Thursday, 20 August 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Worship 23 August 2020 - Wesley 4

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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Wesley on War and Peace

23rd August 2020 - Wesley 4 Sunday 9.30 am

 

Gathering God’s People

 

 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.


Call to Worship

(The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)

Give us the assurance that we belong to that great company but save us from living in the past and from resting on the work of others. Help us to find a new beginning and a new vision, that we may know our task in this place and in the world today.

We rejoice, O God, in the Spirit which worked through ancient people of faith to call them from a distant land to a land which they knew not.

We rejoice, O God, in knowing that the Spirit which led our ancestors through the wilderness is our possession today.

We give you thanks, Almighty God, for those who walked along the Way, for their faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ and their steadfast love for you.

We give you thanks, Almighty God, for those whose dedication to the Gospel caused them to express a vital faith and establish a tradition, of which we are grateful descendants. 

Hymn 138: Eternal Father strong to save

                  (Tune – Melita)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cHPSFFa5cU

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,

Who bidst the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep;

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

 

O Saviour, whose almighty word

The winds and waves submissive heard,

Who walkedst on the foaming deep,

And calm amid its rage didst sleep;

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

 

O sacred Spirit, who didst brood

Upon the chaos dark and rude,

Or bad’st its angry tumult cease,

And gavest light and life and peace;

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

 

O Trinity of love and pow’r,

Our brethren’s shield in danger’s hour;

From rock and tempest, fire and foe,

Protect them wheresoever they go;

And ever let there rise to Thee

Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

 Author: William Whiting (1860)

Tune: Melita (Dykes)

 

Opening prayer

 

     Grant, O merciful God, that following the good example of your servants John and Charles Wesley, we may cleave to you with all our heart, sing and speak your praise, and bring others to love your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


A Prayer of Confession

       Merciful God, through the apostle Paul, you call us to live out our faith in everyday actions beginning with loving one another with a love that is completely sincere - love with no thought of gain for self  but love totally at the service of others. 

We are to hate evil and to hold fast to what is good, yet the grasping for financial gain by whatever means has led to a diminished understanding of what is evil and what is good;  we are to care for and honour one another, yet sadly, divisions exist  in churches and faith communities, when conflict arises over rights and privileges, prestige and power. 

Our faith is to be visible through our joy and our hope -  our patience - even in suffering, and through our persevering in prayer and we are to share what we have with those in need, and to extend hospitality not just to those we know and like - but to strangers. 

We know we fall short of living out our faith in these ways so we pray that we will be renewed, strengthened and empowered with the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus, living, loving and caring as he did.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen 

Declaration of Forgiveness

      Hear the good news: God’s love for us is truly revealed in          that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks, be to God! Amen

The Peace

God has received us, pardoned us and loved us; let us forgive each other in love and share the peace of Christ. Peace be with you.
And also, with you.

 (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: We find true happiness in Jesus.

Object: A flower or a toy bee

 If I were to ask you to tell me what makes you happy, what would your answer be? Would it be something like "happiness is scoring the winning goal in a soccer game" or "happiness is being the most popular person in my class?"

We all want to be happy, don't we? Does it surprise you to know that God wants you to be happy? Well, he does, but you might be surprised to find out that what Jesus said about happiness is quite different from what you and I might expect. Most of us think that to be happy means having a lot of money, having plenty to eat, having someone to take care of us, or being well-liked by everyone. That isn't what Jesus said. 

One day Jesus went up onto the side of a mountain. He sat down, gathered his disciples around him, and began to teach them about happiness. Even though these are not the exact words Jesus used, I think they will help us to understand what he taught. 

He said things like:

Be happy when you are poor in spirit, because then you will find that your riches are in the kingdom of heaven.

Be happy when you feel you have lost what is most dear to you, because it is then that you will feel the love of the One who is the dearest to you.

Be happy with what you have, because then you will find that your heavenly Father provides everything that you need.

