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7th Sunday of Easter : 12th April 2024

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is doomed.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
00:00 / 01:13

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 John 5:9-13
00:00 / 00:58

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint John.

John 17:6-19
00:00 / 02:27

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Lines in the sand.
00:00 / 14:24

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon for Easter 7, 12th May 2024

Take my lips O God and speak through them, take our minds O God and think through them, take our hearts O God and love through them this day. <Amen>

“A Line In The Sand” is a metaphorical saying that marks a great boundary. Nobody really knows the origin of this saying. It may date back to the Roman general Gaius Popillius over one hundred years before the birth of Jesus. Or perhaps the early 19th century battle, here in New Zealand when the Māori tribe Ngāti Whātua defeated their Ngāpuhi enemies on a beach at Moremonui. One of the victorious chiefs, Taoho, drew a line in the sand with his spear and ordered that no Ngāpuhi were to be slain beyond that point.

On a personal note, as you read, listen or watch this message, Kim and I are journeying to our grand-daughter’s wedding. This will be one of the “lines in the sand” for her and her new husband. There will be life before their marriage and life after God called it into being. It is a time of great change for them. It will be, clearly, one of several “lines drawn in the sand”, great boundaries, great changes, of their lives”.

Can we think of the “lines in the sand” that have marked out our lives?

These “lines” aren’t so much a way of marking time or remembering an event. They are those threshold moments that call into question our priorities and values, the way we live and relate to one another, the things that truly matter, where we want to invest our time and energy, how we want ‘to be’ in this world, what we want from life.

These “lines” are those moments in life that hold before us questions about who we are.
Who do we want to be? What have we done? Has our life mattered? Has our life made a difference.

There is no one right answer to ANY of those questions that we may ask ourselves. It’s an
ongoing process of getting clarity and working out our life; and I wonder if that’s what’s
happening with Jesus in today’s gospel (John 17:6-19).

This gospel is a part of what’s known as “THE FAREWELL DISCOURSE”. It’s the night of the last supper. Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and then he begins a long and wide-ranging monologue about going away and his impending death. He talks a lot and for a long time - four chapters and 117 verses worth of talking.

Jesus talks about what it all means and what it will be like, in the future, for the disciples.

Into that context we hear a prayer from Jesus where He asks three things of His Father:

that God would protect the disciples so that they may be one,

that God would “protect them from the evil one,” and

that God would “sanctify them in the truth.

The rest of this wide-ranging ‘Discourse’ can be viewed as Jesus saying what God has done, what He has done, what the disciples have done, and what the world has done.

So, in effect, we might say that Jesus is working through what’s happening in His human life and the world around Him. Have you had those wide-ranging kinds of conversations? I have. They are those conversations with God, and\or with your friends, in which we are thinking out loud, wrestling with life, making statements, asking questions.

They are conversations that go in all sorts of directions and often come back on themselves. Sometimes I find myself making no sense - to either myself or God or other people! I often contradict myself. At times, my discourses are anything but simple and straightforward.

In this respect, Jesus and “The Farewell Discourse” aren’t so different from the way I’ve
prayed and spoken at times and the way I suspect it might be the same for some of you.

It sounds to me like Jesus is trying to get some clarity, and work out His life, what He has done and what is coming next. It sounds to me like Jesus knows He has come to a “line in the sand” in His life, and oh my … how Jesus shows us that, more often than not, the “lines in the sand” of our lives need to be places of prayer and obedience.

We ALL come to these “lines in the sand” in our lives. It might be a heart attack, the death of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of job, a shattered dream, a wannabe marathon
runner’s ageing body! Equally it might also be a marriage, the birth of a child or a grandchild, a retirement, a graduation, a glorious yet unexpected opportunity.

In some way our lives are a series of “lines in the sand”. Every one of you could look back and recall the lines that I’m talking about in your life; the questions that were raised, the choices you made, the struggles you faced, and the ways in which your life changed.

These “lines” frame the human condition and our struggle to be authentic, faithful, and whole. In that regard Jesus isn’t as different from us as we often think. Today, we see the human Jesus standing in solidarity with us and OUR humanity. Today we see the human Jesus working out his life. Who among us doesn’t know what that’s like? We all do. We all struggle to work out our life.

Yes - we do struggle <PAUSE> … but Jesus shows us the way, shows us what to do … TALK
TO GOD ! <PAUSE>

So think about this. What are you working out and struggling with today? What is the “line in the sand” that you are approaching in your life at this time? What are you doing
with it?

I can’t tell you what to do with those dividing lines. I don’t have YOUR answers. But I’ll tell you this. I am struck by what Jesus DOESN’T do about His human life. He doesn’t isolate or close in on himself. He doesn’t get angry or resentful. He doesn’t resist or fight back. He doesn’t run away or try to escape. He doesn’t complain about or deny the
reality of what is happening. Instead, He FACES His life. Jesus is completely ‘in touch’ with his humanity.

He feels what he feels. He grieves. He weeps (see John 11:35). He gathers with his friends … AND HE PRAYS.

Why? Because … Jesus lives with a faith that Easter Sunday is always on the other side of the “line in the sand” of Good Friday … and NEVER forget that …. those three things that we hear Jesus praying for today:

That disciples love one another.

That disciples be protected from “the evil one”.

That God will sanctify disciples in the truth.

Is as much the prayer of Jesus for us today as it was for those first disciples two millennia ago.

God bless and keep you all.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMINE>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Everlasting God Your son Jesus’ prayed for His disciples. May we live life worthy of that prayer so that we may be one, so that we may be protected from the evil one, and so that we may be sanctified in the truth.

In Jesus, name we pray. Amen.

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your mercy” Our response is, “hear our prayer!”

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Mighty God, we pray for Your people around the world and, in particular, we raise before You all who seek to lead and assist in our worship, coming together - around the world - as Christian sisters and brothers praying and praising You. Give us, a sense of community as we come and inspiration as we go.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Creator God help the people of Your world make the best use of science and technology in order to achieve a better life on this planet. Protect people of third world countries from being exploited and underpaid for their labour just so that others can enjoy cheap luxury goods at their expense.


(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Father God, Your Son remained with His disciples after his resurrection, teaching them to love all people as neighbours. Thank you for our families, friends and fellow Christians and for the people with whom we work or share our daily lives. We pray for those who are lonely, those isolated because of age or ill-health, and those who find it difficult to make friends or be accepted.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Loving God, we remember those who are sick, sad or lonely and those who are brave and patient when things are going wrong. We pray that they may be aware of Your comforting presence and know that in Your hands they are safe and loved.

We especially raise before You now all those who have asked for our prayers from around the world … those we know in New Zealand, in Singapore, in Argentina, in France, in Australia, in the US, in Canada, in Austria, in Ukraine, in China and any others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by You.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Heavenly Father, we raise before You all who have died and who are now with Your ascended Son Jesus Christ.  We pray for those who have recently died, for their resurrection into Your kingdom. May all the faithful departed rest in peace as they most surely have risen in glory.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your Mercy: Hear our prayer

In a moment of silence we pray for ourselves, our families, friends, for all whom we love and for our personal ministries. Make us worthy of the prayers that Your Son offers on our behalf.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Everlasting God open our eyes to see You acting in our lives and our hearts to understand not only what You do for us but what You call us to do to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Forth in the peace of Christ we go; Christ to the world with joy we bring; Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips, Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,

your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.   Amen.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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