Call to Worship:
(Psalm 105: 1 to 5, 7, 8a, and 45 [New Living Translation and Good News Bible]
Leader: “Give thanks to the Lord, proclaim His greatness,
All: Let the whole World know what He has done.
Leader: Sing praises to the Lord, tell of all His wonderful deeds.
All: Be glad that we belong to Him, let all who worship God rejoice.
Leader: Search for the Lord when you are in need,
All: For you will find in God the strength and the help you seek.
Leader: Remember the miracles that He has performed and the just judgements He has given.
All: The Lord is our God, He will keep His promises to us forever.
Leader: So then, let us, His People, follow His decrees and His statutes,
All: Let us always obey His instructions.”
Leader: This Psalm is described as one of the great songs of Israel’s history, for the rest of the verses of this Psalm relate to God’s Covenant with Abraham concerning the Land of Canaan which God promised would be inherited by Abraham’s descendants through his son Isaac. The emphasis throughout these verses is solely upon the mercy and faithfulness of God for His chosen People, which is an illustration of God’s mercy for and faithfulness to the whole World, that He proved to us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Our response, our obligation even, is to live lives of submission to God and of obedience to His commands and instructions to us, not out of a sense of fear of punishment if we don’t, nor out of a sense of needing to follow the correct moral or cultural code or practices, “but out of gratitude for God’s great goodness”.
(L McCaw and J Motyer in New Bible Commentary p517)
On that understanding, then, let us gather together to worship God and to proclaim His greatness to the World.
Prayer of Praise (from Uniting in Worship Red book p209, An Aust Prayer Book p249, Opening Prayers p97, Moira Laidlaw Liturgies On-Line Year A Pentecost 11)
Leader: Almighty God, we gather here as your people, the flock that you have dedicated yourself to protect and to nourish. We give you praise for the life that you have given to us; for the way that the darkness of being lost and alone in the World has been replaced with the light of your acceptance and grace. We rejoice in the knowledge of your limitless love and mercy, and we celebrate together because of our shared experience of your forgiveness.
Redeeming God, you seek to bring back to you all of people who have wandered away. In your eyes no one is deemed worthless or a lost cause. In your eyes no race nor language, no status nor background, no way of life precludes anyone from receiving your love. Your greatest desire is for all people to open their eyes to see their need to come back to a restored and right relationship with you. And you welcome us with an embrace that casts away all doubts and fears. We give you the honour and glory that you deserve.
God, our Lord, we put our trust in you to lead us. Your Word to us provides the wisdom and values to guide us in our daily life. You walk beside us and lead us away from temptation. You steer us away from all that would draw us away from your company and companionship. You strengthen us to live boldly through the gift of the Holy Spirit, empowering us to live our lives in gratitude and praise for your presence with us, and for all your gracious gifts to us.
For all of this we offer to you our heartfelt thanks, now and always. Amen.
“Come to be our hope, O Jesus” TiS 688 [to be sung to the tune “Ode to Joy” – refer to TiS 158]
[Only the first 1 minute and 14 seconds of this recording are required for the two verses of this hymn]
Come to be our hope, O Jesus, come to set our people free,
From oppression, come, release us, you alone give liberty.
Come release from every prison those who suffer in our land.
In your love we find the reason still to live and understand.
Come to build your new creation, show the way of servant-hood;
Give new life to every Nation, changing evil into good.
Come and open our tomorrow for a Kingdom now so near.
Take away our Human sorrow, give us hope against our fear.
Prayer of Confession (from Romans 12: 21)
Leader: Merciful God, we come to you confessing our shortcomings and our weaknesses.
All: We come confessing the times when we have not followed your decrees, for when we have not obeyed your instructions.
Leader: We are called to love others sincerely and with warmth. Forgive us for when we have not shown respect or concern to those whom you love so dearly.
All: Merciful God, hear us.
Leader: We are called to hate what is evil and to hold on to what is good. Forgive us for when we drift away from what is good towards those things that we should avoid.
All: Merciful God, hear us.
Leader: We are called to let our hope in you keep us joyful and to be patient in our troubles. Forgive us for when we despair and do not lay our burdens at the foot of the cross.
All: Merciful God, hear us.
