Service for Sunday 11th October 2020, – Rev Louis van Laar

Servicing the Bald Hills and nearby Communities

Service for Sunday 11th October 2020, – Rev Louis van Laar


Lighting the Candle (John 12:46,47) –

Jesus said: 46 I have come as light into the world,

so that everyone who believes in me

should not remain in the darkness. 

47 I do not judge anyone who hears my words

and does not keep them,

for I came not to judge the world,

but to save the world.

Let us be mindful of each other as we engage in worship,

those who worship at home

and those who worship in the chapel:


The Lord be with you


We Focus on God   (Psalm 106)

    O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord,
    or declare all his praise?

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.


Sing to God, with joy and gladness,
hymns and psalms of gratitude;
with the voice of praise discover
that to worship God is good.

  1. God unites his scattered people,
    gathers those who wandered far,
    heals the hurt and broken spirits,
    tending every wound and scar.      Sing to God …
  2. Such is God’s great power and wisdom
    none can calculate or tell;
    keen is God to ground the wicked
    and with humble folk to dwell.      Sing to God …
  3. God, with clouds, the sky has curtained
    thus ensuring rain shall fall;
    earth, responding, grows to order
    food for creatures great and small.  Sing to God …
  4. God’s discernment never favours
    strength or speed to lift or move;
    God delights in those who fear him,
    trusting in his steadfast love.           Sing to God …

Paraphrase by  John L. Bell 1949–Words and music from Psalms of Patience, Protest and Praise by permission Wild Goose Publications


Gracious and holy God,

we come as a people

invited by you to celebrate and revel

in your company

with joyful hearts and minds;

Strengthen our confidence and trust

in your compassion and mercy towards us,

so that we respond with alacrity and gladness

to your call…

whether at home or in the chapel.

Bless us in this time,

guide us in our worship and service,

even as we pray as our Lord taught us to pray:

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


Prayer for Illumination










ROMANS 12:14-21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20 No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In this is the Word of the Lord   WE HEAR AND REJOICE, O LORD

MATTHEW 22:1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.’

This is the Gospel of our Lord  PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST

Prayer of Confession

Most welcoming God,

grant us the insight to recognise

your invitation to us to party with you;

forgive us when we have thought ourselves too busy

to stop what we are doing in order to celebrate life!

Lord have mercy   LORD HAVE MERCY

Redeeming Christ,

grant us the strength to treat others

as you have treated us,

even when we were at enmity with you…

forgive us when we succumbed to cursing the other,

secretly thinking of ways to exact vengeance.

Christ have mercy   CHRIST HAVE MERCY

Community building Spirit,

grant us the zeal to encourage communities of hope

through living in harmony with all,

that good may overcome evil…

forgive us when we get dispirited

forgetting that it is you we serve,

and you will not fail in your purpose!

Lord have mercy   LORD HAVE MERCY

Declaration of Reconciliation

The good news of God in Jesus Christ

assures us that nothing, nothing at all,

can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus

who through his life, death and resurrection

has achieved reconciliation between God and ourselves!

so we say with joy in our hearts THANKS BE TO GOD

Passing the Peace.. as we raise our hands in blessing to those unseen…
The peace of the Risen Lord be with you all  AND ALSO WITH YOU.


(second verse differs from TIS…)


I remember only a few of the many conversations

which took place between my father

and his group of friends and acquaintances

with me as a passive listener,

probably unnoticed, judging by some of the contents as I recall these.

These men all had a strong group loyalty

because of shared WWII experiences.

Remember, Nederland was under occupation by Nazi Germany.

This was before my time, having been born in January 1946.

Nevertheless, I sensed something of the horror

of what it was like for my father and these men.

Some of them had obviously fought with the Dutch Resistance

against the occupying forces.

My father was a pacifist, he refused to take up arms;

I remember he hated the idea of any sort of toy guns in the house,

they were forbidden, simply as that!

He instead used his printing skills

to supply anti-German pamphlets and posters,

especially during the first year of occupation.

Then paper and ink etc. became too dangerous to get hold off,

and it was quicker to print anti-Nazi propaganda in England,

and parachute it in by air…

The memories they shared described all the horror

of how the Nazis imposed a reign of terror over Nederland. 

Only people who lived under such a vicious occupation force

would know what it really felt like to be always uncertain

of how an occupying forces check-point might react

to you wanting to pass through…

today, ask any Palestinian living in Israeli occupied parts of Palestine…

Nevertheless, you at least knew your enemy!

