Call to Worship
L: The Lord be with you.
P: And also with you.
Hymn: TIS 693 ‘Come as you are’ We are loved - just as we are. We are welcome - just as we are. If we respond, we can be healed and restored. Just a little step
Prayer of Adoration and Confession Hugh Park
"Lord our Father, we are here together in this worship to celebrate our life and our faith and this community. The songs, the praises, and the prayers we bring with us this morning are our expressions of our firm faith in you as your kingdom people. Make us leap again with joy in your presence and mould us again into your image through which you created the world and all the things in it." Hugh then appealed to God to give us a sense of awe in his holy presence and asked that we see a vision of what God wants of us. On our behalf, Hugh confessed our tendency to seek approval rather than risk disapproval for our Christian principles and confessed that we try to hide things. We have sinned against you and our fellow people. Lord have mercy on us and forgive us.
Jesus was born among us and is here with us now, to save us, not to condemn us. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned.
Offering We offered back to God just a little of his generous blessing to us, that it may be used to further his work in the world
Bible Readings: The readings were brought to us by Terry: Matthew 21:23-32; An interesting reading. First Jesus challenges the authorities to say in whose name he speaks but they don't even try, knowing they will lose the argument either way. Then he tells the parable of the two sons, one of whom agrees to do what his father says and then doesn't and the other who refuses but then does what the father wants. Then Jesus really upsets them, saying tax collectors and prostitutes are getting into Heaven before some people who think they are assured of a place. I sometimes think about the people who claim no religion but are out there doing the jobs some of us who claim to be Christians should be doing. Philippians 2:1-11 An amazing reading. I can't do justice to it here except to say that through it, we are exhorted to take on Christ's humility - a seemingly impossible task but what a world it would be if we did.
Before the Reflection we were shown PP church humour. Quite a feat to imagine ourselves as twins of Christ - re-united after 2000 years.
Reflection Hugh Park - I am reminded of the Gospel of John, ch 3 verse 16, that reads: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” It says: God loved “The World” so much that he gave his only Son.” In a word, the church began to exist because of God’s unstoppable love toward the world. And verse 17 of the same chapter goes a bit deeper, “God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its saviour.” What it says is this: the ultimate purpose of Jesus Christ’s presence in our human world is not to judge, but to save. Not as judge, but as saviour.
Quite intriguingly, a modern commentary on this verse claims that the most equivalent term to the word ‘save’ should be ‘help’ in our contemporary society. Yes. HELP.
If we take this back to the verse 17, then, it could read like this: “God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its HELPER.” And I’m sure if the world begins to learn Jesus as helper not as judge, many things will be differ.
CHRIST HAD AN ATTITUDE OF HUMILITY. And, in practical terms Paul goes more concrete: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves . . .”
I don’t need to tell you how rare this kind of attitude is. In this world there are many people who only look out for number one. They don’t break laws. They’re faithful to their spouses. They keep the law, but in their dealing with others, it is very important that they win at any cost.
Famous author C.S. Lewis wrote, “ True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
You see, humility is not feeling bad about yourself. Humility is not putting yourself down either. Putting yourself down is self-abasement.
Humility. True humility is focusing on others and desiring for them the same benefits as you enjoy. Humility is always a win/win game. To have the attitude of Christ is to have a spirit of humility, that He has shown to humanity to the point of risking his own life.
Listen again to what Paul says this morning. “Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves.” And look out for one another's interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had. To believe in Christ is to live out his attitude. The attitude of humility. The attitude of considering others better than ourselves. The attitude of looking out for others’ benefits… as long as we breathe on this planet.
Hymn: “Change my heart O God” A prayer that God will change us so that we are more useful servants in his kingdom. Warning: Change can be painful.
Prayers of the People and Lord’s Prayer Joan led us: Dear Heavenly Father,
We give thanks that we can indeed come to you this morning; “Just as we are.”
We have come here this morning to praise you, to seek comfort, love and forgiveness – and to renew our faith and count our blessings. At this difficult time, we pray for the freedom of all people on earth to worship in safety and show restraint and tolerance towards each other.
We have also come to ask for guidance as we see a world that is sometimes bewildering and scary. It can, at the same time be full of beauty and joy beyond our comprehension - and scarred and ugly and hard to understand - as we see and hear about people who abuse each other and thoughtlessly abuse the abundant resources you provide for us.
We pray the world’s leaders will work together across national borders and religious differences for the good of all the citizens of the world.
We pray these leaders, and indeed – all of us - will cooperate to improve the life and conditions of all people, and to preserve the beauty and wonders of your world.
This week the Uniting Church Synod for 2014 began in Sydney with the induction of Rev Myung Wha Park as the moderator to lead the synod and serve the church with God's wisdom and Christ's servant attitude for the next three years. Now is the special time when we send up our prayers for the people who have been in our hearts and prayers this week.
These are only excerpts from Joan's prayer. Space does not allow for the whole prayer, which comprehensively focused our attention on the needs of those around us, reminding us at the same time of God's grace operating through his servants which can meet all needs.
This prayer was followed by The Lord's Prayer
Hymn: TIS 658 ‘I, the Lord of sea and sky’ Our true response. Very scary! Leaving ourselves open to God's will for us!
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.
And, the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be yours now and forever
“Hale, Hale, Hale (TIS 720)”