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13th 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):

Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; make known his deeds among the peoples.

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

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; 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 3:1-15
00:00 / 03:41

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Matthew 20:1-16
00:00 / 02:21

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 16:21-28
00:00 / 02:01

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Saint or Sinner? I am Yours!
00:00 / 15:39

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

Sermon Ordinary 22, 3rd September 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>

Saint or sinner, whatever I am at any time …. I AM YOURS ! <Pause>

This morning, Jesus is beginning to prepare the disciples for the end of His earthly ministry.  This is the beginning of His teaching to them regarding what the future holds, both for himself and for them.

Let us remember that it was only a scant few verses ago in the Gospel (last week if you’ve been following along with my messages) that Peter had confessed to all who were listening that he knew who Jesus was.

“(Jesus) said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’.”

Then Jesus went on to say, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah … I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church”

Now here we are, barely five verses later, and Jesus refers to Peter as Satan, the greatest of sinners, “Get Thee behind me Satan” Jesus says as Peter struggles to separate Jesus from the will of His Father.

I can’t blame Peter.  After all, when he confessed Jesus as the Messiah, he was definitely speaking in the power of the Holy Spirit and offering to Christ, “I am yours”, but that doesn’t mean that he REALLY understood what he was saying.

At that point in time, Peter was still a beginner in this faith business.  Although his faith was strong, his understanding was shallow, just beginning. He knew what the “Messiah” was supposed to look like.  The prophets had said that the Messiah would be a warrior-king who would ride in to save the nation of Israel from her enemies and who would restore justice and peace on earth.

In Peter’s mind, how did that square with Jesus saying that he had to go to Jerusalem, undergo great suffering and be killed so that He could rise again in three days? What did that mean for Peter, and anyone else, who propheses Jesus as Lord, and offers, “I am yours” ?

This is one of those times when I feel that I can really get inside Peter’s head and heart.  He must have been thinking, “What?”  “You’ve got to be kidding me!  I know you are the Messiah, but what kind of justice and vindication do you think you can bring to Israel by dying ?”

As the 2023 US Presidential debates get under way, it’s like one of the candidates running for that office saying — “Elect me and I promise to be assassinated!” So you see, I understand why Peter reacted as he did, but boy oh boy, what a reaction the Peter who gave himself to Jesus, the Peter who claimed “I am yours”, drew from Jesus.

“Get behind me, Satan!”  This is the strongest rebuke Jesus uses in the Gospels, and He uses it on the one on to whom He had recently bestowed the ultimate compliment. <PAUSE>

This very paradox that makes you and I just oh so like Peter. Let me say that again - in our humanity, we are so like Peter - we can be saints one moment and sinners the next!

We who hear this gospel story today must always be wary of this. WE also know that Jesus Christ is Messiah, many of us have said to Jesus, “I am yours” … BUT like Peter, we tend to look for the road that we would like Jesus to lead us down. After all, temptation tells us things through the mass media and social media every day: the one with the most “influence” wins; there is no such thing as being too rich or too skinny; if you get enough plastic surgery, you can be beautiful and therefore happy; you cannot live without the newest and latest of everything etc etc.

All of which are just different ways of saying that our destinies are in our own hands and we can ensure our own happiness and well-being by working harder, earning more, getting additional power and prestige and caring most deeply about our appearance. 

Get Behind ME Satan! <PAUSE>

In today’s gospel the temptation for Peter must have been incredible!  “No Lord.  This must not happen … indeed, it CANNOT happen to you! Don’t take us down that road. Just use the power we’ve seen you use to heal and feed people, to strike the authorities, both Temple and Roman, and bring in the Kingdom of God as it should be - with great fanfare and triumph!”

But Jesus responds not with agreement, but with his own call to discipleship, and not just discipleship, but RADICAL DISCIPLESHIP.  Rather than, “OK, Peter, you’re right,” Jesus says,

“If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.”

This incredible call to discipleship, the call to lay down even our very lives and pick up our own crosses is the absolute, polar opposite of what Peter was feeling in that moment.

If we say, “I am yours”, Jesus responds … then come with me and perhaps even suffer for the sake of the Kingdom, there you will find your life. <PAUSE>

We often do not want to hear that call, but there it is and it’s plain enough. <PAUSE>

I think what Jesus wants is for us to begin to deny the temptations of the world, just as He did — hard though it may be — and to put the Gospel message first in our lives.

If we say “I am yours” then look first to loving the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself and do not prioritise money, fame, title, possessions, authority etc. <PAUSE> If we focus FIRST & FOREMOST on living out that Great Commandment and fulfilling the Great Commission, to go into the all the world and make disciples, baptising those who come to believe because of our examples, then … we will also be well-armed for whatever else the world may throw our way. <PAUSE>

“I am yours !” … okay, so let’s look and see where Jesus is calling us to go and the sacrifices we need to make in order to “carry our crosses”.

If you worry about money and balancing budgets, that’s what you need to sacrifice. Let that go. Take up that cross, follow Christ … He WILL see it right.

If you’re a workaholic, it’s your time, that’s what you need to sacrifice. Rest. Take up that cross, follow Christ … He WILL see it right.

If you’re a control freak (for yourself and on others), it’s your domineering, that’s what you need to sacrifice. Relax. Take up that cross, follow Christ … He WILL see it right.

In your life, whatever you put before God, Jesus calls you to put down, to sacrifice it, so that you’re ready and able to take up your cross and follow Him to new life. <PAUSE>

We can’t hope to be perfect as Christ was perfect … but we can hope to be faithful to God’s call, like Peter, sometimes getting it right, sometimes getting it wrong, but always trying our best to get our priorities right, putting God first.`

When we do this we can then truly TRULY state, as the musical introduction to my message this week said, “I AM YOURS !” … 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 each and every opportunity to declare “I Am Yours” to Him as Messiah and Saviour of the World. Give us the grace to repent when we are sinners and help us constantly strive to have us follow the road that YOU would lead us along.

(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.

Creator God, increase in us love not only for the victims but for the perpetrators of evil and violence in our world; for all governments which run on corruption and fear. We pray for a change of heart and attitude, an awakening to a better way of living, and the courage to reject wrong principles.

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

Father God, may our closeness to family and friends never make us exclusive, shutting others out, but always inclusive, welcoming others. Encourage us in outgoing hospitality and keep us from becoming possessive of those we love.

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

Loving God, we pray for all offenders in prison, that on release they will not re-offend but find enough support to start a new life in the community. We pray for all who are vulnerable and unable to cope with the demands of life, for alcoholics, drug addicts and all who are sick in mind.  We pray for proper, compassionate help for them.

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

Gracious God, we pray for all who are sick; at home, 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 wherever they may be and whatever trails they are currently facing.

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, in Canada 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 those who have died alone, un-mourned and unnoticed. We pray for those who have committed suicide or died in accidents of their own making. We commend them, to your merciful love.

Humbly, we pray for all those departed this life and for those who are bereaved by their passing.

May all the faithful departed now rest in peace as they most surely have risen in glory.

(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.

Faithful God, thank You for helping us to pray; deepen our loving so that as we pray through this coming week we may do it with Your heart of compassion.

(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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