Invited by Jesus (14 June 2020)

14 Jun 2020 by Jan C (Service) Paul Bartlett (Message) in: Online Services

WELCOME TO WORSHIP. 

Lighting the Candle     

We light this candle to help us remember one little light can make such a difference to a dark world.  Let us be a light to bring love peace and equality to our sad world. 

 

Let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land. We pay our respects to elders past and present as they hold the knowledge, language and spiritual connections to this country.

We Acknowledge:

Our gratitude for this land we share today,
Our sorrow for the cost of that sharing,
Our hope that together in the spirit of Reconciliation,
we move to a place of justice, equality and  partnership,
As together we walk gently on this land.

 

As you enter into this worship listen to this song and calm your heart.

The Power of Your Love

 

Let us pray.

O God our Maker, you constantly renew the face of the earth.

We worship and adore you!

O God our Liberator, you constantly renew our salvation.

We worship and adore you!

O God our Helper, you constantly renew our sagging hopes and waning love.

We worship and adore you!

 

Most wonderful God, let us bring our dearest joy to worship

and let our worship enlarge our dearest joy.

For your love’s sake.

Amen!

SONG     Gather us in

Here in this place, new light is streaming, 
now is the darkness vanished away. 
See, in this space, our fears and our dreamings 
brought here to you in the light of this day. 
Gather us in - the lost and forsaken, 
gather us in - the blind and the lame. 
Call to us now, and we shall awaken, 
we shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young - our lives are a mystery, 
we are the old - who yearn for your face. 
We have been sung throughout all of history, 
called to be light to the whole human race. 
Gather us in - the rich and the haughty,
gather us in - the proud and the strong. 
Give us a heart so meek and so lowly, 
give us the courage to enter the song. 

Here we will take the wine and the water, 
here we will take the bread of new birth. 
Here you shall call your sons and your daughters, 
call us anew to be salt for the earth. 
Give us to drink the wine of compassion, 
give us to eat the bread that is you. 
Nourish us well, and teach us to fashion
lives that are holy and hearts that are true. 

Not in the dark of buildings confining, 
not in some heaven, light years away, 
but here in this place, the new light is shining; 
now is the Kingdom, now is the day. 
Gather us in - and hold us forever, 
gather us in - and make us your own. 
Gather us in - all peoples together, 
fire of love in our flesh and our bone.

 

 

CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE

 

If we have been so busy that we don’t notice the needs of others,

or have resented those who do take time to be kind and generous,

or have disgraced our faith by becoming self absorbed:

Forgive us, loving God, and save us from ourselves.

 

If we have been too proud to undertake humble tasks,

or too impatient to do tasks that have no immediate reward,

or too stubborn to seek the help of others.

Forgive us, loving God, and save us from ourselves.

 

If we have magnified small wrongs done to us,

or have allowed tiny difficulties to frustrate us,

or have been thick-skinned, inflexible or unteachable.

 Forgive us, loving God, and save us from ourselves.

 

The Lord has mercy.

Christ has mercy.

The Lord has mercy. Amen

 

 

FORGIVENESS


My fellow pilgrims on Christ’s mountain road, take heart.

God does not have to be persuaded to forgive us;

it is more likely our pride that holds us back from accepting forgiveness.

Please, for Christ’s sake,

let down your guard, open you mind and heart,

repent and accept the Gospel of free grace.

 

In Christ there is grace.

In Christ there is peace.

In Christ there is love and joy.

Thanks be to God!

 

 

BIBLE Reading  

Matthew 9:35 – 10:8   (NRSV)

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

Through this reading we hear God speak -- thank you, God

 

MESSAGE         Invited by Jesus

 

Part 1

While we may be familiar enough with the belief that Jesus is both ‘the Son of Mary’ and the ‘Son of God’ maybe we haven’t extended that thinking to the way Jesus actually went about his ministry not just as the object of our faith who might seem to have it - all together, mapped out, I’s dotted and t’s crossed a bit like how John’s Gospel presents Jesus. Where Jesus’ divinity is paramount.

But what about the Jesus, who is also a person of faith, THE example of a faith filled life, trusting & searching for the most effective and authentic way of living out the work he was sent to do.

Does he grow in his personal faith and understanding of who he is and how ‘The Father’ wants him to use those missional insights & experiences?

In Matthew’s Gospel, we see the very honest and understandable beginning of Jesus’ ministry to the House of Israel and to its ‘lost sheep’. He is a Teacher, a Rabbi who grew up in and received his training within the Jewish faith. Jews were the people initially drawn to him both from within the Jewish establishment and amongst those who lived on its fringe, the forgotten ‘little ones’ of faith. The ones too who often found it hard to keep the Sabbath and its 500+ rules which governed daily life = ‘sinners’.

