candle of “hope” or “expectation.” The three remaining candles “peace, joy, love”. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the centre white candle is lit; this is the “Christ Candle,” a reminder that Jesus, the Light of the Word, has come.
Advent calendars, used to count down the days till Christmas, are popular in many homes. An Advent calendar contains a number of covered “windows” that are opened, one a day, until Christmas Day. Each open window reveals a picture related to the season or a poem or a Bible verse or a treat of some kind. Many parents find an Advent calendar is a good way to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas—although there are secular versions of the calendars, too.

Should Christians observe Advent? There is certainly nothing wrong with commemorating Jesus’ birth and anticipating His return—such commemoration and anticipation should be an everyday part of our lives.

Are Christians required to observe Advent? No.

Does observing Advent make one a better Christian or more acceptable to God? No.

Can celebrating Advent be a good reminder of what the season is truly all about? Yes, and therein lies its greatest value.               

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Sermon

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Weekly Church Service – Christ the King: 20 November 2022


Sentence

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.                                                                                                                                Zechariah 9:9                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


Collect  

                                                                                                                                                                                          

Eternal God,

you exalted Jesus Christ to rule over all things,

and have made us instruments of his kingdom:

by your Spirit empower us to love the unloved,

and to minister to all in need,

then at the last bring us to your eternal realm

where we may be welcomed into your

everlasting joy through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of

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

Amen. 

   

  

Readings

  • Jeremiah 23: 1-6
  • Song of Zechariah
  • Colossians 1: 11-20
  • Luke 23: 33-43

Next week:

  • Isaiah 2:1-5
  • Psalm 122
  • Romans 13:9-14
  • Matthew 24:36-44


A Thought to Ponder

Christ the King – Luke 23:33-43

Above him there was an inscription: “This is the King of the Jews.”
The other criminal said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Throughout his Gospel, Luke has portrayed Jesus as the humble, obedient servant of God.  In the resurrection, such humility and selflessness will be exalted by God. In Luke’s account, Jesus steadfastly refused any demonstration of power for himself but manifested the power of God only for the faith and healing of the poor, the troubled, the lost and the rejected. Even while hanging on the cross (an incident recorded only by Luke), Jesus only claims power to save the “good thief” who places his trust in him.

Luke’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion is a pretty hopeless depiction: Jesus, the generous teacher and the loving healer, is hung on a tree like a common criminal; he is the object of scorn and derision by the very people he came to serve and save. But in one of his last breaths, Jesus offers peace and healing to a criminal hanging there with him. Such is the transforming and redemptive love of Christ. From the crosses and crucifixions of our world, the reign of God takes shape when we imitate the humble selflessness of Christ in bringing his spirit of hope and reconciliation into the lives of those around us.

In Luke’s account of the crucifixion, only the “good thief” recognizes the grave injustice that is taking place. In recognizing the innocence and goodness of Jesus, he is able to see and accept responsibility for his own sinfulness and need for forgiveness. With that realization comes hope – the thief understands what even Jesus’ closest disciples do not: that God will vindicate the injustices of this life in the fullness of the next.  

On this last Sunday of the Church year, we honour Christ the King whose kingdom knows neither boundaries nor walls, neither castes nor classes; Christ the King whose rule is one of humble service; Christ the King whose crown is compassion, whose sceptre is humility; Christ the King whose court belongs to the poor, the forgotten, the lost, the despairing; Christ the King whose coin is forgiveness and reconciliation.   

Our baptism into the life of Christ was and continues to be our proclamation to the world: that the Jesus of the Gospel is Lord of our lives, that we share his vision of the world and seek to fulfil the hope of his kingdom. To claim Christ as King means to make his vision of compassion and justice the measure of our integrity and the compass for our journey through this life to the life of the world to come.   

To be a disciple of Christ demands a clear, conscious decision, not passive, rote compliance; to claim Christ as King means to make his vision of compassion and justice the measure of our integrity and the compass for our journey through this life to the life of the world to come.                                     

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Sermon

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Weekly Church Service – Pentecost 23: 13 November 2022


Sentence

May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.                                                                            2 Thessalonians 3:16                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


Collect  

                                                                                                                                                                                          

Lord God of all the ages,

the One who is, who was, and who is to come:

stir up within us a longing for your kingdom,

keep our hearts steady in times of trial,

and grant us patient endurance until the Sun

of justice dawns.

