SUNDAY 31    Oct 30 – Nov 5

 

Mark 12:28-34....                     (Sermon 1: “The One-God Revolution.”)

Hebrews 9:11-14....

Ruth 1:1-18....                          (Sermon 2: “To the Mother-in-law.”)

Psalm 146

 

ENTRY INTO WORSHIP

 

There is one God; One God of all that is or ever will be.

One God who is worthy of our undivided love.

Therefore whenever you come to worship God, exalt as much as you can.

No praise can be high enough, no honour noble enough,

no poetry or music can scale the true heights of God’s beauty

.

Praise God! Praise God O my soul!

I will praise God as long as I live.

I will sing praises as long as I have being.

 

The beauty and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

And also with you!

 

OR

 

Now that you are here, in a house dedicated to the Most High,

pause and consider where you faith and hope are really fixed.

Do not put your trust in politicians,

not in any guru who is a human creature like you.

The breath of every human being will cease,

on that day all their mortal aspirations expire.

 

God’s realm will last forever, beyond all generations.

till earth and moon and stars are no more.

I will praise you alone, Lord of my souls!

I will praise you as long as live.

I will sing to you as long as I my soul has being

 

PRAYER

 

Let us pray.

 

            God of the starry hosts that fill the universe with light, you are with us,

            Help us to love and adore you.

            God of waving corn and fruiting vine, you are with us,

            Help us to love and adore you.

            God of breaching whales and leaping kangaroos, you are with us,

            Help us to love and adore you.

            God of male and female, child and adult, black, white and brown, you are with us,

            Help us to love and adore you.

            God of Mary’s Child, of healed lepers and forgiven sinners, you are with us,

            Help us to love and adore you.

            We pray for more of that grace which can make much out of a little, and bring glory      out of defeat. Through Christ Jesus our hope and joy.

            Amen!

 

CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE

 

“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 

 

Let each of us confess our failure to love, without restraint, this one, compassionate God.

 

Let us pray.

 

If we have tried to serve many masters, only to be torn in different directions, becoming frustrated and fractured. Lord have mercy / Lord have mercy.

 

If we have tried to serve a shallow god that is made in our own likeness, and have ended up bored and fruitless. Christ have mercy. / Christ have mercy.

 

If we have tried to serve the god’s that others foist on us, and have found they leave us restless and discontented. Lord have mercy / Lord have mercy.

 

All wise and all loving God, we confess we have not been whole hearted and single minded in our devotion to you. Through the saving grace of Christ Jesus, overrule our folly and forgive our wanderings and rebellion. Restore us to that spiritual sanity for which we were created. With all our being may we love and honour you, and know that peace and joy which nothing else can ever equal. For your name’s sake.    Amen!

 

FORGIVENESS

 

Hear the good news: By grace you are saved, through faith, and faith is not the result of your             own effort but is a gift from God. Christ Jesus says: “Son, daughter, your sins are forgiven           you, go in peace.”

 

A Doxology: sung.

 

PRAYER FOR CHILDREN

 

God, I know in my head

that you must be mega-awesome!

You are the one God through whom

everything in the universe has happened.

You, holy God, are bigger and brighter

and more beautiful, yet more scary,

than any thing I can imagine.

 

Yet God, I know in my heart

that I don’t need to be scared of you.

Through Jesus we are able to talk with you

like we can chatter with a best friend.

 

God you love us and we love you,

and that’s the way it always should be.

Amen!

 

PSALM 146

 

It is time to praise God!

Praise God with all my soul!

I will praise God as long as I live.

I will sing praises while I have a thought in my head.

            Don’t put your trust in political leaders;

            any human being will finally let you down.

            Even the strongest stop breathing and return to dust,

            and in that moment all their high and mighty ideas perish.

 

You will be happy if God is your helper,

if your hopes are pinned on the God of Jesus.

This is the One who forged the stars and the planets,

shaped the earth with its land, ocean and all living things.

            God faithfully rights the wrongs of the oppressed

            and provides enough food for all the hungry to be fed.

            It is God who liberates those imprisoned by jails or drugs,

            and who opens the eyes of many who are blind in body or soul.

 

God lifts up all who are weighed down

and cherishes souls who keep faith against the odds.

God keeps an eye on the forgotten people in refugee camps

and stands up for the rights of the neglected widow and orphan.

