Gathering God’s People
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.
God powerfully responds to the cries of the powerless.
The book of 1 Samuel describes the leaders of Israel, Eli the high Priest and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas who are corrupt and violent (they are profiting from the people of Israel).
Throughout this story though, we find Hannah showing us how to pray for God’s kingdom to come, especially when we are feeling alone or powerless. We are never alone as God is always with us. Hannah prayed even when she felt shame, humiliation and harassment. She felt quite powerless to change her circumstances and her nations circumstances, but it was through prayer that she finds hope. Hannah’s story leads us to the mystery that God is at work, even when we can’t feel it. Hannah’s suffering gives birth to deliverance for her and also for the people of Israel. Through Hannah’s hardship hope is found. Likewise with Jesus – through his death, hope was found.
Call to Worship
Come into this sacred space to worship God
whose teaching is perfect; whose directions are sure.
Come into this holy place to worship God
whose standards are right; whose commandment is clear; whose judgements are true.
Come with holy fear — to be given life, and made wise, to have your heart stirred and your eyes opened wide. Come — let us worship God.
Let the words of our mouths and the whispering of our hearts be acceptable to you,
Source of life,
Word of life,
Breath of life.
Hymn TIS 560: All my hope on God is founded
(Tune – Michael)
God of new beginnings and endless possibilities, grant us the courage to reach out and claim the promises of your faithful love. As we pour out the deepest desires of our hearts, fill our souls with peace, for you alone are our hope and our salvation. Give us eyes to see the longing of our neighbours and grant us the wisdom to offer words of comfort and assurance, that we might be instruments of your mercy and your grace. For you are our rock and our hiding place, O God. You are our fortress in times of trouble. In joy we reach for you, and in joy you gather us to your breast. Be with us in this time of worship and heal the pain we carry in our hearts. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Look upon your servants with mercy, O God, for our burdens lay heavy upon us and bring us to our knees.
Our hearts are touched by sorrows so deep they seem beyond limit. In our hour of need, we yearn to hear words of comfort and grace.
Speak to us now, Holy One, in the silence of our aching hearts, for your servants are listening and longing for your touch. Amen
Declaration of Forgiveness
Hold fast to the promises of God, for our hope is strong and true. When we meet together as believers and share our burdens with one another before God, we find fullness of grace. In the name of Christ, we are renewed and made whole.
Thanks be to God!
Let us share the peace of Christ, as we encourage one another to live in love and hope.
Peace be with you!
And also, with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)
God of hope and promise, fill us with your joy, that we might live in deepest gratitude for your manifold blessings. Be our rock and our sure foundation, that we might have the courage to proclaim your good news in a world filled with fear and frustration. Multiply our gifts, that they might feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and bring your blessings to the world. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
Hymn TIS 690: Beauty for Brokenness
(Tune – Beauty for Brokenness)
The Service of the Word
First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:4-20
The Gospel Reading: Mark 13: 1-8
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 Samuel 1:4-20
4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; 5 but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6 Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year after year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore, Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’ 9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 She made this vow: ‘O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.’ 12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore, Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.’ 15 But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.’ 17 Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.’ 18 And she said, ‘Let your servant find favour in your sight.’ Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer. 19 They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked him of the Lord.’
Mark 13: 1-8
1 As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’ 2 Then Jesus asked him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ 3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?’ 5 Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and they will lead many astray. 7 When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
Preaching of the Word - Expectations
When we woke up this morning, many of us stepped into a world of expectations. This was not a conscious decision; it's just where we live, in a land where life is good, we have the luxury of taking many things for granted. If the night had been warm and the day is forecast for heat the air conditioning probably stayed on so we could awake to a comfortable room temperature; and if it was dark when we awoke, we reached for a light switch so the invisible dangers could be revealed. Then we walked into a room with running water inside the house. Now you're even listening to my voice through Internet Technology – Zoom or you might have been in days before Covid listening through a sound system. And, you expected and hoped it would work so you could hear me when the switch was turned on.
So many things we expect in life we just take for granted until something doesn't work. The alarm doesn't go off. It's hot in the house. It’s cold in the house and the heating doesn’t come on. The light switch is non-responsive. We panic for a minute. We get frustrated. Then we think, "This is not how my day is supposed to be. My life is supposed to play out in such a way that I have all that I need to be comfortable. However, this morning, somebody or something flipped the script. And now I have no power when I'm supposed to have power."
