May 16, 2021

Sunday Sermon 24-05-2020

Service Easter 7 May 24 2020 (Yr A)

Leighmoor UC

Possible hymns

TIS 137: For the beauty of the earth

TIS 675: Lord, the light of your love is shining (Shine Jesus shine)

TIS 152: Joyful, joyful we adore you

TIS 147: To God be the glory

TIS 699: A new commandment

TIS142: Glory be to God the Father

TIS 755: You shall go out with joy

Prayers of Adoration and Confession

Glory-filled God,

We come before your radiance in prayer.

Your glory brought into being all of creation,

Your glory was announced on the night of Jesus’ birth,

Your glory was evident in Christ’s resurrection, and ascension.

To you be all glory.

We thank you for another day.

In a world that is far from safe-may we never take a day, or hour, for granted.

Thank you for the gift-and glory-of life.

We thank you for the music of birdsong,

Of the tinkling of laughter as children steer past on bikes and skate boards.

And yet, we know we have let you down,

we have let others down,

and we have let ourselves down.

Forgive us.

Grant us a spirit of courage, of hope, of compassion.

Help us to become the people you created us to be.

(silence)

God is love.

Through Christ our sins are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

Take hold of this forgiveness

and live our lives in the power of the Spirit.

Amen.

Bible Readings

Acts 1: 6-14

Psalm 68: 1-10, 32-35

1 Peter 4: 12-14, 5: 6-11

John 17: 1-11

Sermon: Love’s radiance

(John 17: 1-11)

In the story, The Whisper Test, Mary Ann Bird writes:

‘I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it.  I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.

When schoolmates asked “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass.  Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different.  I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.’ There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored- Mrs Leonard.  She was short, round, happy- a sparkling lady.

Annually we had a hearing test.  Mrs Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn.  I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back-like ‘The sky is blue’ or “Do you have new shoes?’ I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life.  Mrs Leonard said, in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”

-I wish you were my little girl.

In John 17, Jesus said, “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.  So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.”

Earlier, in John 13, Jesus, speaking about glory, said: “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.”

“…Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” 

God’s glory shines whenever we do loving things.

-or God’s glory is revealed in acts of love.

(repeat) 

Glory and love are soul mates.

Glory.

We speak, indeed sing, of God’s glory, or ‘glory to God.’

But what is it?

What does the word ’glory’ really mean?

And what are we trying to get across when we give glory to God?

According to the Oxford Dictionary to glorify-means to make glorious, invest with radiance, and with dignity.

That’s part of what we ‘do’

  • We speak about something of God’s character and being.

When we come to worship, to glorify God-to praise the Almighty, radiant God.  We honour God’s essential being.

But what IS God’s glory?

‘Glory’ is one of those church words which many of us use over and over again without really understanding what we are saying.

In both Old and New Testaments, there are many instances where the word ‘glory’ is used-in different ways.

For example, in 1 Kings, Solomon builds a temple for God.  In vs 10: ‘And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.’

-here it signifies the power, the presence, and the holiness of God.

BUT in Jeremiah, Chapter 2 the meaning is quite different.  God pleads with Jeremiah to ask Israel to repent of her ways, to cease following false gods:

‘But my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit.’

So-from the previous, positive image of power and majesty-

to the negative-the people are without honour, without dignity, without character-they have strayed from their true, authentic calling as God’s people. 

Who can forget the Christmas story?  In Luke 

‘Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them’

And later, the multitude of angels sang ‘Glory to God in the highest…’

Majesty, power, radiance-and praise,

It is a word rich in meaning.

In the Old Testament, there are two important elements in the understanding of God’s glory:

  1. It is a visible manifestation of God’s majesty

–we can see it

  1. In acts of power

While God is invisible, from time to time, God manifests Himself to people by a striking action-which is his glory.

Sometimes through the realm of nature-as in a thunderstorm,

Or

 as an incident in history-in their desert wanderings God’s glory is the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night-God’s presence is visible to the Israelites.

In the New Testament, since Jesus is the incarnate Word of God, he embodies divine glory

John 1:14: ‘And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory…’

And from today’s lectionary reading: ‘Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.’

The two important elements in the OT concerning the glory of God: 

-visible manifestation, or acts of power.

These two elements of glory are present in Jesus.

He represents the visible divine presence, exercising itself through mighty acts, or miracles.

Turning the water into wine: John 2: ‘Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory…’

In John chapter17-nearly the whole of that chapter is given over to Jesus’ glory.  The entire passion of Jesus is presented to us as his ‘glorification.’

In the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the glory of God is revealed.

(repeat)

The resurrection was the mighty act of God par excellence.

It is in the face of Christ that the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines in our own hearts. (2 Cor 4:6)

Hopefully we now have a clearer picture or understanding of the layers of meaning in that 5 letter word: GLORY

So why have I laboured the point?

Because we may miss what giving ‘glory’ to God means.

God’s glory or presence reaches out to us as LOVE.

As love.

As Christ reflected God’s glory-so too are we to do the same-in our acts of love.