            The days of evil arrogance are numbered,

            the wicked power-brokers will end up in utter ruin.

            The living God will rule forever. Yes your God, believer!

            Throughout all generations, our God will be loved and praised!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        © B.D. Prewer 2002

 

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

 

Mark 12: 29

 

I met one man who loved his God

and made it seem such fun,

he always has a smile to share

and time for everyone.

 

He told me tales that made me stop

and, puzzled, stroke my chin.

Sometimes he used a scalpel word

that got under my skin.

 

He’d place his hand upon my neck

when I was all uptight.

His touch would drain dis-ease away

and make my load seem light.

 

He never boasted or condemned

and never was one-eyed.

He simply did the best he could,

God was his only pride.

 

He would not try to force his will

on those who heard him preach,

he wanted each of us to find

the God within our reach.

 

He put God first until the end

when his foes made him pay.

But it seems that he’s still around

and will not go away.

                                                                        © B.D. Prewer 1994

 

COLLECT

 

Awesome God, you are the peace of those who trust you and the happiness of those who love you, please increase our faith and love.

With a single-minded passion, may we glorify you by the way we respect and cherish love one another.

In the name of Christ Jesus, who with you in unity with the Holy Spirit, are One God to be worshipped and enjoyed forever.

 

Amen!

 

SERMON 1: THE ONE GOD REVOLUTION

 

Mark 12:29-30

 

            Hear O Israel: The Lord your God is ONE, and you shall love the Lord your God with all             your heart and soul and mind and strength.”

 

One God. The world owes an immense debt to the Jews. The blessing their faith has brought to everybody is beyond calculation.

 

It was this small nation (just a tribe, really) of Semites who long ago received a blinding revelation. They made a break-through in understanding. There is only One God, only One Source and Sustainer of all that is or ever will be. One God. As that belief emerged, liberation began. Old crippling superstitions, ignorance, lies, and ancient fears began to disintegrate and make way for a new way of seeing the world.

 

The English poet John Milton, when he was still a youth, wrote a most perceptive poem about the birth of Christ. He gives us a picture of all the old gods that had pulled humanity this way and that, shrinking away, their power broken forever by the coming of God’s true Son.

 

Let me suggest, with no disrespect to our Lord Jesus, that the shrinking and dying of the many gods began with ancestors of Jesus, when they came to a belief of one God, one unified creation, one dependable set of rules, one purpose unfolding. Hear O Israel: The Lord your God is ONE, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.”

 

NATURE DE-DEMONISED

 

Belief in One God de-demonised the world of nature. In the light of the belief in One God, nature was no longer an unpredictable thing, manipulated by many capricious gods or spirits, but an environment where a common set of law apply. Different gods or spirits. often in conflict, were not the reasons why things are as they are.

 

With belief in one God people could search for common themes, a unity at work through all the diversity. Why this or that happens could be investigated; cause and effect could be chartered. Given the same causes, what happens today will always happen the same tomorrow. Scientific method could be applied in a creation where there is only One underlying power and purpose at work. Much of what our modern world counts as progress in medicine, food production, weather forecasting, disease control, and technology, stems from this original moment when the Jews glimpsed Holy Unity.

 

ASTRONOMY REPLACES ASTROLOGY

 

This de-demonising extended to beyond the earth to the things in the skies above. The sun, moon, stars and planets, were not independent powers or gods, with weird and wonderful influence on our lives, bit parts of the one creation established by One God. A God whose plan and purpose in and through all things is providential and reliable.

 

Astrology gave way to astronomy. Because of the Jews’ “shema” (hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One) people had to accept responsibility for their actions, not blaming the stars, but themselves. They also were ridded of the fear that cosmic alien forces might sometimes make their lives turmoil. A new view of ethics and morality stemmed from this Jewish break rough in belief.

 

The fact that so many people still “follow the stars” in popular magazines, indicates that the old superstitions still linger in our sub culture. Belief on One God has not fully taken root on this planet. There are a lot more foolish, irrational people around us than we would like to think.

 

SOCIAL JUSTICE IS ESTABLISHED.

