Thursday, 9 September 2021

Marsden Road Unting Worship Pentecost 16 - 12 September 2021


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


The Teacher’s Achilles Heel

Sunday 12th September 2021

Pentecost 16 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 Focus

We each proclaim who Christ is by what we say about him,

and how we live out our faith in our everyday lives. Let us reflect around the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Do you think this is true? When have you felt hurt by other peoples’ words?

When might your words have hurt others? When have you felt encouraged and affirmed by other people’s words? When have you been able to encourage and affirm others? When have you proclaimed the love of Christ with your words?

When have you proclaimed the love of Christ with your actions? We are not always careful with our words or our actions. I invite you to reflect on this during a prayer of confession.  

Call to Worship - (Abingdon Worship 2015 and Billabong)

God calls out to us in yearning love: through quiet calls amidst the din of human enterprise; through sudden glimpses of the glory of creation; creation; through light shining forth from the word of God, from worship, and from Jesus the Messiah. In all places and in all things, God calls out to us in yearning love.

Wisdom cries in the street, calling aloud to each of us.

Hear her voice and walk in God’s ways.

Wisdom speaks of God’s truth, proclaiming God’s praise.

Heed her counsel and follow the Lord.

Hymn TIS 155 O Lord my God, when I in awesome Wonder                              (tune – O Store Gud) 

Opening Prayer

God of wisdom and truth, speak to us now. Inspire us with your word. Speak clearly to our hearts that we may walk in your ways and live in your love. In the name of Christ, our Messiah, we pray. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession

Wise, knowing God, you see our hearts so clearly. You speak to our lives so profoundly. And yet, we are often unable or unwilling to hear your truth and go where you lead.

Even as we praise you with our mouths, we disgrace ourselves in words spoken to others with tongues of vicious fire.

Forgive us for our hard hearts and stubborn ears. Forgive us for our hateful words and cruel gossip.

Forgive us for our wilful ignorance of the joy and gift you offer in your law of love.

Help us live in your love and walk in your truth, that we might be your people, and you might be our God. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Those who listen to God’s wisdom live secure and at peace, without dread of disaster. Christ is our wisdom and our way. In Christ, we are forgiven! We are redeemed in God’s eyes.

Thanks be to God. 

The Peace

As forgiven and reconciled people of God, let us greet one another with words of peace and love.

Peace be with you!

And, also with you!

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

Offering Prayer

Glorious God, your teachings are more to be desired than gold or silver. May these gifts be transformed into your gifts for all the world. May our lives drip with the sweetness of your truth. May our love flow with the honey of your grace. Bless these gifts and bless our lives, that all may glorify you. In trust, we pray. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 465: Father in heaven, grant to your children.

                       (tune – Halad)                  

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                          James 3:1-12

The Gospel Reading:                      Mark 8:27-38

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 

James 3:1-12 

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. 

Mark 8:27-38 

27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ 28 And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ 29 He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ 

Preaching of the Word - The Teacher’s Achilles Heel

The teaching profession has always received mixed reactions, yet Teachers are universally revered. At the same time young people are advised not to become teachers because the salaries are low and some even denigrate teachers. There is the “truism”: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

This same ambivalence is found in the religious world. Theological professors and teachers are often paid ridiculously low salaries and are sometimes ridiculed by their students as being “unable to minister and pastor in a parish.” 

Think of when we have a baptism and think of its meaning.

Also, when James talks about teaching he is not just talking to any particular group. He is reminding us that all the baptised have a responsibility for sharing the faith, teaching the faith and living the faith. Get the connection. When baptism occurs for someone here at Marsden Road they become the newest member of this part of the body of Christ.

As they grow, they will learn from observing our actions.

The person will learn from observing our daily living out of our faith. 

From those learning’s, the person will mature and take their place as each one of us has and be a light of Christ in this world. James says that most people in the church should avoid teaching because religious teachers will be held to a higher standard by God. 

We are to be careful about everything we say and do.

James warns those teachers who cannot control their tongues and he implies that it is the Achilles heel for teachers. Teachers who speak erroneously were a problem in the first century because of the democratic approach of local congregations. James is quick to admit that all Christians commit sins of the tongue, not only teachers. 

It’s an assertion that hardly ever receives any argument.

