Weekly Church Service – Transfiguration of Christ: 23 February 2020


Sentence:

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


Collect of the day

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.

Today’s readings

  • 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

A thought to ponder upon

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


Sentence:

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


Collect of the day

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.

Today’s readings

  • 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

A thought to ponder upon

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

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  •     Epiphany 6

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


Sentence:

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Collect of the day

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.

Today’s readings

  • 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

A thought to ponder upon

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

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  •     Epiphany 5

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


Sentence:

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Collect of the day

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.  

Today’s readings

  • 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

A thought to ponder upon

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
       

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  •     Epiphany 4

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Weekly Church Service – Third Sunday of Epiphany/Australia Day: 26 January 2020


Sentence:

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


Collect of the day

Bounteous God, 

we give thanks for this ancient and beautiful land,

a land of despair and hope,

a land of wealth and abundant harvests,

a land of fire, drought and flood.

We pray that your Spirit may continue to move

in this land and bring forgiveness, reconciliation,

and an end to all injustice; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

Today’s readings

  • Deut 8:5-14a
  • Psalm 125
  • Hebrews 11:8-16
  • Matthew 5:1-12

next week

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

A thought to ponder upon

Epiphany 3

Jesus said to Simon and his brother Andrew, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Galilee is the centrepiece of today’s readings.

In Jesus’ time, Galilee was the most populated and productive region of Palestine.  The great roads of the world passed through Galilee, making it a strategic target for invasion.  White-sailed ships crept up the Mediterranean coast from Alexandria and caravans travelled through the region from Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Galilee, unlike the rest of Palestine, had an international perspective, in touch with many non-Jewish ideas and influences.  Josephus, the Roman historian, wrote of the people of Galilee:  “They were fond of innovation and, by nature, disposed to change and delighted in sedition . . . The Galileans were never destitute of courage . . . They were ever more anxious for honour than for gain.”

In a few lines, Matthew sketches a new beginning in human history: the arrest of John and the end of the First Testament; the beginning of a New Testament in the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus in Galilee and the call of the first disciples from their fishing nets along the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus’ beginning his public ministry in Galilee is, for Matthew, the fulfillment of an ancient oracle concerning the Messiah: that, through the darkness of Galilee’s Assyrian captivity, the “great light” of their deliverance will appear (Reading 1).

Like Peter, James and John, we are asked by Jesus to take on the work of discipleship; we are asked to leave our “fishing nets” – our own needs and wants – to follow the example of love and servanthood given to us by Jesus; we are asked to rebuild our lives, homes and cities in the justice and peace that Jesus proclaims.

Jesus calls his disciples of every time and place to be “fishers” of men and women, to use whatever “nets” we possess, in whatever oceans and seas we find ourselves, to catch the falling, rescue the endangered, gather in the lost and forgotten.    

Christ is the light that illuminates our minds and souls with a new vision of the human condition: in the light of Christ, we are able to recognize one another as brothers and sisters, children of the same God; in the light of Christ, we realize our own need for healing and forgiveness and are then able to bring such transformation into our lives and the lives of others. © Connections/MediaWorks

Happy Australia Day 
       

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  •     Australia Day

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Weekly Church Service – Second Sunday of Epiphany: 19 January 2020


Sentence:

God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor 1:9                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


Collect of the day

Almighty God, 

whose Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, is the 

light of the world: may your people, illumined

by your word and sacraments,

shine with the radiance of his glory,

that he may be known, worshipped, and 

obeyed to the ends of the earth;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Today’s readings

  • Isaiah 49:1-7
  • Psalm 40:1-14
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
  • John 1:29-42

next week

  • Isaiah 9:1-4
  • Psalm 27:1-10
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
  • Matthew 4:12-25

A thought to ponder upon

Epiphany 2

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

The Fourth Gospel emphasises John the Baptiser’s role as the bridge between the First and New Testaments; he is the last great prophet who identifies Jesus as the Messiah.  In his vision of the Spirit of God “resting” upon and within Jesus, the Baptiser realises that this is the chosen Servant of God who has come to inaugurate the Messianic era of forgiveness and reconciliation (today’s first reading, the second of Isaiah’s “servant” songs, describes the mission of the servant: to bring Israel back to the Lord and, through her, extend the Lord’s salvation to every nation and people on earth).

By our baptisms, we are called to be witnesses and prophets of the “Lamb of God” along the Jordan Rivers of our homes, schools and workplaces.

Christ’s presence among us is a time for new beginnings: an invitation to walk from the shadows of hatred and mistrust to the light of understanding and peace, a chance for healing our brokenness and mending our relationships with one another, a call to be seekers of hope and enablers of reconciliation in our own time and place.

Through our own acts of compassion and generosity, of justice and forgiveness, we proclaim that “the Lamb of God” walks in our midst, that the love and mercy of God has dawned upon us.          © Connections/MediaWorks
       

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  •     Epiphany 2

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Weekly Church Service – Baptism of Our Lord: 12 January 2020


Sentence:

A voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


Collect of the day

Eternal God, 

at the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan,

you proclaimed him your beloved Son,

and anointed him with the Holy Spirit:

grant that all who are baptised into his name

may keep the covenant they have made,

and boldly confess him as Lord and Saviour;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


Today’s readings

  • Isaiah 42:1-9
  • Psalm 49
  • Acts 10:34-43
  • Matthew 3:13-17

next week

  • Isaiah 49:1-7
  • Psalm 40:1-14
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
  • John 1:29-42

A thought to ponder upon

The Baptism of Our Lord

After Jesus was baptised, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending on him like a dove and coming upon him.  And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Today’s Gospel is the final event of the Epiphany event: Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan River by John.

The Baptiser’s refusal at first to baptise Jesus and Jesus’ response to his refusal (a dialogue that appears only in Matthew’s Gospel) speaks to Matthew’s continuing theme of Jesus as the fulfillment of the First Testament prophecies. Jesus clearly did not need to be baptised. But his baptism by John is an affirmation that God was with this man Jesus in a very special way – at the Jordan River, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled: “My 

favour rests on him.” Jesus has come to identify with sinners, to bring them forgiveness; hence the propriety of Jesus’ acceptance of John’s baptism.

Baptism was a ritual performed by the Jews, usually for those who entered Judaism from another religion. It was natural that the sin-stained, polluted pagan should be “washed” in baptism, but no Jew could conceive of needing baptism, being born a son of Abraham, one of God’s chosen people and therefore assured of God’s salvation. But John’s baptism – a baptism affirmed by Jesus – was not one of initiation, but one of reformation, a rejection of sin in one’s own life and acknowledgment of one’s own need for conversion. In Christ, baptism becomes a sacrament of rebirth, a reception of new life.

In all the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism, all four evangelists use a similar description of the scene at the Jordan when Jesus is baptised by John:  The Spirit of God descended and rested upon him, “hovering” over him like a dove – as the Gospel story unfolds, the Spirit of God’s peace, compassion and love, will be the constant presence dwelling within and flowing forth from the Carpenter from Nazareth.

In baptism, we claim the name of Christian and embrace all that that holy name means: to live for others rather than for ourselves, in imitation of Christ.

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

In baptism, we embrace that same Spirit that “hovers” over us, guiding us in our journey to God.

Liturgically, the Christmas season officially comes to an end with today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Now the same Spirit that “anoints” the Messiah for his mission calls us to be about the work of Christmas in this new year: to seek out and find the lost, to heal the hurting, to feed the hungry, to free the imprisoned, to rebuild families and nations, to bring the peace of God to all peoples everywhere. © Connections/MediaWorks




       

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  •     Baptism of Our Lord

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Weekly Church Service – Epiphany of Our Lord: 5 January 2020


Sentence:

They saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and worshipped him. Matthew 2:11                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Collect of the day

Eternal God, 

who by a star led Magi to the worship of your Son: 

guide the nations of the earth by your light, 

that the whole world may see your glory; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord, 

who lives and reigns with you 

and the Holy Spirit, one God, 

now and for ever. Amen.  


Today’s readings

  • Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
  • Ephesians 3:1-12
  • Matthew 2:1-12

next week

  • Isaiah 42:1-9
  • Psalm 29
  • Acts 10:34-43
  • Matthew 3:13-17

A thought to ponder upon

The Epiphany of Our Lord

Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem; “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

The story of the astrologers and the star of Bethlehem are unique to Matthew’s Gospel.  Note that Matthew does not call them kings nor does he give their names nor reports where they came from – in fact, Matthew never even specifies the number of magi (because three gifts are presented to the Child, it has been a tradition since the fifth century to picture “three wise men”).  In stripping away the romantic layers that have been added to the story, Matthew’s point can be better understood.