Leader: We are called to share the material things with which you have blessed us with those who are in need. Forgive us for putting ownership of things before relieving the suffering of others.
All: Merciful God, hear us.
Leader: We are called to live humble lives and to humbly serve others. Forgive us for when our pride or our concern for our self-image obstructs our serving of others.
All: Merciful God, hear us.
Leader: We are called to do everything possible to live in peace with everyone. Forgive us for when we seek to repay a wrong, to take revenge when we are wronged, and to hold onto grudges.
All: Merciful God, hear us.
Leader: We come before you God confessing our wilful disobedience to you and for following the standards of this World.
All: Merciful God, hear us we pray and forgive our sins. Amen.
Assurance of Forgiveness (based on Matthew 16: 21)
Leader: Jesus informed his Disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to be put to death, but that three days later he will be raised to life, reminding them of God’s great mercy and gift of grace for Humanity.
Having confessed our sins before God, we have faith that God, in His great mercy and grace, has heard our prayer, has forgiven our sins, and has cleansed us in His sight.
Response: Thanks be to God.
Sharing the Peace
Leader: The Apostle John records these words of assurance from Jesus to his Disciples; “Peace is what I leave with you. … You will have this peace by being united with me.” (John 14: 27a and 16: 33a)
In these times of restrictions and reservations regarding physical contact with others, we find new ways to share this peace within the Fellowship of God, to both those here with us today and those who are absent from our midst.
So, with upraised hands, let us share together these words of Jesus. May the peace of God be with you.
All: And also with you.
Prayer for illumination
Leader: Let us share in this prayer for illumination as we read from the Word of God.
All: Holy and merciful God, through your Holy Spirit, instruct us that we might rightly understand the Word of Truth, and find ourselves as People who reflect the Living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Exodus 3: 1 to 16a [New English Bible]
1 As he had done every day, Moses was minding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, priest of Midian. He led the flock along the side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the great mountain of God. 2 There the messenger of the Lord appeared to him in the flame of a burning bush. Moses noticed that, although the bush was on fire, it was not being burnt up, 3 so he said to himself, “I must go across to see this wonderful sight. Why does the bush not burn away?”
4 When the Lord saw that Moses had turned aside to look, He called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses.” 5 And Moses answered, “Yes, I am here.” God said, “Come no nearer; take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then He said, “I am the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses covered his face, for he was afraid to gaze upon God.”
7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my People in Egypt. I have heard their outcry against their slave-masters. I have taken heed of their sufferings. 8 I have come down to rescue them from the power of Egypt and to bring them up out of that country into a fine, broad land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey, the home of Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 9 The outcry of the Israelites has now reached me; yes, I have seen the brutality of the Egyptians towards them.
10 Come now, I will send you to Pharaoh and you shall bring my People Israel out of Egypt. 11 “But who am I,” Moses said to God, “that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 God answered, “I am with you. This shall be the proof that it is I who have sent you. When you have brought the People out of Egypt, you shall all worship me here on this mountain.”
13 Then Moses said to God, “If I go to the Israelites and tell them that the God of their forefathers has sent me to them, and they ask me His name, what shall I say?” 14 God answered, “I AM; that is who I am. Tell them that I AM has sent you to them.” 15 And God said further,” You must tell the Israelites this, that it is YAHWEH, the God of their forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, who has sent you to them. This is my name for ever; the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. 16 Go and assemble the Elders of Israel and tell them that I, YAHWEH, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to you.”
Reader: This is the Word of God.
All: Praise to you Almighty God.
Matthew 16: 21 to 27 [Good News Bible and New Living Translation]
21 From that time Jesus began to make it clear to his Disciples saying, “I must go to Jerusalem and suffer much from the Elders, the Chief Priests and the Teachers of the Law. I will be put to death, but three days later I will be raised to life.”
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “God forbid it Lord!” Peter said, “That must never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned around and said to Peter, ”Get away from me Satan! You are a stumbling block in my way, because these thoughts of yours do not come from God but from a Human point of view.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to come with me, you must leave self behind, carry your cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their own life will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 What do you benefit if you gain the whole World but lose your soul? What can you give that can buy back your soul? 27 For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels. Then he will come as a Judge and will reward each one according to their deeds.”
