Call to Worship: –
(from Psalm 30: 4 & 12)
Sing praise to the LORD, all His faithful people!
Remember what the Holy One has done and give Him thanks!
I will not be silent; I will sing praise to you.
LORD, you are my God; I will give you thanks forever.
Comment on Psalm 30:
This Psalm is a very personal expression of thanksgiving and praise. God has interacted dramatically in the life of the writer of this Psalm, and they speak impressively about the things that have moved their heart. They speak of the majesty of God, of the power of God to counter the actions of others who threaten the life and the welfare of those whom God protects, and of God healing the hurts of those whom God loves. As their response, the writer exclaims, to all who are listening, their faith in God. They recognise the responsibility of all “God-fearing” people to not be silent about their God, but to testify about how God has played a crucial, all-important part in their lives, to bear witness to the character of God, and to extol God’s providential care for them. (Artur Weiser in The Psalms p0268, 269 & 272)
We gather here today for the same purpose, to testify about God’s providential care for us, and to testify about how God has demonstrated His majesty and power in His interactions with us. We gather here today to worship God, to express to God our thanks and praise.
Prayer of Praise
(from Psalm 30)
Great and glorious God, only to you do I offer worship and praise.
I cry to you in times of need and you answer me. I seek you in times of distress and you comfort me.
Loving God, to you I give unqualified and unbounded thanks.
I remember all the great and marvellous things that you have done in my life.
Holy God, I acknowledge those moments when you have chastened and corrected me,
When you showed your anger towards my failings and my wanderings.
Yet I remember a lifetime of experiencing your unfailing goodness towards me,
I rejoice because you have remained faithful to me even when I have not remained faithful to you.
Almighty God, when I was afraid of where life was heading you did not hide yourself from me,
You provided strength and security when I needed them most,
When I felt that there was no hope left and only darkness lay ahead of me,
You restored hope in my life and joy in my living.
I will not be silent; I will sing praise to you.
LORD, you are my God; I will give you thanks forever. Amen.
We sing the Hymn “The greatest thing in all my life” Scripture in Song volume 2 number 436 / 231
We sing the hymn “Glorify Thy Name” Scripture in Song volume 2 number 451 / 246
Verse 1 of 3
Father, we love you,
We worship and adore you,
Glorify Thy name in all the Earth,
Glorify Thy name, glorify Thy name,
Glorify Thy name in all the Earth.
Verse 2 of 3
Jesus, we love you,
We worship and adore you,
Glorify Thy name in all the Earth,
Glorify Thy name, glorify Thy name,
Glorify Thy name in all the Earth.
Verse 3 of 3
Spirit, we love you,
We worship and adore you,
Glorify Thy name in all the Earth,
Glorify Thy name, glorify Thy name,
Glorify Thy name in all the Earth.
Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, we are conscious of our inadequacy before your holiness and of our unworthiness to receive your unmerited favour towards us.
We are ashamed of our sins that have caused you despair and disgust.
Merciful God, we covert the things of this World, the transient security and illusionary happiness from possessing things and experiencing pleasures,
And do not savour the delights of being in your presence. Forgive us.
Merciful God, we give credibility to the claims of the importance of belonging to race or clan, of holding onto status and privilege, or of particular social or political beliefs,
And, in doing do, deviate from our worship of you by putting our trust and hope in the gods of this Age. Forgive us.
Merciful God, we give credence to the false promise that we can achieve goodness and greatness by our own efforts and abilities,
And, in doing so, begin to believe that we can become gods ourselves. Forgive us.
Merciful God, we neglect the consequences of our words and our actions,
And grieve when we realise that we have hurt and upset others by what we do and say. Forgive us.
Merciful God, we turn away from the despair and the hurt of the needy,
And neglect to show compassion to the very people who you sought to love. Forgive us.
Merciful God, we turn away from your calling to serve you in the World,
And neglect our responsibility to bear witness to your plan for saving people from their sins, achieved through the death and resurrection of your son, Jesus Christ. Forgive us.
Merciful God, we are reminded of your lovingkindness and compassion to all who believe.
Release us from our guilt and give us peace of mind of sins forgiven and forgotten. Amen.
Assurance of Forgiveness
(from Revelation 5: 9 & 12)
The Apostle John records the words of the Heavenly beings who attend the throne of God, singing their praises of Jesus, saying:
“The Lamb who was killed is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and strength, honour, glory, and praise, for, by your sacrificial death, you bought for God people of every tribe, language, nation, and race.”
Let us rest on this assurance that by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, our sins have been forgiven and that through Jesus Christ we have been brought into the very presence of God.