Well, the obvious ones,

because some of their stories were about Dutch collaborators,

who aided the Nazi occupation forces through betraying their countrymen… and women…

Listening in, it was obvious to even a ten year old

that members of the underground movement had exacted

a deadly vengeance in the months before and after VE day.

No heeding of Paul’s admonition (12:19)

beloved, never avenge yourselves…

We read without any real attention

over Paul’s advice within Romans 12:17-21, 

which begins with   Do not repay anyone evil for evil

and finishes with

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Earlier Paul had set the tone with (12:14)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 

As for: ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them;

if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.

The Dutch certainly provisioned their enemy!

Perhaps not exactly in a manner Paul had in mind with his advice.

The German forces requisitioned every bit of food that was available

during the awfully severe winter of 1945!

Not a scrap of food was available legally for the Dutch citizens.

Hoarding, think of what happened here a few months ago,

was punishable with instant execution…

My parents with millions of others,

hunted down dogs, cats, rats, mice and beetles to eat;

boiled tulip and other flower bulbs for ‘soup’,

as well as nettles and grass

where these were found in the extreme cold weather…

That winter is known in Dutch history as ‘the hunger winter’

Then many people, like many of us today,

would no doubt have argued,

well, if Paul was living in that time, during that war,

he would not write like that!

Yet I am sure there were people living then,

during the Occupation years,

who tried to make sense of what Paul was saying…

people who even blessed their persecutors,

and would have shared their food if there was any to share…

Corrie ten Boom comes to mind as one of those.[1]

Corrie was born on 15 April 1892 to a working-class family in Amsterdam, Netherlands, near Haarlem.

Named after her mother, Cornelia, but known as Corrie all her life,

she was the youngest child of Casper ten Boom,

a jeweller and watchmaker.

Corrie had three older siblings: Betsie, Willem, and Nollie.

She trained to be a watchmaker herself, and in 1922,

she became the first woman to be licensed

as a watchmaker in The Netherlands.

Over the next decade, in addition to working in her father’s shop,

she established a youth club for teenage girls,

which provided religious instruction and classes in the performing arts, sewing, and handicrafts.  

She and her family were Calvinist Christians 

in the Dutch Reformed Church,

and their faith inspired them to serve their society,

which they did by offering shelter, food and money

to those who were in need

In May 1940, the Germans invaded the Netherlands.

One of their restrictions was the banning of the youth club.

In May 1942, a well-dressed woman came to the ten Booms’

with a suitcase in hand and told them that she was a Jew,

her husband had been arrested several months earlier,

her son had gone into hiding

and Occupation authorities had recently visited her

so she was afraid to go back.

She heard that the ten Booms had previously helped

their Jewish neighbours, the Weils, and asked if they could help her too. Casper readily agreed that she could stay with them

although the police headquarters was only half a block away. 

A devoted reader of the Old Testament,

he believed that the Jews were the “chosen people” and told the woman, “In this household, God’s people are always welcome”.

The family then became very active in the Dutch underground 

hiding refugees and honouring the Jewish Sabbath.

The family never sought to convert any of the Jews

who stayed with them. 

Thus the ten Booms created “The Hiding Place

Corrie and her sister Betsie opened their home

to Jewish refugees and members of the resistance movement,

and as a result they were sought after by the Gestapo 

and its Dutch counterpart.

The secret room was in Corrie’s bedroom behind a false wall

and would hold 6 people.

A ventilation system was installed for the occupants.

A buzzer could be heard in the house

to warn the refugees to get into the room as quickly as possible

during security sweeps through the neighbourhood.

On 28 February 1944, a Dutch informant, Jan Vogel,

told the Nazis about the ten Booms’ work;

at around 12:30 p.m. of that day,

the Nazis arrested the entire ten Boom family.

They were sent to Scheveningen Prison when Resistance materials

and extra ration cards were found at the home.

Casper died ten days later.

The group of six people hidden by the ten Booms,

made up of both Jews and resistance workers, remained undiscovered.

Corrie received a letter one day in prison,

“All the watches in your cabinet are safe”,

meaning that the refugees had managed to escape

and were safe.

Four days after the raid,

resistance workers transferred them to other locations.

Ten Boom was initially held in solitary confinement.

After three months, she was taken to her first hearing.

