Thursday, 25 June 2020

Marsden Road Unting Worship Pentecost 4 28 June 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

Whom Ought I Welcome?
Sunday 28th June 2020
Pentecost 4 Sunday - year of Matthew 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

Prelude Music to prepare for worship

Call to Worship
(Deborah Sokolove, The Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)

God’s love is steadfast, inviting us to rejoice and find eternal life in love of God and others.

The Holy One calls us to trust God’s steadfast love. With our ancestor Abraham, we say:
“Here I am.”
The Holy One calls us to be guided by prophets. With the first followers of Jesus, we say:
“Here I am.”
The Holy One calls us into eternal life. With the Gospel writers, we say:
“Here I am.”
Let us worship the God who calls us.

Hymn 102: Praise to the living God    
                  (Tune – Leoni)

Praise to the living God!
All praised be His name,
Who was, and is, and is to be,
And still the same!
The one eternal God,
Ere aught that now appears;
The first, the last: beyond all thought
His timeless years!

His Spirit floweth free,
High surging where it will;
In prophet’s word He spoke of old;
He speaketh still.
Established is His law,
And changeless it shall stand,
Deep writ upon the human heart,
On sea or land.

He hath eternal life
Implanted in the soul;
His love shall be our strength and stay,
While ages roll.
Praise to the living God!
All praised be His name,
Who was, and is, and is to be,
And still the same.

Text: Jewish Doxology Translated by: Max Landsberg and Newton Mann 1914 Tune: Leoni arr. by: Meyer Lyon 1770 Source: Episcopal 1940 Hymnal #286

Opening prayer

     Wellspring of Grace, Teacher of Truth, Breath of Resurrection, you welcome us into your life, and invite us to welcome others with a cup of water, a bite of bread, a moment of conversation. As we drink from the overflowing spring of your endless love, fill our hearts with thanksgiving and joy, that we may become the body of Christ pouring our lives into a world that yearns to be filled. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Teacher of Truth, you tell us to welcome prophets and teachers, and to give to those in need.
Yet we want to hug your salvation to ourselves and keep your gifts for our own use.
You call us to be servants of your teaching, and to remember that we are no longer slaves to sin.
Yet we want to continue doing what we have always done before, hanging onto old habits and opinions, even when you show us a better way.
You even offer us eternal life when we surrender to your will.
Forgive us, Holy One, when we mistake our will for your own. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
God is a wellspring of grace, offering the gift of eternal life to all who do God’s will. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven, loved, and free.
Thanks, be to God! Amen

The Peace

In gratitude for the gift of eternal life, let us greet one another with signs of peace.
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 Young People –

Theme: Opening our hearts and homes to others
Object: "Welcome Mat"

Good morning. Have you ever seen a Welcome mat? Where have you seen something like this? Usually we'd see a mat like this outside the door to our home, wouldn't we? A mat such as this usually has two purposes. Do you know what those two purposes are?

Well, for one thing, it is a friendly reminder for people to wipe their shoes off so that they won't track dirt or mud into your home. And second, it is placed outside your door as a sign to let people know that they are welcome in your home.

Welcome — what does the word "welcome" mean? It means to receive someone in a warm and friendly way. Are people always welcome in our homes? Do we welcome people into our home if their skin is a different colour from ours? Do we welcome people into our homes if they don't have as much money as we do?

How about in our church? Do you think that we make everyone feel welcome in our church? Do we speak to those people who are visiting our church that we do not know? If someone comes to our church and they are not dressed the way we are dressed, do we make sure that they are made to feel welcome?

Jesus said, "He who receives you receives me." If we turn that around, we will understand that if we do not welcome others into our homes and into our churches, it is the same as if we are refusing to welcome Jesus. We wouldn't do that, would we?

Well, let's put the welcome mat out — and let's be sure that we mean it!