Most of the rest of our world plays out a very different script; a minor power outage is disappointing. Outside of our country or outside of our neighbourhood there are problems and concerns many of us can't even begin to comprehend. There are illnesses that can't be treated, people dying in need of food, political and civil unrest, and overt exploitation and abuse of humanity and nature. A power outage in most of the world is a good day. Yet many of us see the discomfort and shock of power outages in this country, natural disasters like hurricanes and weather-pattern changes, wars in places where wars have been waged since the beginning of recorded history, and some of us interpret these events as "the sign of the times."
Where we live, 'be alert' has become more a catchcry in the 'war against terror' or a tool in the weaponry of road-safety campaigners, than an issue of spiritual 'safety'. What kinds of spheres do we need to be alert in where we live? What do we expect our world to be like in such an environment? One field in which we certainly need to remain spiritually alert and informed about our expectations is in the face of the multitudinous cranks out there peddling extremist, fundamentalist versions of what Jesus is on about.
Not just in what we consider 'extremist' churches, but within mainline ones these days. In this last year, I've come across nasty instances in our Denomination and other Denominations here in Australia and worldwide. It can happen!
It doesn’t just happen out there somewhere but could even happen right here in our own congregation. How can we live in our time and God's time at the same time, in the world and in the church as Christ's Body, and do it free from fear? 'Perfect love casts out fear' says John. Persecution of Christians these days in some of our societies is just as likely to come from fundamentalist protestant or catholic factions within churches more than from outside.
Besides which, those out there in the wide margins probably think we're not worth persecuting any more. All the fun has gone out of the game! Nevertheless, it still lingers within in some quarters. The places where misguided people try to draw in church margins tightly round fellow Christians. Isn't it ironic that that's the way Jesus' warnings may be fulfilled today?
That Jesus speaks of wars, earthquakes, and famines, as 'the beginning of birth-pangs' could be a helpful way of exploring the pains that our world still - as always - labours under. We have become very comfortable with the expectation that all will remain the same or get better. I really wonder where our focus might be. Is it in the expectation of all the comforts being there and available all the time? On the other hand, is it on where God calls us to be and is it on the most important thing of God’s great love for us?
What do we really have to bear to bring something
worthwhile to birth? Have we even thought about it? Have we thought about what
it is we are meant to be doing to bring about the
Are you listening for God’s Holy Spirit for what you say and how you face those whom you meet day to day? And what is this end that Jesus talks about? Whom, is the end for and is it important? Is our call to be working to enable God’s kingdom to be here and now in his love the most important thing? Is this gospel passage too close to the bone?
Hymn: TIS 172: My soul gives glory to my God
(Tune – Morning Song)
After the words: In your mercy,
please respond with: hear our prayer.
Sunday – Year B
We can meet God’s presence in the silence of our inner hearts, but we need to find a quiet place and some time to tune out our chattering thoughts and just turn our hearts and wills to loving God and letting God’s love and grace and peace flow through us.
God of covenant, whose faithfulness and promise are everlasting: let your Spirit whisper your faithfulness to the oppressed and grieving; your promise to the ‘pushed aside’ and lonely; and let your Word speak hope to the distressed.
In your mercy, hear our prayer
Hear the cry of those who call on your name: those we have named on our lips, and in the silence of our hearts; and those whose troubles are known only to you.
In your mercy, hear our prayer
Loving God whose decrees are sure, whose precepts are right, and whose glory is wordlessly spoken from one end of the cosmos to the other; hear our prayer, in Jesus’ name.
Loving God our joy, is to be there before you our Lord, that’s all, To shut the eyes of my body, To shut the eyes of my soul, And to be still and silent, To expose myself to you who are there, exposed to me, To be there before you, the Eternal Presence, I am willing to feel nothing, Lord, to see nothing to hear nothing.
Empty of all ideas of all images, In the darkness. Here I am, simply To meet you without obstacles, In the silence of faith, Before you, Lord.
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.
Hymn TIS 607: Make me a Channel of your Peace.
(Tune – Channel of Peace)
Go in peace, remembering a mother’s faith in God— a faith that brought comfort and strength in the midst of her longing and pain. Go in love, remembering a saviour’s trust in God — a trust that revealed the promise of eternal life. Go with God.
TIS Hymn 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
(Tune – Aubrey).