Armadale UCA

30th August 2020

`Defining God`

Pentecost 13

Rev Fiona Winn

Welcome and Grace

Scripture sentence
`Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love.
Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking zeal
but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.`
Romans 12: 9-12

TIS `Praise with joy the world`s creator`

Praise with joy the world's Creator,
God of justice, love, and peace,
source and end of human knowledge,
Force of greatness without cease.
Celebrate the Maker's glory,
power to rescue and release.

Praise to Christ who feeds the hungry,
frees the captive, finds the lost,
heals the sick, up-sets religion,
fearless both of fate and cost.
Celebrate Christ's constant presence:
friend and stranger, guest and host.

Praise the Spirit sent among us,
liberating truth from pride,
forging bonds where race or gender,
age or nation dare divide.
Celebrate the Spirit's treasure:
foolishness none dare deride.

Praise the Maker, Christ, and Spirit,
one God in community,
calling Christians to embody
oneness and diversity.
Thus the world shall yet believe, when
Shown Christ’s vibrant unity.

John L. Bell & Graham Maule
Tune: Praise my soul the king of heaven

Opening prayer
God of holy ground and burning bush, God of the cross,
of all places of profound suffering and utter abandonment,
God of the inspirational and transformative,
You speak worlds into being. You spoke the Word into human being.
You continue to speak words of forgiveness and hope,
of encouragement and comfort,
to us bedraggled and bewildered by circumstances
some of which we have created;
others over which we have no control.
We come in our need,
and in this time of reflection and contemplation,
we acknowledge You, Your nature and character,
revealed through creation, through each other,
through tradition and text,
through faithful and faith-less lives, through reason and experience,
supremely through Jesus Christ and the gift of His Spirit.
We approach You wary and aware.
We are wary – this is holy ground. You are a holy God.
And we are aware of Your invitation to draw near
in life changing encounter…
Forgive our over familiarity with holy things. Deepen in us a sense of reverence and respect for You, all people, all You have made.
Lord have mercy…
Forgive any arrogant certainty regarding Your mystery and majesty – save what we can and must say because of Jesus Christ.
Humble us. Make us teachable.
Christ have mercy…
Forgive our quickness of temper and tongue – when we have spoken out thoughtlessly, unwisely, unkindly.
Strengthen in us a quiet and reflective mind.
Lord have mercy…
`For he has rescued us and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.` Colossians 1: 13, 14
We hear Christ`s words of grace `Your sins are forgiven`
Thanks be to God. Amen


Exodus 3: 1-15

Moses at the Burning Bush

1 Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10 So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

The Divine Name Revealed

13 But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses,

Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:

This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.

Psalm 105 - God’s Faithfulness to Israel

O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the 
Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,
O offspring of his servant Abraham,[a]
children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

23 Then Israel came to Egypt;
    Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
24 And the Lord made his people very fruitful,
    and made them stronger than their foes,
25 whose hearts he then turned to hate his people,
    to deal craftily with his servants.

45b Praise the Lord!

26 He sent his servant Moses,
    and Aaron whom he had chosen.

45b Praise the Lord!

Matthew 16: 21-28

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

The Cross and Self-Denial

2Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

Lutheran Service Book 498 `Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest`

1Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And make our hearts Your place of rest;
Come with Your grace and heav'nly aid
And fill the hearts which You have made.

2 To You, the Counsellor, we cry,
To You, the gift of God Most High;
The fount of life, the fire of love,
The soul's anointing from above.

3 In You, with graces sevenfold,
We God's almighty hand behold
While You with tongues of fire proclaim
To all the world His holy name.

4 Your light to ev'ry thought impart,
And shed Your love in ev'ry heart;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.

5 Drive far away our wily foe,
And Your abiding peace bestow;
With You as our protecting guide,
No evil can with us abide.

6 Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And You, from both, as Three in One
That we Your name may ever bless
And in our lives the truth confess.

7 Praise we the Father and Son,
And Holy Spirit, with them One,
And may the Son on us bestow
The gifts that from the Spirit flow!

Author attributed - Rabanus Maurus c. 776-856
Translated - Edward Caswall 1814-1878

Reflection and Q and A

 Defining God – 30.8.20

Have you ever seen a burning bush?

Several years back, I had an experience in a park in Ormond. It was a Thursday morning on which, routinely, several of us committed to walk in silence together, to pray and reflect and to be in touch with God, what was going on in our lives and around us in the local community. This weekly event we called WAM, `Walk and Meditate`.

This particular day, I was, unusually, on my own. I turned a corner on the usual route and a sight so amazing confronted me and stopped me in my tracks. A vivid bush in full flame coloured flower stood before me. I was quite overcome and I knew I had to turn aside, take off my sandals and sit down. It was one of those moments…

We have been talking over recent weeks about what we think about Jesus - who he was; who he is; what we can and can`t say about him and what he tells us about God.

