Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford
Wisdom and Grace,
Sunday 22nd August 2021
Pentecost 13 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.
Call to Worship - (Abingdon Services 2018)
Come! Dwell in God’s courts forever.
Happy are those who live and pray in God’s house.
In God alone our hearts sing for joy.
In God alone do we find strength.
O Lord of hosts, how lovely is your dwelling place.
We have come in prayer to worship the Lord.
Hymn TIS 044: How lovely is your dwelling place.
(tune – Harrington)
God of signs and wonders, who is your equal in heaven or on earth? Walk with us in faithful love, that we may know your ways and walk in the paths of righteousness. Clothe us with the belt of truth and the breastplate of justice, that our words may be true, and our actions may be just. Protect us with the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is your holy word, that we may spread your word of peace. Fill our lives with your presence, as you filled Solomon’s temple with your glory and power, that we may stand our ground during the time of trial. Amen
Prayer of Confession
You equip us for every trial, O God, yet we forsake the protection you afford.
Even as we pledge our fidelity and trust, we act contrary to your ways.
Even as we celebrate the faithful witness of our foremothers and forefathers, we act ignorant of their example.
Even as we confess you with our lips, we deny you in our words and deeds. Forgive us this day, Merciful One, and make us ambassadors of Christ, who gives us the strength to lift up our needs in prayer. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
The One who is our protector and shield is our source of joy and happiness. The One who guards us from the forces of darkness is our hope and salvation.
Thanks be to God!
In Christ, we are called to share the good news of God’s peace. Let us live our calling as we share signs of peace with one another this day.
Peace be with you!
And also, with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)
Loving God, we rejoice in your bounty. You clothe us in the garments of salvation and care for us each and every day of our lives. In gratitude for your many blessings, we offer you our tithes and offerings, that your presence may be known throughout the world. Amen.
Hymn TIS 449: Stand up and bless the Lord.
(tune – Carlisle)
The Service of the Word
The First Reading: 1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43
The Gospel Reading: John 6:56-69,
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
1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43
22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands to heaven. 23 He said, ‘O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 24 the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. 25 Therefore, O Lord , God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, “There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.” 26 Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David. 27 ‘But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! 28 Have regard to your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today;29 that your eyes may be open night and day towards this house, the place of which you said, “My name shall be there”, that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays towards this place. 30 Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray towards this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling-place; heed and forgive. 41 ‘Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name 42 <<—for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays towards this house, 43 then hear in heaven your dwelling-place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.
56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.64 But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’ 66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ 68 Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’
Preaching of the Word - Wisdom and Grace
Two old friends recently met at a school reunion. They had not seen each other for 35 years. During that time, they had each married, raised children, worked to support their families and, they discovered, been active members of their churches. As they walked into dinner, one looked at the other and said, “We’ve aged well, but our hair has gotten to be gray, and we’re sagging in places. What have we got to say for ourselves?” His friend smiled and said, “Wisdom!”
A local Rotary club was having a hard time getting a major fundraiser off the ground. People were distracted and nobody was volunteering for the jobs that needed to be done. The organisers were both discouraged when they met with their club president, an older woman. As they talked over lunch, their president had many suggestions for how to move forward, and all of them involved giving precise tasks to people and asking them if they would do a certain job, rather than a general asking for volunteers. At the next meeting all the tasks were assigned, and the activity was a success.
These two stories illustrate something we all know: maturity and experience are valuable traits in our culture. They are in our churches as well.
From the earliest times of our ancestral faith, wisdom has always been upheld as a part of spiritual growth and development. As we grow in knowledge and love of God, we should expect to see changes in ourselves. Our tent should become bigger, not smaller. Our generosity of spirit should broaden and deepen. And we should see elders among us as gifts of wisdom and grace, especially in times of difficulty.
A church was having a conflict over worship times. There were those who wanted one service, and those who preferred an early service without music. As the discussion went on and became more divisive, one member said, “But we’ve never had an early service.” An elder stood up and replied, “Oh yes we have. I can remember …” and her explanation and tone changed the whole focus of the discussion. Elders are often sources of wisdom, and they carry the corporate history of a congregation.
But there is another side to all of this talk of wisdom: it comes in today’s gospel reading from John. Jesus says, “I am the living bread. … Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” It seems that wisdom alone does not grant us participation in the kingdom. Wisdom is rather a doorway to spiritual living that includes the Eucharist as part of our regular practice. The Eucharist feeds us with the living bread that sustains us, helps us grow in Christ, and brings us peace and maturity of life, at whatever age we may be.
