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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
PRAYER OF PRAISE AND ADORATION
God of all creation, we worship and adore you. You enrich the land with the blessings of your creative nature and you enrich our lives with the blessings of your creative Spirit. We rejoice O God, in the outpouring of such blessings upon us. We praise you for these signs of your presence among us, and especially for your presence in our midst in and through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Saviour. We come to this time of worship in awe and with thanksgiving at such evidence of your grace towards us. Open our ears that we may hear you speaking to us anew; open our hearts that we may love as you love us and our world, and open our lips to proclaim your praise. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
Imagine the three readings as books on a bookshelf. Three books each with one name on the spine of the book. Joel, Luke and Timothy. Old Testament, Gospel and Epistle. Each book contains important words for us to hear today. Joel and Timothy are more like bookends holding up the one in the centre, the Gospel according to Luke. Joel holds a message about our birth as a Christian, Timothy words about our death, and Luke is about our life as a Christian. The important words from Joel are those we hear each Day of Pentecost - the day which we understand as the birth of the church. Peter used Joel’s words in his sermon to emphasise that this great gift of the Spirit was for everyone. “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” The other bookend’s story– from Timothy - contains words which I’ve often used as words of hope at funerals of faithful church members. Words originally spoken by Paul as he neared the end of his life. “the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
A poet, Richard Crashaw puts this exquisitely into words. 1 Two men went up to pray. O rather say. One went to brag – the other went to pray.
What then, does the parable say to us? One writer says that the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Jesus’ story are timeless characters . Every age produces their like, and we might even catch an occasional glimpse of them in the mirror. 2
Jesus concludes that what was missing was humility.
Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun and well known author, has this to say about humility.
Humility is the foundation of our relationship with God, our connectedness to others, our acceptance of ourselves, our way of using the goods of the earth and even of walking through the world, without arrogance, without domination, without scorn, without put-downs, without disdain, without self-centredness. The more we know ourselves, the gentler we will be with others. 3
That is the message of the parable in a nutshell – the message about lived and genuine faith. The challenge for us is having ears to hear and hearts to respond.
1. Richard Crashaw, ‘Steps to the Temple’ as quoted in A.M.Hunter, THE PARABLES Then and Now, (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1973), Page 66.
2. Hunter, THE PARABLES, Page 64
3. Joan Chittester, THE RULE OF BENEDICT: INSIGHTS FOR THE AGES (New York: Crossroad, 1996), page 73f.
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.