Thanks be to God.
Prayer of illumination
(from Uniting in Worship Book 1 number 13 & 14 p599)
Prepare our hearts, O Lord, to be guided by your Word and the Holy Spirit, that in your light we may perceive your mercy and grace, that in your truth we may find freedom, and that in your will we may discover peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
24 Daniel replied, “This, then, is what your dream means, Your Majesty, and this is what the Supreme God has declared will happen to you. 25 You will be driven away from Human society and will live with wild animals. For seven years you will eat grass like an ox and sheep in the open air, where the dew will fall on you. Then you will admit that the Supreme God controls all Human Kingdoms and that He can give them to anyone He chooses. 26 The angel ordered the stump to be left in the ground. This means that you will become King again when you acknowledge that God rules all the World. 27 So then, your Majesty, follow my advice. Stop sinning, do what is right, and be merciful to the poor. Then you will continue to be prosperous.”
28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Only twelve months later, while he was walking around on the roof of his royal palace in Babylon, 3- he said, “Look how great Babylon is! I built it as my capital city to display my power and might, my glory and majesty.”
31 Before the words were out of his mouth, a voice spoke from Heaven, “King Nebuchadnezzar, listen to what I say! Your royal power is now taken away from you. 32 You will be driven away from Human society, live with wild animals, and eat grass like an ox for seven years. Then you will acknowledge that the Supreme God has power over Human Kingdoms and that He can give them to anyone He chooses.”
33 The words came true immediately. Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of Human society and ate grass like an ox. The dew fell on his body, and his hair grew as long as eagle feathers and his nails as long as bird claws.
34 “When the seven years had passed,” said the King, “I looked up at the sky, and my sanity returned. I praised the Supreme God and gave honour and glory to the one who lives forever:
He will rule forever, and His Kingdom will last for all time.
35 He looks on the people of the Earth as nothing; angels in Heaven and people on Earth are under His control. No one can oppose His will or question what He does.
36 When my sanity returned, my honour, my majesty, and the glory of my Kingdom were
given back to me. My officials and my noblemen welcomed me, and I was given back my royal power with even greater honour than before. 37 And now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, honour, and glorify the King of Heaven. Everything He does is right and just, and He can humble anyone who acts proudly.”
1 Saul kept up his violent threats of murder against the followers of the Lord. He went to the High Priest, 2 and asked for Letters of Introduction to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he should find there any followers of the Way of the Lord, he would be able to arrest them, both men and women, and bring them back to Jerusalem.
3 As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you persecute.”, the voice said, 6 “But get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you must do.”
17 Ananias went to the house of Judas in Straight Street, where Saul was staying, entered, and placed his hands on Saul. “Brother Saul,” he said, “the Lord has sent me – Jesus himself, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 At once something like fish scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he was able to see again. He stood up and was baptised; 19 and after he had eaten, his strength came back.
Saul stayed for a few days with the believers in Damascus. 20 He went straight to the synagogues and began to preach that Jesus was the Son of God.
21 All who heard him were amazed and asked, “Isn’t he the one who in Jerusalem was killing those who worship that man Jesus? And didn’t he come here for the very purpose of arresting those people and take them back to the Chief Priests?”
22 But Saul’s preaching became even more powerful, and his proofs that Jesus was the Messiah were so convincing that the Jews who lived in Damascus could not answer him. 23 After many days had gone by, the Jews met together and made plans to kill Saul, 24 but he was told of their plan. Day and night they watched the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But one night Saul’s followers took him and let him down through an opening in the city wall, lowering him in a basket. 26 Saul went to Jerusalem.
[Today’s English Version]
This is the Word of God.
Praise to you Almighty God.
1 After this, Jesus appeared once more to his Disciples at Lake Tiberias (Lake Galilee). This is how it happened. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael (the one from Cana in Galilee), the sons of Zebedee, and two other Disciples of Jesus, were all together. 3 Simon Peter said to the others, “I am going fishing.”
“We will come with you.”, they told him. So they went out in a boat, but all that night they did not catch a thing. 4 As the Sun was rising, Jesus stood at the water’s edge, but the Disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then he asked them, “Young men, haven’t you caught anything?” “Not a thing.”, they answered.
6 He said to them, “Throw your net out on the right side of the boat, and you will catch some.” So they threw the net out and could not pull it back in, because they had caught so many fish.
