Service for Sunday 11th July 2021 – Kerry Webber

Servicing the Bald Hills and nearby Communities

Service for Sunday 11th July 2021 – Kerry Webber

Welcome: –

Call to Worship 

(Psalm 24: 1 to 5, 7, 8 & 10) 

The World and all that is in it belong to the Lord;

The Earth and all who live on it are His.

He built it on the deep waters beneath the Earth

And laid its foundations in the ocean depths.

Who has the right to go up the Lord’s hill?

Who may enter His place of worship?

Those who are pure in act and in thought,

Who do not worship idols or make false promises.

The Lord will bless them and save them;

God will declare them innocent.

Fling wide the gates, open the ancient doors,

And the great King will come in.

Who is this great King?

He is the Lord, strong and mighty, the triumphant Lord, victorious over His enemies.

Prayer of Praise

Almighty God, Creator of the visible and the invisible, all of Heaven and Earth depends upon you and is sustained by you.  Your glory is plainly seen and made known to all.  Your wisdom and foresight are obvious in the rhythms of life, in the regularity of the tides and the seasons, and the rotation of the planets and the stars we see in the night sky.

  Redeemer God, you release us from the burden of our guilt, you save us from all that isolates us from yourself and others, you show mercy to those who are oppressed by cares and worries, and bring back to you those who have lost their way and purpose in life.

  Renewing God, you bring freshness back into lives that have become withered and lacking in spirit, you bring clarity to those who have become distracted by false desires and dreams.  We rejoice in the reassuring voice of the Holy Spirit, calling us into a loving relationship with you, inspiring our prayers and our praise, and promoting our growth as your children.

  Set before our hearts and our minds each day, O God, the example of Jesus Christ, so that we may love you unconditionally, as he loved, and so that we walk by the light of your Word.  To your honour and glory we pray.  Amen.


“Yours for ever!  God of love”  MHB 569

[sung to the tune Monkland – refer to TiS 83 or AHB 11(ii) or MHB 19]

[there is no introduction]

Verse 1 of 5

Yours for ever!  God of love,

Hear us from your throne above;

Yours for ever may we be,

Here and in eternity.

Verse 2 of 5

Yours for ever!  Lord of life,

Shield us through our earthly strife;

You’re the Life, the Truth, the Way,

Guide us to the realms of day.

Verse 3 of 5

Yours for ever!  O how blessed

They who find in you their rest!

Saviour, Guardian, Heavenly Friend,

O defend us to the end!

Verse 4 of 5

Yours for ever!  Shepherd keep

These your frail and trembling sheep;

Safe alone beneath your care,

Let us all your goodness share.

Verse 5 of 5

Yours for ever!  You’re our Guide,

All our wants by you supplied,

All our sins by you forgiven,

Lead us, Lord, from Earth to Heaven.

Mary Maude

Prayer of Confession 

(from Liturgies On-Line Year B Pentecost 2 and Year A Easter 6 & Prayers for the Seasons Year A Easter 6 p106) 

Merciful God, you continually challenge us to become the people you seek for us to be, through the life of your Spirit within us.  You continually challenge us to look at ourselves in the light of your instructions and guidelines, yet often we do not listen to you and choose to look the other way.  Merciful God, forgive our incomplete obedience to your commandments, our half-hearted love of your counsel, and our resistance to your instruction. 

Merciful God, restore and renew our willingness to follow your will with the Spirit of truth.

Merciful God, forgive those times when our conduct does not live up to your standards for us, forgive those habits of ours that are destructive of our relationship with you and of our relationships with others. 

Merciful God, bless and renew our lives with the Spirit of truth. 

Merciful God, forgive us when we worship idols of our own making; gods fashioned for our own selfish ends. 

Merciful God, inspire and renew our worship with the Spirit of truth. 

Merciful God, forgive us when we do not speak loudly enough against the gods of sport and shopping, that attract people away from gathering on one day of the week for a time of worship of you.

Merciful God, awaken and renew our desire for change through the Spirt of truth.

