SUNDAY 10

 

5-11 June

 

Matthew 9: 9-13, 18-26 (Sermon 1: “Matthew Remembers the Call’)

Romans 4: 13-25

Genesis 12:1-9                                      (Sermon 2: “Chosen People?”)

Psalm 33:1-12

 

PREPARATION

 

So that you may better enjoy the ways of your God

and for your life to run as smoothly as possible

even on those narrow roads where Christ may call you--

   in the name of Christ Jesus,

   I welcome you to this house of God.

 

Be happy in God, all you who believe!

Praise rises on the wings of faith.

Praise God with the guitar,

make melody with the many stringed harp!

Sing to God a new song,

with violins and shouts of joy!

 

OR

 

This church is a haven

for those who, stressed by tensions or oppressed by dark fears, seek a place of peace and light.

This church is a temple

for those who are full of gratitude for life’s joys and who seek a place where they can express thanks with kindred spirits.

This church is a house of hospitality

 for those whose faith is small and frail, yet who want it to grow towards the fullness of the faith of Jesus.

This church is a holy place,

hallowed by the Spirit and dedicated again and again by the common people who have come with prayer and praise to the glory of God.

 

PRAYER OF APPROACH

 

Most wonderful God, we come before you

            not because we are good people but because your name is Love,

            not because we have all the answers to life but because you are abundant life,

            not because we have a lot to offer you but because you offer us amazing love.

 

Be with each person in this church,

            brush our souls with your gentle but dynamic Spirit,

            infiltrate our thoughts with the truth which shuns all darkness,

            and uncap those deep springs from which true love overflows into worship.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen!

 

CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE    

 

(The Kyrie sung with these prayers is from Music From Taize

page 55, Kyrie 1)

 

After each brief payer, please join in singing the “Lord have mercy”

 

Let us pray.

 

If we have lived half-heartedly, brooding over life’s setbacks and our own inadequacies,

forgetting that every moment is alive with the energy that raised Jesus from the dead and poured out the remarkable Spirit on unremarkable believers.

Christ have mercy.

Kyrie. Kyrie, eleison.

 

If we have lived anxiously and fretfully, complaining and fussing, making mountains out of mole hills, forgetting that there is no problem, be it large or minuscule, which is outside the care and love of God.

Christ have mercy.

Kyrie. Kyrie, eleison.

 

If we have lived selfishly, like misers hoarding time, compassion, ability, and even our faith,

forgetting that life is found when we give it away, and that through Christ we are already heirs of the kingdom of heaven.

Christ have mercy.

Kyrie. Kyrie, eleison.

 

If we have locked ourselves into feelings of guilt and shame, fearing that if we let go

of our self disgust and accept forgiveness, we may sin is even worse ways, forgetting that where sin abounds love much more abounds.

Christ have mercy.

Kyrie. Kyrie, eleison.

 

Holy God, loving Friend, before we even admit our sins to ourselves, your mercy is waiting for us. Before we confess to you in words, the love of Christ Jesus on the cross has prepared a new start for us. Please bypass our reticence and help us to boldly yet humbly accept your loving kindness, and take up the challenge of each unfolding moment with new faith and vigour. Through Christ Jesus our Redeemer.

Amen!

 

FORGIVENESS

 

Family of God, nothing can defeat the mercy of God to those who sincerely call on the name of Christ Jesus. Through him we can know our sins are fully forgiven and our ultimate liberty form all evil is assured.

The peace of the Lord be with you all.

And also with you.

 

PRAYER FOR CHILDREN

 

Dear God, I know all of us kids sometimes whinge and complain.

But we don’t think anyone could make a better God than you.

The love of Jesus has made that so clear.

 

Through him we hear you calling us, and we answer:

“Yes, Lord Jesus, we will follow you as best we can.

Help us to do it smarter and better.”

Amen!

 

PSALM 33:1-12

 

Shout with happiness, you loving people!

            Praise flows easily from those who walk tall.

 

Give thanks to your loving God with guitar,

            make music with the many chords of the harp.

Create and sing new songs to God,

            mighty anthems backed with full orchestra.

 

The word of God is open and uplifting,

            everything springs from Divine fidelity.

