Restoration with Christ Centered Integrity (6 Sep 2020)

6 Sep 2020 by Paul Bartlett in: Online Services

 Service and Holy Communion

 

We continue to gather as the scattered people of God.

We celebrate Christ Jesus, the light of the world. Thanks be to God!

We also acknowledge that where each of us live is on the land of the Dharawal people.

We acknowledge their 40,000 years of ongoing stewardship of God’s Creation

We pledge to be ambassadors of reconciliation, justice and peace.

You are all welcome, as we worship God this day.

 

CHRIST CANDLE 

Darkness is strong, but light is stronger.

Christ is the Light of the world and not even death has overcome His light.

Praise be to God whose light gives hope to all the world.

 

OPENING PRAYER

God of all, we come ready to learn how to be a loving community,

grateful that you treat us with dignity and respect. May we do the same with our neighbours.

As you listen to us with patience. May we be patient.

As you give us the freedom to be frail and to fail. May we offer such freedom to our friends.

May we be receptive to your Spirit moving among us. Amen.

 

HYMN – TIS 217 ‘Love Divine’

Love divine, all loves excelling

Joy of heaven to earth come down

Fix in us thy humble dwelling

All thy faithful mercies crown:

Jesus, thou art all compassion

Pure unbounded love thou art

Visit us with thy salvation

Enter every trembling heart.

 

Come, almighty to deliver

Let us all thy life receive

Suddenly return, and never

Never more thy temples leave:

Thee we would be always blessing

Serve thee as thy hosts above

Pray, and praise thee, without ceasing

Glory in thy perfect love.

 

Finish then thy new creation

Pure and spotless let us be

Let us see thy great salvation

Perfectly restored in thee:

Changed from glory into glory

Till in heaven we take our place

Till we cast our crowns before thee

Lost in wonder, love and praise.                                Charles Wesley 1707 – 1788 Public Domain

 

NT BIBLE READING: Romans 13:8 – 10 (NRSV)

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION               Based around ‘who is my neighbour?’

God of wonder, love and praise, who is my neighbour?

The person who sits or stands near to me this morning as I read this prayer.

Those who may live under the same roof as me.

The person I pass in the street while out walking, riding or driving

The person who I pass in the supermarket aisle and at the checkout

The person whose picture I see on my TV or read about on my computer

In fact anyone can be my neighbour.

Forgive me for walking on by, for keeping my wallet, mind and heart closed to your compassion.

 

God of wonder, love and praise, who is my neighbour?

The person who speaks about me behind my back.

The person whose actions have caused me great harm and distress.

The person I have offended.

Forgive me for not seeking out this person, content to live with this pain and anguish.

 

God of wonder, love and praise, who is my neighbour?

All who are in need in this suburb, in our land and across the seas.

But Lord, there are so many in need!

‘I see you have a warmed heart my child if you see their need’.

“For My love does no wrong to a neighbour”, may it be so for you in your life too.

Lord Jesus hear our prayers, for God’s love longs to live in our lives. Amen.

 

HYMN -The Servant King

 

From heaven you came, helpless babe

Entered our world, your glory veiled

Not to be served but to serve

And give your life that we might live.

 

         This is our God, the Servant King

         He calls us now to follow him

         To bring our lives as a daily offering

         Of worship to the Servant King.

 

So let us learn how to serve

And in our lives enthrone him

Each other’s needs to prefer

For it is Christ we’re serving.

 

         This is our God, the Servant King

         He calls us now to follow him

         To bring our lives as a daily offering

         Of worship to the Servant King.

 

Words and music: Graham Kendrick © Integrity Music Pty Ltd

 

GOSPEL READING: Matthew 18: 15 - 20 (NRSV)

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” In this is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

 

MESSAGE                                        Restoration with Christ centered Integrity

Perhaps like me, you have been listening to the NZ Court case involving the gunman who killed 51 people in Christchurch on 15 March 2019; you may also remember the story of an alleged ‘over the limit’ driver who killed three children from one family while they were walking along a suburban footpath on 1 February earlier this year.