7 The Disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken his clothes off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other Disciples came to shore in the boat, pulling the net full of fish. They were not very far from land, about a hundred yards away. 9 When they stepped ashore, they saw a fire there with fish on it and some bread. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
11 Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore full of big fish, a hundred and fifty-three in all; even though there were so many, still the net did not tear. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat.” None of the Disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 So Jesus went over, took the bread, and gave it to them; he did the same with the fish.
14 This, then was the third time Jesus appeared to the Disciples after he was raised from death.
[Today’s English Version]
This is the Gospel of our Lord.
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
We sing the hymn “Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord” TiS390 Sing Alleluia number 2
a globe of the World
Here is a globe of the World. I’m certain that you are all familiar with globes. But this globe is a bit different because it is a 3-D jigsaw. I put it together piece by piece. I made it, I look after it, and I dust it. I am quite proud about making it, although, there appears to be a major tectonic upheaval just to the north of Alaska, suggesting that I was a little too hasty putting the last two pieces in place. However, this little globe helps us to focus on our much larger globe.
We read in Psalm 24: 1 & 2:
“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’s depths.”
Here we learn that God is the Creator God of Heaven and Earth and all that is in Heaven and Earth. As the Creator of the Earth, God has ownership of the Earth, and this ownership should be recognised and acknowledged by all those who live in Heaven and on Earth.
We read in Psalm 47: 2b & 7b:
“The LORD, the Most High, is a great King, ruling over all the World.
God is King over all the World, praise Him with songs.”
Here we learn that God, as King over all the World, has authority and control over all the World, and that authority and control should be recognised and acknowledged in praise and worship of God by all those who live in Heaven and on Earth.
We read in Psalm 95: 3 & 4 & 7a:
“For the LORD is a great God, a great King over all gods. The farthest places of the Earth are in His hands, we are His people, the flock He shepherds.”
Here we learn that God’s power is boundless and unlimited. His power extends to the farthest places and corners of the World, and extends not just over all of the Nations of the Earth, but also over the so-called gods of all of the Nations of the Earth.
But, how are we to take such statements about God? Just how much authority and control and power does God exercise? How many leaders of nations or leaders of commerce, or industry, or Science, or race, or culture, readily recognise and acknowledge God’s ownership of the Earth? Given the multiplicity of international tensions that exist between nations at the present time, the prevalence of cultural, religious and ethnic unrest and hostility within numerous nations at the present time, and the seemingly unstoppable activities of criminal groups operating within and beyond national boundaries, all of which have such traumatic effects on the lives and livelihoods of vast numbers of people, does this indicate the falsity of God’s claim to exercise global authority and control and power?
I would suggest, that today’s readings do support the understanding that God acts in the World how and when He chooses, both in the lives of individuals and in the History of nations, that God exercises His authority and control and power over the World as He sees fit and as it fulfills His will and purpose for individuals and for Nations, and as it furthers the coming of His Kingdom.
“you will eat grass like an ox and sleep in the open air” Daniel 4: 25
King Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Babylonian Empire from 605 BC to 562 BC, or the Chaldean Empire as it is sometimes termed, was a successful military and political leader for, through a succession of military campaigns, he built up an empire that stretched from the head of the Persian Gulf, up through the lands watered by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and down through Syria and Lebanon and Palestine to the borders of ancient Egypt, defeating the Assyrian Empire in the process. Albert Trever, in his writing on ancient civilizations, also describes Nebuchadnezzar as “one of the most notable builders of the ancient world”, remembered for the construction of irrigation channels so as to bring water to the crops of his people, and his restoration of Babylon, the capital city of Chaldea, including the construction of the city’s great walls and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, both of which were included among “The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”.
(Albert Trever in History of Ancient Civilization Volume 1 p109, Nebuchadnezzar in Encyclopedia International volume 12 p514, G Coleman Luck in Daniel p63, and J Green in Reader’s Digest The Wonders of the Ancient World pp11 to 21)
King Nebuchadnezzar seemed to have good reason, then, to make his boast as it is recorded for us in the Book of Daniel:
“Look how great Babylon is.”, he said, “I built it as my capital city to display my power and might, my glory and majesty.” (Daniel 4: 30)
God met King Nebuchadnezzar in a “frightening dream”, the interpretation of which, as given to him by Daniel, was the warning that he needed to acknowledge before “all people everywhere” that the God of the people of Israel “rules all the World”, that God is “the Supreme God who controls all Human Kingdoms and that He can give them to anyone He chooses”. (Daniel 4: 5, 17, 25 and 26b) In effect, King Nebuchadnezzar needed to humble himself before God and admit to the people of the lands under his rule that, rather than through his own abilities and energies, it was God who had enabled him to become ruler of the Chaldean Empire.
