Worship online Sunday 24th October 2021

Wisdom

Welcome and notices

Please go to our website https://stlukesuca.org.au if you want to find out more about the life of the congregation.

Opening Prayer & Confession

Lets look to the Psalms as we come to God in prayer

Drawn from Psalm 37

 

(1-4) Do not fret because of the wicked;  do not be envious of wrongdoers,

for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.

Trust in God, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Delight in everything about God, and God will give you the desires of your heart.

 

(5-7)

Commit the way you live to God; if you trust God, God will act to show where you are right,

and bring justices to your case, like the bight noonday sun.

 

Be still before God, wait patiently for her response.

Do not fret over those who seem to be getting their way despite evil desires and motives.

Trust in God to show you how they will be stopped, and truth and grace will prevail.

 

(27-28)

Run from evil, and do good; so you shall be at home with God for ever.

For God loves justice and will not forsake his faithful ones.

 

(30-31)

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom; they speak for justice.

The law of their God is in their hearts; they don’t slip as they follow in God’s footsteps.

 

Opening prayer

God we recognise that we do slip.

We strive to be faithful to your love and grace to us, but too often we focus on ourselves:

  • we want to be as successful as others in our careers, families, sports or talents
  • we become frustrated and angry when others don’t understand the world the way we do
  • we hold on too tightly to beliefs that make us comfortable – when you challenge us to see things from your point of view.

Forgive us God.

Help us to learn from the wise ones – from the scriptures, from your Saints through history and today, and even from the insights of the young.

Today open our ears and our hearts to listen and learn from you, to hear again the questions and guidance for us from your Son Jesus, and the wisdom and courage offered through your Holy Spirit.

Teach us to spend more time listening, asking questions to understand and act positively, than in preaching, prosecuting or politicking others to get things our way.

Amen

Family of God, through God’s Spirit we can always draw on the fountain of wisdom and love, even in the darkest of times and when our actions (or inaction) shame us so much. There is enough mercy to cover all your sins, and not yours only, but those of the whole world. Take up the challenge then – live as Christ showed us, as he called you and me to serve in the world.

Live as forgiven people, for in Christ, such you truly are!

Thanks be to God! Amen.

Gospel reading: John 1: 1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”’)

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Prayers of the People & Dispersal (by Rev. Ann Perrin, UCA)

Ever-living, ever-present God,

You are with us.

We come before you this day

knowing we’re are to be dispersed,

sent out into your world

to be your church in new ways.

 

If we are resistant to this change Lord,

hear our prayer of confession

and bless us with forgiveness,

patience and resilience

for we are committed to care for each other as we care for ourselves.

 

So help us to discover new ways to share

why we live our lives committed to sharing the promises of the gospel.

 

During these times of change, we will remember those whose groups are still unable to meet together in our buildings, or new challenges to gathering,

and the new ways we will need to navigate to be community.

 

We remember planned baptisms, weddings and celebrations

And pray times for rejoicing will not be too far away.

 

We remember those for who this time is one of uncertainty and challenge

those who now live with fear and in isolation,

and those for whom this time is one of anguish and death.

Hold all those in need of your love at this time.

 

Holy God, you encourage us when doubtful to draw closer to you.

Allow us to recognise your Holy Spirit as our guide, comforter, and companion.

 

And so with the hope you instill in us

and when the time time is right and this season of our church is over

we will return as your gathered community

with the joy of Easter Day,

celebrating our resilience, knowing our communities are stronger then ever

to continue your work to help build a flourishing world where ever we find ourselves.

 

AMEN.

Worship online Sunday 17th October 2021

St Luke … Witness and Healer

Welcome and notices

Please go to our website https://stlukesuca.org.au if you want to find out more about the life of the congregation.

Opening Prayer

Opening Prayer of adoration

Blessed are you, Compassionate Father,

Creator of all:

we glorify and adore you.

 

Blessed are you, Lord Jesus Christ,

loving Saviour of the world:

we glorify and adore you.

 

Blessed are you, eternal Spirit,

gracious source of light and life:

we glorify and adore you.

 

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Lord our God, source of sure and certain hope:

we praise your name for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Prayer of praise and confession

Holy one and holy three,

Life-giving God you have come amongst us in Jesus,

And in Jesus you announce good news for the poor, liberty for captives, sight for those who cannot see and freedom for the oppressed.

In you is love that surpasses all loves. You are the Light of all lights.

