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12th Sunday after Pentecost

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):

Our help is in the Name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

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

Grant, O merciful God, that Your Church, being gathered together in unity by Your Holy Spirit, may show forth Your power among all peoples, to the glory of Your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Exodus 1:8-2:10
00:00 / 05:45

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Romans 12:1-8
00:00 / 01:41

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 Matthew.

Matthew 16:13-20
00:00 / 02:04

Listen to David speak to this gospel

But Who Do You Say That Jesus Is?
00:00 / 13:19

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

Sermon Ordinary 21, 27th August 2023

MAY the words of my mouth and the meditations in our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. <Amen>

A question from Jesus - “But who do YOU say that I am?”

Let me tell you some of the answers I’ve heard or read. My personal Lord and Saviour. The Son of God. God incarnate. He’s my life, the song I sing, my everything. My mate, brother, best friend. Rock, comforter, guide. Teacher. The list goes on.

At some point we’ve probably all been TOLD who Jesus is. Maybe you heard it from priests, teachers, parents, friends, or prayer groups. Maybe you read it in books, Sunday school lessons, or on bumper stickers. Maybe you saw it on Facebook, read it on the internet, or heard it in a song. Some of the answers may have been helpful. Some probably not. Some were just plain silly and some may have even been hurtful and destructive. Regardless, the question remains about Jesus … “WHO ARE YOU?”

By now most of you know me well enough to know that I don’t intend to answer this question for you. I can’t. Each of us must answer it for ourselves. The question is not, however, a theology or Bible exam. If anything it is an examination of our own lives.

I don’t think Jesus is asking us to just parrot back the answers we’ve heard or read. Maybe that’s why he pushes the disciples to move from what they are hearing around them – John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets – to what they are hearing within themselves. “But who do YOU say that I am?”

Jesus, who are you? This is not an easy question. I wonder if we sometimes too readily accept and settle for “Sunday Jesus” answers. You know, the easy, feel good, sentimental ones. The problem is life isn’t always easy, feel good, or sentimental.

It’s one thing to say who Jesus is when we are in a place of relative safety and comfort. It’s a very different thing to say who He when out in ‘the big, wide world’.

Also, the question is never merely academic or abstract. It always has a context. Here’s what I mean. For example, who do we say Jesus is:

Following the shooting of children at another school in the US?

In the midst of heated debates about gender identity and LGBTQIA rights?

Amidst the ongoing unrest in The Holy Land?

As refugees cry out in need, as people go to bed hungry, face domestic violence, or work for a wage that cannot support a family?

When a loved one dies, or the doctor gives news we did not want to hear, or our life seems to be falling apart?

Who do we say Jesus is when we are faced with decisions that have no easy answers, when the night is dark and the storms of life overwhelm us, when faithfulness means risking it all and taking a stand against a louder and seemingly more powerful majority?
Using the context of these few examples what does it mean to say Jesus is my personal Lord and Saviour, or my brother and friend? <PAUSE>

Here’s my point. Who WE say Jesus is has everything to do with who and how we are and will be.

In some ways our answer says as much or more about us than it does about Jesus. It reveals how we live and what we stand up for. It guides our decisions, and determines the actions we take and the words we speak. It describes the expectations and demands we place on Jesus. It discloses the depth of our motivation for (and commitment to) following Him, a motivation and commitment that will continually be challenged as Jesus invites us to take up our cross and die with him.

Jesus’ question isn’t so much about getting the right answer as it is about witnessing and testifying to God’s life, love, and presence in our lives and the world.

“Jesus, who are you” - is a question less about our intellect and more about our heart.

“Jesus, who are you” - is a question grounded in love more than understanding.

“Jesus, who are you” - is a question that moves us from simply knowing ABOUT Jesus to BEING Christians.

In some sense there is no once and for all, finally and forever, answer. We are always living INTO the question, growing into the answer.

Who Jesus was when I was a child is different from who He was when I was in my 30s or who He is for me today. Hopefully, who He is for me next year will be different from who He is for me today.

It’s not that Jesus has changed. I have. We are constantly engaging His question and in so doing we not only discover Jesus anew we discover ourselves anew.

“Jesus, who are you” - Sometimes MY answers were too simple, too small, too easy. They were no match for the complexities of life and the pain of the world. Other times my life has NOT reflected what I said about who Jesus is. Sometimes I kept quiet when I should have spoken up. Other times I was passive when I should have done something. Whenever I have fallen it has usually been because I was trying to play it safe, stay in my comfort zone, stay ‘in the boat’ instead of walking on the water!

“Jesus, who are you” - there is nothing safe about the question Jesus poses. How could there be? There is nothing safe about Jesus or the life to which we calls us.

Jesus’ life and presence amongst us calls into question everything about our lives, our world, the status quo, and “business as usual”. That’s why we ought not answer His question too quickly, too glibly, or with too much certainty. It’s not a question to be figured out as much as IT IS A QUESTION TO BE LIVED … and to God will be the glory.

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, we thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus Christ and for revealing Him as Messiah and Saviour of the World. Thank you for the lively and outspoken faith of St Peter, the bedrock foundation for Your people here on earth.

(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.

Caring God, we thank You for our faith communities around the world.  We pray for all who share, read, teach, and preach Your word. Those who see beyond local boundaries to inspire, lead and grow us as disciples as we reach out to those in need in our communities and in our world.

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

Creator God, we pray for our world leaders, for Heads of State, and for all who hold authority in governing bodies both large and small.

We also pray for our national and community leaders and those in public office dealing with difficult situations especially.

May all be guided by Your Word and strive to attain justice, peace, equality, respect, and tolerance for all.

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

Father God, help us be reliable and honest in what we do, and friendly to all we meet in our daily lives. Help us always to give our best, to work to our fullest and never be ashamed to confess our answer to the question, “Jesus, who are you?”.

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

Loving God, we ask for Your wisdom to discern Your wishes and direction in our lives and ask for Your help to discern how to deal with others in our daily lives; those we live and work with; those we meet in shops and supermarkets; those with whom we share our roads and those who serve us in cafes and restaurants.  May we never be a “stumbling block” to those we meet.

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

Gracious God, we pray for all who are housebound and in nursing homes; those in hospitals, in recovery and rehabilitation. We thank you for our local hospitals, health centres and clinics and for all those working in sheltered accommodation and care homes.

We pray for healing and wholeness in the lives of all Your people and ask that You help us to bring life and love, joy and hope, to those who live in despair.

We now raise before you 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 and any others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you. <PAUSE>

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

Merciful God, we pray for all those departed this life and for those who are bereaved by their passing. Help us to be sympathetic, caring and loving with the bereaved and always ready to help practically and to pray diligently in their time of greatest need.

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

Heavenly father, in a moment of silence we place before you our personal prayers for ourselves, our families, our friends, for all of those whom we love and, for our personal ministries.

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

Holy God, we thank You that Your wisdom not only enlightens us but also transforms us and guides us as we go from this place of worship and into our daily walk through life with You.

(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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