Merciful God, forgive us when we ignore the pain and the hopelessness of so many people, both in our community and in our World, and so deny Christ’s commandment to us to love one another in suffering, self-giving ways. 

Merciful God, inflame and renew our love with the Spirit of truth. 

Merciful God, forgive us when our desire to maintain our standard of living contributes to the poverty of life experienced by others and to the growing environmental problems throughout this World that you have bestowed to us. 

Merciful God, encourage and renew our sense of justice with the Spirit of truth. 

God of mercy and grace, we confess our sins and our shortcomings.

We confess our wanting to follow our will and not to seek for your Will to be done, in our lives and in the life of the Church.

God of mercy and grace, cleanse our lives from sin,

Restore us to a right relationship with you.  Strengthen us to be your People and to be a light for the World.  To your glory we pray, amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness 

(from Ephesian 1: 7) 

The Apostle Paul reminded the Church in Ephesus that “by the sacrificial death of Christ we are set free, our sins are forgiven”.  Having confessed our sins before God and expressing our faith in the saving grace of God achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us be assured that God has heard our prayers, that God has forgiven our sins, and that God has reconciled us to Himself.

Thanks be to God.

Prayer of illumination 

(from Holy Communion Two in Uniting Church Worship Services p21) 

O Lord, our God, you have given your Word to us that it may be a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.  Grant us grace to receive your truth in faith and love, so that we may be obedient to your Will and live always for your glory, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen.

Bible Readings

2 Samuel 6: 12 to 17 and 20 to 22

12  King David was told that the Lord had blessed Obed-edom’s family and all that belonged to him, because the Ark of the Covenant was in his house.  So David went and brought up the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem with much rejoicing.  13  When the bearers of the Ark of the Covenant had gone six steps, David had them stop while he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.  14  David, wearing a linen cloth around his waist, danced without restraint to honour the Lord.  15  So David and all the Israelites brought the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem with shouts of joy and the blowing of trumpets.

But as the Ark of the Covenant was entering Jerusalem, David’s wife, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked down from a window and saw David leaping and dancing in a sacred dance for God, and she was disgusted with him, despising him in her heart.

20  When David returned to greet his household, Michal, his wife, came out to meet him and said, “What a glorious day for the King of Israel, when he exposed himself in the sight of his servant’s slave girls, like any empty-headed fool!”  21  David said to Michal, “But it was done in the presence of the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and his family, and appointed me as Prince over Israel, the People of the Lord.  Before the Lord I will dance for joy,  22  yes, and I will earn yet more disgrace and lower myself in your eyes.  But those girls of whom you speak will think highly of me.”

Ephesians 1: 3 to 14

3  Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  For in union with Christ He has blessed us by giving us every spiritual gift in the Heavenly Realm.  4  Even before the World was made, God had already chosen us to be His through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before Him.

Because of His love  5  God had already decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His daughters and sons – this was His pleasure and purpose.  6  Let us praise God for His glorious grace, for the free gift He gave us in His dear Son!  7  For by the sacrificial death of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven.  How great is the grace of God,  8  which He lavished upon us.

In all His wisdom and insight,  9  God did what He had determined beforehand, and made known to us the secret plan He had already decided to complete by means of Christ.  10  This plan which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all Creation together, everything in Heaven and Earth, with Christ as head.

11  All things are done according to God’s plan and decision; and God chose us to be His own People in union with Christ because of His own purpose, based on what He had decided from the very beginning.  12  Let us, then, who were the first whose expectation and hope are in Christ, praise God’s glory.

13  And you also became God’s People when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation.  You believed in Christ, and God put His stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit He had promised.  14  The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised His People, and this assures us that God will redeem what is His own, to His praise and glory.

This is the Word of God.

Praise to you Almighty God.

Mark 6: 14 to 29

14  Herod, ruler of Galilee and Peraea, heard that Jesus was travelling throughout Galilee, preaching and healing, for the fame of Jesus had spread everywhere.  Some people were saying, “John the Baptist has come back to life!  That is why he has this power to perform miracles.”  15  Others, however, said, “He is Elijah.”  Yet others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”

16  When Herod of it, he said, “This is John the Baptist whom I had beheaded.  He has come back to life!

17  Herod, himself, had ordered John’s arrest and imprisonment.  Herod did this because he had married Herodias, even though she was the wife of his brother, Philip.  18  John had told Herod, “It isn’t right for you to marry your brother’s wife!”

