Celebrant: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
People: And also with you.
Glory to God
Celebrant: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly king, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Collect for the Day
Celebrant: Let us pray.
Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ has taught us that what we do for the least of your children we do also for him. Give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, who gave up his life and died for us, but lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say #508
(for personal viewing: Audrey Assad)
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place,
and He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in Him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk,
till traveling days are done.
- A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans (Chapter 7: 15-25a)
- Psalm 45: 10-17
- The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew (Chapter 11: 16-19, 25-30)
Hymn: Blest are the Pure in Heart (vs. 1, 2 & 4) #439
(for personal viewing: Josh Bales)
Blest are the pure in heart,
for they shall see our God;
the secret of the Lord is theirs,
their soul is Christ’s abode.
The Lord, who left the heavens
our life and peace to bring,
to dwell in lowliness with men,
their pattern and their King;
Lord, we thy presence seek;
may ours this blessing be;
give us a pure and lowly heart,
a temple fit for thee.
We are a part of God’s mission to care for the world using all the gifts God has given us. Whether we meet in person or online or not at all, God wants us to give back in ways that are meaningful and significant. Offertory is not a membership fee. Regular giving is an answer to God’s call to us to be disciples … to offer resources that reflect the grace and generosity of Christ and equip the Church to be His hands and feet in the world. It supports for ministry opportunities to reach those who have not yet heard of God’s love and invite them to make our church their church.
Thank you for your faithfulness in stewardship. Continue to drop off or mail your offertory envelopes to the church. If you haven’t yet, please consider becoming a pre-authorized giver or making a habit of donating online at the end of each Sunday service.
Lord, we thank you for the gift of your Word and as we think on these things, open our hearts and our minds to hear you. Amen.
Do you have any cousins? Are you exact copies of each other, like clones? Well, if you have the same sort of cousins as I do, nothing could be further from the truth. Even brothers and sisters can often be described as ‘different as chalk and cheese.’ Jesus had a cousin, John the Baptist, and, although not quite opposites, they were certainly at other ends of the scale as far as their approach to religion was concerned. John came preaching ‘a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.’ This doesn’t mean he was constantly bashing people over the head with their sins. But he certainly expected people to aim for the highest standards of morality and demonstrated a life of abstinence in protest at the self-indulgent and selfish lifestyles of the society at the time. For he was preaching to the complacent and the proud, who thought having the right parents and going through the rituals of religion assured them of a seat in the kingdom of God. They regarded foreigners as dirty and immoral, who needed to wash before they could come into the presence of respectable folk. John said everyone is a sinner in the eyes of God because God loves everyone equally; those who were despised as sinners just as much as those who thought themselves as righteous.
John’s cousin Jesus went further. He was an extrovert, who enjoyed going to parties with people who weren’t quite respectable, no matter how much it harmed his reputation. His enemies even accused him of eating and drinking too much; he was a ‘glutton and a drunkard’, they said, and, though no one had ever found Jesus drunk in a gutter, ‘a man is known by the company he keeps’, they thought, and declared Jesus guilty by association. So, they rejected John for being too sober, and Jesus for not being sober enough. But that was just an excuse, because they didn’t like their message, and ‘some people are never satisfied’. In fact, Jesus and John were proclaiming different aspects of the same message. God is like those good parents, they said, who want their kids to behave, and be loving and tolerant to each other, but nothing will stop them loving their children, no matter how naughty they may be at times.
So, who were these ‘tax collectors and sinners’ whose company Jesus enjoyed so much? They were outcasts from respectable Jewish society because they collaborated with the Roman occupying forces. Tax was collected from the Jews, on top of the Temple tax they were already burdened with, to support the Roman administration and pay the soldiers who oppressed them. So, the tax collectors were quislings and traitors to their own nation. Jesus is sometimes mentioned as associating with prostitutes. But, in those days, a woman who was widowed or divorced often had no other way to keep herself from starving to death. Where there’s an occupying army, there are always camp followers, ‘sleeping with the enemy’. So, these outcasts weren’t especially wicked people; they were shut out by those who wanted to be exclusive, to have nothing to do with those who were perceived as foreigners and traitors.
Jesus, by contrast, welcomed the underprivileged and the marginalised and touched those who were ritually unclean. He even healed a Gentile woman’s daughter and a Roman centurion’s boy. Jesus’s parable of the good Samaritan praised a foreigner above his fellow Jews. Like his cousin John, who taught that the ‘in-crowd’, the Jews were just as much in need of repentance as the outsiders, the Gentiles, Jesus battled to break down the artificial barriers of race, class and culture, and after he died his disciples continued the same programme right up to the present day.
Richard Dawkins, the former well-known British author and atheist, blames religion for starting wars by being so narrow-minded and exclusive, but tolerance is at the heart of the message of Jesus. It’s true that most of us fail to live up to the standard of inclusiveness which Jesus taught, but gradually it’s having an effect. We have only to look at the progress made in bringing human rights and justice to the black population of the USA and other persecuted minorities around the world to see how this Gospel of Jesus continues to effect so much of human history in spite of the huge opposition to it down the centuries. Amen.
Prayers of the People
Leader: Lord of all,
Response: Hear our prayer.
Hymn: How Clear is our Vocation (vs. 1, 3 & 4) #466
(for personal viewing)
How Clear is our vocation, Lord,
when once we heed your call:
to live according to your word,
and daily learn, refreshed, restored,
that you are Lord of all,
and will not let us fall.
We mark your saints, how they became
in hindrances more sure,
whose joyful virtues put to shame
the casual way we wear your name,
and by our faults obscure
your power to cleanse and cure.
In what you give us, Lord, to do,
together or alone,
in old routines or ventures new,
may we not cease to look to you,
the cross you hung upon,
all you endeavoured done.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.