God nurtures true goodness and justice

            and fills the world with reliable love.

 

God spoke and the whole universe came into being,

            billions of stars by the breath of God’s mouth.

The oceans are contained as in a wineskin,

            earth’s deepest places are like God’s cupboards.

 

Let all the earth tremble before God,

            let the people of the world stand in awe.

God spoke and things that were not came to be,

            at one command it was all happening.

 

With God, super powers are of no consequence,

            the schemes of many nations are frustrated.

But the purposes of God will always stand,

            God’s heart’s desire lives from age to age.

 

Happy will be the nation that embraces God,

            the people who are called to the Divine inheritance.

                                                                                                                                                      Ó B D Prewer 2001

 

                             THE CALL

AND SOME CONSEQUENCES

 

     Matthew 9:9-13

 

See Christ enter a dockside pub

where folk are what they seem

  to joke with barmaid Sal

  and share a counter lunch

  with tattooed Mal

  the new bloke in his team.

 

See him in a koori* camp

when the night fire grows dim

  to speak with teenage Clare

  and hear her hopes and dreams

  and ask her if she’d dare

  to come and follow him.

 

See him in a vagrant’s squat

with a cold and lonely wait

  to meet a once proud bloke

  and share some fish and chips

  with cocaine Jock

  and ask him to be a mate.

 

See him in the main street

walking against the trend

  of the pious in the town

  who spurn his open love

  and convene very soon

  to plot his lonely end

           

                        * koori = aborigine

                                             Ó B D Prewer 1998

 

COLLECT

 

Loving God,

you are the strength of the weak

and the hope of the ineffective,

please embrace us as we bow before you.

 

Our brief lives are weak

and hopes are few until you call us.

Undergird and shape us with your love,

that loving one another

we may surprise ourselves and delight you

with thoughts and deeds

that rise far higher than our deserving.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen!

 

**This sermon is in 2 parts. Originally preached over 2 Sundays.

 

SERMON 1: MATTHEW REMEMBERS THAT CALL

 

Part 1

 

Matthew 9: 9  

 

“As Jesus moved further on, he saw a man called Matthew sitting in the tax office. Jesus said: “Follow me.” Matthew stood up and followed him.

Should I be grateful or should I resent it?

 

That was among my first thoughts when he first called me, Matthew the tax man.

 

I was chuffed of course! Who wouldn’t? That a person of his spiritual stature should take time to even notice a hated tax collector like me, let alone remember my name. Then in front of everyone, call me to be his disciple? That was really something!

 

Our Roman masters saw tax collectors as a necessary evil.  They needed us. When I put in a tender for my region, I did not expect to get it. Lots of other ambitious men in the underworld had a go for it. It was a great way to make money, and all under the protection of the occupying army. No need to pay for a minder; they were already in place.

 

My father was appalled when I got the job. He was a good man but poor. A sail maker. While I was a young child I made up my mind I would not be poor like my dad. I was going to be rich. I was determined to enjoy the good life.

 

When I began to work for the Romans, my father at first raged against me: “No son of mine is going to sell his soul to the Roman heathen!” My mother and sisters wept. He ranted and raved for some time. Later, dad quietened down and pleaded: “Matthew, think, man, think. Are you, a son of Abraham, going to become the lackey of pagan overlords, doing their dirty work for them?”

 

I was stubborn. I wanted that big money. Nothing would shift me. Seeing my obdurate mind, two weeks before I opened up my office my father called in two neighbours as witnesses and publicly disowned me. I was no more a son. No longer welcome in the home that had nurtured me. I left, hearing my mother sobbing inconsolably.

 

In my first year in the position as tax collector, I tried to be even handed in the taxes I collected, and in the commission I took for myself. But I soon discovered that such a fair approach made me no friends. Fair or unfair, they all hated paying up anyway. Taxes are like that. You may have noticed?

 

So I got smart.  In the following years I cultivated a few clients of influence who were good company, and minimised their taxes. Good move. No shortage of dinner parties. Conversely I hit most of the other citizens much harder, and reaped myself a big commission. They complained of course. When they did complain, I readily revised their levy; upwards.

