|New Book now Available|
Here is an anthology of over 1100 brief prayers and thought-starters, for each day of the year, with almost 400 original prayers by Bruce Prewer.
Included is both a subject index and an index of authors-- an ecumenical collection of about 300 different sources.
| Title: Brief Prayers for Busy People.|
Author: Bruce D Prewer
Available from Australian Church Resources,
web site www.acresources.com.au
or by order from your local book shop
or online on amazon.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
Matthew 2: 13-23 (Sermon 1: “Why all the fuss about Jesus?”)
(Sermon 2: “Let’s play happy families”)
Hebrews 2: 10-18
We may have stopped feasting,
many folk may have a hangover,
but certainly Christmas is not over:
Christ our Saviour is born among us
Amen! Thanks be to God!
Praise, yes joyfully praise our God!
Lift praises high above the clouds!
Sing praise from outer space!
Sing praise all you angels!
Praise God all stars in the universe!
Praise, yes joyfully praise our God!
The amazing grace of the Child of Bethlehem be with you all.
And also with you.
It is a bit difficult, isn’t it,
to bounce back from the busyness and excitement
which that led to the celebrations of Christmas Day?
If we now feel weary and our spirits flat,
it is not easy to present eagerly for public worship.
Yet maybe this is when our Christmas worship
reaches deeper and higher than before.
For today we worship in spite of sluggish feelings
or in defiance of very weary minds and bodies.
Therefore today is very special.
With Isaiah of old we dare to say:
Today we will recount the steadfast love of God,
and give praise to our loving Lord,
in response to all that has been done for us,
and God’s generous goodness to the house of Israel,
which has been given our of sheer mercy
and from God’s abundant generosity.
Loving God, as we gather to praise you, give us both the desire and the will to rise above dullness of mind and spirit. Enable us to make ample room for the presence and growth of Christ Jesus in our lives. May our minds be open enough, our spirits humble enough, and our hearts warm enough to receive and entertain him with great joy. For your name’s sake.
In our pr ayers of confession we reflect on recent festivities. It has been said that confession is good for the soul. The Bible is more holistic in its view; confession is good for body, mind and soul. The excesses of Christmas can acutely remind us of our that truth.
Let us pray.
Most Holy Friend, God and Saviour, our lives are so crowded and rushed, that even our holy days and vacations can leave little room for searching thought and prayer. Have mercy on our pretentious, scurrying, little lives.
If in our busy flurrying we left scant room for the whole needs of our family, and friends, and fellow church members;
Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
If in our short sighted worrying about hospitality and gifts, we became insensitive to wonder and awe in the presence of your Holy Incarnation;
Christ have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
If in our frenetic scurrying between self indulgent feasts, we insulated ourselves against the cries of the hungry and oppressed, the poor and the dispossessed;
Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Holy Friend, save us not only from our obvious sins but also from our misplaced energies. Save us from wasting the precious moments of life on that which is second-best, and from gaining a world of tinsel but losing our own souls. Assist us to tap in to that eternal Source of “light and life and holy joy” which nothing can ever take from us, yet from which we ourselves can slip down among that trivia which leads to darkness. Please put your arms around us, lift us up and bear us on your shoulders. Grant this we pray. Through Christ Jesus our Brother and Saviour.
The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be always with you.
And also with you.
PRAYER FOR CHILDREN
isn’t it weird that having got ourselves
so excited about receiving presents at Christmas,
already some gifts don’t mean much to us?
Have we been looking for happiness
in the wrong places, God?
Bring us back to your Christmas gift,
that special present of baby Jesus,
lying in a poor manger for his cot.
Help us to find our true happiness
by letting him live in our hearts.
See Australian Psalms page 29
Ó B D Prewer & Open Book Publishers
Like boat people,
at the midnight hour,
they flee their coast,
hiding far from homeland
and the massacres of foul men
intent on holding power
at any cost.
I see them arrive
on our land’s wide shore,
to be seized by authority
and summarily consigned
to remote detention camps
where hope soon turns sour
After two harsh years
their case in heard
by the keepers of my nation.