But for someone who had achieved such greatness in ‘empire building’ and in the building of a great city, someone who was praised daily by those in his Courts and by those in his Kingdom, being humble and expressing humbleness before his people was always going to be a difficult task. And so, we find that, 12 months later, King Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten his dream and had forgotten Daniel’s warning. We find him walking around on the roof of his palace in Babylon, boasting of ‘his achievements’ and of his “power and might and glory and majesty”. (Daniel 4: 30)
Daniel records for us that, “before these words were out of his mouth”, God reminded King Nebuchadnezzar of His warning issued through Daniel, and immediately initiated the humbling of King Nebuchadnezzar as had been described in his dream. (Daniel 4: 31 & 32)
We read that for a period of seven years, King Nebuchadnezzar was “driven away from Human society and lived with wild animals, that he ate grass like an ox or sheep, and that he slept in the open air where the dew fell upon him”. In the words of King Nebuchadnezzar:
“When the seven years had passed I looked up at the sky, and my sanity returned. I praised the Supreme God and gave honour and glory to the one who lives forever.” (Daniel 4: 33 &34)
Coleman Luck, in his Commentary on the Book of Daniel, writes that King Nebuchadnezzar:
“had to be humbled until he was willing to confess that he was nothing and God was all.”
(G Coleman Luck in Daniel p62)
Edward Young writes that God acted in order to bring to King Nebuchadnezzar “knowledge of the true God”, and that we should note from Daniel’s account that “at the time when the King’s reason returned to him, from a heart of faith he praised the true God.” (refer to Daniel 4: 34, 35 & 37) (Edward Young in Daniel in The New Bible Commentary p693)
Here is an occasion where God acted directly in the life of someone, someone who was no less that the leader of a great Nation. God acted in a dramatic way that influenced both the life of King Nebuchadnezzar and the History of the Babylonian Empire. God acted to demonstrate individually to King Nebuchadnezzar and corporately to those in the Babylonian Empire that He was the Creator God, that He was ruler of all of Heaven and Earth and all who lived in Heaven and on Earth, and that, upon that basis, people are called to humble themselves before Him and to offer to Him their worship and praise.
For the sceptics and the deniers of the validity of God’s Word, is there documentary evidence, external to the Old Testament writings, that back up Daniel’s account? Well, yes, apparently there is. Josh McDowell in his Book, ‘Daniel in the Critics’ Den’, refers to ancient historical sources quoted by Edward Young in his Book, ‘An Introduction to the Old Testament’. Edward Young refers to the writings of Berossus, a Babylonian writer of the early and mid 3rd century BC, who writes that King Nebuchadnezzar was “suddenly invaded by sickness” shortly before his death.
Edward Young also quotes from the writings of Eusebius, a late 3rd and early 4th century AD Christian writer and later Bishop of Caesarea Maritima in Syria, who quotes from the writings of Abydenus, a Greek historian, writing in early to mid 2nd century BC, who writes of “the tradition about something peculiar and extraordinary having occurred toward the close of King Nebuchadnezzar’s life”.
As Josh McDowell writes,
“Early sources testify of the plausibility for Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity”.
(Josh McDowell in Daniel in the Critics’ Den p123)
“a voice said to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’” Acts 9: 4
Saul boasted to the High Priest in Jerusalem:
“Give me letters of introduction to the synagogues in Damascus and I will go there, find any followers of the Way of the Lord, arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9: 2)
Saul had a reputation, known throughout Judea and even among the Jews of Damascus, of making “violent treats of murder against the followers of the Lord”. (Acts 9: 1) Luke records for us that “Saul tried to destroy the Church, going from house to house he dragged out the believers, both men and women, and threw them into jail.” (Acts 8: 3) So we can understand that the Chief Priest was confident that Saul would fulfill his boast, because he had clearly demonstrated his zeal and the ‘success’ of his actions in the recent past.
God met Saul on the road to Damascus, in the person of Jesus. There was a great flash of light, so sudden and intense that Saul was thrown from his horse and fell to the ground. Saul heard a voice, so clear and intense that Saul recognised that it was a Godly voice, for Saul acknowledged that it was the Lord who was talking to him. (Acts 9: 5a)
What Jesus said to Saul was both troubling and challenging.
Firstly, Jesus identified himself to Saul by name, “I am Jesus” we read (Acts 9: 5b) , the very person who, up to that point in time, Saul readily proclaimed had died on the cross, for if Saul had not witnessed Christ death himself, then there were many that he knew who had.
