23rd August 2020
Cameron Xavier Coleman – 2011
`The way to freedom`
Rev Fiona Winn
Welcome and Grace
`So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:
Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering…Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.
You’ll be changed from the inside out…
Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.`
Romans 12: 1, 2 (The Message)
TIS 111 ` Praise to the Lord the almighty the King of creation`
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,
the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy
health and salvation!
All ye who hear,
Now to His temple draw near;
Sing now in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all
things so wondrously reigneth,
Who, as on wings of an eagle,
Hast thou not seen
How thy desires all have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully,
wondrously, made thee!
Health hath vouchsafed and, when
heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief
Ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper
thy work and defend thee,
Who from the heavens the streams of
His mercy doth send thee.
What the Almighty can do,
Who with His love doth befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that
is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come
now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen
Sound from His people again;
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
Author - Joachim Neander (1680); Translator - Catherine Winkworth (1863)
Almighty God, King of creation,
Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Lover and Sustainer of all You have made,
We acknowledge we are Your creatures and You are our Creator.
In love, You bid us come into Your presence,
boldly, with confidence and openness, without fear or dread.
How blessed, honoured and humbled we are by such an invitation!
We ponder the story of creation - its beauty and fragility.
We give thanks for the story of liberation -
the joy of freedom after the torment of oppression.
We rejoice in the story of salvation – the coming together of all things in mercy, peace and hope.
And so we gather together – humbly, in wonder and with curiosity
at Who You are and Who you have revealed Yourself to be
among us in Jesus Christ.
In difficult days, when nothing is certain,
You remain trustworthy and true.
In times of trouble, when we are sore pressed,
You remain constant and compassionate.
In the dark night of the soul You light a way to help us through.
Hear our prayer.
Hear our cries for ourselves and for the world.
Hear and accept the praise we bring as we remember,
and as Your Word reminds us of,
Your great love and mercy in Jesus Christ.
Forgive our despair and despairing – inform our hearts and minds. Lord have mercy…
Forgive our complaints and complaining – re-form our words and speaking. Christ have mercy…
Forgive our joyless, fearful inaction – transform our prayers and compassion. Lord have mercy…
`God`s strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth`
Ps. 124: 8 (The Message)
As Christ`s ones, we are glad to hear His words of grace to each of us `Your sins are forgiven` Thanks be to God. Amen.
Readings: Exodus 1: 8 - 2: 10; Ps. 124; Matthew 16: 13-20
Exodus 1: 8- 2: 10 - The Israelites Are Oppressed
8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13 The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birth stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18 So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews[a] you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”
Birth and Youth of Moses
2 Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4 His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses,[b] “because,” she said, “I drew him out[c] of the water.”
Psalm 124 - Thanksgiving for Israel’s Deliverance
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
—let Israel now say—
2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
6 Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Matthew 16: 13-20 - Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter,[d] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
TIS 657 `God of freedom, God of justice`
(the words come on the screen after the organist plays through the first verse)
God of freedom, God of justice,
you whose love is strong as death,
you who saw the dark of prison,
you who knew the price of faith --
touch our world of sad oppression
with your Spirit's healing breath.
Rid the earth of torture's terror,
you whose hands were nailed to wood;
hear the cries of pain and protest,
you who shed the tears and blood --
move in us the power of pity
restless for the common good.
Make in us a captive conscience
quick to hear, to act, to plead;
make us truly sisters, brothers
of whatever race or creed --
teach us to be fully human,
open to each other's needs.
Shirley Erena Murray
Words © 1992 Hope Publishing Company,
380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188
Reflection and Q and A
The way to freedom
It is astonishing to think that photographs of men in chains, of women and children forced into servitude, could be considered anything other than enslavement. Yet, in Australia, we deny this as part of our story, our history…Watch SBS`s fine documentary series `First Australians` - enslavement, subjugation, displacement and dispossession…
Fear, ignorance and the refusal or inability to imagine the life of another as human and of equal worth in God`s eyes makes Pharaohs of us all. To wilfully ignore and deny our story, however painful, is to be held captive by it. The way to freedom is on another path…
Pharaoh doesn`t know his own history. He doesn`t know the story of Joseph. He is ignorant and in his ignorance, he begins to tell stories and spread rumours. Instead of trying to find out what lies behind the Hebrews and their presence in his land, he begins to fabricate stories, to stir up division and unease. (How contemporary is this?)
Having stoked up the flams of nationalism and racism – Pharaoh has made his people fearful, frightened by the growing number of Hebrews – the descendants of Joseph – Pharaoh creates a conspiracy theory – which permits his ruthless suppression of and cruelty towards the Israelites (Exodus 1: 9 -11).