We confess our need of you …

We are not meant to navigate this life on our own …

Help us to be honest about ourselves … help us to disentangle the good from the bad …

Enable us to be humble enough to declare that in too many ways we have not lived up to the standard of living found in Christ …

(Pause)

Bring your healing, forgiveness, and good news into our lives …

Break us free from anything that takes us away from the path of Christ …

 

Please gather us up into the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Assure us that you desire to forgive us through and through … that you desire to deal with the burden of guilt that so many carry.  May we hear your good news of hope and liberty right within the core of our beings … And may we be open to the Holy Spirit transforming us more and more into the people you would have us be. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.

Amen!

Some phrases are derived from prayers to be found at  www.bruceprewer.com/DocB/BSUNDAY29.htm

 

Declaration of forgiveness

This is the best of all:

when we are empty, God fills us;

when we are disheartened, God is compassionate;

when we are wounded, God brings healing;

when we confess our sin, God forgives.

 

In Christ, through Christ and because of Christ,

our sins are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

 

Scripture readings:

Luke 1: 1-4

Dear Theophilus:

Many people have done their best to write a report of the things that have taken place among us. They wrote what we have been told by those who saw these things from the beginning and who proclaimed the message. And so, Your Excellency, because I have carefully studied all these matters from their beginning, I thought it would be good to write an orderly account for you. I do this so that you will know the full truth about everything which you have been taught.

Luke 4: 14-21

Prayers for intercession

O Lord, hear the deep prayers of our hearts:
Prayers for hope for those who feel desolate and are struggling to find meaning in life
Prayers for healing for those who are in physical, mental or spiritual need
Prayers for jobs for those who cannot find paid employment
Prayers for community for those who feel isolated
Prayers for peace for those whose lives are filled with conflict.
Prayers for people who genuinely listen for those seeking to be understood.
Prayers for comfort for those who grieve.
Prayers for food and clean water for those who hunger and thirst.
Prayers for shelter for those who are homeless.
Prayers for those impacted by droughts, fires or flooding rains
Prayers for freedom for those who live under dictatorships.
Prayers for wisdom for our leaders.
Prayers for spiritual growth and health for our churches.

In the name of Christ,
Amen.

 

— adapted from a prayer written by Rev Abi, and posted on RevGalBlogPals blog.  http://revgalblogpals.blogspot.ca/

 

Unless otherwise stated prayers are either by the author or based on resources from Uniting in Worship 2 © Uniting Church Press, Sydney, 2005.  And images are from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public domain.

October News Sheet

Thanks to Mike Currie and a number of contributors, please find this month’s news sheet on the link below.  Rev. Paul Stephens shares some great insights on St Luke the evangelist (and healer) after who our congregation is named.

News sheet Oct 2021 (pdf)

Remember to send your stories and news for next month to Mike at news@stlukesuca.org.au by 27 October.

Worship online Sunday 10th October 2021

Things that hold us back from living!

Welcome and notices

Grace and peace be with you.

Welcome to this service from St Luke’s Uniting Church, Highton.

I am Paul Stephens the ordained minister in placement.

As you can see, we are in the church building for this video.

Today we will be looking at the implications for us of the account in Mark’s Gospel of the young man who came to Jesus and asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life?

By the way next week, we will be reflecting on our life at St Luke’s as we celebrate the ministry of our namesake, St Luke.

Please go to our website https://stlukesuca.org.au if you want to find out more about the life of the congregation.

Light Christ candle and Call to Worship

Let us start this service well, by reminding ourselves of the good news that Christ calls us … indeed calls all … to life in all its fullness.

As we pray, hear words of Scripture and reflect on our theme let us seek to be open to the prompting of the Spirit so that Christ can enlighten us …

Let us give time during this service to intentionally wait upon the living God who is always with us whether we acknowledge this or not …

Opening Prayer

O God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

You embrace all time and eternity in your care,

Your way is the way of love and compassion,

You are abundant in grace and truth.

All your works praise you,

And your way is revealed in Jesus Christ our Saviour and brother

Help us to honor you,

Blessed and holy Trinity,

One God, for ever and ever …

 

As we pause in prayer, Saving God, it is a relief to know that nothing we do or say, or do not do or say, can be hidden from you.

You know our needs even before we name them …

You see how we stumble along the path of life … often because we are weighed down by all the ‘stuff’ which keeps us from following Jesus.

Holy One, empty us of our tendency to cling tightly to unneeded things or unhealthy pretensions … instead fill us with your grace and hope. As we let go of all which might hold us back, give us the trust to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, into that life with which he offers to each of us.

