Weekly Church Service – Lent 2: 28 February 2021


Sentence

If you want to become a disciple of Jesus, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him. Mark 8:34                           


Collect

God of all times and places,

in Jesus Christ, who was lifted up on the cross, 

you opened for us the path to eternal life:

grant that we, being born again of water and the

Spirit, may joyfully serve you in newness of life

and faithfully walk in your holy ways;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the

Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  

Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
  • Psalm 22:24-32
  • Romans 4:13-25
  • Mark 8:31-38

next week

  • Exodus 20:1-17
  • Psalm 19
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
  • John 2:13-22

A Thought to Ponder

Lent 2 Mark 8:31-38

“Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering . . . He said these things quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. [But] he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things . . .”
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Throughout his Gospel, Mark portrays a Jesus who is constantly misunderstood by family and friends. The Gospel appointed for today in the common lectionary is a case-in-point. Jesus tells his disciples that his ministry will end in suffering and death in Jerusalem. Peter takes Jesus aside and admonishes him for speaking such a gruesome message. Jesus reacts with surprising sharpness to Peter’s rebuke. The hard reality for Peter and his companions (including us) to accept is that the cross is central to Jesus’ Messiahship – and must be a part of every follower’s acceptance of Jesus’ call to discipleship. To be part of the new life of Christ’s resurrection in the life to come requires dying to our own needs and wants in the present.  

Sometimes a cross may be a particular burden, but our crosses can also be a strength or ability we possess that we can use to bring Easter hope into the life of another. Discipleship is the challenge of transforming our crosses into vehicles of resurrection.

Jesus’ strong rebuke of Peter challenges all of us who would be Jesus’ disciples: What crosses are we willing to take up, what sacrifices are we prepared to make, for the sake of the values and beliefs we hold dear?  

While we naturally seek to avoid what is painful and stressful, it is in failure that we learn; it is suffering that we find healing; it is in the crosses we take up that we re-create our lives in the joy and hope of the resurrection.

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Sermon

  •     Lent 2 B

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Lent-2-B

Weekly Church Service – Lent 1: 21 February 2021


Sentence

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news. Mark 1:15                               


Collect

God of the new and eternal covenant,

as the forty days of the great flood 

swept away the world’s corruption

and watered new beginnings of righteousness 

and life: grant to us, who are washed clean and

born again in the saving flood of baptism, the

wellspring of your grace,

through Jesus Christ our Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the

Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 

Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 9:8-17
  • Psalm 25:1-10
  • 1 Peter 3:18-22
  • Mark 1:9-15

next week

  • Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
  • Psalm 22:24-32
  • Romans 4:13-25
  • Mark 8:31-38

A Thought to Ponder

Lent 1 Mark 1:9-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan.

Every liturgical year, the Lenten season begins in the wilderness. Mark’s brief account of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness takes place immediately after Jesus’ baptism. “Driven by the Spirit,” Jesus’ going to the desert is an act of obedience to the Father. This is a time for contemplation and discernment regarding the tremendous task before him.

The word Satancomes from the Hebrew word for adversary. Satan serves as the “adversary” of God, advocating those values that contradict and oppose the love and mercy of God. Mark’s portrait of Jesus in the desert is one of a Messiah coming to terms with the paradox of the human condition.

Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee proclaiming “fulfillment”: God’s long-awaited promised Messiah has come.

These 40 days of Lent are the Spirit’s call to us to a “desert experience,” to re-connect with God, to dare to wonder if our lives are all they could and should be.  

Lent calls us away from business as usual (the real motivation behind giving up one’s favourite confection or past time) in order to decide, in the depths of our hearts where God speaks to each one of us, what it means to be a person of faith, what values we want our lives to stand for, what path we want our lives to take on our journey to God and Easter resurrection.

As Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness to discern what God was calling him to do with the next part of his life, Spirit calls us to our own “wilderness experience” to confront the hard choices we must make in our lives – choices between the values of God and the far lesser things of the world that can isolate us, hurt others and diminish God’s creation. 

© Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Lent 1 B

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Lent-1-B

Weekly Church Service – Transfiguration: 14 February 2021


Sentence

It is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face on Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 4:6                                     


Collect

Almighty God,

whose Son was revealed in majesty

before he suffered death upon the cross:

give us faith to perceive his glory,

that being strengthened by his grace

we may be changed into his likeness, from 

glory to glory; through the same Jesus Christ

our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the 

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

Readings

  • 2 Kings 2:1-12
  • Psalm 50:1-6
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-12
  • Mark 9:2-9

next week

  • Genesis 9:8-17
  • Psalm 25:1-10
  • 1 Peter 3:18-22
  • Mark 1:9-15

A Thought to Ponder

Transfiguration Mark 9:2-9

Jesus was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.

Today’s Gospel is Mark’s account of the transfiguration of Jesus. In the event witnessed by Peter, James and John on the mountain, the promise of the first covenant (Moses the great law giver and Elijah the great prophet) converges with the fulfillment of the new covenant (Jesus the Messiah).

Throughout Israel’s history, God revealed his presence to Israel in the form of a cloud (for example, the column of cloud that led the Israelites in the desert during the Exodus – Exodus 15). On the mountain of the transfiguration, God again speaks in the form of a cloud, claiming the transfigured Jesus as his own Son.

Returning down the mountain, Jesus urges the three not to tell of what they had seen, realising that their vision would confirm the popular misconception of an all-powerful, avenging Messiah. The mission of Jesus the Messiah means the cross and resurrection, concepts Peter and the others still do not grasp.

What the disciples saw in Jesus on the mountain was the divinity – the very life and love of God – that dwelled within him. That love of God lives within each one of us, as well, calling us beyond our own needs, wants and interests.  

Love that calls us beyond ourselves is “transfiguring.” In the transforming love of Christ the Messiah-Servant, we can “transfigure” despair into hope, sadness into joy, anguish into healing, estrangement into community.

The Jesus of the Gospel comes with a heavy price: the glorious Christ of the Transfiguration will soon become the Crucified Christ of Good Friday. Accepting the God of blessing is easy, but when that God becomes the God of suffering who asks us to give readily and humbly to others and to forgive one another without limit or condition, then we begin to insulate ourselves from the relationship God invites us to embrace. In risking the pain and demands of loving one another as Christ has loved us, the divinity we recognise in the Jesus of the Transfiguration becomes for us the eternal life of the Jesus of Easter. 

© Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Transfiguration B

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Transfiguration-B

Weekly Church Service – Epiphany 5: 7 February 2021


Sentence

Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles. Isaiah 40:31                                      


Collect

Saving God,

whose Son, Jesus Christ, healed the sick

and brought them wholeness of body and mind:

inspire us, his disciples,

so that we may constantly proclaim his gospel

by our words

and by the dedication and integrity of our lives;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Isaiah 40:21-31
  • Psalm 147:1-11
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
  • Mark 1:29-39

next week

  • 2 Kings 2:1-12
  • Psalm 50:1-6
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-12
  • Mark 9:2-29

A Thought to Ponder

Epiphany 5 Mark 1:29-39

Rising very early before dawn, Jesus left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.

Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

Jesus told them, “Let us go to the nearby villages that I preach there also. For this purpose I have come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

Throughout his Gospel, Mark portrays Jesus as somewhat uncomfortable with his growing renown as a miracle worker. He clearly values time away from the crowds to be alone to pray – even though that time is cut short by the needs of those around him.

Jesus works miracles not out of any need of his own for the adulation of the masses but out of an extraordinary sense of compassion, a deep love for his brothers and sisters, especially those in crisis or pain. The miracles he works are not to solicit acclaim for himself but to awaken faith and trust in the Word of God, to restore in humankind God’s vision of a world united as brothers and sisters under his providence (“that is what I have come to do”). Jesus’ compassion for those who come to him breaks down stereotypes and defences that divide, segregate and marginalise people; his ministry is not to restore bodies to health but to restore spirits to wholeness.

The word Gospel means “good news.” It is a story that ends not in death but life; it is centred not in humiliating sorrow but in liberating joy; it does not demand blind adherence to laws and rituals but invites us to welcome the Spirit of compassion and love into our lives. The Gospel of Jesus is about the re-creation and transformation that are possible through reconciliation, justice, mercy and community.