But here was Jesus talking to him in person, and demonstrating his divine nature so dramatically. How could this be? Could it be true, then, what the followers of the Way of the Lord had said and for which they were willing to be arrested and killed, that Jesus was the Son of God, and that Jesus was raised from death?
Secondly, Jesus was passing judgement upon Saul. “Why do you persecute me”, Jesus asked of Saul. (Acts 9: 4b & 5b) How could this be? Up to that point in time, Saul was convinced that he was serving God, demonstrating his devotion to the Jewish religion as he described it to the believers in Churches in Galatia, (Galatians 1: 13 & 14) , and to the believers in the Church in Philippi, (Philippians 3: 6) .Does this mean, then, that he had got it all wrong, that he was not serving God at all, but was, in effect, opposing God’s Will and purpose in the World?
Thirdly, Jesus was issuing Saul with a commission for the future, “you will be told what you must do”. (Acts 9: 6) What is he to do? Where is he to go? How is he to do it?
We can only imagine the turmoil Saul experienced during his three days of blindness, as he fasted (v9) and prayed (v11) during his initial stay in the house of Judas on Straight Street. Up to that point in time, Saul was confident about his religion and confident in his understanding about his purpose in life. Now, he was being forced to reconsider all of his pervious thoughts and understandings. He was being forced to reconsider his faith in God. He was being humbled by God to the point where God could reveal the truth of His great plan of salvation for Humanity and the part that God was seeking for Saul to play, how Saul could serve God.
Here was God actively working in the life of an individual, bringing Saul to that point where Saul needed to humble himself before God before he could truly comprehend the God who he professed to worship, and how he was to serve God for the rest of his life. As God had told Ananias:
“I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and Kings and to the people of Israel”. (Acts 9: 15)
But, how do we know that this was not just an illusion or just a delusion, that Paul was not hallucinating or making up a fantasy because of some mental imbalance? We know that it was real, because of the New Testament documents, specifically Luke’s account of Paul’s life from this point onwards, and Paul’s letters to individuals and Churches. These documents were known by first century Christian writers, people who had known and seen and heard Saul, or Paul as was later to be known, or who knew people who had known and seen and heard Saul. These people were eye-witnesses to the life and ministry of Paul. These New Testament documents reveal three things about Pauls’ ministry.
Firstly, they talk of the conviction with which Saul preached. The zeal with which he persecuted the early Church was transformed into a zeal to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, they reveal the content of Saul’s preaching. The Gospel truths which Saul preached underlie the theology of today’s church. Thirdly, they reveal the cost to Saul from his preaching. Saul demonstrated the same willingness, as did those first believers in Jerusalem, to suffer punishment and imprisonment for refusing to deny his faith in the saving works of God through Jesus Christ.
Peter Walker writes of Saul in his ‘Guide to Paul’s journeys’, that:
“no one could doubt the way this brilliant, academically able, Jerusalem-trained rabbi had been utterly transformed by the conviction that, contrary to his own earlier beliefs, Jesus was the true Messiah of Israel, a conviction – instilled deep within him, so he claimed, through an encounter with Jesus himself after his crucifixion – which was what drove him for the rest of his life.” (Peter Walker in In the Steps of Saint Paul p7)
“Saul’s followers let him down through an opening in the city wall” Acts 9: 25
Saul wasted no time after Ananias healed his blindness and baptised him, for we read that “he went straight to the synagogues and began to preach that Jesus was the Son of God”. (Acts 9: 20)
God met the Jews who lived in Damascus through the preaching of Saul. We read that:
“Saul’s preaching became even more powerful, and his proofs that Jesus was the Messiah were so convincing that the Jews who lived in Damascus could not answer him.” (Acts 9: 22)
The Jews who lived in Damascus knew of Saul and could readily see how different he was now to the Saul that they had heard about. They could readily hear how different was the message about Jesus that he was now preaching to the one he had been preaching in Jerusalem. They could readily follow the logic of Saul’s preaching from the very Scriptures which they readily held to be God’s Word. Yet were they moved to respond by humbling themselves before God as had Saul? No! Their response mirrored that of the religious leaders in Jerusalem to the preaching of Jesus. They “made plans to kill Saul”. ( Acts 9: 23)
Rather than respond to God’s message, they sought to get rid of God’s messenger, and, in so doing, rid themselves of the message that so disturbed their minds and hearts and souls. It is here that we see two things being revealed.
Firstly, we see demonstrated the freedom to choose which God has embedded in the very nature of Human beings, and which delineates us from animals and robots. Human beings have the freedom to choose how they respond to God revealing Himself to them. Saul responded with humility before God. In contrast, the Jews living in Damascus responded with hatred towards God’s messenger, which, effectively, meant a hatred towards God, a rejection of God.
