Service for Sunday 3 June, 2018
Year B Pentecost 2 Sunday 9
1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)
Psalms 139:1-6, 13-18
2 Corinthians 4:5-12
Call to Worship Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-18 Responsive (From Uniting in Worship)
Light Christ Candle
Hymn Together in Song 542 Far beyond our mind’s grasp
Passing the Peace
The peace of the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
We thank you that you have never left this world of yours, or these people of yours alone.
Thank you that you show yourself to your world, in ways that we can recognise.
Thank you that in Jesus you revealed your own character, and invited us to come to know you, and to love you.
We thank you that the character you have shown us is one of love, love that is patient and forgiving enough to deal with all of our failings.
We sometimes act as if this world, and the people in it, did not belong to you –
As if we could do what we liked without consequence –
As if our failure to love you,
Our failure to respect your creation
Our failure to love our neighbour
Was of no consequence whatsoever
We recognise once more, that these things matter deeply to you, and we ask your help to turn back from this sin. To try again, to be your people, as you are always our God.
Declaration of forgiveness
… Our sins are forgiven
Thanks be to God!
Hymn Together in Song 690 Beauty for Brokenness
1 Samuel 3:1-20
Mark 2:23 - 3:6
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Sermon: God’s Priorities
I have a confession to make. I once, technically, misappropriated some things members of another congregation somewhere had donated for a specific purpose.
Gifts of food had been given to the church, to go to a community organisation that distributed it to people in need.
But before church one Sunday, a very distressed mother came to the church, she had been going to tough things out, not get help for a dire financial situation, but it had come to Sunday morning, and she had no food for her children’s breakfast. I took her to the table with all of the food on it and asked what her kids’ favourites were. I sent her home with enough food to get the family through until the community organisation would be open during the week.
Of course, I told my congregation what I’d done with their gifts, and while I might not have had permission beforehand, with that particular congregation getting forgiveness was pretty much guaranteed. (Any other member of that congregation, in the same situation would have done the same.)
There’s a saying that “rules are meant to be broken.”
That can actually be true, but there’s an art to knowing when it’s appropriate to break a rule - and the art involves knowing the reason for the rule in the first place.
When we look at the Samuel reading, we see God is about to punish the priest Eli and his family for their rule breaking. The previous chapter spelled out that they were corrupting the worship at Shiloh, by taking for themselves the best of the sacrifices. The sacrificial system allowed for the priests and their families to have a part of the sacrifices brought for worship, as a means to support them in return for the work they did. But Eli’s family were selfish, and were taking more than their share. Put in a modern perspective, a part of our offering pays our minister’s stipend, but we would have a problem if we ever had a minister who took extra money from the offering for their own use.
So Eli’s family were breaking the rules, for their own selfish gain. And God was not impressed. That priestly family would lose their role, and Samuel would take over their role speaking for God in the community.
Fast forward to our Gospel reading. Jesus and his disciples were breaking the rule.
Again, it was a rule about the right worship of God.
Just like the Old Testament sacrificial system, the Old Testament law to do no work on a Sabbath, was about honouring God above everything else.
Here in Mark, we see Jesus breaking the rule of the Sabbath, and allowing his followers to do so as well.
But let’s look at what they’re doing.
The disciples are gathering a little bit of food to eat. They’re not out harvesting the field, or taking more than they need. They’re just doing the basic things to get by for the day.
Then we have Jesus healing a man. It doesn’t sound like the man’s affliction was life-threatening, but it was a problem that could affect his ability to earn a living, and to do many of the functions of normal life.
Jesus tells his critics that the Sabbath rule was to benefit human beings. God didn’t need a day to be worshipped. God doesn’t really need anything from us. Humans, however, need to take time out from our normal activities, to rest, and to reflect. We need a relationship with something bigger than ourselves, and to know we’re not alone in the universe. We are invited to worship God, because it’s good for us, and because God loves us.
To take time away from daily activity, to worship, to rest and reflect is important. It’s about turning our attention away from our own wants. Seeing the needs of others, offering what help, care and compassion we can, is also a part of turning our attention away from ourselves.
Jesus ultimately told us all of the rules can be broken down to two: love God absolutely, and love other human beings.
Doing those two things is far more important than rules, regulations, or routines. To love God and love our neighbour - not simply in words, but in actions, supersedes everything.
Hymn & Offering Together In Song 697 All the sleepy should have a place to sleep
What’s God doing among us.
Prayers of the People
We pray for this world of your creation.
We pray for the future of our planet, with all of its fragility, and with all of the harm that has been caused to it.
We pray for people in need – for refugees, who flee the intolerable, risking everything to go into the unknown.
We pray for people in need – for people who have no safe and healthy place to live, who have no security and no comfort.
We pray for people in need – for people who are lost or alone, who need understanding and love.
We pray for people in need – for those who are sick or in pain, physically or mentally, who need to be healed.
We pray for the leaders of your church, the Uniting Church, and the whole Christian church throughout the world. May they discern what you are doing in the world, so that they may help all Christians to follow your lead.
We pray for all of the world’s political leaders, may you inspire them to love, compassion, justice and peace.
We pray all these things, in and through your Son Jesus, who came and showed us your face. Amen.
Hymn Together in Song 538 Feed us now bread of life
Service of Holy Communion
Hymn Together in Song 599 Take my life and let it be