19  So Herodias held a grudge against John, and would willingly have killed him.  But she could not, because of Herod,  20  for he feared John, knowing that John was a good and holy man, so he kept John in custody.  Herod liked to listen to John, even though he became greatly perplexed every time he heard him. 

21  Herodias found her opportunity when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet to his chief officials, his military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.  22  The daughter of Herodias, Salome, came in and danced, and so delighted Herod and his guests that Herod said to Salome, “Ask what you like and I will give it to you.”  23  And he swore an oath to her, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half of my Kingdom.” 

24  So Salome went out and asked her mother, “What shall I ask for?”  Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”  25  Salome hurried back at once to Herod with her request, “I want you to give me, here and now, the head of John the Baptist on a dish.”

26  Herod was greatly distressed, but he could not refuse her because of the oath that he had made to her in front of his guests.  27  So, immediately, he sent off a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head.  The soldier went off and beheaded John in the prison,  28  brought back the head on a dish and gave it to Salome, who gave it to her mother.  29  When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body away and laid it in a tomb.

This is the Gospel of our Lord.

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Passing the Peace

Whether we gather in person in our Church building or whether we gather in spirit in our homes, we remain one body, one people of God, one in fellowship and one in worship.  With that in mind, let us uplift our hands and greet those both here and those who cannot be here: The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

For the Young at Heart

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Both of my sons were ‘checkout chicks’

Both of my sons were ‘checkout chicks’.  Brendan and Lachlan started working for Woollies at Chermside Shopping Centre when they were 15 years of age.  Being so young, the first job to which you are allocated is being on the checkout counter.  It is here that you learn the basics of how the shop operates, how to handle money and how to handle shoppers. 

  As well, being so young, and, therefore, the cheapest of employees to hire, you are given the ‘closing shifts’.  I remember many a Thursday evening, after late night shopping was over, standing in the dark, damp, deserted car park at Chermside Shopping Centre, along with the parents of other 15 and 16 year old employees, waiting for our children to come out of the ‘back door’ of Woollies, after their shift was over, so as to drive them home. 

  Now, one of the tasks associated with being on the ‘closing shift’ was the ‘balancing of the till’.  This involves adding up the change in the drawer of the cash register and hoping that

the total in the till was the same as the total that the financial system said should be there.

  Something that they both noticed, and something that very much came as a surprise to me, was the foreign coins that they found amongst the money that was in the drawer of the cash register which they were counting.

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What is true currency and what is not?

What is true worship of God and what is not?

Here is a sample of the foreign coins that they had found.

On the top row, left hand side, a 20 cent coin from Fiji, and on the right hand side, an older 20 cent coin from New Zealand, both of which are the size of our 20 cent coins.  

On the middle row on the left hand side, a 10 cent coin from Fiji, and on the right hand side, a newer 20 cent coin from New Zealand, both of which are the size of our 10 cent coins.

On the bottom row on the left hand side, a 25 fils coin from the United Arab Emirates, and on the right hand side, a 5 baht coin from Thailand, both of which are about the size of our 5 cent coins.

  It appears that people sought to pass off foreign coins, brought back from their latest overseas trip, as Australian currency.  If these coins are mixed with Australian coins, the person at the checkout is often in too much of a rush to notice.  Because they are of a similar shape and colour as Australian coins, they are easily missed as a foreign coin, unless they are given a closer look.

  Geoffrey once told this story at a worship service at PM Village, and, as soon as he described what some people were apparently doing, one of the ladies who were there immediately said, “Oh, that’s not right!”  She could comprehend without any difficulty that such an action wasn’t ‘right behaviour’. 