 

 It is no accident that the greatest prophets of social justice were the Jewish prophets. Because there is only One God, there is not one set of “right and wrong” for the rich and another for the poor. There cannot be one level of justice for one race and another level for a different race.  The courageous Jewish prophets, with the vision of One God whose love and compassion was for all races, cultures and classes, called people to a common way of communal life: “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

 

We urgently need to hear this in our times. Justice for an Australian, American, English, or Swedish citizen is not different from justice for an Arab, Chinese, Pacific Islander, or Aborigine. What is fair treatment for Christian and Jew is also fair treatment for Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist and atheist We cannot morally do to others what we would not want done to us. There is one God. One standard of respect and care.

 

POLITICAL RELATIVITY

 

Political powers are cut down to size by belief in one God. No government or ruler can demand absolute allegiance from their citizens. Patriotism is a relative and a flawed standard. We inscribe on military memorials “For God and Country.” But God and country’ are sometimes very separate things. Blind obedience from citizens is invalid. Protests and civil disobedience is valid in numerous circumstances. Maybe revolution could be at times valid.

 

Again, as the prophets understood, even Israel– as God’s chosen, servant people¾ had no ultimate political claim.  God could use the power of Assyria or Babylonia to chastise Israel if that were needed. Blind obedience to any political power was not on. Only the One God could be obeyed unconditionally.

 

THE JEWS AT THEIR BEST

 

At their best, the Jews worshipped One God with a devotion which should humble most of us. They loved God with a purity of intention which was magnificent. They did this because God was God; not for any other reason. Their motives were remarkably clean.

 

As they saw it and did it, if God was the One Source and Cherisher of all things, then God should come first in all situations. Nothing else mattered as much.

 

The famous prophets, and no doubt many humble Jews, sought no other reward than being true to God. Whether one was rich or poor, 10 or 90 years old, an aristocrat like Isaiah or a “hill-billy” like Amos, the best possible thing a human being could do was to give God total loyalty. Hear O Israel: The Lord your God is ONE, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.”

 

This one, undivided Focus was what motivated Jesus of Nazareth and kept him on track to the end. Like his eminent successors the prophets of Israel, he took loving God to its zenith. His purity of intention and performance, exceeding all others.

 

WITHIN CHRISTIANITY?-

 

If we compare the Jews at their best with much of what happens within Christianity, we come out looking shabby. Over the centuries, and currently, too much of Christian practice is perverted by our self centeredness, not God-centeredness. Too often we are eager to know “What do I get out of it?” We take a crass consumer mentality to our worship and to our faith.

 

The noblest Jews wanted to please God. Sadly many church people want a God who pleases them. They seek a God who will buttress their ideas, back up their prejudice, or support their comfortable life style.

 

In preparing this message, I ran my eye over the sermon titles in some of the books I have on my shelves. There were some worthy ones, but there were also many that were ‘sus.’

 

Suspect like these—: “How to make your personality attractive”   “The long-term dividend”   “Spiritual power after 40”   “How to find peace of mind”   “How to be a success”   “How to get rid of your inferiority complex”   “A religion to support democracy”  .“The secret of a successful life”   “To find all the answers” “A faith to keep families together”  “A religion that guarantees good health.”

 

Popular religion tries to supply a “use” for faith and worship. It has consumer mind set.  It tries to woo converts by offering significant rewards. There is even one pseudo-Christian religion which promises prospective converts assured financial prosperity.

 

NO LONG TERM DIVIDEND

 

How different the noble ones among those wonderful Jews! For them God was God. That was all that mattered. God was to be loved, worshipped and served. No matter what.

 

Consider one more amazing thing about most of those renowned Old Testament prophets. During most of their history the Jews had no belief in a happy afterlife. There was no heaven to counterbalance the disappointments of life. This meant that their worship of One God could not be corrupted by the sneaky thought that God would have lots of goodies for them in heaven. There was no expectation of long-term dividend to corrupt faithfulness. Yet with a glorious purity they loved and tried to obey the One God, creator of heaven and earth.

 

Yet on the Christian side of things, there has too often been the corruption: “Repent now and do it hard for God, and you will inherit heaven when you die.” Definitely a “pay now, collect later,” form of religion. I shudder whenever I hear this kind of message being preached. Love of God should be just that: love of God. Not love of self by a devious circuit.

 

I find a similar corruption in the third paramount, monotheistic religion. Islam set out to put honouring God at the top of all priorities. Yet among the masses of the faithful, there are too many whose motivation is fear of hell and the lure of paradise.

 

Christians and Moslems have much to learn from the Jews at their best. Their call to worship echoes across at least three, may be four thousand years: Hear O Israel: The Lord your God is ONE, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.”