Offering Prayer

God of grace and truth, you welcome us into your presence and provide refreshment and renewal for our lives in Jesus, your Son, our Lord.  Receive and bless these gifts and our lives which we offer in response to your many gracious gifts to us.  May our hands be always open to welcome people in Jesus’ name.  Amen

Hymn 129: Amazing grace
               (Tune – Amazing Grace)

1.  Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

2.  ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

3.  Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

4.  When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun;
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Then when we first begun.

5.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Was blind, but now I see.

Lyrics: John Newton (1725-1807)
The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                                            Romans 6:12-23
The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 10:40-42

Readings: NRSV

Romans 6:12-23

12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. 20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death.22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 10:40-42

40 ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’

Preaching of the Word

Whom Ought I Welcome? – Matthew 10:40-42

“Jesus said, ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’”
Just so we get this straight: whoever welcomes you welcomes Jesus, and whoever welcomes your friend or neighbour or family member or work colleague or elected official or mother-in-law or next door neighbour or chatty seat companion on an airplane or the stall holder at the Farmers market or grocery checkout person or barber (if you still use one) or the Startrack driver or the child who hit your new car with a soccer ball…and so on and so forth…welcomes God? We could have fun with this! But would there ever be an end to such a list of those who are welcome? If there is an end to such a list of who is welcome, what does this mean? And if not, well- what does that mean?

Whoever welcomes you welcomes me. And whoever welcomes any one of us welcomes Jesus, welcomes God.
The message we hear in this morning’s gospel reading from Matthew was important enough to Jesus and to the early church that some variation on this theme shows up in each gospel, and often more than once. There are numerous other examples and variations throughout the New Testament record. The bottom-line emphasis seems to be on inclusion, reciprocity, welcome and doing for others—all those things it takes to build up community, to include the stranger as neighbour. If we can believe the record of today’s lesson and so many other passages, Jesus and the early disciples and later apostles put a high value on welcoming and proclaiming the presence of God thereby.

Pause for a moment and think about what we’ve been hearing through all the election drama and to the present day about division, exclusion, keeping people separated, kicking people out.

There may be legitimate and compelling reasons to consider the economic impact or national safety issues in such things, but if an inhospitable, exclusive attitude goes along with these ideas, then they are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus who talked so very much about welcome, inclusion, hospitality.

Hospitality is a primary ethic of the cultures and peoples of the Middle East even now. Whether one is brought into a family home of Muslims, Christians or Jews, there is joy in welcoming, there is the belief that it is desired of God, the welcoming of strangers who are strangers no longer, but beloved friends, believing that in welcoming people into one’s home they are earning their crown in heaven, doing as God would have them do in welcoming the living God among us.

Such an understanding of hospitality, of the obligation of welcome, dates back to well before the time of Jesus. It was a matter of survival and community health which translated into the religious understanding of what God wants of us. Where and how do we experience such welcome today?

“Jesus said, ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’”
Is this what we hear? Or do we hear, instead, words of separation, words of breaking relationship, words of opposition and repudiation?

So many of the ugly attitudes playing out on the world stage and in the evening news have spilled over into our popular culture, showing up in a variety of television shows with comments about the increase in bullying not only among children in our schools, but flowing out into our neighbourhoods, showing up in stepped-up immigration strictures and deportation raids, among other things.

Where is our witness to welcoming others, and thereby welcoming Jesus and the one who sent him? This Sunday falls is close two other occasions marked by some on their Church calendar: Queens Birthday Weekend celebration here in NSW and other states and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. It is important to note this for a number of reasons. First, think about Peter and Paul. They did not agree on many things, didn’t get along at all, and finally went their separate ways in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Peter insisted that the early believers must follow Jewish ways, must be circumcised, must hold to the Law. Paul’s vision led him to distant lands proclaiming faith in a risen Christ and urging believers to conform their lives to that faith. What they had in common, though, was the conviction that God had visited humanity in Jesus, and that Jesus had brought something new and remarkable to humankind demonstrated in a way to live, a way to relate and a way to witness to God’s love. And they both understood that the welcome of God was an invitation to a place in God’s kingdom.