  When you return from overseas you inevitably bring back loose change.  Now there are many ways that you can deal with such loose change.  You could retain them as ‘mementoes of your recent trip.  You could keep them for your next overseas trip.  You could give them to your grandchildren as Christmas presents.  You could utilise the containers that you see at the airport into which you can place such loose change, which goes towards raising funds for various charities. 

  For some people, though, they cannot accept the thought of just giving away such loose change.  They reason that they should not lose money by donating the coins, so they see it as expedient to ‘pass them off’ as ‘Australian’ coins.  But, as one person has said:

“expediency does not exonerate error”.

  There is no excuse for what is not ‘right behaviour’.

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David was dancing and jumping around in a sacred dance.’  2 Samuel 6: 16a

Michal, his wife, looked out of the window, saw David, and was disgusted with him.’ 

2 Samuel 6: 16b

We read that David was dancing without restraint to honour the Lord, or “dancing and jumping around in a sacred dance” as one translation puts it  (2 Samuel 6: 16a)  , celebrating the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, so that, once more, it could be at the centre of their worship since it represented “the holy rule of God over all of Israel”.  (Walter Brueggemann in First and Second Samuel p248) 

  We read that his wife, Michal, David’s wife, looked out of a window, saw David below, “dancing and jumping around”, and was disgusted with him, despising him in her heart, because, in her words, he was “exposing himself in the sight of his servant’s slave girls, like any empty-headed fool”.  (2 Samuel 6: 16b) 

  Two totally different descriptions of the same behaviour.  Do we just accept them as just that, two different viewpoints, on the basis that we are all free to express our different opinions? 

  David’s wife is accusing him of behaviour that is not fit and right for the King of Israel.  Michal’s accusation was that David, as King, should be more concerned with his personal image, and that his social position and status should determine how he behaves in full view of his subjects.

  David’s answer was that his dancing was done “in the presence of the Lord”, and that he was determined to continue to “dance for joy before the Lord” and risk earning “yet more disgrace” in her eyes.  (2 Samuel 6: 21 & 22) 

  How do we, then, determine what is ‘right behaviour’, what is true worship of God?

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Sing to the Lord, all the World!  Worship the Lord with joy; come before Him with happy songs.”  Psalm 100: 1 & 2

Psalm 100 commences with the words:

“Sing to the Lord, all the World!  Worship the Lord with joy; come before Him with happy songs.”  (Verses 1 & 2) 

  In these words, there is no mention of being guided by your ‘social position’, nor of only engaging in ‘socially respectful behaviour’, nor of maintaining behaviour ‘in line with your social status’.  There is only mention of “singing before the Lord”, and of worshipping the Lord with joy and happy songs.  In David’s eyes, he was engaging in ‘right behaviour’, fit for the worship of God, engaging in true worship of God.  He was worshipping with unrestrained joy because the occasion called for it.

  When we gather for worship, how do we gauge what is ‘right’ worship?  Do we value more that which is offered with reserve and quiet decorum or do we welcome that which is offered with enthusiasm?  Do we hesitate to sit in the vicinity of those who cannot sing ‘in tune’?  Do we expect everyone to sit upright and still so as not to disrupt the flow of the ‘order of service’ in case the service goes over the expected 60 minutes?

  In line with the words from Psalm 100 and following the example of David, we are called to worship God with unrestrained joy and to sing happy songs, however our singing abilities.  God accepts our worship if it is honestly and earnestly offered with joy, for surely, these are the distinctive marks indicating the true worship that God seeks from us, that our worship is ‘real’.  

  In the passage from 2 Samuel 6, the original Hebrew words do not indicate whether David’s dancing was graceful and refined, nor that if he was singing whether or not his singing was melodious, only that his worship was joyful and honouring God.  May this too be our guide and standard as we gather together each week to worship God.


“Jesus, lover of my soul”  TiS 211  AHB 139  MHB 110

[sung to the tune Aberystwyth – there is a short introduction]


There is the story that Sigmund Freud once remarked to some colleagues that he had had a recent argument with his wife.  “I had some words with my wife yesterday,” he said to them, “and she had some paragraphs with me.”  (Readers Digest February 2010, p91) 

  We can laugh at the picture that we have in our minds of Sigmund Freud facing a tirade from his wife.  However, it was no laughing matter when Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, faced just such a tirade from John the Baptist.