Reader: This is the Gospel of our Lord.
All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
“I need you Lord for I have seen” TiS 625
I need you, Lord, for I have seen
what life, if led by you, may be;
Come, be my Master, make me clean
from all my sin’s impurity.
Show me yourself through life’s dark maze,
when doubts bring darkness, fears are strong;
Give me your strength, that all my days
may know the triumph over wrong.
Help me to see you where you are,
among the weary, sad and lost;
Give me a warm, responsive heart,
to love them, too, at any cost.
In serving you where’er you lead,
I’ll share your cross, your servant be:
Until I find that all my need
is met when I your face shall see.
Clifford George Taylor
“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells.”
Thomas Mann in Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain) 1924
This coming Wednesday is the 2nd of September. The following day is the 3rd of September, which has always been the case. Or so we think. If you were living in England or Wales or Ireland or in any of the British colonies or territories in the year 1752, there was no 3rd of September, nor a 4th, nor a 5th, nor any date right through to a 13th of September. You can see this from a calendar for 1752 that you can generate on the Web for January to September 1752 for the United Kingdom. (refer also to the entry for 3rd September in This Day in Christian History by William Blake) .
This was the time when, after 170 years of procrastinating and denying the science, the British Parliament finally decided to cease using the Julian Calendar throughout the United Kingdom and to adopt as its replacement the Gregorian Calendar. However, the consequence of this choice was a small matter of an 11-day discrepancy between the calendar then operating in the United Kingdom, its territories and its colonies, and the calendar then operating in most of the European Nations. Thus, it was decided that, throughout the United Kingdom and its territories and colonies, 11 days would be removed from September 1752 so as to align the calendars. These 11 days comprised the dates from the 3rd to the 13th. Wednesday the 2nd was followed by Thursday the 14th. Believe it or not!
‘the state or fact of being real or genuine or actual or true; to view or to represent or to grasp or to understand clearly things as they really are’
(The Macquarie Dictionary and Thesaurus New Budget Edition 1985 p332)
To me, this brings up the need to clarify for oneself exactly what you are willing to define as a “reality”. We take our calendar to be a fundamental aspect of our daily reality. You know what day and date it is by looking at the calendar. If you are going to schedule something, you go by the calendar. The calendar tells you when it is someone’s birthday or an anniversary of an event. There is an identical calendar pre-programmed into everyone’s mobile phone. There is a Standard prepared by the International Organisation of Standards, ISO8601, relating to agreed upon representations and formats of the Gregorian calendar. A seemingly arbitrary decision to delete 11 days from a seemingly randomly selected calendar month raises concerns about the validity of one of those things that you comfortably take for granted, that tomorrow will be the consecutive numeric day on the calendar. That, surely, is the daily reality.
We read in Exodus 3 that the daily reality for Moses was the minding of the flock belonging to his father-in-law, Jethro. But, one day, this daily reality was challenged, for there, right in front of him, was a bush that was burning but was not being consumed by the flames. Such a sight, unseen before and totally inexplicable, drew his attention, and Moses approached it so as to get a closer look. As he drew closer, it was then that God called him. And we note that God called Moses by his name, “Moses, Moses.” God called out. (Exodus 3: 4) God sought to communicate with Moses on an intimate level by addressing Moses by his name, just as God seeks to communicate with each of us on just such an intimate level, an understanding we gain from Matthew’s recalling of Jesus stating that “even the hairs on (our) head have all been counted (by God)” and that we “are worth more (to God) than many sparrows”. (Matthew 10: 30 & 31)
We read of God telling Moses to stop when he was and to not come any closer to the bush, because he was “standing on holy ground.” (Exodus 3: 5b) . The reference to taking off his sandals was a reference to the typical Semitic worship practice whereby anyone approaching their god did so in bare feet. In addition, it was a sign of Moses’ acceptance of a “servant’s position, for “a slave usually went barefoot (before their Master).” (A Cole Exodus p65) .
The reference to the ground being “holy” was not because of some intrinsic nature of the ground itself nor of the mountain on which this encounter between God and Moses took place. It was holy because of the nature of the One who was there, revealing Himself to Moses. It was holy because of the presence there of God Himself. (A Cole p65) . And Moses recognised this for we read that Moses was afraid to look at God and turned his face away from God. (Exodus 3: 6b) .