Silence may be kept

Amen.

Declaration of forgiveness

 My friends, Christ has come to loose our bonds

and give us liberty.

In his name I declare the forgiveness of sins

and the life that is eternal.

If Christ sets you free, then you are free indeed.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Friends embrace the life Christ offers. Amen. Amen.

The prayers are based on material from Uniting in Worship 2 an prayers written by Thom Shuman, and posted on Lectionary Liturgies. http://lectionaryliturgies.blogspot.ca/

Introduction to the reading

In the last video we looked at the way Jesus challenged his followers and challenges us by drawing attention to children.

 

The account of Jesus taking children into his arms and blessing them comes immediately before the passage we are about to here.

 

And you might remember that Jesus told his disciples that the kingdom of God belongs to children … that the way to the kingdom is not complicated … it is simple … it is about receiving God’s way with the wide-eyed joy and openness that little children display.

 

Let’s listen now to today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel about a man who found himself challenged about his approach to the things of God.

Scripture reading:

Mark 10:17-31

A Rich Young Man’s Question

17 Jesus started to leave on a journey, but a man ran to him and fell on his knees before Jesus. The man asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

18 Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commands: ‘You must not murder anyone. You must not be guilty of adultery. You must not steal. You must not tell lies about your neighbor in court. You must not cheat. Honor your father and mother.’”[a]

20 The man said, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these commands since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked straight at the man and loved him. Jesus said, “There is still one more thing you need to do. Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor. You will have a reward in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

22 He was very sad to hear Jesus say this, and he left. The man was sad because he was very rich.

23 Then Jesus looked at his followers and said, “How hard it will be for those who are rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The followers were amazed at what Jesus said. But he said again, “My children, it is very hard[b] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 And it will be very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. It would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle!”

26 The followers were even more amazed and said to each other, “Then who can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked straight at them and said, “For people this is impossible. But for God all things are possible.”

28 Peter said to Jesus, “We left everything to follow you!”

29 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth. Everyone who has left his home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or fields for me and for the Good News 30 will get a hundred times more than he left. Here in this world he will have more homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields. And with those things, he will also suffer for his belief. But in the age that is coming he will have life forever. 31 Many who are first now will be last in the future. And those who are last now will be first in the future.”

Adapted from The Holy Bible, International Children’s Bible® Copyright© 1986, 1988, 1999, 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a division of Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.

Sermon: Things that hold us back from living.”

How do people know who you are?

Well obviously, there is your name.  Which in my case is a little complicated because while I am known as Paul, Paul is actually my second name.  My first name is William and after years of trying to explain this to banks, companies and government authorities I have given up.  So, for example, when I travel and use my passport, I have to remember that when someone calls out, William. Well, that’s me.

But we are more than names …

“Elise is the lady who lives in the house on the corner with all those beautiful roses.”

“Fred is the guy who is into fishing in a big way.”

I remember many years ago hearing a funeral eulogy for a man, who I did not know personally but who had been described to me by his family. A friend of the man gave the eulogy, and he outlined all the important committees and company boards that the man had served on but said nothing about the man’s character … how he cared for is family, his kindness, his sense of humour … that sought of thing.  So, I didn’t think the man who gave the eulogy really gave us a true picture of who his friend was.  I frankly thought the man’s character spoke far more about who he was than the years he had served on a particular company board.

In todays’ reading it is clear that the identity of the man who came to Jesus and asked him about how he could inherit eternal life was bound up with his wealth.

It is for good reason that this passage is often entitled in Bibles “The rich man” or “The rich ruler.”

Jesus of course diagnosed this straight away. (Pause)

Jesus is about to go on a journey and the man rushes up to Jesus and kneels at his feet.

The man, in the process, almost overdoes the greeting by describing Jesus as “Good teacher,” which Jesus later picks up on.

And after this startling entrance and greeting, the man asks Jesus, what he must do to inherit eternal life.

Now the word inherit is important and we will come back to it in a moment.

But, as you heard, Jesus’ response was to point to the law.

And the man tells Jesus that he has kept the laws since he was a boy … which we have no reason to believe was untrue and which was therefore pretty amazing. No doubt he was thus known as a good man.

But when Jesus challenged the man to give up his riches because they were holding him back from inheriting eternal life, he just couldn’t do it.

Jesus looked straight at the man and loved him. Jesus said, “There is still one more thing you need to do. Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor. You will have a reward in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

He just couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t give up his wealth and all that went with it. And so he went away sad!

