Gathering God’s People
Call to Worship - (Mary J Scifres, Abingdon 2016)
In the midst of life, we are in death. But in the face of death, God’s Spirit comes to bring us life. Can dry bones live? Can life emerge from death? Only God knows. And yet, Christ promises just such a miracle through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit, come.
All who are dwindling and dying . . .come forth to new life.
All who are lying in darkness and despair . . .come out into the light.
All who feel separated and alone . . .come to the presence of God, whose Spirit finds us here.
This echos the situation we are in here in Australia. COVID 19 is threatening the health and well being of all Australians and even threatening us with death, but out of that threat is growing our need and the will to stretch out to each other and offer aid. Of course there are always examples of selfish and self-centered and even quite mentally unbalanced behaviour but around me I see many offering help who would never have thought of doing it before.
Hymn TIS 84: “Give to our God immortal praise” Daily, in our every move and word in every situation.
Come, Holy Spirit. Breathe new life into our lives and our worship. Create new possibilities, in our imaginations and in our dreams. Send the promise of your hope into our depression and our despair. Expand our hearts and our minds, as we enter your presence this day. Amen.
Which is the very thing we need in these times of such danger to the very fabric of our society.
We need every effort of our imaginations, guided by God’s Spirit to find our way out of the most dangerous situation we are in.
A Prayer of Confession
God of new life and emerging possibilities forgive us when death and despair occupy our focus. Embolden our faith when your future feels out of reach. Strengthen our courage, that we might come forth into the light and life of your promises. In hope and trust, we pray. Amen.
It is the responsibility of every soul to look at themselves and see their own lapses from God’s way and ask God’s guidance back to the right path.
Declaration of Forgiveness
In God’s love, there is hope. In Christ’s forgiveness, there is peace. In the Spirit’s power, we are renewed and brought forth into life!
Thanks, be to God!
Hymn TIS 242: “Lord of the dance.” When we are aware of God working in us, we feel the dance within us.
The Service of the Word
The First Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”
Such is the power of God that even the most flat and exhausted of us can be lifted up to be a force for good.
Second Reading John 11:23-45
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.” And he did.
No matter how dead we may think we are inwardly, the Spirit can bring us to life. Any of us!
Preaching of the Word
“It's Hard Getting God..., – John 11: 23-45
It's hard getting God to obey us. After all we're the ones on the scene. We know what we need, or our congregation needs, or what we need as individuals. God should listen to us and take our advice. If God would only be here when needed, there would be no tragedy in our lives. That’s very true for us now as we face a major upheaval in our lives with the out fall from Covid-19. We want God to sort this out quick time and we know what God needs to do.”
Some of us, at least are guilty of thinking these thoughts
“Moments of grief may well produce the same partnership between faith and reproach in us...
We want to ensure our survival through this current Pandemic that is isolating many of us from the community which gives us strength. We want to stop our friends and loved ones from dying. We constantly say to God, "If you had been here on time, you could have stopped this happening."
The fact is that we have no idea how this creation works and how we have caused it to break down or how we have interfered with its harmonious running. That is in God’s hands and it is only when we open ourselves utterly and totally to God’s will that a glimmer of light seeps through.
“The root problem is that we have not been let in on the whole story. Before Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, he said, as an aside: "Loving parent, I thank you for having heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me."...
So in our prayers today let us ask God to give us the gift of loving God's purposes and promises, that our wills may be fixed on the essential and eternal Good which is always there, even when the world around us seems to be coming unglued.”
Hymn TIS 210: “O for a thousand tongues to sing.”
If only all creation would not only give praise but acknowledge God’s plan as the only one.
Hymn TIS 684:“Love will be our Lenten calling.” That is what is going to get us through.
Let those who were languishing and dying rejoice.
Hymn TIS 777: “May the Grace of Christ our Saviour”
May the grace of Christ our Saviour and the Father's boundless love, with the Holy Spirit's favour, rest upon us from above...Amen. Amen. Amen.