We make our prayer through your Son, our

Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with

you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,

for ever and ever. Amen. 

   

  

Readings

  • Isaiah 65: 17-25
  • Song of Isaiah
  • 2 Thess 3: 6-13
  • Luke 21: 5-19

Next week:

  • Jeremiah 23: 1-6
  • Song of Zechariah
  • Colossians 1: 11-20
  • Luke 23: 33-43


A Thought to Ponder

“The days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down . . .
“I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”

Many Jews believed that the end of the world would be signalled by the destruction of the great temple at Jerusalem. That is exactly what happened in the year 70 A.D., when more than a million Jews were killed in a desperate siege of Jerusalem by the Romans.  It is against this background of this event that Luke writes his life of Jesus.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and a chronicle of catastrophes.  But Jesus does not teach dread here but hope.  Trying to calculate the end of time is a waste of time; the signs of the apocalypse – war, plague, earthquakes – will appear in every age and there always will be self-proclaimed “messiahs” who will manipulate such events for their own power.  Jesus assures his followers that those who remain faithful to the vocation of discipleship will have nothing to fear when the end comes.

Jesus calls us not to be obsessed with the “stones” that will one day collapse and become dust but to seek instead the lasting things of the soul, the things of God.  Compassion and mercy, justice and forgiveness are the lasting treasures of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that is created in our own homes and classrooms and churches. 

In the most difficult and paralysing moments we face, Jesus promises us that when we act out of selfless love to seek first the good of another, we will find the words and actions that heal and lift up.  God remains present to us in the goodness within ourselves and in the caring compassion offered by others. 

Despite the wars we fight, the earthquakes that shake our sureties, the disasters that topple our secure, self-centred worlds, we can always rebuild our lives on the stronger and timeless things of God: compassion, reconciliation, friendship, generosity.                             

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Weekly Church Service – Pentecost 16 : 25 September 2022


Sentence

Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. James 5:16                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


Collect  

O God,

from whom light rises in darkness for those who seek you: 

grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, 

the grace to ask what you would have us do, 

that is your light we may see light,

and in your narrow path may not stumble;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

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

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  

  

Readings

  • Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
  • Ps 91:1-6, 14-16
  • 1 Tim 6:6-19
  • Luke 16:19-31

Next week:

  • Lamentations 1:1-6
  • Ps 137
  • 2 Tim 1:1-14
  • Luke 17:5-10


A Thought to Ponder

“Lying at the rich man’s door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.”

The rich man (sometimes known as “Dives”) is not really a bad man, but a self-centred, complacent one. The rich man’s sin is his remaining oblivious to the plight of Lazarus (a name which means “God’s help”) at his gate and his blind acceptance of the poverty of so many and wealth in the hands of so few like himself as the natural, inevitable order of things. It was not his wealth that kept him from “Abraham’s bosom,” but his untrustworthy stewardship of what he had.

Christ calls us to open our eyes to the poor and needy at our own gates and open our hearts to welcome them with compassion and honour.

The rich man of the Gospel and the “worthless rich” of the prophet Amos (today’s first reading) do not understand that the many blessings we have received from God are given for us to share – to share not out of a sense of obligation but as a joyful opportunity to give thanks to God for his many blessings to us.

In our busy-ness, in our need for “me time,” in our pursuit of our own wants and expectations, we become quite adept at shutting the world out, not seeing or hearing the Lazarus’ in our lives — and sometimes we are the isolated Lazarus in need of love and support and understanding.   Amassing large estates and building up profitable stock portfolios are not the stuff that true legacies are made of. We will be remembered not for what we possess but for what we give; our lasting legacy will be what we contribute to make our world a happier, healthier place.

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Weekly Church Service – Pentecost 15 : 18 September 2022


Sentence

You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9  


Collect  

O God,

you are rich in love for your people:

show us the treasure that endures 

and, when we are tempted by greed,

call us back into your service

and make us worthy to be entrusted with the

wealth that never fails.

We ask this through your Son, our Lord Jesus 

Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity 

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

Amen.

