Helen welcomed us and the notices were given including the outcome of the lamington drive, which was $2300 for Frontier Services (well done all) after which
The Call to Worship offered us grace and peace from the everlasting and ever-present Other and ruler, most high.
Hymn 147 "Rejoice the Lord is King" reminding us that our Lord is King over all and for that, we can be joyful.
Kids Time Out a story of how Kings once demanded obedience but that God doesn't. His wish is for us to choose to obey.
We would be a bit stupid not to, like the people who don't follow the directions on how to operate an appliance and end up breaking it. I'll leave the rest of that thought to you.
Prayers We praised God for his eternal constancy and confessed our own fickleness.
We acknowledged our Lord as the Sovereign God forever, and looked at our concerns as being within a much bigger plan, confessing our inability to keep our eyes on Him, resulting in our being less than we should. For this we asked forgiveness and prayed to enjoy the fullness of God's love.
Words of Assurance. God sent Jesus not to judge us but to save us.
God accepts both our courage and fears.
In the name of Christ your sins are forgiven.
Dare to accept the gift of a new beginning.
Which can be quite daunting. Where could it lead? What might be asked of us?
Hymn 81 "The King of love my shepherd is" - I nothing lack if I am His and He is mine forever. Being surrounded by the love of the everlasting doesn't leave any space for a sense of lacking for anything.
Scripture Reading Malcolm delivered the readings this morning :
Revelation 1: 4b - 8
John. 18: 33 – 37
I am the Alpha and Omega - who is, who was and who is to come. In such our confidence will never be misplaced.
The reading from John can make us uneasy. Jesus refused to be the king people wanted and refused to fit the known concept of king. We have to be careful to give our allegiance to the king God is and not to some idea of king that would be handy to further our idea of life.
Helen explained that this week, the last week of the church year, has been used to stress the concept of "Christ the King", an idea introduced by the Roman Catholic Church in 1925 as a response to what they saw as the rising challenge of communism.
This idea, taken up by the other denominations as well, was to highlight the point that the power of God is greater than the power of the state. She added that in Australia, church and state are separate and when church causes are government-funded there are usually strings attached and if the church should ever make comment on current issues, there are invariably cries to "butt out".
However this separation of church and state has not always been the case and in Jesus' time the 'church' and state were one. That meant that the temple was a political place as well as a religious one.
We were then challenged to think about our image of Jesus-usually the healer or some other benign image-not really Christ on His Throne.
Helen pointed out that the Christmas story is full of political thrust. The cry of the prophets was that a Messiah would come who would free Israel from the oppressor.
Zachariah, the father of John, saw the coming of one who would provide liberation from foreign rulers.
In another example of a political pronouncement, the Angels declared to the shepherds
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace among whom he favours" a direct challenge to the power of Caesar, seen in the similarity to the Imperial Decree of Caesar Augustus, " Glory to the most august Caesar (God in the highest) and peace on earth with whom god Augustus is well pleased."
Helen continued to give examples of the political nature of Christ's birth. The Wise Men went to Herod and asked to be directed to the King of the Jews. Herod's response was to exert his power to prevent any challenge to his position and slaughtered the baby boys.
The wise men were Kings who bowed before Jesus, an overt declaration of His power.
Jesus was killed because he was a threat to the order, stability, authority and power of the state. The question Pilate asked was "Are you the King of the Jews?" but Jesus wouldn’t give a direct answer because His Kingship is not of this world.
Helen challenged us to provide that answer. In the Lord's Prayer we pray "Thy kingdom come" but that can only be if we submit to Christ's rule. Christ is not going to force us to declare him king of our lives and live according to his rule but if we do, we will know a freedom unsurpassed.
"Where is Christ the King in your life?"
Hymn 170 "At the name of Jesus". A song with God's kingship as its focus. "crown him as your Captain in temptation's hour, let his will enfold you in its light and power."
Freewill Offering "
With these gifts, loving God, draw us closer to the reign of Christ, to a time when none go without, and all are clothed in joy."
Musical Interlude A quiet time to think and pray.
Prayers for Others. Joan led us in a prayer acknowledging our inability to live the lives we profess. She prayed on our behalf that we would see our goal to be as kind, loving, caring and generous as God asks of us. Joan prayed for wisdom for all of us to see need with our hearts and to help those who feel lonely, unaccepted or unappreciated to find acceptance and friendship.
A prayer was offered that we will bravely witness to "God the Saviour and Christ the Lord". Joan prayed that we should be given compassion for the victims of disasters and misused power and prayed that each of us would be given the will to encourage harmony.
Joan then named people known to members of the congregation in their particular need, praying for support and comfort for them.
Glory to God in the highest
and peace to his people on earth...
Hymn 162 " Crown him with many crowns", a hymn that goes on to list the crowns that God claims.
The sacrificial lamb; the Son of God; the Son of Man; the Lord of love; the Lord of life; the Lord of peace; the Lord of time. The Almighty. The Everlasting. The Beyond anything we can imagine.
To whom we give our total allegiance and obedience.
"To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father
To him be glory and dominion forever and ever.
Amen. Amen. Amen.