Be happy when you are hungry for the things of God, because then you will find that only He can satisfy.

Be happy when you are caring for others, because it is in caring for others that you will find that you have a heavenly Father who cares for you.

Be happy when your heart is right with God, because it is then that you will see that God is at work in the world around you.

Be happy when you help others to get along peacefully with one another, because it is then that you will know the peace that comes from being a part of the family of God.

Be happy when others treat you badly because you follow me, because your reward will be great in heaven.

You see, happiness is not a feeling that is brought about by the things that happen to us. It is an attitude that we have because of what we have in our heart. We need to be like the bee, buzzing happily through life because of what God has done for us.

Dear Father, help us to have the happiness that you want for us. Happiness that comes, not from what happens to us, but from what happens inside of us. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

 Offering Prayer

Holy God, you bless our lives with gifts which enable us to live in harmony with you and with one another.  In Jesus you have revealed the human face of your love and empowered us with the Holy Spirit to reveal that same love in all we do and say and are.  These gifts we offer in response seem paltry in comparison, but we offer them and our lives confident that you will receive, bless and use them in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, and our Saviour.  Amen

Hymn TIS 219: Jesus comes with all his grace

                 (Tune – Orientis Partibus)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqguWDDYgxU

                    Jesus comes with all his grace,

comes to save a fallen race,

object of our glorious hope,

Jesus comes to lift us up.

 

Let the living stones cry out,

every child of Abraham shout;

praise we all our lowly King,

give him thanks, rejoice and sing.

 

He has our salvation wrought,

he our captive souls has bought,

he has reconciled to God,

he has washed us in his blood.

 

We are now his lawful right,

walk as children of the light;

we shall soon obtain the grace,

pure in heart, to see his face.

 

We shall gain our calling's prize;

after God we all shall rise,

filled with joy, and love, and peace,

perfected in holiness.

                              Author: Charles Wesley (1749)

 The Service of the Word

 The First Reading:                      Isaiah 2.1-4          NEB page 505

The Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 5: 1-12   NEB page 727

Readings: NRSV Translation

Isaiah 2.1-4

2 1 The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 3 Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 

Matthew 5: 1-12

1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

 


Preaching of the Word:
Peace is Never Easy

 From our Study:

It sounds so simple: do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God. It sounds so simple to seek peace and not war. From our study we hear the following which outlines the situation we Christians are called to wrestle with:

Questions about war and peace are never easy for Christians. We live in the tension between loving our neighbours, even loving our enemies, on the one hand, and the desire to be loyal citizens of a nation we love, on the other. This tension has always divided the church, and our generation is no exception. But what can we learn from Wesley about war that we can make a part of our lives today?

First, there is the awareness of the horrors of war. Remember Wesley’s description of the armies killing each other. Add to that the so-called “collateral damage,” the deaths and wounding of civilians, the destruction of the infrastructure of the warring nations, and the devastation of economies. As General Sherman said, “war is hell,” even when it is necessary.

Second, I think Wesley would want us to remember that God’s ultimate will is peace. One of the implications of that is to look carefully at the reasons for war. Obviously, if a nation is attacked, it will defend itself. The list above of some of the reasons why nations go to war reminds us that we often do not look for God’s ultimate will, or even for a common-sense reason for war. Instead, we focus on selfish ends, the expressions of what Wesley called original sin.

Third, Wesley’s statement that, in war, God is forgotten is a powerful one. The adage says that there are no atheists in foxholes. That may or may not be true. It does seem to be true, however, that God’s ultimate will is easily forgotten in time of war.

On closer inspection of the issue and of our scripture from Matthew 5 (the beatitudes), are these instructions so simple after all? How can we be sure we are seeking God’s justice and not our own? How are we to love kindness and not merely like niceness? How do we walk in humility without feeling humiliated?

In one of his essays on the causes of poverty, and the lack of food for the poor, Wesley did advocate cutting the size of the army, in order to make grain available for the poor. That statement shows that, like all the rest of us, Wesley did not always think through what he was saying. If the King had actually disbanded regiments and used the savings to provide grain for the poor, the law of unintended consequences would have kicked in. All those discharged soldiers would have been without work, and in need of the same grain that Wesley intended for the poor. Chances are that the situation of the poor would not have improved in that case. But the idea does suggest that Wesley was willing to consider serious change in government policy in order to care for the needs of the poor.

Fortunately, we have an excellent teacher and guide in Jesus Christ. His teachings on the mountain in Galilee are some of his best-known words. The Beatitudes are perhaps the most famous of all. When we pay attention to the future tense we find that they will be comforted, they will inherit, they will be filled it’s easy to hear these sayings as a series of promises, of rewards to be allotted in the afterlife, or in the new creation at the end of times.

Doubtless those promises will hold true in the new creation, but is that enough consolation to us now, when we mourn, or hunger, or being attacked or are persecuted? As a disillusioned man in a song called, “All this Time,” by Sting says of inheriting the earth: 

Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth  Better to be poor than a fat man in the eye of a needle  And as these words were spoken I swore I hear              The old man laughing                                               'What good is a used up world and how could it be   Worth having'

Perhaps Jesus is also calling us to a deeper and more challenging understanding. Twice he says, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Just a bit earlier in the Gospel of Matthew, we are told that from the beginning of his teaching Jesus proclaimed that “the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Jesus tells us that the kingdom is near, is at hand, is so close we can reach out and touch it. If the kingdom is truly at hand, then all the blessings Jesus mentions are not afterlife consolation prizes but are present-tense realities. Try out these re-wordings of the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they have the kingdom of heaven.                                                                  Blessed are those who mourn, for they are being comforted.                                                             Blessed are the meek, for they are inheriting the earth.   Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for   righteousness, for they are being filled.                   Blessed are the merciful, for they are receiving mercy. 

In this light, the blessings become both strength and guidance for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God. They become strength and guidance to seek peace and not war. 

Justice in our earthly kingdoms typically uses the tools of punishment and reparations. Applied well, our justice systems protect the innocent, shield the vulnerable, and ensure equity. Applied poorly, they protect the powerful and disproportionately condemn the weak. Justice in the kingdom of heaven relies on the mercy and righteousness of God. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human beings.” Our tools for this heavenly justice system are mercy and righteousness and peacemaking. If we use these tools to do justice, look at the blessings that follow; “receiving mercy, being filled, being called children of God!

Better yet, the blessings are not only a reward to us, but also a source of motivation and guidance. Because we have received God’s mercy, we have a model for being merciful and the desire to extend mercy. Because we have been forgiven and restored to peace with God, we are strengthened to forgive others and work for peace and reconciliation. Because we are filled with God’s spirit, we hunger and thirst more and more to see righteousness in the world.

But what about the times when it’s hard to see righteousness in the world, when we ourselves are persecuted, or when we are in mourning, or when we feel empty in our own spirit, or when we are attacked violently? Jesus assures us that blessings are present even during these times. Perhaps he is even teaching us that at such moments we are most open to perceiving the grace of God.

Amid persecution and slander, Jesus calls us to rejoice and be glad, “for we are walking in the kingdom of heaven as well as in an unjust world. When we mourn and are tossed by our natural and right emotions of grief and anger, how vivid are those moments when the presence and compassion of God break through!

Walking in the kingdom of heaven means learning more and more how close God is to us when we are in need.

Jesus even assures us that we have the kingdom of heaven just when we feel poorest in spirit. Just when you feel emptiest, he says, keep reaching out to the kingdom that is at hand. In other words, walk humbly with your God.

The Beatitudes call us above all to a sense of openness before God. We don’t see God until we see the face of Christ in others, we learn to do that by pursuing justice and kindness toward all people. We don’t see God until we stop trying to control and begin learning to walk humbly in God’s presence. But when we practice doing justice and loving kindness and walking in humility, the Spirit continues to work in our hearts, purifying us. And blessed are the pure in heart, for they are seeing God.

So, it may never be easy, but perhaps it is simple after all. Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God. Walk in the kingdom of heaven, be comforted, inherit the earth, be filled with righteousness, receive mercy, see God, be God’s children, rejoice and be glad. Be blessed.

Hymn 607: Make me a channel of your peace

                  (Tune – Channel of Peace)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT8bybL_DqY

                Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there is hatred let me bring your love;

Where there is injury your pardon, Lord;

And where there's doubt true faith in you.

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 

Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there's despair in life let me bring hope;

Where there is darkness, only light;

And where there's sadness, ever joy.

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 

Make me a channel of your peace.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

In giving to all men that we receive;

And in dying that we're born to eternal life.

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 Author (attributed to): St. Francis of AssisiAdapter: Sebastian Temple

Intercessory Prayers  

Faithful God, you hear our cries and answer when we call on you: give us faith to believe that with you all things are possible.

You created a world of beauty and promise, but we have made places of ugliness and despair: hear our prayers for the preservation of the earth. We pray for careful stewardship of the resources of the earth, for reverence and respect for its wonder and diversity, that we may live in harmony with the created world.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

You have shown us ways of justice and righteousness, but we have chosen paths of violence and greed: hear our prayers for the nations of the world. We pray for an end to bloodshed and oppression, for an equitable sharing of the good gifts of the earth, that we may live together in peace and prosperity.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

You have offered us gifts of redemption and life, but we have clung to old ways of sin and death: hear our prayers for your church and its mission. We pray for unity of heart and purpose between Christians, for discernment and understanding of your word, that we may faithfully proclaim your gospel in the world.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

You rescue the weak and save those in distress, but we have abandoned the vulnerable and neglected those in need: hear our prayers for the people of this community.

We pray for welcome for the stranger and acceptance for the outsider, for assistance for the hungry, the homeless and those without work, that we may learn to love and care for each other.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

You are generous and loving to all your people, but we have been selfish and uncaring towards each other: hear our prayers for all who suffer. We pray for encouragement for the despairing, consolation for the sorrowing, for relief for those who are in pain and peace for those close to death, that they may know your comfort and your strength.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

Your people rejected your love and turned from your ways, but you endured death on a cross to bring us eternal life: we give you thanks for all who have died in the faith. Teach us a faith that is strong and sure, that together with the saints, the martyrs and all the great cloud of witnesses, we may come into the joy of your eternal presence.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

          Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 567: God of all power, and truth

                   (Tune - Ombersley)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W020Vs4pBdc

  God of all power, and truth, and grace,

which shall from age to age endure,

whose word, when heaven and earth shall pass,

remains and stands for ever sure;

 

that I your mercy may proclaim,

that all the world your truth may see,

hallow your great and glorious name,

and perfect holiness in me.

 

Purge me from every evil blot;

my idols all be cast aside:

cleanse me from every sinful thought,

from all the stain of self and pride.

 

Give me a new, a perfect heart,

from sorrow free, and doubt and fear;

the mind which was in Christ impart,

and let my spirit know you near.

 

O that I now, from sin released,

your word may to the utmost prove,

enter into the promised rest,

the Canaan of your perfect love!

                                Author: Charles Wesley

                              Tune: (Ombersley) (Instrumental Version)

Benediction

        Faithful God whose Word does not return empty but accomplishes all that you purpose, may your blessings fall like rain to water the earth, nourishing seed for our food, and filling us with the abundance of your love, through Jesus Christ your living Word. Amen.             

Hymn 779: May the feet of God walk with you.

         (Tune – Aubrey)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X5FHNGM2HA

May the feet of God walk with you, & his hand hold you tight

May the eye of God rest on you, & his ear hear your cry.

May the smile of God be for you, & his breath give you life.

May the Child of God grow in you, & his love bring you Home.

 Robyn Mann (1949 -)         

 Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)

 


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