Secondly, we see that when Human beings reject God and His message, they react with fear and violence, because God’s message disturbs their minds and hearts and souls, it disturbs their complacency and comfortableness, it disturbs their preconceived notions, it questions their cherished understandings and attitudes, and challenges them to reconsider themselves and their relationship with God. They fear what responding to God’s message will mean for them. We read:
“Day and night they watched the city gates in order to kill Saul (when he approached)”. (Acts 9: 24)
But God had plans for Saul and the life of service to God which Saul was to lead (vs15). God intervened to prevent the Jews living in Damascus from fulfilling their plans, again intervening in the life of individuals in such a dramatic fashion. We read that those who had responded to Paul’s preaching heard of these plans, and one night, took him and let him down through an opening in the city wall, lowering him to the ground, and allowing Saul to journey safely to Jerusalem. (Acts 9: 25 & 26) In this instance, God acted to ensure the safety of Saul so that he could undertake the ministry to which god was calling him.
It is here that we understand that it is not that God has no authority on Earth, nor that God is not in control of the Earth, nor that God is powerless over what happens on Earth, but that God is letting people and Nations freely respond to His message, and, in doing so, God is allowing people and Nations to experience and accept the consequences of their choice.
“It is the Lord!” John 21: 7
The Disciples were ‘at a loose end’. Jesus had appeared to them twice, but there had been silence from Jesus since. Perhaps they had overstayed their welcome in Jerusalem. Perhaps there was family to catch up with. Perhaps they needed money for food and lodging. Whatever the reason, we find Peter declaring, “I’m going fishing.”, and six of his friends saying, “Yeah, we’ll go with you.” (John 21: 3)
They journeyed to the home district of Peter and Andrew and of James and John, at Lake Tiberias, also called Lake Galilee, presumably because that was where they had access to a fishing boat and where they were familiar with the fishing conditions. It was there that Jesus appeared to them a third time, and convincingly demonstrated that he was alive, that he was appearing to them in flesh and blood, and not as a vision or illusion, not as a ghost, not as an hallucination, nor as a figment of someone’s imagination.
Jesus spoke to them in words that they could readily understand and comprehend. Jesus, from his vantage point on the beach, could see where there was a nearby shoal of fish and gave them directions which they followed and which enabled them to catch a large quantity of fish. Jesus had lit a fire on the beach. Jesus had prepared bread and fish for cooking. Jesus shared a breakfast of fish and bread with them. Only someone who was real and alive could do these things. Visions and ghosts and hallucinations could not. The Disciples were convinced that Jesus, in the flesh, was with them. This appearance made it quite clear to the Disciples “the reality of the resurrection”, that here with them was the risen Lord. (William Barclay in The Gospel of John volume 2 p283)
It was upon this revelation that they began to understand to what task Jesus was calling them, for they were to be eye-witnesses of all that they had see and heard and touched.
They could “testify to the truth as it is to be seen in the man Christ Jesus”. They could testify to “the reality of the incarnation of the Son of God”. They would be called upon to reveal the erroneous and deceitful arguments of those who would seek to deny the reality of Christ Jesus and the reality of his Messiahship. (Randolph Tasker in John p231)
“Humble yourselves before God, and He will lift you high.” James 4: 10 (NEB)
It is their testimony that is proclaimed today by the Church. God is meeting people today through their hearing the eye-witness accounts to Christ Jesus of the Apostles; those who Jesus had met in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, by the lakeside in Galilee, and on the road to Damascus. God is seeking people to respond to Him, in humility and service.
James, the brother of Jesus and a leader of the early Church in Judea, writes:
“Humble yourselves before God, and He will lift you high.” (James 4: 10)
The Apostle Peter had the identical message for the Churches in current day Turkey:
“Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, so that He will lift you up in His own good time” (1 Peter 5: 6)
The Prophet Micah was led to say:
“What God requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with God.” (Micah 6: 8)
The Prophet Isaiah was led to declare these words of God:
“I live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope”. (Isaiah 57: 15)
“Humility is well-pleasing to God, for the greatest promises of good are made to the humble.” (Augustus Buckland and Lukyn Williams in The Universal Bible Dictionary p211)
How, then, do you respond to God when God meets you?
John Bunyan once wrote:
“They who are down need fear no fall,
They who are low, no pride;
They who are humble ever shall
Have God to be their guide.”
(quoted in April 19 in Our Daily Bread March, April, May 2006)
“For the life that you have given” TiS774
[This hymn is being sung to the tune Austria – there is no introduction.]