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Leviticus 18: 6 “do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife”

Leviticus 20: 21 “If a man marries his brother’s wife .. he has done a ritually unclean thing and has disgraced his brother”

Herod Antipas had married a daughter of Aretas IV, King of Nabataea.  However, while he was in Rome, he became acquainted with Herodias, the wife of his brother, Herod-Philip.  He became so infatuated with her that he made a marriage agreement with her, though he was still married to his wife and though she was still married to her husband, Philip.  After divorcing their respective partners, Herod and Herodias married and lived in Galilee.  (Frederick Bruce in Herod in The Illustrated Bible Dictionary Part 2 p643)    

  But their actions contravened two Old Testament Laws, of which, as members of the ruling family of the Jewish lands of Judah and Galilee, they should have been well aware.

Leviticus 18: 6 states “do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife”.

Leviticus 20: 21 states “If a man marries his brother’s wife .. he has done a ritually unclean thing and has disgraced his brother”.

  William Whiston, in his translation of The works of Josephus, the writings of the first century Jewish historian, notes that it was on the grounds of Herod’s “adulterous and incestuous marriage” to Herodias, that John the Baptist “justly reproved” Herod.  (notation a in The Antiquities of the Jews Book 18 chapter 5, p484)  Mark records for us that “John the Baptist had told Herod, ‘It isn’t right for you to marry your brother’s wife!’”  (Mark 6: 18) 

  Herod had John the Baptist arrested and imprisoned, partly because he “could not tolerate open criticism of himself in his own domain”  (Alan Cole in Mark p111)  , but also because he was concerned that the criticism that John the Baptist had directed towards him might rouse the people to rebellion against him since they held John the Baptist in such high regard.  (Josephus in The Antiquities of the Jews Book 18 chapter 5 paragraph 118 in The Works of Josephus p484)  (Matthew 14: 5) 

  We also know from today’s reading that Herodias was so embarrassed and humiliated by John’s criticism that she held “an undying hatred” of John, so much so that she would willingly have killed him.  (Alan Cole in Mark p111)  But she could not, since Herod would not have approved of it based on his feelings that John was such a good and holy person.  (Mark 6: 19) 

  It is against this background that the events of today’s passage from Mark 6 takes place.

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Mark 6: 14 – 29

degenerate Humanity

  I am fascinated by the contrast between the character of John the Baptist and the characters of the royal family of Herod Antipas. 

  John was certainly a forthright speaker, not holding back on his criticism of the ordinary person nor of the Jewish religious elite; such was the role to which God had called him.  (Mathew 3: 7, Luke 3: 7)  Crowds of people flocked to hear and to respond to his call to repent of their sins.  (Matthew 3: 5 & 6, Mark 1: 5)  In today’s passage from Mark 6 we have Herod knowing that John was “a good and holy man”.  (Mark 6: 20) 

  Josephus writes of John that “he was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God.  (Josephus in The Antiquities of the Jews Book 18 chapter 5 paragraph 117 in The Works of Josephus p484)  (Matthew 3: 8, Mark 1: 4, Luke 3: 10 – 14)  

  The family of Herod Antipas, however, I would label as displaying the characteristics of “degenerate Humanity”.  Not only did they hold John in such low regard nor place much value on his life, but they revelled in their unrepentant sin.

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Herod Antipas

troubled and foolish

  I am fascinated by the contrast between the character of John the Baptist and the characters of the royal family of Herod Antipas. 

  John was certainly a forthright speaker, not holding back on his criticism of the ordinary person nor of the Jewish religious elite; such was the role to which God had called him.  (Mathew 3: 7, Luke 3: 7)  Crowds of people flocked to hear and to respond to his call to repent of their sins.  (Matthew 3: 5 & 6, Mark 1: 5)  In today’s passage from Mark 6 we have Herod knowing that John was “a good and holy man”.  (Mark 6: 20) 

  Josephus writes of John that “he was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God.  (Josephus in The Antiquities of the Jews Book 18 chapter 5 paragraph 117 in The Works of Josephus p484)  (Matthew 3: 8, Mark 1: 4, Luke 3: 10 – 14)  

  The family of Herod Antipas, however, I would label as displaying the characteristics of “degenerate Humanity”.  Not only did they hold John in such low regard nor place much value on his life, but they revelled in their unrepentant sin.

