Ordinary Sunday 18 (02-08-2020)

WELCOME TO WORSHIP WITH THE BARWON HEADS & OCEAN GROVE CONGREGATIONS

This service was streamed live via Zoom on August 2nd at 10am

Below is the entire text for a service of worship for home use while public worship is not available in the church buildings   Even though the service is streamed live, those who are unable to participate online may use this material at any time for their private devotions.  If ‘two or three’ are gathered with you, you may choose a ‘leader’ in order to use the responsive prayers and readings as you would in church. 

There  are also links to YouTube files for music and, should you rather listen than read, sound files for the text, including the sermon .  [I’m sorry about the commercials that sometimes come with YouTube clips. Be sure to click on the “Skip Ad” box if and when it appears in the lower right of the YouTube clip]   When a YouTube clip has finished, simply click on the back button of  your browser to return to this page. Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

-oOo-

Grow something else besides Old!  

What you can become you already are.

 

CALL TO CELEBRATION

Life is meant to be an adventure; change is a gift that we have to learn to use aright. Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of this life in the presentness of God.

HYMN 59 – “All People that on Earth do Dwell (”click here to listen) 

OPENING SENTENCES

L: In the beginning, God made the world:

Women: Made it and mothered it,

Men: Shaped it and fathered it,

Women: Filled it with seed and signs of fertility,

Men: Filled it with love and its folk with ability.

L: All that is tender, firm, fragrant and curious,

All: God’s is the hand that created you.

L: All that speaks, sings, cries, laughs or keeps silent,

All: God’s is the hand that created you.

L: The world belongs to Creativity God

All: The earth and all its people.

GATHERING PRAYER

Spirit of life and love, we have gathered in this sacred space again. May we create here a circle of love, ever expanding, ever growing. A place of wisdom. A place of connection. A place of hope. Amen.

JOURNEY INTO SILENCE

May the silence of this time which now engulfs us, be for us a period of reflection, prayer and meditation. Great possibilities do await us. The grandeur of life, of which we are a part, fills us with hope,        if we seek to choose it.  

(Keep at least 30 seconds of silence)

WE  REFLECT UPON OUR RELATIONSHIPS

L: Most lovely God, and most loving God, we place the transcript of our daily lives before you, written surely in our being, and we pray that you will edit our story with the radical grace of Christ Jesus. We are not as others think we are, we are not even what we imagine ourselves to be. Our insight is defective and we are not able to read ourselves accurately. You alone see the full text, the lines of glory, the pages of shame, the many grey paragraphs, and the unfinished sentences.

R: Look upon us with your saving mercy. Please forgive and delete every single thing that is unlovely and unloving.  Correct and restructure all that is misshapen.   Highlight the things worth repeating or enlarging. Rephrase the unfinished sentences so that they may continue on to declare your glory.

L: You alone are capable, you alone can be trusted to deal with all the secret pages of mind and heart. Make us more yours than we have ever been before, and in being more yours, become more truly ourselves. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.

THE ASSURANCE

L: Listen to the Good News: “Here is love. Not our love of God but God’s love for us in giving us the true Son to be the remedy for the pollution of our sins.” In the name of the Son of God, light of the world, friend of sinners, rescuer of the lost, healer of the broken, joy of the redeemed, I declare to you: the pages of your life have been made new, and the door to life has been opened to us.

R: Thanks be to God.

FROM THE GOSPELS  Matthew 14:13-21 (The Message version)

    Supper for Five Thousand

13-14 When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.

15 Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”

16 But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”

17 “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.

18-21 Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.

FROM THE WORLD AROUND US

“Just a Housewife” by Cordelia Baker-Pearce.
(From Celebrating Women)

I packed five cakes of bread and two small fishes,
Sent him off, my youngest lad,
To take his father’s dinner to the field.
Came back alone he did, all goggle-eyed.
My fresh-baked bread that varmint gave away
To some young travelling preacher out of Galilee.
It fed five thousand  people.
What a tale!
It can’t be true… but if it is.
What kind of dough did these hands knead
This morning?

SONG   – “Come to the Feast” (click here to listen)

A CONTEMPORARY WITNESS  “You’ve Got the Goods”

    Part 1

“You give them something to eat.” (Mt.14:16b)

The familiar story of the feeding of the crowds comes to us as Jesus is attempting to withdraw to a deserted place, i.e. to get away from it all for a while, perhaps to pray, to reflect on his ministry, or recharge his batteries. But his attempt to withdraw is frustrated by huge crowds, crowds which press in upon him from everywhere.  

