Welcome Rowena welcomed us using a verse that spoke to the weary who need refreshment, the anxious who need calming by the spirit. She offered welcome to the complacent to be challenged by Jesus' message. She told us that we were all welcome and would find rest in God's presence.
Hymn TIS 693 "Come as you are" God's all encompassing love, inviting us to be his, no matter what our condition. No matter how many times we fail, we will be welcomed back when we realise our darkness and turn back to the light.
Announcements Don't forget the breakfasts for Guys and Gals on September 13 at 8.30am. See Elaine or Margaret or David.
Prayer of Adoration and Confession (Adapted from Liturgies Online)
"Awesome and great God, whose holiness is beyond our capacity even to imagine - we worship you. Your care for us is evident through your grace and mercy which we experience in Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit." Rowena then acknowledged God's lavish love that empowers us and let us see his many blessings around us. She reminded us that we were on Holy ground and offered our praise. Rowena then asked for God's patience as we learn hospitality, confessing how we often create closed communities where there should be room for all. She confessed on our behalf that we exclude people because we only see the differences - in who we are, or in belief, or in viewpoint. Or because we think we know the right way, or the thing that must be done, or because we fear - the unknown - change - or perhaps even discomfort. She prayed: "Forgive us, dear God for those times we have let you down"
Declaration of Forgiveness
"Here is some good news. Christ is with us. Christ is always with us. We are forgiven people and we are given new opportunities to become more Christ-like each and every day."
Offering and Prayer
Rowena spoke of God's offer of refreshment and renewal in Jesus Christ. She then offered our gifts and asked for blessing on them and on our lives.
Hymn TIS 629 "When I needed a neighbour" A hymn based on Jesus telling his followers that when we show love and service to even the least of the human race (and maybe all creation) we are showing that love and service to him. Time to think about that, and how we conduct our daily lives.
Scripture Readings Psalm 119: 105-112. The psalmist speaks of God being his guide, affirming that he has remained true to his commitment, regardless of forces acting against him. Forever.
Matthew 10: 40-42 A promise that each of who acts as Jesus Christ would in our service to others, will be rewarded. Perhaps, it may be, that if we do act that way, we already have our reward,
Reflection - The Hospitality of Christ
Rowena introduced her word to us with a story about a pastor who was to be introduced as head pastor at a church of 10,000 adherents. He transformed his appearance into that of a homeless person and walked around the church before the service, he smiled at everyone - 3 smiled back - the others gave him dirty looks or stared. He asked for coins for coffee and was refused. When he sat at the front of the church, he was asked to move to the back. Then the elders announced the presence of the new senior pastor. Applause broke out but died to nothing as the man walked to the front. He then took the microphone from the elders (who were in on it) and said, "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
And then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in? Or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 'The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" With that the minister dismissed the congregation until the next week. (adapted from Christ Global Network)
The question is - how would we behave in such circumstances?
Rowena then pointed out how we are all aware, as committed Christians of the task we have of showing Christ's hospitality to others. She highlighted how we have been blessed by God's extravagant love and welcome which shows how we can be in community together. But what of the stranger?
The early church would not have survived without hospitality. There were no motels.
Our hospitality might be a simple smile or hello. How often do we welcome these people who have fallen through the cracks in our society? Are we willing to risk our own comfort? Or safety?
We can offer simple hospitality by refusing to stereotype. "Just imagine if our nation, Australia, could find the courage to generously open up our borders to those who seek shelter and freedom and friendship, we might just find again that God provides new life; a society with a greater depth of compassion, a deeper and more abiding live and a resultant vibrant and enriched community."
Hymn TIS 473 "Community in Christ " An exhortation to all of us, as a church, to be Christ to the world. To serve, not just the people or causes we like, but listen for God's voice for direction of our energy and material riches.
Prayers of the People
Rowena prayed to our gracious and Heavenly Father, giving thanks for the beautiful day, the rain that had refreshed the world and the sunshine that followed. She gave thanks for this world with which we have been blessed. Then prayer was offered for those injured and hurting in war-torn countries; those suffering from the results of misunderstandings that linger for centuries. Speaking for us all, she admitted that we feel so small and useless and prayed that we might understand how we could make some change. She then prayed for the personal needs of the congregation, their families and friends. She asked for God's hand on the unemployed and the penniless and asked that those who run the country will see that all share in its blessings. We then joined in the Lord's Prayer.
Hymn TIS 681 "Lord let me see" A prayer to open our eyes to the way God sees other people and act towards them as he would. Seriously.
Rowena sent us out with the message still ringing in our ears, and its effects revitalizing our lives, praying that God will provide for us, so that we will see Jesus in the stranger that we meet and that we will be led in the ways of unconditional love.
Closing Song. "Now unto him who is able to keep,
Able to keep you from falling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of his glory
With exceeding joy.
To the only wise God our Saviour
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and ever. Amen.
Photos sourced from http://coolamazingstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/GV-HomelessPastor.png