  

Readings

  • Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
  • Ps 14
  • 1 Tim 1
  • Luke 15:1-10

Next week:

  • Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
  • Ps 91:1-6, 14-16
  • 1 Tim 6:6-19
  • Luke 16:19-31


A Thought to Ponder

The parable of the shrewd manager: “The children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light . . . “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

The parable of the shrewd business manager is one of the most difficult parables of Jesus to grasp.  At first reading, it appears that Jesus is condoning extortion and larceny.  But Jesus admires not the manager’s lack of scruples but his decisiveness and ingenuity in taking control of his situation.  We admire those who use their intelligence, charm and pluck to get ahead in this world.  Jesus’ parable challenges us to be as eager and as ingenious for the sake of God’s reign, to be as ready and willing to use our time and money to accomplish great things in terms of the Gospel as we are to secure our own security and enjoyment.  Jesus appeals to the “children of light” to be as enterprising and resourceful in pursuit of reign of God as this steward is in making a place of himself in this world.  We must restore money as the means to an end and not as the end itself; we are only stewards of our Master’s property.

Like the shrewd manager and his demanding master, we can become so obsessed with the pursuit of wealth and the manipulation of power that we seem to give up a piece of our humanity in the process.  Christ calls us to something far greater: to use that same dedication of energy, ability and efficiency to make the reign of God a reality in our own time and place.

Sometimes we let the things we possess possess us, demanding our time and attention at the expense of the people we love.  The danger of owning things is forgetting that the value is not in the thing itself but in that thing’s enabling us to save time and make our life easier so that we can concentrate on the more important values that the gift of life offers us.   

Christ warns his hearers not to trust in wealth for its own sake but to use wealth — whatever form our “wealth” takes — to establish the Father’s kingdom of compassion, reconciliation and justice in our midst.  

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Weekly Church Service – A Service of Reflection and Thanksgiving for the Life of Queen Elizabeth II : 11 September 2022


Sentence

I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


Collect  

Merciful Father and Lord of all life,

we praise you that we are made in your image and reflect your truth and light.

We thank you for the life of our late Sovereign Queen Elizabeth,

for the love she received from you and showed among us.

Above all, we rejoice at your gracious promise to all your servants, living and departed,

that we shall rise again at the coming of Christ.

And we ask that in due time we may share with your servant Elizabeth

that clearer vision promised to us in the same Christ our Lord;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, world without end. 

Amen.

Readings

  • Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33
  • Ps 121
  • 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:4
  • John 6:35-40

Next week:

  • Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
  • Ps 79:1-9
  • 1 Tim 2:1-10
  • Luke 16:1-13

QUOTES FROM HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II RE HER FAITH

“The only way to live my life is to try to do what is right and to put my trust in God.”

God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.”

“The teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.”

“Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.”

“God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus

Christ.”


A Thought to Ponder

“Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep . . . because I have found the coin that I lost . . . because your brother was lost and has been found.”

The three “parables of the lost” in chapter 15 are unique to Luke’s Gospel.  Luke wrote his Gospel at a time when the Christian community was embroiled in a great controversy: many Jewish Christians were indignant that Gentiles should be welcomed into the Church without first embracing the traditions and laws of Judaism.

In these three parables, we enter God’s world: God communicates the depth of his love in his unconditional and complete forgiveness; his mercy breaks through and demolishes all human restrictions.  The Pharisees could not imagine a God who actually sought out men and women, a God who is more merciful in his judgments than we are, a God who never gives up hope for a sinner.

Today’s Gospel reading of chapter 15 includes three parables:

The parable of the lost sheep:  Shepherding demanded toughness and courage – it was not a job for the weak and fearful.  Responsible for every sheep in his charge, a shepherd was expected to fight off everything from wild animals to armed poachers.  Shepherds often had to negotiate the rugged terrain of the wilderness to rescue a lost sheep.  Like the responsible shepherd, God does whatever is necessary to seek out and bring back to his loving providence every lost soul.

The parable of the lost coin:  Finding a small silver coin in a dark, dusty, dirt-floored Judean house was nearly impossible, but so great was the value of any coin to the poor that a woman would turn her poor hovel inside out in search of such a lost treasure.  So great is the value of every soul in the sight of God that he, too, goes to whatever lengths necessary to find and bring back the lost.

