Weekly Church Service – Ninth Sunday After Pentecost: 2 August 2020


Sentence

The Lord is near to all who call on him in truth. He fulfils the desire of all that fear him, hears their cry, and saves them.  Psalm 145:18-19 


Collect

O God, giver of life and health,

whose Son Jesus Christ has called us

to hunger and thirst for justice:

refresh us with your grace,

that we may not be weary in well-doing,

for the sake of him who meets all our needs,

Jesus Christ our Saviour;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 32:22-31
  • Psalm 17:1-7, 16
  • Romans 9:1-8, (9-16)
  • Matthew 14:13-21

next week

  • Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22
  • Romans 10:4-15
  • Matthew 14:22-36

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 9 Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself … Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, Jesus said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.

The multiplication of the loaves and fish is the only one of Jesus’ miracles recorded in all four Gospels.  The early Christian community especially cherished this story because they saw this wonder as anticipating the Eucharist and the final banquet in the kingdom of God.  This miracle also has strong roots in the First Testament: For the peoples of both the First and New Testament, the image of a great banquet was an important visualization of the reign of God: the gifts of the land were unmistakable signs of their God’s great Providence; the Messiah’s coming was often portrayed as a great banquet with choice food and wines; the miracle of the loaves and fishes is a clear affirmation in God’s providence.  Just as the merciful God feeds the wandering Israelites with manna in the desert, Jesus, “his heart moved with pity,” feeds the crowds who have come to hear him.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus acts out of his great compassion on the crowds.  First, he challenges the disciples to give what they have – five loaves and two fish.  Then he performs the four-fold action that prefigures the Eucharist: Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives the bread and fish to the assembled multitude, making of them a community of the Lord’s banquet.

Given the many demands on our time and the expectations of work and school, we need to make time for that “out of that way”: quiet deserts and sacred time where and when we can escape the clamour of the marketplace and the tyranny of our calendars to experience the peace of being alone with God, to listen to the voice of God in the quiet of our hearts, to know the joy of doing simple, humble things for others.   

More astounding than Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is Jesus’ transforming them into a community, a community who becomes one in their need, one in the bread they share, one in the love of Christ who has brought them together.  Christ calls us to become a Eucharistic people: to become the Eucharist we have received.  

We, too, can perform wonders in our own time and place by imitating the four “Eucharistic verbs” of Jesus: to take humbly and generously from what we have been given by God, to bless by offering it to others in God’s love, to break from our own needs and interests for the sake of others, to give with joy-filled gratitude to the God who has blessed us with so much

The bread of the Eucharist, which we share together in charity and faith, is a prelude to the great banquet of the next world to which our loving Father invites us.

The “fragments” that disciples gather are not to be lost; they are part of the miracle.  We are all part of the body of Christ: there are no useless scraps, no wasted fragments: every one of us is a child of God, part of the body of Christ that is blessed, broken and shared at this table.  We are only whole when every piece, ever fragment, is gathered.    © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 9

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-9-A

Weekly Church Service – Eighth Sunday After Pentecost: 26 July 2020


Sentence

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.           Romans 8:38-39   


Collect

O God, the fount of wisdom,

you have revealed to us in Christ the hidden

treasure and the pearl of great price:

grant us your Spirit’s gift of discernment,

that, in the midst of the things of this world,

we may learn to value the priceless worth of your 

kingdom, and be ready to renounce all else

for the sake of the precious gift your offer.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 29:15-28
  • Psalm 105:1-11
  • Romans 8:26-39
  • Matthew 13:44-58

next week

  • Genesis 32:22-31
  • Psalm 17:1-7, 16
  • Romans 9:1-8, (9-16)
  • Matthew 14:13-21

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 8 Matthew 13:44-58

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells what he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells what he has and buys it.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down and put what is good into buckets . . . ”

The first two parables in today’s Gospel – the parables of the buried treasure and the pearl – are lessons in the total attachment to Christ and detachmentfrom the things of the world demanded of the disciple in order to make the reign of God a reality.  

The parable of the dragnet is similar in theme to last week’s parable of the wheat and weeds.  Again, Matthew makes the point that the kingdom of God is neither an instant happening nor a static event, but a dynamic movement toward completion and fulfilment which Jesus set into motion.