It is not that having stuff in itself is wrong … but when wealth … when stuff defines who you are … defines your identity … as it did for this man … then there is a problem … it is a barrier to inheriting eternal life … it is a barrier to being authentic … to being truly alive … alive in God … alive in Christ.

The discomforting word here for us, of course, is that we are being provoked by Jesus to ask ourselves what are the barriers to us inheriting eternal life?

When Jesus looks at us with love, what would he have us let go of?

If not wealth, are there other things … obsessions … anger … an inability to forgive … attitudes or patterns of thinking.  What might be acting as barriers for us to inheriting eternal life????

And now back to that word “inherit.”

The point about the life that Jesus offers in this life and the life to come, is that it is inherited!

What normally happens when you inherit money or a house or a box of your grandparent’s stuff? Unless there has been some skulduggery going on, you simply receive it.  To inherit something is to receive a gift.

To enter into the way of life that Jesus offers means accepting that we can do nothing to earn it!

Like the wide-eyed joy and openness of a child we are simply to receive the undeserved gift of the life and love of God poured out in Christ Jesus.

Faith means simply being ready to receive and trust Jesus …

And then allow the life and love of Christ to shape the way we live, the way we relate to others, the way we honour God …

In a world where we so often are told we have to work for something, we have to buy, we have to do something to get it, we have to create our own image, this is pretty weird.  But it is the Gospel.

Real hope … real life … involves receiving the gift.

The rich man had allowed his wealth to define who he was.  His wealth had become something unhealthy and a barrier to living God’s way.

Jesus loved him and challenged him to let go of it and live … to begin living a little of eternal life of God right now.

Jesus wants that for you and me to be free and alive …

So be open to Jesus’ challenge to you about what you might need to let go of … what might act as a barrier to inheriting …to receiving … life in all its fullness … the life of Christ.

A Reflection

 To the fisherfolk Jesus said:

Follow me and I will make you fish for people.

To the tax collector Jesus said:

“Follow me.”

To the rich man Jesus said:

“Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

At the last supper Jesus said:

Follow me.”

To you and to me and to all of us Jesus says:

Follow me!

~ written by Rev. Kathleen Sheets, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jesup, IA.

We respond

Offering Prayer

Great God of Heaven and Earth,

you call us to leave behind our preoccupations

and to follow you into the future.

Sometimes we find your call challenging.

We are comfortable, maybe even complacent, in our present.

May this act of giving be a gesture of our willingness

to follow where you lead.

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

~ posted on the United Methodist Foundation of Michigan. http://www.umfmichigan.org/offerprayers.html

Sharing the journey

Prayers of intercession

Holy God,

We give thanks that in many ways we have

known Your love,

and experienced Your care and provision.

You invite us to extend that love to the world around us—

to care for others….

We pray for the many who do not have enough:

enough food to eat, or shelter to keep warm;

enough employment, or money to pay their bills;

enough medicine or medical care.

We also pray for those who have more than enough,

but who still struggle to find meaning and purpose in life;

who indulge in dangerous or self-serving activities

to dull their pain or loneliness.

We pray for those impacted by COVID 19 and for all those … like intensive care nurses … who are serving so self-sacrificially to care of others.

We pray for our planet … teach us to be good stewards of the environment.

We pray for the Church both locally and globally that your Spirit might continue to stir its leaders and members to a faithful and energetic living out and sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ … and we remember particularly the Catholic Church in Australia which has been meeting in recent days to consider its future.

Compassionate God, Your grace reaches out to all of us.

You call us to live as citizens of heaven,

working together with one heart and mind.

Strengthen us to live in a manner worthy

of the Good News we have received,

offering our lives in service of Your kingdom,

where the last are first, and the first are last,

and there is grace enough for all.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, Amen.

Based on a prayer by Christine Longhurst, re:Worship

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours

now and forever.  Amen.

Being sent to share in God’s Mission

Word of mission

Blessing

Hymn: “I the Lord of sea and sky…”

Unless otherwise stated prayers are either by the author or based on resources from Uniting in Worship 2 © Uniting Church Press, Sydney, 2005.  And images are from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public domain.

 

Centering Prayer

When nothing is right,

when we are weary and lost,

when clouds dull the sky,

help us to be still.

 

When our cries are unheeded,

when no effort bears fruit,

when the sun sets,

help us to be still.

 

When love is over,

when hope is gone,

when darkness covers the land,

help us to be still.