The parable of prodigal son:  This is probably the most inaccurately titled story in all of literature.  Jesus’ tale is really about the great love of the prodigal’s father, who forgives his son and joyfully welcomes him home even before the son can bring himself to ask.  The father’s joy stands in sharp contrast to the prodigal son’s brother, who cannot even bring himself to call the prodigal his “brother” – in confronting his father, he angrily refers to the brother as “this son of yours.”  But the father is a model of joyful reconciliation that Jesus calls his disciples to seek in all relationships.

What is striking in the three stories is the joy experienced by the shepherd who finds the lost lamb, the woman who recovers the missing coin, the father who welcomes home his wayward son.  

The most extraordinary element of Jesus’ teaching is the revelation of a God who loves each and every one of us uniquely and individually, as a parent loves his/her most beloved child.  God’s love for us is eternally forgiving, constantly inviting, never limited or conditional.  

Our God is a God of inclusion – yet we sometimes make him a God of exclusion, excluding from our own presence those we deem as unworthy or unfaithful to be included among “God’s people.”

To forgive as Christ forgives is impossible to do on our own:  It calls for a spirit of humility, a generosity, a spirit of compassion that is beyond most of us.  But we are not called by Christ to create forgiveness on our own.  God has already forgiven, we are being asked to participate in God’s gift of forgiveness that surrounds every one of us.

Grace is the experience of God’s complete and unconditional love in our lives.  Sometimes we experience grace in the support and love of generous family and friends — and sometimes we are the agents of such grace, giving and doing whatever is necessary for the good of another, refusing to give up our search to find the lost and bring back those from whom we have been separated. 

  

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Weekly Church Service – Pentecost 13 : 4 September 2022


Sentence

Whoever does not carry the cross and follow Jesus cannot be his disciple.  Luke 14:27                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


Collect  

God of the ages, 

you call the Church to keep watch in the world

and to discern the signs of the times:

grant us the wisdom that your Spirit bestows,

so that with courage we may proclaim your prophetic word,

and complete the work you have set before us;

through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,

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

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  

Readings

  • Jeremiah 18:1-11
  • Ps 139:1-5, 12-18
  • Philippians 1-25
  • Luke 14:25-35

Next week:

  • Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
  • Ps 14
  • 1 Tim 1
  • Luke 15:1-10


A Thought to Ponder

The parables of the tower and the king preparing for war:  
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple . . . Anyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

Today’s Gospel is the beginning of a treatise, unique to Luke’s Gospel, on the nature and demands of discipleship.

Jesus’ sobering words in today’s Gospel are meant to make us fully aware of the cost of discipleship before we embrace something we are not prepared for.  The gift of grace comes at the price of the same cross awaiting Jesus in Jerusalem.

Some translations of today’s Gospel ascribe rather harsh words to Jesus: in some texts, Jesus speaks of “turning one’s back” on family; in other translations, the verb “hate” is used.  A more precise translation of the idiom here is whoever prefers the love of family or self to Christ cannot be his follower.

The images of the unfinished tower and the king poorly prepared for battle illustrate the frustration and ultimate failure of the disciple who does not give himself/herself totally to the Gospel.  When a follower of Jesus begins to hold anything back in imitating Christ, discipleship becomes a charade.

Jesus calls us to seek reconciliation rather than dominance, to love and forgive without limit or condition, to give totally and completely regardless of the cost or sacrifice.  Such is the cross Jesus asks us to take up.

As the tower builder and the king preparing for war discover, our days are limited – too limited to squander on obsessing about things at the expense of our relationships with family and friends.  Jesus challenges us to live every moment of our lives as a time for preparation and “planning” for much greater and lasting things than this world of ours offers.

Often, we refuse to “let go” of things that are making our lives so much less than we want them to be.  The gifts of God can only be grasped with the open hands of humility and prayer; the grasping hands of materialism and self-centeredness condemn us to a life of emptiness.

We tend to think of the crosses we bear as disorders, complications, disappointments – even people – we are forced to endure.  But, in reality, God lays upon our shoulders crosses – talents, abilities, skills, gifts – that can be sources of hope, of joy, of discovery, of life, of resurrection — for ourselves and others.               