James could say with Isaiah the prophet, “I am a man of unclean lips.” Nevertheless, He gives several warnings against allowing one’s tongue to go unregulated. James likens an unbridled tongue to a ship without a rudder, or a fire that is out of control. James also suggests that there are some areas where one can control one’s tongue. 

Blessing and cursing should not come from the same mouth.

If speaking error is a sin into which we all fall, I wonder why James singles out teachers. He seems to believe that teachers are especially vulnerable to the problem of what comes from our mouths. Teachers use words more frequently than do most people and their vocation has them bear a great burden. 

Students hang on to their every word as any recently baptised person will hang on to the words and take in the actions you show forth in your lives. Remember how important our role is as the baptised in sharing the faith and encouraging and supporting others in their faith journey.

God will hold teachers and each one of us accountable for what we have taught about our faith and how we have demonstrated that faith in our lives. For ministers and for laypeople alike that teach and belong in the church, this can be discouraging. 

To add to this warning, James says that our words are spiritual indicators. The words that we use indicate what is in our hearts. If our words are not spiritual, then we aren’t spiritual either. This does not mean that James is advocating for a spiritualist vocabulary.

On the contrary, he wants our words to be judged by their sincerity. This idea is often ignored in conversations among Christians. In an attempt to “be spiritual” Christians are tempted to use religious language as a means to impress others. This is the very thing James warns against. 

This kind of warning resounds throughout the book of James. He is worried that Christians will say all the right things but fail to do the right things. He argues with those who talk about faith but fail to emphasize deeds. The proof of one’s spirituality is not only what you say, but what you do.

So, this warning about what you say is important. It is a reminder that words are deeds in the sense that they can help or hurt the person who speaks them and the person who hears them. 

One might be tempted to become mute in light of James’s warning concerning the dangers of sinful speech. However, that is not what he recommends. We are encouraged not to be silent, but we are to use our words wisely. Like any tool words can be hurtful and they can injure at a distance. 

Look at a screwdriver. It is a wonderful tool for fixing things, yet it can be used to kill. 

So, words also can be used for good or for evil.

The key is in learning how to control our tongues.

This means learning to think before we speak.

It also means choosing words that do not offend or label.

Is it difficult?

You betcha it is.

Is it important?

Again, to me it obviously is. 

Hymn TIS 596 - Fill my whole life, O Lord my God.

                     (tune – Richmond) 

Intercessory Prayers  

      After the words:            Word of God,

      please respond with      hear our prayer. 

Pentecost 16 Sunday – Year B 

Wisdom of God, at the creation of the world you were by God's side: we pray for the world and its inhabitants.

Teach your people to cherish the beauty of the earth, share justly the riches it provides and live together in harmony.

Word of God, hear our prayer.

Wisdom of God, you cry out to us to set aside foolishness and listen to your counsel: we pray for all with responsibility in public life.

Give wisdom to all in authority, that they may be protected from self-interest and serve the common good.

Word of God, hear our prayer.

Wisdom of God, you call us to eat of your bread and drink of your wine: we pray for your church.

Equip your ministers to care for your people and make us a community of faith whose works proclaim your gospel to the world.

Word of God, hear our prayer.

Wisdom of God, with the children of humanity you delight to make your home: we pray for those with whom we share our lives.

Send your blessing on this community, our families and our friends, that we may live together in mutual care, respect and love.

Word of God, hear our prayer.

Wisdom of God, you are the bright image of God's goodness: we pray for all who are in need.

Befriend the lonely, comfort the sad, encourage the despairing and bring relief to all who are in pain.

Word of God, hear our prayer.

Wisdom of God, you can renew all things and order all things well: we pray for ourselves.

Help us to re-order our lives that we may turn away from the pursuit of what is worthless and follow in your ways.

Word of God, hear our prayer.

Wisdom of God, in every generation you enter holy souls and make them friends of God and prophets: we praise you for your holy people of every age.

Enter into our souls that we may follow you faithfully to our life's end and, in the company of all God's friends and prophets, enter into the joy of everlasting life.

Wisdom and Word of 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 409: O breath of life come sweeping through us.

                                 (tune – Spiritus Vitae) 


Wisdom cries out in the street. In the square she raises her voice.

At the busiest corner she cries out. At the entrance to the city gates, she speaks.

Let us go forth into the world, carrying God’s wisdom and love to every person we meet.

Thanks be to God! 

Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you now.

                 (tune – Somos del Senor)

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