God revealed who He was to Moses. We read in verse 6 God stating, “I am the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” The word “God” here is the Hebrew word “el-o-heem” (Strong OT430) , and is the word by which God called Himself and by which the people in the Book of Genesis addressed God. It is a plural word being used to address a single God, and is the word used by the People of Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament, to refer to their God, who was supreme over all gods of all other Nations, far and near. By making reference to being the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, God is identifying himself as the God who made the Covenant agreement with Abraham and his descendants for all time, as is recorded in Genesis chapters 12, 15 and 22 (A Cole Exodus p65, J Walton W Matthews & M Chavalas Exodus p79) . Thus, when Moses later returned to Egypt to share with the Israelites God’s call to him to lead them to the ‘promised land’, Moses was not bring to them “a new or unknown god, but a fuller revelation of the One whom they had already known (from the history of their ancestors).” (A Cole Exodus p66)
A serious concern for Moses was whether or not the People of Israel would accept the reality of God appearing to him in the burning bush and the reality of God’s promise to bring them out of Egypt and to lead them to the promised land of Canaan. We read this in verse 13, when Moses asks of God, “If I go to the Israelites and tell them that the God of their forefathers has sent me to them, and they ask me His name, what shall I say?” We understand that ‘names’, in the ancient Middle East, “were believed to be intimately connected to the essence of the individual and to give knowledge of their nature.” (J Walton W Matthews M Chavalas Exodus p80) . Therefore, Moses is not asking for the “bare name of God which may not have been made known to them beforehand”, but, rather, he was asking for “the inner significance of the name that they had already known.” (H Jones Exodus p124)
God answers this question is three ways.
In verse 14 we read God stating, “I AM; that is who I am. Tell them that I AM has sent you to them.” The phrase “I AM, that is who I am”, or “I will be what I will be” is, in Hebrew, “ehyeh ser ehyeh”, and is derived from the Hebrew word “haw-yah” (Strong OT1961) ,that is translated to mean “to exist or to be or to become”. (A Cole Exodus p68) What God is claiming through this phrase is, “I exist whereas all idols have no being, I will be understood by my acts and my words of revelation, and my revelation to you calls for a response of faith”. (A Cole Exodus p68) . When this phrase is spoken quickly as the one word, it is similar in sound to the Hebrew word “Yahweh” (Strong OT3068) , translated as “self-existent and eternal”. This is the Jewish National name for God. (A Cole Exodus p68) .
This is the name that God calls Himself, as we read in verses 15 and 16, where God states “I, the Lord”. In effect god is saying, “I, Yahweh”. In verse 12, where God addresses Moses’ concern that he is unprepared and unskilled to appear before Pharaoh, God reassures Moses by stating “I am with you.” This phrase too is derived from the Hebrew word “haw-yah” and is a play on the name “Yahweh”. (A Cole Exodus p68)
God is not idly playing with words or just making puns with Moses, God is bringing a “fuller self-revelation” to Moses. (A Cole Exodus p66) God is revealing to Moses, and ultimately to the People of Israel, that He is not to be viewed just as “a self-contained incomprehensible Being. He is a God of intent, intending (the building up of) a future relationship between Himself and the People who He seeks to lead.” (B Childs Exodus p76) “God will prove Himself to be ever dependable and sufficiently resourceful to meet every need of his People.” (H Jones Exodus p124) God will reveal that He is more powerful that mighty Pharaoh, more powerful than the pantheon of Egyptian gods or the gods of any other Nation through whose land the Israelites must journey. God will reveal His authority over His Creation and over all Nations on this World in such a manner as to force Pharaoh to send the People of Israel away from Egypt, in such a way as to sustain the People of Israel on their journeying through the wilderness and, finally, in such a way as to deliver them to the Land that He promised would be their inheritance.
