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Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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):

Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

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

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth: Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; 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)

Deuteronomy 5:12-15
00:00 / 00:52

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

2 Corinthians 4:5-12
00:00 / 01:24

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 2:23-3:6
00:00 / 02:15

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Breaking The Rules!
00:00 / 11:59

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

Sermon for Ordinary 9, Sunday, 2nd June 2024

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>

Let me begin, today, with an admission - as a schoolboy, I was a real handful. If there was mischief going on, I was probably somewhere near the heart of it. It seemed that I wanted to break every rule! Yes, it seems that the things I chose to do almost always got me into trouble. Some of the things I chose to do, to this very day, also seem to get me into trouble with some people!

Spanning the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3 of Mark’s gospel we discover that the things Jesus chose to do almost always got him into trouble too, and that trouble led to his death. The things Jesus chose to do were often against the law, or at least against the prescribed norms of the day, and His disciples were often confused or hesitant to follow along.

The world doesn’t make it easy to choose what Jesus chooses.

Though Sabbath was a requirement for Jesus and his disciples, for us Sabbath\Sunday is a conscious choice, one that our modern culture would tell us is not a priority. We have to CHOOSE to do something with our time that will be life giving for ourselves, for our families, for our friends, for others.

The Pharisees had set some rules, regulations, restrictions around the practices of life, worship, the Sabbath; things people could and could not do, and to alleviate pain and hunger, Jesus chose to break those rules, saying “So the Son of Man is lord even over the Sabbath.” Jesus is saying that the human rules are not God, only God is God!

Sometimes following God’s call means breaking with the norms that we humans have set for ourselves.

As we delve into this passage today, we highlight that the problem is NOT the Sabbath laws, the goal of the Pharisees is to put a stop to Jesus, who is upending the status quo and systems that keep the powerful in their place.

The Pharisees and the Herodians, the ones who conspire against Jesus at the end of this passage, do not care about keeping the Sabbath, they care about keeping their privilege. They do not care about the man with the withered hand, what he has suffered and how healing might change his life. They chose death instead. <PAUSE>

NOW - what about me\us? Am I\Are we choosing the things that do good or the things that do harm? It’s easy for me, for us, to point fingers at the Pharisees and say what they are doing is definitively wrong (oh - the wonder of hindsight) but how many of us can look back and say that we have always made the choices? Or that I\we are even doing so right now?

I, for one, would admit that sometimes I have chosen breaking the rules over following them when following them was easier. It’s hard to imagine that I would choose adhering to the rules over relieving someone’s suffering if I had the choice to make.

However, rarely is the choice as dark and sinister as it is presented in Mark.

Choosing death over life and goodness and wholeness is much less noticeable most of the time. Often failing to follow Jesus comes in the form of inertia, inaction, maintaining the status quo rather than getting up and doing something new. <PAUSE>. Every day we have to make choices that reveal whom we are serving.

Even in the context of commandments, ultimately we get a choice. The command in Deuteronomy makes it clear what the choice is: observe the Sabbath, or don’t. Our definitions of what that means may vary (for example, it might not always fall on a Sunday if you work on Sunday’s, and certainly the way we define “work” has changed over many years), but the command remains: Keep the Sabbath, and remember why.

One big problem the Pharisees had with Jesus was that he was constantly interpreting and reimagining the meaning of the law.

Jesus is asking us to consider, the purpose of the Sabbath! Why do we observe the Sabbath?

The purpose of the Sabbath is to remember that God gives us life and that we are to honour that life with actions that are also life-giving.

Jesus is returning to what He believes is the original purpose of the Sabbath law: to promote life, to promote healing, to remove those circumstances that do harm or evil.

Jesus’ response to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” indicates that He disagrees with the premise of their human rules and regulations. By healing the man with the withered hand, He does not break God’s law in any way. Rather, Mark casts Jesus as honouring the purpose of the sabbath commandment.

Jesus is saying that the chief objective of the law, in general, is to save, preserve, and spread life as far and wide as it is possible to do so. <PAUSE> Jesus chose to restore a man’s malformed hand? Jesus chooses healing, life, and the spreading of the Good News. How can we do the same?

Where are the places in our own lives, in our communities and in the world where we can do the same? Where are we letting a strict adherence to some sort of code (whether it’s the law or something we’ve invented in our own minds) rule over our lives?

Every day we have so many choices that we can make. Usually we are blessed that those choices are not between life and death, but when we take a step back and evaluate the things we are choosing, we can see that often there is one option that is more life-giving than another.

The choice to slow down, to say yes to some things and no to others, to laugh more or to pause with a friend, to offer a helping hand or walk on by.

Jesus offered the Pharisees a choice, break the norms and follow Him, to give life, to do good, to spread the word of God or not. What did they choose. What will I/you choose?

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:

Almighty God we ask you to guide your people and to inspire us with the desire to put aside our differences as we seek to serve you. Help us to reach out as the Body of Christ to all who remain outside, especially those who feel unworthy or too sinful. Give us through your grace opportunities to choose to invite them into our fellowship so that they may taste and see that the Lord is good.

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your mercy” Our response is, “hear our prayer!”

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

Creator God, we know that we are part of the problems that the world faces, and we know that wherever there is resentment between people there will be tension.  We pray that those who lead us and the other nations of the world will always try to choose to solve issues in a peaceful way, and intervene in the world’s conflicts with forethought and respect for all.

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

Gracious God we pray for children and young people around the world. Be with those who are at school, beginning important examinations at school or university and those starting new lives in the world of work. Help us, through our Christian lives to choose to create a society where both young and old, gifted and less able feel valued and proud to be a part of society.

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

Gracious God, we pray for all those who are afflicted by physical, emotional or mental illness.  Comfort all who care for the mentally ill. Be with them, we pray,  through the lonely watches of the night and the narrow tunnel of their pain and grief. Help them to keep their eyes fixed on You, and give them the courage to face the trials and temptations that may come.

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

Merciful God, Your love reaches beyond the grave and so we bring before You those whose earthly life is now at an end. Receive their souls into Your kingdom, we pray, that redeemed by grace they may be forgiven for their sins, rest in peace and rise in glory.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your Mercy: Hear our prayer

In a moment of silence we pray for ourselves, our families, friends, for all whom we love and for our personal ministries. Make the things that we choose to do be worthy of the sacrifice of Your Son.

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

And so Heavenly Father wherever nature’s beauty or the daily miracles around help us to see Your hand at work we thank You for the grace to live and enjoy it to the full.

(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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