 

I was becoming wealthy beyond my dreams. Wine women and song, and lots of servants genuflecting. By the time Jesus began his ministry in the province of Galilee, I may not have been widely liked, but I was certainly someone to be reckoned with. A palatial home was being built for me on a hill top, to display my success to the world. I had made it, big time.

 

I HAD HEARD ABOUT THIS PROPHET

 

Then he arrived at my office. Turned my life upside down, he did. Should I be grateful or should I resent it?

 

He was no stranger of course. I knew a lot about him. My minions had been reporting to me for some time concerning his activities. Three times I had gone myself to see and hear this prophet. He was good, I give you that. Wonderful speaker, plenty of charisma. But impractical. A day dreamer. The cynic in me smirked, as I declared to my hangers-on that this pretty fellow knew nothing about the real world.

 

All that spiel about the wild birds and the lilies of the field, about not storing up treasure on earth, it was sentimental claptrap! And as for praying for those who wanted to slit my throat, or forgiving my enemies, who could take that chatter seriously?

 

Nevertheless, when each day was over, and the night partying had concluded, and I lay awake beside the sleeping form of the latest woman who was occupying my bed, I felt achingly alone.

 

Did I have any real friends? Was there any man who had genuine respect for me rather than a craven fear of me? Did I receive any genuine female love, or was it just an infatuation with the goodies I lavishly provided? They were all using me, just as I was using them.

 

There was something about this Jesus that got under my skin. His words sharpened my discontent. Where was the joy I had lost in my extensive partying? Where was the peace I had not found in my brilliant career of money-making? Where was the love that avoided me in my lusting?

 

A hunger for something better was awakened by that prophet Jesus, and like a yapping terrier it refused to stay quiet.

 

Not that I was going to give up my position of power, nor let go of my wealth. That was not on! I was not going to become poor and insignificant like my dad. I was Matthew, the man to be reckoned with; Matthew, the man with the big house being built on the hill; Matthew, the tax collector to whom you showed outward courtesy; Matthew the man who had the pick of those saucy women that the other men could only visit in their fantasies.

 

Confound this Jesus! Why should a carpenter’s son from Nazareth with pretty parables and sayings, disrupt my life. My life’s my own! I have it all!

 

But did I? Did I have it all?  There was a discontented and lonely soul that that was shivering beneath my outward show of success; an emptiness that left me hungry and thirsty for something more satisfying.

 

THE DAY WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED

 

On that day when everything would change, I was busying myself with the book work (the Romans loved book work!) inside my office, while my servants manned the tax counters.  A shadow fell on the doorstep. I did not look up. Just another client coming for a whinge. Then a calm voice simply said: “Matthew. It’s time to follow me. Come.”

 

I rose very slowly to my feet and stared into the face of Jesus of Nazareth? Was he joking? Making fun of me? Maybe. Yet there was nothing in his steady eyes to suggest anything but sincerity. And something else was present in those eyes that I badly needed: love; real love for me.

 

I stood transfixed for what seemed ages. Maybe it was ages, if so Jesus was surprisingly patient. Maybe it was only a few minutes, while I trembled on the knife-edge of indecision...

 

A familiar voice inside me warned “Don’t do it, mate. Don’t surrender everything you’ve worked for. This fellow is either crazy or a religious con man. You’ve go it made here and now, what man could want more than you now have. Why risk it all? ”

 

Yet another voice inside my head whispered: “At last, here is the love and respect for which you have been so hungry. Think how lonely you have felt at the core of your soul. Consider how deeply you have craved for something more.  Move you feet, man, move! Follow. Be a disciple. This is it!”

 

At last I moved. I knelt down before Jesus and said, “Master.” He lifted me up and kissed me on each cheek. “Let’s go, Matthew,” he said.

 

I grabbed my coat. He turned and headed for the door with me following, half in a daze. I went outside with him, passing my employees on the way as they attended clients at the tax counters. I glanced at them. They were wide eyed with a mixture of surprise and scorn at what was happening.

 

WHY ME?

 

I joined the group other disciples who grinned broadly as I arrived. The big bloke called Cephas, laughed and shook my pampered hand with his big, work-rough paw... The young fellow called John, the son of Zebedee, gave me the kiss of peace and hugged me. Three women in the group of disciples, smiled and nodded as if I were their brother. That was the first time since I left home to make my fortune, that women had treated me with a cordiality not based on either avarice or lust. I no longer felt alone.

 

One question puzzled me, right from the beginning: Why me?  Why did Jesus choose and call me?

 

Was it because of my business acumen? Or because he knew I had a sound, religious upbringing? Or because he felt sorry for my godly parents who were humiliated by my descent into tax collecting? Or because he had heard what a good scholar I had been as a youth in the synagogue school? Was it because he saw gifts in me than no other person had noticed or nurtured?

 

All these questions, like fire flies, darted around in my mind. None seem likely candidates for an affirmative answer. The reason for calling me remained shrouded in the dark mystery of the sovereign, inexplicable, abundant  grace of God which had embraced me through Messiah Jesus.

 

However, I have given up puzzling about the question. I certainly know it was not because I was more special than others. It is enough to accept that he called me.

 

Paul of Tarsus, that persecutor turned apostle (you may have heard of him? amazing guy!)} whom I have had the privilege of greeting at the meetings of  the General Assembly in Jerusalem, makes a great play on the words “grace” and “love.” I am sure he has got the guts of the Gospel in that word. By the free love-grace of God in Jesus, I have been called. That is all that matters. Love, nothing but love-grace.

 

 

PART 2; Matthew Remembers the Call

 

HIS WAYS ARE NOT ALL SMOOTH.

 

Please don’t think it has all been plain sailing. There have been a multitude of ups and downs.

 

Did I have moments of frustration and doubt? Of course I did.

 

There were times when I was sleeping out in the open, huddled with the others close to a rock against the biting wind, when I remembered my comfortable bed and the warmth of a pretty woman beside me. 

There were days when, walking beside a corn field, that I was hungry enough to pick heads of hard grain and chew them for sustenance.

There were cold mornings in some peasant’s house when I remembered how comfortable it had been to have a servant bring me warm water, a towel and a razor, and proceed to wash and shave and pamper me.

When trudging down a road under the hot sun, I recalled the pleasure of sitting in a sedan chair while servants carried me, and another walked beside me whisking flies away from my face.

 

At such times I would recognise the thought flicking on the edges of my mind: Should I be grateful to Jesus or should I resent him?

 

I confess that there had been occasions when, even though I loved Jesus dearly, I did resent him. If I am honest with myself, I must admit that both love and some tendrils of resentment can exist together in the same soul. This was especially so when Jesus chose to deliberately go into difficult situations and speak the truth no matter what the cost to him, or to us. It seemed to me that he could have avoided annoying his enemies by sometimes being more discreet.

 

For example, there are many very earnest Scribes and Pharisees around. They put enormous effort into living faultless lives. No one could be more devoted to the Moses than they are. There are also, of course, some hypocrites among them. Yet why did he publicly humiliate all of them, calling them whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones?

 

And why, in their hearing, did he have to tell the common mob that parable (you will have read it in brother Luke’s account of the good news) about a prodigal son who spent his inheritance on grog and women, and then came home to a lavish welcome from his Father? Much to the annoyance of the worthy son who never had a party! 

 

Or why on another occasion did he have to come up with that one about the tax collector and the Pharisess, both praying in the temple. And how the tax collector toddled home at peace with God, while the Pharisee dragged himself off, still ill at ease, ready to do more penance? It was, I thought at that time, to say the least, tactless.

 

My mum was fond of repeating a common proverb; “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Well, it seemed to me in those early years that sometimes Jesus could have used a bit less vinegar in his dealings with the more rigid Pharisees, and a lot more honey.

 

I told Jesus so, once. He threw his head back and laughed. “Mat,” he said, “I’m not on about catching flies I am about witnessing to the generous Father who has been with me from the very beginning, and whose love through me spills over into the lives of the ordinary people of the land, like a cup full and running over. I am a good shepherd to them. They need someone to show them how abundant are God’s green pastures, and how refreshing are the pools of living water. I won’t have self-righteous humbugs lording it over the ordinary flock.”

