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24th 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):

We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord, *
and the wonderful works he has done.

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

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he 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)

Ephesians 1:15-23
00:00 / 03:18

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
00:00 / 01:07

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 25:1-13
00:00 / 01:48

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Reserves & Readiness
00:00 / 11:40

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

Sermon Ordinary 32, 12th November 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>

“Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.” So goes the well-known memorial acclamation. But sometimes we don’t think much about the third of these three declarations.

It’s important for us to understand that there is a balance in the Christian life between knowing that Christ might come back tomorrow, but at the same time, living as if He may not come back in our lifetime. If we go off on one extreme or the other, we end up with problems.

For example, in his first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, Paul wrote that the Lord’s return was near, and so they should live with that in mind. Apparently, some of the people thought that since the Lord’s coming was so near, they could quit their jobs, and sit at home fasting and praying and watching the sky for the clouds to be rolled up like a scroll.

When Paul heard about this, he wrote a second letter to tell them that although the Lord’s return was near and that they needed to live in the light of that, they must also live as if His coming was far off.

This is one of the great lessons of “The Olivet Discourse”, as the biblical passages found in the Synoptic Gospels in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are known … the idea of being alert and ready; holding to a sense of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. He could return tonight or tomorrow. Are you prepared? While we also come to the idea of being prepared for his return, even when it seems a long way off. Are you preparing? <PAUSE>

In today’s parable, Jesus tells us of wise and foolish bridesmaids. The difference between them is that the wise had enough oil for their lamps, the foolish did not.

The torches they carried were long sticks. One end was wrapped with rags and strips of cloth which had been soaked in oil. It only burns for about 15 minutes. To make the torch burn longer, the strips of cloth need to be repeatedly soaked with oil. That oil would be carried in a little vessel or pitcher and every so often, as the flame began to diminish, they would pour more oil onto the rags into order to keep their flame alight.

Today we learn that five of these bridesmaids forgot to bring any extra oil. They had their torches, but forgot their vessels filled with oil. It is a silly thing to forget, and highly unlikely - but not impossible - that anyone would forget to bring something so basic and so essential - but that is why this parable is so memorable. <PAUSE>

I propose to you, that “the oil” represents - for us - something so basic and so essential that no Christian should be without it.

What is “the oil”? “The oil” is PREPARATION. Though all the bridesmaids were prepared … to one degree or another … for they all brought torches …

… some of them prepared better than others and brought not only a torch, but also a vessel filled with spare oil. The wise bridesmaids were prepared because they had enough oil to get them through the night, through the dark time. The foolish bridesmaids were NOT well prepared. <PAUSE>

Today, the foolish lack reserves of spiritual oil. Something no Christian should be without. No Christian can have an excuse for not preparing well enough.

If you and I are not willing to take the time to build up our spiritual reserves while we have the chance, a time may come when a crisis happens in our life – a sickness, a death, a loss of finances or a job, etc – and we will find that we do not have the spiritual reserves to get through.

Christ points us to the fact that faith and spiritual strength come only through regular discipline. They come only through constant reading and studying of the Word. They come only through praying and prayer without ceasing.

They come only through personal preparation and, as we all know, it is the wise who prepare for the future.

So, we should not ignore this “effort of spiritual preparation”. Spiritually, whatever you do now, I call you to take it up a notch this week. Not a huge notch, for that will wear you out too quickly. Think about memorising one Scripture verse a week. Pray for five extra minutes. Study scripture five minutes longer. Read a short daily devotion. Commit to a few more minutes of stillness to be with The Lord. Commit to a few more minutes of quietness to listen to The Lord. Whatever helps you. <PAUSE>

Remember Paul? After his conversion, he wanted to get right out and start converting his Jewish brethren. But God had him spend 17 years in preparation before He sent Paul on his first missionary journey. We’re thankful for Paul, but we should also be thankful for those 17 years. If it weren’t for those 17 years of preparation, there would be no Paul!

So, if WE are going to ready for the future, we must be “preparing” now.

Those foolish bridesmaids failed in this, and so when the bridegroom came, they were not around. They had gone to find oil, but it was NOT something they could obtain on the spur of the moment.

Spiritual reserves of “oil”, spiritual reserves of strength, spiritual reserves of hope, spiritual reserves of faith, spiritual reserves of positivity, spiritual reserves of joy …

ARE ONLY BUILT UP OVER TIME! <Pause>

So let us watch. Let us be ready. Let us get prepared.

Let us make absolutely sure we have “the oil” we need and, when we do, 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:

Loving God, we recognise our responsibility to prepare ourselves to meet Christ and to encourage and uphold one another and to live together in peace and love. We also recognise our needs and our human weaknesses and come to You now with our prayers and petitions.

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, we pray for all who seek to proclaim Your Kingdom, that they will be guided in their ministry by the influence of the Holy Spirit and that, in the power of the Holy Spirit, may make the Gospel understandable to people of every race, language, and culture. That the Holy Spirit of Peace may unite and reconcile the peoples and nations of the earth, bringing an end to war, hatred, and discrimination AMEN.

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

Creator God, we pray for Your world, of which Your Son is King. We pray for peace, reconciliation and healing in the places of war, hatred and terrorism, especially in Ukraine and Gaza. We pray that the nations of this world may be united and subject to the rule of Christ the King, through whom and for whom all things were created. 

(Short pause for personal reflection)

We pray for earthly leaders, may their terms of office be guided and influenced by the example set by Your son Jesus Christ.

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

Mighty God, we commend to Your gracious care and keeping all the men and women in who serve in the Navy, the Army, or the Air Force, in their home countries and overseas.  Defend all who face danger and put their lives at risk so that others might live in safety and give them courage to face the perils of active service. Comfort all worried families, whose loved ones are in danger: surround them with Your love, protect them from all harm and help them to know that nothing can separate them from Your love.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer. Father God, we thank you for our families and friends.  We thank you for modern technology which enables us to hear and see them so easily and to keep in touch even though separated by great distances.

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

Gracious God, we pray for medical staff and chaplains, and all who support the suffering: give them wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience to minister to the sick, the elderly, the infirm, and to all deprived of freedom.

We especially 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, in China 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 have recently died and are on that journey to You.

May they and all the faithful departed now rest in peace as they most surely have risen in glory to spend eternity with The Risen Christ.

(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 help us prepare for the return of Your Son, whenever - in Your time - that may be. Help us to go out into the world shining with Your light and Your truth so that we may help others to be prepared.

(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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