  

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Weekly Church Service – Pentecost 12 : 28 August 2022


Sentence

All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 14:11                                                                                                                              


Collect  

O God,

you invite the humble and the sinful to take 

their place in the festive assembly of the new

covenant; teach your Church always to honour

the presence of the Lord so that we may learn

to recognize each other as brothers and sisters

gathered together around your table.

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.

Readings

  • Jeremiah 2:4-13
  • Psalm 81:1, 10-16
  • Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
  • Luke 14:1, 7-14

Next week:

  • Jeremiah 18:1-11
  • Psalm 139:1-5, 12-18
  • Philippians 1 – 25
  • Luke 14:25-35


A Thought to Ponder

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted … “When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.

Gospel humility (a key theme of Luke’s Gospel) is not a religious sado-masochism motivated by self-hatred or obsequiousness. As taught by Christ, humility is an awareness of who we are before God; of our constant need for God and our dependence on God for everything; of the limitlessness of God’s love and forgiveness. The Jesus of the Gospel, “who, though in the form of God, humbled himself … accepting even death on the cross” is the perfect model of the humble servant of God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to embrace the attitude of seeking out the “lowest places” at table for the sake of others, promising that at the banquet of heaven God will exalt such humility. In teaching us to invite to our tables “those who cannot repay you,” Jesus challenges us to imitate the love of God: doing what is right, good and just for the joy of doing so, not out of a sense of duty, self-interest or the need to feel superior or in control.

Humility is the virtue of suspending our own wants and needs in order to consciously seek God in all people and experiences. True humility is centred in the things of God – love, compassion, mercy, selflessness, tolerance, and forgiveness.

The spirit of humility as taught by Jesus is not the diminishing of one’s self but the realisation that we share with every human being the sacred dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God. To be humble as Christ teaches humility is to see one another as God sees us and to rejoice in being ministers to them in their joys and struggles.

The “lowest place” Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel is more a matter of attitude than location, a question of generosity rather than place setting: Jesus asks us to see one another from the perspective of Gospel humility that realises we are not the centre of all things but part of a much larger world and to embrace a spirit of Gospel-centred gratitude for all the blessings we have received, not because of anything we have done to deserve them, but only because of the complete and unconditional love of God for us.   

God’s banquet table includes places of honour for every poor, hurting, confused soul. At the Gospel banquet table, we are both guests and servers: We welcome and are welcomed as children of the same God and Father; as sons and daughters of God, we share equally in the bounty of this table; as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are responsible for the protection and maintenance of the vineyard given to us by our loving Father.                       

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Weekly Church Service – Pentecost 11: 21 August 2022


Sentence

You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust from my youth. Upon you have I leaned since my birth.                                                     Psalm 71:5-6                                                                                                                                                                                          


Collect  

O God, the Judge of all,

through the saving blood of your Son

you have brought us to the heavenly Jerusalem

and given us a kingdom which cannot be shaken:

fill us with reverence and awe in your presence,

that in thanksgiving we and all your

Church may offer you acceptable worship;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives to intercede for us, now and forever.

Amen.

Readings

  • Jeremiah 1:4-10
  • Psalm 71:1-6
  • Hebrews 12:18-29
  • Luke 13:10-17

Next week:

  • Jeremiah 2:4-13
  • Psalm 81:1, 10-16
  • Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
  • Luke 14:1, 7-14


A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 11 – Luke 13:10-17

Jesus cures a crippled woman on the Sabbath: “… ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for 18 years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

The curing of the crippled woman on the Sabbath is found only in Luke’s Gospel (though Jesus performs similar miracles on the Sabbath in the other Gospels). In this account, Jesus defies the sensibilities of the synagogue leader and cures a crippled woman on the Sabbath day. In reprimanding Jesus, the elder argues healing is a form of work and any form of work profanes the Lord’s Day. Jesus counters that the healing of this woman – a manifestation of God’s compassion – does not defame the Lord’s Day but sanctifies it. The official has become so obsessed with adhering to the letter of the law he is unable to embrace the spirit of the law.  

In the healing of this woman – poor, sick, marginalised, and female – Jesus again (as he does throughout Luke’s Gospel) proclaims God’s reign has dawned and belongs not to the rich but to the people of the Beatitudes: the meek, the humble, the lowly, the suffering, the struggling.