‘The grounds for Moses being sent (to Pharaoh) do not rest on his abilities nor on any personal endowment, but solely on his being a vehicle for the fulfilment of God’s plan for the salvation of God’s People.’ (B Childs Exodus p74)
‘Get away from me Satan! You are a stumbling block in my way,’ Matthew 16: 23a
Peter, also, was challenged as to what he considered to be a daily reality. Earlier in Matthew chapter 16 we read of Peter’s declaration about Jesus. We read, “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.’” (Mathew 16: 16) We read of Peter being commended by Jesus for his perception, and of Jesus proclaiming, “Peter, you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church.” (Matthew 16: 18a) Yet, a few verses later we read of Jesus rebuking Peter, saying “Get away from me Satan!” (Matthew 16: 23) , mirroring Jesus’ rebuke of Satan at the time when Satan tempted Jesus during his 40 days in the wilderness. (Matthew 4: 10) We then see Jesus talking to Peter and using the same imagery that Jesus had used earlier. Where once Peter was described as a rock foundation upon which God could build, now Jesus describes Peter as a stumbling rock upon which people could fall. (Matthew 16: 23) Where had Peter got it so wrong?
Peter was aghast at the intent of Jesus to journey to Jerusalem so that he could be arrested, undergo physical and emotional abuse and a mock trial, and then to suffer a humiliating and cruel death. It was inconceivable to Peter that “the living God should submit His son to such humiliation and cruelty” (R Tasker Matthew p160) , so he draws Jesus aside to tell him so. Peter’s thinking reflected contemporary Jewish thought of the time that found “no reference to a suffering Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures.” “Jewish writings had much to say about the final resurrection of the dead, but nothing about the resurrection of a single martyr.” (There was) nothing in their background that prepared the Disciples of Jesus for the notion that Israel’s expected champion would suffer a shameful death (at the hands of foreign conquerors).” They were expecting the exact opposite. “The Messiah was expected to inflict suffering and death on Israel’s enemies and on the wicked within Israel, not to experience it himself.” (D Hare Matthew p193)
They had neglected the lessons from the account of the call of Moses.
Was God going to demonstrate to the Egyptians His incomparable power and authority just because He could? No, God’s intent was that through His incomparable power and authority He was going to deliver His People from oppression and slavery. So too is God’s plan through Jesus, His son, to similarly deliver Humanity from oppression. As we read what Paul writes to the Church in Rome, “For though at one time you were slaves to sin, you have obeyed with all your heart the truths of the Gospel message that has been presented to you and have been set free from sin to become the slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6: 17 & 18)
Was God revealing himself to the People of Israel as being some remote unapproachable God? No, God revealed that He was seeking a personal relationship with his People. God revealed His compassion for His People in their time of suffering. So too is God’s revelation to Humanity through Jesus, His son. As we read what Paul writes to the Church in Rome, “But God has shown us how much He loves us – it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8)
Was God going to deliver the People of Israel from oppression in Egypt and then leave them to sort out the rest of their lives for themselves? No, God promised to lead them to the promised land of peace and plenty and continue to be personally involved in their lives individually and as a Nation. So too is God’s promise to Humanity through Jesus, His son. As we read what Paul writes to the Church in Rome, “Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ. We were God’s enemies, but He made us His friends through the death of His son.” (Romans 5: 1 and 10)
Did God choose to send Moses to appear before Pharaoh because of the vast gifts and abilities of Moses? No, God chose Moses solely on the basis of his availability. God promised to empower Moses and to equip him for every situation and circumstance that he would face. It was through the submission and obedience of Moses that God could work through His plan for His People. So too was God’s plan for Humanity completed. As we read what Paul writes to the Church in Rome, “all People will be put right with God through the obedience of the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5: 19b)
Peter and the people of his day had forgotten the need to submit one’s will to God’s will, to forget oneself and ones daily reality and to obey the call of God to follow His leading into the future. Hence, we read Jesus instructing his Disciples, “If any of you wants to come with me, you must leave self behind, carry your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16: 24)
Jesus highlights the need for his followers to cease being “self-centred and to become God-centred”. (R Tasker Matthew p161) They must subordinate their wants and desires to “God’s will” and to submit their thinking to “God’s thinking.” (D Hare Matthew p195) They must understand right from the start that they are forfeiting their lives, surrendering completely their lives to Jesus, accepting and expecting that, in so doing, they may be following Jesus to a similar pain and suffering which he faced. Moses appeared barefoot before God, as God’s servant. So too are we to approach God barefoot, as servants of the Living God.