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immoral and vindictive

Herodias has been described as “ambitious and unscrupulous”.  (Augustus Buckland in Herodias in The Universal Bible Dictionary p203)  She willingly divorced her first husband, Philip, when it was obvious that he would not inherit any titles or land.

  She was willing to enter into an “adulterous and incestuous” relationship with Herod, who had titles and land, despite such an action being unethical, immoral and unlawful according to Jewish Law.

  She was vindictive towards John the Baptist because he humiliated her in the eyes of the people when he openly judged her relationship with Herod, to the point where she sought for and used the opportunity that came her way to seek her vengeance against John, holding no value to John’s life.  She had no desire to listen to the call from John to repent of her sins, no desire to live according to the Jewish Law, instead, enjoying her lifestyle of leisure and opulence.

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amoral and indulgent

Salome, the daughter of Herodias, showed great devotion towards her mother, approaching her mother for guidance as to how to reply to the promise made to her by Herod.  In the case of the Ruth of the Old Testament, such devotion is seen as commendable.  However, with Salome, her devotion can only be described as contemptable, for it is not balanced by any ethical concerns relating towards what her mother advised her to ask, the head of John the Baptist.  There is no moral concern for the consequences of what her mother was asking, no moral concern for the welfare of John. 

  Living in a palace as she did, she was used to getting what she desired without any effort nor any concern for the cost.  The dance that she performed in front Herod and his guests must have been suggestive and provocative, judging from the tone of the passage and the reaction by Herod and his guests.  Here is a person with no moral concerns, living a self-centred indulgent lifestyle.

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The executing guard

unthinking and unquestioning follower of an authority figure

  Upon receiving the request from Salome for the head of John the Baptist, Herod sent off a guard to carry out the task of beheading John.

  From Mark’s account, the guard doesn’t question the morality of carrying out such a request, nor of the morality of killing someone who had not been found guilty of a capital offence, let alone been charged with a capital offence.  Without asking any questions and unconcerned with the moral implications, he beheaded John as per the orders that had been given to him.

  Here is an account of great cruelty and callousness.  In his unthinking and unquestioning loyalty to Herod, was the guard blinded to the tyranny and excessiveness of what was being demanded of him?  Was he employed as a guard simply because of a sadistic nature, willing to carry out any task however cruel and damaging it may have been to the intended victim?

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Ephesians 1: 3 – 14

God’s Plan

We also see a contrast between the plans of Herod Antipas and his family, and what I call, God’s plan, which the Apostle Paul sets out in today’s passage from Ephesians 1.

  With Herod and his family, their plans were inward looking, centred on continuing their luxurious lifestyle and continuing their position as rulers of Galilee and Peraea.  Little concern for anyone else.  Little concern for those would stand in their way.  Little concern for the ethics or morality for where their plans may lead them.

  Paul, in contrast, calls for praise of God for God’s outward vision to all the World, so as to accomplish His purpose and to bring blessing to all.  (Ephesians 1: 3)  We will explore God’s plan by asking ourselves seven questions.

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“because of God’s love”  (verse 4)

this was God’s pleasure and purpose”  (verse 5)

Why did God develop a plan?

  We read in verse 4 that god’s plan was based on God’s love for Humanity.  In verse 5 we read that God developed His plan with an intent to accomplish His purpose for Humanity.

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“even before the World was made”  (verse 4)

God had already decided”  (verse 5)

When did God develop His plan?

  We read in verse 4 that God had His plan ready, “even before the World was created”, or as verse 5 says, before the World was created, “God had already decided” upon His plan. 

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“God had already chosen”  (verse 4)

God would make”  (verse 5)

What is the nature of God’s plan?

