In the beginning, God said ‘let there be light and there was light’.
Christ Jesus came as the light of the world that all may know they are cherished by God.
Darkness cannot exist when there is light. So let us light a candle and celebrate Christ’s presence.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF COUNTRY
For 1,200 generations the Dharawal people have lived on this land of the Creator. They never ceded their ownership of their land. It was taken and then given or sold to others. We acknowledge their continuing connection with this land and their living on country. We pledge to journey together in their search for justice & reconciliation and honour their elders past & present.
CALL TO WORSHIP (Psalm 98) adapted
O sing to the Lord a new song, for she has done marvellous things. She has remembered her steadfast love and her faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the Lord. Let us Pray…
HYMN TIS 155
Morning has broken
WELCOME & ANNOUNCEMENTS
All people are made in the image of God. If you know what it is to love and to be loved, you are welcome. If you have spent your whole life searching for such love, acceptance and healing peace you are welcome. We are all welcome in this place where Jesus is acknowledged as LORD.
A TIME OF CONFESSION
ACTS 10:44-48a While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Let us Pray…
We confess Lord that you are the Christ, crucified and risen, Son of the Living God.
We confess that the breath of your mercy and grace, inclusion and acceptance is beyond our own experience of life and journey of faith. You draw the circle of life wide to encompass all, we draw it in unto ourselves. Forgive us for our narrow self-centred words and actions.
Help us to see every person we meet through your eyes and help us become people of welcome.
This truly is a work of your Holy Spirit. So come Lord Jesus into my life and into our lives. The sake of your world depends upon it. These prayers and those of our hearts we bring to you. O Jesus, circle and source of Life, whose house and heart has many rooms. In his name we hope and pray. Amen
HYMN ‘Draw the circle wide’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PclQrWOYug8
John 15:9, 16 - 17 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
1John 5:1 - 6 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. In this we hear God’s Word. In this we receive Good News. Thanks be to God!
MESSAGE Faith Conquers the World
What does your faith conquer?
If I’d thought to ask myself that question 40+ years ago, I would have just thought of myself!
Let me give you an example.
I led my first Service of Worship at The Avenue UC in Hurstville in August 1979.
I was so anxious. I wanted to get every word that I’d written and its delivery, just right.
What bold presumption I had too! Believing that in my late 20’s I could speak ‘God’s word’ to people 20 - 60 years older than me who had far more life and faith experience.
My preaching ‘world’ were the 5 congregations of that Hurstville parish. I had no expectation at all that it would be any different. It was more than enough that my Lord had begun his work in me.
But He didn’t stop there did he! And I hope and pray he never will, however challenging.
Who would ever have thought that I’d travel the country preaching and speaking in over 80 congregations during the 13 years I worked for Frontier Services and UnitingWorld.
This marvellous verse from today’s 1 John 5 reading has captivated me this week.
Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
What a statement! Written at the end of the 1st C AD to the disciples of Jesus, in small and scattered house churches across the Roman Empire, to help them lift up their eyes and hearts.
To give them a focus not just on self and family but of their place and role in God’s world!
It was from such small beginnings that the church in the West reached out to slaves and women, the two most powerless peoples in the Roman world especially if they were not of Patrician or Equestrian class. In time they established schools and hospitals and learned to discover just how all-encompassing is God’s Grace and his mercy and forgiveness, available for all people.
And so often that gift of God’s Grace, blessing and mercy is given before a commitment is asked of the person as in the story last week of Philip & the Ethiopian Eunuch.
Today we are reminded to never underestimate what our faith can achieve – look around at what 50-60 people in this small faith community are achieving…it truly is the stuff of salt and leaven.
Even when the 1st church on this site in the 1950’s was being planned the church had ideas of helping 8 young Methodist couples buy a block of church owned land to build on so they could then be part of the nucleus of this then new faith community. Do we know where the land was?
The reference to the phrase ‘that conquerors the world’ also refers to the value systems ‘of the world’ where countries by and large looked after self before, if at all, the lives of others – and those early disciples saw that so clearly in the context of the Roman Empire and its value systems!
In our day we saw that clearly in Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ focus on self.
We see it in our own country’s treatment of refugees and over the past 15 months of Australian citizens wanting to return home. But they may have COVID. We can’t let them in. That’s not really the issue, what is, is the effectiveness of and availability of sufficient quarantine facilities. Motel rooms are not fit for purpose. While Sureka’s message 3 weeks ago and Kathy’s the following week also reminds us of our global responsibilities as Christians.
So where does this interest in the world, in those who live beyond our family or suburb come from? Remembering that for most people in the ancient world, their ‘world’ was at most a 50km radius!
Where you could walk in a day or where a horse and cart could take you in a day.
We have many Scripture passages we can look at like ‘for God so loved the world’ but also the many and varied interactions that Jesus had not just with Jews who were blind, paralysed, bleeding, tax collectors or suffering from some form of illness but also Samaritans, Roman centurions, Syrophoenicians & more! It is no coincidence that these stories are part of our ‘Good News’.
The words we just heard from Kathy this morning as part of our transfer of confirmed membership find their origin in such passages as 1John 5 – ‘that claimed by God, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit that we may live as witnesses to Jesus Christ, share his ministry in the world and grow to maturity, awaiting with hope the day of our Lord Jesus’. And that every member of the Church is engaged to confess the faith of Christ crucified and to be his faithful servant. In each congregation, the members are to meet regularly to hear God’s word, to celebrate the sacraments, to build up one another in love, to share in the wider responsibilities of the Church and to serve the world.
This is our Biblical calling and command from Christ our Lord! Of love shared with all. Not just with immediate family and close friends. There are no limits to whom God loves nor whom we can love. And our living out all the 9 fruit of that vine – yes, all of the 9 not just those we are comfortable with transforms us 1st as we encounter each other. Welcome to the faith that conquerors the world
Would you like to be part of this too? In Jesus Name be honour, praise and glory. Amen
A prayer for Women on Mother's day.
HYMN TIS 153 ‘God is love’
HYMN ‘All are welcome’
BLESSING & BENEDICTION
What is it that you would wish for this day? At the beginning of this new week?
Amidst all our ‘wants’, hopes and longings, perhaps Christ’s blessing and delight is a good start.
So, may the blessing of God, who made you, who loves you and who upholds you…