Jesus’ healing of the woman does not undermine the holiness of the Sabbath – on the contrary, the healing irrevocably links Sabbath prayer and ritual to the unlimited and unconditional mercy of God 

The healing Christ has entrusted us, who would be his disciples, with the work of God: compassion and forgiveness, reconciliation and justice, healing and peace.

To be healed requires change, to consciously move beyond your own pain and to embrace the pain of others, to see beyond the bad we are experiencing to find the good, to refuse to be swallowed up in hopelessness and rediscover reasons to hope. As Jesus says to the crippled woman, “you are set free of your ailment.” While the pain does not disappear, the grace of God “frees” us to transform our lives and find new purpose in our broken but still very much meaningful lives.                    

                                                           © Connections/MediaWorks. All rights reserved

Sermon

You can read the Pew Sheet here

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Weekly Church Service – Pentecost 10: 14 August 2022


Sentence

‘Is not my word like fire,’ says the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’                                                  Jeremiah 23:29                                                                                                                                                                                             


Collect  

Everliving God,

increase in us your gift of faith,

that, forsaking sin and all that hinders us,

we may run with perseverance the race that

is set before us,

looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter

of our faith;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy

Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

indle in our hearts, Father,

Amen.

Readings

  • Isaiah 5:1-7
  • Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19
  • Hebrews 11:29-12:2
  • Luke 12:49-59

Next week:

  • Jeremiah 1:4-10
  • Psalm 71:1-6
  • Hebrews 12:18-29
  • Luke 13:10-17


A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 10 Luke 12:49-59

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already ablaze … Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

When Luke wrote these few lines of his Gospel, Christians were living through difficult times and circumstances. In many places they were treated with ridicule, disdain and intolerance. Jesus’ words are addressed to them and to all Christians who have paid dearly for living their faith in their time and place.

Fire is a Scriptural symbol of judgment. The Lord will judge the hearts of all men and women in the light of the Gospel’s “blaze.”

The word used in the original text that reads here as baptism actually means a “plunging,” a total submersion. Jesus continues on to Jerusalem where he will be “plunged” into the Passover of the new covenant into which, through baptism, we will all be “plunged,” as well.

The Gospel is not a soft, easy message to embrace. Jesus does not sugar-coat his message: Families and households will be divided over the hard demands of the Gospel of reconciliation, justice, and servanthood.

The compassion, the selflessness, the humility, the justice that Jesus demands of those who would be his disciples are a “fire” and “baptism” through which we transform our world in the life and love of God. The challenge of discipleship, Jesus teaches, is not to let God’s word of justice and mercy divide us but to realise the word’s ability to bring all humanity together as God’s holy people.

To live the Gospel faithfully is to become a contradiction to those around us, to seek to attain a higher ethical and moral standard in confronting life’s challenges. The Gospel calls us to risk power, prestige and even acceptance to stand up for the equality, justice, compassion, and reconciliation that every individual possesses by virtue of being a son and daughter of God.

The Gospel of Jesus is not easy, it is not comfortable; it is challenging and demanding and, in its call for personal conversion, it can be divisive and confrontational. Discipleship is not without cost; balancing the Gospel of unconditional, reconciling love and its ethical and moral imperatives with the reality of our lives is very difficult. Despite the divisive consequences, Christ calls us to the hard work of seeking the mercy and justice of God and living his Gospel of reconciliation and peace in our own time and place, regardless of the cost.

In the divisions we suffer, in the contradictions we encounter, in the disconnect between the conventional wisdom and the wisdom of God, the love of God is the one constant that brings us back to one another, that heals the rifts, that bridges the divides between us.                                       

God has entrusted to each one of us with our own gifts, talents and blessings not for our own uses and aims but to selflessly and lovingly use them for the benefit of others, without counting the cost or demanding a return. The faithful disciple will lovingly use whatever he or she possesses to bring God’s reign of hope, justice, and compassion to reality in this time and place of ours. Leadership is not a matter of exerting power to intimidate or enrich one’s own situation; leadership is the ability to inspire and enable others to do what is right, just, and good. Christ-like leadership is, first and foremost, centred in an attitude of service to those we lead.

                                                           © Connections/MediaWorks. All rights reserved

Sermon

You can read the Pew Sheet here

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