[This YouTube clip is for another hymn so disregard the words – only the one verse is needed.]
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
Let us come before God with our cares and our concerns.
We pray for the Church, that, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we may give convincing witness to the freeing and healing power of the Risen Christ.
We pray for greater discipleship, that we may not be limited by past failures but be open to your new invitations for service and rely upon you to bring to fulfillment the mission entrusted to us.
We pray for growth in trust, that we may surrender our disappointments and failures to you so that we may be renewed and raised up for new opportunities.
We pray for the grace of awareness, that you will open our minds and hearts to recognize Christ in the people, events, and experiences of daily life.
We pray for all who face suffering or persecution for being a Christian, that your Holy Spirit will strengthen them to give faithful witness to Christ and to your love for all.
We pray for all who exercise ministry in the Church, that their actions may be rooted in love, service, and commitment to Christ as they assist fellow Christians in deepening their discipleship.
We pray for a spirit of openness and acceptance, that we may welcome the stranger and immigrant into our communities and help them to build a new life.
We pray for all who earn their living on the seas, that you will protect them from harm and increase the quality and quantity of fish for the good of the Human family.
We pray for insight and courage, that we may bring the witness of the Gospel to the social and political issues of our day and that the Holy Spirit will give us words to effectively communicate the truth.
We pray for Peace, that you will turn hearts from violence, open minds to the pain that it causes, and open new opportunities for dialogue and understanding.
Copyright © 2022. Joe Milner. All rights reserved.<br> Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use. https://liturgy.slu.edu/
Prayer for Ukraine
We pray for the people of Ukraine, who find themselves in the midst of a war that is not of their making. Some have had to witness horrendous scenes, that will remain etched in their memories forever.
We pray for the millions of people who have been displaced within the country, and in neighbouring countries.
May they be guided to safe havens, and find a welcome in those places where they have sought refuge. Many have lost loved ones. Many have lost their homes. May they find peace and solace for what they have lost. We pray too for the loved ones they have had to leave behind to defend their country.
We pray for those who are trapped in Mariupol, that a safe exit might be negotiated for them.
We find it difficult to find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have wrought such havoc, but if Jesus could pray for his tormentors, may we find room to forgive the Russian president and his military commanders, and those who have committed atrocities. We pray that your Spirit might work in their hearts to change their plans.
We pray too for the leaders of the nations who are trying to assist Ukraine. May they be given the wisdom to find a way to end to the aggression, without escalating the situation.
World Council of Churches
We pray for the people of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. We give thanks for the long history of Christianity in these lands, for the way Christians have witnessed to their faith during long years of repression and persecution, for positive developments these countries have undergone since the end of the Soviet era, and for those who pursue peace and reconciliation in the face of old suspicions and animosities.
We pray for greater respect for the human rights of all the peoples living in these countries, for just changes for those living in situations of poverty and discrimination, for the healing of past wrongs and distorted memories of what has occurred, for a prophetic witness of the churches in relation to new challenges, and for the Georgian Orthodox Church, that it may rediscover a rich relationship with the family of churches worldwide.
We pray for the work of The Leprosy Mission in Mozambique, as it strives to improve the livelihoods of those affected by leprosy through their projects and partnership with the government.
We ask for your blessing as it works in close cooperation with the Health Department to support the Leprosy Control Project in the province of Cabo Delgado, which features the innovative use of mobile phone technology to facilitate data recording.
We ask that you will bless its work with ALEMO, a leprosy peoples’ organisation, to improve the livelihoods of its members through enhanced agriculture methods, training, and advocacy.
We ask for your protection for Umoja (Swahili for ‘unity’) facilitators in the North Zone, during this time of ongoing conflict in the region. May they be able to continue to promote ‘Umoja’ in their new communities.
We ask for your blessing on the ‘Ready4PEP’ activities in the district of Chiure, which im to work with contacts of people who are affected by leprosy, so as to significantly reduces their risk of developing the disease.
We pray that you will open the way for them to work with partners in the province of Zambezia.
We ask that you will encourage more people to support the initiative of The Innovation Media Hubs in more communities, providing them with the means to access helpful information and training through tech hubs in remote villages.
(The Leprosy Mission Prayer Diary 2022)
We pray for the Church of North India as it strives to break down barriers of caste, class and gender, so as to overcome economic inequality and exploitation.
We ask for your blessing on their activities during Covid-19 lockdowns to provide emergency rations and to help families to remotely access school resources.
We ask for your blessing on projects among lower caste communities supported by Uniting World that provide education, access to knowledge about political and social rights, clean water and sanitation.