The allegedly lonely place to get away from the demands of ministry is anything but lonely.  It is teeming with people in need. In response to this vast array of need, Jesus has compassion and begins to heal them.  In fact, so intent was he in his healing that, like many preachers in their pulpits, he lost track of time.  His disciples remind him that it is quite late and it is past time to eat.  Just as one begins to think that the disciples are, themselves, being compassionate toward the physical needs of the people, we read, “Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”

Crowds, so many people, so many hungry people.  And the hour is late and this is a lonely place. Send them away.  Send them back to a town where they can buy something to eat.  Suddenly the picture of the contemporary church grows clearer.  Send them to their local mental health clinic where they can get professional help.  Send them to Centrelink and let the government help them. Send them anywhere but here – to anybody other than us.  Master, send them away.

And Jesus answers, “YOU give them something to eat!” And despite the disciples protests that their meagre resources are not enough, Jesus takes what they have, blesses it, offers it, and it is enough.  As it says in Matthew, “And they all ate and were filled.”

If you hear in this story – Jesus’ taking the bread, blessing the bread, breaking the bread and then giving the bread – an experience you have had before, you are right. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s supper, we repeat this four-fold action.  The move from weary disciples to recognition of human need, to sharp demand, and then to a gift of more than enough, is repeated every time the church gathers to break bread.  Here is the primary model for the church.  In Acts 2:42 we read, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

It is in the recognition that Jesus is speaking to us that the ritual of communion hits home.  “YOU give them something to eat.”  It is one thing to come to church and worship together, to share the broken bread that is given to us.  It is one thing to be the receiver, the one in need that is healed.  It is quite another to hear Jesus say to us, “You give them something to eat.”

And we with those first disciples, protest:  “We have nothing here…, we can’t.”  We look in our baskets at our meagre resources and find that we have no where near enough to fill the hungry bellies of the starving millions, no way of finding jobs for the unemployed.  Heck we can’t even help our children deal with their marriage break-ups, or ease our spouses arthritis.  But listen again to the movement in this story.  It is a movement from the recognition of vast human hurt through the weary, empty disciples, to Jesus’ sharp command, and then a gift of more than enough.  

Jesus says, “Bring what you have to me.”  Then he blesses what we have, and offers it to the crowd, and wonder of wonders, it is enough.  People are filled.  And not just the people are filled, but the disciples too were filled; filled with a new confidence that Jesus had not called them to serve in ways he would not equip them to serve.

“YOU give them something to eat,” is not a harsh demand so much as a vote of confidence in you and me. YOU give them something.  It will be enough. I promise.

I read the story of a young theological student who had, a few years previous, a very powerful religious experience in an evangelical young peoples’ group which left him fired up to witness for Jesus.  The leader of that group was a master of working the group into a frenzy of emotion, and one day when the emotion was really running, he asked them, “You all wanna witness for Jesus?”   There was a thunderous yell from the kids. “You all wanna tell everybody about Jesus?”  “Yea!” shouted the kids. So the gang of young people got on a bus and were driven into the poorest, most run down slum area of Philadelphia. Run-down apartment buildings,  windows out, rusting hulks of stripped cars. The kids had started the trip singing about Jesus, but as they got deeper into the slums, they all got very quiet – and very scared.  The bus stopped in front of one of the worst blocks of flats.  The kids were ushered off the bus and the leader said, “Ok gang, get out there and witness for Jesus! I’ll be back in six hours.” And off he went.

    Part 2

The kids were terrified. The boy who was to become the theological student walked to a terrible looking building, went up a flight of stairs and into a dark, smelly hallway. He heard a baby crying, so he walked toward the sound and knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” said a loud voice from behind the door. The door cracked open. A woman, smoking and holding a naked baby, peered out. “What do you want?” she asked coldly.  

“Hello,” said the boy, “Er, I want to tell you about Jesus.” The young man recounted, “With that she started cursing me.  She cursed me out of that door, all the way down the hall, down a flight of stairs and out on to the street.  I was stunned.  I just sat down there on the curb in front of the building and wept. Some disciple I was. Some evangelist.”

“Then I asked God for help. I looked up and noticed on the corner a rundown, boarded up grocery store.  I walked into the store and looked around.  My eyes fell upon a box of disposable diapers (nappies to you), and I remembered the baby which the woman held in her arms.  I bought the diapers and a pack of cigarettes.  I went back to the building, back up the dark stairs, back to the woman’s door where I knocked again.”

“Who is it?  What do you want” said the voice as the door was opening.  Shaking all over, the boy held out the cigarettes and the box of diapers.

“Come in,” she said.  The boy put one of the diapers on the baby.  She smoked one of the cigarettes, and offered one to the boy.  He had never smoked in his life, and never did again, but he did then.

He spent the rest of the day in the woman’s flat, playing with the baby, listening, talking.  When it was almost time for the bus to return, she asked, “What’s a boy like you doing in a place like this?”  He told her everything he knew about Jesus, which took all of ten minutes, and then she said, “Pray for me.” Which he did.

Faced with all sorts of human need, we look in our little baskets and find not all that much: a few loaves, a couple of fish.  But then Jesus takes what we have, blesses it, and by the miracle of God’s grace, it is enough.