As we celebrate this this Queens Birthday, and as some sing Advance Australia or God Save Our Queen, and as we have parties, picnics, BBQ’s etc., let us also ask ourselves what Jesus meant in telling us over and over again, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Matthew 10:40).

We may believe differently about the details of faith, as Peter and Paul certainly did and as Christians are wont to do. We may understand civic responsibility differently; Americans have always held a variety of opinions on things.

But for us as Christian Australians the question of the day growing out of this gospel text asks: What does it mean to welcome, and how do we do that? What does it look like in our churches, in our neighbourhoods, in our national policies, in our very attitudes? For we are Christians first, as citizens of God’s kingdom, living that faith in an Australian context of privilege and challenge.
Jesus didn’t say that we have to agree on everything, but he pretty clearly told us to be welcoming. Like Peter and Paul, we won’t all agree on everything. And as Australians, we will stand proudly to celebrate on the Fourth. When we put all that together, one possible outcome is that we may have to agree to disagree on some aspects of Australian policy as we live our Christian faith in daily practice.

Christian people are called to be welcoming, for in welcoming others we welcome God. Can we at least agree on that? As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us, when we welcome strangers, we may be entertaining angels unaware. 

Hymn 585: I heard the voice of Jesus say
                 (Tune – Kingsfold)

1.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
lay down, O weary one, lay down
your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
weary and worn and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.

2.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
the living water; thirsty one,
stoop down and drink, and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.

3.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's Light;
look unto me, your morn shall rise,
and all your days be bright."
I looked to Jesus and I found
in him my Star, my Sun;
and in that light of life I'll walk,
'til travelling days are done.

Tune: Kingsfold

Music to lead us to prayer

Intercessory Prayers  

Come to prayer, all who labour and are heavy laden, and God will give us rest. Come to praise,
Lord, hear our prayer.
We thank you for the revelation of your gift of abundant life and for the rest coming to those who put their trust in you. For such life and rest, we pray to you Lord,
Lord, hear our prayer.
We thank you for entrusting us with the message of your grace and love, that we might speak a reconciling word to our age. For such mercy, we pray to you Lord,
Lord, hear our prayer.
We thank you for leading us into the ways of peace and for transforming weapons of war into tools of charity. For such peacemaking, we pray to you Lord,
Lord, hear our prayer.
We thank you for the people of faith who surround us, and for family and friends, teachers and clergy, especially ………... and for all who assist our growth in grace. For such companions through life, we pray to you Lord,
Lord, hear our prayer.
We thank you for the gifts of creation and for wholesome times of recreation. For such times of harmony, we pray to you Lord,
Lord, hear our prayer.
We thank you for those who tend the sick, accompany the frustrated, visit the lonely, comfort the dying, confront the addicted, or minister to any need. For such attention to human anguish, we pray to you Lord,
Lord, hear our prayer.
We thank you for sustaining all who are oppressed, all who suffer for reasons of conscience, all who are passionate for justice and all those in need of our prayers for any reason, [especially N.]. For such relief from their burdens and refreshment in you, we pray to you Lord,
Lord, hear our prayer.
Into your hands, O God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Hymn 650: Brother, sister, let me serve you
                   (Tune – Servant Song)

Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ light for you
in the nighttime of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I'll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we've seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we've known together
of Christ's love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

Authors: Richard Gillard
Arranger: Betty Pulkingham

       With prophets and teachers, and all who seek to do the will of God— let us go forth to fill the empty cups of all who ask; let us give in the name of the Breath of Resurrection, the Wellspring of Grace, the Teacher of Truth: The One, Triune God, who gives eternal life. Let us share the blessings of Christ’s eternal covenant, and praising God for the Spirit’s call to love and give. Amen.                   
                 (Tune – Somos del Senor)

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.
May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends.
In all your living and through your loving,
Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom