Acknowledgment of Country
We stand on holy ground of our Creator, God is present. All we see and can touch is part of God’s loving and creative goodness and abundance. The Dharawal people of this place have worshipped the Creator and cared for God’s great southern land since time immemorial. We acknowledge their stewardship and deep connection with this land and acknowledge their elders past and present.
Jesus, we live in too much darkness, the light of our lives flickers all too often.
Be our strong and constant light so that we might not lose our way.
Be our Light Lord, that we may walk in your footsteps today and all our days. Amen
Psalm 107 vs 1 – 3 (NRSV) O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Let us Pray…
Scripture In Song 414
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning, new every morning
Great is Your faithfulness, O Lord
Great is Your faithfulness. (Repeat)
Scripture In Song 79
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return
And come with singing unto Zion
And everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.
They shall obtain gladness and joy
And sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return
And come with singing unto Zion
And everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. (Repeat)
John 3: 1 - 5, 14 – 17, 22 (NRSV) Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” In this is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
Prayer of Confession
We sing our praises of you Lord with our tongues
But do these words reach our hearts?
We sing our praises of you Lord with our presence here
But do they touch the work of our hands?
We sing our praises of you Lord with what we set aside for your work
But are our lives so lived that all see that we are yours?
For too often we come before you, like Nicodemus
At night, when no one else can see that you are our Saviour.
Do not condemn us, Lord, but love us into transformed lives, an invitation to all.
And if there is anything that today we need to hand to you, to confess, then let us do so now in our hearts, knowing that His love seeks to heal, embrace and set free all that leads into darkness and away from His light. For Jesus’ sake we pray. Amen.
Message The light of Jesus
The last verse of today’s Gospel Reading says “those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God” while verse 16 says “God is love”.
Our ego is an essential and healthy part of what it means to be human, but having the right amount of ego in our lives is the tricky part. The Dictionary defines ego as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”.
Our world has more than enough examples of people who celebrate and live out, often at the expense of others, their own self-importance. Often monetary wealth leads some people to believe ‘their’ wealth makes them more important, of more value, than those who have less wealth.
Too often those who seek self-importance, for whatever reason, turn to politics or business or even ministry in the church where their own high profile can fuel their sense of ego.
Some high profile sporting people find it very hard to ‘retire’, to give up their weekend adrenalin ‘fix’ and the adulation of the crowd. Too often their identity and worth becomes tied to the game and once they retire many as we have seen can experience mental health issues.
And when living very public lives, whether you be a parish minister, a celebrated sports person, CEO of a large corporation, a cabinet minister, a State Premier, a Prime Minister or a President then how you see and understand yourself and its associated power is crucial. Long before Sigmund Freud, our Lord knew that our human condition is prone to us either having too much ego or not enough.
One of the key steps to accepting Christ into our lives is a healthy and insightful awareness of who we are and how we tick. Some of that insight as the Psalmist says in Psalm 139 is the acknowledgment that “we are wonderfully and fearfully made” while St Augustine of Hippo, 1600 years ago wrote, after a life time of searching “that our hearts are restless until we find our rest in You O Lord”. So what does that ‘rest’ mean?
Have you ever encountered people who are so busy doing stuff that they literally can’t sit still?
Their busyness can at times be the result not of too much ego, of too much self-importance, or of too much I’m at the centre of the world but actually as the result of a chronic lack of self-worth evidenced by their inability to accept any sort of criticism other than as a threat. The company we keep should always include those who know us well and who aren’t afraid to tell us so, in love!
The ‘foolishness’ of the Gospel, last week in 1 Cor 1 vs 18 is discovered in the life-giving, liberating reality that in giving ourself to Christ, we truly find our sense of self-worth because we have truly discovered that we and all people are made in God’s image as celebrated in Genesis 1vs 26.
We are set free from that often daily struggle to live between a deflated ego that devalues who we are at almost every level to a sense of over importance we see too often in our leaders.
Humility, that values equally the worth of others can be rare. I’m sure we can name those great leaders past and present who have it. It is this insight that John is talking about in today’s reading “those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God”, so as we live our lives in Him it is our Lord who receives the credit such that others see who and whose we are. A transparency that is of God – it is this which attracts others through us to our Lord.
And we actually do know when and how that happens.
When the words and deeds of another person are able to both acknowledge their own true worth and value at the same time as of those around them. Where we are not afraid of lifting others up, to share the limelight or an honour, where the God given gifts we use are for God’s glory and not ours. When one is honoured, all are honoured. If what we say or do leads others to say ‘I could never be like that’ then we have failed, far from upholding our ‘great faith’ we have failed them.
If there is anything I have learnt in nearly 40 years of ministry it is the importance of playing my part to equip the body of Christ to be all that they can be; after all it is who they are and their works that will attract others to the Gospel, for they are the ones who stay here, while ministers come and go!
You are the reason I’m here, not my need to preach on a Sunday, it is you who our Lord has called me to serve and encourage as we share together in His ministry in the world.
And why would I so trust my life to serving Him and you? Because in that most famous of all Bible verses “God is love and those who live in love, live in God”. To God’s name to glory & praise!! Amen
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God's righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM –
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
while millions join the theme, I will sing.
Hymn TIS 156 ‘Morning has broken’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5D3LEjGF8A
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the word.
Sweet the rains new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day.
Blessing & Benediction