The “treasures” and “pearls” of lasting value are the things of God: the love of family and friends, the support of community, the sense of fulfilment from serving and giving for the sake of others.  In order to attain such treasure, we must take the risk of the speculator and “sell off” our own interests, ambitions and agendas in order to free ourselves to embrace the lasting values of the compassion, love and reconciliation of God.

The Gospel “pearl” of great price transcends logic, efficiency, and self-interest; and the Gospel “treasure” is the joy and wholeness one experiences in imitating the humble compassion and forgiveness of Christ.   

In the parable of the dragnet, Jesus calls us to embrace the vision of God that seeks out the good and nurturing, the right and just in all things amid the “junk” of life.   © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 8

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-8-A

Weekly Church Service – Seventh Sunday After Pentecost: 19 July 2020


Sentence

You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15 


Collect

Saving God,

in Jesus Christ you opened for us

a new and living way into your presence:

give us pure hearts and constant wills

to worship you in spirit and in truth;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 28:10-19a
  • Psalm 139:1-11, 23-24
  • Romans 8:12-25
  • Matthew 13:24-43

next week

  • Genesis 29:15-28
  • Psalm 105:1-11
  • Romans 8:26-39
  • Matthew 13:44-58

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 7 Matthew 13:24-43

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat … “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed … the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants …“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

Matthew’s Gospel has been called the “Gospel of the Kingdom,” containing some 51 references to the kingdom or reign of God. Three of Jesus’ “kingdom” parables make up today’s Gospel:

The parable of the wheat and the weeds:  God’s kingdom will be “harvested” from among the good that exists side-by-side with the bad. Palestinian farmers were plagued by tares – weeds that were very difficult to distinguish from good grain. The two would often grow together and become so intertwined that it was impossible to separate them without ripping both weed and plant from the ground. Jesus teaches his impatient followers that the Lord of the harvest is more concerned with the growth of the wheat than with the elimination of the weeds. The time for separation and burning will come in God’s own time; our concern should be that of our own faithfulness.

The parable of the mustard seed: The smallest and humblest are enabled by the Holy Spirit to do great things in the kingdom of God. From small and humble beginnings, God’s kingdom will grow.

The parable of the yeast: A small amount of yeast mixed with three measures of flour can make enough bread to feed over a hundred. In the same way, God’s reign is a powerful albeit unseen force.

   
Matthew’s Gospel was written some 50 years after Jesus’ death and 15 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. By this time, it is clear to the community of Christians that Jesus is not going to be accepted by all of Israel as the Messiah. In citing these parables, the writer of Matthew encouraged the largely Jewish Christian community to see itself as the legitimate heir to God’s promises to Israel. They were the “good wheat” existing side by side with the “weeds” that would destroy it, the small mustard seed that would give rise to the great and mighty tree of the Church, the small amount of yeast that would become bread for the world.

“The wheat and weeds”: We often approach religion as a deadly serious business; we lose the spirit of joy and the sense of hope that are part of the promise of the Risen Christ. We become so concerned about pulling out the weeds that we forget to harvest the grain; we become so focused on the evil and abuses that surround us and “threaten” us that we fail to realize and celebrate the healing and life-giving presence of God in our very midst; we become so intent in upbraiding and punishing sinners that our own lives become mired in gloom and despair. The task of judging sinners belongs to God; to us belongs the work of compassion and reconciliation.

When we hear Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds, we first think of good people (the wheat) and bad people (the weeds) coexisting in an imperfect world until the coming of God’s kingdom. But every individual possesses something of both the “good” wheat and “evil” weed. Every one of us possesses the ability to do compassionate and just things out of love — but there exists within us the same ability to do destructive things out of selfishness and greed. Discipleship recognizes that struggle existing within each one of us but also embraces the hope that, in seeking to imitate Christ’s spirit of loving servanthood, we may be “wheat” for a world that is often choking in “weeds.”   

“Mustard seed”: All of us, at some time, are called to be “mustard seeds,” to do the small, thankless things that are necessary to bring a sense of wholeness and fulfillment to our homes and communities. From such “mustard seeds” is yielded a great harvest of peace and reconciliation.

“Yeast”: In baptism, we accept God’s call to be “yeast,” to be the bread of compassion, justice and forgiveness to a world which is desperately hungry in its despair and hopelessness.                   © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 7

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-7-A

Weekly Church Service – Sixth Sunday After Pentecost: 12 July 2020


Sentence

The words you have spoken are spirit and life, O Lord; you have the words of eternal life.    John 6:63, 68 


Collect

Bountiful God,

we thank you for planting in us the seed of your

word: by your Holy Spirit, help us to receive it

with joy, and to live according to it,

that we may grow in faith and hope and love,

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

  • Genesis 25:19-34
  • Psalm 119:105-112
  • Romans 8:1-11
  • Matthew 13:1-23

next week

  • Genesis 28:10-19a
  • Psalm 139:1-11, 23-24
  • Romans 8:12-25
  • Matthew 13:24-43

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 6 Matthew 13:1-23

The parable of the sower: “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear . . .“The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel is the evangelist’s collection of Jesus’ parables.  The word “parable” comes from the Greek word parabole, which means putting two things side by side in order to confront or compare them.  And that is exactly how Jesus uses parables:  He places a simile from life or nature against the abstract idea of the reign of God.  The comparison challenges the hearer to consider ideas and possibilities greater and larger than those to which they might be accustomed.  

Jesus’ hearers expected God’s kingdom to be the restoration of Israel to great political and economic power; the Messiah would be a great warrior-king who would lead Israel to this triumph.  Jesus’ parables subtly and delicately led people, without crushing or disillusioning them, to rethink their concept of God’s kingdom.

In Palestine, sowing was done before the ploughing.  Seed was not carefully or precisely placed in the ground.  The farmer scattered the seed in all directions, knowing that, even though much will be wasted, enough will be sown in good earth to ensure a harvest nonetheless.  The parable of the sower (which appears in all three synoptic gospels) teaches that the seed’s fruitfulness (God’s word) depends on the soil’s openness (the willingness of the human heart to embrace it).

The parable of the sower challenges us to see how deeply the word of God has taken root in our lives, how central God is to the very fabric of our day-to-day existence.  

Christ invites his followers to embrace the faith of the sower: to trust and believe that our simplest acts of kindness and forgiveness, our humblest offer of help to anyone in need, our giving of only a few minutes to listen to the plight of another soul may be the seeds that fall “on good soil” and yields an abundant harvest.

Jesus challenges us in the parable of the sower to be both sower and seed: to sow seeds of encouragement, joy and reconciliation regardless of the “ground” on which it is scattered, and to imitate the seed’s total giving of self that becomes the harvest of Gospel justice and mercy.       

                                                                                    © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 6

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-6-A

Weekly Church Service – Fifth Sunday After Pentecost: 5 July 2020


Sentence

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,’ says the Lord. ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart.’ Matthew 11:28-29 


Collect

Almighty God,

your Son Jesus Christ has taught us

that what we do for the least of his brothers 

and sisters we do also for him:

give us the will to serve others

as he was the servant of all,

who gave up his life and died for us;

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

Readings

  • Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
  • Psalm 45:10-17
  • Romans 7:14-25
  • Matthew 11:15-30

next week

  • Genesis 25:19-34
  • Psalm 119:105-112
  • Romans 8:1-11
  • Matthew 13:1-23

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 5 Matthew 11:15-30

Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart…”

Rarely outside of John’s Gospel is Jesus’ intimacy with the Father so clearly portrayed as in today’s Gospel from Matthew. Jesus offers a hymn of praise to his Father, the holy Creator of all who deeply loves his creation as a father loves his children. The great love of God for all of humanity is revealed in the love of his Son, the Messiah.

Religion as a “yoke” was exactly how Jesus’ Jewish listeners saw the Law. They saw their faith as a burden, a submission to a set of endless rules and regulations dictating every dimension of their lives. But Jesus describes his “yoke” as “easy.” The Greek word used here that we translate as “easy” more accurately means “fitting well.” In Palestine, ox yokes were custom-made of wood, cut and measured to fit a particular animal. Jesus is proposing here a radical change in attitude regarding faith: Our relationship with God is not based on how meticulously we keep a certain set of rules and regulations (a direct challenge to the long-held view of the scribes and Pharisees) but in the depth of our love of God, reflected in our love of others. Our relationship with God is not based on subjugation and weariness but on hope and joy.

There is also an important political dimension to these verses. Matthew’s Gospel was written a short time after the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. by the soldier-emperor Vespasian. For both the Jewish and the new Christian communities, it was a time of painful introspection: Would Israel’s hope for the political restoration of the Jewish state ever be realised? While orthodox Jews maintained unwavering fidelity to their people, language and sense of nationalism, the Christian “cult” saw their ultimate destiny not in the political restoration of Israel but in the coming of the reign of God – a reign that embraces not just Jews but all men and women, even Israel’s most despised enemies. Jewish suspicion of the Christian community was growing as the new group became more and more disaffected by the Jewish political agenda. Jesus’ words on gentleness and humility set off sparks between loyal Jews and Christians who were abandoning the cause.

When Christ calls his disciples to embrace the simple faith of “little ones,” he is not saying that our approach to faith should be “dumbed down” to the level of children. Christ is calling us, instead, to embrace a faith that is centred in the “simple” but profound love, compassion and hope of God: love that is not compromised by self-interest and rationalisation; compassion that is not measured but offered totally and unreservedly, completely and without limit or condition; hope that is centred in gratitude for the many ways God’s presence is revealed in our midst. It is an approach to faith that is not compromised by “adult” complexities and complications but embraced with “child-like” directness and optimism. 

To love one another as God has loved us, to serve one another as Christ the Saviour serves God’s people, is a “yoke” that is “easy” (“fitting well”) in calling us to love as we are, using whatever gifts God has given us to give voice to our faith; a yoke that is “light” in its sense of joy and the fulfillment and meaning it gives our lives.

Today’s Gospel calls us to embrace Jesus’ spirit of humility: recognising that before God we are all debtors, we have done nothing to deserve the life we have been given, we are owed nothing from God or life. Humility is to realise how blessed we have been by God through no merit of our own, and to respond to such goodness with a constant sense of gratefulness, realising that every breath we take is a gift from a Creator whose love knows neither limit nor condition.                   © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 5

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-5-A

Weekly Church Service – Fourth Sunday After Pentecost: 28 June 2020


Sentence

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.     Romans 6:23 


Collect

O God,

who for our redemption gave your only-begotten

Son to suffer death upon a cross,

and by his glorious resurrection

delivered us from the power of the enemy:

grant us so to die daily to sin

that we may evermore live with him

in the joy of his resurrection;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 22:1-14
  • Psalm 13
  • Romans 6:12-23
  • Matthew 10:40-42

next week

  • Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
  • Psalm 45:10-17
  • Romans 7:14-25
  • Matthew 11:15-30

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 4 Matthew 10:40-42

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me . . . and whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me . . .
“And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple – amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

Today’s Gospel is the conclusion of Matthew’s collection of Jesus’ wisdom sayings to those who will go forth on mission to proclaim his Gospel – Jesus speaks of the sacrifice demanded of his disciples and the suffering they will endure for their prophetic proclamation of the Kingdom of God. In today’s pericope, Jesus clearly is not attacking family life; he is warning his disciples of the conflict and misunderstanding they will experience for their proclaiming the word. To be an authentic disciple of Jesus means embracing the suffering, humility, pain and selflessness of the cross; to be an authentic disciple of Jesus means taking on the often unpopular role of prophet for the sake of the kingdom; to be an authentic disciple of Jesus means welcoming and supporting other disciples who do the work of the Gospel.

God calls every one of us to the work of the prophet: to proclaim his presence among his people. Some are called to be witnesses of God’s justice in the midst of profound evil and hatred; others are called to be witnesses of his hope and grace to those in pain and anguish; and many share in the work of the prophet/witness by enabling others to be effective witnesses and ministers of God’s love. The gift of faith opens our spirits to realise and accept our call to be witnesses of God’s love borne on the cross and prophets of the hope of his Son’s resurrection.

The most difficult part of imitating Jesus is the cross and what it stands for: unconditional forgiveness, the total emptying of ourselves of our wants and needs for the sake of another, the spurning of safety and popular convention to do what is right and just.   

To “receive the prophet’s reward” is to seek out every opportunity, to use every talent with which we have been blessed, to devote every resource at our disposal to make the love of God a living reality in every life we touch.

Authentically committed disciples of Jesus possess the vision of faith and determination of hope to use anything — from a cup of cold water to a sign to protect the most helpless of creatures — to make God’s reign of compassion and peace a reality in our time and place.  ©Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 4

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-4-A

Weekly Church Service – Third Sunday After Pentecost: 21 June 2020


Sentence

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for Jesus’ sake will find it.  Matthew 10:39 


Collect

All-powerful God,Gracious God,

we who were baptised into Christ Jesus

were baptised into his death:

we pray that, as you raised him from death,

so by the power of the Holy Spirit

we may live the new life to your glory,

knowing ourselves to be dead in sin

but alive for you in Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy 

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

Readings

  • Genesis 21:8-21
  • Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
  • Romans 6:1-11
  • Matthew 10:24-39

next week

  • Genesis 22:1-14
  • Psalm 13
  • Romans 6:12-23
  • Matthew 10:40-42

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 3 Matthew 10:24-39

“Fear no one.  Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”

In Matthew’s missionary discourse, Jesus instils in his disciples of the need for courage and discernment in their preaching of the Gospel.  The disciple who faithfully proclaims his Gospel can expect to be denounced, ridiculed and abused; but Jesus assures his followers that they have nothing to fear from those who would deprive “the body of life,” for their perseverant and faithful witness to the Gospel will be exalted in the reign of God.

In the Gospels, Christ reveals a God who loves us and cares for us and every “strand” of creation.  Sometimes we are called to be the vehicles of God’s love for those desperate to realize that presence in their lives; sometimes we are the recipients of such blessings of forgiveness and compassion.  The providence of God who has “counted . . . all the hairs of your head” manifests itself in the love of family, the comfort of friends, the support of church and community.  

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us beyond our fears and insecurities; he invites us to embrace a spirit of joy and possibility beyond our comfort zone.  Three times in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid, that we have nothing to fear before God who has proven his love and acceptance of us unreservedly.  Christ calls us in to embrace a vision of hope that is the opposite of fear — hope that matches our uncertainty of the unknown with the certainty of the love of God; hope that can only be found and embraced once we reach beyond our own fears to confront the fears and heal the hurts of others; hope that the Good Fridays of our lives will be transformed into Easter completeness.   

We “disown” Jesus, not only by what we do, but by what we fail to do.  We “deny” Jesus by our silence in the face of injustice, our protecting our own interests at the expense of the common good, our failure to respond to Christ calling us in the cries of the poor, the abused, the desperate and the lost.                                                   © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 3

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-3-A

Weekly Church Service – Second Sunday After Pentecost: 14 June 2020


Sentence

The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; ask therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.    Matthew 9:37-38


Collect

All-powerful God,

in Jesus Christ you turned death into life,

and defeat into victory:

increase our faith and trust in him,

that we may triumph over evil,

in the strength of the same Jesus Christ our 

Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the 

Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.  

Readings

  • Genesis 18:1-15
  • Psalm 116:1-2, 11-18
  • Romans 5:1-11
  • Matthew 9:35-10:8

next week

  • Genesis 21:8-21
  • Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
  • Romans 6:1-11
  • Matthew 10:24-39

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 2 Matthew 9:35-10:8

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “… As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Today’s Gospel serves as a narrative transition from Matthew’s recounting of Jesus’ miracles and works of wonder (chapters 8 and 9) to Jesus’ missionary discourse (chapters 10 and 11).  

The missionary dimension of discipleship is centred in two images: the “sheep without a shepherd” and harvest in need of labourers. Having established his identity as God’s Christ in his work as a healer, Jesus now commissions the Twelve and his Church to heal hearts and souls in a ministry of reconciliation: 

cure the sick” – bring back to God those who are alienated, those who are lost, those who are weak (the Greek word used in the text of today’s Gospel asthenes means “weak”);

raise the dead” – lift up those hopelessly and helplessly dead because of sin, who are blind and deaf to the grace of God, who are entombed by poverty, racism and violence;

cleanse lepers” – bring back the sons and daughters of God who are rejected or estranged from the human family;

drive out demons” – liberate those enslaved by sin and evil.