 

I replied that I understood, and wanted it that way. However, I went on to comment that I found it hard to believe that compared with the lustful life I used to lead, the moral rectitude of the Pharisees must be pleasing in God’s sight.

 

He put his hand on my shoulder and turned me to face him:

“Mat, listen to me carefully. There is more joy in heaven over one no-hoper who repents and turns to God’s love, than over a hundred pious Pharisees who do the right thing without any love and good humour.”

 

It took me a long time to fully accept that. It was hard at first to believe that heaven had got so excited when I walked out on my old life in the tax office and became a disciple of Jesus. But then again, if heaven is anything like he is, then it’s quite believable!

 

They were exciting days, those early ones in Galilee. We had no idea then what was to happen later. Just as well. If we had known the evil things that self-righteous men would plot and carry through, we might have appreciated that summer of happiness even more.

 

We imagined his popularity would continue to swell until all of Israel would be on fire with his love. We did not anticipate the cross and our dark night of despair. Nor did we anticipate the third day miracle of Easter, nor the outpouring of his Spirit on people of all nations. We never dreamed how inclusive his loving arms would be. Nor where most of us would end up as a result of spreading the good news across the empire.

 

MY SPIRITUAL RICHES

 

Today those early doubts I used to have “Should I be grateful or should I resent him” never worry me. If they so much as whisper, I freely laugh at them. When I look back over my life, and think of the sort of man I was as a wealthy tax officer, who had sold his soul to the god Mammon, and compare it with what has happened since Jesus called me and I said yes to him, I have no regrets at all.

 

I left all and followed him and he has given me more wealth than I could ever imagine. Not gold and silver. Not palatial houses or rings on my fingers. Something far More costly and more beautiful has enriched my life. It is spiritual riches, the wealth of Divine love, so great that I want everyone on earth to share in it. I really do, you know? I want everybody to be able to enjoy this holy love.

 

It is like a treasure that was buried in a paddock. The proud owners were more intent on showing off their pedigree and wealth. They did not look after that land, and never tilled the soil.  Finally they sold it to build an even more ostentatious house. The new owner was a conscientious farmer who set about ploughing it. He uncovered the treasure. He was so excited that he threw a party, inviting all his neighbours, friend and opponent alike. From that day he readily gave loans, at no interest, to anyone who was in dire need.

 

Through Jesus I have this treasure. Long ago I lost my possessions, repossessed by the Romans when I failed to fulfil my contract. My grand house on the hill was never completed. No doubt the ruin sits there still. I have become a poor man like my Master. Yet I am fabulously rich.

 

THE NEW FAMILY

 

I have been welcomed into a new family transcending old barriers of race and class and gender. I have gained new homes, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, children and new lands, all in Jesus’ name; and I already inherit eternal life. I have numerous homes and sisters and brothers that welcome me into their family warmth here in Persia, just as they did previously in Pontus and in far away Ethiopia. No man or woman could possibly be richer than I am.

 

No longer do I throw extravagant parties, nor feast at the tables of the wealthy or powerful. But I tell you this: when I eat at the table of my Master, with nothing spread there but the most common gifts of bread and wine, I am sharing in a feast which makes royal banquets seem like eating desert sand and drinking water from the Dead Sea.

 

When Christ calls a person, it is to a life of risk. Yet it is a risk underwritten by secure and abundant love which is more valuable than all the gold, silver and jewels in the world. No Roman Caesar or Egyptian Pharoah is as well off as the most humble Christian servant of Christ Jesus, our Master.

 

That he came to my tax office with a call on his lips and love in his eyes, I shall be forever grateful, and will forever praise and adore him.

 

 

SERMON 2: DOES GOD HAV E FAVOURITES?

 

Genesis 12:1-3

 

The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home and go to a land that I am going to show you......  I will bless you and make your names famous, so that you will be a blessing to others......and through you I will bless all the nations.”

 

What kind of a God is it that chooses some people to have special place of honour among all other peoples?

 

That is one of the questions posed by the Old Testament, where the Jews are unmistakably marked out as the chosen ones. Does this mean that God has favourites?

