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14th 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):

Hallelujah! Sing to the Lord a new song; sing His praise in the congregation of the faithful.

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

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Exodus 12:1-14
00:00 / 03:24

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Philippians 1:21-30
00:00 / 01:39

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 21:23-32
00:00 / 00:59

Listen to David speak to this gospel

We ARE dysfunctional humans - BUT ...
00:00 / 11:09

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

Sermon Ordinary 23, 10th 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>

I chose, as the musical introduction to my message this week, a piece of music that has long been ranked among the most adored, and also the most abhorred, works in the entire orchestral repertoire. Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”. The overture is best known for its climactic volley of cannon fire and ringing chimes. First performed in 1882, it remains incredibly popular and, for those of you in the USA, it has become a staple of your Independence Day celebrations on July 4th. It is still a crowd-puller - worldwide.

The work commemorates Russia’s, successful, 1812 defence against Napoleon's advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino, during the French invasion of Russia - against the backdrop of unbelievable, bitter cold, monumental hardship and starvation, and unfathomable death. <PAUSE>

There you have it … a piece of music that reminds us that many people view “suffering” and “conflict” as an integral part of human existence. <PAUSE>

Our gospel today, Matthew 18:15-20, was intended to give the early church guidance about how to deal with conflict.

The gospel reminds us that the natural world is for us ALL, wherever we may be, God’s world and it is for everyone, without borders. God’s table is a common table, big enough for everyone, each with a seat, so that each one of us can come to the table to be nourished. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross ensures this.

God sustains us, in the midst of conflict, even when we may feel there is no hope. When we turn to the deepest centre of our hearts, we will find God and hope will spring forth … but this can only take effect if we, as individuals, put our own relationship with Christ FIRST AND FOREMOST.

Matthew’s purpose in writing the words we heard today was to make everything in the early church perfect. After all, he himself was a tax collector and far from popular with his brothers and sisters. Matthew and Jesus wanted to restore order among believers.

That does NOT mean that they went to extremes, like the Pharisees, making up rules, Canons, and Statutes to try cover every potential situation. On the contrary, Jesus liked to keep things simple. That’s why He gave us just two Great Commandments - “Love God and love people”.

Conflict is easier to resolve if a personal relationship with God, through one’s prayer life, keeps these two Great Commandments in mind. <PAUSE>

Furthermore - I have absolutely no doubt that The Holy Spirit lives in each and every one of us.

The Holy Spirit is in us and ACTIVE among us allowing us to do that which isn’t “do-able” alone … BUT ONLY IF WE HAVE OUR RELATIONSHIP CLEAR & CORRECT WITH CHRIST FIRST! Last week we were reminded that, at differing moments in our lives, we can be saints and then sinners so - why be surprised when even Christians can be in conflict with each other?

Let’s just take ownership of our dysfunctional status and agree that conflict among God’s people is the inevitable result of putting frail humanity in “the same room” and expecting them to get along.

BUT, if we put our relationship with God FIRST, then Jesus hopes that His love for us will lead to our loving Him and our loving Him will inevitably lead to loving the other sinners in the room.

People can be illogical, unchangeable, unreasonable, controlling, hurtful, and self-centred,

Love them anyway.

If you are trying to do good, trying to spread The Word, people will see pitfalls and fear you have ulterior motives,

Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable,

Be honest and frank anyway.

People really need help, but may attack you if you try to help them,

Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it MUST ALWAYS be between you and God, <pause>
It was never between you and them anyway!

Therefore, for me, for you, for anyone, our PERSONAL relationship with Christ must come above all else - especially in the midst of the suffering and conflict that human existence often brings.

Remember the two great commandments of Jesus, LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE; and the words of Saint Paul that we hear today as he writes to the young Church in Rome, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another”, because genuine love does no harm to its neighbour.”

In the final analysis this means that when we gather together (physically or virtually), even if it is only two or three of us and no matter whether we agree or disagree - Christ is saying, “I am there among them.”

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, Lord of compassion and gracious understanding, we come with an openness to express our concerns for Your people and the world, and to thank You, for Your goodness.

(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.

Merciful God we recognise that the work of helping people through life can leave the helpers vulnerable to spiritual attack.  We thank you for all who seek to spread Your good news and help others find new life in Jesus Christ. We pray that they won’t allow criticism or negativity to blunt their ministry; that they will hear encouragement, and that they will always respond in love and forgiveness when difficulties arise.

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

Creator God, we pray for our world, where through the media, we see the misery and tragedy brought about by wrong choices and brought into our homes day by day. We pray for wisdom and compassion in all negotiations and decisions taken by our world and local leaders; and ask that there be humility in leadership and responsibility for right action shared by all.

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

Father God, help us to use our influence and the talents You have given us to bring peace, joy and fun into people’s lives, instead of stirring up divisions and strife.  We pray for the people who visit our communities.  We pray that they would enjoy themselves, and enjoy each other. May their visits bring not only pleasure but restoration and healing into their lives.

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

Gracious God, we raise before you those who are ill, hospitalised or recuperating and for those we know within our families and circle of friends.

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, in Austria, in Ukraine 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, give us ears to hear and minds to understand the message of immortality for the children of Your kingdom so that we may look forward with patience and confidence to that time when we will join You in the peace of eternity.

We especially pray for any we know who recently died and are on that journey to You 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, forgive us for those times when we treat ourselves with less kindness than You do. We want to believe in ourselves the way You believe in us and so as we go out to live the coming week show us more of the life You have designed especially for us to live

(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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