Trinity Ipswich Uniting Church
Sunday 19 January 2020
Year A Epiphany 2
Call to worship (Psalm 40: 1-11 Responsive, from Uniting in Worship)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; *
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He brought me out of the roaring pit, out of the mire and clay; *
he set my feet upon a rock and made my footing sure.
3 He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; *
many shall see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, *
who does not turn to the proud that follow a lie.
5 Great are the wonders you have done, O Lord my God. How great your designs for us! *
There is none that can be compared with you.
6 If I were to proclaim them and tell of them *
they would be more than I am able to express.
7 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire *
but my ears you have opened;
8 Burnt offering and sacrifice for sin you have not required; *
then said I: ‘Lo, I come.
9 ‘In the scroll of the book it is written of me that I should do your will, O my God; *
I delight to do it: your law is within my heart.’
10 I have declared your righteousness in the great congregation; *
behold, I did not restrain my lips, and that, O Lord, you know.
11 Your righteousness I have not hidden in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; *
I have not concealed your loving-kindness and truth from the great congregation.
12 Do not withhold your compassion from me, O Lord; *
let your love and your faithfulness always preserve me,
13 For innumerable troubles have come about me; my sins have overtaken me so that I cannot look up; *
they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.
14 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; *
O Lord, make haste to help me.
15 Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed who seek after my life to destroy it; *
let them be driven back and put to shame who wish me evil.
16 Let those who heap insults upon me *
be desolate because of their shame.
17 Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad; *
let those who love your salvation say always, ‘The Lord is great.’
18 Though I am poor and needy, *
the Lord cares for me.
19 You are my helper and my deliverer; *
O my God, make no delay.
Hymn Together in Song 228 Crown him with many crowns
Prayer of Adoration and thanksgiving
Maker of all that is,
We thank you for your many amazing gifts to us,
This week, especially, we thank you for the gift of rain,
For the sound, sight and smell of water on parched earth,
For the new life that will grow from it.
For the cooling of bushfires,
the opportunity to fight them,
And the chance of relief.
We thank you for your human gifts,
For the heroes out fighting fires,
For people who raise money to help,
For people who travel great distances to offer support to the firefighters and those who have lost so much.
We thank you for all things we usually take for granted,
But which we are now reminded are so precious,
For homes, for loved ones,
For the amazing flora and fauna of this incredible country.
We thank you that every good thing in this world,
And even the world itself,
Is a gift of your great love.
We thank you and praise you,
In Jesus’ name.
Prayer of Confession
We confess our failings, our mistakes, and our deliberate misdeeds.
We have not always loved you with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength.
We have not always considered your will in our day-to-day choices,
We have not always shown respect for your work of creation
We have not always loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In a moment of silence, we offer our individual confessions.
We confess and are sorry for all our wrongs.
We ask your forgiveness,
And your help to repent, to turn our lives around,
So that we may live in accordance with your will for us.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Declaration of forgiveness
The truth and the promise of the Gospel is this:
Jesus came into the world for the sake of ordinary, sinful people, just like us.
So I have confidence to say to you:
Our sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
Notices (Elder on roster)
Hymn Together in Song 430 Your words to me are life and health
John 1: 29-42
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
When I was a teenager, my parents started a bushfire. They didn’t mean to do it. They were installing a new bore pump, and a welding spark got away into the dry spear grass. If you’ve never seen dried-out spear grass burn, you probably would not believe how fast it spreads.
On that day, no-one died, no houses were lost. Our neighbour lost his eyebrows trying to save our dog. The fire was so fast it went straight over the dog, burning all his hair off, but only leaving minor burns to his skin. (But he smelled like burned dog hair and ointment for moths afterward.)
After the fire, everything was black, until it rained. Then, overnight, green started coming through the black. In no time everything was green and fresh, and at first glance, it looked as if the fire had never been there.
But if you looked closer, you would see that some of the fire-blackened trees had not regrown, and some had just fallen over and would be lost from sight amongst the grass again. One of the rainwater tanks still had scorch marks, showing just how close the flames had come to the house.
In time, everything would come to look normal, but, if you knew where to look, you could still find the evidence of what had happened, the permanent changes caused by a tiny spark.
Let’s look at the Gospel reading for today. John was with two of his disciples and made his proclamation about Jesus, the lamb of God. Those two disciples immediately left John and went to follow Jesus. After they’d spent most of the day with Jesus, one of them, Andrew, went out to tell his brother. Andrew brought Simon back with him. Jesus renamed Simon as Cephas, (the Hebrew/Aramaic for Peter.)
Something was beginning. At first it was just that tiny spark. But those initial three would tell other people about Jesus, and those people would tell others who would tell others. Eventually, it would reach a point where crowds would come to see him everywhere he went. He couldn’t even get time alone to pray. Some of you might remember Beatlemania. This was Jesusmania.
Then John was beheaded, Jesus was crucified, the crowds dispersed, and everything looked exactly the way it had been. Roman occupied Israel had been disrupted momentarily, but then it just got back on with its normal life. Everything was the same as it had been, or so it appeared.
In fact, the world had changed, permanently. If you look you can still see the evidence today.
We are that evidence, we, along with all the other modern disciples of Jesus who meet in so many different places all over the world.
Somewhere along the line, each person here had a John or an Andrew, someone who invited us to come and meet Jesus. It may have been more than one person, it may have been a family or a community.
At some point, each of us, having met Jesus, has made the decision to follow, to become a disciple.
And at some point each of us, will have the opportunity to invite others to meet Jesus.
We are a sign of the change Jesus has made in this world. When people know that about us, they will at look the disciples to see what our teacher is like.
There’s an old rhyme: “Mr Business went to church. He never missed a Sunday. Mr Business went to Hell for what he did on Monday.”
People notice whether or not our words and actions fit what we say we believe.
Our discipleship is not a pair of comfortable old slippers, we can relax in. It’s a pair of working boots. We’ve never just “arrived”. Following Jesus is a lifelong pursuit.
It affects all of our relationships: with God, and with creation (because to love God must include showing respect to God’s work of creation); and with all of the people around us. We follow Jesus in church, at work, in the supermarket, at home, in the polling booth: wherever we are and whatever we do.
This is the challenge of discipleship. Do our lives say: “Come and meet the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”? or do they say: “Nothing to see here, it’s just business as usual” ?
Hymn Together in Song 256 From Heaven You came
Prayers of the people
You know the needs of your world
You know the horrors of bushfires,
And the incredible grief at all that has been lost.
Some have lost homes and possessions,
Some have lost people they love
Wildlife have lost habitat and lives.
The scorched earth will take so long to recover.
You already know the desperate need for rain,
and the risks of spreading pollution that the needed rain will eventually bring.
You know our horror and our grief.
Walk with this nation as it must rebuild.
Inspire our leaders as they act in response,
Guide and strengthen us, as we seek to do what we are able to help.
You know the needs of this congregation
those spoken and unspoken.
We bring to you these people in their needs
We bring to you the needs we are not aware of, but you are.
Be with each person in this place,
And each we know and love,
Bring strength, resilience, peace and hope, in whatever they are facing.
God, in your compassion and mercy,
please look kindly on all these needs.
And inspire us to work alongside you,
towards meeting the needs of our community and our world.
We pray in Jesus name, and we use his words:
The Lord’s prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.
Hymn Together in Song 571 Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go
(Anyone wanting a copy of the sermon can find it at www.worship-services.blogspot.com)