You may also have watched recently on Anh Do’s ‘Brush with Fame’ the story of Sofie Delizio as she lives with the horrific injuries she suffered following two tragic car accidents in 2003 and 2006 and how she has responded to those events caused by two allegedly ‘at fault’ drivers.

Amidst the many comments involving the NZ and Feb 2020 tragedies were the comments from one family in NZ who had lost loved ones and from the parents of the 3 children in Sydney.

The NZ mother who lost her son said ‘I decided to forgive you because I don’t have hate. I don’t have revenge. I only have one choice, to forgive you.’

While the 3 children’s mother said ‘I know he was allegedly drunk but I can’t hate him, I don’t want to see him, but I can’t hate him.’ Other people’s responses have been less than forgiving.

 

Many years ago someone I knew betrayed the trust I had in them, and that betrayal caused me profound grief and ill health for a number of years. ‘Take the person to court’, ‘maintain your anger’, ‘get justice’ were just some of the repeated comments by friends at the time. Over time I stopped mentioning the subject because all it was doing was fueling a sense of what I’m sure they were promoting of ‘justifiable anger’ within me. For a time it stopped me from finding healing.

After 3 or 4 years I no longer felt any anger or rage, it was simply just too costly to maintain lest it overwhelm and destroy me. Like the mother of the three children in Sydney, I don’t want or need to see the person again, but in a way I had forgiven him. I was too exhausted to maintain the rage.

Are you a forgiving person? Would those who know you well, say this about you?

 

How do you respond to today’s Gospel Reading?

It seems straight forward enough, you’ve been hurt ‘someone has sinned’ you go and talk with them about it or take 1-2 with you if that initial contact isn’t successful. In both instances you take the initiative! But, if you are hurting, big time, taking the initiative to approach the other person is all but impossible for many people. “I’m not budging”, “they’ll have to take the 1st step, after all it was all their fault!” And so, an incident that occurred once, now in a sense occurs every day for them until a reconciliation is sought or ‘the dust is shaken off their feet’ to quote from Matt 10:14.

 

How do you respond to today’s Gospel Reading?

I’ll bet many of you are thinking of just such an incident, singular or plural, unwanted thoughts and emotions crowding in, something else in the back pack of life that hasn’t been let go of, enough.

Honestly, I just do not know whether I could ever forgive someone who killed one of my children!

 

While the word forgiveness isn’t mentioned nor specifically reconciliation, but the passage does talk about the potential for relationships renewed with integrity. And the steps which we are called, even commanded, by Christ to seek out that possible reconciliation.

Go on your own, take 2 or 3 friends with you…seek the person out however painful to you.

What Matthew is saying is – try your hardest, even against all your normal instincts of hurt and grief to maintain that relationship with a brother or sister in the faith. Don’t just wipe them no matter how tempting or justified. Jesus’ reference to binding and loosing on earth as it will be in heaven underscores just how important these relationships within the body of Christ His Church are!

 

The responsibility to forgive, to restore is given to YOU, as if Christ himself were there in person, hence the reference to when two or three are gathered NOT as we often do, referring to it for Worship or Bible Study gatherings but in relationships within the Body of Christ, the Church.

It is THAT serious. The responsibility is ENORMOUS! The rewards potentially AMAZING!

As Christ always seeks us out, so we are called to do the same if we want to know His Peace & Healing

 

For Jewish Christians the extraordinarily small number “two or three” compares with the Sanhedrin of 120 when it met to discern the Will of God in the very ‘Presence’ of God.

 

And for Matthew, writing to a Jewish – Christian audience in the 80’s AD there is no greater insult if the rapprochement fails, treat - them as you would a Gentile and a Tax Collector! As if they were not part of Christ’s body the Church where Christ is Lord; but that is not a first step, or even a second step, you must walk your own transformed ‘second mile’ before shaking any dust off your feet..