Like Jesus’ rising before dawn and going to a deserted place, we too need that “deserted,” “out of the way” place to re-connect with God, to rediscover God’s presence in our life, to find within ourselves again a sense of gratitude for the blessings of that presence. Jesus does not perform miracles to dazzle the crowds and glory in their acclaim but to awaken his hearers’ faith and trust in the word of God, to restore all of humanity to God’s vision of one world in which all men and women love and respect one another as brothers and sisters under the Father’s loving providence. 

© Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Epiphany 5 B

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Epiphany-5-B

Weekly Church Service – Epiphany 4: 31 January 2021


Sentence

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.   Matthew 9:35


Collect

God of compassion,

you have shown us in Christ 

that your love is never ending:

enable us both to love you with all our heat

and to love one another as Christ loved us.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy 

Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Readings

  • Deut 18:15-20
  • Psalm 111
  • 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
  • Mark 1:21-28

next week

  • Isaiah 40:21-31
  • Psalm 147:1-11
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
  • Mark 1:29-39

A Thought to Ponder

Epiphany 4 Mark 1:21-28

The people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes . . . “What is this?  A new teaching with authority.  He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”

For the poor Jews of Jesus’ time, the scribes were the voices of authority, the final arbiters of the Law in which God had revealed himself.  Their interpretation of the Law was considered absolute.

“Demons” are encountered several times in Mark’s Gospel.  Anything that the people of Jesus’ time could not understand or explain, such as disease, mental illness or bizarre or criminal behaviour, were considered the physical manifestations of the evil one – “demons” or “unclean spirits.”

Both demons and scribes are silenced in today’s Gospel.  Jesus’ casting out the unclean spirit from the man possessed silences the voices of the demons that plague humanity.  In his compassionate outreach to the poor and sick, Jesus “silences” the scribes by redefining the community’s understanding of authority:  whereas the “authority” of the scribes’ words is based solely on their perceived status and learnedness, the authority of Jesus is born of compassion, peace and justice.  The casting out of the demons and his curing of the sick who come to him are but manifestations of the power and grace of his words.

Note that the people of the Bible viewed miracles differently than we do.  While we, in our high technology, scientific approach to the world, dismiss miracles as some kind of disruption or “overriding” of the laws of nature, the contemporaries of Jesus saw miracles as signs of God’s immediate activity in his creation.  While we ask, How could this happen? they asked. Who is responsible? Their answer was always the same: the God of all creation.  Those who witnessed Jesus’ healings, then, saw them as God directly touching their lives.

Jesus’ “authority” inspires rather than enforces, lifts up rather than controls; he sees his call to “lead” as a trust, as a responsibility to serve others by revealing the God who calls us to compassion and mercy for the sake of his kingdom of peace, instead of a God of judgment and vengeance. Authority comes not from power to enforce but from the ability to inspire.  

The “unclean spirit” that Jesus casts out of the poor man in today’s Gospel serves as a symbol of the voice of evil that sometimes speaks within us – the voice of revenge, self- centeredness, self-righteousness, greed, anger.  

We can be “possessed” by “demons” who discourage us and plague us with fear when we consider the unpopular position that we know is right and just; or the “demon” of rationalization that falsely justifies actions – or inactions – we know in our heart of hearts is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel.  The compassionate Jesus of the today’s Gospel speaks to those “unclean spirits” as well, offering us the grace and courage to cast them out of our minds and hearts forever.

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Sermon

  •     Epiphany 4 B

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Epiphany-4-B

Weekly Church Service – Epiphany 3: 24 January 2021


Sentence

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.  Mark 1:15                                                                                  


Collect

Bountiful God,

through your Son you have called us to repent of

our sin, to believe the good news,

and to celebrate the coming of your kingdom:

teach us, like Christ’s first apostles,

to hear the call to discipleship,

and, forsaking old ways,

to proclaim the gospel of new life to a broken 

world; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Jonah 3:1-10
  • Psalm 62:5-12
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20

next week

  • Deut 18:15-20
  • Psalm 111
  • 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
  • Mark 1:21-28

A Thought to Ponder

Epiphany 3 Mark 1:14-20

Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

As [Jesus] passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea . . . “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

The day of the Messiah has dawned; but newness demands change: a “turning away” (the original meaning of the word repentance) from business as usual and a complete trust in the life and love of God. Simon and Andrew’s “abandoning” of their nets and James’ and John’s “abandoning” of their father in today’s Gospel illustrate the total trust and commitment Jesus demands of those who would be his disciples.