As we watch Jesus dealing with the people who come to him, some pleading, some confronting, others curious, we see him over and over again answering their questions with simplicity, kindness and great power. He cannot be trapped by the powers of this world, except by his own choice; he cannot be bought or tempted by evil; and he is not compromised.
A prayer that can be used after Holy Baptism says that when we are baptised, we enter into new life and are anointed with gifts: “an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love [God], and the gift of joy and wonder in all [God’s] works.” These gifts are ones that result in spiritual wisdom and maturity. These are gifts that help us embrace the world as God’s creation rather than rejecting it as merely sinful and degraded. And that is spiritual maturity.
Right now, there is a lot of posturing and shouting going on as we approach various issues of how to move forward since Covid-19 and this posturing and shouting happens before any elections we have. Some want to join in the name calling and finger pointing; and there is plenty of reason to do so. Some Christians have always been drawn into this fray, choosing to publicly support a candidate or a cause, but we know Jesus did not do this. He saw all temporal power as limited in its scope, subject to the whims and wills of the people who put others in power, and unable to address the issues of peace and justice for many. We need to remember that, and while we hold our leaders accountable in a democracy, we also look to Jesus for leadership. I heard of one person giving a noon address during a Church Synod meeting remind people that question needing to be asked was not “What would Jesus do?” but “What did Jesus do?”
Our Christian wisdom should direct us to act in terms of our Baptismal Covenant, seeking and serving Christ in all persons. Our spiritual maturity needs to energise us to work to see the Christ in all persons. Our spiritual wisdom needs to help us know that it does not mean we have to give others what they want, but what they need. Our combined maturity and wisdom needs to lead us to remember our own need for Sabbath, the rest that restores and renews us.
Finally, the living bread that sustains us should always be our quest: Jesus, whose prayer, mind and deeds show us what to do, Jesus whose flesh and blood instil new life within us, Jesus who lives in us that we might live forever. As one of the collects from the Anglican Prayer Book gets people to pray, “Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work and to follow in the blessed steps of his most holy life.”
Hymn TIS 376: I know that my Redeemer lives.
(tune – Church Triumphant)
After the words: In your mercy,
please respond with hear our prayer.
Pentecost 13 Sunday – Year B
Living God, you spoke, and your word brought the world into being, hear our prayers for the peoples of the earth.
We pray for countries destroyed by hatred and conflict; for communities ravaged by poverty and disease. Strengthen us to stand firm against the forces of greed and destruction and make us ready to proclaim your good news of justice and peace. Living God, hear our prayer.
Your Word came among us to bring redemption to your people: hear our prayers for your worldwide church.
We pray for those who are newly baptised or confirmed; for those whose faith is weak or faltering. Strengthen us to stand firm against the powers of evil and make us ready to proclaim your good news of forgiveness and grace.
Living God, hear our prayer.
Your Word came among us to bring life and hope to the world: hear our prayers for our community.
We pray for those who suffer from neglect or abuse; for those who have no work and those who have no rest. Strengthen us to stand firm against all that devalues human life and make us ready to proclaim your good news of acceptance and love.
Living God, hear our prayer.
Your Word came among us to bring comfort and consolation to the suffering: hear our prayers for all in need.
We pray for all who feel useless, rejected, unloved; for the sick, the sorrowing and those without hope. Strengthen us to stand firm against selfishness and indifference and make us ready to proclaim your good news of compassion and care.
Living God, hear our prayer.
Your Word came among us to bring resurrection and life to your people: we remember all who have died in your love.
We give thanks for the saints and all who have believed in you; for the faithful people of this parish and all whom we have loved. Strengthen us to follow in the path of your saints, that, with them, we may find in your Word the way of eternal life and come to dwell in your house for ever.
Living God, 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 456: Your hand, O God, has guided.
(tune – Thornbury)
We will put on the full armour of God.
Stand boldly in God’s truth.
We will wear the belt of truth and put on the breastplate of justice.
Put on the shield of faith and pray with the saints.
We will wear the helmet of salvation and proclaim the gospel of peace.
Go as ambassadors of the living God, in the name of that same God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life.
Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you now.
(tune – Somos del Senor)