Mary, Joseph and the Child,
are despatched back
to King Herod
who strokes his beard
Ó B D Prewer 2000
Holy Friend, from whom every family on earth receives its hope, please induct us into the faith which sustained Mary and Joseph. Pity our vulnerability, and enable us to see and trust your saving hand in all events. Lead us from danger to safety, and at the right time, from a precarious environment into your eternal home. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
SERMON 1: WHY ALL THE FUSS ABOUT JESUS?
Matthew 2: 13-23
Why all the fuss about one baby born in one small village in Judea? Who is this Jesus whose birthday we celebrated yesterday? Who is he for us?
First, the ugly episode in today’s Gospel reading. The slaughter of Bethlehem’s infants is a gruesome event. Unfortunately it fits the kind of violent world we know to well.
Massacres do happen. In more recent times they have happened in Bosnia and Cambodia, Rwanda and India, Indonesia and China, Bali and New York, Indonesian Ambon and Iraq’s Kurdish region.
What is more appalling is that we don’t have to go far back in Australian history to find massacres taking place here. Aborigines were hunted down by men on horses with dogs, women wre raped and children had their brains splattered on rocks.
Australia, New Zealand, Canada, U.S.A, South Africa and British Northern Ireland, have all stained their soil with the blood of murdered innocents.
So it was in the time of Jesus. King Herod stopped at nothing to retain power, even murdering members of his own family, including 3 of his sons. At his death, his will asked that one member of every family in the land be killed so that the nation would truly be in mourning.
No surprise then that Matthew tells of a massacre in Bethlehem by this King Herod. A massacre of all the infants under the age of about two years. We see Mary, Joseph, and their Child, fleeing the Egypt; just as millions of refugees have fled their homeland in recent decades
Jesus escaped, many did not. The terrible sound of wailing parents filled Bethlehem, just as parents are wailing this very day in various places around the globe.
However, as relevant as this account in Matthew seems for us today, we need to realise that Matthew was not telling the story to remind us of our responsibility to welcome refugees. Or to make us guilty about the brutal aspects of our national history.
Matthew had a much deeper theological point to make. It was about the unique status of Mary’s firstborn child.
Up to the time of Jesus the biggest name, and the most revered in the remarkable story of the Jews, was Moses. Moses was paramount, even more revered than Abraham and King David.
You and I cannot even begin to comprehend how awesome Moses was, and is, in Jewish thinking. He was a giant and his words were sacrosanct.
Moses was the warrior Saviour of the nation who delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. Moses was a special man who spoke with God face to face and came away unscathed. Moses was the remarkable law giver who shaped the Hebrew tribes to do what was right in the eyes of Yahweh.
Moses was the colossus. He still is.
Matthew dared to place another name beside Moses. He told of an amazing newcomer who was also God’s liberator and teacher of the ways of God.
Matthew deliberately emphasised the parallels between Jesus and Moses.
* Moses was born at a time when Egypt’s king had ordered the death of every new born Jewish boy in the land. When Jesus was born king Herod ordered all infant boys in Bethlehem, up to the age of two years, to be slaughtered.
* Moses escaped the slaughter by the providence of God, who had larger plans for him.
Jesus escaped the slaughter by the providence of God who had larger plans for him.
* Moses the liberator led his people under the cover of darkness to make their escape.
Joseph takes Mary and the baby in the middle of the night to make their escape.
* When the time was ripe, Moses led his people out of Egypt on the way to the Promised
Land. When the time was ripe, Joseph brought his wife and child out of Egypt back home to the
There is no doubt that Matthew wanted his readers to notice these parallels. This Jesus is one who is similar to the greatest person in their rich religious and ethical history. As such he deserved their rapt attention.
YET GREATER THAN MOSES
But there is more. As his Gospel unfolds Matthew reveals Jesus as greater than Moses. Matthew does not only underline the parallels, he also highlights differences. For Matthew, Jesus does not annul Moses and his law, but exceeds them.
The weight of the Law of Moses ground people down and made many fastidious, nit-picking and exclusive. The love of Jesus lifted people up and included them.
The Law of Moses dealt with external behaviour, things that can be commanded and policed by religious or political enforcers. Jesus dug deeper into our thoughts and motives.
Moses delivered judgement and condemnation to sinners. Jesus called welcomed sinners and brought them forgiveness and liberation.
The rigid disciples of Moses could become self righteous. Those who trusted Jesus were content to be embraced by, and have their sins covered by, God’s righteousness.
There you have it! From the opening pages of his Gospel Book, Matthew was preparing his readers for a giant leap of faith. “Get ready,” Matthew was saying, “to lift your sights far higher than the teaching of Moses, and to delve far deeper into the most Holy Mystery of God .”
WHAT ABOUT US?
I commenced by asking: “Who is this Jesus whose birthday we celebrated yesterday? Who is he for us?” Matthew also puts that question to us.
Your response cannot be assessed by the lavishness of your recent celebrations. The question “who is this Jesus” can only be answered by the way we actually live our daily lives when the Christmas extravaganza is over. Do our lives exhibit the fruits of faith in Christ.
For example, how well do we treat those close to us? How do we treat those who are not close to us? How much do we cherish and build up our Christian fellows? How do we handle conflicts of opinion within the church?
Do we attempt to live the compassionate life style of Jesus in this greedy, hard-nosed society. To what degree do we love not only our friends but also our enemies? Do we do good to those who hurt us and pray for those who persecute us?
By the quality of our loving we store up treasures in heaven? Or will it be that we, either openly or secretly, store up treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt, an anxieties broke inand steal our peace?
Do we really believe in One who is greater than Moses? Do we trust something deeper and mor genrous than an outward, law-abiding life? Is Sunday truly the Lord’s Day of resurrection liberty and not some boring conformity to the Sabbath ordered by Moses?
Maybe Matthew is saying to us “Hey, it’s time to get real!”
SERMON 2: HAPPY FAMILIES?
“If you obey the Lord by honouring your father and making your mother happy, you will live a long life.”
Much of the church today will be focussing on the Holy Family as a model for our families.
Let me say at the outset, that I regard much of what is sometimes offered from pulpits on this subject, to be simplistic, saccharine piety far removed from the complex dynamics of our real families.
HONOUR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER?
The writer of Sirach is big on obeying and honouring father and on making mother happy. “If you obey the Lord by honouring your father and making your mother happy, you will live a long life.”
Behind this teaching are assumptions. It is assumed that mother and father will be honourable people.
I spent one third of my life in an era when parents abrogated their responsibility, by handing over the teaching of children the basics of the faith to Sunday Schools.
In the second third of my life I saw parents who would not even bother to send their kids to Sunday School.
Today (in the last third of my life) there is a dangerous vacuum. Very little spiritual and moral teaching now goes on in the homes of our nation, or at any other level.
In fact, far from being “honourable parents” the vast majority by word and deed give an example of naked hedonism. I believe we are rearing a society of sociopaths (with varying degrees of anti-social manifestations) where “everyone does what seems good for their selfish interests.”
How can we expect children to honour a father and mother who have little wisdom, morality, or altruism about them?
How can you ask children to respect parents who spend much of their time fornicating among their friends and neighbours? Parents who readily put their marriages at risk? Think of the kids who wake up in the morning to find that Mum has once more shared their bed with yet another “uncle.”. What possible sense could the words of Sirach make in the ears of children in such situations?
How can a child honour parents who spend their evenings squandering household money on the ‘pokies’? Why should a child obey parents who do not feed and clothe them adequately? And how can children be expected to honour parents who physically abuse them?
There are thousands of children out there who are doing it tough! As one teenage girl recently said to her middle-aged school teacher, who at least listens to sorrows: “You are more than a mother to me than my Mum has ever been.”
I do not think the teaching of Sirach would make much sense to tens of thousands of children and young people in our nation.
On the other hand, I want to affirm those parents among us who are doing a wonderful job.
Many of you are giving your utmost in the Christian nurture of your children. In a secular, pagan society you are giving parenthood your best shot. I admire you as you provide your children with a wonderful heritage. You are parents who will be honoured, not because the church tells your children that they should honour you, but because you are through and through honourable parents. [Note that I did not say “perfect parents”. Every family is in some degree dysfunctional. None of us get it completely right. But “honourable’? Yes. Many of you are! Thank God!]
THE HOLY FAMILY?
Now, what about the Holy Family? Mary and Joseph and their offspring?
Whenever I am presented with a sermonic picture of the perfect Holy Family, where Jesus always does the right thing by his Mum and Dad and they always do the right thing by him; where there is beautiful harmony, politeness, tranquil tempers, utter altruism, I want just to say one thing: “Yuk!”
I find it hard to identify with the words of the famous carol:
And through all his wondrous childhood,
he would honour and obey.
Love and watch the lowly Maiden
in whose gentle arms he lay.
I do not wish to be offensive, but I do not for a moment believe that the family of Jesus was perfect. In some ways it would also be dysfunctional.
I reckon Joseph must have been a cool Dad. If he had not been so, I don’t think that Jesus would have been able to so warmly use the word “Abba” for God. But the perfect model?
Holy Mary was a remarkable woman. To be chosen as the “Mother of our Lord” was the highest honour and heavy responsibility. But perfect?
To quote one of my grandchildren: “Get real, Grandad!”
Unless Jesus was brought up in a family which, like mine, shared heaps of love but on many occasions lapsed into foolishness and ‘unlovingness,” then I cannot see how he could understand the rest of us. If he was given the perfect start in life, while we must make it among multiple imperfections , how much would he be worth as a role model? Moreover, how could we say with the letter to the Hebrews: “He was tempted in all points as we are?” Unless he had to cope with some of the normal family situations, he would not seem like my brother, tempted as the rest of us are.
All those pretty pictures, in pastel colours, about the Holy Family, cannot be drawn from the New Testament. There are only a few references. Yet in these we find snippets of the misunderstandings which happen in all other families.
From these we do know that Jesus could exasperate his mother: Like at the temple when he was twelve years old and he did the typical kids thing and went missing: “Son, how could you treat us like this? Your father and I have been terribly worried, looking for you everywhere.”
Some years later, when Jesus left home and became a wandering preacher, his mother did not understand what was going on. We are informed that Mary, believing Jesus to be “off his rocker,” came with his brothers to take him home. In that situation, Jesus refused to speak with her, and even went so far as to say: “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? They who hear the word of God and do it, these are my true family.”
Forget the perfect model family. Joseph and Mary were good parents. Jesus knew so much about love that they must have immersed him in love from his birth. I find the amazing quality of his love the greatest testimony to Mary's and Joseph’s care of their children. But they were not an idealised, always sweet, never uptight, always happy, prototype perfect family.
My picture of them is a little vague, in keeping with the scant Gospel records. I see Mary and Joseph as simple people of faith, and much love, who reared among their equally loved children, one extraordinary Child. A Child who as he grew, humbly but boldly outstripped anything they could teach him or show him.
FINDING OUR OWN WAY
How then do we find the realistic model? Is it lurking on a DVD somewhere waiting for us to find it in a store? Is it hiding in the Bible? Like….
“If you obey the Lord by honouring your father and making your mother happy,
you will live a long life.”
I do not believe we find the perfect model any where in the Bible. Nor can we find it in the most famous household of Nazareth.
The truth is, we must painstakingly seek the way ahead through our mutual attachment to Jesus Christ. Day by day, we must create our own model as we exercise our discipleship.
We need to accept the inevitable tensions of living together and work through them. We must, when it comes to family, find our own with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Each family will have different dynamics according to the respective personalities of the members, but there is the one Spirit to guide and help us find the pattern best for us.
As I see it, the most essential ingredient for any Christian family is saving grace. Nothing matters more: grace! The free, uncalculated, unlimited loving of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace to forgive one another seventy times seven.
Grace to affirm the other person and the grace to stand up for ourselves.
Grace to own both our mistakes and our virtues.
Grace to nurture and build up each other.
Grace to celebrate the gifts that each has in spite of twinges of jealousy.
Grace to help another family member without saying or thinking: ‘You owe me one’, and the grace to allow them to help us.
Grace not to use emotional blackmail to get our own way.
Grace to apologise, and to accept an apology with humble goodwill.
Grace to love one another, especially when some are acting in an unlovable manner.