  God will initiate something.  Verse 4 talks of God choosing, while verse 5 talks of God making.  There is the indication of a change, of a difference being made.

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us”  (verse 4)

“us”  (verse 5)

  Who is the focus of God’s plan?

  Both verses 4 and 5 make it plainly clear, it is us; you, me, her, him, they, them; all are included, no one is excluded.

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“to be His through our union with Christ”  (verse 4)

through Jesus Christ”  (verse 5)

How will God’s plan be accomplished?

  Verse 4 and 5 again make it plainly clear, God’s plan will be accomplished through Jesus Christ.

  Paul spells it out in verse 7, where he says:

“For by the sacrificial death of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven.

  John, in his Gospel, states:

“For God loved the World so much that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.”  (John 3: 16) 

  God’s plan involves us, but is not dependant upon what we do to help the process, in fact we cannot do anything, for it is God alone who brings His purpose to completion.

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For what?

so that we would be holy and without fault before Him”  (verse 4)

“God would make us His daughters and sons”  (verse 5)

For what purpose is God planning all of this?

  Verse 4 explains that God is seeking to restore us to how He had designed Humanity to be at the moment of Creation, “holy and without fault”, without the taint of disobedience or wilfulness, without the mark of any sins, able to walk with Him and to converse with Him in the Garden of our hearts.

  Verse 5 brings out the understanding that our status before God is not to be that of servant or slave, but of “daughters and sons”, adopted into the closeness and comfort of family.

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And so?

“let us give thanks to God”  (verse 3)

let us praise God”  (verse 6)

  And, so what should be our response to God’s plan?

  Our response is to accept with thanks the “great love of God”, and to offer our worship of praise for God’s gift of grace towards us.

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The people to whom God chose to offer His love and grace are the very people described in Mark 6: 14 to 19

But amongst the euphoria of knowing that we are loved by God and that we are set free from our bondage to sin and death through the mercy and grace of God, let us remember that the people to whom God chose to offer His love and grace includes the very people described in Mark 6: 14 to 29. 

  The “us” whom Paul talks about in Ephesians 1 includes the Herods of this world, the Herodiases, the Salomes, and the sadistic prison guards.  Jesus himself said that he came to call to himself all the outcasts of the World, all those who are ‘sick’, all those who are ‘lost’.  (Mark 2: 17, Luke 19: 10) 

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Jesus said, “I assure you that people that people can be forgiven all their sins”  Mark 3: 28

This is based on the promise that Jesus gave to his Disciples when he said, “I assure you that people can be forgiven all their sins and all the evil things that may say.”  (Mark 3: 28) 

  There is the story of a young boy who lived in a harbour town.  He loved to watch the boats go out each day and come back in with their daily catch.  One day he decided to build a small sailboat of his own.  He worked for weeks, making sure that each detail was just right.  Finally, he finished his boat and took it down to the wharf, and proudly put it into the water.  But as he watched it sailing around, he noticed that the wind had suddenly changed.  His watched on helpless as his small boat was swept out of sight.

  The small boy was heartbroken.  Every day for a month he searched the beach to see if his boat had been washed up on shore but saw no trace.  One day, as he walked through the market, he saw his boat in a shop window.  He raced in and explained to the shop owner that it was his boat and of how it had been lost.  However, the shop owner only responded by saying that he would need to pay $2 to get his boat.  So the small boy raced back home, got $2 out of his money box, returned to the shop, and gave the money to the shop owner.

  As the boy was leaving the shop he said to the boat, “Little boat, you are twice mine.  You are mine because I made you, and now, you are mine because I bought you.”  (1550 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching ed by Michael Green, number 1118 p298 & 299) 

  We are God’s ‘little boats’.  He made us and He bought us back.  Let us thank God for His undeserved love and sing praises to God for His undeserved grace.  Amen.


“Leave God to order all thy ways”  MHB504

[sung to the tune St Petersburg – refer to TiS375  AHB297(i) – [there is no introduction]

Verse 1 of 3

Leave God to order all thy ways,

And hope in Him whate’er betide;

You’ll find Him in the evil days

Your all-sufficient strength and guide;

Who trusts in God’s unchanging love

Builds on the rock that nought can move.