And yet the Gospels (written 30-60 years later) also include stories of Gentiles (not Jewish) who were attracted to Jesus’ preaching and ministry of healing: for example the Centurion, the Syro-Phoenician woman & the Samaritan woman at the well. None of these are included by accident.

We can see what is in effect the ‘ever expanding’ and inclusive ministry of Jesus to ALL people in these initially oral and then later written stories from the early Christian communities who found inspiration through the witness of Matthew, Mark Luke and John.

I believe Jesus grew into his ministry. He saw it evolving, developing and including others he may not have initially thought were part of God’s Plan for him, in part by way of the responses from these people. The story of the Syro-Phoenician woman is I believe an example of Jesus’ growth in understanding!

The phrase ‘the harvest is plentiful’ may have originated because of what became the overwhelming response to what Jesus was doing and saying. What do you think? Is this possible for Jesus and therefore also for the faith communities which arose out of his ministry?

Is this something that we can take encouragement from as we look to be engaged in ministry and mission at Engadine UC in 2020 and beyond?

 

Q: Have you ever undertaken something only to find it either became bigger than you could have initially imagined or it took on a new focus which you hadn’t expected? How did you respond?

 

Thank goodness the disciples didn’t just stick with Jesus’ early commission as we have it in Matthew Ch 9 otherwise none of us would have become disciples of Jesus! Mission evolves and responds to its context!

The ministry of early disciples like St Paul accelerated that inclusion of more Gentiles than Jews even when St Paul on his many travels across the Mediterranean almost always first visited Jewish Synagogues.

This momentum was further advanced following the destruction of Jerusalem on 8 September 70AD. Many Christians saw this destruction, at the hand of the Roman General Titus, as God’s punishment on the Jews for their rejection of Jesus as the Christ. That belief severed the last bit of tolerance and inclusion between those now called Christians and the Jews.

Today, it could be said too, that just as the early disciples of Jesus traditionally came out of the Jewish faith; the traditional attendees in modern churches, by and large, no longer come – to bring their children for Baptism, to send them to Sunday School, attend Youth Groups and then as adults to remain in the church for the rest of their lives. That just doesn’t happen to the degree to which it once did 50+ years ago when 35% of Australians attended church and half of all Australians sent their children to Sunday School.

 

Q: How did you come to faith? And how did you come to be part of our faith community?

Was there a particular trigger, invitation or action by another person that helped? 

Why have you stayed?

 

Do you believe this principal ‘entry point’ into the Christian life, through Sunday Worship is still the way to go? For many congregations, the model of engagement which worked for them, often decades before, is still consciously or otherwise believed to be the primary means of engaging with the wider community.

We can sometimes think that ‘faithfulness’ is a matter of doing what we’ve always done before, based on what happened in the past, about being true to the ways we came to faith and how we worship for example. But faithfulness also requires stepping out, it’s part of the living relationship we have with Christ, trusting in new ways that grow who we are in an ever changing world as God’s Spirit, leads Her pilgrim people ever forward. The Gospels display that sense of living, dynamic faithfulness; of being true to Christ but open to the ways he calls us to engage with those we meet and are called to serve.

If that is our approach then we are more likely to look outward, to focus on the lives of those who live around us, we might then discover that our own call to ministry, loses its sense of self-preservation and can be radically changed as it was when Jesus called and commissioned his first 12 disciples.

Just as Jesus drew those early disciples to himself, equipped them and then sent them out, so by his Holy Spirit, we are drawn together into community AND THEN sent out to be transformed in our faith as we meet others who are also made in God’s image wherever they may live and work. Amen.

 

Q: What might such an outward focused mission at Engadine, look like?

 

Part 2 – a personal response

Perhaps that phrase ‘sends us out to be transformed in our faith’ is why Jesus says more than once in the Gospels that “the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few”. Why are the labourers few?

This is one of the mysteries of faith.

Why do some ‘come and follow’ while others are seemingly untouched by all that Jesus is?

Some have said it’s because some are pre-ordained to believe or already have their names written in the Book of Life, to explain why some are receptive to his call. Personally, I don’t believe we should ever give up on someone lest we think God hasn’t already included them within the Book of Life.

 

Might we say ‘no thanks’ to this invitation of Jesus to spread his good news because we fear rejection?

Or is it simply because we are just comfortable with who we are and see no particular need to change?

Do we have so little insight into who we are that we just don’t long for some of what is me to be different? 

 

You might think that being a disciple of Jesus would be the most exciting thing anyone could ever do and be! Yet it involves change, trust and a transforming love which touches every part of our being.