 

For in being still,

in refusing to panic or despair,

we shall come to know that God is there,

suffering alongside and with us,

waiting to show us stepping-stones through the swirling waters,

and to help us sing a new song.

~ written by Kate Compston. Posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website. http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/

Worship Online Sunday 3rd October 2021

Jesus’ blessing of the children – a radical act.

Welcome and notices

Grace and peace be with you.

Welcome to a video from St Luke’s Uniting Church, Highton. I’m Paul Stephens, the ordained minister in placement.

Today we will be hearing two short passages of scripture which involve children, Jesus and Jesus’ followers. And frankly they are quite challenging!

Don’t forget that to contact us or find out what is on at St Luke’s go to our website: “stlukesuca.org.au” for all the information you need. Please let us know what you think of our videos, we value your feedback.

Light Christ candle

Opening Prayer

Let us come aside for a few moments in quiet prayer. I will shortly lead a prayer adapted from material from Uniting in Worship 2 and the writings of Bruce Prewer …

Try to put aside anything that might distract you.

Take a moment or two to take stock of how things are for you … maybe a need for encouragement, a need for some words of hope or for strength to face difficult matters … a need for assurance or forgiveness …

Then hold onto the good news that the living God who has come amongst us in Jesus, is close …

God, source and home of all things,

in the beginning you sang creation into being

and formed this rich red land;

you are worthy of all praise.

Lord Jesus, brother and healer,

Word of God and one-with-us,

your love for the world took you to the cross;

you make us whole.

Spirit of God, within and among us,

midwife of a world transformed,

and bringer of new life;

you inspire us to live in hope.

God of grace:

Spirit, Son, Father,

whose love never ends,

whose mercy is beyond telling,

whose faithfulness continues to surprise;

May we place you and your way at the centre of our lives …

May we never take your love for us and all things for granted …

May we be honest with ourselves and with you about our flawed nature and our need for forgiveness …

Have mercy upon us, according to your grace in Christ Jesus:  uncover our self-deceits, forgive our sins and deal with the heavy burden of guilt.

Restore us to your way, re invigorate our faith and hope.

Stretch our love so that we may be able to forgive others just as you forgive us.

Through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen!

www.bruceprewer.com/DocB/BSUNDAY27.htm

Introduction and readings

Both texts you are about to hear involve Jesus trying to shake up the mindset of his followers.

In the first short passage you will hear how those followers were arguing about their ranking … who had the highest status in the group. Who was Jesus’ best friend?

The second passage begins with the followers of Jesus basically treating children as a nuisance; and trying to shoo them away.  They think that Jesus has better things to do than spend time with children.

Bible readings

From The International Children’s Bible

Mark 9:33-37

Who Is the Greatest?

33 Jesus and his followers went to                                                                                                                                 Capernaum and went into a house there. Then Jesus said to them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But the followers did not answer, because their argument on the road was about which one of them was the greatest.

35 Jesus sat down and called the 12 apostles to him. He said, “If anyone wants to be the most important, then he must be last of all and servant of all.”

36 Then Jesus took a small child and had him stand among them. He took the child in his arms and said, 37 “If anyone accepts children like these in my name, then he is also accepting me. And if he accepts me, then he is also accepting the One who sent me.”

Mark 10:13-16

Jesus Accepts Children

13 Some people brought their small children to Jesus so he could touch them. But his followers told the people to stop bringing their children to him. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was displeased. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them. The kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these little children. 15 I tell you the truth. You must accept the kingdom of God as a little child accepts things, or you will never enter it.” 16 Then Jesus took the children in his arms. He put his hands on them and blessed them.

Another telling:

Sermon: “Jesus’ blessing of children … a radical act.”

Jesus’ words and actions described in these two short passages would have been quite mind-blowing for those who were present.

And if we can dust away some of our own preconceived ideas about what is going on here, we too might find that Jesus has something a bit challenging to say to us.

In Jesus’ day, children were, of course, considered very precious by their families,[1]but beyond their family children had no social or legal status at all.  If a child was Jewish, they also had no place in the life of the local synagogue. It was not until a boy was aged 13 that he could be involved in synagogue after he had had his bar mitzvah. In a sense then a child was a non-entity.[2]  Like women, lepers, tax collectors and so many others, children were amongst the least and the lowly.

It was like children were to be neither seen nor heard.

In the first passage that we heard Jesus disciples are arguing about who in their small group was the greatest.

