The Scattered people of God

How do you see Jesus?

5 Apr 2020 by Paul B, Rob H (Photo) in: Online Services

 

Dear friends in Christ, let us worship God this morning, each in our own place, knowing that through the presence of God’s Spirit we are one in Christ & united in faith.

 

WE GATHER TOGETHER

We acknowledge the Dharawal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we live and who have been good stewards of God’s Creation since time immemorial.

 

If you have one, please light a candle so we can be reminded of Jesus, who is our light and the light of the world.

As we gather, if there is anything that is distracting you, please name it, acknowledge it and as best as you are able, entrust it into our Lord’s care and keeping. Let us Pray…

Gather us in Lord, into your warm embrace as we worship you this day, each in our home and place.

This is where you live too, you are welcome, we are welcome. Be with us always, we pray. Amen.

 

 

LIGHTING A CANDLE IN YOUR PLACE

In a world of darkness, we cannot see our neighbour’s face
Light shatters the darkness and invites us into community
A world without light, is a world enveloped in fear.
Light has come in Christ Jesus, the light of the world!

 

CALL TO WORSHIP

This is the day that the Lord has made
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
You are my God, I will extol you.
O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good
For God’s steadfast love endures forever.

 

HYMN – TIS 279 vs 1-3 ‘The King of glory comes’


The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices

Who is the King of glory, how shall we call him?
He is Immanuel, the promised of ages.

The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices

In all of Galilee, in city or village
He goes among his people curing their illness.

The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices

Sing then of David’s son, our Saviour and brother
In all of Galilee was never another.

The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices
The King of glory comes, the na – tion re – joi – ces!

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION Based on Zechariah 9 vs 9-10


Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lord, we have forgotten how to rejoice, let alone greatly.
It’s a middle class thing, surely You understand?
Lo, your king comes to you humble and riding on a donkey.
My King? Would I truly bow my knee to you Lord, and then do all that you ask of me?
He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
Yet we raid supermarket shelves thinking only of ourselves, it’s survival of the most fearful.
And he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea.
While we still lock up and do violence to those who seek peace in our country.
I would praise & worship you Lord, my God and King, hear my cry, help my unbelief. Amen.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Jesus is the one who emptied himself of power, and was filled with love.
Christ’s arms are stretched out wide in forgiveness. Thanks be to God.

 

SONG – Scripture in Song 214 ‘I love you, Lord’ (Repeat as often as you like)

I love you Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship you. O my soul rejoice.
Take joy, my King, in what you hear.
Let me be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.

We love you Lord, and we lift our voices.
We worship you. O our soul rejoices.
Take joy, our King, in what you hear.
Let our voices be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.

Matthew 21:1 - 11 (NRSV)    
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
In this is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

ACTIVITY – inside your front door, or in a hallway if you have one, place any coats, scarves, streamers or silk you may have so they may be a welcoming footpath for the King of glory! (take a photo and send to engadineuconline@gmail.com)

 

MESSAGE

Have you ever arrived at a function or a party or even just a meal out with friends only to discover that what you are wearing is quite different to the clothes everyone else is wearing?

Janene will tell you that if I could wear a polo shirt and shorts I’d do so every day of the week. I just prefer to be relaxed and comfortable. Or maybe I’m just less in touch with what’s appropriate? I could say I’m just being me but sometimes what we wear and what we say speaks volumes about who we are and how we see and understand our place in God’s world.

Palm Sunday for me, brings memories of scouring the neighbourhood for palm branches, of having the Sunday School children celebrating with us, waving the branches excitedly; and in one memorable ecumenical service of everyone walking behind a donkey and its rider down the stone floor of the local Anglican church. With a keen eyed lad bringing up the rear with a strategic shovel, just in case!

Like the Christmas story and Easter Day, the Palm Sunday readings are also very familiar to us with their “Hosannas”, cloaks strewn on the road, “palm branches” and chants about welcoming the coming “Son of David”. We though also know what’s coming next, in-spite of all the celebration, in just 5 days the same people will shout crucify, swear their allegiance to the Emperor and prefer the company of Barabbas.

And even when they see Jesus riding into Jerusalem through the East Gate which is loaded with significance (see Ezekiel Ch 44:1-3) re the arrival of the Messiah on a donkey and not on a war horse.  Most would have also known the symbolic reference to the prophet Zechariah’s words regarding the donkey. But still they shouted their HOSANNA’S and still they waved their PALM BRANCHES.

But what’s wrong with that you might say?

For the Jewish people, the Passover which was to be celebrated the following weekend was more than a religious observance. It was THE time of year when they celebrated liberation from Egyptian bondage when Moses some 1,300 years before led God’s people out of slavery, and in time, to a land of promise.

In Jesus’ day the Passover had become a time of heightened expectation for the longed for messiah. And there had been plenty of those claiming to be that longed for messiah by that time.

The last person to do so, was Simon Bar Kokhba who in 132CE led the people in Jerusalem in revolt and following the suppression of that uprising by the Romans, all Jews were expelled from the City. Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina and it stayed that name until the Arabs conquered the city 500 years later.

On the Sunday before Passover, Jesus entered Jerusalem on the eastern side near the Mount of Olives. 

People spread cloaks and branches on the road before him. The crowd began shouting, “Hosanna,” an ancient acclamation of praise as people walked in procession to the Temple. However it was used increasingly in the 1st C as a rallying cry of the ultra-nationalistic Zealots. Hosanna means, “Please save us!” A not so subtle cry for God in 30CE to set God’s people free, from Roman occupation.