 

In our Aussie society, where hurtful discrimination of any kind is generally frowned upon, and in many cases outlawed, how do we Christians cope with the Bible and its God who choses some while passing over others?

 

I hope some answers to that will emerge as we look first at the Old Testament story of the choosing of Abraham and Sarah, and later (in less detail) at people whom Jesus chose.

 

ABRAM AND SARAI

 

Abram and Sarai, the father and mother of the Hebrew people, most likely lived between 1,700 to 2,000 years before Jesus. They were around not long after that very different people, on a far away island, raised the massive slabs of stone which we know as Stonehenge.

 

Abraham first lived in Mesopotamia, in the north of what is now Iraq. Unlike Britain at the time of Stonehenge, this was a highly developed civilisation of proud cities and temples, literature and astronomy, legal codes, medical skills and massive irrigation schemes.

 

However, Abraham and Sarah were outsiders, somewhat like the gipsies in Europe or the Bedouin of Israel today.  He was a Semite herdsman; living in tents with his small tribe, moving from place to place to find feed for his cattle, sheep and goats.

 

The Bible tells us that they first lived at a place called Ur. Later they moved up to Haran. From archaeology we now know that both these cities worshipped the moon god.

 

Moon? My imagination is such that I can’t help picturing Abraham and Sarah outside their tent at night, looking up at the mysterious moon. Maybe it was out there in the moonlight that the crucial event of revelation happened, when a Power far more impelling than the moon, spoke to them and named them as the chosen people.

 

            Now the Lord said to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your

            father's home to the land that I will show you. And I will make a great nation of you, and I

            will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those

             who bless you and curse those who curse you; and by you all the families of the earth

             shall be blessed.”........ And so Abraham went out as the Lord had told him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Genesis 12: 1-4a

 

WHAT A FOOLISH THING TO DO!

 

And Abram was seventy five years old, when he left Haran as the Lord had told him.”

 

By the rule of common sense, what a stupid thing to do!  He was old enough to have more sense!

 

To follow an impulse in his head, to believe that it was the voice of a supreme, unseen God who had chosen them, to leave everything familiar and to go south on a long journey to a land he had never seen, was obviously ridiculous in the eyes of onlookers? Stupid, stupid, stupid! At least the locals could see the mysterious moon and worship her. But a hidden God like Abraham now espoused? How crazy can you get!

 

What about us? How mad would you have to be to think yourself to be one chosen by the God above all other gods? Why should God pick out anyone in particular and chose them? And why choose a tribe of herdsmen rather than sophisticated, educated people such as those citizens living in the mighty cities of the Chaldeans? Not likely!

 

What was even more unlikely was that kooky idea about becoming a great nation.  At the age of 75 years, to take the hand of Sarah, his childless and elderly wife, and to walk off into the unknown, expecting their descendants to become a great nation, was grossly absurd.

 

Yet from such an absurdity DID COME A remarkable nation. The Hebrews were never a super power in terms of numbers, riches or military muscle. But they were, and are, a small Semitic nation that has been misunderstood more than any other, suffered more than any other, yet also influenced the world more than any other. In religion, music, literature, law and science, neither any other tribe nor vast empire has made anything like a proportionate contribution to the world.

 

I say this with gratitude to God; to the same hidden God in whom Abraham and Sarah placed their trust.

 

There is a heritage which flows from Abraham to Moses to Ruth to Isaiah to Mary and to Jesus; to the Bethlehem wonder, to the parables of the prodigal son and the good Samaritan, to the healing of the blind, deaf diseased and handicapped; to the garden of Gethsemane, the hill of Golgotha, and to the Easter happening- that celebration party which started about 32 AD and which is still running here today!

 

SOME LOST THE PLOT

 

Now I need to pause and face the fact that in time things went very wrong. Among the descendants of Abraham were those who thought they were chosen because they were superior to than any other tribe of humanity. They thought they deserved being chosen, deserved being treated like favourites. Hubris, a spiritual arrogance, sometimes flourished. Tragically it meant they missed the plot. 

 

One still sees it in some (note: only some) of the right wing, Hebrews. We see its ugly side in the arrogance of right-wing fundamentalist Jews to other people and races. Hubris causes their apparent blindness to the rights of Palestinians whom they have ruthlessly replaced and oppressed.

