Friday, 2 September 2016

Sunday, 4 September 2016
Worship Service for 4 September 2016
Year C Sunday 23
Ipswich Central Uniting Church
Holy Communion

Call to worship 
We are called to this place,
As the family of God,
To celebrate God’s love for us,
And to recommit ourselves to love for God,
So we may live out that love in the world around us.

Hymn Together in Song 217 Love divine, all loves excelling

Lighting the Christ Candle

Passing the peace
The peace of the Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Prayers of adoration and thanksgiving:

Dear God,
Thank you that wherever we are and whatever we are doing, you are nearby
Thank you for each day, made fresh and new.
Thank you for people who love us,

We thank you for families,
Thank you for kids and mothers but especially on Fathers Day we thank you for fathers, and for people who fill the role of fathers in our lives.
Thank you for fathers who work and for fathers who don’t.
Thank you for fathers who are always busy, and fathers who have time to play,
Thank you for fathers who throw balls, and fathers who tickle kids,
Thank you for fathers who dig gardens, and push swings,
Thank you for fathers who read story books,
Thank you for the fathers who wonder where all the time went,
Thank you for the fathers who try use you as a model for what fatherhood really is.
Thank you God, for fathers.

We thank you for families,
Thank you for uncles, aunts, cousins and grandmas, but especially on Fathers Day we thank you for grand-dads, and those who fill the role of grandfathers in our lives.
Thank you for grandfathers who go fishing,
Thank you for grandfathers who tell stories about the old days
Thank you for grandfathers who remember everything
Thank you for grandfathers who forget where they left their reading glasses and their teeth.
Thank you God, for grandfathers.

Thank you God, for our bigger family, the church,
Thank you that you are the father of this family, and where human fathers may fail, you are always the father we need
Thank you that we are all your children, whether we are children or grown-ups.

Thank you God, for families

Prayer of confession: 

Loving God, you created all things, including us, and said that they were good.
Shape us, O God, and make us new.
But sometimes our thoughts, words and actions are not good.
Shape us, O God, and make us new.
We fail to love you with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and we fail to love others as ourselves.
Shape us, O God, and make us new.
Remake us, God, into people who reflect your goodness in all we do.
Shape us, O God, and make us new.

Declaration of forgiveness
Our sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!

Hymn Together in Song 690 Beauty for brokenness.

                Jeremiah 18:1-11
Luke 14: 25-33

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself cannot be my disciple.”

Well, that’s a great passage to read on Father’s Day isn’t it?

If you thought it might give you permission to become a misanthrope and hate everyone, however, you’re sadly mistaken.

This is a figure of speech.  It’s hyperbole.  It’s not really a love/hate dichotomy, and if you’ve read any of Jesus’ other teachings you know it’s not (and the people originally listening knew it wasn’t.)  It’s an extreme way of saying you have to love Jesus more than anything and anyone else.

On his way to picking up his own cross, Jesus wasn’t impressed with the crowds who’d come out because he was the flavour of the moment.  He was making it clear that there were no part-time disciples.  If you were in, then you were completely in.

There’s still no part-time positions as disciple offered. If you’re in, you’re in, and it’s going to cost everything.

“Take up your cross,” Jesus said.  That should have revolted his listeners.  To them crucifixion was real.  They were living under Pilate’s rule – and he was a bloodthirsty tyrant who loved nothing better than a crucifixion.  Jesus’ original listeners were familiar with the sight of dead and dying people on crosses at the side of the road. Adding to the horror of that reality was the belief than anyone crucified was under God’s curse.

Despite that, some still followed him, and of those, many did literally pick up their cross.

So what is the cost of discipleship today?  What kind of cross might we be expected to carry?

It all depends.  It depends on circumstances and what we would be willing to do if it was demanded of us.

Some people will consider all the problems in their lives, health problems, family issues, practically anything, as “their cross to bear”.  That’s not what Jesus was talking about.  That’s just stuff that happens and you have to find a way to live with it.  It’s not the cost of faith, it’s just part of being human.

The cost of faith comes in when we voluntarily do something that will cost us something because we belong to Jesus.

For example, if you’re broke because you’re no good at managing money, that’s not your cross, that’s you messing up.  If you’re broke because you gave all your money to help someone because you believed Jesus would want you to help them, that’s your cross.  It’s not what you suffer, it’s why you suffer that makes it the cost Jesus was talking about.

Putting God first in everything, and loving our neighbour as ourselves, does cost.  It costs in our time, when God requires us to go and so something that benefits someone else, even though we’d rather have spent the time doing something for ourselves.

It costs in our money, when God shows us a need that is more important than our own at the time.

It costs in how people see us, when God demands that we stand up for justice and mercy, when everyone else wants to exclude or ignore some person or group of people.  It costs when people judge us, for refusing to judge others. Sometimes, it’s just unAustralian to be Christian.

It costs, when Jesus calls us to love someone who will never appreciate that love, and will not even give us respect or good manners in return. Loving the unloveable person is one of the most costly, and emotionally exhausting things anyone can ever do.  Giving to someone who never gives back hurts.

It costs, when Jesus calls us to be stewards of God’s creation, and it’s just so much easier to waste resources than it is to protect and preserve them.

It costs, when Jesus calls us to be a light to the world, to show who Jesus is through the way we live.  It would be so much easier just to tell people about Jesus, and live any way we feel like.

Not many of us will be called on to be physically tortured or die for our faith.  But there are places in the world, where Christianity is illegal, and people really do physically suffer for their faith. For some of our Christian family “take up your cross” is still a literal command – which is something to remember when we face whatever cross God gives us.

Just this week, seven Christian leaders found that their cross was to be removed from the Prime Minister’s office, by police. They were in the office praying, and reading the leaked documents about incidents at the Nauru asylum centre. This combined prayer and protest was what they were called to do, in being called to love their neighbour.

What is the cost of faith? Our minds and bodies, our hearts and souls, our lives, our time and our skills, everything we are and everything we have.  That’s the cost of following Jesus.

When we follow Jesus we are no longer the centre of our own lives, Jesus is.

To follow him means to invite God to command and control us, to shape us, to break us and remake us, in whatever way necessary to bring glory to God.

Hymn & Offering Together in Song 583 Take up your cross

Offering prayer

Hymn Together in Song 538 Feed us now

Service of Holy Communion


Hymn Together in Song 599 Take my life and let it be