I am not sure how they tried to measure this.  As I said earlier, maybe they tried to work out who amongst them Jesus considered his best friend.

In 2021, in terms of measuring who is the greatest, I guess we could talk in terms of the number of followers someone has on a social media site, the amount of money someone has amassed, the fact that someone is called a celebrity …

In the groups or organisations or businesses you are associated with or have been associated with, how does or did the pecking order work?

Jesus undercuts all this by bringing children into the picture … and remember what we have just said about the place of children in Israel in those days.

He tells his follows that God’s way involves not fighting for status but serving others … not shooing children away but bringing them into the centre of things … it involves welcoming the least and the lowly.

And in the second passage Jesus commends the approach of children to matters of faith …

We are to receive the good news that Jesus offers with that kind of wide openness and joy that little children can display …

Jesus knew that children can teach us so much.

So, let me conclude with three take away messages from these two passages about Jesus and children.

The first message is that Jesus challenges all worldly ideas about who is the greatest.

The second message is Jesus’ slightly uncomfortable challenge to us and all concerning who we welcome and who we might be inclined to shoo away.

And the third is the good news, that receiving the blessing of Jesus … knowing you are loved and valued by God … is not complicated … it is not about all the stuff you have or have not done … it is about receiving God’s way with the wide-eyed joy and openness that little children display.

Prayerful Affirmation:

Lord Jesus,

preaching good tidings to the people,

proclaiming release to captives,

setting at liberty those who are bound:

we adore you.

Lord Jesus,

friend of the outcast and the poor,

feeder of the hungry,

healer of the sick:

we adore you.

Lord Jesus,

denouncing the oppressor,

exposing the hypocrite,

overcoming evil with good:

we adore you.

Lord Jesus,

pattern of gentleness,

teacher of holiness,

prophet of the kingdom of heaven:

we adore you.

Lord Jesus,

dying to save us from our sin,

rising to give us eternal life,

ascending to prepare our heavenly home:

we adore you. Amen.

From UIW2

Prayers of intercession

Compassionate God,

Through Jesus, you invite us to bring to you all our concerns and the matters that lie heavy on our hearts …

We remember all those … and especially children … who today have no safe place to call home … who today experience fear, poverty and all sorts of trials …

We remember all those … especially children … who are feeling despairing … who struggle to find hope in the world …

We remember all those … and especially children … who we know who are ill, who are impacted by COVID, who are grieving, who are close to death …

In the quiet of our hearts, we name before you are own needs … our own struggles … our own worries …

We pray for the church and all those who seek to reflect the way of your kingdom of faith, hope and love … all those who seek to walk the way of Jesus and bring good news to the poor and liberty to the oppressed …

We offer these and all our prayers in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray and say:

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours

now and forever.  Amen.

 

Being sent to share in God’s Mission

 

Word of mission

Go forth into the world in peace;

be of good courage;

hold fast that which is good;

render to no one evil for evil;

strengthen the faint-hearted;

support the weak;

help the afflicted;

honour all people;

love and serve the Lord,

rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Blessing

Unless otherwise stated prayers are either by the author or based on resources from Uniting in Worship 2 © Uniting Church Press, Sydney, 2005.  And images are from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public domain.

[1] Brendan Byrne, A costly freedom: a theological reading of Mark’s Gospel,  Strathfield: St Pauls Publications, 2008, pp.151-153, 160-161,

[2] M. Eugene Boring, Mark: a commentary, Louisville: Westminster John Know Press, 2006, pp. 280-281, 289-290

 

Uniting Barwon Emergency Food Room – Food items required

As you may be aware, demand for emergency food supplies are increasing in the Barwon region.  Uniting runs emergency food pantries in Norlane and Grovedale, and St Luke’s is a designated drop off location for food items.

Currently the emergency pantries are in need of:

  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Tomato sauce or BBQ sauce
  • Peanut Butter
  • Vegetable Cooking Oil
  • Corn Kernels
  • Cup of Soup – chicken
  • Coco Pops
  • Cornflakes
  • Rice Bubbles
  • Oats – traditional or quick oats
  • Self Raising Flour
  • Shampoo/Conditioner

Smaller packets /jars are more useful than large packets/jars.

You can drop items into St Luke’s on Tuesdays and Friday mornings between 10 and 12 noon.

There are many other ways to be involved in the food for families program – see here: https://foodforfamilies.org.au/get-involved-individuals-families/

Worship Online Sunday 26th September 2021

The Blessing of Animals

During this time of COVID-19 many people have benefited from having companion animals at home …or in our case our daughter’s dog, Alfie.