“the network of Roman roads and standardized administration tied Gaul to Rome’s empire, open to Syrian traders and salvation cults from Greece, Egypt, Persia and Palestine”
(National Geographic Vol. 151 No. 5 May 1977 p616)
“Father Joseph Kearney, .. a Celt from the region himself .. knows how many Celtic traditions Christianity has swallowed, and how much Celtic belief underlies common attitudes”
(National Geographic Vol. 151 No. 5 May 1977 p629)
Recently I was re-reading this May 1977 issue of National Geographic. In it there is a very interesting article by Merle Severy on the Celtic Peoples, their history, their culture, their heritage, and their efforts to retain their language and way of life today. I came across these two challenging quotes by the author.
Now, in many places in literature there is reference made to a relationship between an extensive and well-maintained system of roads and the spread of the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire.
The Times Atlas of the Bible states, “Without doubt the dissemination of the faith and the creation of the seven Churches in Asia (Revelation 1: 4,11) was facilitated by one of the great Roman achievements in Asia Minor during the first century BC, an established road network between the major urban centres of the province.” (p187)
In his book, “The Roman Empire’s effect on its environment”, Edward Allen asserts that “The roads helped to spread Christianity quickly. It was an effective way for Missionaries to travel and to communicate.”
In an article on Roman roads by Jack Wellman, he writes, “The Roman Empire helped the spread of Christianity by providing a sense of security and stability when the church was birthed. It provided good roads for the Gospel to be taken to the ends of the empire and beyond.”
In an article on the Roman road system in the on-line edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, it is written that “The Roman road system made possible Roman conquest and administration and later provided highways for the great migrations into the empire and a means for the diffusion of Christianity.”
Yet, Merle Severy writes as if the opening up of ancient Gaul by the construction of a system of roads by the Romans only served to open up the country to foreign and unwanted “salvation cults”, including some from Palestine, and, by this , the author infers Christianity. Rather than welcoming Christianity as a liberating and refreshing theology whose benefit is in releasing the inhabitants of an area from oppressive and ‘empty’ religious beliefs and practices, it is instead grouped with all other so-called “salvation cults” and rejected, because it was challenging people’s daily reality.
Furthermore, the author seeks to portray the bankrupt nature of Christianity in that, rather than demonstrating that it is the source of truth compared to the traditional Celtic belief system, Christianity is described as both ready to absorb Celtic beliefs and traditions so as to attempt to become attractive to the Celtic inhabitants, and was readily ignored by Celtic inhabitants who sought to retain a practice of their own Celtic belief system.
Merle Severy errs in this assessment of Christianity, for there is a lack of understanding that the God of the “salvation cult from Palestine” is the one true Living God, Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is in them, and, as such, it is to this God to whom we must all give an account of our lives. There is, too, a lack of understanding that it is not a matter of picking and choosing what we may find attractive or acceptable from Christianity, for the essence of Christianity is God’s free gift of deliverance from oppression and sin. God seeks for us to respond to His unqualified and unwarranted love and grace shown to us, by a life of willing obedience and service.
“If any of you wants to come with me, you must leave self behind, carry your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16: 24
What is our own daily reality? Today’s readings correctly portray the God of the Bible as the one true Living God, who demonstrates a concern for liberating people from belief systems that are both irrelevant and oppressive, and who calls people back into a right relationship with Him.
The God who liberates us also makes a demand for obedience, but, in this obedience we will find freedom and the way to real life. (W Brueggemann, C Cousar, B Gaventa, & J Newsome Texts for Preaching Year A p462)
May we, therefore, leave self behind, take up our cross and eagerly follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Amen.
“The God of Abraham praise” TiS 125
[This is the best recording that I could find, although it only has 5 of the 6 verses in the TiS version. Other recordings had different verses or only 3 or 4 verses.]
The God of Abraham praise who reigns enthroned above,
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love:
The Lord, the great I AM by Earth and Heaven confessed!
We bow and bless the sacred name for ever blessed.
The God of Abraham praise, whose all-sufficient grace
Shall guide us all our happy days in all our ways.
