Friday, 13 July 2012

Service for Sunday 15th July 2012: Year B Sunday 15

Call to worship
All of creation is made by God and for God
Creation’s whole purpose is to celebrate God and glorify God.
And we, the people of God, come to share in this great purpose,
We open the gates of our hearts, minds and souls,
And invite God to come in.
(Based on Psalm 24)

Hymn Together in Song 233 I will sing the wondrous story

Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Loving God,
We thank you for the wonder of creation – your hand at work in the design of everything we see and hear, and touch and smell and taste.
We thank you for the privilege of being a part of this creation; that we are designed to reflect your glory and praise.

We confess that sometimes we forget the meaning and purpose of our existence.
Instead of glorifying you, we live as if you were not the most important thing in our lives.
We become caught up in the worries of everyday life – our own needs and wants.
And we lose sight of what’s most important – you.

Forgive us our accidental mistakes and our intentional misdeeds and help us to start again.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
In Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he has lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8a)
I have confidence to say to you: our sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!

Kids’ time – Lindy

Hymn Together in Song 431 Thanks to God whose Word was spoken

Scripture - Erica
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:14-29
This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God!

Hymn Together in Song 635 Forgive our sins

Who knows what an “ohnosecond” is?

The ohnosecond is an official unit of time.  It’s that very brief moment that it takes to realise you’ve made a really BIG mistake.  It takes its name from the common exclamation of “oh no!” used at such times.  (It could have taken its name from a number of other expressions, but they would have been far less appropriately used in church.)

Some people seem to cruise through life with just the occasional ohnosecond here and there. Some of us seem be able measure our entire lives in ohnoseconds – being able to chronicle how we got through our days from mistake to mistake. Whether many or few, we all have them.

Some mistakes don’t matter much, or can be easily fixed. For example if you mess up baking a cake, the simple solution is to decide that what you really wanted to make was trifle. (I am convinced the person who invented trifle was trying to work out what to do with a cake that had fallen to pieces as they tipped it out of the baking pan.)

Sometimes the mistakes we make bring consequences we just can’t avoid! As a lupus patient I know that I can sometimes push myself to do more than I should. It’s possible, sometimes even easy to do. But if I do it, the natural consequence will be several days of pain and exhaustion. It gives me plenty of time to reflect on how I might have handled things differently.

So some mistakes we can turn around – bring something good out of what went wrong. And there’s others we just have to live with the consequences of. And then there’s the ones  we really should avoid because the consequences are just too awful to face.

Let’s look at Herod’s run of mistakes –

First, he had John arrested and imprisoned, because he and his wife felt uncomfortable about what John was saying. It wasn’t that John said anything that was untrue, or that everyone didn’t already know – it was just that John had the hide to say out loud what everyone else whispered. Herod knew what he was doing was wrong. He was already afraid of the consequences – he knew John was a righteous and holy man – and protected him from Herodias while he was imprisoned.

Second, and no parent in their right mind would be this stupid, he told his daughter she could have anything she wanted – without setting a sensible limit. (If you don’t know why that’s a serious mistake, take a teenaged girl to a clothes shop and tell her she can have anything she wants – but be prepared to take out a long-term loan to pay for it.) A smarter man than Herod, might have told her she could have a new necklace or bracelet, or, if he was a really generous king might have said, you can choose a town out of up to 20,000 people. He should have imposed some limit.

Third, he then didn’t use the word every parent has to learn to use: “No.” He’d made a promise in front of everyone, so he felt compelled to stick to it. Someone with a little more backbone would have said: “That’s ridiculous, come back when you’ve thought of something sensible to ask for.” Instead, Herod gave the order to have John executed.

Perhaps the kindest thing that could be said of Herod Antipas as he appears in this passage of Scripture is that he suffered from gross stupidity. He clearly failed to think through the consequences of his decisions and actions.

I don’t know if you’ve ever bought a cup of coffee at McDonald’s – if you do, you might notice a warning on the lid “caution-contents hot.” People like me look at that and say, “Well, it ought to be hot – who wants their coffee to be at room temperature?” But I understand the warning is there because someone burned themselves with a cup of coffee and sued McDonald’s.

Apparently, people have the right to be told their coffee is hot – and be warned not to burn themselves. (For later, when you come over to the hall for morning tea, let me warn you now that the tea and coffee are hot and you really shouldn’t pour them in your lap or anyone else’s for that matter.) For some reason, people are not expected to work out for themselves: “I’ve got coffee, coffee is usually hot, I should be careful not to scald myself.”  Simple thinking through the consequences of our actions seems to be an unusual idea. Herod’s problem is alive and well in our society.

Ultimately, we have open to us three ways to deal with our mistakes: Creativity (to do work to change what we’ve done wrong into something good), Accountability (to acknowledge what we’ve done wrong and accept the consequences), or Responsibility (to think through things before we act and avoid making mistakes in the first place.)

Herod, thought accountability had come to call when he heard about Jesus and was afraid John had come back from the dead.  That was his ohnosecond – the time he realised that what he’d done was an incredibly big mistake. 

Our mistakes might not be as big as cutting off a prophet’s head (or anyone else’s) as a reward for a teenager doing a dance.  But we do all have our mistakes.  And we all have those moments when we suddenly realise that something we did was a mistake.

When we have those moments, we have the option to try to deal with it on our own, or to deal with it in collaboration with God.

If we go over to the Ephesians reading, we find: In him  when you have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

We are God’s people – and God does have an interest in our redemption – which includes dealing with our mistakes and our misdeeds.  In all of our lives, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit with us, to help us live lives which bring glory to God.

So whichever way we are confronted with our mistakes –serious mistakes, or otherwise – we are able to draw strength, wisdom, and support from God’s Holy Spirit. And we are able to count on God’s forgiveness and the opportunity to try to do better.

Notices – Erica


Prayers of the People
Creator God,
We pray for this world of your creation.

A world in which you have provided for all that we need
But in which some have taken more than they need,
And some have been left without the basics to survive.

A world to which your son has come as Prince of Peace
But which is devastated by wars
And threatened with so many potential wars.

In a time of silence, we pray for those people and situations most on our hearts and minds…….

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn Together in Song 687 God gives us a future


Threefold Amen

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