 

One final thought and invitation: In 1980, the year after the Iranian Revolution, Bahram Dehqani-Tafti, the twenty-four year old son of Margaret and Hassan Dehqani-Tafti was murdered in Tehran. At the time Hassan was Anglican Bishop of Iran. Years later Margaret was asked how she managed to forgive Bahram’s murderers. She said, “It is just by the grace of God that you can forgive; I have not forgiven them once – forgiveness does not happen once and for ever. I have been forgiving them every day for more than twenty years, as God has forgiven me”.

Most of us don’t have such a dramatic event that calls us to forgive. Even small acts of forgiveness can be difficult. In worship and in our daily routines, how do we offer a place within our life for the words of the Lord’s Prayer to “forgive those who sin against us”? Forgiveness and restoration are God’s gift to all who are in Christ. Are you a forgiving person? Have you been the one restored in Christ? Amen.

 

HYMN – We cannot measure how you heal’        

We cannot measure how who heal

Or answer every sufferer’s prayer

Yet we believe your grace responds

Where faith and doubt unite to care.

Your hands, though bloodied on the cross

Survive to hold and heal and warn

To carry all through death to life

And cradle children yet unborn.

 

The pain that will not go away

The guilt that clings from things long past

The fear of what the future holds

Are present as if meant to last.

But present too is love which tends

The hurt we never hoped to find

The private agonies inside

The memories that haunt the mind.

 

So some have come who need your help

And some have come to make amends

As hands which shaped and saved the world

Are present in the touch of friends.

Lord, let your Spirit meet us here

To mend the body, mind and soul

To disentangle peace from pain

And make your broken people whole.

 

© 1989 The Iona Community

 

HOLY COMMUNION

INVITATION

This is the joyful feast of Jesus

Bread for beloved children

A meal for those expecting scraps

And a banquet for last-minute guests!

Come, your place is at the table.

Here Christ meets you and calls you God’s own.

GREAT PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

The Lord be with you

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 

To Adam and Eve, children of dust, You gave the world and its wonders, but we misused your gift of freedom: we reached out rebel hands to be like you. We bless you for your mercy, for you never cease to call our restless hearts, until they find their rest in you.

 

Again and again, you raised up men and women to speak your word, to guide, to challenge and convert. At the last, Father, you sent Jesus Christ, child of your love, God with us. Born as one of us, he lived our life and died our death offering us, both now and forever, eternal life with you.

Through him, in him and because of him, we affirm the Church’s faith:

 

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.

 

NARRATIVE & INVOCATION…

 

Accept our thanks and praise, good Father

Through your Son, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ

With whom and in whom and by the Spirit who dwells in us

We worship you in joyful song:

Blessing and honour and glory and power

Are yours for ever and ever. Amen.

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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.

 

BREAKING OF THE BREAD

 

LAMB OF GOD

Jesus, Lamb of God

Have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins

Have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world

Grant us peace.

 

THE COMMUNION

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION

May you be filled with strength to keep working for justice.

May you be filled with the light that overcomes darkness.

May you be filled with hope that fosters joy,

and may the loving embrace of God

and this community go with you.

 

May the justice of God guide our ways.

May the loving kindness of Christ fill our hearts.

And may the courage of the Spirit shape our work. Amen.

 

 

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE  

    

 ‘This Is My Will’

 

This is my will, my one command

That love should dwell amongst you all.

This is my will, that you should love

As I have shown that I love you.

 

No greater love can be than this:

To choose to die to save one’s friends.

You are my friends if you obey

What I command that you should do.

 

I call you now no longer slaves

No slave knows all his master does.

I call you friends, for all I hear

My father say, you hear from me.

 

You chose not me, but I chose you

That you should go and bear much fruit.

I chose you out that you in me

Should bear much fruit that will abide.

 

All that you ask my Father dear

For my name’s sake you shall receive.

This is my will, my one command

That love should dwell in each, in all.

 

James Quinn SJ 1919 – 2010 Scottish theologian and hymnist.

Words by permission Cassell plc, London & Music by permission Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise