Thursday, 21 October 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 22 - 24 October 2021

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

-------------------------------------------------------------------


Let Me See

Sunday 24th October 2021

Pentecost 22 Sunday year of Mark 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. 

Theme Focus

Many families and communities are challenged by members being less abled, like Bartimaeus. Yet Jesus stops and engages with such people, bringing healing and hope

through the kingdom of heaven. God restores every person into the family of God because every person is valued and loved.

Did anyone learn to write at school with pen and ink?

If you made a mistake, what did you do?

If you learned with a pencil, it was easier to erase, and try again. A blackboard or whiteboard is even easier, to remove all signs of the mistake. Likewise, those who learned to type on a manual typewriter had difficulty, whereas a computer allows us to backspace and start again.

When we make mistakes in our lives, sometimes we cannot undo them. If we say or do something hurtful, it is hard to erase it. We all say and do things, intentionally or otherwise,

that separate us from God and from others. We may call this “sin”.

We are assured that when we confess our sin to God, and say sorry for our mistakes, God will forgive us and give us the opportunity to try again. This does not always shield us from the consequences of our sin but allows us to be freed from being bound forever by those consequences. 

Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2012 and 2018)

        God who restores, who heals, who makes us whole, open our eyes to your work around us. Be in our praying, in our singing, in our proclamation, and in our silence. Open our eyes to see your kingdom coming into the world. 

Jesus has come to town.

Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us!

He invites us to join him on his journey.

Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us!

Come and be healed and see with new eyes.

Hallelujah! Thanks be to God! 

Hymn TIS 112: Through all the changing scenes of life

                        (Tune - Wiltshire)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flmS7uJz1Ho 

     Opening Prayer

     Great Triune God, through Jesus Christ, our great and eternal High Priest, we give you praise and consecrate ourselves to follow you. As we worship you and celebrate your glorious resurrection, open our eyes so that we may see – open the eyes of our mind to learning and understanding; open the eyes of our heart, to your love and compassion; open the eyes of our soul, to see our spiritual selves during our time of worship. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

Mystical, transcendent God, there is so much of life we simply do not know.

In our arrogance we utter what we do not understand.

Rescue us, O Lord, from our afflictions.

Rescue us, O God from our self-inflicted wounds. Have mercy on us, Son of David, Son of God, and save us by your unending grace. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Cry out to Christ, our great High Priest, for he has saved us. Our faith has made us well, brought us forgiveness and granted us peace.

Thanks be to God! 

The Peace

That we may come through life’s ups and downs, live to a good and full age, and see God’s mercy to our children and children’s children, let us bless one another with words of peace.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

Offering

Redeeming Lord, we continually seek your comfortable refuge.  You deliver us from our unfounded fears and provide us with miraculous examples of your love.  In response, we offer these gifts.  We pray that these funds will provide an outreach that warms people with your resplendent love.  As a church community, we exalt and praise your holy name.  Amen. 

Hymn TIS 181: Come, O God of all the earth

                        (Tune – Sing Out)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhiO0vrfkRg  

The Service of the Word

 

The First Reading:                                            Job 42:1-6,10-17

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 10:46-52

After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the Lord

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Job 42:1-6,10-17

1 Then Job answered the Lord: 2 ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?” Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 “Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.” 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.’ 10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. 12 The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15 In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16 After this Job lived for one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. 17 And Job died, old and full of days. 

Mark 10:46-52

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 49 Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.51 Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ 52 Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. 

Preaching of the Word - Let Me See - Mark 10:46-52

The ancients used to call sight, “The Queen of the Senses.” I suspect this enthronement of the sense of sight is still understandable to us. After all, what is lovelier than seeing the orange fire of the sky at sunrise? What is more beautiful than the burning leaves of autumn? What touches our hearts more deeply than seeing a smile on our beloved’s face? You can imagine your own feast for the eyes: sights that delight or enchant, sights that you want to linger over and savour. There are so many sights around me that I want to remember, but, I suppose, the sights I want to remember most are the faces of those I love. I want always to remember the sight of my brother’s face as he held his newborn baby. I want always to remember the wonder in my niece’s eyes as she pointed to geese flying overhead. I want always to remember the smiling, laughing eyes of my grandfather at family gatherings. I can understand why the ancients called sight “The Queen of the Senses.”

I guess this is why the language of sight and seeing has come to mean so much more than simple sense perception. In our everyday talk, we use the language of seeing as a metaphor for understanding. When someone tries to explain something to us, they say, “I want you to see what I am trying to tell you.” And when we finally get it, we say, “Now I see it!” “It was right before my eyes all along.” “It was staring me right in the face.”

In our religious speech, we also use the language of sight as a metaphor for faith. We talk about those things that are visible only to “the eyes of faith.” In the Nunc Dimittis, known also as the Song of Simeon we sing, “Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people.” Classical theology spoke of our ultimate destiny as the “Beatific Vision”: a time when we shall behold God face to face. Now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face.

But sometimes learning to see can be hard work. In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard describes studies done on people who recovered their sight after years of blindness. These people were enabled to see after doctors had discovered how to perform safe cataract operations. Dillard writes, “In general the newly sighted see the world as a dazzle of colour-patches… [they] learn quickly to name the colours, but the rest of seeing is tormentingly difficult.” These people have no idea of space or distance and so they walk around bumping into the sharp edges of the colour patches and only then realize that they are part of something substantial. Some people find their new sense of sight so difficult and frustrating that they refuse to use their new vision, and lapse into their old ways of perceiving things.

A doctor reported of one twenty-one-year-old woman who had regained her sight: “Her unfortunate father, who had hoped for so much from this operation, wrote that his daughter carefully shuts her eyes whenever she wishes to go about the house, especially when she comes to a staircase, and she is never happier or more at ease than when, by closing her eyelids, she relapses into her former state of total blindness.” Another patient, so upset by the difficulty he has in learning to translate what he sees into something he can understand, says that he can’t stand it anymore and that he wants to tear his eyes out.

Dillard also notes that for some, regaining a sense of sight is accompanied by a sense of shame. She writes, “A blind man who learns to see is ashamed of his old habits. He dresses up, grooms himself, and tries to make a good impression.”

Sometimes, learning to see can be tormentingly difficult. This seems to be true not only of physical sight, but also of learning to see the truth in the world around us, and, indeed, of learning to see the truth about ourselves. The pain and sorrow of this world so often make us want to avert our eyes from the truth.

Turn on the nightly news and see the latest reports of violence in our communities, and we may feel like closing our eyes and relapsing into total blindness. Look with the prophet Isaiah at the massive injustices in our world, the grinding poverty, the degradation of human dignity, the prejudice, and we may feel like tearing our eyes out. Look at ourselves in the mirror and see the hurts and the wounds we have inflicted on others and on ourselves, and we may feel ashamed. Learning to see can be tormentingly difficult.

In our Gospel lesson for this morning, we have the story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus. When we look at Bartimaeus, we see that he was not only blind, but also that he was a beggar sitting beside the road. The truth about Bartimaeus is that because of his blindness, he had lost his freedom. Because of his blindness, Bartimaeus had become dependent on strangers. In particular, Bartimaeus had become dependent on people who would travel the busy road between the major cities Jericho and Jerusalem. We see a blind beggar who had to rely on the handouts of passers-by, whose best bet was to position himself along the pathway of people who might toss him a coin or two.

When Jesus and his disciples walked by, Bartimaeus must have heard them, because he cries out for mercy. And what response do you think this blind beggar gets to his request for mercy? Mark tells us that “Many sternly ordered him to be quiet.” That’s a polite way of saying they told him to shut up. This poor man, this blind man, this man who is reduced to begging for his subsistence from passers-by, cries out for mercy, and many people in the crowd tell him to shut his mouth.

But thanks be to God, Bartimaeus does not keep quiet. He cries out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And despite the attempts of the crowd to shut him up, Jesus hears him, hears his cry for mercy, and calls him to come near. When Bartimaeus learns that his request has been heard, he springs to his feet and runs to Jesus. And what does Jesus do first? He asks him a question: “What do you want me to do for you?” There is such an outpouring of compassion and love in this simple question.

This blind beggar who was treated by so many people like a piece of trash along the side of the road, who was told to keep quiet, is now brought to Jesus who treats him like a human being. Notice, Jesus does not presume to know what Bartimaeus wants. Rather, Jesus raises this man up onto his own two feet, he takes him from a position of subservience and raises him up as human being, and asks him genuinely, lovingly, compassionately: What do you want?

And Bartimaeus says to Jesus, “My teacher, let me see again.” The depths of longing in that request are almost too much to bear. My teacher, let me see again, and let me no longer have to beg by the side of the road. My teacher, let me see again, and let me no longer be dependent on strangers. Let me see again and let me no longer be looked at with pity and scorn by passers-by. My teacher, let me see again, and let me go free.

And Jesus says, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately, Bartimaeus regains his sight. He leaves his begging cloak behind. And he follows Jesus on the way.

Learning to see can be tormentingly difficult. But if we are willing to undergo the painful process, learning to see can also transform our lives. Learning to see can lift us up onto our own two feet. Learning to see can free us to love and serve our neighbours. Learning to see can free us to love and follow the Lord.

Annie Dillard also writes about the amazing gifts of learning to see again. She writes of a little girl who visits a garden. “She is greatly astonished and can scarcely be persuaded to answer. She stands speechless in front of a tree, which she only names on taking hold of it, and then as ‘the tree with the lights in it.’” Another woman was so dazzled by the world’s brightness that she kept her eyes shut for two weeks. When at the end of that time she opened her eyes again, she did not recognize any objects, but the more she now directed her gaze upon everything about her, the more it could be seen how an expression of gratification and astonishment overspread her features; she repeatedly explained: “Oh God! How beautiful!”

Oh God! How beautiful! Learning to see can be a painfully difficult process. There is so much about our world and about ourselves that may make us want to look away. In so many ways, we are all imprisoned by our own types of blindness. But the good news is that we do not have to remain in bondage to our blindness. We can learn to see. We can learn to look at our neighbours with compassion. We can learn to unmask the self-serving rhetoric of peoples and companies and governments that tell people to keep quiet while they are subjected to grinding poverty and violence.

We can learn to look at our own frailties and failings and ask for help. We can ask people what they need and help them get onto their own feet again. And we can learn to look anew at this amazing, awesome, blooming, buzzing, glorious creation and all the creatures in it, including our own blind and beggarly human race and exclaim, “Oh God! How beautiful! Oh God! How beautiful!”

Let us pray. O Lord our God, hear our cries for mercy. Raise us up from our places alongside the way of life. Heal us from our blindness. Set us free to look with compassion upon those whom you place in our paths. Free us to follow you on the way of self-giving love. And at the last day, bring us with all your saints into that heavenly city where all tears will be wiped away and where we shall behold you face to face. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 223: How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

                       (Tune – St Botolph)

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

Intercessory Prayers  

      After the words:            In your mercy,

      please respond with:     hear our prayer. 

Pentecost 22 Sunday – Year B

Have times of silence to pray and end the silence with the responsive words:

God in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Here and now in this place we your people, respond to your call upon us, O God, to pray for those in need.

We pray for the people whose names are known across the world, because their stories are ever present in the media, …. A silence is kept

God in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for people in places of suffering whose names only you and their friends and family know; whose lives you cherish and whose cries you hear….. A silence is kept

God in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for the people whose names and lives we know,

those who today are in pain or distress or trouble, those who are happy, those who are sad…. A silence is kept

God in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

O God. You know each of us by name. We bring you ourselves and our prayers for the things we need

…. A silence is kept

God in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Hear the cries of all these people and of your whole creation Lord Jesus Christ. And in your mercy, bring your healing and deliverance. Amen

(adapted from a prayer on the Pilgrim Uniting Church website) 

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 160: Father all-loving and ruling in majesty

                       (Tune - Was Lebet Was Schwebet)

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

          Benediction

Go as the church, as Jesus' entourage, following where he leads. Everywhere he goes he leaves healing and hope in his wake. Go, and listen, and learn, and love.

        And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with you and remain with you always, Amen 

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

                 (Tune – Aubrey)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw1sjc3JVrw




Thursday, 30 September 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 19 HC - 03 October 2021

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

________________________________________


Is your heart hard?

Sunday 03rd October 2021

Pentecost 19 Sunday year of Mark 9.30am

 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. 

Theme

God’s Family. Family is God’s idea - we are born into families to be nurtured, sustained and honoured. Families stick together through thick and thin - they teach us faithfulness.

Faithfulness counts through the tough times we can face as families. The call to faithfulness is from God and goes beyond personal challenges: it extends into all our attitudes towards our own families, the communities of which we are part, and to the whole creation and to the God who made it. 

Call to Worship - (David N Mosser and other Sources)

     Come to Christ, children of God, for all are welcome here. Receive life as a gift from God.

     From troubled times and difficult walks,

     we come to the arms of Christ.

     From separate journeys and diverse experiences,

     we gather to worship as one.

     As brothers and sisters in Christ, we come to God,

     who welcomes us here.           

     Hymn TIS 567: God of all power, and truth,

                             (Tune – Ombersley)

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku_FyO8nr-s 

     Opening Prayer

     Holy God, as we gather in your glorious presence, come and make us holy. Guide us this day, that we may receive your teachings and walk in your truth, even as we welcome others on the journey with us. Strengthen our holy communion, that we may create a community of belonging, where all are included, and where your grace binds us together in unity and love. Amen. 

      A Prayer of Confession

Holy God have mercy on us.

In your love and grace, save us from troubled times. Rescue us when suffering comes, and comfort us when grief overwhelms us.

When we wander confused, guide us back to your truth. When we waiver out of fear or weakness, strengthen our resolve and help us put our hope and trust in you. When we are abandoned and alone, gather us in the arms of your love, and remind us that we are your children and that you are our Saviour.

In your holy name, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

In God’s love and grace, we are being made holy. In God’s compassion and mercy, we are named as sisters and brothers of Christ. Rejoice and be glad, for in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we are made one with God and with one another in the body of Christ.

Thanks be to God! 

The Peace

From many paths, we gather as one in God. Let us offer signs of unity and love as we share Christ’s peace with one another.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

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

Offering

Holy God, thank you for your many gifts and your loving deeds in our lives. As we bring our gifts to your altar, send your Spirit through these offerings, that others may know your loving deeds, experience your abundant grace, and see your miraculous strength. With thanksgiving and hope, we pray. Amen 

Hymn TIS 613: Lord of all hopefulness Lord of all joy  

                                     (Tune Slane)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8mti7VL3gg                                    

The Service of Holy Communion 

The Great 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. 

We praise you O God through whom all things exist.
You loved people into being and invited them to live in harmony with you. When they turned away from you and closed their ears to your words, you did not abandon them.  Through the prophets you spoke to them in many and various ways, simply because they were chosen and beloved by you. You revealed how unchanging your love is by speaking a new and living word to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who blesses our lives with healing and wholeness and a love, which like yours, is unending and unconditional. 
And so, with all the company of heaven and earth we rejoice before you and praise your holy name saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

At this table we bear witness to the love which has been poured into our hearts and lives. We remember when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and sat down at a table to share the meal with them. At that meal - he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. We remember, and we give thanks for such outpouring of love.

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, O God, and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us the life of Christ - his life in us.  Renewed by his life and recreated in his image, we set our minds on fulfilling your purpose for us and for this world of which we are a part. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.     

The Breaking of the Bread

Because our bread has come from one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
The bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.

The cup over which we give thanks is a sharing in the blood of Christ.

Thanks be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

Come to the table, children of God, for all are welcome here. Let us open our hearts and hands, as we remember and partake together. 

Prayer after Communion

Holy God, we give you thanks that we have been fed and renewed by Christ’s life in us and we go now to share that life with others.  Send us forth equipped with the power of your Spirit to follow Jesus, and to spread the message of his love to all whom we meet.  In his name we pray.  Amen 

The Service of the Word 

                              First Reading:                   Job 1:1; 2:1-10

                             The Gospel Reading:        Mark 10:2-12,

                              After the final reading the reader will say For the Word of the Lord

                              Please respond by saying                  Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Job 1:1; 2:1-10

1 1 There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 1 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ 3 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’ 4 Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. 5 But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ 6 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.’ 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself and sat among the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God and die.’ 10 But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips. 

Mark 10:2-12,

2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ 3 He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ 4 They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ 5 But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh.9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ 10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her;12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’ 

Preaching of the Word Is your heart hard? – Mark 10: 2-12

This Sunday’s gospel has words that are likely to make us cringe. It is hard to hear them as good news! It sounds, on the face of it, that Jesus is ruling out divorce. And so many of us are divorced, or our friends and family members are. Where does that leave us?

As we reflect on this Gospel reading, we need to think about how God created man and woman to help and to care for each other. And that their relationship should be primary and permanent. This is the ideal for relationship created by God for us. And when we prepare for commitment to another person we long for the reality of this ideal. It is not likely that anyone who comes to church for marriage preparation does not hear this and intend it to be so.

But in the Gospel, we also hear the echoes of the same story in the context of a sparring match between Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees never seem to really hear Jesus and like to accuse him of blasphemy. In this particular scrap, they are trying to catch Jesus about his knowledge of the law of Moses. They ask if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus tells them that Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her. But he then goes on to say that allowing that was because of their hardness of heart. Now what does that mean?

Well, remember that in creation God gave us the ideal of man and woman in a mutually responsible and caring relationship. But in the time of Moses the status of women had dropped from that ideal to such an extent that a man was able to divorce his wife on any pretext whatsoever. She had absolutely no say in the matter. For Moses to say that a man had to write a certificate of dismissal meant that the wife’s status was raised so that she was at least not regarded as a prostitute. Which is the way she would have been regarded had she just been cast off.

Now we come to Jesus. He says that Moses gave his law because of the hardness of men’s hearts. They had been treating their wives as a possession which they had grown tired of and had not even cared if she was regarded as someone fit to be stoned. Moses’ law raised the status of women a notch. But Jesus says that God made man and woman in the beginning of creation. And in the relationship of husband and wife, they as one flesh are clearly a condition of equal value for both the woman and the man. They are to be mutually responsible in caring for each other.

Here the status of men and women is equally valuable and so Jesus is raising the status of women even more and telling the Pharisees that they must exceed the letter of the law. This, of course, upholds the ideal of life-long, mutually loving relationships. And the pain that is experienced by anyone who is going through a divorce only speaks to the validity of that ideal in all of our hearts. Because we know that it is painful to divorce. We hate it when a relationship is no longer mutually loving and caring. We agonise about the hurt that will ensue from a rupture between a couple. We work to lessen the difficulty for the children caught in such a situation. Almost never have I heard of people who think nothing of getting a divorce. It hurts.

God said in creation that it is not good for a person to live alone. When one lives alone there is the chance that there is no one to listen when we are upset. Or to celebrate the small joys of our lives with us. To fix us a hot drink on a cold and wet night. We know that it is better to have someone who cares deeply. Yet, when two people are caught in a broken relationship it is painful.

There is still the loneliness. There may be harsh recriminating words. There may be abusive behaviour to their partner of their children. There may be abusive action toward the self. No matter what one thinks there is pain. It is real and present. There is no easy way to make thing right.

People who make a decision to divorce have to live in the pain of realising that they have failed in living up to the ideal God desires for us or that they desired for themselves.

But they also might have to live in the pain of a frustrated and deadened life. One leached of meaning and satisfaction. There is no easy solution here. None that is not painful.

We live in a world full of ambiguity. We also live in a world we wish to make better. One that can fulfill our dreams. We are constantly faced with choices that are difficult to make. And choices that may have the possibility of avoiding pain, both for ourselves and for others.

Jesus does not offer us an easy world. Jesus was constantly faced with the need to respond to those who were hoping to make him seem wrong or foolish. He was steadfast in his faithfulness to God and set before us a way of forgiveness and hope. He held up to us the responsibility to be loving and just. And he held it up to us by living it out for himself. He also held up for us the necessity to choose.

Throughout his public ministry he was harassed. Not only by the Pharisees but by many others as well. In the letter to the Hebrews, you will hear that Jesus was just like we are. That it was necessary for him to be so in order for us to be saved from the power of death.

Jesus was just as we are. Facing all the vicissitudes that life has to offer us. Jesus was a real living human being just as we are. And he did not have an easy painless life. His life was not one without choices all along the way. His was even a life wherein he could not be any surer than we are that his decision was just the right one. He could only pray and try to remain faithful to what he knew and understood to God.

We are called by God to love him and be faithful. But not to live in an unambiguous world in which the choices are spelled out for us in the beginning and are easy to figure. For someone deciding whether to end a broken relationship the choice is never easy. But we know that God loves us and dreams a creative, meaningful life for us. And all along the way we must decide.

The letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus died that we might be saved from the power of death. Death haunted those around him as deaths sometimes haunt us. Death for us takes many forms. Physical death is just one of those forms. Death of a relationship is another. We must live trusting in God’s gift of freedom to us through the life of Jesus. A life of freedom is a life that is full of responsibility, and a life that is full of choices. Let us live in response to that good gift. 

Hymn 516: Here, gracious Lord, we see you face to face.

                 (Tune – St Agnes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRl0p36-mcY 

Intercessory Prayers   

Pentecost 19 Sunday – Year B

Loving God, hear the prayers we bring to you for the world and for the Church.

We pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world: for all who exercise authority, and all who work for justice and peace; for your people enslaved and exploited, hungry and homeless. Give to us the generous heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of justice.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our sisters and brothers with whom we share this land: for those whose ancestors settled this land and those who are new arrivals; for those taken from their families and those who are neglected or abused. Give to us the contrite and forgiving heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of reconciliation.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our brothers and sisters who are members of your worldwide church: for those who are newly baptised or confirmed; for children in Sunday schools and youth groups,

and members of this congregation. Give to us the trusting heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of grace.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our sisters and brothers with whom we live in this community: for civic leaders and all who contribute to the welfare of this city; for our families and friends, for our neighbours and for ourselves. Give to us the warm and welcoming heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of love.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our brothers and sisters who are in trouble or need: for the unemployed, for those trapped in addictions, and for all without hope; for the lonely and sorrowing, for the sick and all who are in pain. Give to us the hopeful heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of healing.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We remember our sisters and brothers in the whole company of heaven: all who throughout the ages have followed you with child-like faith; all whom we have loved and those of this parish who have gone before us. Give to us the faithful heart of a little child, and at our death take us in your arms and bring us home, that with all your children we may enter your eternal kingdom.

Loving God, in your 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 596: Fill my whole life, O Lord my God.

                 (Tune – Richmond)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8d0bMPl2hY   

          Benediction

         Even as we scatter to live our separate lives, we are still one body of Christ. Even as we go our separate ways, we travel this journey together. Go now to share this miraculous truth with God’s world. And the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with you and remain with you. Amen.

 

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

                       (tune – Aubrey).

                 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw1sjc3JVrw