 

Jesus knew that call and gave himself to it, unreservedly. We need to rediscover that purity of intention. God is to be loved first of all. It is in the right nature of things that the creature should adore the Creator.

 

SOME BAD AND GOOD NEWS

 

I commenced by mentioning John Milton’s poem on the nativity of Christ. How he depicted the old gods slinking away in disarray when Jesus was born.  I suspect, no indeed, I know that there is much in Christianity that should slink away in disgrace when confronted by the pure creed of the Jews, and especially as it was fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

 

On the other hand, I have been wonderfully encouraged in every Church where I have served, by that handful of choice souls, who have implemented to their utmost ability, the first commandment, along with the second concerning loving our neighbour.

 

The poem attributed to the intrepid Roman Catholic Francis Xavier, who in the 16th century missionary who witnessed to his faith in India, the Malaysia and Japan, sums up very well:

            Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ, should I not love you well?

            Not for the sake of winning heaven, of escaping hell.

            Not with the hope of gaining aught, nor seeking a reward,

            but just as you have loved me, O ever-loving Lord.

 

 

SERMON 2: TO THE MOTHER-IN-LAW

 

Ruth 1:16-17

 

 

In the name of the God of love, I would like to dedicate this sermon to all those mothers-in-law who treasured their daughters-in-law, and the many daughters-in-law who have shown much affection to their mothers-in-law.

 

A touchy topic, huh?

 

I don’t know about you, but a long time ago I became bored with those tatty jokes about mothers-in-law. They are based on a gross generalisation. Namely, that the relationship between a woman and her child’s spouse, will always be one of friction. Like many generalisations, this one unjust. Most of the jokes are cruel and unworthy of laughter.

 

How then did this generalisation arise? Now that is an awkward question. It is awkward because there is an element of truth  in it. In many cases, the relationship between man or woman and their mother-in-law varies from bad vibes to destructive.

 

Regrettably it is true that some possessive mothers interfere in the marriages of their offspring. For some mothers, no woman will ever be good enough to be the wife of her son. We only have to watch an episode of “I love Raymond” to get a big dose of bad vibes.

 

When it comes to daughters, a second irritant comes in to play. This time the problem often emanates for the son-in-law. Firstly, a son-in-law, especially an insecure man, can resent the deep affection of his wife for her mother. He can be jealousies and attempt to limit the contact between mother and daughter. Secondly, the son-in-law may be uncomfortable in the presence of his mother-in-law because of certain personality traits in his wife annoy him. (After all, no husband or wife is perfect!) He sees these very traits in the older mother-in-law. It may sound silly, but he might blame his mother-in-law as the source of those irritating traits.

 

So there we gave it. A couple of the reasons for the uneasy relationship that can exist between in-laws.

 

One would hope that if all the parties are followers of Christ Jesus, these potential sources of conflict will be honestly recognised, admitted, and handled in a positive way.  What may at first seem a stumbling block to a Christian, can become an impetus stone towards a larger love. Thereby fulfilling the second key commandment as Jesus stated it in today’s Gospel Lesson: “You shall love your neighbour as you love yourself.” Our in-laws are high in the “must list” of neighbours who require our love.

 

THE STORY-

 

 turn now from the New Testament and that command to love both God and those people around us. Come with me back into an Old Testament story which features some of the genes that ended up in the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and Joseph.

 

This is the story of Ruth and Naomi.  It takes place long ago, in fact it is this Ruth who was a great grandmother of King David who takes central stage. This woman Ruth was not even a Jew; she was a Gentile, or as some racist members of our land might say: she was a “wog.”

 

Let me first remind you of the brief story.

 

At a time of famine in the highlands of Judea, a man of the Bethlehem region, named Elimelech, took his wife and two sons out of the Holy Land, across the Jordan into the land of Moab. They settled there.  Sadly the man died. In time his two sons entered into mixed marriages. They wedded foreign women, Moabites named Orpah and Ruth. After about ten years of childless marriage, both husbands died.

 

Naomi was a compassionate and practical woman. The only sensible thing for her daughters-in-law to do was to marry again from among their own men. After all, these wives may only have been about 26 years of age.

 

For herself, she would be better off back in her home country where she still had relatives. Back in her homeland she might find some measure of security. Also she would be “out of the hair” of Orpah and Ruth who deserved a new start.