Grace to sacrifice, far beyond the level of common expectations.
Grace to know that it is by grace that we are saved, in the family as everywhere else, and not by our own self righteousness.
I believe that if we live with the free the grace Christ flowing through us, we will do far better than trying to emulate some Old Testament model, or attempting to conform to some artificial picture of the perfect Holy Family at Nazareth
Wherever the grace of Christ is let loose within a family, love can thrive and transcend
the dysfunctional factors. Of that I am certain.
Thanks belongs to you, most loving God, for placing us together in families and communities.
For those who nurtured us in body, mind and spirit, and gave us the foundation and impetus for a fruitful life, we give thanks.
We give thanks for sisters, brothers and friends, who cared enough for us to challenge our conceits and self deceits, we give thanks.
For those who treated us with grace rather than law, and who opened up opportunities beyond failure and shame, we give thanks.
For all who showed us how to work together for a common goal and demonstrated that together we can achieve more than we can as isolated individuals, we give thanks
For those who believed in us when we could not believe in ourselves and who went on loving us when we acted in most unloving ways, we give thanks.
For the family of the church; for the friendships grown here, the Gospel shared here, the sins forgiven and the possibilities enlarged here, and the Spirit of the eternal Christ who has met us with grace, mercy and peace here;
We give you thanks, most wonderful God and Holy Friend.
God of grace hear your people.
God of grace, heal your people.
Families where there is uncontrolled hostility and abuse, and where some members live daily in fear and servitude.
Families where husband and wife use their unfortunate children as weapons in ongoing emotional war games.
Families where mother and father force unreal expectations and ambitions on their children and cause them to live with constant anxiety about failure.
Families where parents have separated and the children feel irrational guilt that they may have been the cause of the break up.
We pray also, loving God, for families that are function well in spite of all the pressures of life around them and within them.
Those where in spite of marriage break down, the separation has been handled with much care and love for the children.
Single parents who are doing a superb job in providing for the healthy nurture of their children in body, mind and soul.
Ordinary families where there are many mistakes but always enough love to carry them through the difficult times.
Situations where only one Parent is a believer and so must attempt to provide all the spiritual nurture for the family.
Church going families where in spite of the common tensions and misunderstanding of daily life, Jesus Christ and his grace are always the bottom line.
Go on your way with renewed spirits, rejoicing in the Holy Friend who meets us in this house of prayer and will be with you through every hour of this week.
Amen! We shall never walk alone.
Enter the New Year with expectation. There is nothing that God is not prepared for, and nothing that can outwit the ingenuity of divine grace.
Amen! We are better than conquerors through Christ who loves us.
Grace mercy and peace, from God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, shall be with you now and always.
THREE BOOKS BY BRUCE PREWER
THAT ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
BY ORDERING ONLINE
OR FROM YOUR LOCAL CHRISTIAN BOOKSHOP
My Best Mate, (first edition 2013)
ISBN 978-1-937763-78-7: AUSTRALIA:
ISBN : 978-1-937763-79- 4: USA
Third edition May 2014
ISBN 978-1-62880-033-3 Australia
Jesus Our Future
Prayers for the Twenty First Century
Second Edition May 2014
Although this book was written with young people in mind, it has proved to be popular with Christians or seekers of all ages. Through the eyes and ears of a youth named Chip, big questions are raised and wrestled with; faith and doubt, unanswered prayers, refugees, death and grief, racism and bullying, are just a few of the varied topics confronted in these pages. Suitable as a gift to the young, and proven to be helpful when it has been used as a study book for adults.
Australian Prayers has been a valuable prayer resource for over thirty years. These prayers are suitable for both private and public use and continue to be as fresh and relevant today as ever. Also, the author encourages users to adapt geographical or historical images to suit local, current situations.
This collection of original, contemporary prayers is anchored firmly in the belief that no matter what the immediate future may hold for us, ultimately Jesus is himself both the goal and the shape of our future. He is the key certainty towards which the Spirit of God is inexorably leading us in this scientific and high-tech era. Although the first pages of this book were created for the turn of the millennium, the resources in this volume reflect the interests, concerns and needs of our post-modern world.