Jesus’ compassion for the “shepherd-less” calls us to bring to the lost, forgotten and marginalised (those Pope Francis calls those on the “periphery”). Today’s Gospel reaffirms our responsibility as disciples of Jesus to welcome rather than condemn, to lift up rather than judge, to seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged or separated for whatever reason.

Every one of us, in our struggle to make sense out of life, seeks absolutes by which to guide our decisions, formulae to determine what is fair and good, yardsticks to judge success and failure. Masters and gurus, saviours and deliverers, parties and movements of every stripe preach to their followers how to secure fortunes but not how to live, how to feel better but not how to cure what afflicts, how to conquer one’s enemies but not how to live lives of justice and peace. Christ the “shepherd” walks with us on our life’s journey through hurt and change and maturity and wholeness to the dwelling place of God.   

The defining mark of discipleship is the willingness and commitment to bring healing to the broken, comfort to the afflicted, hope to the despairing. In his first “organisational meeting” of the Twelve, Jesus commissions them to take on the work of healing, restoring, reconciling. As God humbled himself to become one of us and be part of our lives, we are called to the same humility in order to bring the compassion and forgiveness of God to the poor, the needy, the helplessly and hopelessly “dead,” the alienated, the rejected and the abused.  © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 2

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-2-A-1

Weekly Church Service – Trinity Sunday: 7 June 2020


Sentence

Proclaim the Name: ’The Lord, the Lord, a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.’ Exodus 34:6


Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

you have given to us your servants

grace by the confession of a true faith

to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity,

and in the power of the divine majesty

to worship the Unity:

keep us steadfast in this faith,

and evermore defend us from all adversities,

for you live and reign, one God, for ever and

ever. Amen.  

Readings

  • Exodus 34:1-8
  • Song of the Three
  • 2 Cor 13:11-13
  • Matthew 28:16-20

next week

  • Genesis 18:1-15
  • Psalm 116:1-2, 11-18
  • Romans 5:1-11
  • Matthew 9:35-10:8

A Thought to Ponder

Trinity Sunday John 3:16-18

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . . for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him.”  John 3:16-18

As Ordinary Time resumes, two “solemnities of the Lord” are celebrated on the next two Sundays. Today’s celebration of the Trinity originated in France in the eighth century and was adopted by the universal Church in 1334. The solemnity focuses on the essence of our faith: the revelation of God as Creator, God’s re-creation of humankind in Jesus the Redeemer, the fullness of the love of God poured out on us in the Sustainer Spirit.

Today’s periscope omits the context of this Gospel. Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, comes under the cover of darkness to meet the remarkable rabbi he has heard so much about. In their exchange (today’s Gospel), Jesus speaks of the need to be reborn “from above” and of the great love of God who gives the world his own Son, not to condemn humankind but to save it.

Today we celebrate the essence of our faith manifested in our lives: the loving providence of the Creator who continually invites us back to him; the selfless servanthood of the Redeemer who “emptied” himself to become like us in order that we might become like him; the joyful love of the Spirit that is the unique unity of the Father and Son.

As revealed to us by Jesus, our God is a God not of endings but beginnings; a God who does not demand the payment of debts but who constantly offers unconditional and unlimited chances to begin again; a God who does not take satisfaction in our failures but rejoices in lifting us up from our brokenness, despair and estrangement from him and from one another.  

