Sunday 22 April, 2012
Year B, Easter 3, White
Call to Worship
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is who we are. (1 John 3:1a.)
Hymn Together in Song 380 Yours be the glory, risen, conquering Son
|Ashgrove West Uniting Church|
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Thank you God for your amazing love for us
Love so great that you would accept us as part of your own family
Love so great as to give Jesus for us
Love so great as to raise him from death and offer us new life with him.
We confess that while you love generously, we love selfishly
We fail to love you with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength
We fail to love others as ourselves
We do not deserve to be called your children.
We thank you that your love for us does not depend on our deserving it
The quality of your love for us does not depend on the quality of our love for you.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Whatever we have done, and whatever we have been, in Jesus we have become children of God. So I have confidence to say to you “our sins are forgiven”.
Thanks be to God!
Hymn Together in Song 467 I am the church! You are the church!
1 John 3:1-7
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
We are still in the Easter Season, and the readings are based on the encounters of people with the risen Jesus. In today’s readings, we read about first century believers in Jesus and their relationship with him; but we also learn about ourselves. In today’s readings there are a number of things which show what it is to be a Christian both then and now. We’re going through the three readings as we heard them. CHRISTIANS, THEN AND NOW…..
· ARE HEALED This reading follows on from the encounter between Peter and John and a crippled beggar – in Jesus’ name he was healed. The beggar’s response was to cling to Peter and John, to go with them - and be there to hear what they said about who they were and what they were about. Being a Christian doesn’t always mean we have healing of our physical ailments – but it sometimes happens. Many in the church have been healed of spiritual ailments of various sorts. The ultimate healing that we all need, is humanity’s worst affliction - death. In his resurrection, and in the promise of our resurrection, Jesus has healed even that.
· ARE COURAGEOUS (when necessary). Peter stands up, amid the crowd and witnesses to Jesus. This is the same Peter who three times denied even knowing Jesus. Even in our society, it can take courage to claim the name of Jesus Christ, and to stand up for what we believe in.
· KEEP THE DOOR OPEN. In his speech, Peter makes an invitation to those who’ve already rejected Jesus to change their minds. That is something we, as a church, need to be doing today: inviting people to think again about their relationship with Jesus. In keeping the door open, we need to also be aware of helping people to grow once they enter the church. As well as inviting and welcoming people, we need to be nurturing as well.
· REPENT (Greek metanoia, literally “turn around”.) Peter tells his listeners it isn’t too late- they can repent, that is turn to orient their lives towards God. Christians are people who repent – who actively try to turn our lives towards God. That’s not a once-off thing. It’s something that has to be done, and re-done every day.
· OBEY. Peter and John didn’t just happen to cure the crippled man and give this sermon. They did it out of obedience to what God had called them to do: to witness to the risen Christ. We are still called to the same obedience.
1 JOHN 3:1-7
· LOVED BY GOD. That’s what this passage begins with: see what love the Father has given us! We are still loved by God in the same way.
· CHILDREN OF GOD. We’re loved by that we are called children of God. We’re not children of God by nature. We’re made God’s children by God’s love reaching to us in Jesus – to build a relationship that is as close as, in fact closer than, any family relationship.
· LOVE/SHARE. To accept God’s love, to be children of God, means we’re not only drawn into relationship with God, but also into close relationship with each other. In a close relationship we share things: the good things we have, and the burdens we need to carry.
· PRAY. Any good relationship is based on communication. Prayer is what keeps the lines of communication open between us and God.
· HAVE MET JESUS. The first century disciples had met Jesus prior to his death – but meeting the resurrected Jesus was a new, and life-changing experience. Meeting the resurrected Jesus is still a new and life-changing experience.
· MEET TOGETHER. When the group met together, Jesus was there with them. It’s a promise Jesus has made to us in Scripture, that whenever we meet together in his name, he is here with us as well.
· FEAR/DOUBT/QUESTION. Jesus had to confront far and doubt and questioning in the early disciples as they met him and thought they were seeing a ghost. Christians today still have times when we are afraid. We still have times when we are afraid. We still have times when we have doubts. That’s part of being human Jesus showed complete understanding of these people, and moved to allay their fears and doubts; not to condemn them. Still today, Jesus is patient with us, and comes to reassure us in our times of fear and doubt, not to judge us for our failure to trust him.
· BELIEVE. The next step after fear and doubt, and sometimes, even at the same time as fear and doubt, comes believing.
· STUDY THE SCRIPTURES. The reason Jesus was able to teach the disciples from the Scripture, was that they studied the Scripture, and knew what he was talking about. In a sense, the Scriptures are the universal language of Christianity. Whatever our different denominations or traditions, the same Bible informs us all. (Yes, there are some variations on which books made the canon of the Bible for some Christian traditions – but the core of the Bible is the same for all of us.) So Jesus is able to speak to all of us through the word of Scripture.
· ARE SINNERS/ARE FORGIVEN. This is exactly what Jesus has come for: to help people recognise that we are sinners, and to grant us forgiveness for our sins. Sin is anything in our lives that has separated us from God’s love; anything that causes a rift between us and God. Jesus bridges the rift.
· FORGIVE. The appropriate response to our being forgiven is to forgive others.
· ARE SENT TO BE WITNESSES. The next verse, after 48 says: “And see, I am sending you…” and sends us to be witnesses to Christ, and to the forgiveness offered in his name.
So, that was a brief picture, of our forebears in faith, and of us as a church today. It’s the essence of who we are – of who Christ has made us, and calls us to be.
Hymn Together in Song 665 Jesus Christ is waiting…
Prayers of the People
We thank you for the people who doubted
The people who gathered the proof so that we might believe.
We pray today for everyone who needs proof of your love
For people who are suffering physical, mental, or emotional pain or illness
May they experience first-hand your love, compassion and care.
For people facing frightening events and difficult decisions
May they experience first-hand your love, compassion and peace
For people facing death
May they experience first-hand your love, compassion and resurrection.
And with ANZAC Day approaching this week, we pray for those who are suffering as a consequence of war:
For those who have lost loved ones – or those who are waiting anxiously for loved ones to come home
For those who have lost homes or livelihood or security
For those who live in fear
For those who have returned from war, and have been hurt in ways others can’t understand.
For those whose families must carry the burden of the pain caused by war.
May your son, the Prince of Peace, teach us what peace is.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn Together in Song 595 O Jesus I have promised