 

When she told the young women of her impending return to Judea, they said they would accompany her. Naomi did not want that. She kissed them farewell, and urged them to stay in their native land.  The girls wept and refused to forsake their mother-in-law. Naomi pleaded and pleaded. Orpah saw the wisdom of it, and complied. But not Ruth who, we are told, “clung to her.”

 

I get a vivid picture of the young woman literally hanging on to Naomi. Refusing to let go as the older woman tried to take to the road. Absolutely committed to Naomi.

 

Then follow some of the most memorable verses in the Old Testament; Ruth said:

            Please do not beg me to leave you, or to stop following you. For wherever you go I will go, and wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my    God. Where you die I will die, and there I too will be buried. May the Lord strike me if            even death shall separate me from you.

 

Superlatives fail me! Such a remarkable degree of love between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law. It is human love of the highest order.

 

The only Old Testament story that comes near it, is that of the man Jacob who worked without wages on Laban’s farm for seven years in order to marry his sweetheart Rachel. An outstanding love story. As the Scripture says: “so Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and those years seemed to him but a few days, such was his love for her.”

            {“So romantic,” wouldn’t you women say?  If you find a fellow who will work seven             years without wages for your hand, then you will never need to ask: “Does he really love             me?”]

 

In the case of Ruth and Naomi, there was no sexual spark to keep a love burning. This was pure, unselfish respect and love for fellow human being. Very close to what the New Testament calls agape; that outgoing, costly love which is best seen in Jesus Christ.

 

Most of our so called love is contaminated with selfishness. There is an element of Narcissus in much of it. Remember Narcissus? That Greek "legend" that fell in love with his own reflection

?

As I have been heard to warn my five grand daughters” “Don’t be taken in by the first handsome guy who turns on the charm, looks into your eyes, and softly says: You are so beautiful! The chances are that he may be just looking at, and worshipping, his own reflection in your eyes.”

 

Much of our human love is contaminated with selfishness. As Jesus warned us: If you love only those who will love  you, assist only those who will assist you, give a dinner part only to those nice folk who will return the hospitably, where does that get you? Certainly it does not get you into the realm of true love. It is not the love our Lord was on about when he told us to love our neighbours, or the love he displayed when he lay down his life for his disciples, even though they were too dense to realise what he was on about.

 

Ruth was a worthy ancestress of our Lord. The love of Ruth points us towards Christ. Jesus does not merely share some of Ruth’s genes; he shares her quality of loving and deepens it, heightens it, and expands it into dazzling perfection.

 

In recent generations there has been too much rubbish spoken and sung about love. Love has been sentimentalised, trivialised, and lobotomised. We would be much wiser and healthier if we had the humility to learn from Ruth; learn that basic, respectful commitment to other people, even when such loving is at significant cost to ourselves.

 

Ruth was not some modern backpacker off for an adventure. It would have pained this young woman to forsake her homeland for life in an alien land. Imagine the knot in her guts as she crossed the border. New culture, new language, new threats to her security. She would not look forward to being talked about as that “Gentile trash” whom poor old Naomi has brought back home with her. Ruth gave up family, culture, land, and her own religion for the sake of her mother-in-law.  That is the stuff of genuine human love.

 

There was no security waiting for her, either.

 

Think of the suggestive comments the farm labourers would have made, as this foreign woman followed their harvesting, hoping to glean any stray stalk barely left behind the reapers. I can assure you women (the men already know it) that a mob men in blue singlets, toiling in the barely fields, would not have been found wanting when it came to making the Moabite women fell like trash.

 

Ruth was special. She was a signpost to where God would lead humanity. A pointer to that future, overflowing with surprises, when God’s only true son came among us, not to mouth treacly words about love, but to lift the love bar to the  highest level, and then complete the leap himself.

 

My friends, please check you what you do mean by love. Don't prevaricate, get real. Check out what you intend to mean by love, what you actually put into action under its banner. Let us look honestly at ourselves in the mirror: Are we looking at a Ruth or a Narcissus? A camp follower with pop expectations or a “fair dinkum” disciple of Jesus the Christ?

 

Love your neighbour, said Jesus. Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself. Ruth did that.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

In the name of the God of Jesus, the God of supreme love, I have dedicated this sermon to all those mothers-in-law who respect and treasure their daughters-in-law, and to those daughters-in-law who show respect and affection to their mothers-in-law. You have got it right.