When Jesus calls us to “repent,” he’s not calling us to cease and desist; he’s not calling us out for our sins and failures. “Repentance” is a call to change, to look at our lives and our world in a new light, to become the person of hope and faith we seek to be; to repent is to look, not backward with regret, but forward with hope — not downwards at our own shortcomings, but upwards at God’s love.   

Jesus began his ministry by calling simple fishermen to be his most trusted friends. Although the Twelve were hardly scholars or men wise in the ways of the world, Jesus saw beyond their gruff simplicity to call forth from them faith, sincerity and integrity. As Mark’s Gospel unfolds each Sunday this year, the first disciples will misunderstand Jesus (if not miss the point entirely), desert him and even deny and betray him.  

To follow Christ means “abandoning our nets” of self-interest to embrace the needs of others; Jesus calls us to follow him along the difficult path of humility and selflessness. If we are going to realise his call to be “fishers of men,” we have to be willing to cast our nets into waters that are deep and turbulent, waters we do not know, waters that threaten the safety and security of our small boats.  

The Gospel is about possibilities: Christ came to show us how it is possible to love life to the fullest, if we dare to make forgiveness, reconciliation and selfless charity the centre of our lives. 

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Sermon

  •     Epiphany 3 B

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Epiphany-3-B

Weekly Church Service – Epiphany 2: 17 January 2021


Sentence

We have found the Messiah: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the king of Israel! John 1:41, 49                                                                                  


Collect

Eternal God,

whose Son, Jesus Christ, is now exalted as Lord

of all, and pours out his gifts upon the Church:

grant it that unity which only your Spirit can give,

keep us in the bond of peace,

and bring all creation to worship before your 

throne; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the

Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen. 

Readings

  • 1 Samuel 3:1-10
  • Psalm 139:1-5, 12-18
  • 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
  • John 1:43-51

next week

  • Jonah 3:1-10
  • Psalm 62:5-12
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20

A Thought to Ponder

Epiphany 2 John 1:43-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth. Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

After the beautiful Prologue to his Gospel, the evangelist John recounts a series of brief scenes that serve as an introduction to his “Book of Signs.” In the course of four days, Jesus organises his ministry in a series of encounters with John the Baptist (day one and two), Andrew and Simon (day three), and, in today’s reading, Philip and Nathanael (day four). Each of these encounters provides a testimonial to the divinity of this Jesus: Lamb of God, Messiah, Son of God, King of Israel. The evangelist seeks to impress this Christology in the minds of his readers as he begins his narrative.

In today’s pericope, Philip, who has been called by Jesus, approaches Nathanael. Nathanael provides a bit of vinegar to the story with his caustic remark, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael’s gibe (probably reflecting the rivalry typical between towns and regions) might also be included by John as a preview of the later rejection of Jesus by the Jewish establishment because of his origins.  

Nathanael also serves as the model of the “true Israelite,” part of the “remnant” who have faithfully awaited the fulfillment of God’s reign in the coming of the Messiah and now see that hope fulfilled in Jesus.

(Some scholars believe Nathanael continued in Jesus’ company as one of the Twelve. They suggest, though there is no conclusive evidence, that Nathanael is the apostle identified as “Bartholomew” in several New Testament lists of the apostles because Bartholomew’s name follows that of Philip.)

God can be found in the most unexpected of places. God is present in the poverty of our Bethlehems, in the emptiness of our Nazareths, in the turmoil of our Bethsaidas.  

Whatever Nathanael-like scepticism, biases and judgments we possess are shattered in Christ who comes to proclaim God’s reign of justice and peace.  

In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites the first disciples – and us – to “come and see” beyond our own safe little worlds and to realise the good things that we have shut out of our lives, to break out of the cycle of emptiness that impoverishes our spirits and hearts.  

Often to our surprise, God seeks us out from the isolation of our fig trees and invites to come and realise a life transformed in his Christ.