At her trial, ten Boom spoke about her work with the mentally disabled; the Nazi lieutenant scoffed, because the Nazis

had been killing mentally disabled individuals for years

in accordance with their eugenics policies.

Ten Boom defended her work by saying that in the eyes of God,

a mentally disabled person might be more valuable

“than a watchmaker. Or a lieutenant.”

Corrie and Betsie were sent finally to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, a women’s labour camp in Germany.

There, they held worship services after the hard days at work

by using a Bible that they had managed to smuggle in.

Betsie’s health continued to deteriorate,

and she died on 16 December 1944 at the age of 59.

Before she died, she told Corrie,

There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still.”

Fifteen days later, Corrie was released.

Afterwards, she was told that her release was because of a clerical error and that a week after her release,

all the women in her age group were sent to the gas chambers.

Corrie returned home in the midst of the “hunger winter“.

She still opened her doors to those with a mental disability

who were in hiding for fear of execution.

After the war, she set up a rehabilitation centre in Bloemendaal.

The refuge housed concentration-camp survivors

and exclusively sheltered jobless Dutch

who had collaborated with the Germans during the Occupation

until 1950, when it accepted anyone in need of care.

She returned to Germany in 1946 and met with

and forgave two Germans who had been employed at Ravensbrück,

one of whom had been particularly cruel to Betsie.  

She defined forgiveness thus:

Forgiveness is an act of the will,

and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

Ten Boom went on to travel the world as a public speaker,

appearing in more than 60 countries.

She wrote many books during this period.

She was prepared to remember the horrors

which had come her way in life…

of these she stated:

Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.

Throughout these tense years in her life

Corrie reminded herself of God’s faithfulness;

she affirmed:

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

and shared her understanding of such trust in God

in the following lines…

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark,

you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off.

You sit still and trust the engineer.

I particularly like her following appreciation

of the stuff we may worry about:

Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer

is too small to be made into a burden.

These, and many more such proverbial observations on life,

were shaped through reflection and prayer

whilst she faced soul destroying and life threatening moments…

Her words come to us distilled by life’s harshest realities.

As do the words of Paul.

We overlook so easily the fact that Paul wrote these words in Romans,

not like I am writing the words of this sermon now,

classical music in the background,

comfortable chair, an ergonomic key board,

my mind flitting from the task at hand

to recall the lovely lunch I finished,

anticipating the mushroom soup I will prepare for dinner…

Oh no! Paul wrote these whilst in Corinth,

working as an apostolic itinerant missionary,

-a hard life, travelling from place to place-

these were penned during his third missionary journey, about 57 C.E.

He would describe his life as follows: (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)

but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger; 

by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God;

with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;

in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute.

We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 

as unknown, and yet are well known;

as dying, and see—we are alive;

as punished, and yet not killed; 

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;

as poor, yet making many rich;

as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

He knew what it was to be persecuted,

to have enemies determined to kill him,

to be hungry, cold etc. etc…

because of how others treated him….

Nevertheless his overriding focus was that the Christian life

is meant to be an expression of genuine love to all,

including those who persecute us,

who engage with enmity towards us…

a genuine love which encourages us to

not repay anyone evil for evil

and strengthens us

not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good

This overarching love consciousness,

not just mentioned here, to the Romans,

but of course in that jewel of poetic prose,

1 Corinthians 13 where Paul also strives to build up community…

ought to prevent a thinly disguised vengeance interpretation

of the, for sure, puzzling comment of these verses:

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves,

but leave room for the wrath of God; 

for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ 

20 No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them;

if they are thirsty, give them something to drink;

for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.

Commentators argue that only God may exact vengeance [2].

Byrne comments:

The idea that vengeance is to be left to God

and not undertaken by human beings

is a standard topos in the old testament

(cf., e.g., Lev 19:18; Prov 20:22; 24:29; Sir 28:1)[3]

R. Jewett hints that in the light of ‘áll have sinned’

any human action of vengeance, especially for the sake of peace,

might well be again the creature attempting to usurp the creator. [4]

Nevertheless, the love context of this text ought to stop us short

from secretly and perhaps impatiently waiting to see

how those whom we see as enemy

will experience the wrath of God!

(We will examine ‘wrath of God’ more closely in another sermon).

As N.T. Wright points out, such anticipation,

thinking of the fires of coal on heads as punishment,

is hardly repaying evil with good [5].