 

I do not conduct many wedding these days. But when I did (my record was five in succession on one Saturday at “Pilgrim” in Adelaide) I used to get a special delight should a couple choose these verses from Ruth as their Old Testament lesson:

            Please do not beg me to leave you, or to stop following you. For wherever you go

             I will go, and wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people,

            and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I too will be buried.

             May the Lord strike me if          even death shall separate me from you.

 

It pleased my soul, and my good humour, that those words of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law, speaking of a love much more profound than erotic attachment, should touch the hearts of a couple. That really is something!

 

Yet that love of Ruth is relative. Jesus and his degree of love, now that is not merely “something”, it is “something else!” It is not only love’s perfect example but also the complete enabling power in our lives.

 

Praise be to God whose love for the unlovely has broken down our Narcism and opened the kingdom of heavenly love to the likes of us.

 

 

THANKSGIVING AND MEMORIAL

            * for congregations that on, or near, All Souls, remember members that have died.

 

Most generous God, every day and in every place we rise to give you thanks and praise.

For our birth into this amazing world, made in your image, stewards of creation and pastors of one another. 

 

For abundant life made visible and accessible in the word and way of Jesus from birth to death and resurrection.

For Christ’s saving grace made ever present in each generation by your Holy Spirit within the community of the church.

 

Especially today we give you thanks for all your faithful children that have lived before us, and for our departed loved ones for whom heaven is now a home of joy and wonder. Before you today we name those from this congregation who have died during the last twelve months—...........:.................................................................................................................................   

 

At the break of day or in the gentling dusk, in the time of laughter and the hour of tears,

we remember them with thanksgiving.

Under summer sky and through winter storm, with spring blossom and autumn leaves,

we remember them with thanksgiving.

As we celebrate weddings and festivals, and at baptisms and confirmations,

we remember them with thanksgiving.

At birthday parties, and during Christmas with its carols, candles and fond memories,

we remember them with thanksgiving.

Whenever we gather to sing and pray, and in the uplifting hymns of joy on Easter Day,

we remember them with thanksgiving.

 

Loving God, you are the hope of earth and heaven. May each of us be inspired by the faith and love of those who have died in Christ, and for whom the trumpets have sounded on the other side. By your grace, and in your good time, may we join them in that life where pain and disease, sorrow and weeping, are no more. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.

Amen!

 

LITANY OF INTERCESSION

 

On those days when we are tempted to judge others, may we instead pray, and when we are in danger of sliding into pessimism, may we turn to you for help; living God hear our prayer,

And help us to overcome evil with grace, mercy and peace.

 

At those occasions when world hunger & homelessness seem overwhelming, give us the tenacity to do what we can and encourage others to do likewise; living God hear our prayer,

And help us to overcome evil with grace, mercy and peace.

 

In moments when the threat of disease or disablement looms over us, and what is worse, when it threatens our loved ones, please help and guide us; living God hear our prayer,

And help us to overcome evil with grace, mercy and peace.

 

At those seasons when the world seems to have gone crazy with suspicion and fear, and when they turn again to more violence and terror, come to our aid; living God hear our prayer,

And help us to overcome evil with grace, mercy and peace.

 

In situations where politicians seem arrogant and foolish, and the church looks like wringing its hands, please give us wisdom to seek solutions; living God hear our prayer,

And help us to overcome evil with grace, mercy and peace.

 

At those times when the divisions in the church provoke scorn, and when we are tempted to make excuses rather than repent and mend our ways, living God hear our prayer,

And help us to overcome evil with grace, mercy and peace.

 

On occasions when death, broken relationships and divorce, cause havoc among our friends or in the church, show us how to be agents of Christ Jesus, living God hear our prayer,

And help us to overcome evil with grace, mercy and peace.

 

God of infinite reserves, you have entrusted people with a massive responsibilities. With your help we can do far more than is humanly possible, without you we will do far less. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may be channels of your saving, healing love. Through Christ Jesus, light of the world and the love of our lives.

Amen!

 

SENDING OUT

 

“Hear O people of God: The Lord your God is ONE, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.”

 

And you shall love your neighbour as you love yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these”

 

My friends, go and serve God devotedly until you find holy love welling up in your heart. Then because of that well of love, you will serve more gladly and be enabled to have patience and respect for even the irritating and ugly characters that might come your way this week.

Amen!

 

The grace of .............