 

But why ? Why did God choose the Jews to be a servant people rather than  Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Indonesians, Inuit or Tongans?

 

We have not a clue. No more than  we know why he chose Mary and Joseph to be the parents of his Messiah.

 

And why did Jesus call Matthew and not another tax gatherer? For that matter, why on earth did God call me to be a minister? You will happily agree it was certainly not because of some innate superiority! There is always a puzzle in why some are chosen.

 

CHOSEN FOR SERVICE

 

But one thing is sure: those who are chosen are always chosen for the task of being a blessing to others. We become servants. We are blessed that we may be a blessing. It is a holy calling, not a additional “perk” but an additional responsibility. Moreover, because things so corrupt in the world, the chosen people are always called to be ready to endure suffering in God’s name. God’s meek-servants  are not are not very popular.

 

Jesus in the company of outsiders, those tax thugs and prostitutes. That is the supreme sign of what God is on about when he chooses a people. Jesus is the ultimate servant. Jesus is a shining example of a chosen person giving his life for others. Jesus on the cross? Now that is the supreme example of being God’s chosen person!

 

Like Abraham and Sarah, we in the church are also a chosen people; chosen by the God who loves all people, to help display that love towards all people. It is an honour, a mighty responsibility, yet often seems to be an impossible task for ordinary guys like us. We fail often.

 

Thankfully, by the love-grace of God we do get it right sometimes. May God help us get it right more often!

 

 

THANKSGIVING

 

We thank you, most wonderful God,

Friend

 

 of the world and all that is in it,

            because you hide yourself

            from the proud and powerful

            yet reveal yourself to outsiders

            like Sarah and Abraham

            Ruth, Amos and Hosea.

 

We thank you, most wonderful God,

Friend of ordinary people,

            because you sent Jesus to us,

            our humble, loving Brother

            who went about doing good

            and for his trouble was crucified

            yet now is alive for evermore.

 

We thank you, most wonderful God,

Friend of tax gatherers and sinners,

            because you choose to work

            through churches like ours

            with unimportant members

            who have a patchy record

            yet are sustained by profound Love.

 

We thank you most wonderful God,

Friend of the merciful,

            because your Holy Spirit

            is among us and within us,

            never tiring always nurturing

            confronting and comforting,

            and leading us into all truth.

 

We thank you, most wonderful God,

Friend and loving Saviour,

            because you have unsettled us

            and put in our hearts

            a great longing for the day

            when the whole world shall rejoice

            and declare your glory!

                                                                                           Ó 2002 Bruce D Prewer

 

INTERCESSIONS

 

We want the salvation of God to be known and trusted everywhere.

 

Let us pray.

 

Please save your children, loving God, from all that is untrue, unkind or unjust.

Friend of sinners, hear us.

Loving God, save us.

 

Please save your children, loving God, from all cruelty, violence and war.

Friend of sinners, hear us.

Loving God, save us.

 

Please save you children, loving God, from all half truths, deceit and bad government.

Friend of sinners, hear us.

Loving God, save us.

 

Please save your church, loving God, from stale worship, exclusive fellowship, begrudging humanitarian service, and self righteousness.

Friend of sinners, hear us.

Loving God, save us.

 

Great and holy Friend, thank you for sharing with us both the joy and the agony of our human condition.

Today we ask your blessing on all your healthy and happy children, that their joy may be complete.

Today we ask your blessing on all your suffering and bewildered children; on the estranged, the dying, the sorrowing, the despairing, and anyone who feels hopelessly trapped in a web of evil.

Friend of sinners, hear us.

Loving God, save us.

 

For yours is the commonwealth of truth, the power of love, and the glory of incomparable love, for ever and ever.

Amen!

 

SENDING OUT

 

 

In the name of the Living God,

I bless you.

Amen!

That you may have love according to your needs,

I bless you.

Amen!

That you may have the joy that money cannot buy,

I bless you.

Amen!

That you may have peace that the world cannot give,

I bless you.

Amen!

 

It is time to get going:

            ‘Life with its path before you lies,

            `Christ is your way and Christ your prize.’