Nearly 2,000 years after the Great Commission of Jesus, over a billion people on earth today answer to his particular call and claim upon their lives, we still dare to believe his invitation - to be servants of Christ in the world with good news and a healing touch for all whom we meet.

It is no coincidence that Jesus gives to his disciples the very same ministry of healing that he engaged in!

We are not just called to be echoes of or pointers to his work but active participants in it. And how different to the activities of many modern groups and their ‘disciples’ within the life of our world. Too often we hear of financial, emotional or sexual exploitation of those invited to join the latest ‘new group’ where unquestioning obedience to their leader at the expense also of their own freedom, is common.

Jesus came to set people free from all that binds, from all that devalues human dignity and for the enjoyment of human life; and he gives to each of us that same ministry with a particular focus on those who have no voice, those who are in the context of Jesus day the ‘widows and orphans’, the most powerless in our world. Whether they be found in southern Sydney, on Timor Leste or Inland Australia.

 

So what then will be your response?

Will you just shrug your shoulders and walk on by when you encounter this Good News which the disciples made available to all they met not just in Israel but across the world?

Part of my personal response to Jesus’ invitation would be to forever live in that moment, as reflected in that marvellous hymn ‘My song is love unknown’ (see words and utube link below) and the line within it in verse 7 which says ‘Here might I stay and sing’.

But, I know that while celebrating and praising all that Jesus has done in my life is important, deep down within my spirit, I know that what will truly transform me and never stop me growing and trusting my Lord in and for each day, will be the words from another hymn The Summons, from Iona ‘Will you come and follow me if I but call your name’.

I do want to accept Jesus’ invitation. For then the kingdom of God will have come near and the rule of Jesus my risen Lord, in my heart will be as complete as it can be and as engaged in the world as it can be in this life so that others too might know of him. And our world, this planet and all its people will be the richer for that transforming love of Christ Jesus. Amen

 

HYMN     This, this is the God we adore

This, this is the God we adore

Our faithful, unchangeable friend

Whose love is as great as his power

And neither knows measure nor end.

 ‘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.

 

PRAYERS FOR OTHERS

Let us pray

 

Let us seek God’s merciful aid for the church and the world, for individuals and communities, for the famous and the obscure.

For those who have power without the wisdom to use it well,

and for those who have wisdom without the power to apply it.

Holy Friend hear our prayer,

Loving God make us into a blessing.

 

For people who want to learn but have no teacher,

and some who have much to teach but no one will listen to them.

Holy Friend hear our prayer,

Loving God, make us into a blessing.

 

For those who have been forced to retire too early,

and for those who are overworked and long for retirement.

Holy Friend hear our prayer,

Loving God, make us into a blessing.

 

For some people who are famous yet long for some privacy,

and some who are lonely and long for recognition and company.

Holy Friend hear our prayer,

Loving God, make us into a blessing.

 

For those who are too tender-hearted and need to be toughened

and for those who are tough and need to be made gentle.

Holy Friend hear our prayer,

Loving God make us into a blessing.

 

For the wounded and diseased who have inadequate care,

and for the pampered who turn ill health into an obsession.

Holy Friend hear our prayer,

Loving God make us into a blessing.

 

For people who are dying with no one to mourn them,

and for those who mourn with no one to comfort them.

Holy Friend hear our prayer,

Loving God, make us into a blessing.

 

For all who remain cheerful in the midst of poverty and grave handicap,

and for some who are disgruntled in spite of plenty and good health.

Holy Friend hear our prayer,

Loving God, make us into a blessing.

 

Holy Friend, you love all as one human family, yet deal with us individually

as if we were the only child you have. Please give to us your generous and practical spirit,

so that our prayers may be converted into deeds, day by day.

Through Christ Jesus our Redeemer.

Amen!

 

The Lords Prayer

SONG       My Song is Love Unknown

*My song is love unknown

My Saviour’s love to me

Love to the loveless shown

That they might lovely be.

O who am I

That for my sake

My Lord should take

Frail flesh and die.

 

Why, what has my Lord done?

What makes this rage and spite?

He made the lame to run

He gave the blind their sight.

Sweet injuries!

Yet they at these

Themselves displease

And against him rise.

 

Here might I stay and sing

No story so divine;

Never was love, dear King

Never was grief like thine.

This is my friend

In whose sweet praise

I all my days could gladly spend.

 

BENEDICTION                   

As the father sent Christ Jesus,
so now you are sent.
Go then, with your hearts rejoicing,
as those who have touched the marks of truth.
Endure suffering,
forgive sins,
and love the Lord.

And may God’s power be your protection;
May Christ Jesus reach out to you with words of peace;
And may the Holy Spirit fill you with indescribable and glorious joy.
In the name of Christ. Amen.