The readings today from the Old and New Testaments, reveal to us something of what we can say about God, about Jesus and the implications for our living – and our dying - which follow.

When Moses encounters God in the burning bush, it is, among other things, to hear God define God`s self – JAHWEH `I am who I am` - the holiest, name of God; so holy that it is not spoken aloud in the public reading of scripture in the synagogue. It is we might say – a `defining moment `.

Previously in the conversation, God has described Himself in relation to Moses` relations – his father – and their forebears: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is a God known in, through and by the company He keeps; in, through and by His relationships.

And the company He keeps is dubious at times! How reassuring! Because we must remember that this is, they are, these dubious characters, our heritage too. This is the tradition in which we stand all these centuries and millenia later…

In this passage God defines Himself not just in relation to Moses` antecedents, but, importantly, in relation to Himself.

We do not, out of thin air, we must not, out of thin air, decide what we can say about God.

God has told us certain things.

God has told certain people certain things. (I like the use of the word `certain` here, in both senses: particular people, at a particular time; and people who are humbly sure of what they are talking about…)

Peter in the Gospel reading is sure – but not humbly sure! He`s confidently and arrogantly sure.

He`s having none of Jesus` talk about death and suffering.

Peter has just declared Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah.

In his own mind, Peter knows what he`s talking about.

And now here Jesus is saying that Jesus is going to die!

That`s not what Peter had in mind. No way!

Peter rebukes Jesus…

And here we see that Peter doesn`t really know who Jesus is.

Peter doesn`t really know the One to whom he is speaking; the One about whom he is talking.

Peter has his own ideas about Jesus and Jesus puts him straight in no uncertain terms.

Peter has his own strong, fixed ideas about Jesus:

`God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you`. Matt. 16:22. And he displays an ignorance of, a lack of curiosity toward, what Jesus actually said. Peter has missed Jesus talking about the resurrection: `…great suffering…be killed…and on the third day be raised…` Matt. 16: 21

Perhaps Peter wasn`t listening or hadn`t stopped to hear? Perhaps he was so preoccupied with his own thoughts and ideas, Jesus` words were secondary?

And who of us wants to hear that the way to life in all its fullness is to die?

What are our fixed ideas about Jesus?

Who, what informs our idea of God and Jesus?

Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer

(Bill Rush)
Holy God, unimaginable God, beyond us, yet known to us in Jesus Christ,
We acknowledge your wisdom, so much greater than our own. Help us to trust the promptings of your Spirit especially when we are feeling perplexed and needing direction.
Lord, we thank you today for Moses who fled from justice, who was not a great speaker, yet whom you chose to lead your people from Egypt. May we accept the role you have for us, however humble.
Loving God, we pray for doctors, nurses and carers, for those who are finding this lock-down hard to bear, for those with no work, for those in financial distress, for students. children and teachers.
May your Spirit be with leaders, federal and state, when they have to make judgements which cannot make everyone happy. Help us to be good citizens, willing to support the common good, and to be alert to the needs of others.
We pray for all Christians especially those persecuted for their faith. We pray for leaders of Synod and Presbytery, for all clergy, church councils and congregations. We pray for Fiona and the people of the Armadale Uniting Church, our families, friends and neighbours, remembering before you any who are sick, in pain, or troubled in spirit. We also pray for Anais Lascelles in San Francisco and for those who love her.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of Love, lift up our hearts as we recall your Covenant and consider the mystery of your coming as a vulnerable infant to share our humanity. Help us to discover the joys of gratitude and generosity, to rejoice in hope, to be patient in suffering, and to persevere in prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer.

TIS 99 (Nettleton 392) `God we praise you, God, we bless you`

God, we praise you! God, we bless you!
God, we name you sovereign Lord!
Mighty King whom angels worship,
Father, by your church adored:
all creation shows your glory,
heaven and earth draw near your throne
singing 'Holy, holy, holy,
Lord of hosts, and God alone!'

2   True apostles, faithful prophets,
saints who set their world ablaze,
martyrs, once unknown, unheeded,
join one growing song of praise,
while your church on earth confesses
one majestic Trinity:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
God, our hope eternally.

3   Jesus Christ, the King of glory,
everlasting Son of God,
humble was your virgin mother,
hard the lonely path you trod:
by your cross is sin defeated,
hell confronted face to face,
heaven opened to believers,
sinners justified by grace.

4   Christ, at God's right hand victorious,
you will judge the world you made;
Lord, in mercy help your servants
for whose freedom you have paid:
raise us up from dust to glory,
guard us from all sin today;
King enthroned above all praises,
save your people, God, we pray.

Christopher Idle from Te Deum
© Christopher Idle/Jubilate Hymns Ltd
8 7 8 7 D


May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit,
open our eyes to see God`s glory,
open our ears to hear Christ`s good news,
open our lives to the Holy Spirit
that we may learn with grace and humility
to love and serve God in all our ways,
today and always.