Verse 2 of 3

Only the restless heart keep still,

And wait in cheerful hope content

To take whate’er His gracious will,

His all-discerning love, has sent;

Nor doubt our inmost wants are known

To Him who chose us for His own.

Verse 3 of 3

Sing, pray, and swerve not from His ways,

But do your own part faithfully;

Trust His rich promises of grace,

So shall they be fulfilled in thee:

God never yet forsook at need

The soul that trusted Him indeed.

Georg Neumark

translated by Catherine Winkworth


Offering Prayer    

“For the life that you have given”  TiS 774 

[sung to the tune Austria – refer to TiS 772  AHB 374(i)]

[this YouTube is for another hymn, so disregard the words – only the one verse is needed]

[there is no introduction]

For the life that you have given,

For the love in Christ made known,

With these fruits of time and labour,

With these gifts that are your own:

Here we offer, Lord, our praises;

Heart and mind and strength we bring;

Give us grace to love and serve you,

Living what we pray and sing.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Prayers for Others

Almighty God, we pray for your Church, that we may find our identity in our relationship with you instead of in the allurements of possessions, accomplishments, or power.

We pray for a strengthening of our discipleship, that we may hear your invitation to bring forth your reign in our lives, our work, and our relationships, and in so doing become a channel of your grace.

We pray for all who are needing medical care, that your healing love will restore the sick, strengthen those recovering from surgery, and stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

We pray for the leaders of churches, that you will inspire them as they guide their congregations in fulfilling its mission of proclaiming forgiveness, healing, and new life.

We pray for a spirit of hospitality, that your generosity to us may be extended as we welcome the stranger and reach out to those who are in need.

We pray for wisdom, that you will guide us as we oppose injustices and encounter opposition or rejection for living the Gospel.

We pray for those who suffer because of prejudice and discrimination, who have been unjustly imprisoned or disadvantaged, or whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by acts of hatred or greed.

We pray for a deepening of gratitude, that we may recognize and appreciate all the gifts that you have given us and honour you by utilizing them fully for your glory.

We pray for greater trust in you, that we may rely upon your providence and care for us as we journey through life and recognize that with Christ, we lack for nothing.

We pray for all missionaries, that you will inspire the message that they offer, help them to recognize how they can best serve their communities, and sustain them in times of loneliness.

We pray for all who are suffering, that you will assist those recovering from storms, protect those who live amidst violence, guide those who are seeking employment, and comfort all who are grieving.

We pray for those who are troubled in mind and spirit, that you will provide comfort in times of stress, relief in times of uncertainty and healing to bring them peace within themselves.

We pray that you will guide those of our Nation to use their wealth so that all may find fulfilling employment and receive just payment for their labour.

We pray for a deeper appreciation of the Earth, that we may protect the topsoil and preserve it for the common good of feeding all the Human family.

We pray for those who misuse their power or authority over others for personal or political ends, that you turn their hearts to what is good and true and just and pure.

We pray for all political leaders, that you will help them to understand the greatest needs of those whom they serve and work to promote the common good.

Copyright © 2021. Joe Milner. All rights reserved.<br> Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use. 

(also from Leading Intercessions by Raymond Chapman p70 & 71 and Prayers for the Seasons of God’s People Year B by David Hostetter p150 & 151)

Loving God, we bring these prayers to you, trusting in your compassion and care.  To your glory we pray.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil,

For the Kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,

Now and forever.  Amen.


“Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy”  TiS 613

[sung to the tune Slane (2) – there is a small introduction]

Joyce Plazek (Jan Struther)


Benediction Song

“Now to him who loves us saves us”  TiS 771  AHB 576

[sung to the tune Triumph – only the one verse is needed]

Now to him who loved us, gave us

Every pledge that love could give,

Freely shed his blood to save us,

Gave his life that we might live,

Be the Kingdom

And dominion

And the glory evermore.

Samuel Miller Waring