Now Available Digital Download - YEAR A Liturgies, YEAR B Liturgies, YEAR C Liturgies, or all 3 Years in one complete digital download. These all include complete Orders of Service based on the Common Lectionery for The Liturgical Years in one download.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Prayer of Approach - Hymns - Prayer of Adoration and Praise - Readings from Old Testament - Epistle - Gospel - A Word with the Young - Prayer of Confession - Sermon - Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession - Offertory Prayer - Benediction
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SEASON OF PENTECOST
"In the readings from the Old and New Testaments today, there is a remarkable contrast between the Old Testament understanding of God and the New Testament one as revealed in Jesus. In the OT reading, God is pictured as having withdrawn from the people because they are fools and stupid - because they have chosen evil instead of good. Jeremiah relates how God will therefore bring judgment and destruction upon the land. It is as though the land itself was in mourning as it will be a wasteland devoid of living creatures, and all within it in ruins because of God's anger. The devastating imagery that Jeremiah presents concludes with the assurance that God has indeed spoken and will not repent of these words or actions.
Do you see the major difference between that understanding of God and the one in the gospel? In the gospel reading, God is portrayed as actively seeking out those who were lost - those who had separated themselves off from God for one reason or another.
And, in the Epistle, we have the end result of this seeking and saving attitude of God. Paul speaks with gratitude of the mercy that was extended to him, even although he was once 'a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man.' 'Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the very worst' - Paul says.
There's a certain progression in the readings - one that continues right through to us... perhaps our task is to locate just where we are in each of these accounts about God's activity in the world. Do we experience God as a distant deity, withdrawn from our experience? Or - do we yearn to be found - or are we celebrating the fact, like Paul, that we have been found? That God's amazing grace has reached out and touched even you and even me.
There's not too much reason for celebration in the Jeremiah reading.
So, it's almost breathtaking to turn to Luke and to find the picture of God painted there... first as a shepherd seeking a lost sheep, secondly, as a woman, seeking a lost coin.
This reading highlights how important each person is to God - indeed the whole chapter fleshes out the words from John's gospel: "God so loved the world that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ..." The whole reason for Jesus' existence in the world was simply because God loved, loves the world and today's reading organises the 'world' into 'you and me and whoever is lost'. The distinctiveness about these verses is that God seeks us out in our lostness, in our brokenness.
In Jesus' day, because a shephard's job took him out in the fields when he should have been in the synagogue, and because the nature of his work caused him to work on the Sabbath, he was usually despised by those who exercised religious authority. As for the women, she was even further down the scale of acceptable persons - yet here was Jesus saying - this is how God acts - just like this shepherd - just like this woman - persistently seeking out the lost and celebrating when they are found.
These stories hold many levels of meaning for us today, as they did for their first hearers. Let me tell you a story about someone for whom they held a particularly important meaning. The minister of the adjoining parish .1. told this story about his father.
His father was a medical doctor who spent a considerable time in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War 2. He agonised over the fact that he could not supply the medical care that was needed by his fellow prisoners because he had no drugs, no medicine of any kind. All he could offer his patients to tide them over a bad time was a cigarette - he somehow got hold of tobacco and rolled cigarettes for those in need.
The only suitable paper he had was the relatively fine paper of the pages of his bible.
This bible was one of the son's most precious possessions - or should I say - what was left of the bible - because the good doctor used for the cigarettes all the pages which he felt held less meaning than others. He started with the Book of Revelation - then went to all the genealogies, lists of meaningless names - and so on. The pages that are left - are heavily annotated and underlined. One of the most heavily marked passages is our gospel reading for today plus the parable which concludes this chapter - the parable of the prodigal son.
The doctor obviously felt that the long - term message that these parables hold was of far greater value than the short term benefit that it could have had meeting a person's immediate need. This chapter is often called - the gospel for the outcasts - think how its message must have sounded to those prisoners who no doubt felt forgotten and cast out by the human race. Yet these words say that they were not cast out - not forgotten by God.
Each parable makes the same point - the joy experienced by the person who recovers what he or she had believed was lost. That joy is a reflection of the joy felt by God whenever a lost person is found, is welcomed, is restored into a loving relationship.
And that's what God's amazing grace is - the love that actively seeks us out.
.1. The late Rev. Keith Biddle."
Loving Jesus, we are in need of your grace to unsettle and redirect our hearts. We are in need of your power To rekindle and sustain our passion to serve you. We are in need of your love That we might recognize the ever- present possibilities For change and conversion and growth.
We believe that your Spirit Is at work in your world and in our church. Give us the faith to believe That you can accomplish wonderful things through us And give us the strength and courage and hope To live in the knowledge that with you All things are possible
This we pray in Jesus’ name
Click here to play COMING HOME - A short video recorded of Moira telling her story of faith and her journey through a divine encounter into full time ministry.