A great many First Testament ideas and images are presented in this story.  The star, for example, is reminiscent of Balaam’s prophecy that “a star shall advance from Jacob” (Numbers 24: 17).  Many of the details in Matthew’s story about the child Jesus parallel the story of the child Moses and the Exodus.

Matthew’s story also provides a preview of what is to come.  First, the reactions of the various parties to the birth of Jesus parallel the effects Jesus’ teaching will have on those who hear it.  Herod reacts with anger and hostility to the Jesus of the poor who comes to overturn the powerful and rich.  The chief priests and scribes greet the news with haughty indifference toward the Jesus who comes to give new life and meaning to the rituals and laws of the scribes.  But the magi – non-believers in the eyes of Israel – possess the humility of faith and the openness of mind and heart to seek and welcome the Jesus who will institute the Second Covenant between God and the New Israel.

Secondly, the gifts of the astrologers indicate the principal dimensions of Jesus’ mission:

  • gold is a gift fitting for a king, a ruler, one with power and authority;
  • frankincense is a gift fitting for a priest, one who offers sacrifice (frankincense was an aromatic perfume sprinkled on the animals sacrificed in the Temple);
  • myrrh is a fitting “gift” for someone who is to die (myrrh was used in ancient times for embalming the bodies of the dead before burial).

Epiphany calls is to a new vision of the world that sees beyond the walls and borders we have created and to walk by the light which has dawned for all of humankind, a light by which we are able to recognize all men and women as our brothers and sisters under the loving providence of God, the Father of all.

The magi’s following of the star is a journey of faith, a constant search for meaning, for purpose, for the things of God that each one of us experiences in the course of our own lives. What we read and watch and listen to in search of wealth, fame and power are the “stars” we follow.  The journey of the magi in Matthew’s Gospel puts our own “stargazing” in perspective, calling us to fix our search on the “star” of God’s justice, peace and compassion. © Connections/MediaWorks




       

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  •     Epiphany

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Weekly Church Service – First Sunday after Christmas: 29 December 2019


Sentence:

Because Jesus himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. Hebrews 2:18                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


Collect of the day

Almighty God,

who wonderfully created,

and yet more wonderfully restored,

the dignity of human nature:

in your mercy,

bring us to share the divine life of Jesus Christ, 

who came to share our human life,

and who now lives and reigns with you 

and the Holy Spirit, 

one God, now and for ever. Amen. 

Today’s readings

  • Isaiah 63:7-9
  • Psalm 148
  • Hebrews 2:10-18
  • Matthew 2:13-23

next week

  • Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
  • Ephesians 3:1-12
  • Matthew 2:1-12

A thought to ponder upon

                

First Sunday after Christmas

The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream: “Rise, take the child and his mother; flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.”

Matthew’s Gospel continues his story of Jesus’ early years, focusing on the evangelist’s principal theme: that Jesus is the Messiah promised by God long ago.  Matthew portrays the Holy Family as outcasts, refugees in their own country.  Bound together by love and trust in God and in one another, they embark on the dangerous journey to Egypt to flee the insane rage of Herod.  Jesus relives the Exodus experience of Israel: he will come out of Egypt, the land of slavery, to establish a new covenant of liberation for the new Israel.

Today’s Feast of the Holy Family calls us to re-discover and celebrate our own families as harbors of forgiveness and understanding and safe places of unconditional love, welcome and acceptance.

The Holy Family is a model for our families as we confront the many tensions and crises that threaten the stability, peace and unity that are the joys of being a family.

Matthew’s Gospel of Mary and Joseph’s escape to Egypt has been lived by countless families in every place and time.  Today’s Feast of the Holy Family confronts us with the struggle of many families to escape the brutality and cruelty of the Herod’s of our time, seeking a new life in whatever Egypt they can find – and God’s call to us, as their brothers and sisters, to make a place for them where they will find safety, justice and dignity as God’s own.   

Matthew’s Gospel of the Holy Family’s fleeing the murderous wrath of Herod portends what is to come: the Christmas crib is overshadowed by the cross of Holy Week, that this holy birth is the beginning of our rebirth in the resurrection. © Connections/MediaWorks

Happy New Year to one and all may the year ahead be filled with God’s blessings




       

Sermon Audio

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  •     Christmas 1

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