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Sermon

  •     Epiphany 2 B

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Epiphany-2-B

Weekly Church Service – Baptism of the Lord: 10 January 2021


Sentence

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; and he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  Acts 10:38


Collect

Spirit of energy and change,

in whose power Jesus was anointed

to be the hope of the nations:

be poured out also upon us

without reserve or distinction,

that we may have confidence and strength

to implant your justice on the earth;

through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 1:1-5
  • Psalm 29
  • Acts 19:1-7
  • Mark 1:4-11

next week

  • 1 Samuel 3:1-10
  • Psalm 139:1-5, 12-18
  • 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
  • John 1:43-51

A Thought to Ponder

Baptism of the Lord Mark 1:4-11

Jesus was baptised by John in the Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

Today’s Gospel is the final event of the Epiphany: Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan River by John. The fact that Mark begins his Gospel with the baptism of Jesus indicates the importance of this event. In the “renting of the sky,” the Spirit “descending on him like a dove” and the voice heard from the heavens, God “anoints” his Messiah (the word Messiah means “anointed”) for the work he is about to do.

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

Sermon

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Baptism-of-the-Lord-B

Weekly Church Service – Epiphany: 3 January 2021


Sentence

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


Collect

Everlasting God,

who brought the nations to your light

and kings to the brightness of your rising:

fill the world with your glory,

and show yourself to all the nations;

through him who is the true light and the bright 

morning star,

Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

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

next week

  • Genesis 1:1-5
  • Psalm 29
  • Acts 19:1-7
  • Mark 1:4-11

A Thought to Ponder

The Epiphany of Our Lord Matthew 2:1-12

Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the new-born 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 is 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 appreciated.

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 and the openness of mind and heart essential to faith that leads them 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’s call 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 recognise 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.

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Sermon

  •     Epiphany B

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Epiphany-B

Weekly Church Service – Fourth Sunday of Advent: 20 December 2020


Sentence

This child will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:32-33


Collect

Gracious God,

whose eternal Word took flesh among us

when Mary placed her life at the service of your will:

prepare our hearts for his coming again

and keep us steadfast in hope,

that we may ready for the coming of his kingdom;

for his sake, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
  • Psalm 89:1-4, 19-27
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

next week

  • Isaiah 61:10-62:3
  • Psalm 148
  • Galatians 4:4-7
  • Luke 2:22-40

A Thought to Ponder

Advent 4 Luke 1:26-38

“Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you . . . Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”

Today’s Gospel on this Sunday before Christmas is Luke’s account of the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary. The Annunciation story is filled with First Testament imagery (e.g. the announcement by the angel parallels the announcements of the births of many key figures in salvation history, such as Isaac and Samuel; the “overshadowing” of Mary recalls the cloud of glory covering the tent of the ark and temple in Jerusalem). Mary’s “yes” to Gabriel’s words set the stage for the greatest event in human history: God’s becoming human.

In today’s Gospel, God begins the “Christ event” with Mary, a simple Jewish girl who is at the very bottom of her people’s social ladder; the God who created all things makes the fulfillment of his promise dependent upon one of the most dispossessed and powerless of his creatures. Yet God exalts her humility, her simplicity, her trust in his love and mercy. God’s “favour” belongs the poor, the rejected, the abandoned and the forgotten among us today. 

In his becoming human in the Son of Mary, God enters human history to show us how to live God-like, grace-filled, holy lives of compassion, forgiveness and justice in our time and place in that history.

In the Advents of our lives, God calls us to bring his Christ into our own time and place; may we respond with the faith and trust of Mary, putting aside our own doubts and fears to say I am your servant, O God. Be it done.  

The mystery of the Incarnation is relived every time we echo Mary’s “yes” to God’s call to bring his Christ into our world, when we accept, as did Mary, God’s asking us to make the Gospel Jesus alive in our own time and place. 

Mary’s life is pretty much laid out before her by her family and culture — simple, hidden and uncomplicated. But God interrupts her pre-ordered life, entrusting her with bringing his Christ to birth. God interrupts our own well-ordered and focused lives, as well, to bring his Word and Light to birth in our hearts and homes; God’s messenger Gabriel appears to us in the needs of our children, the struggles of family and friends, the cries of the poor, the despair of the lost and marginalised.    

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  •     Advent 4 B

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