Jesus said: ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’

This does not meant that this is the first time we are told to love one another. Back in the Book of Leviticus we are commanded to do so.

BUT the newness of the command now given by Jesus is that the love he requires of his disciples is to be of the kind with which he has loved them.

It is to be love of the kind that will ‘reverse the roles’- leader to serve, love that will bring peace to the world.

It will be love that, like Christ’s love-does not ask questions about worthiness but simply gives itself in humble service.

How can we love like Jesus? 

  1. Jesus loved his disciples selflessly.  We may so often think-maybe sub consciously-about what we are to get from love-the happiness, the thrill-or the emptiness and the loneliness which we will suffer if love fails, or is denied.

We could be seeking our own happiness.  But Jesus never thought of himself-His one desire was to give himself and all He had for those he loved.

  1. Jesus loved his disciples sacrificially.

-there was no limit to what his love would give, or where his love would go-even to the cross.

  1. Jesus loved his disciples with understanding.

–he knew them through and through.

He knew all their weaknesses and yet he still loved them

Those who really love us are the people who know us at our worst and who still love us.

We are not perfect-sometimes those who love us point this out to us!

It is when we live with people that we find out their moods and their irritabilities and their weaknesses and vice versa.

We sometimes say ‘love is blind’ -but that is not so.

–real love is opened-eyed.  It loves, not what it imagines the person to be, but the person as he or she is-the whole person, warts and all-for better and for worse.

The heart of Jesus is big enough to love us as we are.

  1. Jesus loved his disciples with forgiveness.

–they were all to forsake him, to flee.

But Jesus held nothing against them.  There was no failure which he could not forgive.

We are called to reflect Christ’s glory, God’s glory-in love.

–love as part of God’s glory, God’s nature,

–love us part of our nature too.

Love changes lives-like the opening story,

and love reflects God’s glory.

G-Great God

 L-love

O-overwhelming

R-righteousness

Y-Yahweh.

Within the word ‘glory’ is love-hemmed in on both sides with the word ‘God’ and ‘Yahweh’.

Overwhelming love is part of God’s glory, and part of our own nature.

As Christians we are to reflect this light of love, of glory, to the whole of creation.

How to describe love?  Words are never enough-it is through our actions, our deeds that love is made visible, to God’s glory.

Amen

Prayers of the People

We pray for the world, our community, ourselves.

We pray for the victims, families and friends of victims of the Covid 19 virus, be with them in their grief, during their fear.

Make them aware of your presence, and strengthen them through this crisis.

We pray for the medical staff, nursing teams, and frontline responders.

Be with them as they serve, as they love, as they put their own lives in danger.

This week, we pray for those affected by Cyclone Amphan in India and Bangladesh.  Now there are over 80 reported dead, and millions struggling to evacuate the region amidst Covid 19 restrictions.

Lord, we know this is hard, especially for the poor, who are already stretched to the limit by the economic impact of the virus.  The virus will also affect relief efforts and on-going recovery programs. 

We do not understand-but we know you care. 

Help us to think beyond ourselves-each person is someone’s grandmother, or grandfather, mother, or father, brother, or sister, child, husband, or wife, friend, colleague.

During these hard times, may we remember our world family.

In a time of silence we remember and pray about other issues which weigh heavy on our hearts. 

Let us conclude by praying the prayer Jesus taught his followers, which includes us:

‘Our Father…’

Amen

Blessing (a Bruce Prewer blessing)

The overflowing grace of Christ Jesus,

the embracing love of God,

and the invigorating friendship of the Spirit,

will be with you now and always,

Amen

24.05.2020 Leighmoor UC

Rev Barbara Allen

Holy Rest 26-03-2020

Hello Faith Pals/Angels/members of the congregation,

Hang in there! 

I have been taking our blind dog Harry, for some of the drives into Epworth hospital for David’s dialysis treatment.  I like to have company for the trip home, and Harry isn’t a ‘back seat’ driver!  (Actually, he sits in the front-not for the view, but because it is a more comfortable seat, and I can pat him when the traffic lights turn red).

He loves the car trip.  The motion, the rhythm sends him off to sleep.  When our son was little, I would often strap him into his car seat and go for a drive-it would always calm him down, and he would usually fall asleep during the trip.

Reminded me of God.  If we rest in God’s arms, we can be at peace, despite all the turmoil that is going on around us.  If we listen…we can perhaps even hear God’s heart beat.  It may be our heart beat, but our hearts are connected to the One who made them!  God is bigger than us, much bigger.  As you reflect on your life’s journey, and the number of times you got through tough situations, with God’s strength, Christ’s hand, and the Spirit’s peace…rest in God’s lap, tell God how you are feeling, and let the Divine soothe your troubled hearts, and brush away your fears and worries, as gently as a loving parent brushes back the hair from a sobbing child.

Here is a prayer which echoes my thoughts.  It is kept in the Bible that is on my bedside table. I do not know who wrote it:

When fear and doubts stroll through our doors:

God stands beside us, whispering of peace.

When we toss and turn late at night:

God sits by our beds, singing lullabies of love.

When we stumble through the shadows of error and sin:

God illuminates the paths of goodness and joy.

Lullabies.  Not only do they soothe, but in some cultures they are a way of passing down traditions or cultural knowledge.  Several of our Christmas carols were written as lullabies for baby Jesus, the best known one being Silent Night.

‘What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.'(John 1: 4-5)

Blessings,

Barbara Allen

 

Virus-free. www.avg.com

From Barbara’s desk 20-03-2020

Hello Everyone,

Did any of you have pen pals?  When I was a young teenager, the school I attended organized these writing partnerships/friends.  It was a way to learn about other cultures, and to encourage us to write. This was in an era before emails and internet and Facebook/Twitter etc. I had two pen pals for a number of years: Gerard, from Ireland, and Mieko from Japan.  I would look forward to receiving their letters, as well as excitedly writing back.  I can’t remember what I wrote about, but I do remember how precious and welcome their letters were.  It was wonderful having friends in other countries.

Maybe you could be addressed as-

Hello Faith Pals?

The first item I would like to share with you, to bolster flagging spirits, is a hymn.  I did not know it until I heard it on Songs of Praise a number of years ago. 

The background to it is very moving.  Let me tell you the story of its origin, and of a man named Horatio Spafford.

In 1870, lawyer and Presbyterian church elder Horatio Spafford, and his wife Anna were well off.  They had extensive real estate along the shore of Lake Michigan.  But their happy life was to change-the first way was through the death of their 4 year old son, from scarlet fever.  The following year, in 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed their properties.  To help ease his wife’s deep depression, and to cheer up their four daughters, Horatio arranged for them to take a trip to Europe in November 1873. He was also planning on helping hymn writers Sankey and Moody with their campaign in Britain. On the day they were due to leave, Horatio was faced with a sudden business emergency, so he sent them on ahead, and said he would follow in a few days time.  On November 22, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, their streamer was struck by a British iron sailing ship, and sank in 12 minutes.  Out of the 307 passengers, only 81 were rescued-one of them was Anna Spafford.

Their daughters had drowned.

When Anna finally reached Cardiff, she sent Horatio a telegram with a brief and heartbreaking message: ‘Saved alone.” Horatio immediately set sail to bring his wife home.  Several days later he was called to the bridge by the ship’s captain when the ship passed the place where it was thought the steamer had gone down.  That night, alone in his cabin, with a faith that never faltered, Horatio penned the words of this moving hymn.  Later, he wrote to Anna’s sister:

‘On Thursday last we passed over the spot she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep.  But I do not think of our dear ones there.  They are safe, folded, the dear lambs.’

Who among us, faced with such tragedy-the drowning of 4 daughters, could write words like these, not just of acceptance and deep faith, but of thanks, hope, praise? To be able to say: ‘it is well with my soul.’ To add to the couple’s grief, some of the Christian community back in Chicago starting talking about the accident as being punishment from God.  Horatio, and his wife, and with 2 daughters they soon had, fulfilled a lifelong ambition-to go and live in Jerusalem.  There they were a blessing to many.  They established The American Colony and brought practical help and love to the needy, the sick, and the homeless. Their own loss seemed to give them great compassion for the suffering of others.  Their work and its legacy continues in Jerusalem today, at The Spafford Children’s Centre.

The first verse and chorus of the hymn It Is Well With My Soul:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

May it be well with your soul as we cope with the Covid-19 (Corona virus) situation. 

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.'(John 14: 27)

Now, Bill Pugh has mentioned that hymns are on from 7am-7.30 on 3mbs.  Of course don’t forget Songs of Praise at 11.30 on the ABC. Bill and Geoff also mentioned the pew sheets from Synod: victas.uca.org.au/pewsheets

Of course we are to pray for the world, and for each other. 

I have modified a prayer I found on-line which I thought was a lovely one to pray when we are feeling overwhelmed:

‘Everlasting , loving God, as I walk through circumstances that cause confusion and pain, remind me that your reign endures throughout all generations. Help me put my trust in you. Lift me up as I fall and raise my head when I feel overwhelmed. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.’

Here is one from the President of the Uniting Church, Dr Deidre Palmer:

Prayer

Gracious and loving God,

Give wisdom and strength to all those in our community and around the world, who are responding to the coronavirus – health professionals, government officials, aged care providers, school leaders.

May those who mourn the loss of loved ones to the virus, be comforted.

May those in our community who are feeling anxious, find peace and reassurance.

May our congregations, and faith communities be places of compassion, attentive to those who are impacted by the coronavirus.

May we be communities of empathy, love and care, in all we face.

Through Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Remember, phone or email is a great way to keep in touch.

My quote from Winnie the Pooh:

“What day is it?”asked Pooh.

“It’s today,”squeaked Piglet.

“My favourite day.”said Pooh.

Well, that is enough for you!  I have attached the sermon for Sunday.  Please print out and share the sermons with those who do not have email.  Letterbox drop would be preferable,

Blessings and love

Barbara