In so many ways animals, great and small, are a blessing.

In this video we thought we celebrate this … the blessing of animals.  On the day this is video is released it will be just over a week till the feast day of the Christian leader who is renowned for his connection with the care of all creation, St Francis of Assisi.  His feast day is October 4th

Opening Prayer

O God, our God, how great you are.

We praise you for your creation and all that is in it … including we humans.

We are in awe at the complexity and beauty of all that is

Thank you for the light which wakes us

morning by morning,

and for the greater light which shines in Jesus Christ.

You are always more ready to reach out to us than we are to reach out you.

Enable us to search our souls and be honest about our need … our need for the hope you offer through Christ … our need for the forgiveness and healing you offer in Christ …

Enable us to receive your love and grace and empower us by your Spirit to live more fully in the way of Christ … loving you, our neighbours and ourselves … and caring for the good gift of your creation.

We pray in the name of Christ, Amen.

Introduction to the theme and reading

Have you heard the quote attributed to St Francis of Assisi to the effect that Christians should preach the Gospel at all times and only when necessary use words?  Well, sorry to be a spoil sport but there is no evidence that he ever said this and besides he was well known for preaching with words … apparently, he danced on one occasion when preaching a sermon to a congregation that included the Pope of the day.[1]

That said Francis (who was born in 1182 and died in 1226), and the community of followers that gathered around his leadership, was all about living out the gospel in deed as well as word. His life was marked by shunning of worldly goods, prayer, humility and service of the poor.[2]

As a young man Francis experienced a conversion: he gave up the prospect of a life of power and riches to share in a radical living out of the way of the cross of Christ.

[1] Did Francis really say, Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words? – FOCUS (focusequip.org)

[2] Michael W. Blastic, “Franciscans” in William H. Willimon and Richard Lischer (eds.) Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching, Louisville Westminster, John Know Press, 1995, p. 158

Bible reading

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

In “Together in Song” there is a brilliant hymn by William Henry Draper based on the Canticle of the Sun which is a prayer attributed directly to Francis.

Prayer of thanksgiving

God, our Creator,

We give thanks for the blessing of companion animals … and we think of those creatures special to us.

Thank you for the joy, playfulness and sometimes the surprising humour they display. Thank you for their company in lonely hours and the healing their presence can bring. Thank you for the pure beauty of every animal…

Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call them his brothers and sisters. Help us to care for the animals entrusted to us.

In the name of Christ, Amen.[1]

Prayers of intercession 

There is a wonderful prayer which comes probably from the 19th century but reflects the spirit of the ministry of Francis and is associated with him. Let’s make this prayer our prayer …

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is discord, union;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy;

for your mercy and truth’s sake.

O divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

  

The Lord’s Prayer

 

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours

now and forever.  Amen.

 

Word of mission

Go forth into the world in peace;

be of good courage;

hold fast that which is good;

render to no one evil for evil;

strengthen the faint-hearted;

support the weak;

help the afflicted;

honour all people;

love and serve the Lord,

rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

 

Blessing

 

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you,

and be gracious unto you;

the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,

and give you peace. Amen.

 

 

Unless otherwise stated prayers are either by the author or based on resources from Uniting in Worship 2 © Uniting Church Press, Sydney, 2005.  And images are from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public domain.

[1] Adapted from prayers found at https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/archive/assets/pdfs/faith/blessing-of-the-animals.pdf

Foster Care week – Could you become a Foster Carer?

This week just gone has been Foster Care week.

Barwon Child Youth and Family works with Foster carers in Geelong to ensure that children in need of care find safe and nurturing homes to stay in when life turns upside down.

Could you become a Foster Carer?

To celebrate Foster Care Week, BCYF is launching a new video to encourage more people to consider becoming a foster carer. This animation is a creative introduction to foster care that will help not only spread the message about the need for more carers, but also explain more about what foster care is and the process involved.

Find out more information online about becoming a foster carer.

 

 

Worship Online Sunday 19th of September

Caring for Creation

Dear friends, Grace and peace be with you.

These days of COVID 19 are difficult … many are feeling very isolated …

Now I don’t want to try to paper over the reality of how many of us are feeling … but at least we are in the season of Spring … with signs of new life all around us.

If you are like me and suffer from hay fever there can be some negatives about all the pollen in the air … but wow isn’t it amazing to see what a few weeks ago was a bare branch suddenly now covered in bright blossom.