He calls us each a friend, He calls Himself our God;
And He shall give us to the end through Jesus’ blood.
He by himself has sworn, we on His oath depend:
We shall, on eagles’ wings upborne, to Heaven ascend:
We shall behold His face, we shall His power adore,
And sing the wonders of His grace for evermore.
The God who reigns on high the great archangels sing,
And ‘Holy, holy, holy!’ cry, ‘Almighty King’;
Who was and is the same and evermore shall be,
The Lord, our Father, great I AM eternally.
Before the Saviour’s face the ransomed Nations bow,
All praising his almighty grace, for ever new.
He shows his wounds of love, they kindle to a flame
And sound through all the Worlds above the slaughtered Lamb.
The whole triumphant host gives thanks to God on high:
‘Hail, Father, Son and Spirit blest!’ they ever cry.
Hail, Abraham’s God and ours! With Heaven our songs we raise:
All might and majesty are yours, and endless praise.
Leader: I remind you that you may place your offerings in the bowls that are placed at the entrance as you come in or on the stand as you leave to go to the hall for refreshments.
Offering Prayer (from Invocations p43)
Leader: Lord, giver of all good things, we give to you these tithes, the gift of our time and the works of our hands. Guide us in their use so that others may come to an awareness of your grace and also that the needs of others are met. Guide us in what is good and acceptable so that we may be an example of the love and blessing that you do not hold back from anyone. Amen.
Prayers for Others
Leader: We come before you, Almighty God, with our cares and concerns.
We pray for your Church: that the fire of the Holy Spirit will embolden us to give witness to you and to courageously follow the call of Jesus to leave self behind and to follow in his footsteps.
We pay for the grace to embrace the cross as we experience opposition, hardship or rejection because of our service to you, and to allow you to raise us to new life.
We pray for all who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel: that you will protect and sustain those who risk their lives to bring the Gospel message or medical care to those in difficult or distant places.
We pray for Wisdom: that your Holy Spirit will unshackle us from the contemporary priorities of power and wealth and renew us to live lives of virtue and generosity.
We pray for the grace to live with the unknown: that in times of loss and uncertainty, especially now with Covid-19, we may put our trust in you, God, with us even when answers or new beginnings are not apparent.
We pray for the gift of discernment: that your Holy Spirit will guide us in our judgments and actions so that the Gospel can be manifest in our lifestyles, our families, and our interacting with others.
We pray for all who are discouraged by the burdens of life: that your compassionate love will renew their hearts and lead them through their struggles.
We pray for all who live amidst civil discord and conflict: that you will break the cycle of violence, heal the divisions that exist within the community, and protect the innocent and powerless.
We pray for all recovering from storms, floods, and wildfires: that you will ease their suffering, give them strength, and help them to find the resources that they need to rebuild their homes and lives.
We pray that public figures in our Parliaments and Councils may respect the human dignity of each other and find ways to address the real issues of our world and of our nation without denigrating the character or intent of another person.
We pray for those who are starving or malnourished: that you will remove the bureaucratic, political, cultural, or religious barriers that block food distribution. We pray that people be more aware of the needy around them and come to the aid of those who lack basic care or opportunities for the future.
Copyright © 2020. Joe Milner. All rights reserved.<br> Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.
We remember those in our fellowship here at Bald Hills who have needs.
Let us share together in the prayer that Jesus taught his Disciples.
The Lord’s Prayer
All: 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 for ever. Amen.
“O Jesus I have promised” TiS 595
Benediction and Blessing
Leader: “Seek God in your shadowed hours
But seek Him too when all is fair,
Share with God Life’s sweetest flowers
As well as all your grief and care.
In radiant ways or pathways dim
Walk in close company with Him.
(“Light and shade” by Elsie Campbell in Sunlit Ways, Pickering and Inglis Ltd, 1970)
And may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always.
“May the grace of Christ our Saviour” TiS777 [to be sung to the tune ‘Hyfrydol’ – refer to TiS217(i)]
May the grace of Christ our Saviour, and the Father’s boundless love,
With the Holy Spirit’s favour, rest upon us from above.
Thus may we abide in union with each other and the Lord,
And possess in sweet communion joys which Earth cannot afford.