In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges Nicodemus to move beyond old, incomplete and “childlike” images of God in order to grow toward a more complete, “adult” faith that recognises the God who works and moves from his Spirit of unfathomable love; the God who constantly takes the initiative to be reconciled with us, despite our failings; the God who is not removed from his creation but constantly present in every act of love and compassion and forgiveness.                     © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Trinity Sunday

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Trinity-Sunday-A

Weekly Church Service – Day of Pentecost: 31 May 2020


Sentence

‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me,’ says the Lord;’ and let the one who believes in me drink. For out of your heart shall flow rivers of living water.’   John 7:38


Collect

Almighty God,

at the feast of Pentecost 

you sent your Holy Spirit to the disciples,

filling them with joy and boldness to preach

the gospel: empower us with that same Spirit

to witness to your redeeming love 

and draw all people to you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy

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

Readings

  • Acts 2:1-21
  • Psalm 104:26-36
  • 1 Cor 12:1-13
  • John 20:19-23

next week

  • Exodus 34:1-8
  • Song of Three
  • 2 Cor 13:11-13
  • Matthew 28:16-20

A Thought to Ponder

Day of Pentecost John 20:19-23

Jesus breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit . . .”

Pentecost was the Jewish festival of the harvest (also called the Feast of Weeks), celebrated 50 days after Passover, when the first fruits of the corn harvest were offered to the Lord.  A feast of pilgrimage (hence the presence in Jerusalem of so many “devout Jews of every nation”), Pentecost also commemorated Moses’ receiving the Law on Mount Sinai.  For the new Israel, Pentecost becomes the celebration of the Spirit of God’s compassion, peace and forgiveness – the Spirit that transcends the Law and becomes the point of departure for the young Church’s universal mission (the planting of a new harvest?).

In his Acts of the Apostles (Reading 1), Luke invokes the First Testament images of wind and fire in his account of the new Church’s Pentecost:  God frequently revealed his presence in fire (the pillar of fire in the Sinai) and in wind (the wind that sweeps over the earth to make the waters of the Great Flood subside).  The Hebrew word for spirit, ruah, and the Greek word pneuma also refer to the movement of air, not only as wind, but also of life-giving breath (as in God’s creation of man in Genesis 2 and the revivification of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37).  Through his life-giving “breath,” the Lord begins the era of the new Israel on Pentecost.

Today’s Gospel of the first appearance of the Risen Jesus before his ten disciples (remember Thomas is not present) on Easter night is John’s version of the Pentecost event.  In “breathing” the Holy Spirit upon them, Jesus imitates God’s act of creation in Genesis.  Just as Adam’s life came from God, so the disciples’ new life of the Spirit comes from Jesus.  In the Resurrection, the Spirit replaces their sense of self-centred fear and confusion with the “peace” of understanding, enthusiasm and joy and shatters all barriers among them to make of them a community of hope and forgiveness.  By Christ’s sending them forth, the disciples become apostles – “those sent.”

The feast of Pentecost celebrates the unseen, immeasurable presence of God in our lives and in our Church – the ruah that animates us to do the work of the Gospel of the Risen One, the ruah that makes God’s will our will, the ruah of God living in us and transforming us so that we might bring his life and love to our broken world.  God “breathes” his Spirit into our souls that we may live in his life and love; God ignites the “fire” of his Spirit within our hearts and minds that we may seek God in all things in order to realize the coming of his reign.

Today we celebrate the gift of God’s Spirit: the Spirit that enables us to love as selflessly and as totally as God loved us enough to become one of us, to die for us and to rise for us; the Spirit that takes us beyond empty legalisms and static measurements of “mine” and “yours” to create a community of compassion, reconciliation and justice centred in “us”; the Spirit that enables us to re-create our world in the peace and mercy of God.

In Jesus’ “breathing” upon them the new life of the Spirit, the community of the Resurrection – the Church – takes flight.  That same Spirit continues to “blow” through today’s Church to give life and direction to our mission and ministry to preach the Gospel to every nation, to proclaim the forgiveness and reconciliation in God’s name, to baptize all humanity into the life of Jesus’ Resurrection.

The Spirit of God enables the Eleven – and us – to do things they could not do their own: to understand the “truth” of God’s great love for his people that is embodied in the Risen Christ, and then to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Christ.  The Spirit empowers us with the grace to do the difficult work of Gospel justice, forgiveness and compassion.

The miracle of Pentecost (Acts 2) is the Spirit’s overcoming the barriers of language and perception to open not only the minds of the Apostles’ hearers but their hearts as well to understanding and embracing the Word of God. © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Day of Pentecost

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-A

WordPress.com.

Up ↑