Today we celebrate God’s gift of creation and we will be showcasing some of the ways that local people are going about caring for it.

By the way next week  .. September 26th … given it is close to the feast day of St Francis of Assisi … we will be giving thanks to God for the blessing of animals. And we are inviting you to send us pictures of animals that have been a blessing to you.  Simply email your pictures to linda.salamy@stlukesuca.org.au and let us know that you’re happy for these to be used in the video and on social media.

Opening Prayer

The prayers for today’s service are adapted from resources on the Church of Scotland website.

Holy Creator God,
Whose knowledge is too wonderful for us,
Who created the world and all that it contains,
Who knows each blade of grass and hair upon our head,
We are grateful for the part we play in Your vision for creation
And we offer You praise for Your infinite love for us and our world.

Merciful God,
we confess that we think we know what is best.
We go our own way instead of Yours.
We fill our needs before the needs of others.
Forgive us for relying on our own wisdom instead of Yours.
Forgive us for the ways in which we place ourselves at the centre of Your creation
instead of part of it.

Amend what we are,
direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in Your wisdom
and walk in Your ways,
To the glory of Your holy name.

We pray all of this in your name,

One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

September 19th | The Church of Scotland

 Introduction to the reading

Listen now, to some selected verses from a wonderful Psalm which celebrates the creative activity of God, Psalm 104.

The Psalm is quite long and so I would encourage you to get out your Bibles and read it in its entirety. There are so many wonderful images in this Psalm.

What is clear from this Psalm is that the creative activity of God lies behind all the wonders of the world around us.

Francis Collins is currently the head of the National Institute of Health in the USA and has a key role in that country’s response to COVID-19.

Collins is a Christian, actually a member of the United Methodist Church. In a recent interview he spoke humbly about the role of a scientist.

“You get a chance once in a while as a scientist, to discover something that no human knew before, but God knew it. … It’s a little glimpse of God’s mind. In a way that’s what science is doing. It’s glimpsing God’s mind and being in awe of it.” [1]

Psalm 104: 1-4, 10-15, 24-26, 33.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;
they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,
to bring forth food from the earth,
and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
creeping things innumerable are there,
living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

Prayers of intercession

God of heaven and earth,
through Jesus Christ You promise to hear us when we pray to You in His name.
Confident in Your love and mercy
we offer our prayer.

Empower the church throughout the world in its life and witness.

Guide the rulers of the nations.
Inspire them to strive for peace and justice,
that all Your children may dwell secure,
free of war and injustice.

May the world’s poor and suffering have their rightful share of food, medical care, and shelter,
and so have the necessities of a life of dignity.

Give us respect and profound care for all you have created, so your whole creation may resound in an anthem of praise to Your glorious name.

Sustain and comfort all you suffer … all who need your healing touch.
Make the sick whole,
Give hope to the dying
Comfort those who mourn

Uphold all who suffer in body or mind,
not only those we know and love
but also those known only to You,
that they may know the peace and joy of Your supporting care.

O God,
in Your loving purpose
answer our prayers and fulfil our hopes.
In all things for which we pray,
give us the will to seek to bring them about,
for the sake of Jesus Christ Amen.

September 19th | The Church of Scotland

 The Lord’s Prayer

Thanks to Michelle

Today we want to recognise and thank Michelle Walker for many things … but particularly given our theme … her amazing leadership as part of the St Luke’s environment group and the Repair Café.  You can read more about this in a story featured in Humans in Geelong:

Repair Cafe, Michelle

Blessings Michelle as you return to Queensland – it was great to have you in the neighbourhood!

 

 

Word of mission

Go forth into the world in peace;

be of good courage;

hold fast that which is good;

render to no one evil for evil;

strengthen the faint-hearted;

support the weak;

help the afflicted;

honour all people;

love and serve the Lord,

rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

 

Blessing

 

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you,

and be gracious unto you;

the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,

and give you peace. Amen.

 

 

Unless otherwise stated prayers are either by the author or based on resources from Uniting in Worship 2 © Uniting Church Press, Sydney, 2005.  And images are from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public domain.

[1] “Francis Collins: Science ‘a glimpse of God’s mind, ’From Faith and leadership, Publication of Duke Divinity School, 30/8/2021 https://faithandleadership.com/francis-collins-science-glimpse-gods-mind?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Read%20more&utm_campaign=fl_newsletter

[2] Joint Statement on the Environment.pdf (archbishopofcanterbury.org)