There is another text in the Old Testament

which may guide our thinking,

other than the quotes from Proverbs 25:21,22 and Deuteronomy 32:35.

This is the account found in 2 Kings 6:20-23

The Aramaeans were thwarted in an attempt to catch Elisha

by being ‘blinded’, and led by him into the city of Samaria;

there their proper sight was returned,

and they saw that they were in the hands of the king of Israel,

who gleefully said to Elisha, “Shall I strike them down? Shall I kill them?” But the prophet replied,

“No, did you capture with your sword and your bow

those whom you want to strike down?

Rather, set food and drink before them

so that they may eat and drink,

before they return to their master.”

So the king of Israel prepared a great feast for his enemies

and sent them on their way home.

Katherine Grieb comments:[6]

The last line of the story reads,

“And the Arameans ceased raiding operations in the land of Israel!”

Elisha’s point was that it was not the king of Israel

but God who had captured the enemy

and had the right to take vengeance.

Then he taught another way to overcome the enemy.

So, advises Paul,

“Do not let yourselves be conquered by evil,

but conquer evil with good” (12: 21).

Already we have learned that

whilst we were still at enmity with God,

God so loved us that in Christ

God reconciled us to Godself… (Romans 5:5-11)

We also have the promise of feasting with our Lord

at the divine banqueting table

in the house of the Lord forever! (Psalm 23) AMEN



We Bring Our offering to God

setting aside our gifts to support the local and wider work of the church

and bless our gifts in an act of praise…

We Share Our Community Life 

Prayers of the People

Merciful God,

we take seriously your word

to bless those who persecute us…

so we pray for those who for whatever reason

desire us ill, and have acted on this to cause us grief…

grant them your peace

and what is necessary for their well-being.


Compassionate God,

we take seriously your word

to not counter evil with evil

but to overcome evil with good…

so we pray for wisdom

to discern that the good,

which may overcome the evil

which is evident in so many ways around us,

inevitably flows out of sincere love for all.


Holy God,

we take seriously your word

to care for our enemies

in meeting their need…

So we pray for a strengthening of our resolve

to avoid vengeance against those at enmity with us,

enable us to see ways to act graciously towards them.


God of the nations,

through your Spirit guide the leaders of the nations

to work towards reconciliation and hope

that your purpose for creation and humanity

might be made visible…


Our Father in heaven,

we are conscious of those for whom

being patient in suffering is a real challenge,

       we name here…

grant them the hope and the perseverance

which will encourage and sustain them…


These spoken prayers

as well as the unspoken groaning within us

we offer in the name of Jesus, AMEN


We Sing: TIS 658 HERE I AM LORD 3 vv

Sending Out

We go as a people

called to break cycles of vengeance and violence,

called to look for the wider good beyond ourselves,

called to overcome evil with good,

called to live in peace with all!

Blessing (Hebrews 13:20,21) 

Now may the God of peace,

who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus,

the great shepherd of the sheep,

by the blood of the eternal covenant, 

21 make you complete in everything good

so that you may do his will,

working among usthat which is pleasing in his sight,

through Jesus Christ,

to whom be the glory for ever and ever.AMEN,  AMEN,  AMEN

[1]   accessed 6/10/2020.   whilst I had a number of her books, lending them out inevitably meant they are not accessible to me now! wikipedia offers sufficient information to accurately describe her overcoming evil with good life style!

[2] Achtemeier, P. J. (1985). Romans (p. 201). Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press.

[3] Byrne, B. (1996). Romans. (D. J. Harrington, Ed.) (Vol. 6, p. 383). Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.

[4] Jewett, R., & Kotansky, R. D. (2006). Romans: A commentary. (E. J. Epp, Ed.) (pp. 775–776). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. In the light of Rom 1:18–32*, this points to an element of presumption in human retaliation; it is a matter of usurping God’s place.198 If this insight is correct, it places both the Jewish and Roman rationales for vengeance in the cause of peace in a very critical light. It places Paul even more firmly on the side of the nonjudgmental tradition in Judaism, which assumes that God alone should be the final avenger.

[5] Wright, N. T. (1994–2004). The Letter of the Romans. In L. E. Keck (Ed.), New Interpreter’s Bible (Vol. 10, p. 715). Nashville: Abingdon Press.

[6] Grieb, A. Katherine. (2015) The Story of Romans (p. 122). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition