Service for Ashgrove West Uniting Church
Sunday 13 June 2010
Pentecost 3, green
Call to Worship
God invites us into this place and time.
We come not because we are worthy, but because we are invited.
God welcomes us no matter what we have done or where we have been.
This is home, the place where we are always welcome.
We thank God who has brought us here.
Let us worship God.
Hymn Together in Song 217, Love divine all loves excelling
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
We thank you that you love us
no matter what we have done
or where we have gone
you call us back to you
and welcome us home.
We thank you for love so great that
it would give anything for us,
even you own Son Jesus.
We thank you that you
never leave us alone in this life
that your Spirit is always with us
to guide us and care for us,
to stay with us through triumphs and failures,
through hopes and fears,
through all the days of life.
We confess, we do not deserve your love.
We think, do and say things that do not glorify you,
we fail to do, say and think things that would have glorified you.
While you are always faithful to your love for us,
we are not always faithful to you.
Forgive us our failings, we pray,
in your love, help us to start again.
In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Kids' time – Bec
Hymn Together in Song 467, I am the church
I saw Mr Bean once do this thing where he squeezed all the toothpaste from the tube along the floor to see how far it would go. I thought it would be interesting to try that – would someone like to help me?
Now, because I think whoever is cleaning the church this week might not like toothpaste all over the carpet, we might just squeeze it into this container instead. Let's see how much toothpaste is in the tube. Just squeeze it all out there.....
Awesome, that's a lot of toothpaste, which is good, because my family have a lot of teeth. OK, now, just pop the toothpaste back into the tube.
What do you mean you can't?
Oh dear! Well do you think we could use it like it is? It could get pretty messy. We've just wasted a whole tube of toothpaste? Maybe I shouldn't have asked you to squeeze it all out. But it's done now, and we can't undo it.
Does that happen to you at other times too? Do you do things, and then think, maybe you shouldn't have done that? Like breaking something that can't be fixed, or do something and then think oh that could make someone sad or even angry. Put your hand up if it's happened to you. Kids, just take a look at the grown-ups! Looks like we're all the same. We make mistakes. And sometimes we can't fix them up.
It feels bad when we can't fix things up. So what do you do? Do you hide it and pretend you didn't do it, or do you go to the person who owns what you broke, or whose feelings you hurt, and say you're sorry?
The very best thing that can happen, is that if you say you're sorry, the other person might say, “I forgive you, let's not worry about this, and we'll just try to not make the same mistake again.”
Let's put this away for now, and you can go back to your seats.
Human beings mess things up. We're good at it.
Last weekend Dennis and I went to see the movie Legion – which tells the story of God getting fed up with human beings messing up, of deciding to wipe everyone out again, just like the flood. The Archangel Michael rescues a small group of people, particularly a pregnant young woman, knowing that God will eventually remember how much he loves humanity, and will want some people left alive to start again. By the end of the movie, Michael is proved right.
If God really did get sick of us messing up, really did give up on us, the story of the flood really could be repeated over and over again, in all sorts of different variations.
But the story of Jesus with the woman who was a “known sinner” - what a loaded term that is - shows God dealing with our messing up in a different way.
What precisely the woman has done, we aren't told. We could guess, and there's a good chance we'd be right, but an awful lot of things made people “sinners” according to the law. Whatever it was she'd done, she was notorious for it. She clearly wasn't the kind of person invited to a dinner party at a pharisee's house!
The host was justifably outraged that this woman should gate crash the party. Worse than that, she was touching his guest of honour, and the guest was allowing it. This could only prove the guest was as bad as the woman!
Or, Jesus, answered, this could prove the woman had been forgiven her failings. And he pointed out the host's failings – his lack of love for Jesus, because he didn't even recognise his need to be forgiven.
This is how God chooses to deal with our continual messing up – to forgive whoever is willing to receive forgiveness. If we accept this forgiveness we will respond in love.
We can't get the toothpaste back in the tube.
We can't undo the things we've said that we shouldn't have.
We can't undo the things we've done that we shouldn't have.
We can't go back and change any moment in our personal histories at all.
Just for a moment, stop and think about those times, those things you would go back and change if you could. The things you want to put back in the tube. Think about your worst mistakes and deliberate offenses. Think about the things that had awful consequences – consequences beyond your control. If you don't have any of those, think for a while about the pharisee who thought he didn't have any either.
After our Prayer of Confession earlier in the service, we declared God's forgiveness in Jesus. We do this every week, whether or not we pay any real attention to it. Here is the truth. You, like the woman at Jesus' feet, like the other women Jesus helped, are forgiven. Whatever it is you have done, whatever it is you didn't do but should have. You are forgiven. Thanks be to God.
Hymn: Together in Song 693, Come as you are
Prayers of the People
Loving God, we pray for your world,
and for all those things we as human beings have done,
but can't seem to undo on our own.
We pray for evenone involved in ongoing wars – in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in so much of the world – for those who have lost loved ones in the fighting, for those who have been injured, for those whose lives are daily affected by our inability to resolve our conflicts.
We pray for the environment, this planet you have built, and we continue to harm, but can't seem to find a way to stop harming it.
We pray for people living with poverty, with preventable diseases, with a lack of water or food.
On our own, we human beings cannot change. But you, Lord, can change us.
Give wisdom to our world's leaders, and a will to work to make the future better than the past. Guide this world into peace, into fairness, and a respect for each other and this world you have trusted to our care.
In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Service of Holy Communion (from Uniting in Worship 2 – SLD 1)
Hymn: Together in Song 147, To God be the glory