Rabbi Hiyya Rabbah inquired into the real meaning of the verse, “And God said: ‘Let there be light.'” The patriarchs answered, “This is God’s challenge to humanity to help in establishing the messianic age.  That is what is meant by Isaiah in calling us to, ‘Arise, shine, for thy light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.’”

A LITANY   “Word Made Flesh”

L: God speaks! with excitement! with enthusiasm! with new life!

R: God is present! God is with us! Nothing can separate us!

L: Even when we feel unsure, unclear, confused; even when we feel broken to the core of our being –

R: We hold fast to God’s love, God’s acceptance, we are always welcome in God’s household.

L: We will each, once again, feel like a well-watered garden. Full of life! Radiant in the sun!

R: It will be good. It is good.

WE OFFER OUR CONCERNS

L: For the thin skinned who wear every comment as a thorn, and the tough-hided who are insensitive to the needs around them, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For the too-generous who can’t seem to say no, and the mean-spirited who shut their hearts tightly against compassion, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For the anxious who imagine unseen dangers around every corner, and the over-confident who do not think before they leap, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For the young who sometimes think they know it all, and for the foolish among the old who believe that ageing automatically bestows wisdom, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For the peacemakers who risk themselves for the cause of reconciliation, and for the belligerent who put others at risk to attain their selfish ends, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For politicians who well understand their ignorance and weakness, and those who are self deluded enough to see themselves as the wise and infallible, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For union leaders who are dedicated to serving their members, and others who use their position just to build their own little empire, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For the churches who act as if they have all the answers, and for the churches that are too reticent about the Gospel, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For the sick and injured who long for healing, and for some who become so attached to the sympathy they remain an invalid, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For the dying who pray that the end will come quickly, and for others who cling frantically to every moment of breath, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

L: For the grieving who wonder if their tears will ever stop flowing, and for some whose grief seems banked up like a dam within their hearts, we ask for your truth and grace. 

R: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.

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, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us in the time of trial, and deliver us from evil; for the kingdom and the power and glory are yours now and forever. Amen

HYMN 429 – “Break, Thou, the Bread of Life” (click here to listen) 

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY with Holy Communion

    Thanksgiving

L: May it be well with you.

R: And also with you.

L: Life is a gift and we its celebration.

R: May we rejoice in the beauty that we are.

L: We give thanks and praise for all that is good in the world: for that mystery we name God; for the sage we name Jesus; for the renewing strength and freedom of the Spirit. (Pause)

L: God of winter, the unpopular, slandered season; God of lightning, wind and storm; God of brisk winter mornings, frosted back lawns and stark hillsides; of warm socks, coats and gloves, raincoats, umbrellas and warm fires, we open ourselves to all the possibilities life offers us. So we join our celebration to all people, saying:

R: Holy, holy, holy, re-creating God,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
      Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
     Hosanna in the highest.

    Bread and Wine (spoken by leader)

We remember the times when Jesus faced difficult decisions and destructive forces: in the days and nights of his searching, in finding ways to free others from images and ideas that kept them captive and dependent and fearful of God, in breaking down social and religious barriers, in facing failure, in facing death

When we too experience the winter of our lives may we find the courage to let go and trust in your guiding, warming light. (Pause) And as we eat together at this table we remember the importance and the words and the actions of all meals in the tradition of Jesus…

He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his friends. (Bread is broken)

He poured a cup of wine, offered thanks for it, and gave it also to his friends. (Cups is raised) 

Ancient symbols.  Common acts.

    Response

L: Everyone is welcome to be here.

R: In this way, we lift up a world of inclusion, where all people live with respect and dignity.

L: Everyone present will receive a share.

R: In this way, we lift up a world of generosity, where, as in the examples of Jesus, abundance overcomes scarcity so all are fed.

L: Everyone is invited now to take a portion, and to see others also receive.

R: In this way, we lift up a world of sufficiency, where entrenched systems of privilege are challenged, wealth is shared equally, and all are satisfied with enough.

    Communion (spoken by leader)

So in the meal tradition of Jesus we break and share bread and drink wine, pledging ourselves to allow the spirit that moved in Jesus to move freely in our lives.   

    After Communion (spoken by leader)

God of amazing grace, in the cold of the winter months we are grateful for your presence, warming us. We pray this presence will strengthen us to follow in the way of Jesus in our community.

HYMN 537 “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ”(click here to listen) 

WORD OF MISSION

L: As we prepare to leave this sacred time where we have worshipped together, let us return to our work enlivened and renewed. Gathered together, even as we are physically distant, we have lifted our voices in song and thanksgiving.

R: May we now show forth our thanks in simple acts of kindness and concern, so the essential nature of our faith may be evident in our daily lives.

L: May the blessing in the strength of the You Yangs, the calm of Corio Bay, the freshness of gum tree and wild flower remain with you. And may God’s strength, peace and creativity go with you always.

An open, virtual door to the world