Welcome to this time of worship and community.
Call to Worship -
Using the words of Mary J. Scifres, John made us aware of our reliance on God to reach out to us first, preparing us for our journey of discovery as we seek a closer relationship with him. This relieves us of the burden of being unsure as to whether we are doing the right thing. With God as our guide, we can be sure.
"God’s teachings are sweeter than honey. Christ’s love is more precious than jewels.
The Spirit’s wisdom is mightier than the sword. God’s guidance is the treasure we seek."
Hymn TIS 468: “We are your people, Lord, by your grace” There is something lovely but very scary in the words of this hymn. Opening ourselves to God's work is the scary bit. What could be asked of us? But his strength is sufficient, which is not only a comfort but a reminder not to rely in our own.
God of discernment and truth, guide us as we listen for your wisdom. Guide our hearts, that we may receive your love. Guide our minds, that we may accept your challenges. Guide our lives, that we may follow your direction. Guide us with your wisdom and truth. Amen
A Prayer of Confession
Forgive us, O God, when we reject your teaching, and neglect your law.
Forgive us when we meditate on movies and gossip, and ignore your words of love and compassion.
Forgive us when we pursue power and wealth, and forsake the path of justice and mercy.
Guide us back to you, that we may walk in your ways and live in your love.
In Christ’s grace and mercy, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
In the new covenant of Christ Jesus, grace and forgiveness are ours.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
May our gifts become instruments of your truth, and examples of your love. Plant new hope with these gifts, and build a world of justice with the ministries we dedicate to you now. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
Hymn TIS 168: “For the fruits of all creation” We are inclined to think that the things we enjoy in our daily lives come as a matter of course and that anyone who doesn't have
them is deprived unfairly. I think there would be less "deprivation" if we appreciated each thing as a gift from God and blessed his name for all we receive.
The Bible Readings: Jeremiah 31: 27-34 God promises a new covenant: "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more."
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 "What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them." We live in a world where the evidence is clear that people are determined to do their own thing regardless of the consequences to other people but this sentence from Timothy gives promise and hope.
Luke 18: 1-18 In this passage we are taught many lessons. We are told to pray and not lose heart. We are told that a humble offering is far more acceptable than a self-serving piece of self-congratulations. And we are told that not only are children very welcome but to enter the kingdom of heaven we must be as simple in our trust of a God as children are.
Reader: For the Word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
Preaching of the Word "Hopeful Expectation" - Jeremiah 31:27-34
I don't think I can do John's sermon justice but the words that hit me were those about starting anew in hope. Words about needing to examine my present state, and acknowledge the parts that need God's attention if His kingdom is to flourish in me and around me. God's blessings only feel like blessings to those who are attuned to his will. If we are to receive God's blessing we first need to let his Spirit prepare our hearts and minds to receive those blessings.
Hymn TIS 158: “God has spoken by his prophets” God speaks to us in many ways. It is up to us to remain ready to hear his voice.
Music to lead us to prayer During this time we quieten our hearts
Loving God, you teach us to bring our needs to you in prayer and you come to our help when we cry to you: hear our prayers for the world and for the church. John continued in prayer, asking for God's help for all those in distress, confessing our own part in causing that distress and our lack of thoughtfulness about addressing the wrongs we cause.
God be merciful to us, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer...
Help us to follow you in humility and obedience. When we fail, guide us and then bring us, with all your saints, into the joy of your eternal presence.
Ever-generous God be merciful to us, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We then joined in The Lord's Prayer,
Hymn TIS 609: “May the mind of Christ my Saviour” That's why we exist - to allow the Spirit to change us so that we will reflect God to the world
Go and build houses of love. Go and plant gardens of kindness. Go and create lives of goodness. Go and proclaim the promise of justice. Go with the blessings of God.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be with you always. Amen.
Hymn TIS 779: “May the Feet of God” Just to remind us as we leave.