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2nd Sunday in Lent : 25th Feb 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):

Praise the Lord, you that fear him; stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;
all you of Jacob's line, give glory.

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

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
00:00 / 01:20

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Romans 4:13-25
00:00 / 02:13

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 Mark.

Mark 8:31-38
00:00 / 01:30

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Self-denial
00:00 / 13:33

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

Sermon for Lent 2, 25th Feb 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>

Ah - the good old days. Join me - come on, close your eyes and cast your mind back to your “good old days”. Happy memories ?

Here’s one of my imaginary mental pictures … it’s several years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The disciples are together. They are talking about the good old days, laughing, teasing, and reminiscing the way friends who have shared a life changing experience often do. Then one of them looks at Peter and says, “Hey Satan, tell us about that day you rebuked Jesus!” Another joins in, “Yeah, how’d that work out for you mate?” Another, “What WERE you thinking, Peter?” Peter begins to speak, “You know I just didn’t like the whole suffering and dying thing. I didn’t get it. That’s not what I signed up for. That’s not who I thought the Messiah would be.” The others fall silent. They recall that day like it was yesterday. <PAUSE>

They slowly begin to realise that Peter didn’t say anything they weren’t thinking themselves. <PAUSE>

Come to think of it .. maybe Peter didn’t say anything we haven’t thought or even wanted to say!

Jesus has a very different understanding of discipleship than what most of us probably want.

If we are really honest haven’t we, at some point, disagreed with Jesus, asking why He doesn’t do what WE want? Why won’t He see the world our way? It all seems so clear to us. For example:

If He can cast out the demons and silence the crazy guy in the synagogue surely He could silence the voices that drive us crazy.

If He can heal Peter’s mother in law why not those we love?


If He can cleanse the leper why does our life sometimes leave us feeling isolated?


If He can make the paralytic walk why are so many crippled by fear, dementia, or addiction?


If He can calm the sea surely He could calm the storms of our world. Yet they rage on; violence, war, poverty.


If He can keep Jairus’ daughter from dying why not our children, our friends, our loved ones?


If he can feed 5000 with a few fish and pieces of bread why does much of the world to go to bed hungry?

I have wondered about these things and I’m sure you have too. I have been asked these kind of questions. I know some who have reject faith, or have lost faith over these things.

These are our rebukes of Jesus. He is not being or acting as WE want Him to.

Maybe we’re not so different from Peter after all? <PAUSE>

Peter/WE have our own images and wishes about who Jesus is and what He should do. All is well when Jesus is casting out demons, healing the sick, preventing death, and feeding the multitudes. We like THAT Jesus. We want to follow THAT Jesus. THAT Jesus is our Lord and Saviour.

HOWEVER, Jesus WILL NOT conform to our images of who we think He is or who we want Him to be.

Instead, Jesus asks us, CHALLENGES US, to conform to who He knows himself to be: the one who “must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

He sets a choice before us. It is a choice we each have to make. Again and again the circumstances of life set that choice before us.

We either choose our own wants and ways and deny Jesus or we deny our personal desires and choose Jesus. “If any want to become my followers,” he says, “let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Self denial is the beginning of discipleship. <PAUSE>

When Peter “signed up” I’m sure he felt that The Messiah was supposed to offer security, protection, drive the Romans out and put Israel back on top.

Faith in Jesus, Peter is learning, is not about the elimination of risks, the preservation of life, and the ability to control. Instead, Jesus asks us to risk it all, abandon our lives, and relinquish control to God.

That is what Jesus is doing and he expects nothing less of those who would follow him.

The way of Christ, self-denial (and in Christ’s case self-denial even unto death!), reminds us that our life is not our own. It belongs to God. It reminds us that we are not in control, God is. Our life is not about us. It is about God.

This is NOT about giving things up to make ourselves suffer for a short time (think 40 days of Lent!), it’s not about being out of control or powerless. SELF-DENIAL IS ABOUT THE CHOICES WE MAKE.
The example from Jesus is clear. Jesus chose :

to give in a world that takes,

to love in a world that hates,

to heal in a world that injures,

to give life in a world that kills,

to offer mercy when others sought vengeance,
to forgive when others condemned,

to show compassion when others were indifferent,

and

to trust in God’s abundance when others said there is not going to be enough.

With each choice Jesus denied himself and showed God’s presence.

These were the choices of self-denial that caught the attention of - and offended - those who lived and profited by power, control, and looking out for number one. They would not deny themselves …

and Jesus knew that He would be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes.

When that rejection happened for Jesus he made one final choice. He chose resurrection to eternal life over survival held together by earthly things. So ….

If any want to become Jesus followers …. <LONG PAUSE>

well, you can finish this message for yourself because you KNOW what Jesus asks of you.

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:

Loving God as you revealed yourself to Abraham in ancient days, reveal Yourself to us in this present age.  Make us into a faithful people ready to believe Your promises and follow You wherever You will lead us.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your Mercy” Our plea is, “Hear our prayer”

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

Holy God, during this period of Lent, give us a new awareness of Your presence in our communities and teach us the humility to accept that all our gifts come from You to be used in the service of Your people and in the spreading of the Gospel.  Live in us through all of our small acts of sacrifice and help us be cheerful in our fasting and giving as our Lord Jesus Christ commanded.  

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


Creator God Your Son walked upon earth and taught us to seek Your hand in the beauty and wonders of earth and sea and sky. We so often see too much of the evidence of poor stewardship in our surroundings and it is easy to forget that the world belongs to You. Help us to recognise Your presence in our modern world, and help us to use more wisely the resources of the earth.

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

Father God, we give you thanks for all our local and faith communities: for our neighbours, for our friends and for the people around us with whom we work and share our daily lives. We pray for those who are old and lonely, those isolated because of ill-health, and those who find it difficult to be accepted. Show us all that we can do to help those around us and teach us to be good neighbours and true friends.

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

Gracious God, we pray for the sick and the suffering.  For those undergoing treatments and surgery; for those convalescing and those who are recovered.  We pray that through their suffering they may all experience the light of the Gospel.  We pray too for all who minister to the sick and infirm; for those working in our local health centres and hospitals; for those working in care homes and those who daily give help at home; for all of our local charities and help organisations.

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.

Almighty God be near to all those who are grieving today over the loss of a loved one. We raise before you those who have died in the faith of Christ and for those whose belief is known only to you.  Lord, we thank you for those who have travelled before us on the way of the cross and are now at peace in your eternal presence.

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

Faithful God as we go out into the world today help us to remember that Your Son was tempted by the Devil but chose faithfulness before popularity, service before fame and sacrifice before power. Give us the strength to reject temptation through our Lenten journey and beyond it throughout the rest of our lives.

(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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