We pray for the Scripture Union chaplains attending the Far North and North Queensland in-service days. Please bless the chaplains with a time to be refreshed and renewed in their vision for your ministry in schools in their regions.
We pray that you will bless those attending the Katherine Christian Convention this week-end, that it will be a time of challenge and renewal. Bless the work of Scripture Union as they run the Children’s program, that your Spirit will be working in the hearts and minds of the children who attend these activities.
(SU Prayer guide)
We pray for Ian and the other leaders of Religious Education classes at Bald Hills State School, that they will be encouraged and equipped to present the Gospel message to the children. May the Holy Spirit work in the minds and the hearts of the children in the classes that the hope of the salvation that you offer will become real to them.
We pray for Kylie Conomos, that you will motive her and support her as she seeks to address the physical and spiritual needs of the children the families and the teachers associated with the Bald Hills State School.
We pray for those whom we have not seen for some time we ask that they will experience your closeness with them each day.
Loving God, we bring these prayers to you, trusting in your compassion and care. To your glory we pray. Amen.
We sing the hymn “Come let us join our cheerful songs” MHB85 AHB133 TiS204 Pitcairn Hymns number 18
Sacrament of Communion
(following Uniting in Worship 2 p162 to p222)
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
Christ, our Lord, invites to his Table all who love him, all who earnestly repent of their sin and who seek to live in peace with one another.
Prayer of Approach
Lord God, we come to your Table, trusting in your mercy and not in any goodness of our own. We are not worthy even to gather up the crumbs under your table, but it is your nature always to have mercy, and on that we depend. So, feed us with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your son, that we may for ever live in him and he in us. Amen.
Narrative of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper
Hear the words of the institution of this Sacrament as recorded by the Apostle Paul:
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new Covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, for the remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.’” (1 Corinthians 11: 23 to 26)
And, so, according to our Saviour’s command, we set this bread and this cup apart for the Holy Supper to which he calls us, and we come to God with our prayers of thanksgiving.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
With all we are, we give you glory, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the one and holy God, Sovereign of all Time and Space. We thank you for this wide red land, for its rugged beauty, for its changing seasons, for its diverse people, and for all that live upon this fragile Planet. You have called us to be the Church in this place, to give voice to every creature under Heaven. We rejoice with all that you have made, as we join the company of Heaven in their song:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and Earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed be the One who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
We thank you that you called a covenant people to be the light to the Nations. Through Moses, you taught us to love your Law, and, in the Prophets, you cried out for justice. In the fullness of your mercy, you became one with us in Jesus Christ, who gave himself up for us on the cross. You make us alive together with him, that we may rejoice in his presence and share his peace. By water and the Spirit, you open the Kingdom to all who believe, and welcome us to your Table: for by grace we are saved through faith. With this bread and this cup we do as our Saviour commands: we celebrate the redemption he has won for us.
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Pour out the Holy Spirit on us and on these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ. Make us one with him, one with each other, and one in ministry in the World, until at last we feast with him in the Kingdom. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, in your holy Church, all honour and glory are yours, Father Almighty, now and for ever.
Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.
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.
Breaking of the Bread
The bread we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.
The cup we take is a sharing in the blood of Christ.
The gifts of God for the People of God.
Lamb of God
Jesus, Lamb of God,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the World,
Grant us peace.
Receive this Holy Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, and feed upon him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.
(after all have received the bread)
The body of Christ keep you in eternal life.
(after all have received the juice)
The blood of Christ keep you in eternal life.
Prayer after Communion
Blessed be God who calls us together.
Praise to God who makes us one People.
Blessed be God who has forgiven our sins.
Praise to God who gives us hope and freedom.
Blessed be God whose Word is proclaimed.
Praise to God who is revealed as the One who loves.
Blessed be God who alone has called us.
Therefore, we offer to God all that we are and all that we shall become.
Accept, O God, our sacrifice of praise.
Accept our thanks for we have seen the greatness of your love. Amen.
We sing the Hymn: “Since Jesus came into my Heart” Alexander’s Hymns No. 3 number 378
(from A Year of Prayer by John MacArthur p162)
May we forever testify to the love and grace of God,
May we humble ourselves before the majesty and power of God.
May we honour and trust God.
May we faithfully serve God, so that our words and our life bear witness to God, and draw others to the glory of Jesus Christ.
And may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always. Amen.
“Now to him who loved us, gave us” TiS771
[This YouTube clip has music only, and is for a different song – only the one verse is needed.]
Verse 1 of 1
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 the glory evermore.