He orders the murder at birth of Hebrew baby boys. Herod`s massacre of the innocents around the time of the birth of Jesus echoes this awful cruelty. But out of the violence and the wilful, deliberate, calculated administration of suffering and oppression will emerge the salvation of all things – for the Israelites, the covenant at Sinai, the Ten Commandments; and ultimately, for us, and for all, the new covenant, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.
Moses comes to inhabit two worlds – that of a Hebrew, born of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, and that of an adopted Egyptian prince. In a sense he belongs to both worlds and neither. He is `transnational` - but he will choose…(Exodus 2: 11-15)
(For an intriguing Australian parallel story, look up and read about the Indigenous man, Jandamarra…)
So the ongoing plan of salvation God has for His people – and for all peoples - unfolds. Joseph is saved and in turn saves the Egyptians and his own family. Moses is saved, to save his people, God`s people. This is big picture stuff.
Rowan Williams in an article (`Theological education is for everyone`) says: `The priority is to get back again and again to that big picture. I go on obsessively about this sometimes. The big picture of the landscape, the new creation, is where we’re headed and where we’re from.`
The story of the life of Moses – and of Joseph and of the other major and minor actors in the texts – is about the `big picture`, the story of salvation. (What about those midwives, those feisty females?)
The story of Moses and of countless faithful others, known and unknown, point to, lead to the story of the One who, in today`s Gospel, asks this searching, searing question of His disciples
`Who do you say that I am?` (Matthew16: 15)
We were talking about this on Thursday morning – and there is more to be said. (There will always be more to say about Jesus Christ…)
Eventually, it is not what other people say or think about Jesus, it is what you say about Him.
Who do you say Jesus is? Who is Jesus? For you? For me? For the Church? For the world in these Covid-19 times?
Prof. Iain Provan – as per one of the video clips in the order of service - says `If we are going to read the bible well, we have to read the story well .` So - what do you make of this story, the hope of liberation for all who are oppressed and treated ill, in our day and age, in all times and places – including 21st century Australia? What do we need to be freed from?
The story of liberation, emancipation is the way of Jesus. He has the keys…
Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer
God of Grace...we come before you this morning in awe... and gratitude for the mystery of all that you are: We are surrounded by the beauty and majesty of your creation and thankful during these difficult times for the solace it brings us.
We give thanks also for the joy and guidance of your word to us through scripture. We marvel at the way this has played out in human lives and world events...
Loving Lord, we look in dismay at our world which is not coping with the ravages of climate change; seen for example in increasing ice melts in Greenland, rising sea levels, worsening bushfires and increasing bleaching of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Lord we pray that you will give discernment to all decision makers and governments. Transform our minds and help us to respect and take responsibility for your creation.
Lord in your mercy…hear our prayer
God of Hope... we see graphic footage of suffering throughout the world every day relating in particular to the fallout from the Covid 19 Pandemic. We do not know into what sort of world we will emerge, or what state we will be in economically, socially, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually... Help us Lord to remember that you
hold us in your loving presence and that you give us the hope and courage we need no matter what situation we find ourselves in...
May those struggling for their lives in ICU’s and those caring for them know your presence and be given the strength they need each day... Be also Lord with those who are grieving ...for loved ones or for loss of any kind.
Lord in your mercy...Hear our prayer
We give thanks for our minister Fiona and our church council. We pray for our congregation and think especially this morning of our young families. We congratulate Gaye on the birth of her new grandson Lucien and Pam on the birth of her new granddaughter Ayla in London.
We continue to hold in prayer Lyn and Keith, Cheryl and Stephen, Margaret Leach, Margaret Turnbull, Mary Turner, Pat and Yvonne.
Lord in your mercy…hear our prayer
And now will you join me as we say the Lord’s Prayer together…
TIS 432 (omit vs. 2 and 4)
`Christ is made the sure foundation ` https://youtu.be/5bC0tgG_blE
Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
chosen by the Lord, and precious,
biding all the church in one,
holy Zion’s help forever, and her confidence alone.
All that dedicated city,
dearly loved by God on high,
in exultant jubilation pours perpetual melody,
God the Three in One adoring,
praising him eternally.
Here among us, where we call you
come, O Lord our God today;
with your gentle loving kindness
hear your people as we pray,
and your fullest benediction pour upon us here today.
Here bestow on all your people
what we ask of you to gain,
what we gain from you for ever
with the blessed to retain,
and hereafter in your glory evermore with you to reign.
Praise and honour to the Father,
Praise and honour to the Son,
Praise and honour to the Spirit,
ever Thee and ever One,
one in might and one in glory while eternal ages run.
Anonymous - Medieval
'Angularis fundamentum', anonymous 6th- or 7th-century Latin
John Mason Neale (1818-1866)
Even in, especially in, times of trial,
may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit,
liberate you from fear and fill you with hope – that you might liberate and bring hope to others, today and always.