The people also waved palm branches, a symbol that had once been placed on Jewish coins when the Jewish nation was free. While palm branches were a symbol of peace and love, they were also a symbol of Jewish nationalism, an expression of the people’s desire for political and religious freedom.

The die had been cast. Even before Jesus’ bitter night in the Garden of Gethsemane 4 days later he now knew what was to come. The people were going to be angry and disappointed. Their longed for messiah was not to be the messiah of liberation and political freedom. Jesus’ message to them all would find its supreme statement on a cross and brought to completion in an empty tomb.

In our day. In-spite of all that we sing about and read in the Scriptures and have before us front and centre every Sunday in our worship centres (the Cross) does what you believe, does what you ‘see’ or wear ‘inside and out’ reflect the Jesus who came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey? Or does it reflect something else? What is your ‘longed for’ messiah?

Is he your Saviour? Friend? Best mate? Does he turn a blind eye to your transgressions?

Are you fearful of being found wanting or of not being good enough?

At your death will you be standing before Him ready to give an account of your life?

Does that fill you with dread or with hope?

Is he the One who keeps a record of wrongs or does he truly set people free to live each day?

Is His Grace cheap? That says I can really do just whatever I like because he’ll forgive me anyway?

Will ‘your’ Messiah welcome you and all those you love into his new Kingdom?

Is this Messiah concerned about how you live, the decisions you make, might you be excluded because you’ve never shared your faith with anyone? Is he a Messiah who will put the church back in the centre of community life as it was, to a degree, when you were younger?

What is your actual image of Jesus? It will be evident in what you say and how you live.

When Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, what do you see?

Is he the One you have longed to see all your life, who will leave you for ever changed and transformed or will he just pass you by, just another spectator event? Are you angry enough when you hear the demands he will ask of you to prefer the company of Barabbas or will you just shrug your shoulders and live life as you’ve always done?

Feeling more than a little overwhelmed by all of the above? We ALL should be!

The story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) the tax collector, can give us hope.

His life was so self centred in his pursuit of money that everyone who knew him, believed Jesus would have no time for him in this life or in the next. Yet, deep within Zacchaeus, was a longing ‘to see Jesus’ even going so far as to make a spectacle of himself, by climbing a tree.

Similarly with the woman who had haemorrhaged for many years (Mark 5:25-34), who was deemed by her condition to be excluded from all religious life had thought to herself hearing that Jesus would soon pass by ‘if I can but reach out and touch his cloak then I shall be whole’.

Within all of us, in-spite of all the demands we make of Jesus to fit the pattern of life we want, for him to wear the clothes we demand, deep within us, because we are all made in God’s image, is the hope of Zacchaeus & the unnamed woman. It is that hope, which can draw us ever so cautiously and wondrously to the Cross and to the empty tomb. But they are stories for another day!

May Christ Jesus, be your Saviour, your Lord and your life long friend on this Palm Sunday! Amen.

 

HYMN – ‘God the Creator’ (Iona) Tune ‘Morning has broken’
    piano only, you provide the singing!

God the Creator
You in love made me
Who once was nothing
But now have grown.
I bring the best
Of all my life offers
For you I share
Whatever I own.

O Christ the Saviour
You in love called us
Who once was no-one
Lost and alone.
We pledge to go
Wherever you summon
Making Your will
And purpose our own.

O God the Spirit
You in love move me
Who once was nowhere
And felt unknown.
I know my need of
You for companion
All things can change
When not on my own.

 

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Lord Jesus Christ, carpenter’s son, Son of the living God
We continue to long for a glimpse of you in our day too.
For there is much that we and our world longs for…
We pray for an end to war in places of conflict in Afghanistan, Syria, the Congo and Sudan.
We long for you to ride again into the lives of nations as the Prince of Peace.
We pray for our neighbours, families and friends when their voices are raised in anger or fear.
We long for you to ride again into their lives as the Prince of Peace.
We pray for all State, Territory and Federal health agencies, pathology labs, hospitals and doctors clinics as they test thousands for the coronavirus, and for all who await these test results.
We long for you to ride again into our lives as the Prince of Peace.  

We still shout our hosannas and wave our palm branches ignoring your call to be a people of justice, compassion, inclusion and self-giving love. We pray for all those stranded overseas, unable to get home, for holidays cancelled, university courses unable to attend and work opportunities put on hold, jobs lost.
We pray for all people, everywhere, but especially for those in northern Italy and Spain where the pandemic is greatest. Be with them Lord and be with each of us, gathered in our homes today with our thoughts too of loved ones near and far as we name them in our hearts or out loud…

Let us sing a new song and lay down our palm branches of nationalism and self-interest for the good of all and may that begin with me today as you teach and remind me, again and again, to pray and to say:


With the bread we need for today, feed us. In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us. From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us. For you reign in the glory of the power that is love 
now and forever. Amen.

 

HYMN – TIS 724 (Sing Twice, LOUDLY!! Don’t worry about your neighbours hearing you!)

Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest!
Lord we lift up your name with hearts full of praise.
Be exalted, O Lord my God! Hosanna in the highest!

Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings!
Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings!
Lord we lift up your name with hearts full of praise.
Be exalted, O Lord my God! Glory to the King of kings!

BLESSING & BENEDICTION
The blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you always, delight in who you are and in whom you are becoming, until the day God makes all things new. Be at Peace in your place. Amen.

RECESSIONAL TIS 220 vs 2


‘Tis Jesus the first and the last
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home
We’ll praise him for all that is past
And trust him for all that’s to come.

Have a cuppa, ring a friend and celebrate Christ’s presence among us…